By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
Life is a full mix of fun and fear, and our kids are watching how we react to both. Jesus said He came so we could live life to the full. What life was full of, He didn’t specify. Raising kids will bring a lot of fun and a lot of fear into our lives. Holding on to these five notes of wisdom has helped me embrace the Lord’s joy through it all. All the crying messes, freaked-out moments, mistakes I’d rather not own up to, and blessed moments so full they could burst wide open. These are notes of wisdom I embrace daily as a mom. God places our children in our lives for a reason, and it is important to remember our mothers, too. Everything God ordains is intentional, and we are blessed to be made in His image to bring glory to Him.
1. Seek God First Every Day
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT
This first note of wisdom is how I begin each day. Most days, I’m at my desk with a dim light on, the Bible open, and the prayer list sprawled out. But even in seasons when sickness or sadness has robbed me of the early morning, talking to God still takes precedence in my day. The NIV Study Bible explains v33, “the heart of the matter.” We are created to bring glory to God and cannot accomplish this without a relevant daily relationship with Him. The Voice paraphrase of this verse reads, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.” Faith done right feels like a warm friend, always there, not afraid to stick the truth to you, and forever forgiving.
“Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11 NLT
Motherhood has stretched me farther than I ever thought I could reach. From sinking into the proverbial floor in despaired prayer to experiencing the joy of patience paying off – it’s been a long stretch of lessons! A continual season of seeking and searching for God in everything. The ESV translation of 1 Chronicles 16:11 reads, “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” The Hebrew word for continually is tamiyd, meaning “continuity, perpetuity, stretch.” It’s sometimes necessary to stretch to see God’s hand in our everyday lives. We know, undoubtedly, without minds, He is always with us, but stretching to see Him and seek Him in our everyday situations helps us remain on course to live a full life.
Parenthood is busy. Many of us work full-time jobs and are full-time parents. But any amount of time we give the Lord pays off in high dividends. In the early morning hours, listening to something fruitful on our commute, taking a break, a prayer walk …it’s essential to seek God first, and often, each day. It’s become my method of motherhood survival.
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2. Listen to the Wise Voices God Places in Your Life
“Get all the advice and instruction you can so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:20-21 NLT
Parents are planners. Before they leave the womb, we plan for our kids to be rock stars, presidents, pastors, doctors, authors, coaches, and teachers. Yet, we are ill-equipped to know God’s plan for their lives and the path He has laid out for them to get there. God reminds us to ask Him for help:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 ESV
Though we believe God will answer our requests for wisdom, we don’t always expect Him to deliver it through some of the people He chooses to or the learning curves our children navigate. Whenever I ask my mom for advice or hear, “You’re probably right, Mom,” come out of my mouth, I can’t help remembering how much I challenged her as a teenager! Only the Lord could soften my heart to hear his wisdom through her and learn what honoring parents really looks like.
People are important. God created us in His image. Sometimes, we need to be reminded we aren’t the only ones God loves. Our self-centered nature prevents us from listening to the wise people in our lives, especially those who have gone before us. The more my daughters don’t like what I’m saying, the more I know I’m probably being obedient to God in delivering His wisdom. Who are the people in your life? Who are you looking to for wisdom? Anyone? Hopefully so!
The Bible tells us to take everything and align it with the truth of Scripture, including wisdom that may come from pastors and leaders. Finding that common ground helps us to find the wise people in our lives. People to pray with, seek the Lord, and accept and share wise counsel. The best friendships in my life are those with fellow believers like this, with whom I can share life on a different level. Friends who I know seek Christ in their lives, too. We all need people to pray through tough seasons and counsel us when we lack clarity because life is too overwhelming. God places people in our lives. We were not meant to live alone.
