Graceful Mothering

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Some of you know I’m reading a book called, “Give Them Grace” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It’s breaking down the walls of some of the parenting books I’ve read in the past; back when I was a new mom. It’s unbelievable how such teachings can take hold. This book, Give Them Grace, is a breath of fresh air.

I used to be one of those who avoided any parenting books that displayed the word “grace” in the title because automatically I thought they were telling parents to let their children do whatever they wanted. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, this book draws out our need for Jesus, and shows us our children have the same need. It shouldn’t be any surprise that our children are sinners just like we are. But somehow we hold them to a higher standard then we hold ourselves.

We can also put so much emphasis on behavior modification that we fail to lead them to the throne of grace, where Christ waits to extend forgiveness upon repentance. When our children don’t consistently produce the good behavior we seek, we become consistently angry and frustrated. Our mentality here is all wrong. Our goal shouldn’t be behavior modification.

Give Them Grace addresses parenting as an idol in chapter 3. What happens is parents get so consumed with trying to “work” at raising perfect children so their children will be saved, it becomes an idol in their lives. The problem is, it’s not up to us to save our children. Does that mean we don’t discipline and teach godly character? Not at all. It simply means when our children mess up (and they will), it’s our duty to lead them to the cross. But ultimately, God is the changer of hearts.

That’s where they can be face to face with how they cannot be obedient 100% of the time, which is the reason they need Jesus. Together, we thank Jesus for his sacrifice so He could extend us grace and keep going.

I am terrible about showing my children God’s grace. And why? Because I’ve grown to believe that children need the law and nothing more. The twisting of Scriptures in one parenting book has shaped this way of parenting for me. Now I’m at a place where I need a complete paradigm shift.

Our children are not saved by the law, just like we are not saved by the law. The law is important. Yes! It has it’s place. But obeying it perfectly (which is impossible) will not win the favor of God for salvation. And we cannot save our children by “perfect parenting” because that, too, does not exist. God will not make everything turn out the way we want because of our “righteous parenting”.

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 2:16

 

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21

Following the law isn’t bad, so long as we’re doing it for the right reason. When our relationship with the Lord deepens, so does our desire to please Him. It pleases Him when we obey out of a heart of love for Him. It still doesn’t save us. Only faith in Jesus and what He’s done on the cross can do that.

It’s as if we can say the truth of the gospel, but we have a hard time grabbing hold of it, because, well, it seems too easy. In some aspects, it is easy! It’s a simple truth we’ve complicated. On the contrary, the Christian life is definitely not one of ease.

The law gives us false hope that if our children are obeying it well, their hearts must be right with God. This is not the case and we need to recognize this lie as soon as may be.

This is really a freeing thing because the burden of their salvation was never mine to carry. My job is to lead and train. Only God can take it from there.

What are your thoughts on extending more grace to your children?

Balancing Grace and Truth in Mothering

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Grace is a gift freely given to us. But how often do we choose to not receive the gift? If we’re not receiving this wonderful gift, we can not offer it to others–including our children.

 

Visit me today at The Better Mom as I share how to balance grace with law in raising our children.

Be a Lighthouse to Grace

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In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven -Matthew 5:16

This also means:

In the same way, let your light shine before {your children}, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven -Matthew 5:16

This simply narrows and emphasizes our scope as mother. When we read this verse as it applies to living for Christ in front of our children, it helps us to apply it better. That doesn’t mean we throw out the original verse. It simply helps us put our focus at home, with our children, while we are home, with our children.

Switch out the word “men” and insert any person or group of people and it still applies. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. This applies too all “man kind”, so when you narrow it to help you focus on working with a specific group, that doesn’t exempt you from shining before all men. Got it? Good. Moving on.

I’m all about the practical as much as I am about the heart. But I don’t talk much about the practical here on Joyful Mothering. I’m hoping to change that. A large goal of Joyful Mothering is equipping mothers–not just devotedly, but constructively as well.

So how do we put feet to this verse? How do we let our light shine before our children? The light of God, that is.

Grace.

