There's a lot we could say about motherhood, and several things might come to your mind in the sub-category of things you "should know." One thing you should know is that it is unwise to keep the diaper rash cream tube next to your toothpaste tube. Not that I know anything about putting diaper rash cream on a toothbrush by accident, but I'm just saying you might want to find another place for it.
Besides that pearl of wisdom, there are ten things you should know about motherhood that will shape the way you see yourself, your kids, and the world around you. Give it a read over here at the Crossway blog.
Here are the main points (minus the paragraphs of explanation):
- Motherhood is evidence of God's mercy.
- Motherhood is a gift even when your feelings disagree.
- "Mother" is a verb.
- Motherhood is more than you can handle.
- Motherhood is not a loss.
- Motherhood gives glory to Jesus that echoes in eternity.
- Motherhood is missional.
- Motherhood flies in the face of fear.
- Motherhood reminds us of our need for grace.
- Motherhood is about a man-- Jesus.
- taken from "10 Things You Should Know About Motherhood"
Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God will start shipping from Amazon soon-- click the picture for more details.
And stay tuned for info on the video group study from LifeWay...
Here's a little piece of a blog post I wrote for the LifeWay Women's blog...
Where I live in the Middle East, people from many cultures love to comment about how I have my hands full. It’s not a figure of speech, because I literally have my hands full with four children swarming around me as we run errands. Without a hint of cynicism, men and women will say to me (as I take the groceries and little ones across the street like a ninja), “You are blessed!” I’m grateful for the reminders from my community that my children are blessings. But beyond whatever our culture’s view is of motherhood, Christians stand on eternal truth when we say that motherhood is a gift.....
<READ THE REST>
Happy New Year!
Praise be to God, whose mercy is new every morning without exception.
I'm giving away copies of these recently released audiobooks via my Instagram account today, Dec. 31st. Click on the pic on the right to be redirected.
Then, just for fun, set a timer to remind yourself to tune in to the livestream of Dubai's NYE fireworks. You've probably never seen anything like it!
Here are some of the ways the crucified, risen, ascended, and enthroned Jesus describes himself in the Book of Revelation:
- Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
- him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands
- the first and the last, who died and came to life
- him who has the sharp two-edged sword
- the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze
- him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars
- the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens
- the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation
- I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
- I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
Because we don't have to fight in a Mommy War; we need to see Christ's victory in the cosmic war.
Because we don't so much need to be experts on mothering in the "Information Age;" we need to know about mothering in the overlap of the ages.
Because we don't need to wake up every morning to have our thoughts ruled by our circumstances. We need to wake up and have our thoughts ruled by what happened on Easter morning.
Because there is no such thing as "just" a mom in the grand plan of God.
Coming in May 2016--
For more on this idea, you can read the books "Glimpses of Grace" and "Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full." :)
But if you're short on time, here's a brief article, "Don't Settle for a 'Quiet' Time," originally published on the Crossway blog in May 2014.
"Don't Settle for a 'Quiet' Time"
Walking the Living Room by Faith
A small lamp threw light up into the corner of the dark living room. As I walked through that room into the home office where I worked, I made the otherwise still air move with me. The owners of the house didn’t like to use the air conditioner—even in the Texas summers—because it felt too cold on their skin. Spending decades in third world conditions will do that to you. On the mornings when I came over to work she would turn on a tiny desk fan just for me. He would shiver as he sat nearby, so I would turn it off.
I was there to help the elderly missionaries keep up with their writing and administrative work, and move an occasional box in or out of the garage. A few years ago they both died and immediately awoke in the presence of the Lord—her first and then him very soon after. Their fellowship with God is now by sight forever. But for the years, months, days, hours, and minutes they were with us here, their fellowship with God was by faith.
Their house in America had wall-to-wall carpet, and, in between the furniture that hadn’t been moved for years, you could see where their faith had moved their feet. There were well-worn paths in the carpet where she paced back and forth with her Scripture memory cards and knee-shaped patches where he knelt to pray.
I thought it was remarkable that the one thing that didn’t gather dust in that house was the collection of shoe boxes scattered around, each overflowing with handwritten Bible verses. They took God’s Word everywhere with them—even in those final days when the distance they traveled was not to the other side of the world, but rather to the other side of the house.
Letting the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
This older couple didn’t carve out just a portion of time for God’s Word and leave it at that. Rather, they put God’s Word in their heart so it could be carving them into the image of Christ all day long.
