Love Your Children – Day One
by Deb Weakly
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa
This week, we are learning about loving our children. Pray and ask the Lord to speak to your heart about what it means for you to love those precious ones He has entrusted into your care, and also to especially show you how much He dearly loves you! When we feel loved it’s so much easier to give love. What a gift it is to truly “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18-19.
1. Call your prayer partner for your 10-minute prayer call. Keep trying to connect until you get to pray together. This tiny habit of praying with a friend regularly will truly change your life! Done:______
2. It’s time to meet with your Heavenly Father, the one who loves you as His child and accepts you for who you are. Remember, you are holy and dearly loved! (Colossians 3:12.)
Where Does the Time Go?
Time. We never seem to have enough of it. I remember when my children were little, people would frequently say to me, “Enjoy this time–they will grow up before you know it!” I am sad to say that their prophecy came true; the time flew by, and now in the blink of an eye, my children have grown up.
I thank the Lord for encouraging me and my husband to pray together through those years. Each day we prayed, we would always pray Psalm 90:12 and 39:4. I truly believe praying these verses has made an incredible impact on our family life, and allowed us to treasure the time that we had with our children and with each other.
Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with the daily drudgery of being a mom and miss the beautiful moments that make up the happy places of our memories, as well as our children’s memories.
God gives each of us 24 hours a day to love well those He has providentially placed in our lives. The ability to savor the days of our lives is a gift given graciously to us by our heavenly Father, and a patient and determined petition. When God teaches us “to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom,” we notice the little things more often, savor the kisses, and appreciate these ones the Lord has so graciously given us.
I have often pondered living my life backwards, with an eye towards how I want to feel about the precious time I spent on this earth. How will I feel when I am very old and think back to the way I loved? Did I love well? Did I savor the moments? Was I a good ambassador to the people God gave me to love?
I believe pondering these thoughts are very productive and helps us to stay focused on the calling that the Lord has given to each of us, and helps us to savor the days, give grace, and laugh more. It helps us to even look at even changes our perspective on our daily chores; we are showing love to God by loving our families well and being a good steward of the days that have been given to us.
How about you, dear sister? Are you burdened by the endless amount of work and stress in your home? Come to Jesus, He will give you rest and help your weary soul. He alone can help you to savor each of the precious days you have with your family and to love them well.
Come to Him today.
4. Questions to Ponder: Prayerfully write the answers to the following questions in your journal. Done:______
– In your prayer time today, ask the Lord speak to you about numbering your days, appreciating your family and loving them well. What are some ways you can savor the days you have been given with your family?
One example could be lowering your expectations of how much you accomplish each day and how clean your home actually has to be. There are seasons in our lives where our homes are clean, and seasons where they are messy. The time when you have Littles in your home is not the time to have “House Beautiful.” Remember, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.” Proverbs 14:4. If you have little “oxen” you usually have big messes and a tired mama. Give yourself grace as much as possible. Try to get into a rhythm of laundry, meals, cleaning and playtime, but don’t give in to the feeling of defeat during messier times. Remember, be like “Dori” from Finding Nemo and “Just keep Swimming!” Just keep trying. Don’t give up! Ask the Lord to help you to have a house as clean as you, your husband, and the Lord think it should be. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! You do you!
-Are you too busy to enjoy your life and your children? Do you and your family have too many commitments? Are you in your car too much, shuffling your children from one activity to the next? I have found in my family that it was so much simpler if each child was only involved in one outside activity. But remember, you do you! Pray and ask the Lord to show you if there is anything you should change. Write what He says in your journal.
5. Love your Children Faith-Filled Idea #1- This Faith-Filled idea is my favorite! Begin to pray this week for the Lord to give you a hymn for each of your children. Print it out and put the hymn on your children’s bedroom wall. Be sure to tell them the story of “their hymn.” sing it to/with them often, and tell them why you think God gave this hymn to them. What a gift that will last your children a lifetime! You never know, it could be a huge source of encouragement to your children when they have their own difficult places to walk through. Done:______
6. Mommy Tips to focus on for the next two weeks:
– The Wise Woman Builds Her Spirit: Write Psalm 90:12 on 3 sticky notes and put one at your kitchen sink, one on your bathroom mirror and one in your car. Say this verse out loud as much as possible for the next two weeks. Try to notice God answering this prayer, and write down what He says to you that helps you to “number your days.”
– The Wise Woman Loves Her Husband: Plan some type of date with your husband for the next two weeks. It can be very simple. In fact, here’s a wonderful idea from one of our HCFM Moms, Anelise Couch:
“A dear friend gave my husband and I the idea to lay out on the drive way, look at the stars and talk. Quickly it became one of our favorite dates. Grab a hot or cold drink and enjoy! It is romantic, special, and no baby sitting is required.”