It all starts with grace. For best results, add grace.

I used to be confused about what grace really is. In fact, I was afraid of it for a long time. God has brought me a long way just this year as He spoke to me and changed my heart on grace.

Grace is not an excuse to sin.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? -Romans 6:1-2

I was afraid that if I received grace, it meant I was allowing myself to sin. So, to be safe, I wouldn’t allow myself to receive grace. And I remained bound by my own sin. I never felt free from it. It was a heavy weight. And this same weight was put on my children, unknowingly.

You see, when you don’t receive grace, you don’t have grace to give.

God chipped away at this lie around my heart, and as it broke free, I stepped into His light. Our job? To  hold the hands of our children and bring them into the Light with us. But we can’t do it our way–we must do it His. His way is grace.

It’s graceful. Gracious. Grace-filled.

It’s undeserving, but still freely given.

Freely.

Given.

We can be a lighthouse to grace for our children by offering them grace.

Grace is not a replacement for correction or discipline. It is the manner in which you deliver these necessities to your children.

Are you accusing? Belittling? Exaggerating? Impatient?

All these lack grace.

Grace forgives. Grace walks alongside. Grace empowers and encourages.

God is our beacon of grace and we need to allow His light to shine through us, to our children, so they will praise our Father in heaven–because of grace.

Lighthouses represent hope to sailors who have lost their way. They are that steady stream of truth that glows through the darkness and marks the safest way through the night.

We are a lighthouse permanently established to show {our children} the way home.
-Grace Based Parenting, pg. 41 & 42

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Training Our Children in Resolving Conflicts

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Come join me at The Better Mom today as I share about teaching our children to overlook an offense. This is an important tool for our children to learn and practice in order to remain in fellowship with one another. It’s also an important tool to know as adults.

Did you know many adults do not know how to deal with conflict in the workplace? Come on over and learn some tips on equipping your children in resolving small conflicts on their own.

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Perfectionism Kills Discipleship

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Perfectionism is a life-sucker and a vision-killer. If we are aiming to have everything “just so” before we will begin to do anything, nothing will ever get done.
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For example, if you want to read the book of Proverbs out loud to your children, let’s say at meal times, but you won’t do it unless x, y, or z happens, then you are going to crush an important opportunity to disciple your children.

If you give up because you are consistently interrupted with questions or distractions, you’ll never get anywhere. Discipling your children has to happen in the midst of a messy life.

Satan would love nothing more than to prevent you from leading your children to Christ…day after day. And how we live our every-days is how we live our lives, says Ann Voskamp. Isn’t that so true?

If day after day we give excuses on why we aren’t leading our children to Christ, then our lives are spent only making excuses. I could not imagine looking back on my mothering years and thinking, “Well, I wanted to disciple and lead my children, but, I just didn’t know where to start.”

What’s worse is, let’s say my children are not serving the Lord as adults, all because of my excuses not to lead them.

This is our top priority friends! We have no room {or time} for excuses! Nothing can stand in the way of what God has called us to do.

If you are in need of resources but lack the financial means to acquire them, pray! God has enough to equip you with what you need! I did this very thing just a couple of years ago and now I am swimming in resources. I am not lacking! God has provided and now I simply need to put feet to what He has called me to do.

Without excuses.

Perfection offers us a million excuses. In fact, excuses will never rest if we are seeking out perfection.

Let go of the picture perfect Bible study and simply embrace the messy life; the interruptions, the spilled milk, the crying baby, the needy dog who needs to go out again, the training and correction that must take place.

Simply keep moving forward in your reading and study of God’s Word. Take it a verse at a time; a lesson at a time; a question at a time.

There is no room for perfection in discipleship – otherwise there would be no room for discipleship.

I would love for you to join me Thursday as I share the introduction to The Resolution for Women. Are you up for the challenge? I invite you to subscribe if you are not already. It’s free and ensures you won’t miss anything! :)

Linked up with Women Living Well Wednesdays

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Practicing Grace

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Do you ever have days {or weeks} when you just can’t seem to get it together? You are tired, moving slow, overwhelmed, unmotivated, and just a wee bit discouraged?

