From Mother, To Daughter
It has been a long time since we really connected. I know my schedule is difficult to work around, and your little people need you almost non-stop, and I know you cherish the short time you have with your husband. I’m not sure there is a solution. But I want you to know that I am praying for you.
I pray you are consumed with seeking the Lord and letting Him conform you to His image.
I pray that you see the constant sacrifices of self required by mothering as exercises in submitting the flesh and letting God’s power flow through you to meet the needs surrounding you.
I pray you patiently and graciously discipline your oldest daughter, inspiring her to be unselfish and cheerful, attuned to the needs of those around her. I pray the Lord gives both you and your husband wisdom in understanding the seeds you are planting and insight into the harvest those seeds will reap. May you not plant a single thought in your girls’ minds that will cause them to look to the world and the flesh for satisfaction and contentment, but that they would know that true joy is only found in the Lord.
I pray you will find your Sabbath rest in Him, letting Him carry the burdens of your day and enjoying His fellowship. I pray your marriage will be infused with the love Christ has for His church and that His followers have for Him.
I pray you are fully content with the place in life that you have now, and that you will look for ways to encourage and instill a deeper love for Jesus in those around you.
The Lord is using the people and circumstances that you are in right now to accomplish His purposes in you. Praise the Lord!
All my much love,
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From Daughter, To Mother
This is so beautiful and so much needed and appreciated. I feel out of touch with you and the world and do not like it, but the days are such a blur. I am a part of a Bible study on Genesis that is such a blessing right now and I have some projects around the house that I am excited about if ever there is opportunity to get to it. There are also a couple of friendships that I would like to pursue, again, when schedules work out. I do a lot of inner scrutinizing about being good parents—it always pushes me to pray. I just finished the book you gave me by Ginger Hubbard, Don’t Make Me Count to Three, and have ordered Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp. I’ve recommended the Ginger Hubbard book to lots of folks—it has so many wonderful things to think on and practical ways to guide your children.
I am looking for ways to be more thankful for my husband and our daughters. It feels like my natural state is to be negative and bitter. I hate it! Your true character comes out when you do not have outsiders to entertain or impress, huh? For a few years there I liked myself and my image and reactions and sweet spirit, etc. But I think that it is much safer to not like myself and depend on the Lord than to feel self-sufficient. It isn’t that I feel unloved or invaluable, I just get so tired of myself and my failed reactions, my failure to keep a clean home, and always have wonderful meals, my failure to know of and discuss world events. I get frustrated with my lack of creativity.
I love my life and do not want a separate career.
I am blessed beyond measure to be able to stay in this beautiful home with my amazing family and live my dream….so why do I feel this way?
I feel like I don’t measure up, like other people do it better, and they do. I read these inspiring blogs about godly women who are creative mothers whose children are destined to be great and I feel like mine got a raw deal.
I am so frustrated and self-conscious about the way I look (still overweight) but I have little motivation (read: energy and self-control) to change things (work out, eat less, etc.). I feel like I must not use my time well if the whole day and then week goes by and I can’t fold a basket of laundry. There are too many days that I am so tired and weary and just want to be entertained and so I suggest dinner in front of a movie. I feel boring, too negative, and I do not laugh with my girls enough, or even step back and enjoy them enough. I keep wondering what the girls will be like when they are older and can do more for themselves, but I know that I will miss these days, so there is more guilt. I’m afraid that I go back and forth in my head between cutting myself some slack because this truly is a crazy exhausting time for me and feeling guilty for not doing a better job of wife, housekeeper, mother, home cultivator, nurturer, and example.
There you have it–told you I needed your encouragement. Thank you for sending it. I’d love your thoughts and advice and please know again how grateful I am for your prayers! Thank you for always listening. Like you already said, I need to be consumed with seeking the Lord letting Him conform me into His image. My truest joy and rest are found in Him. I wish this truth was in pill or smoothie form.
I do not do a good job of being ever aware of Him and listening. It is hard to hear much above the noise around here!
I’m afraid that I could write for hours on this pouring out my sinfulness and shallow heart. Fortunately for you, I’m needed by all three girls at this instant. I love you so very, very much. Thank you for listening to me and still loving me.
From Mother, To Daughter
First, I’m glad to be here to listen. God hears us as we “confess your sins one to another,” and He forgives and cleanses and helps us get our heads back on straight!
Secondly, how well I remember all the thoughts and feelings you’ve mentioned–blurred days, no time to get to projects, relationships that lag, flat emotions when you contemplate God.
Please remember this very important fact: When breastfeeding, the top 20% of your energy goes to producing milk. Since you are exclusively breastfeeding two 5 1/2-month-olds, it is probable that the top 40% of your energy goes to milk production. Add in holding, changing, and keeping happy two babies, the intensive labor of a two year old, and a home, and you honestly don’t have time to do much else. You are fortunate to cook any meals and do any cleaning!
