Christian Mothers of Excellence
By Charlene Friesen
"Let's get this straight," fumed my 14-year-old son, Chris. "I hate you and you hate me." With that, he stomped away from the car and headed into school.
I wanted to yell, "OK, tell me how you really feel!" But, we'd played enough brutal truth or dare.
Driving away, I replayed our conversation and kicked myself for partaking in yet another heated argument. Our family decree danced in my head: Just because someone is ringing the doorbell, you don't have to answer the door.
Chris loves ringing the proverbial doorbell -- Pavlov's Theory in action: He challenges me with a cheeky comment or defiant attitude, and I hastily respond in anger to his foolish comments. I can't resist opening that door -- cause and effect at its finest.
Kids can be foolish; we must engage godly wisdom and self-control. "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:1). There are times when their foolish comments need to go in one ear and out the other. Even your teen knows they're barking up the wrong tree. Choose your arguments.
Of course there are times when they must be held accountable, but don't rush the tutorial if there's evidence of increased heart rate; glazed eyeballs or bulging veins -- let the doorbell ring. God gave us lungs; draw a deep breath and wait for your pulse to slow. God gave us legs; walk away from the conflict until you're calm. Bathroom doors have locks; hide there until that glazed look in your eye diminishes. "Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you will be like him" (Proverbs 26:4).
The book of Proverbs and parenting go hand in hand. Who said parenting never came with a manual? God knew exactly the challenges parents would face and divinely inspired Godly men to record those morsels of truth.
Many other books of the Bible offer guidance. Read of and learn from parental mistakes and gain insight from their fortitude. It's all in God's Word -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
Parent/teen relationships also have tidbits of the good, the bad and the ugly. Lingering at the door, overlooking the incessant ringing of the doorbell, is one way to overcome the bad and the ugly. And that's a good thing.
~ Lord, help me keep a reign on my tongue. Words, spoken in anger, will only inflate the situation. Give me the courage and humility to say, "I was wrong, please forgive me." I ask for patience, wisdom and above all, Your merciful heart. Thank You for my family.
by Serena Wang
Finding time and space for personal growth in the midst of motherhood
Do you find yourself pre-occupied by household chores, children’s homework and your husband’s stress? Has it been a while since you discovered “new territory” in your life? God has created a world full of joy and new things. It is up to you to keep your desire to learn, to be a student of those areas that fascinate you. A wise mother does not neglect her own life. Make a date with your favorite babysitter and try a few of these mom-savers:
1. Take a free trip. Not everyone can afford to hop on a plane and travel the world, but you can go to the library and check out those glossy travel books. Try taking them to a café, order a latte and immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery for a few hours.
2. Read a good book. Check out the bestseller list or take a suggestion from a good friend and find yourself a good book. Throw the book in your purse and you can make time for yourself while you wait for kids during their music lesson, or while they are doing their homework. It is amazing how many books you can read in spare moments like these.
3. Get involved at school. Why not become a volunteer at the school where your kids attend? Be a “classroom mom,” assist with school activities or help the teachers with set-up. You will be surprised how many interesting and fresh ideas you can come up with. You can learn new things and improve the education system, too.
4. Experiment in the kitchen. They say a great marriage begins in the kitchen. Don’t give up on trying out new recipes. Go to the library and find a good cookbook and try something your family hasn’t had before.
5. Enjoy music. Whether it is listening to a live symphony or chorus, or a new CD or just your favorite radio station, listening to music adds a new dimension to the day. In the car or around the house, give yourself something to listen to. Consider taking a music appreciation class or even piano lessons.
6. Get moving. Everyone knows the importance of exercise, but we forget that it can also be a great way to spend time together. Get in shape with your husband or a friend, sign up for a fitness program, or join a league together. We hold the key to our own health. If you make exercise a fun and enjoyable part of the day, you’re more likely to stick with it.
All too often, mothers stretch themselves too far trying to meet the needs of everyone in the family. In doing so, they become burned out, desperate and detached. While you may feel guilty making time for yourself, realize that it’s vital for your well being and for your family’s, too. Don’t forget to grow!
Prayer for Mothers.
Father God, Thank you for the children You have so graciously blessed me with. Give me wisdom, strength, dignity, and honor to raise these children the way You would have me to. Lead me in all my decisions that they may look to me, and in essence see You. I give you all the Glory and Honor you alone deserve, in Jesus name I pray, Amen
I often think of this story when storm clouds appear on the horizon of our lives. We so often look for security in things that are shallow and have no power to hold us when the hurricanes of life rip through our lives. At times of deepest trial, the beautiful home, fashionable wardrobe, bank account or job title mean little in the face of what makes us toss and turn in the night.
