Mom                                                             

The Sneaky Bully
Psalm 119:9
"How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it acording to your word."
Speaking Truth into Their Hearts
My daughter, Claire, sent me a frustrated text the other day.  She was with someone who was not speaking to her unless spoken to because they did not agree with their sentiment (which, by the way, was spot on- if I do say so myself).  She was seeking my wisdom and probably venting a little.  This is part of what I texted back, "Be both strong and gracious.   You are wonderful like that."

You may be thinking I'm not totally telling the truth because she is a fifteen year old girl and because I don't know the whole story.  Well, true.  But, what I do know is this…  She is in her teen years which are filled with learning about who she is.  No, she is not always strong and no, she is not always gracious, but I can see a wonderful adult emerging from this searching teen.  I just need to speak into her what I do see in her from many of my experiences.  Because, let's be honest, she doesn't always see it in herself so I need to speak it into her.

Likewise, I love when Gideon was out threshing wheat and the angel of the LORD appeared to him and called him mighty warrior.  Before that moment, Gideon was the lowest of the low, or so he thought.  (Judges 6:12, "When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.'"  Judges 6:15, "'Pardon me, my lord,' Gideon replied, 'but how can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'") 

Throughout her life, after my daughter has been punished for breaking the rules, I kind of see in her Gideon's way of viewing herself.  She feels low.  She feels guilty and maybe a little bit shamed.  This is not to mention the other end of the spectrum of emotional comparing games girls play.  Media doesn't help a teen girl's self image…  Boys have their comparing games, too.  And, while all sorts of feelings often follow certain behaviors, I certainly don't want her, or anyone's child, to live in the state of self loathing.  This is not just my teen girl, but all children.   I need to remind her of who God intended her to be just like the angel did to Gideon.

It took Gideon a while to adapt to his new identity and it will for my daughter, too, but our children need to hear who they are meant to be in Christ so we can start to prepare them for the good works God has intended for them. 

It doesn’t matter if your child is a teen, child, adult, boy or girl.  What matters is that they all need someone to speak truth into them, the kind of truth that tells them who they are in Christ.  We as parents are the perfect fit for taking on this job. 

Each child is different and the methods we use to speak to them may vary, but God does give us this command in Deuteronomy 11:19, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."  God is telling His people to teach His commands to the children so they would inherit the Promised Land.  In the same way, we, as Christian parents, should be teaching God's commands to our children so they will inherit God's promises for them, too.

When we, as people, learn to focus on God it somehow translates into learning about who we are in Him and our identity becomes very clear.  What a gift, to bring our children before the LORD so His Holy Spirit might stir in them and they can learn both who He is and who they are in Him. 

What does this look like in daily life?  It looks different ways for me on different days (and looks better on my good days!).  We have to be looking for teaching moments as we are teaching our kids about God.  Just like when Claire texted me, I was able to remind her how to behave and who she is. 

So thankful I didn't miss that one.

Let's pray…

Dear LORD, parenting can be hard and we often fail, but please remain close to us in this so we might do right by speaking your truth into our children daily.  Let your Holy Spirit nudge us when we need to harness an opportunity.  Teach us to be faithful in our own prayer life so that we might be sensitive to your voice in all situations and please give us wisdom in parenting.  Thank you in advance, LORD, for these good things.  Amen.

​by Andrea Simmons
  
Judges 6:12, 
"When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Sit With Him
I've been getting busy lately.  I'm spending my time writing for Women's Encounter, studying for Sunday school, listening to lectures on the Bible, and writing for my blog.  I'm studying the Bible to accomplish a task and not necessarily to connect with our Savior.  Not to mention running errands, spending quality time with my family, grocery shopping, church activities, kids activities, small group, working with a friend on a fund raiser, paying bills, and shuffling schedules and all of this while trying to remain true to God.  Please do not even bring up the joy of laundry.  And, by laundry, I mean ugly, white, piled high baskets sitting in the living room screaming at you to be put away.   Ugh, laundry…

Can I add one more pressure?  I have neighbors that do not show evidence of godliness.  I feel the need to reach out to them but keep getting bogged down by being too busy to bake them cookies and take them over.  The struggle is real.

Almost all of these fall under the category of 'good works' but they are quickly becoming just things to do because my time spent connecting directly with the Lord, just Him and I, has taken a hit.  Without His direct deposit into my heart, all these good works are feeling like just plain old work.  How can I wonder why He isn't answering my prayers?  I'm not sitting still long enough to hear Him.

Luke 10:38-42, "Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.'  But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'”

Martha often gets a bad rap for being busy, but let's not point any fingers.  If anything, we should relate to her and heed the words of Jesus because we can all too often find ourselves knee deep in the things that need to get done- today! 

Martha was acting culturally relevant.  She was being a good housekeeper and hostess.  She knew her position and was working hard at it.  From those observing the situation she was spot on earning her good reputation!  She was a Pinterest worthy woman!  Not Mary.  She was not seeking the approval of man, but of God.  She was bucking the cultural norm, and Jesus commended her for it; her choice was not only one made for the moment but for eternity.

Don't you just love what Jesus says, "Mary has chosen the good portion"?  I want the good portion!  The word portion denotes a part of something.  In John 13:8, "'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'  Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'"  This verse uses the word part or a part with Jesus.  The portion Mary chose was Jesus, Himself, the good portion.  Mary may not have been winning favor with the people around her, but she had an audience of one and it would not be taken from her.

Jesus will never be taken from us either, as Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Let's be encouraged today, in the midst of everything that needs to be done, that our greatest need for both the present and the future is our need to sit with Jesus, who will never be taken from us.  Prioritize our spiritual needs over the physical needs of the world.  Be a Mary.
  