I know I do.

What happens is, I tend to stay there. I feel guilty and as the guilt piles on, so does the discouragement. It weighs heavy on me.

Wonderful Grace by christin, on Pix-O-Sphere

God doesn’t offer us grace because we overcome these obstacles. No, no, no! God offers us grace because He has triumphed over our sin. It all goes back to believing we have to earn God’s grace. We don’t.

This is for you mother’s out there who are trying, not to earn God’s love or favor, but who are simply trying to be.

To be

  • a good mother
  • a faithful representative of Christ to your children
  • a helpful wife
  • a good homemaker
  • simply a woman lost in God

Because we don’t need to be told that we at least have to try. We know that. What we need to be told is that we need to practice grace; that though we reach for God and fail, He carries us. He does not want us to remain in a place of conviction, because that conviction transforms into shame.

When we are convicted – or found guilty – God asks us to repent. Part of repenting is receiving His grace so we can move forward.

When we don’t receive His grace, we remain in a state of guilt and cannot be released from that bondage because we haven’t received the gift offered to us. We’re holding ourselves hostage even though Someone paid to have us freed. It’s as if we’re living as unbelievers. Not because we don’t believe, but because we don’t receive.

Sometimes we just aren’t good about receiving things — especially things we don’t deserve. And when we aren’t good at things, the best way to become better is to practice.

Friends, we need to practice receiving grace.  We try and we fail, but we cannot allow ourselves to remain in that state of guilt and then shame. Because if we can’t let go of yesterday, we’re going to miss today. And if we can’t receive God’s grace, we can’t walk in the freedom and fellowship with Him that He desires ~ that He died for.
Fall by parrettfive, on Pix-O-Sphere
He died so we can be in fellowship with Him and live a life of freedom. Why would we choose to waste that gift and hold on to bondage?

It’s a battle of the mind and it’s something we need to combat everyday. Renew your mind by reading His Word. Meet with Him daily, hourly if need be, and receive grace so you can walk in freedom.

Walking in freedom does not mean we are free to sin, but rather we are free to begin again.

Chasing After Perfection

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Winner #20 – jbirthmom Congrat’s!

Are you a good girl? You know the kind. The try hard and strive hard kind. When you lie down at night the only thing running through your mind are all the things you didn’t do, or all the things you could’ve done better.

Your expectations of yourself are high–very high. You set your own standard and as a result have become your own worst enemy. You are constantly frustrated with yourself for your own lack of perfect performance.

Rather than chasing after God, you’re chasing after perfection.

I felt shame for who I as. I had to be perfect, but I wasn’t. And that wasn’t okay.

The way I saw life was a constant battle of trying to get something I didn’t think I had, of trying to become who Jesus wanted me to be, of trying to become a better version of myself.

pg. 28

That’s me. Except in the present tense.

And these expectations carry off on to those around me–like my children.

What does good mean?

Good means I never mess up. Good means I weigh the perfect amount. Good means I can handle everything, I don’t look like a fool, and I never lose my patience. Good means my husband will never be disappointed in me, and my kids will always obey, and everyone basically likes me. Good means I am enough. My goodness is all about me.

pg. 24

Emily wrote Grace for the Good Girl for girls like me: for the girl who is striving so hard after being “good” and “acceptable” that she forgets to strive hard after God and accept grace. She’s afraid that if she accepts grace she is giving herself permission to mess up, so she hides. She performs. She tries really hard to avoid needing the grace she “doesn’t deserve”.

Yet, the very reason Jesus died was so that our good performance {or lack thereof} didn’t stand in the way of our relationship with Him; of being in fellowship with Him. But we make our own rules and decide God’s way is too easy, and in our thinking, anything worth having is going to take hard work. Problem is, this is impossible work.

