Embrace the High Calling of Parenthood

Embrace the CallHere’s the secret truth, (and there’s not a parent that doesn’t wish it): I wish parenting was easy. I wish it didn’t require so much of me, or rather that there was more left of me after the day was done. I wish that my children were angelic, obedient, and always eager to please. I wish my stubborn streak had skipped a generation. I wish that I knew what I was doing. I wish that formulas worked, or at least that what worked for one child would work for the next, or even what worked for my parents, or my best friends, would work for us also. But it doesn’t work that way—not even close.

On the hard days, this parenting journey is enough to leave me in tears. On the good days, I feel quietly unsettled that I don’t know how to repeat the same result for another golden day. And more frightening than either of these two kinds of days, are the myriad more where I just don’t care.

And I think it’s this secret truth, and perhaps even a secret belief that it should be easy that keeps us irritated, resentful, and weary when the days are hard. We somehow think parenting shouldn’t require this much of us. That it shouldn’t demand our all. We somehow secretly believe that we’re doing something wrong if our children don’t come out of the womb respectful, courteous, and pliant. We somehow believe the formulas should work if only we could find the right one.

But God didn’t make parenting or children this way. He made this job of mothering and fathering into perhaps the most demanding calling we will ever know. We aren’t raising automatons. We’re raising born tyrants. And we’re doing all that we can to shepherd their hearts to God, so that somehow He might transform them into loving servant leaders. Given that I’m a reformed tyrant myself, is it any wonder that I still wistfully long for this whole parenting gig to run smoothly so that I could just have a little more time for me or get through my to-do list?

But this isn’t about me, it’s about them. It’s about a million and one daily opportunities to teach, correct, train, model, plead, pray, and show forth His ways in situations as mundane as the snatched toy, the disrespectful attitude, the slowness to do right, and the stubbornness to turn from folly.

We’re raising a child from utter helplessness to not just responsible adulthood (which is hard enough in itself), but hopefully to passionate Christ-centered living. This requires everyday, life-on-life discipleship and it demands everything of us.

But too often, my mindset is reactive, not proactive. Too often, my mindset is one that expects this journey to be easy and so resents it when it is hard.

Every calling worth pursuing is rigorous. I’ve never met an accomplished musician who didn’t put in grueling hours of work in the mind-numbing minutiae. I’ve never met a doctor who somehow skipped right through residency and long-hours of studying to an encyclopedic knowledge of their patients’ needs. I’ve never met an athlete who is unacquainted with sacrifice, pain, and self-discipline. And yet somehow, we think that this high and holy calling of caring, nurturing, and shepherding an eternal soul is something that would not demand our all.

The truth is the more I embrace parenthood as a high and holy calling that demands everything of me the less I will grow resentful, frustrated and weary when it does. The more I believe the eternal significance of even my most mundane moments, the less likely I am to despise or shrug my way through them. When I greet my day believing my work is noble, I’m less likely to treat the precious persons entrusted to my care like burdens. When I see my work as opportunity after opportunity for instilling character and teaching repentance and faith, the less likely I will be to view such opportunities, and even my children as interruptions.

The most pervasive thing which I will leave behind to my children is my attitude toward them and toward this calling. It will permeate all their memories, even the ones that on paper should look flawless. One day they will not remember the day at the waterpark or the long-saved-for vacation; they will remember how they felt when they were with me. Did they feel the daily drip of my despondency over my mundane role or did they feel joy in my presence because I knew deep down my part mattered and their time under my care had eternal value? Did they feel I was constantly frustrated and annoyed with them for simply being children in need of training or that I was encouraged by the opportunities I was given to raise them up in the truth? Did they sense me trying to control their every move out of fear or feel the grace of one who deeply believes that God is in ultimate control? Whether or not they remember the waterpark or the beach vacation, they will remember my attitude toward them and it will color who they become.

I pray to God for the grace to embrace this all-demanding work that’s been given to me with joy, purpose, and trust. Because it matters not just for them, but for me. I can muddle through the years of parenting, resenting every hard thing along the way or face those same challenges as one who lives expecting them, embracing them, and believing they are the true path to molding their character and my own. May God grant us grace and mercy; how desperately all who would take up the call of mother and father will need it.

 

Like what you’re reading? Consider subscribing to get these posts to your inbox and also check out my book for expectant moms: Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting, a perfect gift for any expecting mom you know. You can read an excerpt of the book here. And find out what writers like Ann Voskamp are saying about the book. Or if you’d like to read similar posts to  this, check out “The Interrupted Life,” “Embrace Your Season” and “Not Enough“. Thanks for reading and sharing with your friends. 

WaitingWonder

Waiting in Wonder Book Launch Excerpt #4 and a Roomba Giveaway

Rumba Giveaway picGood morning and welcome! A special welcome to anyone stopping by from Grace Covers Me , a beautiful and rich blog by Christine Hoover, where I have a special guest post appearing today, called High Hopes. If you’re stopping by for the first-time, we are in the midst of 6 days of excerpts and giveaways to kick off the launch of my new book, Waiting in Wonder, released just last Tuesday, April 16th from Thomas Nelson publishers.

Today’s excerpt hits on one of the main themes of Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting and is near and dear to my heart. One of my hopes in writing this book was to exalt the high and holy calling of motherhood and to remind readers that their work as mothers is valued and of the utmost importance in God’s kingdom. I hope to raise mothers’ eyes to see that they have been given a sacred calling, entrusted to them by God. This is not just physical work or even work that involves molding a person’s social and character development. This is work in the spiritual realm and as such has an eternal value and consequence.