By Andrea Simmons
Luke 10:42b
"Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Moms, Meals, and El Shaddai
I always fed my older daughter breakfast, because that's what we as mom's do.  However, when Claire got into kindergarten she just stopped eating breakfast.  I squawked at her to eat just knowing she would experience hunger pains before lunch if she didn't eat something!  But, she refused to eat.  I finally had to realize she was going to be OK and I simply had a kid who didn't eat breakfast.  Now that she's in high school, she still doesn’t eat breakfast.  You would think the conversation would be long over, but I found myself this morning suggesting she might like to eat a little something.  I haven't learned my lesson, have I?

Why is it that we naturally want to feed our children? We make sure they have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks- healthy snacks.  Not only that, we are on top of all their needs.  If they need it, we're all over it.  It has to have something to do with the fact that we are nurturers.  It's not a weakness, but a strength, and it's one of the reasons our kids call us by the name of Mom.

In the Old and New Testaments God has many names.  One of them in the Old Testament is El Shaddai.  Doing a quick search, you will learn that El Shaddai means, All Sufficient One and LORD God Almighty and this is very true.  But, digging a little deeper, we will learn something more about the character of God.  El is translated God.  Shaddai is similar to a Hebrew word, Shad, meaning breast.  Some scholars believe this teaches us the truth that God is the one who supplies people with all their needs, including being our nourisher.  This is not much different than those of us who are moms (and dads).   It also teaches us how deeply our God cares for our every need.  The All Sufficient One is able to supply all our needs sufficiently.

1 Thessalonians 2:7, "But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children."  This verse attributes mothers with the character of being gentle and out of this gentleness flows the desire to take care of our children.  This is just like El Roi, God who sees us. 

So, when Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them," we know that one of the characteristic traits we model after God is being gentle and desiring to take care of the needs of our children.

I don't know about you, but I love seeing God in the everyday mundane activities of our lives.  Our encouragement for today is this… When we (and by we, I mean I) get in a rut of planning twenty-one meals a week plus snacks, because our family always wants to eat, there is a very godly reason behind it all. Rock the job with joy because you are a child of God, and when you feel discouraged, He cares.  He'll provide for you needs as you provide for the needs of your family. 

Thank you, El Shaddai!
 
By Andrea Simmons
 
 
  
Genesis 1:27
 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,.
Encouragment for Mom's
My precious mom had three miscarriages before carrying her last three pregnancies full term.  When she was carrying my older sister, Melissa, she did everything within her power to eat and live right.  She wanted this sweet little baby in a bad way and was so scared of the dreadful fears that filled her heart.  She hoped and prayed.  And, much to her delight she had a bright-eyed healthy baby girl!  Melissa had blue eyes and blond hair, just like her momma.  What a special treat to have her baby girl look so much like her after such a long wait.

When we are created in His image, this includes those precious little ones that we never got the joy of raising.  If this is you, I pray God gives you a peace that passes understanding, but you can understand this… In 2 Samuel 12:23, King David just lost his first son with Bathsheba.  Prior to this moment he fasted and prayed to God, hoping to change God's mind.  When he learned he was unable to change God's mind this is what he said, "But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?  Can I bring him back again?  I will go to him, but he will not return to me." 

When King David said, "I will go to him" he was referring to going to heaven one day to see him.  In this scripture we learn that all babies go to heaven.  There is peace and comfort in this.  Our babies are in the gentle care of our heavenly Father and there is no better place to be than there.  You will see your baby again one day if you are a Christian.

For the children we do get the joy of raising, it can be a challenge many days.  Those sweet little bundles of joy one day start to display their independence and sense of self.  They, like us, were born with a sinful nature.  God has a lot to teach us about parenting, especially in the way He parents us.

One thought to share regarding God's character that we should model after is found in Jeremiah 23:3, "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number."  This scripture is regarding how God dealt with his chosen ones, Israel.  They were disobedient to His ways and would not repent so God's punishment to them was to scatter them among other nations as slaves.  But, in doing this God had a time limit of seventy years and stayed true to His word.  After seventy years He did end the punishment and gather them back to His good graces, they didn't stay in the dog house forever.  Even when they were scatter, He never left them, they were still provided for.

We, as parents, are to be both strong in guiding our children back into right living and gentle at the same time.  We are not to be grudge holders against our children, but when the punishment is over, they are to be back in our graces, providing for them and loving them all the way.  This is just like God is with us and teaches us to be with our own children.

I've always seen discipline and punishment as two different things.  Punishment is an action taken against the child for wrong doing, a consequence.  Discipline is not necessarily a punishment, but guidance to direct the child into a correct path of living.  Both are used guide and encourage the child to live correctly in the ways of the LORD.
  
Remember this when the aches of parenting sock it to us during those hard moments, Dr. Kevin Leman said, "You don't have to be a great parent, just a good one."  Praise God, I think I can do that, especially with the help of our good Father, El Shaddai!
  
(In the Old Testament one of God's names is El Shaddai meaning 'All Sufficient One' and 'LORD God Almighty'.  El is translated God.  Shaddai is similar to a Hebrew word, Shad, meaning breast.  Some scholars believe this teaches us the truth that God is the one who supplies people with all their needs, including being our nourisher.  This is not much different than those of us who are moms (and dads).   It also teaches us how deeply our God cares for our every need.  The All Sufficient One is able to supply all our needs sufficiently.)

No matter what your need is as a parent, turn to El Shaddai.  He will provide what you need to do His good work of parenting because He loves you, His child.

By Andrea Simmons


  
2 Samuel 12:23
"But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?  Can I bring him back again?  I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

 Jeremiah 23:3
"I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number."