Recently I was blessed to give a devotional (more reflections) for a friend's baby shower. I wanted to be able to share them, because it's really just a conglomeration of what the Lord has been teaching me!
I feel ill equipped to share, since I only have two children and am only actively parenting one. What I do have is a different perspective, perhaps, than most new moms, and while I don’t have advice that has been tested, I have what the Lord has charged me with. So the following is really just a collection of “charges” from the Lord, and I hope they’ll be encouraging to you as you prepare for your baby’s arrival!
You may have heard the quote, “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” 36 weeks ago, you and your husband became something entirely new, taking up a new mantle of awe and responsibility and joy - You are a mom. And for the rest of your life, you’ll continue to discover exactly what that means, and how to best serve and honor the Lord with this new role.
As you know, my motherhood journey started off very differently than I expected. I was gifted with 9 months, 4 days, and 36 hours with Gwendolyn, and then given the reminder that life here on Earth is very short, but Eternity is long and I have the hope of forever with Gwenny.
So that is my first encouragement and challenge for you - keep Eternity in mind as you parent your daughter. You may have seen this illustration: a rope or ribbon that represents eternity, going on forever and forever. And this small part is our life here on Earth. And so as you face the next few weeks of physical discomfort, the birthing process, the sleepless nights, and the challenges of raising a daughter in a fallen world, where at some point (soon) your sin and hers will collide - remember that every day here is grace, and there are more important things ahead.
As Eternity begins to settle in your soul, the decisions you make here begin to take on a new weight. Realizing that Christ is the only hope we have for forever with the Lord, and that this truth MUST be shared with the hopeless and lost around us, the task of raising her becomes so much more than being a mom to a daughter: you are a Disciple Maker, and the Lord has given you the responsibility to teach, discipline, and instruct her in the knowledge of God, and to raise her up to become a Disciple Maker herself.
The Lord is teaching me that this requires a loose grasp on what I desire for my children. If I really believe that eternity is at stake for the lives of those around me, does it matter whether or not my son gets into the best school? Or on the soccer team? Are the things that I desire for Cai so similar to what the World wants, that I become indistinguishable as a Christian mom from the lost woman next to me? You and I should desire greater things, risk greater things, and sacrifice greater things because we know that GREATER THINGS are yet to come. My favorite quote that reminds me of this is by Jim Elliot. Jim was headed off to the jungle, and like any loving mother, his Mom expressed her fear and worry. And so Jim responds by quoting the Scripture about children being arrows in the hand of a warrior, and he remarks: “And what is a quiver full of but arrows? And what are arrows for, but to shoot? So, with the strong arms of prayer, bend back the drawstring and let the arrows fly - all of them, straight at the enemy’s hosts.”
You and I are ultimately warriors in God’s army, raising up little disciples who will hopefully know, trust, and love the Lord more than their very life. I say this with trepidation, thinking “Surely the Lord wouldn’t ask either of us to go through what Jim’s mother endured, or what Blair and I have already walked.” And yet the call is for us to love the Lord more than “father or mother or son or daughter” in order that we may be worthy of Christ.
The Lord is also teaching me that He is less concerned about me raising a great kid and more concerned about making me a great Mom. It is a slight difference of perspective and value, but will change the way you spend your days with your daughter. The Lord cares more about how you respond to a sleepy husband and a screaming infant, than about those two things. He cares about your response when she does something that you have told her repeatedly not to do, more than the thing she’s actually doing. He wants to mold you into a wife and mom filled with patience, kindness, gentleness, love, self-control, joy, faithfulness and peace. It is ultimately His responsibility to care for your daughter; yours is to bring yourself under the control of His Spirit and to walk with Him, allowing His grace to extend through you as you parent her.
Another thing the Lord is teaching me is to first value what is most important, and then model those values for Malacai. Children are so perceptive. Malacai knows that our cell phone and computer are something special, since he sees us on them quite a bit. And of course, he wants to do what Mom and Dad are doing! But is that something I want for him? What kind of hobbies do I want him to have? What do I want his attitude to be toward being outside, reading books, watching movies, electronics, sports, hospitality, and friendships? Because whatever I want for him, I better begin modeling it now. Of course I’m not saying that any of those are inherently sinful; but I encourage you to begin thinking what you want for your children, and then start modeling that for your daughter. It’s also humorous that what I want for Cai is often opposite of what I want! I am naturally shy; I don’t always want to talk to new people. But I want Cai to be confident, friendly, and a good conversationalist. So I better work on modeling that. So I encourage you and your husband to begin a list of your family values, and discuss how you can best model those for your children.
Another little reminder is to daily spend time WITH your daughter. That may seem like a funny thing to say, since of course every day from here on out you will be with her. I heard a statistic that the average amount of time a parent spends each day actually attentive and invested with their children is 6 minutes. While you will stay busy with laundry, cleaning, cooking, and all the normal household duties of a stay at home mom, remember that none of those things are as important as your child knowing that you love her, are for her, and want to spend time with her. So do something fun everyday with her, reminding her that she is more important that a cell phone, or a laptop, or a recipe.
My last encouragement is to know that the Lord is all you need. We often hear people misquote the verse that says, “He will not tempt you beyond what you are able,” and take it to mean that God will not GIVE you beyond what you are capable. But that isn’t true - the Lord OFTEN gives us things that we are not capable of doing! Just as being a wife was a more noble and greater calling that you in yourself can accomplish, the Lord is now also giving you motherhood as a calling to make you more and more like His Son. It is beyond what you are capable. But thankfully, the Lord is a merciful God and loves to come through for His children!
You will be tempted to think that you just need sleep; but the Lord is your rest. You will be tempted to think that what you need is a long bath, a long run, or a long time away from the husband and kids. But the Lord is your portion, He is your rock of refuge. So as you begin to face new challenges, remind yourself that you don’t have everything it takes, and there is comfort in that. Because He is all you need - and He will give you all you need.
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