Motherhood

This post first appeared on The Good Book blog; used with permission.

The following piece is an extract from 5 Things to Pray for Your Kids by Melissa Kruger. In the book Melissa suggests fresh, biblical ideas to help you pray for tots, teens and all ages between. Today we wanted to give you a sneak peek at what the book looks like. This chapter uses psalm 121 to help you pray for God’s care of your child…

Father, I pray that you will help my child by…

1. Encouraging me

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD” (Psalm 121 v 1).

Being a parent is a wonderful gift, but it is also difficult. There’s no owner’s manual to guide us in all the choices we face each day. Praise God that we can turn to him for the help we need! Pray that he will guide your steps and lead you as you parent today.

2. Watching over them

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121 v 3-4).

As parents, we are limited. Even with modern technology, we can’t watch our children at every moment (although we certainly try!). Thank God that he is always watching over them, and that he never slumbers or sleeps. Pray that your child will know God is with them, no matter where they go or what they face.

3. Providing refreshment

“ The LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121 v 5-6).

We all need a place of refuge. The world can be difficult and lonely. Pray that when life is hard for your child—when they experience a broken heart, a difficult illness, or a painful consequence—they will turn to the Lord and find comfort in him.

4. Keeping them from harm

“The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life” (Psalm 121 v 7).

While we want to keep our children safe, we know we are often powerless to protect them from skinned knees, harmful gossip, and their own mistakes. Pray that the Lord will use the trials they endure to draw them closer to himself, and that he will keep them from all that he sees is harmful.

5. Protecting their future

“ The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121 v 8).

Our children make choices each day. As they grow, these choices increase in significance. Pray that the Lord would guide your child in the future as they choose what to study, which church to be part of, who to marry, or what job to pursue.

About the Author:

Melissa Kruger is the author of Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know as well as several books for adults. She blogs at Wit’s End, hosted by The Gospel Coalition. Her husband, Mike, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children.


5 Things to Pray for Your Kids

Our culture says that the most important things for children are education, good health, treats, entertainment, and material things.

Yet as Christians, we know that children’s spiritual health is the most important thing. So we need to pray for them, but where do we start?

This little guide is both deep and easy to use. Melissa Kruger takes us back to the Bible to show us what God’s will for children is, so we can pray in line with it.

She selects 21 key areas of spiritual growth and character development. For each one, there are five short prayer prompts drawn straight from the Bible.

The sound of a child’s little feet pitter-pattering across the linoleum floor can bring so much joy to our hearts. But what about those times when that same sweet sound is accompanied by your child running a marker along the wall while he toddles away from you?

On today’s episode of the Great Stories Podcast, Charles Morris returns to his conversation with author, blogger, mother, and missionary Gloria Furman. Having written books like Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full, Glimpses of Grace, and Missional Motherhood, she has many life-giving words for Christian moms who never quite feel like they have enough time or energy to develop their own spiritual health and well being. It is our prayer that this episode be an encouragement to you and the moms in your life, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend.


More from Gloria Furman


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When a tornado hit a small town in Arkansas last week, one mother lost everything. Her house, her things—and her two, sweet little boys. While weeping in the hospital with broken legs, this mother was able to communicate to a friend how the grace of Christ transcends even the most unspeakable of tragedies. For you see, one son had told her the Sunday before the tornado that he was ready to go to heaven. “Will you miss me?” he asked. All moms know the fear of losing their children. They also know well the daily trials that can cause boredom and frustration. Gloria Furman, a pastor’s wife in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, shares with us about how Jesus loves us in the burnout and the heartbreak.

Grace can turn burnout into a blessing.

I know it sounds goofy and backwards to say this, but when we feel burned out, we’re in one of the most tender times when we can have communion with Jesus. When I’m in the middle of an exhausting day or someone has just sincerely complimented me that the dark circles under my eyes don’t look too bad, I have to remind myself: I don’t really want to look back over the day and think, “I totally nailed it! Gimme a high five, Jesus, because we’re a great team with you on the sidelines cheering me on.” That’s not what I want at all.