So the good girl strives and works for that which was so costly, forgetting it is offered freely. Pleasing God because we love Him is not the issue. The issue is performing for acceptance or a “self-righteous obligation”.{pg.65}

Emily reveals the truth behind this lie, and the truth is, you are already accepted. The law does not bring life, it brings recognition of a need. Following the Law does not bring freedom; it imprisons. It hinders us from a deeper relationship with Christ because rather than chasing after Him, we’re chasing after self.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. -Romans 8:6

“Flesh” isn’t all selfishness. Flesh is also “fear, worry, anger, hurt, revenge, lust, jealousy, and shame” {pg. 166}.

Instead set a new pattern; not a new truth, rather accept the Truth by believing His words as if He wrote them for you. {Because He did.}

When I don’t set my mind, my mind sets itself.

If I don’t actively set it, it will inactively switch into default mode. And my default setting is shame. {pg. 165}

This book has too much goodness to share it all here. Believe me, it was hard to choose which of my many highlights to share with you.

Bottom line is, if you’re that good girl looking for peace & rest from the constant striving and trying {and failing}, Emily shows you how to identify the masks, tells you how you can remove them, and learn to rest in the Grace God gifted to us so we could simply be with Him.

When we chase after Him and strive only for Him, the rest will follow through living a life of freedom and worship because you can’t help but worship the God who empowers you with Grace.

Giveaway

Today, we want to bless one good girl with a copy of Grace for the Good Girl, compliments of Revell Publishing.

Simply leave a comment sharing a brief note on Grace in your own life. Winners will be announced next Thursday.

One comment per person.

U.S. residents only.
grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I requested a copy of Grace for the Good Girl for review–I knew I needed it–and Revell agreed. This post does contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure.

Communion

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Today’s guest post is by Kris of Always Alleluia.

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“The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source.”

A.W. Tozer

Twigs snap beneath my feet as I walk and I think of the constant breaking. All around us, we live the cracking wide of spirits, breaking of hearts, breaking bread-communion.  All I want is to sit at your feet and time cracks its’ whip hard behind me and I startle and race through my days.  What if, this breaking is always an invitation to sit still at your feet, to join you at the table, to partake of what you give again and again?

Deep calls to deep
 at the roar of your waterfalls; 
all your breakers and your waves 
have gone over me. Psalm 42:7

What if we saw the breaking in reverse, a slow mending, supernatural hands, gently shaping pieces of us, smoothing the edges, melting away the cracks.  Two masterful hands holding us steady, together, allowing the healing to set before letting go.

I can’t imagine.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

What if all this breaking is a reminder, a push to refocus. I never looked at it that way.

I walk that line Sunday after Sunday. Hands folded, heart flush with the knowing-the recognition of my complete unworthiness. The holy moment at your table, on knees, head bowed, hands cupped empty, lifted in anticipation of receiving you.

How you, the Christ, fill us through your body, how you are present in the moment, in all the moments, the broken, the smashing, drowning moments of this trembling life.

And the healing.

We come before you, children, with the smashed pieces of our lives, the catastrophe of sins we have lived, begging for healing with our pride-reeking breath, and you lovingly, graciously accept this filth as offering. You forgive in a moment, without hesitation, without memory, giving your very self to cover our stains.

You fill my blemished hands with your pure white, and perfect body, stamped deep with the nails, with the cross- pierced.

“Take, eat; this is My body.”

Your blood crosses my lips and I am suddenly overwhelmed.

“Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

I present at the rail, all of my failings. The countless ways I have transgressed in six short days, and by your giving, you encourage, you bring healing.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

A.W. Tozer

By Kris ~ Always Alleluia Kris loves Jesus with her whole heart, and is a stay at home mom and Compassion Advocate who spends her days homeschooling 4 kids, and playing wife to her amazing husband. The floors are covered in crumbs and the washing machine never stops running but she counts each day as a gift! In her spare time she enjoys writing, reading and photography.

Broken Daughter, Crazy Momma, Redeemer God

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Today’s guest post is by Arabah Joy.

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Umbrella by eyebright, on Pix-O-Sphere

It is when we reach the other side of Nashville on I-40 that I get the call: The Brookin’s girl was in an accident and is paralyzed from the neck down.