–The Wise Woman Loves Her Children: We each only have a certain amount of time to love, train, and disciple our children. This time used to raise up children who love Jesus is time well spent. Your children are sponges and love to learn about things that are important to their parents, so be sure to use a portion of your time each day to encourage your children to love and know God better. Talk to them about Jesus. Tell them that Jesus loves His children, and loves it when we talk to Him. Teach them to pray for other people. Read verses about prayer to your children such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually.” God wants us to pray all the time and to remember to pray for other people.
Here’s a great Mommy Tip idea from one of our HCFM Team Members, Heather Doolittle:
“I try to teach the kids to pray without ceasing while we are in the car. We’ll pray for car crashes we pass, pray for the loved ones of the deceased when we pass flowers and crosses on the roadside, pray for those we see in poverty, etc. It has softened our hearts and opened our eyes to the world around us, and God occasionally gives us the opportunity to help strangers who we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. My circle of friends and family includes many faithful prayer warriors, and my children have seen that time and again. I remind them that there are lost, lonely people out there who may not have anyone else praying for them, so our prayers can change their lives.”
–The Wise Woman Cares For Her Home: Plan your meals for this week. If you are going out or eating leftovers, write that on the line as well.
Love Your Children – Day Two
by Mari Jo Mast
“God’s Truth always trumps however inadequate we may feel, but he longs for his Truth to become our reality.”
1. Smile. You are seen, cherished and adored by your loving Creator!
2. Read Psalm 127 & 128 (both chapters are short)
3. Record yourself speaking Psalm 127:3-4. (listen to your recording when you feel discouraged throughout the week).
He is able!
One morning a few years ago, I read Psalm 128:3 for the very first time.
I had awoken discouraged, being a few weeks pregnant with our seventh child. Morning sickness and exhaustion plagued my days, and I desperately needed relief and healing. No matter how much I prayed or how many remedies I tried, nothing worked. It was difficult taking care of 6 children at the time, and a sense of hopelessness and depression followed. I felt like giving up–like being a Mom just wasn’t worth it.
Feelings of inadequacy and failure had overwhelmed me most of my motherhood years.
I felt guilty for having a large family with kids that were rowdy and disobedient at times. People (even Christians) made remarks about the amount of children we had, and it made me feel irresponsible and foolish. Sadly, because of how the culture and others viewed our family, I allowed myself to believe the lie that having a big family was a curse, not a blessing. I felt so much shame and condemnation. The feelings were so deeply rooted in me, I didn’t know how to fix them.
That morning as I sought the Lord for comfort, tears streamed down my face. I opened my bible and it flopped open to Psalm 128. It was then that verse 3 spoke deeply to my heart, “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” I gasped, these were brand new thoughts for me!
God’s word changed my thinking that morning. Instead of viewing myself as a failure, I began to see how He had blessed WHO I was. He WANTED me to have children, they were His personal gift to me, my inheritance. I wept, but they were happy tears now.
I share all of this to give you hope–are you struggling too? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel it’s not worth it to raise children with all the investments, time, and exhaustion? When your strong-willed children misbehave, do you feel ashamed? Do you feel alone?
My dear sister, God sees you right where you are. He loves your children, and His plans far exceed what you can imagine ( Jeremiah 29:11) He can turn any and all of your circumstances around quickly, because he is in the business of healing the broken-hearted (Psalm 147:3) and equipping you to do His will (Hebrews 13:21). He has already blessed WHO you are as a mother (Psalm 128:3). Every child he places in your care, He ordains for a greater purpose (Psalm 139:13). It really doesn’t matter what the problem is, he wants to heal you so you can love your children well.
Can you trust him? Please understand that nothing is too big for God. Allow this truth to sink deep into your heart and let it change you. Ask Him for a specific Word that will heal the places in your heart that hurt, the places you’re afraid to go. You can even call a friend you trust to share your vulnerabilities and pray. Don’t hang on to your disappointments; let the healing begin.
HE is Able!
4. Questions to Ponder: Prayerfully write the answers to these questions in your journal. Done:______
-Are you feeling discouraged about anything in your life right now?
-What does God’s Word say about this?
Here is an example from my own (Deb’s) life when my children were little:
“Lord, I am feeling discouraged because my children always get into trouble when we go to my friends houses! It’s so embarrassing! I feel like a bad mom!!”
“God I know your Word is truth, and it says that you are my Helper. I am not alone. You want me to stay close to you and ask for help every day. Your Word says that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11. Help me to remember that you are gently leading me, and that I can trust you.”
5. Love Your Children Faith-Filled Idea #2- Take the time to look your children (and husband) in the eyes and listen to them when they talk to you. If you are in the middle of something and your child is really wanting to tell you something, take 1 minute, turn your whole body towards your child, look them in the eyes and listen to them. If you don’t ever stop to listen to your children, someday they may stop trying. Ask God to help you to know when to try to get your work done and when to stop and listen. Done:______
Love Your Children – Day Three
by Tara Davis
“Do what the Lord bids you, where he bids you, as he bids you, as long as he bids you, and do it at once.”