What I really want is to have child-like faith in my loving Father who ordains the good work I’m walking in (Eph. 2:10), consciously give my burdens to Jesus (Matt. 11:28), and to walk by the Spirit as I resist the temptation to give up (Gal. 5:16). I don’t want to forget the Lord because my heart has become proud (Deut. 8:14). I don’t want to be so preoccupied with my own strength that I forget the Lord and all his benefits (Psalm 103).

The middle of burnout mode is actually an opportunity to say and believe with all the strength God supplies: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

Here’s a short clip from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full that elaborates on this idea:

It’s common knowledge that the work of mothering is demanding and difficult, but sometimes we don’t live as though we need any help. Spoken as a testimony to a woman’s strength, we hear that “motherhood is not for the faint of heart.”

However, a case can be made that motherhood is only for the faint of heart. When the first child was born, Eve said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:10). On occasion in my doula work, a woman will admit to me that she doesn’t think she can do it—endure to the end of her pregnancy, give birth to her baby, or raise her child. When we acknowledge our inability to mother our children apart from the Lord’s provision and strength, we honor God. Of course we are not able to do this work of raising children and training them in the instruction of the Lord. That’s why we desperately need the Lord! We are to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

This kind of absolute dependency on God insults our pride. We’re so quick to embrace other solutions for our emotional, physical, and mental fatigue. “I can figure this out on my own,” we tell ourselves. More often than not in our trials we pretend everything is okay, and we dive headlong into self-sufficiency. Faith, rather, acknowledges the fierceness of the storm and throws us into the sea, and we swim as fast as we can to where we see Jesus walking on the water (John 6:16–21).

Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we need the Lord’s strength to honor him in our motherhood.

Sometimes the pitter-patter of little feet means that your child is running a marker along the wall in the hallway while he toddles away from you. The sweet, bleating cries of a newborn can turn into sassy comebacks and spite­ful words. In every occasion, moms must rely on God’s strength. If we think we can do “this motherhood thing” in our own strength, then we are fooling ourselves. …

In the English Standard Version of the Bible the subtitle for Psalm 71 is this: “Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent.” This is profoundly descriptive of a psalm that lauds the Lord as the one who saves us in his righteous­ness and is to us a rock of refuge. Whether you feel that you just can’t endure or that you don’t “have it in you” anymore, or if you feel that you’ve “got what it takes,” the gospel triumphs over all. Only God’s grace in the gospel can strengthen our faith to let Jesus carry our burdens in parenting.

Listen to Charles interview Gloria on Haven Today:
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 1
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 2
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 3
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 4

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, helped moms see the reality of grace in all of life. Out now, her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, which helps moms pursue the giver of grace: Jesus. Furman lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. 

Content taken from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman, ©2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. Below is an excerpt from her second book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, which helps moms pursue the giver of grace: Jesus.

To say, “Being a mom isn’t easy,” is like saying, “Chocolate is yummy.” This much is obvious. There is real trouble, real discouragement, and real back- breaking work that comes with motherhood. Just watch a mom who is nine months pregnant try to get out of a car and not pull any muscles in the attempt. Just listen to a mom share the aches in her heart for the child she is waiting to adopt. Or ask a mother to tell you her prayer requests. Being a mom isn’t easy.

But sometimes mothers feel that their hands are full of inconvenience, thankless work, and futility.

Maintaining the perspective that God has abundantly blessed you is a very real struggle.

The fight for faith cannot be waged with the whimsical idea that you just need to see that “the glass is half full.”

The fight for faith should be addressed with sensitivity and grace and always subjected to the inerrant and authoritative Word of God.

I know that struggles, disappointments, and pain in motherhood are significant issues, so it is with all seriousness and sincerity that I remind myself what the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3–5:

I have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ, and I have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me.

Even as my life is full of heartaches and triumphant victories, unknowns and hopes, I am being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the future. Preaching the gospel to myself each day is the best way to remind myself that my life in Christ is the prevailing, permanent reality in my life. The indwelling Holy Spirit comforts my soul with the truths of God’s Word.

