by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.
As I’m writing this article, it’s Mother’s Day morning. It’s not even 7am, but my husband and I have been awake for hours. Outside my little round window, I’m looking out over the fluffy clouds, and feeling so overwhelmingly thankful. Right now, Jon and I are en route to California to welcome “home” our oldest son, a USMC 1st Lieutenant in Ground Intelligence, who returns tomorrow from a dangerous military deployment in Afghanistan. It’s an exciting life-moment, but for this time to coincide with Mother’s Day is like a special gift, just from God!
This month on Passionate Homemaking, Lindsay asked if I would share my 5 top tips for mothers.
So, how do I put a lifetime of principles into a few concise tips? I’ve come to realize motherhood is a complex calling. It begins with a tiny little person growing inside of us, but the ramifications this has on every area of our life and future are HUGE!!! Successful motherhood is not easy, and it’s definitely not for wimps. Good motherhood demands everything we’ve got, plus more. It requires strength of character; discipline; reliance on God’s grace (and lots of help from friends and family); endurance; a new heart for intercession, like we never knew before; lots of laundry soap, Comet, and Windex; laughter; and VISION.
Just to let you know, I absolutely LOVE being a mom. Some of you may have struggled with accepting the idea of motherhood, but not me. Even from the time I was a girl, I’ve always longed for the whole package-deal. I was raised as the oldest child in a fairly large family (with six kids), and throughout my childhood and youth, I always looked forward to being a mom. At our wedding, Jon and I requested a prayer of blessing for lots of kids. And then, once we started having babies, we’ve been praising God for this dream come true!!!
I love the feeling of a baby growing and kicking inside me (and that season when laying on the couch and eating well gives me a feeling of productivity). I love the challenge and work and JOY of giving birth. I love nursing and nurturing a precious newborn (and seeing those big eyes looking up at me). I love snuggling with toddlers, managing a houseful of rowdy munchkins, mixing batches of yummy cookies at a crowded kitchen counter, enjoying deep conversations with teens, envisioning possibilities with young adults . . . and aiming our arrows into the world to do some SERIOUS damage to the kingdom of darkness. WOOHOO!!! I love it!!!
Tip #1 – Be confident in God’s calling.
“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
Motherhood is a vital calling, envisioned in the heart of God. By God’s grace, it can be a position of influence and a sacrificial place of leadership in our society. It’s SO big . . . However, the tricky part of the call, is that most women don’t realize the possibilities and they don’t seriously train themselves for the job. Most mothers (even Christian moms) get so discouraged in the position (because they’re too concerned about what others think about “wasting” their gifts and intelligence), or they get so bored (because they don’t realize or “tap into” the kingdom-advancing possibilities).
With motherhood comes an anointing and a GRACE for each child and each day. God has this for you, but you have to receive it from Him. By your own efforts and strengths, motherhood can get ugly; but praise God, you’re NOT by yourself. Motherhood is not about making you look good, it’s about glorifying God and making Him look good. It’s not about making kids happy, but about training them to be holy. Your days may seem mundane and unimportant, but motherhood is a high and holy calling.
“If God calls you to be a mother, don’t stoop to be a queen!”
I do have a few thoughts regarding work outside of the home, especially if you have young children. If you’re feeling a longing to go back to work, ask yourself to honestly evaluate your motivating reason. Is it fear? Discontentment? Boredom? Personal esteem? Just needing a break from the kids? Is your desire to work a true need for additional income, or could God give you other ideas to live with less . . . Or to make money from home? In my opinion, a full-time stay-at-home mom can raise the standard of living for the whole family, more than any job. God has called us as mothers to “mother” our children. It’s not a job for a professional . . . Or for your mother-in-law.
Tip #2 – Be consistent.
As a mom, be consistent in discipline. Be the mom. Training kids for God is a big deal and a holy responsibility. We’re training our children to live with the understanding of both the LOVE of GOD and the FEAR of GOD in their lives. The way we parent will give our kids a reflection of who God is. When God says something He means it. When He gives an instruction, it’s important. He’s not fair (in the way we view fairness); but He is just and good. We need to reflect the heart of God as our child’s parent. And as wives, we need to let our husbands be the leaders.
I saw a mom with a screaming kid. “If you stop screaming, I’ll give you a candy.” OH MY!!! NO!!!
Nip it in the bud, and please be a consistent mother to your 2yr old. Training little ones is so much easier than trying to undo bad decisions in the teenage years.
With teenagers, be the mom, not the buddy. When they’re in junior high, begin to establish WITH your kids what God’s plans and purposes are for their lives. It’s BIG stuff. Don’t back down. And seek God’s help every day. Look to other families and older teens who are good examples. Seek other family friends who can “echo” your godly counsel. See the big picture, and help discipline and train your child, like a LIFE-COACH, to help them accomplish all that God has for this season. Hold tight when they’re little, then begin to let go as they get older. See the long-term target, and get your kids to see it too!
Tip #3 – Guard the gates of your home.
As a mom, be on-guard at the gates of your home. Your home is GOD’S kingdom headquarters in an enemy territory. You need to guard the eye gate and the ear gate. Guard your thoughts and guard your kid’s thoughts. Take every bad thought — discouragement, lie, fear, worry, temptation, bad attitude — CAPTIVE to the obedience of Christ! Guard against media, movies, evil influences (like demonic cartoons, games or horoscopes, books, or toys), fleshly printed material (women’s magazines, romance books, chick-flicks, bad-influence friends). One thing I’ve found is to stop JUNK on day 1, at the very door of your home. Don’t give evil or slight compromise a foothold (it won’t get easier if you let things “slide” for a while). The family lives to please God, not to please us as parents (or to make us look good), and not to please the kids. Your home is a sanctuary, and a retreat center, and a discipleship training school. Don’t “punish” your kids by grounding them to stay home, or to punished by sending them to their rooms. Don’t you want your kids to LOVE being home with you?
Tip #4 – Mother by faith, not by fear
As a mom, be a warrior, not a worrier. Parent in FAITH, not fear!!! Release your kids to God, and to GOD’S purposes. Be passionate about raising kids for God, but don’t take more “government” than God requires. Do your battle in prayer: and wrestle against principalities and powers (identify your enemies, like strife, rebellion, sin, or laziness). Your kids are not your enemy, and neither is your spouse. Take your concerns & spouse disagreements to a higher authority — GOD– and Pray!!!
Also, realize that as your kids get older, HORMONES are your friends, not your enemy. They are created and designed by God to help our children desire to find God’s life partner. Don’t fear the teenage years, but help your kids to bring their feelings and desires under God’s control.
Tip #5 – Rely on God’s GRACE!!!
Just live in God’s grace, and abide with Him. See this ABIDING MOM vs. SUPER MOM chart.
Don’t follow anyone else’s packaged-parenting-plan, and don’t put yourself on a guilt trip if you don’t measure-up to what’s working for other mothers. Yes, be willing to learn and to receive counsel and to get organizational ideas — but seek God’s unique divine guidance for each day. If you’re needing advice with a particular area in your mothering, get help; but if something doesn’t work for your family and your personalities, whether that’s a home schooling curriculum, or a meal plan, or a cleaning schedule, or a devotional plan, or a sit-down corporate regular family Bible study plan, just relax!!!
And let your husbands be the men they are called to be (which might mean not always talking or trying to get your way and wanting to implement all your ideas. You don’t have to be amazing; just walk with God, and be faithful. Just be you (with God’s help), and be the unique family God has created you to be.
Raise your kids for God, and get ready to RELEASE your arrows to God’s destiny!