Their example ministered to me back then while I was a busy college student taking a full course load and working a couple of part-time jobs. And their example still ministers to me today, now a busy pastor’s wife with four children. As I seek to fellowship with God in my days and nights, I need to see with faith-eyes that the Word of God isn’t just a part of my life, but is my very life (Deut. 32:45-47).
Whether Circus or Solitude, Christ is Sufficient
I’ll be the first to confess that wholehearted devotion to God’s Word is hard to come by when you have lots of people who need your attention plus a smart phone in your pocket. I can think of few things that sound more peaceful than a brewing coffee pot against a backdrop of unmitigated silence, inviting me to sit in a comfortable chair for a leisurely read in my Bible for as long as I like. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I could sit still for hours to hear the word of Christ, especially when I hear a sibling squabble starting in the next room.
However, for many of us, this is not a season (or lifetime) that naturally lends itself to this kind of “quiet time.” But that is no threat to the word of Christ! We need to be encouraged by the fact that peace and quiet are not ultimate, and the Holy Spirit does not abandon us in the absence of solitude.
Rather than restrict fellowship with God to a certain time of day, we need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16) all the time and everywhere we go (Deut. 6:4-9). Scripture is always sufficient for your life, whether it is quiet or chaotic.
Jesus promises to light your path wherever you walk (John 8:12) as you look forward to the day when your faith becomes sight and you behold the Word of God (Rev. 21:23).
I've long admired John Ensor's work as he travels and teaches on the gospel and the sanctity of human life.
Watch this 2-minute video from John Ensor as he powerfully explains John the Baptist's in utero reaction to the presence of another baby who was also in utero...
This weekend at our church's women's retreat, I led a breakout session on the everyday ministry of mothering little ones. In that session, I talked about the extraordinary benefit we receive from laboring to understand the grand narrative of the Bible.
Because I forgot to write a bibliography, I promised I would post a picture of some helpful resources to that effect. Here they are-- stacked up in no particular order-- I think any one of these books would be a great place to start.
As a follower of Jesus, and in my experience as a volunteer doula and mother of four, there are times when I’ve been asked to explain the Christian perspective of labor and birth. It’s my privilege to talk with ladies from different religions and answer their questions about what the Bible says regarding labor pain and childbirth.
In my local church context I’ve also had opportunities to encourage Christian women, discussing how the Bible renews our minds and addresses our misconceptions. And thrills our hearts with this incredible picture of grace!
Since I don’t have any one place where these thoughts are written down for easy reference, I hope this list will serve as a helpful, go-to resource. These ten points and accompanying Scripture references aren’t comprehensive by any means— I tried hard to be succinct.
It would take weeks to unpack this in discipleship meetings or devotional study, but one could easily encourage someone with one of these truths in a short conversation. Perhaps some who are interested in the topic of labor and birth could use this list like they would a bookmark as they search God’s Word to learn more about the Author of life:
- Childbirth (new physical life) is evidence of God’s mercy. God would have been perfectly just to not allow Adam and Eve to live after they sinned against him in the garden of Eden. Ever since then, we have all been born into sin and deserve death and punishment for our sin (Ps. 51:5). Life is a precious gift from our holy God. Our response to life is heartfelt gratitude to God and humility.
God commissioned Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28), but then as part of the judgment for their sin, God said he would “greatly multiply pain” in being fruitful (Gen. 3:16). In this regard (contra some philosophies of childbirth), a woman’s labor pain is unlike that of a-moral animals.
Birth pains are a specific part of God's judgment on Eve for her sin (Gen. 3:16), pointing us to our need for a Savior. But painful and mortally dangerous pregnancies are not God’s final word, for he has promised a Rescuer (Gen. 3:15)! The pain we experience in childbearing is a call to repentance and faith, like a flashing neon sign that points us to the cross, where Jesus suffered in our place to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9).
All women and babies who are delivered through the pains of labor are recipients of God's undeserved, common grace. (Pain relief--medical or non-medical--is a gift.) Praise God! All people everywhere who are delivered through the Redeemer who was “born of a woman” (Gen. 3:15, Isa. 7:14, Gal. 4:4, 1 Tim. 2:15), are recipients of God’s undeserved, saving grace. What wondrous love!
Jesus is our Redeemer. Shockingly, our Redeemer came into this world as we all did... through the judgment of birth pain. Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we now have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7). We do not have redemption or forgiveness through our fertility.
We do not “trust birth” or our bodies; we place our trust in the living God in whose hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10). The Lord himself is our refuge (Ps. 18:1-2), not any training, experience, person, book, facility, method, or plan.