When Jesus rescued me from hell, he also rescued me to himself. I have been spared an eternity of the just punishment that I deserve and have been handed life forever with my Savior. He took that cup—filled to the brim with the wrath of God against sin—and he drank it to the dregs. Then he didn’t hand me back an empty cup (which itself would have been a mercy of unspeakable worth). The Bible says that my glass isn’t merely half full. Because of Jesus, our cup is filled to overflowing with God’s blessings (Ps. 23:5).

I know that I may not be rescued from the next blow-out diaper that leaks onto the floorboard of my car while I’m stuck in traffic with whining children who just want to get out and play.

But because of the gospel I am rescued from having to respond to those troubles in the way my sinful flesh would prefer—I am strengthened by grace because I’ve been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ when I do respond sinfully. Because of the gospel I can also see God’s good intentions to fulfill his promises to me in making me like Christ and drawing me nearer to himself. These are just a few of the ways the rubber meets the road when considering the gospel in daily life as a mom.

How does the gospel of Jesus Christ impact your life in a significant way when your seasonal reality seems to be absorbed by mundane things like bodily fluid accidents and temper tantrums at the grocery store?

Anyone can advise you on how to deal with these practical, tangible things. For example, someone could suggest that you buy a poncho and wear it until your children are in junior high. To stifle your public temper tantrums, perhaps you could go into a closet and tantrum your temper in private.

Oh? You thought I meant your kid’s temper tantrum in the grocery store? Well, that’s a different thing altogether!

Even if your first child has only just been conceived in your womb, or if you’ve recently been approved for an adoption, you can already taste the goodness of God to you in motherhood.

When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God.

No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.

I want for myself what Paul wanted for his beloved Philippians (4:9):

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I want God’s peace to rule my motherhood.

I want for myself what the writer of Hebrews wanted for his readers (Heb. 12:14)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I want to live each day in the way that I learned Christ—that is, by grace through faith. I need to put off the old self, being renewed in the spirit of my mind, and put on the new self that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:20–24).

John Owen commented on the role of the gospel in this pursuit: “What then is holiness? Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and living out of the gospel in our souls (Eph. 4:24).”

This life of grace-infused faith would do wonders for the way I parent my children, of course, but what’s more, it keeps my gaze fixed on God. It could be said that the most loving command in the Bible is this one:

Go on up to a high mountain,
lift up your voice with strength,
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:9)

I want to be counted among those who “will see the Lord.”

I want to behold my God!

 

Listen to Charles interview Gloria on Haven Today:
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 1
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 2
When Your Hands Are Full, Part 3

Gloria Furman lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, helped moms see the reality of grace in all of life.

 

Content taken from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman, ©2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org

I didn’t plan on being a single mom at Christmas.

Last year at this time, my husband and I were celebrating closing on our first house, a small townhouse in the suburbs, and were anticipating the approaching birth of our first child. But after the holidays, in February, as I was painting the nursery midnight blue, my husband came home to tell me that the U.S. Army Reserves had called him up for a deployment to Afghanistan. He was to leave two weeks after our son’s due date in April.

I immediately saw that this was an answer to prayer for everyone involved. Stephen is a chaplain and his soldiers adore him and coveted his counseling while abroad. Stephen desired to love on his soldiers and do what he had spent years training to do. Our son wouldn’t know the difference, so it was perfect timing for his life. There were ways it worked for our church, too, where Stephen is an associate pastor.

The deployment was an answer to prayer for everyone involved, except myself, that was. I was going to lose out on having a partner help me through months of sleepless nights. I would be alone in seeing our son’s first everything—smile, laugh, crawl, teeth, bites of food. My husband would miss my 30th birthday, our son’s first birthday, and our fifth anniversary.

But it wasn’t only those emotional sadnesses—I was also going to be saddled with house projects while juggling a newborn’s schedule (or lack thereof), paying the bills, and maintaining a connection between father and son through handprint art in monthly care packages, a daily blog on our son’s development, and FaceTime phone calls.