Kids need an anchor
As parents, we have a unique opportunity to help our kids find that anchor that will hold them even during the worst storms. We all know that no matter how strong we are as individuals, there are those times when we are rocked to our core and our very souls are bruised and even bleeding. It is then that we need something beyond our own efforts to hold us. For our family, it is our faith in a God who cares about us.
Riding the wave of faith into adulthood
I realize faith has anchored our home. Sometimes our faith has been very strong and other times it has faltered, yet God has been faithful to us--in spite of our own mistakes and shortcomings. He has proven to be an anchor that holds us securely when the storms of life rage, as they often will. As parents, we have proven that anchor over and over in our own lives.
As resourceful as we are in the new millennium, we still remain vulnerable to the stresses of our individual worlds. As deep as the well of self goes and as high as individual potential soars, we know the resources of our own souls can run dry. We know what “running on empty” can mean.
Giving our kids an anchor beyond themselves is the one true and lasting gift we can offer them in this changing world. As parents, we won’t always be there to tend to the bruises in our kids lives or shield them from the storms they will encounter. But we can be assured that if we give them an anchor beyond themselves, though the storms of life may tatter and tear, they will not be shipwrecked.
by Sandra Burleson
The path to becoming an excellent mother may be a tumultuous and difficult one. One familiar quote says, “By the time I got parenting figured out, they were grown and gone.” We all know that we learn so much as we go through life experiences, each one building on the other. One key to growing and maturing as a mother lies in how we respond to each twist and turn in our path. But where is that path taking us. Let’s explore!
When my oldest daughter was born she fell into a rhythm of sleeping and eating with so much ease. I crowned myself a confident and wise mother to have such a content baby. Surely I was meeting all her needs.
My second daughter was slightly different. She was very cat-like in the beginning, preferring the night and sleeping all day. She cried demandingly and relentlessly when she was upset. My parenting prowess was starting to slip. Was I losing my “mothering touch?”
When my third daughter came into this world, I received a big wake up call in humility. This girl was mad about everything. She was not colicky, just crabby…all the time. All my motherly “tricks” which I accumulated through the years amounted to…well…nothing. This bundle of joy took me to my physical and emotional limit every single day. What I learned finally by baby #3 was that I utterly and completely needed the Lord to help me be an excellent mother. I began to pray though my frustration. I began to pray for my children in a more real and desperate way crying out to God on their behalf. I felt after six years of being a mom that I was absolutely incompetent at it apart from God.
Now, many of you may be thinking, “Gee, she’s a slow learner!” and you would be absolutely right. But if we are all honest, we’d have to agree that we all have the tendency to try to do things in our own strength FIRST. It’s only when we are pushed to our limits do we realize we are inadequate without Him. This is the first and most important step to becoming an excellent mother: complete dependence on God. We must cultivate this attitude in our devotional time and in our everyday decisions.
I remember when I was in college I knew a girl who was deeply devoted to God. She told me that she would even pray about which mascara to buy in the beauty aisle! She wasn’t being overly devoted. Indeed, she was remembering and living on God’s promise to care about every detail of our life. As mothers, we attend to hundreds of little details in the lives of our children. Remembering that God cares for these as much and even more than we do is a great way to begin to live out our growing dependence on God.
We often will put on ourselves unreasonable expectations when parenting. We should always have the right response to our children’s needs or the perfect answer to their questions. How impossible is that to achieve?! That is a great way to go through the day- feeling like a total failure! Our life becomes much less stressful when we lift that burden to the Lord by going to Him for the guidance and direction we are seeking. We don’t have to know all the answers because we are close to the One who does. What a valuable lesson to pass on to our children when we say “let’s take that question to the Lord first.”
Excellence in mothering begins with God. Cultivating your love for Jesus and demonstrating your dependence to him on a moment by moment basis is a great way toward achieving that excellence we all attain to. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Begin today to cultivate the one skill I believe is most important to being an excellent mother…utter dependence on God. He is the giver and sustainer of life.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(Romans 8:35, NKJ)
Motherhood can be draining. You give, you cook, you sew, you drive, you cheer, you read, you cry, you encourage, you discipline, you referee, you nurse, you clean, and then you clean again. You teach, you preach, and then you die.
That's what life felt like to me when my children were small. I got up, did the same routine day after day, and asked myself, "Is this what life is all about?" Eventually, I became desperate for a fresh touch from God. I wanted to climb into His lap, fall asleep in His arms, and sleep until I couldn't sleep any more. As my children were growing up, I was growing tired. Not of them, but of the stress and demands of motherhood. Ever found yourself empty, depleted of all your resources?
God has a way of restoring the weary when life has drained every ounce of energy we have. He is our refuge and strength. There is power in the shelter of His love. God doesn't leave us in our times of weakness, distress or trials, because He is devoted to us by His great affection. His love is a pledge that no matter what we encounter, our Father will be with us helping us along the way. It's in the discovery of God's great love that we find a strength that endures.