God is the Creator of everything, including childbirth. From eternity past, God ordained the conversation that would take place in the middle of the night between Jesus and Nicodemus… “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-21). We could infer that one reason Jesus created childbirth was so we could have a picture to help us understand what it means to be converted: called out of darkness into his marvelous light… “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
Both “natural childbirth” and “medical childbirth” are no more human accomplishments than is the act of receiving mercy from God. We all make our boast in Christ alone; Jesus deserves all the praise at all times in all circumstances.
The flexible metaphor of birth pain appears throughout Scripture. In one place, the apostle Paul uses it to explain how our suffering produces future glory. Christians are expectant of a final deliverance from sin and death; however, in this present time we groan [in birth pain] inwardly, as we suffer with Christ, “that we may also be glorified with him.” In his resurrection, Jesus burst through death to become the first man in the new creation. Because of this hope, we believe that our sufferings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:17-25). In other words, the joy of resurrection life outweighs the pain it takes to produce it. This is yet another way that the process of childbirth points us to Christ.
Jesus was delivered up to be crucified in our place for our sin according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by death (Acts 2:22-24). Whenever a woman or child is overcome by death in the process of childbirth, we grieve deeply. Pain and death are not benign "facts of life." But we do not grieve as those who do not have hope, for the Day is coming when the one who overcame the pangs of death will bring to life again those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess. 4:13-14). All our groanings will end when we finally see what we’ve been hoping for as the consummation of God’s promised restoration bursts forth in full (Rom. 8:23-25).
I want to point you to an article that was written about a book that I helped to edit. And before I give you the link, let me tell you, it's more than just a book.
Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church is the first book in a whole line of books that is the result of the "women's initiative" publishing partnership between TGC and Crossway. In my role I get to work with Kathleen Nielson in curating books written by women for the church to be published through this partnership. It just so happened that this first book out the gate is co-edited by both Kathleen and I, and we've also contributed some chapters.
And it's more than a book. It represents a prayerfully ambitious endeavour to strengthen your local church wherever you may be. At every level of involvement from the contributors on up, we're all committed to seeing God's Word lived out and loved in our ministries among women. From where I sit here in a local church that is made up of over 70 different nationalities, it is plain as day that what we all need to live by is timeless truth and not our various cultural quirks! That's what the book is all about, and that's what the regional training events are all about. Yes, you read that correctly. Regional training events!
Without further ado, here is the aforementioned article on the forthcoming book and regional trainings.
A few quick instructions... First, read the article and watch the video. Next, laugh at the goofy still shot of me that the video player randomly chose. Then, click on the picture of the book to view the list of contributors. Last, make a note of the contact details at the bottom of the article. Perhaps you could help bring a regional training event to your local church?
Here's a collection of articles I noticed online this weekend to bless moms - some are new and some are making the rounds of encouragement once again:
This Mother's Day, Don't Worry - Colin Smith
Dear Birthmother - Amy Medina
Inexhaustible Grace for Exhausted Women - Jessica Thompson
The Jagged Void (a poem for grieving mothers) - John Piper
When Mother's Day is Hard - Trillia Newbell
A Mother's Testimony of Peace - an excerpt from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
The excerpt below is taken from the Preface of "The Pastor's Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love" (Crossway). You can download free sampler and study guide from the Crossway website.
"You may read some humorous accounts in this book, but I assure you, I do not believe that ministry by the Word through the Spirit is a joke. What I aim to do here is help lift your gaze to see the supernatural nature in what we are doing as we serve alongside our husbands in ministry. We need courage, strength, faithfulness, humility, and joy. We need to see Christ as our sufficient Savior. We need childlike faith to serve in ministry alongside our husbands—faith that God is glad to give us. The life of Christ in us is our empowering, equipping, unleashing energy for personal holiness and service in God’s kingdom. It is his strength that gives us what we need in order to nurture life in the face of death and through a million deaths-toself each day. We need to remember that even the little blueberry-sized fruits produced by the Holy Spirit through Christ’s people are part and parcel of his kingdom, where his will is done. Our anchor must be cast on Christ, and our foundation must be his Word, because there’s no way we can love our Chief Shepherd, and the under-shepherd we are married to, and the bride we have been united to (Christ’s people, the church) unless we have first seen how Jesus loves us and gives us everything we need for life and godliness. We learn of Christ’s love foremost in the sufficient, authoritative, understandable Word of God, and that’s why the text of the Bible is our focus.
There’s no way a finite heart can hold all the things we face in life and ministry, but Christ can, he does, and he will. Expectations of the minister’s wife swirl all around us. The joy available to us is resplendent and everywhere. The needs press in on us from every side. The grief and horror we experience because of our sin is appalling and replete. Are you burdened not only by the needs of others in your church but by your own as well? I want to show you in this book that Jesus will carry those burdens too (Isa. 40:11; 41:10).
