Tag Archives: Motherhood

Ruth 2:14-4:22; I Samuel 1

Women of the Bible: the stories of Ruth and Hannah

 When reading Scripture, I often visualize myself walking in the shoes of the principal characters of the narratives. I can imagine, for instance, being Ruth the Moabite woman living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Rising early and walking to a field where she hoped to pick up the leftover grain to bring home sustenance for Naomi and herself. Listening to the wise council of the one woman she trusted with all her heart, the one who taught her to love and believe in the God of Israel. Risking her virtue and physical safety to join with strangers, she a foreigner in a small, but tightly woven community where everyone knew your story without knowing you. What could that have been like? The part of me that relates is the yearning I had as a young girl to know who to depend on for sustenance, guidance, and comfort. Grateful for those times when others showed concern and genuine caring. Yet, always longing for stability when, even as a young woman, I continued to need protection and provision. I’ve often testified that God answered the prayer of this unbeliever when He sent to me a husband who satisfied my need for security. How wonderful that even though I was not then aware of my future salvation, God knew. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

Like a Cinderella story, Ruth found her charming prince and Naomi held her precious grandson against her shoulder. And from that fortuitous pairing of Ruth and Boaz came the future King David and the messianic lineage of Jesus Christ. I, too, had my prince and then my own little darling to raise.

In Hannah’s story, my heart was torn reading that after God answered her prayer for a child, she could give up of that same child for another to raise. Hannah’s anguish over being barren, year after year, may be difficult to understand in America today. Young adults are waiting longer to marry and longer still to have children. We praise the family who limits conceiving their number of children to two or less. We value resources such as food, fuel, forests, and air as if these elements preserve our future. Yet, are we not, as C.S. Lewis once argued careening toward the “abolition of man?” Still, what is the first commitment made by most Christian parents who love the Lord God? We dedicate our children to God – to raise them in the “admonition of the Lord.” We stand publicly before our congregations to declare we will raise our children in a godly home, and we ask for their support in teaching and modeling for our children how to obey and love God. Yet, Hannah’s desire for her son to know God went so much deeper. She held the hand of little Samuel, a child of two or three years old, and took him to actually live in the sanctuary and be raised by the aging priest, Eli.

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord [Eli], I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord…For this child I prayed and the Lord granted me my petition…Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord,” I Samuel 1:26-28.

In dedicating my own daughter, did I truly give her over to the Lord? I thought I did. I still feel the joy and pride of her memorizing Scripture for the Bible Bowl, attending Vacation Bible School, singing in the Children’s Choir, coloring pictures of Jesus and the Cross, creating her own Christmas and Easter cards, and writing stories and poems for her Christian school English teachers. But did I hamper her learning to trust in God by my own need for validation as a mother? Why was it so hard to believe that God loved her more than I ever could?

These are questions that I ponder being a parent. There is no end to my negative self-talk, my mother-guilt, especially since my daughter passed away. Yet I am comforted knowing that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him,” (Biblegateway.com). As her mother, I can rejoice that God ‘lent’ her to me for a while like Hannah could rejoice despite knowing how short the time she would have to nurture her son.

Scripture is for our instruction in righteousness and for strengthening our faith, for courage, healing, and peace. God’s Word also reminds me that women in the Bible were important to His plan of redemption and the birth of the Church. I am comforted by the real stories of people who walked with God, obeyed, and worshiped Him, and were rewarded with renewed joy and greater faith. Ruth’s loyal love to Naomi, Hannah’s sacrificial gratitude for Samuel, and the many other heroines of the Old and New Testaments are the precious jewels of Proverbs 31 which declares, “For her worth is far above rubies…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Precious Lord God, You alone fashioned me and every other child inside of mothers whom You loved. You know the first and last day we will walk this earth. Thank You, Lord, that You rejoice and sing over us from that first reunion with You and into eternity. May the Lord bless us and favor us, our family, our children, and their children while we wait for that day we are together again with Jesus, our Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4

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2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

29The Lord gives strength to those who are tired.

He gives more power to those who are weak…

31But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.

They will be able to rise up as an eagle in the sky.

They will run without needing rest.

They will walk without becoming tired.

Isaiah 40:29-31

I. AM. EXHAUSTED.

My roles as solo mama to three under the age of six, house cleaner for my own home (well, I’m trying) and for three others, sole breadwinner, daughter, friend, leader, studier of the Word…and on top of that never sleeping for more than 3-4 hours straight due to kids having nightmares or the insomnia brought on by thinking about my ever-growing to do list, has made me truly understand what it means to be sleep deprived.

And yet, I can’t stop. I can barely slow down; though there are days that I force myself, because I can’t afford to get benched by illness, and the cleanliness of my house suffers or we have cereal for dinner for the third night in a row. As much as I’ve pared down and said “No” to as much as possible, just the basics of life completely take it out of me…and unfortunately, there are way too many things left that if I don’t do them, they don’t get done.

I am desperate for strength and power. I am desperate to walk and run and rise up like the eagle. I am desperate to thrive and not just (barely) survive. I am desperate to live. I am desperate for God.

2Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, 3“Lord, please remember that I have always obeyed you. I have given myself completely to you. I have done what you said was right.” And Hezekiah cried loudly. 2 Kings 20:2-3

Hezekiah’s situation was different; he was literally on his death bed. He was desperate. And so, he cried out to Jesus, he cried loudly, unashamed. God heard his cry, honored his faithfulness, and restored his health.