The apostle Paul understood that the might of our strength was found in God's love as he penned these words, "Do you think that anything can drive a wedge between us and Christ love for us? There's no way! Not trouble, not hard times, no hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, now even the worst of sins that are listed in Scripture." (The Message, Romans 8:35) Nothing can separate us from the love of God not even the trials and stress of motherhood.
There's something about knowing we are loved that strengthens us. We know that the person who loves us will support us; they will help us and care for us until we are completely strengthened once again. Love from a spouse or friend encourages us to endure and press forward through the most important job will ever have-being a mother. We can depend on the love of that person much like a child depends on its mother's love to care for him.
I don't like for my children to get hurt. Yet, I can't always prevent it. So, when one of them gets hurt, I care for them out of love. I stay near by. I cry when they cry. I nurse them to health, and rejoice when they are well again. Likewise, our heavenly Father loves us in the same way. When we are burdened and weary, He is near. Motivated by love, the Father cries when we cry, nurtures our pain, and rejoices when our health is renewed.
We all need a helping hand when the pressures of life invade. While God doesn't prevent us from experiencing them, He does promise to go with us through them. His love is dependable and nothing can separate us from it.
Motherhood can be challenging, still its rewards are many. One of those rewards comes when we realize that we can endure, rise above and conquer its demands-by the way of God's sustaining love.
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, I trust that no matter what I face that I am wrapped in your unending love. If life is good one day or bad the next, your love is always the same and nothing or no situation can change that. Help me to hold on to your love.
For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart form you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed.
(Isaiah 54:10, NKJ)
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with
lovingkindness I have drawn you. (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJ)
And we have know and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (1John 4:16,
God demonstrated his own love for us in that while we were stillsinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NKJ)
Finally, brethren, become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
(2Corinthans 13:11, NLJ)
by Teresa Bell Kindred
When the boys came back to the car I immediately did what my wise pediatrician told me to do years ago. She advised me to always give praise to my children when I “caught them being good.”
“Russell,” I said, “I noticed how you left your place in line and opened the door for the lady. That was very nice.”
He looked at his father and smiled. “Thanks, Mom. I learned that from my daddy. I’ve seen him do that.”
Parents can tell their children how to behave but showing them is so much more effective. Modeling appropriate behavior makes a much more powerful statement. And Christianity works the same way. When we follow in Jesus’s footsteps and do His will we are shining His light into a very dark world. We can tell others about Jesus but if we don’t show them by the lives that we live, our words won’t mean a thing.
I once read a story about a young mother who was trying to clean her house. Her young son was following her wherever she went. He was consistently in the way and under her feet. Finally after she had stepped on his feet for the third time she stopped what she was doing, placed her hands on her hips and looked down at him in frustration. “Son, what are you doing?”
He looked back up at her and said, “Mommy, my Sunday School teacher says I am to walk in Jesus’ footsteps but since he’s not here today, I thought I’d walk in yours.”
Our children look to us for guidance but if what we say isn’t what we do, they soon stop listening. Parents are mere mortals and yes, we make mistakes, but if we consistently try to walk in Jesus’ footsteps then we will lead our children in the right direction. Because we are only human sometimes we may not know what the right direction is.
Others think that it doesn’t matter what road you are on; that all roads can lead to Heaven. They don’t.
John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” And Ephesians 4:5 says “[There is] one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
Not three, not two....one.
One God, one Jesus, one Holy Spirit, and one road to Heaven. Not my way or your way but His way.
How can we know Jesus if we don’t seek Him? How can we have a relationship with Him if we don’t pray? How can we do His will if we don’t attend church and invite others to go with us? How can we expect a home in Heaven if we don’t feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and offer those who are thirsty a cup of cold water? How can we expect our children to know Jesus if we don’t know Him ourselves?
Learn to walk in His footsteps. We can’t be a “perfect” example for our children, but He is. Following Him will change your life. It will determine where you spend eternity and when we walk in the Lord not only are we are on the right road, but we are also leading our children in the right direction.
My mother was a lighthouse where she lived. She cared about me and everything I've ever done. If I could phone her now, she'd be curious about what I'm doing. She rejoiced with me at every opportunity. And she was that way with my children, and theirs.
If you find yourself at home today with children and you wonder if it matters, let me encourage you. Nothing you'll ever do is as important as being with your children . . . pouring your life and energy into them. Maybe not today, but sooner than you think, they'll thank and honor you. Just as I do my mother.
When my children reached the age where others began to influence them, I felt my self-esteem needed to be in check. My children's lives suddenly weren't all about what my husband and I wanted them to know. Our children were faced with choices.
My role became to guide and teach them the process they needed to make their own decisions with the understanding that the choices they made would have consequences. This is something I could only do if I maintained a healthy self-esteem, realizing that their choices, good or not-so-good, didn't determine my own sense of worth. I could only strive to be a confident mother, preparing them for life's challenges, trusting God for the results.