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3. Be a Leader and Lead with Grace
“The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11 NLT
“Be a leader.” It’s something an old Abbot told me during my Catholic school years, and it stuck to me like only God’s wisdom can. Seeping in through the cracks over the years, I have learned that leadership isn’t about being the group's loudest, most fun person. Parenthood isn’t about being popular with your children. Parenting is humbling. Leading children takes the grace of God. We’re told in the Bible not to loft our authority over our children irresponsibly but to lead them humbly to the feet of our Father. Our leadership in their lives has very little to do with us if we’re doing it right and more with who we follow. They must witness how we follow Jesus. Jesus is full of grace, forgiving us unendingly! He never gives us up but is clear about what’s true and the consequences of disobeying God, and being transparent, humble, and grace-filled as a parent is important. My children have heard me apologize to them many times since before they could verbally respond. I chose to lead by example so that one day, apologizing wouldn’t be a foreign concept to them but an everyday reality. “Always forgiven, never loved less” is something I’ve said repeatedly to my children when they apologize. This is what Jesus does for us. Leading with grace is to lead them in and to Grace.
Over the years, raising daughters, I’ve set a precedent not to allow gossip in our house. Over all those years, only one kid has refused to honor that request. Leading with grace isn’t always popular, but it’s always led by love for God and others. It starts simple and makes a significant impact. As a mom, I know how important my leadership is in the lives of my daughters and their friends. I don’t always get it right …but at least I get the chance to apologize and right the ship. Perfection is never the goal, but leading with grace is.
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4. Pray for and with Your Children
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT
Bold are the prayers of parents. We pray as if life is on the line when we pray for our children. God hears the prayers of the righteous, and Scripture is apt to remind us often of the importance of prayer in our everyday lives. The Voice paraphrase reads, “So let us stop boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.”
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT
When my children were little, I devised a prayer we prayed every night: “Father, please bless us and keep us safe. Help us to be good. We’re sorry when we’re bad. We love you, God, Amen.” It’s simple, easy to remember, covers all the bases, and we still pray it nightly. When they were little, I would encourage my daughters to take everything to prayer and would offer to join them. Hoping the habit would begin to flow naturally in their lives; it also increased my dependency on prayer! God doesn’t mind. Whatever it is, keep praying:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
When my daughters were little, it was hard for them to wrap their minds around why bad things happened in our community or to their friends. While their worlds were still small, we prayed to God for those answers, especially those that eluded me. Hopefully, it gave them some peace over the years when answers alluded to all of us. Knowing God is in control, the same, and loving us always, no matter how, developed peace in all of us when we couldn’t understand the whys.
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5. Trust God’s Timing
“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 NLT
We want to point the impatient finger at our kids, but we’re not always patient as parents. This verse from Psalms has been an anchor for me over the last year as I face the reality of what patience looks like in a house with two teenage daughters. Waiting. There’s a lot of waiting. There is so much waiting; I have plenty of time to think about how to react. Being on time is important to me. I’m not sure when that happened, but as an adult, I like to avoid the chaos of being on time by being early. As a result, I feel like I’m running late when I’m not ahead of schedule. That took four decades to develop. Yet, it was the exact opposite if I look back to what I was like as a teenager. Five minutes late was still on time back then.
Parenting can tempt me to try to rush past four decades of lessons with kids. Yes, they have to learn to be on time, but maybe without the lecture about how irresponsible they are, because they aren’t five minutes early everywhere, they aren’t even responsible for driving themselves to get to yet. Patience can be frustrating and feel unfair. Our kids have to learn some of the same lessons and experience the same consequences we did in their own time. And that’s OK. So when they show up on time for practice, and they are the first ones there …we’re doing OK. We can take a deep breath.
All the other parents and their teenagers are going through the same thing. And most will grow up to be on time for things …in due time. Time belongs to its Author, God, and He’s as purposeful with it as He is with all of the other notes of His creation.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV
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Seek God's Wisdom in the Journey
When we seek God in all that we do, we will find Him. Parenting is difficult, but these are the notes of wisdom I embrace daily as a mom. Through these five ongoing lessons, God helps me fully embrace the joy in this life. I can see His blessings and focus on Him instead of all that avails me. Something always will! These daughters He has put in my care have been my biggest blessings, and motherhood is the coolest journey yet. Life is serious, but it doesn’t have to be so serious. God is love, and He loves us with an incomprehensible love. When we seek His wisdom and surrender to His perspective, parenthood, among other things, life, peels back in layers we might have missed along the way.
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