To me, this was the worst news in the world. I cried for days and refused to talk to God for two months. How could this be your perfect timing, God? How could this be for my good and your glory? I felt betrayed.

God didn’t capitulate to my passive-aggressive tantrum and find a way to keep my husband home. Our son is now seven months old and my husband has been gone for 207 days.

I don’t want to tie this story up into a neat little bow like the ones on your presents under the Christmas tree. Because these last seven months have been hard, and messy, and painful. I have had to take our son on walks through our neighborhood so that I wouldn’t become paralyzed with depression. And I’ve hired a teenager to give me a few hours each week to shower and keep myself pulled together. On the days when I know my husband is traveling from post to post, and potentially in danger, I find that I’m so distracted I can drive down the highway the opposite direction from my destination or forget about an important phone meeting.

But my list of the things that God has done in my life this year is longer than my list of complaints. God has made me stronger by making me weaker and he has taught me how much I need the body of Christ.

Soon after Stephen left, I decided that the tears would be over. I was not a victim. There are single mothers who stay single for their children’s entire upbringing (and I have immense respect for them).

Loving friends reminded me that I needed to scale back my activities and expectations, but I chose instead to stay up late into the night so that the house would be clean each day. And to get up early so that our son would participate in his first Turkey Trot 5K, a tradition with my husband’s family. I refused to let this be a year in which we fell behind, a year we would always be playing catch-up from.

So this Christmas, my son and I are starting our family traditions just the two of us. We are learning Christmas hymns together and reading through Sally Lloyd Jones’s Jesus Storybook Bible. And I’m putting together ornaments for our first Jesse Tree, thanks to Ann Voskamp’s Greatest Gift. My husband won’t join us for these traditions, but they’ll be ready for him next year.
I used to think that God sat up in the clouds and judged us, that our struggles with finances or housekeeping were trivial to him. But now I know that he is a person who pleads before the Father’s throne for us, that he is the Holy Spirit who lives with us. God is a god who has helped me find my wallet so I could buy groceries, who kept my baby asleep for long naps on Sundays so I could sleep, and who gave me neighbors to take in my mail while I was visiting friends and family. He has answered every single one of my emergency prayers this year.

While I may still struggle to forgive God for calling my husband up for deployment this year, the amazing thing is that God has already forgiven me for my rebellious heart that thinks I am the one in charge. I’ve never been able to deceive myself into thinking I’m alone, because I know that there is one person who always understands how I’m feeling. Jesus.

And it’s at this time of year when I think of Mary, who also must have felt so alone, with Joseph for a midwife and a dirty stable for a hospital. Her son wasn’t born the way she wanted. And yet she wasn’t alone either. She had Jesus, too. He was flesh in her arms because he had finally come to rescue her—and me.

Our life is not our own. His ways are not our ways. And praise God for that, because his plan is bigger, mightier, and more glorious than we could ever plan for ourselves. No matter what happens on this earth, we will one day live eternally in joy in heaven because Jesus was a little boy just like my own.

About the Author

Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and two children in Wisconsin.

Mother’s Day is the day that my kids will smother me with the cards and crafts they have made that read “#1 MOM” or “Mom of the Year.” And while they do this, I will want to sit them down and talk to them about how we should be honest and not lead others to believe that they are something they are not.

Now, I know that I am a “good” mom. I mean, my kids are clothed, schooled and fed; I really could be doing much worse. But “Best MOM Ever?” I think not.

I’m not the “Best Mom Ever” when my harsh words and anger cut through the morning air. And I’m not the “#1 Mom” when I tell my kids to use their words to build one another up only to tear them down with my own words when they start fighting.

Not one of us is the mom that we need to be to our children. You and I both know that we have failed miserably. All you have to do is browse Pinterest, Facebook or mommy blogs and you will soon feel that anxiety of needing to do more for your kids rising up within you.

Now that I’ve given you the bad news and made the (burnt) toast from your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed drier than dirt and the (cold) coffee and scrambled eggs (with shells) have lost their appeal, let me give you the good news.