-Charles H. Spurgeon
1. It’s time to meet with your beautiful Savior who loves you more than you could ever know or comprehend this side of heaven! Grab your Bible, journal, pen and something delicious to drink. Light a candle and celebrate the fact that you are a “child of God.” John 1:12.
2. Read Ephesians 5:15-17 and write it in your journal. For a beautiful blessing today, read the whole chapter
Lessons From a Caterpillar
I find that God often uses small experiences in my day to reinforce big lessons he has been trying to teach me. My young son’s latest adventure with nature is a perfect example!
It was my son’s first time holding a caterpillar, and he loved every square inch of its velvety-black fuzz. However, his coos and giggles at his new friend were soon replaced with shrill screams of pain. “What’s the matter honey?!” I asked, confused. He stuck out his little tongue, which was covered with black, barbed caterpillar fibers and wailed, “Taterpillar bited me!!” He had licked the caterpillar! It was such a beautiful creature that he must have thought it would taste just as wonderful! Little did he know that not all beautiful things are good. He didn’t realize that, just because something is attractive, even uniquely designed by our Creator, it is not necessarily supposed to be consumed.
Aren’t our day-to-day decisions as mamas so often like that caterpillar? There are many lovely, tempting activities that, while outwardly beautiful and seemingly God-given, ultimately draw us away from God’s amazing plan for our daily lives as mothers. Oh, the times I have chosen doing dishes over a board game with my seven year old, or attempting to make a fancy meal over pleas to read books with my boys, or trying to craft a Pinterest-inspired project while watching my son’s face drop, his plans with me set aside.
God gave me hungry boys to feed, a beautiful home to clean, and a creative spirit to use for the benefit my family. Even so, he often gently impresses on my heart that he would rather I provide a cozy, yet imperfect home, a quick staple meal, or a life for my family that is absolutely unworthy of Pinterest. Especially if it means that I have more time to intentionally disciple my sweet boys and speak life to my family. Just because an activity looks appealing or would garner the praise of others, doesn’t mean it’s God’s best for me as a mama.
That evening, after a call to poison control, my husband and I brought our little boy into the house and carefully removed all of the miniscule barbs of caterpillar fuzz from his hurting tongue. I have found that God does that with my heart as a mama too. Through his Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, He eliminates the things in my life that I thought were beautiful or worthy of my attention, but which have actually turned out to be poor uses of my time or selfish habits which hurt my relationship with my kids.
The next day, my little one woke up with a swollen face and belly marked with hives. Later, armed with medicine from his doctor, my son slept in my arms, comfortable and peaceful once again. My Father, the Great Physician, provides just the prescription that I need as well. During the days when I’ve made regretful decisions, when I’ve chosen Facebook over my boys, when I have been short on patience, or have let others expectations of me as a mama outweigh God’s, my Father plucks those poor habits painstakingly from my heart and covers the wounds and guilt with his healing balm – His Word, forgiveness, and his heart of love toward me.
Ultimately, God has called us as mothers to die to our selfish habits and our desire to impress the world. He asks that we put away the lovely, but worthless things that are not of Him: to take a breath of patience, turn off our computers, and pray every day for wisdom to know how God would have us to spend our time, and allow Him to show us those things that are not just beautiful to the world, but are truly glorifying to him.
3. Questions to Ponder: Prayerfully write the answers to these questions in your journal. Done:______
– What are one or two things that distract you from mothering the way God has called you to?
4. Love Your Children Faith-Filled Idea #3: Done:______
Have fun, bedtime rituals. Make sure that you start getting everyone to bed soon enough to truly enjoy bedtime. I our (Deb’s) home, we always read books outloud to our children most every night. Some of our favorites were, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter,” “Hank the Cowdog” series, we also read children’s science encyclopedias with lots of bright pictures, (believe it or not, the kids loved it!) and lots of chapter books. There are great resources that list wonderful books for children. I love “Books Children Love,” “Honey for a Child’s Heart,” and “Read for the Heart,” by Sarah Clarkson.Also, get your children an inexpensive CD player to keep in their room. After you have put them to bed, let them listen to CD’s such as “Wee Sing Bible Songs,” “Your Story Hour,” “Adventures in Odyssey,”etc.. There is a great series about the lives of classical composers called “Classical Kids.” Each of the CD’s are about 30 minutes on each side. They could listen to one side of the CD each night. Be sure to account for this new, fun habit and try to start the bedtime routine earlier.
5. Don’t forget to keep working on your Mommy Tips!
-The Wise Woman Builds Her Spirit. Done:______
-The Wise Woman Loves Her Husband. Done:______
-The Wise Woman Loves Her Children. Done:______
-The Wise Woman Cares For Her Home. Done:______