It's all too easy for moms, as we immerse ourselves in the task of mothering, to tie our identity and our value to our children: we meet their needs and feel needed. We encourage their successes and feel successful. They make wrong choices and we take all the onus upon ourselves.
But in doing this, our self-esteem bobs up and down, rather than being anchored in our souls. And that's not good for us, or for our children, to whom one of the greatest gifts we can give is a healthy self-confidence.
So how does a mom maintain a healthy self-esteem? Part of the answer came to me when I realized that I can either allow feelings of inadequacy to cripple me, or I can face my inner fears and embrace the changes before me.
I also realized that self-esteem must be nurtured--perhaps all the more so when you are nurturing a family. Here are seven intentional ways I've found to cultivate a healthy self-esteem as a mom.
1. Maintain strong relationships: Healthy relationships with your spouse, children, friends and family members will develop your self-esteem. These influencers in your life can serve as mentors and help you build into your children's lives. Define healthy boundaries as you nurture your relationships. The e-mail mentors of Women Today are willing to give you some direction in dealing with this.
2. Personal development: Often the last person a mother makes time for is for herself. You will need to book time for fitness, reading, relaxing, hobbies and personal growth. As you make time for this, you will have more to give to your children.
3. Life management: With all the individuals in one household going in many different directions, chaos can erupt! It often seems that the mom becomes the center of this. Establish a system that will create order. It needs to be one that will work for you. Create a method that allows each person to know what is expected and when it needs to be done. A little planning ahead and sharing of responsibilities can create a smoothly-run household which will help you feel good about yourself.
4. Develop significance: Whether you are working or an at-home mom, it is easy to begin to feel as though you have little significance--and wonder if you are really making a difference. Developing a sense of significance is something that you will need to work on continually. Each season of life brings new needs. Look for ways that you can be involved in an area of your passion. Your involvement may be simple or it may be extensive, but being involved in something you see as changing lives will influence how you see yourself.
5. Develop dreams and passions: Dreams have the power to change the world. As moms we are often so busy looking after the needs of those around us, that we tend to see our dreams as a childhood memory. Take time to reflect on those things that you used to hope for and begin to pray towards seeing these dreams become reality.
6. Take time for fun and laughter: Few things will make you feel better about yourself than laughter and fun. Your family will beam as you take time to play and laugh with them (regardless of their ages). Plan events that are completely spontaneous and possibly even out-of-character for you.
7. Allow God to empower you as a mother: God desires for you to have discernment, sensitivity and wisdom. As you pray and seek God. He will give you the resources to deal with whatever difficult situations that you might find yourself in. He cares deeply about you and your children.
If your relationship with God has not been empowering you in the way that you would desire, He is willing to help you and become real to you.
God wants to be our leverage in living, empowering us to feel better about ourselves, more excited about our future, more grateful for those we love and more enthusiastic about our faith.
I read with interest the other day some of the attributes of a famous mother… the one we all measure ourselves against as Christian women… the woman of great value so beautifully described by King Lemuel in Proverbs 31. A phrase stood out in my mind,
" She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness." (Verse 26)
I felt a twinge in my soul upon reading that verse, and thought to myself, "Is the law of kindness on my tongue? Am I kind to my kids and husband?" Ouch.
What is the Basis of Kindness?
What is the basis of kindness? Love, of course. Granted, we are not always kind to our loved ones, our intent is certainly to show them our love by how we treat them, right? How can we know if we are showing love toward our family members, specifically our husband and children?
Take this little self-test derived from the famous Love Chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. This isn't a literal translation by any means, but I believe it could be helpful in determining where we as mothers need a little help in terms of showing love toward our family.
Can You Say These Things About Yourself?
___ I am patient with my children (I like to define patience as "waiting without being sad").
___ I am kind to my children and husband.
___ I am not rude to my husband.
___ I don't seek my needs first, but their needs.
___ I am not easily angered by my children or husband.
___ I don't keep a record of my husband's wrongs.
God Himself is kind to the unthankful and evil.
Jesus said, "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." Luke 6:35
How much more so should we mothers be kind to our own family? Is "the law of kindness" on your tongue? It must first be in your heart, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". (Mt. 12:34)
How Does A Person Become Kind?
Ask the Lord to soften your heart toward your husband and children, including your attitudes, tone of voice, and expectations. Remember what Colossians 3:12 says, lightly paraphrased: Therefore, as God's chosen people (mommy), holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I am confident that if you ask the Lord to change you, then allow Him to do so, your children will rise up and call you blessed, as will your husband, and even more importantly, God.
May the law of kindness be on your tongue!
Related Bible verses for further study:!
Proverbs 19:13, 14
1 Thessalonians 3:12
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