Today's post was written by BH member, Jill Waters. Jill is married to Phillip, has four children, and co-leads a co-ed Singles 20s/30s Small Group with her husband.

Growing up, I pretty much always knew I’d be a mom. I studied education in college (close enough to studying parenthood) and married a man who was pretty sure we’d be parents, though I remember no conversations surrounding the subject until I found myself a wee-bit pregnant in year three of our marriage. It worked. Time to start our family!

Way back when I was coming along, I had a mom. My mom wore several hats, too many actually. She raised my younger sister and me without a man. Therefore she was mom, dad, bread winner, tutor, disciplinarian, chaperone, launderer, and head chef—she rocked that role! But mostly, she was tired. She’s always been self-sufficient and cared for us well, but she was really glad when we could entertain ourselves and was (is) really proud of what we became, bumps along the way and all!

Fast forward a few sanctifying years, and Philip and I have four daughters. I know, I know four daughters. “Wow, the weddings!”

“Just wait until the teenage years.”

“My word, you need a man cave, Dad!”

Philip loves all of his girls and wouldn’t trade them for any quiver of boys. Philip also oozes Jesus and that is exactly what it takes to rear a family of four girls. But I digress.

I stay at home with our four lovelies all the time. Like, I prepare three meals a day for them, I school them, and I launder for them (Mom made this part look so much easier when I was a kid). Overall, I try really hard to shepherd their tiny, super impressionable hearts to draw near to the throne of Grace. GOD LIVES THERE MY TINY PEOPLE—GO THERE, STAY THERE! Then Jesus reminds me that they don’t know their way. They have to follow me there. Remember the whole, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ?” (1 Cor. 11:1). Yep, that is how God ordained that these little lollipops will truly see Jesus. Through Philip and me (Deut. 6).

But because they are around me the most, it’s mostly me. Sounds sketchy.

I constantly mess up at this role/calling/lifestyle/job. Constantly (just ask my kids—they are stinkin’ honest Nellies!). And to be quite frank, I have no idea of what I am doing. How do I keep DHR at arms distance you might ask? I go back to the basics: I pray and I read my Bible and I die daily. And I do all these things together in my journal, so I can remember. What I study and how I pray and live and move and have my being all relies on God. He leads me one step at a time (Gal. 5:25). I’ve learned along the way that it starts with me, Jill. So if they are following me anyway, then I need to be follow-worthy.

What does this look like?

I say to the Lord, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:10-12).

Check this out—it keeps going! “Then I will teach transgressors (my kids!) your ways and sinners (umm, again, my kids!) will return to you…. Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise (all day long in observations from creation, songs, games, cookies for lunch, etc) ….. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise” (Ps 51).

Yes. Just YES! I pour myself out as a sacrifice before Him and confess that I am powerless, clueless, and helpless for this task. And the Lord takes pleasure in this, in ME! I have honored my Redeemer King and found footing on the seemingly insurmountable Mount de Parenting! Praise the LORD! Let’s have a party or change a diaper—either with complete joy!

David finishes out Psalm 51 by begging God to build His kingdom unto His own good pleasure. And that is all I, too, know to do. This is not a “name it claim it, turn your children into Christians in 10 easy steps” kind of deal. It’s an “I’m begging You, God, because I am empty and have nothing” approach. It’s a confessional.

Sweet and tender Father, will you build your kingdom in these little lives? I am desperate.

Chris Tomlin wrote a song for moms everywhere (okay, probably for Christ worshipers everywhere) that I often play at the start of my day that sums up this process of dying well. Just hear the chorus:

“Hear am I, all of me, take my life, it’s all for Thee.” The End. And really, that’s the beginning, too!

So, did my mom know parenting? Maybe it’s not what she knew but what she demonstrated: sacrifice. Good place to start, Mom. And the rest of my parenting story is God’s to write "because I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). Isn’t this the gospel? Laying myself aside and enabling the Spirit to usher in life? I’ll wager that it’s a good place to start…at least for this ragamuffin mom!

 

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