No matter how old you are or however long you’ve been married or served in ministry, I think we can all humbly agree that we have a need for endurance to live kingdom-oriented lives in this dark and fallen place (Heb. 10:36). The endurance we seek is no grim drudgery but a glad dependence on Jesus for a life of love strengthened by grace. That’s what I hope you find in the pages of this little book."
Our church gathers for corporate worship on Friday mornings. We read God’s Word, pray God’s Word, sing in accordance with God’s Word, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and my husband (or another elder) preaches God’s Word. That much about Friday mornings is generally predictable.
Friday afternoons vary. Sometimes we have a church potluck, member meeting, baptism, lunch together in the food court nearby, or some other activity. Sometimes I announce that the afternoon will be set apart for a “family-wide nap,” and the only other family member who agrees with me is the toddler. (A mom can hope for 100% participation someday, right?)
It was about 40 degrees Celsius this afternoon, so the kids built their own indoor playground out of couch cushions and blankets. Dave was in a coffeeshop nearby conducting some “member chats” with prospective church members along with some other elders and staff. Tonight he will be at an appreciation banquet for the children’s ministry volunteers. Today is kind of a sampling of an “ordinary” Friday for this pastor’s wife.
While the kids gathered pillows and cushions from every room in our flat, I listened to Mark Dever’s plenary session from the TGC conference on “The Day of the Lord.” That Day is not just any ordinary day, because it is the Day to which we are all headed. Dever explained how the secular mind does not expect this Day, because this life (to them) is all there is:
While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thess. 5:3
The description of this terrifying condition gave me chills. I’ve experienced those kinds of labor pains. In that particular instance I was very much aware that I could not escape. There was nothing I could do. I was in shock. I could barely speak-- much less move or help myself.
This truth should move us to pity to think that people we know will have no escape from the wrath of God. It should move our feet-- to the living room, across the street, to the other side of the world-- and it should move our lips to speak of our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:11-14). We should also “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 5:4). I pray God would move in my heart in such a way that my feet follow his lead and my mouth would overflow with the gospel that I treasure in my heart.
In his talk, Dever mentioned two questions we could chat about with a friend:
- Why do you do the things you do?
- What hope is moving you?
Those are useful questions to help us “be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). And they’re important questions because we all need encouragement to live in light of eternity. We have obtained salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have the privilege of living with him both now and thirty zillion years from now.
Only Jesus has provided a way to escape God’s wrath on that Day. And because we have obtained salvation through him we can say, “There is peace and security," and long for that Day when he returns.
***All of the media from the TGC national conference is available. This is the kind of content that is going to take you months to listen to/watch-- and a lifetime to live out and enjoy!***
Since we live "way over here," we usually get things late rather than early. One year a Christmas box arrived in March, for example.
So... you can imagine how thrilled I was to view a pre-release copy of Episode 8 in the "Dispatches from the Front" DVD series! Who doesn't love getting good news early?
Last year I counted down the days until I got my copy of the book, which is on my Top 5 list of books I recommend to moms. Our family has long benefitted from the DVDs-- they fuel our prayers and expand our imaginations as we see what God does through ordinary people who have a big view of his gospel. All that to say, it was exceptionally special to watch "No Retreats, No Regret" with the executive producer, Tim Keesee. Episode 8 is set in China, home to 1.35 billion souls - the highest population of God's image bearers on the planet.
The kids thought they were meeting a movie star -slash- Indiana Jones hero. He even brought "the bag," "the orange watch," and "the journal" with him. They all enjoyed Tim's famous "M&M diplomacy," his strategy for making friends with kids all over the world.
Watch the trailer for Episode 8, "No Regrets, No Retreat," then go check out the website to buy a copy and take advantage of their free US shipping.
Can it be that we should gain an interest in the Savior's blood?
My friend Caroline Cobb co-wrote this song with Sean Carter to tell the story.
Caroline's album, "The Blood + the Breath," was gifted to me by a friend, and is now one of the few albums that I share with others saying, "You need to listen to this." I love to listen to it from the beginning to the end, as Caroline beautifully sings the story of redemptive history.
I'm often asked by other pastor's wives, missionary wives, and elder's wives what they ought to do about using their gifts. In sum, I turn the questions back to them and ask: "Tell me about where has God placed you." And here's my 2-minute answer:
Check out the hashtag #PastorsWifeAppreciation and Crossway.org/PastorsWifeAppreciation to find more resources to encourage the ministry wives in your life!