To survive this season, all seasons of my life, it is so important to call on Jesus. Every day. Every moment. It is necessary to seek His presence, His, strength, His grace, His mercy. I can’t do it on my own.

3But those who do right should be glad.

They should rejoice before God.

They should be happy and glad.

4Sing to God. Sing praises to his name.

Prepare the way for him

who rides through the desert.

His name is the Lord.

Rejoice before him. Psalm 68: 3-4

When I take the focus off myself, my struggles and difficulties, my needs, and put the focus back on God’s goodness, I am immediately refreshed. When I praise Him through song, lifting His name to the heavens, I am strengthened, because I am reminded that He never leaver nor forsakes me. When I rejoice, I am encouraged in the ways He provides for my needs in the midst of my struggles, my fatigue, my overwhelm, and He meets me where ever I am.

Yesappa, Thank You for hearing me and being bigger that my circumstances. Thank You for meeting me where I am, despite my fatigue and my overstretched to do list. Thank You for Your strength and Your rest. Thank You for healing my body, my mind, my heart when I cry out to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Hosea 14; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.”

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall. Hosea 14:8-9, NLT

***

O God, listen to my cry!
    Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
    I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
    a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
    safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4

 

***

25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28, NLT

***

Leadership matters. I look for examples of leaders in history pages. I look for examples of leaders all around me. I think long on the role I play as a leader and influencer–wife, mother, friend, neighbor, teacher–there are opportunities for influence everywhere. Where I set my gaze sets my course–and not just mine; the effects ripple around me.

Who is influencing me? And how does their influence affect my heart, my home and my other friendships?

Lord, please be at the heart of my heart. Please be at the heart of my home. Please be at the heart of my friendships.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

3It takes wisdom to have a good family.

It takes understanding to make it strong.

4It takes knowledge to fill a home

with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4 (ICB)

As a mother my desire is to have a great relationship with my kids. I want my home to be a place of safety, full of wonderful things and even better memories. I want my kids to be connected at the heart with me, their Daddo, each other. And, most importantly I want them to love Jesus with all their being.

There are many days I feel like a failure in all this; days when my bad mommy moments vastly outweigh the good ones. I am probably my own worst critic. It’s probably better than I sometimes think it is. I choose to hold on to the hope that my kids remember more of the positive moments, the fun times, and forget the times I’ve lost my patience and my self-control went the way of the dodo.

28A person who does not control himself

is like a city whose walls have been broken down. Proverbs 25:28 (ICB)

When I lose self-control, yell, scream, lecture, spank…I immediately witness the tiniest thread of connection my daughters and I have in that moment disintegrate like a hiker walking through a spider web stretched across the trail. Even if my calm, steady voice paired with “the look” isn’t working to get their attention, the tension-filled, impatient, MOM voice and ugly face, turns them away from me even faster.

7But we were very gentle with you. We were like a mother caring for her little children. 8Because we loved you, we were happy to share God’s Good News with you. But not only that, we were also happy to share even our own lives with you. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ICB)

I don’t want to go through life feeling like I had a good day simply because I didn’t make front page news. I want to know that my family had a good day because I was gentle, caring, I was patient and full of self-control, even if my kids weren’t. I want them to experience my love first hand, not just hear the words come from my mouth. I want to show them who Christ is through my example. I want my family to be happy that we share our lives together. I want my house to be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

On Sunday, I actually had it together. I had some alone time, with God (an important key), and then miraculously got everyone dressed, fed and out the door on the way to church 10 minutes early. Once I got us all belted in and we were on the road, I looked in the rear view mirror at my oldest and asked her how the morning was. She thought for a moment and told me it was a good morning. I asked her why. She said, “Because, we didn’t fight.”

The treasure chest filled up a little bit more…

Yesappa, Thank You for showing me how it can be when I rely on Your wisdom and understanding to build my family up and fill my home. Help me in those moments that I struggle to see what You see. Help me love my kids more like You love them. Help me discipline like You discipline Your children. Give me strength to choose self-control and patience, and make me into a gentle mother. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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Proverbs 14-15; Romans 14

I’d had the book on motherhood on a shelf for years, unread. A one-word focus on community, a look at my first community–my family– and the steady awareness of the fleeting years of my kids’ childhood became a perfect catalyst to read it.

Chapter 3–an undivided heart.

  A wise woman builds her home,
    but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1, NLT

I made a list of words, the difference between the wise woman and the foolish one. 

To build, the words: intentional, nurturing, gentle, joyful, wholehearted, obedient, prayerful, unhurried, patient, God-focused, available, attentive.

To tear down, the words: careless, disorganized, abrasive, selfish, hurried, divided, worldly, checked out, worried. 

And the difference between the two? The heart. 

I considered my own. A season of competing priorities, stress and preoccupation, the dailies of running a household, a growing overwhelm. Were these the things that were dividing my heart? Certainly, they all needed attention–workload, problems, obligations. But were these things becoming bigger than my God?

I needed new perspective, because the one I had left me hurried, worried, irritable and exhausted. It was souring my attitude. I was slowly dismantling my home with my own hands. And the crazy thing? I was hardly aware of it.

With the same demands, one woman can build upon them and another will use them to tear apart her life. Who did I want to be? What would my example sow into generations? What did my perspective say not only of my heart but of my God?

The stresses and demands, the pull of priorities, the problems–they didn’t go away because of chapter 3. But my perspective changed because of God’s word.

Courtney (66books365)

(Chapter 3 reference to The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. No compensation for mentioning this book.)

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