She is only 16. Lying in a hospital bed at the Med, spinal cord broken, unable to move.

“She’d gotten in the car with a drunk friend,” the message was relayed. “The friend came away with a broken foot. Emily? Well…” the voice faded, then came back. “Evidently, she’d gone wild, after her mom up and went crazy a few years back.”

I knew the Brookin family, not well, but still they had come out on a short term mission trip to our city 5 or so years ago. They had seemed on fire for the Lord, excited to follow Him in even the unsafe ways He sometimes leads us in.

But then they returned home and Mrs. Brookin wasn’t so content with her life anymore. A mom of 4 little ones, going a little stir crazy, ready to go a little wild herself from the monotony, the mundane demands of motherhood.

She up and left one day. Vanished. Disappeared for two weeks while no one knew a thing.

Ended up leaving her family, living in isolation, never really a part of anything or anyone anymore. “She’s never been able to be there for her kids,” the voice on the other end of the line told me.

And I weep. I weep for a 16 year old girl with a broken neck… and a mom lost at sea who receives much less grace from Christians than her daughter will.

Yes, I weep.

During the night, I toss and turn, grieving for the lives of others. Grieving for what could have been. The story I’ve been privy to is a warning to me, because I know there is not one of us beyond it’s reality. Pride goes before a fall, and I’ve had my falls. From the Brookin’s ongoing story, I fear. I fear sin and it’s consequences, the pricetag is way, way too high.

And all through the night, I wake to this refrain: Live Loved!”

I see in the Brookin’s family the price tag for living un-loved, un-forgiven, un-receiving of the grace given. I see the high cost of living discontented and refusing to submit to God’s loving, sovereign hand in every day life. And I know this: there is a high, high price for me, my family, and the impact I make in ministry and community when I refuse to embrace all sufficient grace and give in to murmuring, complaining, controlling, resenting instead.

The Bible tells me I am to “Put off” those things, things like anger, bitterness, malice, resentment.

When I don’t, I take a gamble with my life and my future. Only it’s a gamble I can’t win, guaranteed.
If I’m going to allow motherhood to make me, I’ve got to live loved… every minute, every second. When the serpent slithers in and says, “You could be…” and “But what about …” I have a choice to make. I can listen and join in his little emotional tirade, or I can flat out refuse and instead believe that I am “Dearly loved.” Regardless.

Whether I’m changing a dirty diaper or running the kid rodeo at dinner time or trying to quiet a squabble, SO MUCH is riding on whether or not I live loved, receive grace, say “Yes, Lord.”
Fortunately, the Brookin’s story is not over.

Emily could have been killed, but she wasn’t.

Mrs. Brookin’s could have disappeared forever but she hasn’t.

And God could have given up on us all, but He didn’t.

So we can live loved. And we can start NOW.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen woman, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these virtues, put on love.” Colossians 3:12, 14

Challenge for us this week: Set aside the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions of anger, bitterness, resentment, and negative speech. Take up the love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience that Christ has towards you and wrap yourself in them like a garment. Sure, it takes practice! But we are in this together and the more we practice, the better we get. So go, girl!

Related post/activity: Quiet Hearts Board Game (a calming, connecting activity to do with your children)
Arabah Joy

In addition to being Arabah, I am wife to Loving Husband, mom to 4 ~both biological and adopted~, missionary, nature lover and Jesus freak

Beautiful Mess

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If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being messy me. I mean, I’m really good at it. It’s beautiful, really. Not really. But you know what is beautiful? Grace that calls me even when I’m at my messiest. A Father reaching out to His child, to draw her back to Him; to embrace her and remind her He is her safe place. Even though she’s a mess.

 by mollyrose, on Pix-O-Sphere

The thought is breath-taking, really. To grasp the idea that God wants to be near me, and in fact, love on me, even when I’ve messed up–especially when I’ve messed up?

His grace is sufficient. It [should be] enough for me to go to Him. My weaknesses only show His power even more. His beauty and my mess make one beautiful mess.

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