Romans 3:23-24 gives mothers the good news that we so desperately need to hear, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We have all failed but because of his great love for us he has given us the gift of his righteousness.

In other words; Christ died for moms!

Jesus knew what it was to care for others. He knew the patience needed to deal with the immaturity of those who didn’t understand. His very ministry was to the messy, the broken, and the demon possessed maniacs that our children all too often emulate. With you and me in mind, he perfectly and flawlessly cared for those around him when he could have so easily thrown in the towel. Do you see the love there?

We needed the blood of Christ to wipe our “bad mom” slate clean. But a clean slate wouldn’t be good enough, would it? If we simply had a clean slate set before us every day our lives would consist of trying to rewrite it with the words “Best Mom Ever.” But thank God that he didn’t leave the slate clean for moms. No, he wrote across it with permanent marker the title that was meant for him, “MY BELOVED WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.” Our record today remains as perfect, beloved, God pleasers; on the good days as well as the bad.

Do you believe this, my friends? No matter how much you make a mess of motherhood, He loves you just as much in your state of grace as he does in your state of disgrace.

This is our God. This is motherhood. We are his beloved! Let’s do the hard work of believing that we are just that.

And if I can leave you with one thought on this Mother’s Day let it be this, Christ loves mothers as the messes that they are, not as the cleaned up mothers that they think they should be. Not one of us is as she should be. This is great news!

This post first appeared on Karis, the women’s channel for CBMW.

In the spring of 2008 I first prayed for a baby, and in the spring of 2011 God answered that prayer with the birth of our beautiful daughter.  My joy was full but so were the fears I wrestled.  In some ways I felt like a baby Christian again, caught in a whirlwind of emotions, learning and applying what I have known and trusted into a completely new life – I know I’m definitely not the first to feel that!

Friends of ours had given us a card when their first son was born; it was full of prayer requests for his little life, a prayer for every day of the month. My prayers were not quite as coherent as those, especially at first, but the urgency of the moment drove me to my knees.  “Help her, help me” baby prayers at 3am; prayers as I heard the baby monitor light up in the morning; prayers when I thought of her safety, her soul, her future; prayers  with my husband; prayers while Eliza listened in.

When people found out that I was pregnant one of the most frequent comments I received was how my creativity would discover a whole new vista of inspiration as I became a mother.  So, when Eliza came I was anticipating a fresh flow of profound poetic thought, but instead I was swept up in the constant flow of changes and feedings and “Old MacDonald had a farm!” I was expecting full sentences, but I was blubbering looking at my beautiful girl! I actually wondered if I’d ever be able to write again.  I just about tucked some thoughts away to ponder later when my brain would start to fit itself back together again (still nowhere near a completed process!). As I continued to learn the wonderful balancing act and privilege of mothering, homemaking, writing, traveling and singing, Keith and I began to write a song for Eliza choosing this theme of praying for her, and the end result was “A Mother’s Prayer.”

(A Mother’s Prayer is featured on the Getty’s “Hymns For the Christian Life.”)

My parents have faithfully prayed for me my whole life, and I remember when I was younger my mum met with other mums to pray for all their children – a “Moms in Touch” group in Belfast. Even just the knowledge of that helped me, and I want Eliza to know we are praying for her and trying to guide her in this context that reaches to the call and purpose of her whole life and an understanding of the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. We’re now in the toddler stage and some of the prayer needs are shifting.  We wanted the song to reflect the different seasons – ones we had discovered and then those still to come.  We also wrote it to remind us of our promise to pray for her through all the years we’re given.  We hope this song for her – and even more our praying for her – might catch her ear and help guide her heart as she grows up.

 

 

Keith and Kristyn Getty, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, have been writing modern hymns for the church for more than a decade.  Their latest album release, Hymns for the Christian Life, features new hymns for congregations and soloists such as “Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed” and “A Mother’s Prayer” as well as a ten-year anniversary recording of ”In Christ Alone” (written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend).  When not touring, the Gettys live in Nashville with their daughter, Eliza, where they manage the work of Getty Music.