Check out today’s excerpt:

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And because I’m reminding you that your work is so important, I want to give you a way to leave some of that day in day out work to … well, maybe a robot. I know that with two little ones 3 and under, I spend a lot of time in a week chasing up crumbs and the high chair free fall with a dust pan and broom. Perhaps for one blessed mama, this little gadget (the iRobot 560 Roomba vacuum, est. value $449.99) can free her up to focus on the more important matters.  Of course, you don’t have to be a mom or even female to enter. And I hope that even though this item is a little more practical, you’ll still be as excited about it as the other great prizes we’ve offered this past week. So without further ado, here’s your chance to enter today’s giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And speaking of our other giveaways they are still open until midnight on the 25th, so if you haven’t yet had the chance to enter to win an iPad mini, a $200 Spafinder gift card, or a Nikon Coolpix L810 camera, I hope you’ll check them out and read the excerpts I’ve already posted.

And of course, if you haven’t yet gotten a copy of Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting I hope you’ll get one for yourself, for a an expectant friend, a future baby shower, or perhaps even to donate to a local crisis pregnancy center. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss a post.

 

Falling More in Love with Jesus through My Children

Let your heartLately, I feel like a woman in love. I find myself singing when I don’t mean to be. I feel this deep sense of love and gratitude and tenderness when I think of my beloved. It seems like there’s this gurgling joy that just keeps springing out of me. And it’s coming from some place deep, deep, deep inside. It’s a renewing energy inside of me and I know at least a big part of it is because I’m falling deeper in love with Jesus as I teach my children of His love for them.

It’s like this. Have you ever had a moment where you see someone loving your kids well and it just makes you fall more deeply in love with that person? Maybe it’s your husband wrestling on the floor with your sons, or your father patiently teaching your little one how to fish, or maybe it’s your sister who’s called to invite your little girl for a tea party and a sleepover. And if you don’t have children, I’m sure you’ve had the feeling: when you see someone being kind and generous to someone you love, it makes your heart swell. And that’s just how I feel lately as I teach my little ones about Jesus.

I have to confess, my own spiritual growth has been really spurred on lately by a few—I’m going to call them works of art, because that’s what they are—works of art originally designed for toddlers and children. And I’m so grateful for real artists using their gifts for children (and their parents!) that I have to tell you about them. The first two are both by the same writer, Sally Lloyd Jones. Oh friends, whether or not you have young children, buy her children’s Bible and read it. You will fall more in love with God through it. In her “Jesus Storybook Bible” she tells the story of the Bible not as individual snapshots of Bible heroes, but rather for what it is, a meta-narrative capturing the fierce and unrelenting heart of God for His people. Here’s a passage from the creation story and more specifically the apex of creation where God makes Adam and Eve:

“So God breathed life into Adam and Eve. When they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God’s face. And when God saw them he was like a new dad. “You look like me,” he said. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made!”

“God loved them with all of his heart. And they were lovely because he loved them.And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and the winds in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the one who made them. Their hearts were filled with happiness. And nothing ever made them sad or lonely or sick or afraid.

“God looked at everything he had made. “Perfect!” he said. And it was.

“But all the stars and the mountains and the oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began…”

Isn’t that breathtaking? Doesn’t it make it all just come to life for you again in a new way? Oh, how I want to be a part of that song of the stars, streams, and winds in the trees. Oh, how I want to know that perfect happiness of Eden that we will taste of once again in the new heavens and new earth! Oh, how I want to let that deep, deep love of Jesus seep, seep, seep into my soul and transform me!

Tonight, as I put my son Luke to bed we were reading from Sally Lloyd Jone’s Hug-a-Bible, intended for an even younger audience. Thanks to the beautiful creative work of Sandra McCracken, Flo Paris, Katy Bowser, and Ellie Holcomb (Rain for Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones) who took Jones’ beautiful words and put them to gorgeous singable melodies, I was read/singing with and to Luke these words:

“He made the stars and oceans blue
But says that none compare with you.
You are his treasure and great prize.
He knows your name. He made your eyes.

He is your Shepherd, little lamb.
The King of Heaven
The Great I am.”

And as I’m hearing Luke sing these words and singing these words to him, I’m holding back the tears because God loves my little ones so well and that makes me just fall more and more in love with Him. And the more in love with Jesus I fall, the more I want to teach my little ones to love Him, to walk with Him, to lean into Him, to know Him.

Last week in the days following Easter, we were leaping (I’m not kidding—and I know the visual picture may make you laugh–it made it hard for my husband to work downstairs!) around the house to this melody, also by Rain for Roots with words by Sally Lloyd Jones. Take a minute to watch this video, I think it will fill you with joy and give you a glimpse of the kingdom of God!

And Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). I think I’m learning what this means. As I fall simply more in love with Jesus, I find my heart becoming more like that of a child: exuberant, free, sincere, and full of trust. This is not my work, but His in me, a miracle of grace.

And here’s the takeaway: if you find your heart and mind numb to the things of God, maybe it’s time to look at Jesus and God’s Word again with the simplicity of a child. What is this whole story about? “Who died but came alive again? Who came to rescue you and win? Who came to make all things brand new? Who did it all for the love of you?” Sit awhile and meditate on the answer to that question and then, “Sing and dance and leap and run! His name is Jesus, little one!”

Let your heart be little, and you will remember once again what it is to worship a God so big. See yourself for the vulnerable child you are and you will remember what is to rest in a God so good and strong. Rest once again in the strength and warmth and purity of God’s love; let your heart be little and your God big.

 

P.S. I’m super excited to be able to give away next week during launch week for my new book, Waiting in Wonder: Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting a digital download of Rain for Roots’ cd, “Big Stories  for Little Ones,” and also two signed copies of the cd at my release party (WIW_LaunchParty[1] (1)) on the 20th to some blessed expectant mama. 

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