Try to get those standards that are stored in your head down to a doable level.
My level was too high and too intense. Set reasonable goals for yourself that you can actually usually accomplish. They will be lower standards now than in six months, and you can raise them even more later. I am down to getting laundry folded once a week myself. I just have had to let up on some of my goals because I can’t keep it all going. I’m learning that is okay.
I never had the energy to do anything but take care of the essentials for the first six months of a baby’s life (emphasis on singular baby). Each of you was two before I had the energy to exercise or try to lose weight. The children are the most important thing. Do try to consume your calories on things that are adding to your health—enzymes from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc. Make your calories count by not eating junk, but don’t berate yourself for not doing what you simply don’t have time or energy to concern yourself with now.
This period of your life, as every period, is designed by God to help you realize the inadequacy and unholiness of your self so that you will give it over to God in exchange for His wholly patient, loving, and holy life.
(I obviously haven’t accomplished this, so please understand that this is what God is teaching me, not what I’ve by any means mastered.) I’ve spent way too many years trying to be self-controlled, diligent, and responsible, when God was waiting for me to ask Him to be those things in me. Now when I need to clean, I pray the night before and ask God to give me the determination and energy to mop the next day, or clean out the refrigerator, or whatever. He always does!
I’ve come to realize that even these mundane chores aren’t my problem, but He wants the burden cast on Him so we can spend our days praising His faithfulness instead of berating our inadequacies!
When I think it depends on me, I expend foolishly all this energy to try to make myself better.
God knows I can’t be good, at least not consistently for more than a few minutes, and He is waiting for me to claim His good in me. Oh, if I would only remember this consistently! In short, we are sinners–selfish and weak and self-indulgent. Jesus is perfect, and He has graciously consented to insert His perfect righteousness in our “temple” if we will clean it out and give Him room.
Purge your unholiness with confession and worship and invite Him in to carry the burdens of the day!
I used to have a book about “self-talk.” It was about the ways we think and evaluate ourselves all day long—this was good; that reaction was bad; I’m a good mother; I’m a bad mother. We need to give that up. We are always going to fall short of what we hope and dream for, and we will always feel negatively.
Let’s engage in “God-talk,” where we ask Him for His feelings and thoughts and words and praise Him for the answers.
My self-talk is all about self. No wonder I get depressed! What a boring, self-inflated topic! But focusing on God and others gets me over my myopia and onto people with real problems. That is why reading the Voice of the Martyr magazines and persecution.com is so good for me. Every week on our prayer night I am again brought up short by faithful people with real problems who are so joyful. I whine about nothing of significance! It convicts me every time.
You think about the future when it seems it will be easier. Our selfish selves are always looking forward to times when we’ll have less work, less demands, etc. (Translated: more time to do what I want and indulge myself.) That is the flesh. Confess it to God and ask Him to fill you with desires for Him and His purposes for your life. This Christianity thing is all about dying to self and being filled with His life. God ministered to me with Romans 12:2 this week. The CJB version says:
In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standard of this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.
God has promised to work in us every day. All we have to do is allow Him to succeed.
We don’t have to muster up some great self-control or diligence. We just need to give ourselves over to His mastery by putting our mind under His direction. Stop the SELF-talk, and commence the GOD-talk!
I know I should be well beyond you on all this and be able to give you wonderfully sage advice. Yet I struggle with doing the same thing day after day with people who are neither grateful nor cooperative. I spend my days trying to make children do what they don’t want to do. That is often what you are doing, too. We long for it to be easy, and our subjects should at least be grateful! But they are flesh, too, and their sinful, selfish selves dominate them just as ours do us. Praise God that we have hope in Jesus Christ! His power is made perfect in our weakness!
Here’s the deal: I’ll be praying for you, and I covet your prayers for me.
More of Jesus, less of self.
Listening to His voice instead of whining our self-talk of guilt, berating, and failure. Knowing that union with Him is the only true success. Refusing to work ourselves up into a froth about what we need to do, but prayerfully giving our burdens over to the Lord for Him to accomplish in His time and way. Our job will be to rejoice in His faithfulness!
Most of all, let us know that she who gives these little ones even a cup of water in His name has done it to Him!
We are blessed to spend our days serving Jesus–keeping Him clean and fed and safe and loved, instilled with love for God and good character, focused on using Life in a way that glorifies Him. What a privilege! What a divine calling!
Love and prayers,
From Daughter, To Mother
Thank you! This wisdom has so blessed me–I truly feel like a terrible weight was taken off of my shoulders. I lost burdens I didn’t realize that I was carrying. I was so convicted of selfishness and trying to maintain perfection in my own strength.
No wonder I was worn down–my own “perfection” is a lie straight from the enemy.
I’ve spent the last several days confessing my weaknesses to Christ and asking Him to be perfection in me. I have felt so much more joyful, at peace, and even creative–because it has not been about me, but Him.
I have so far to go but I am grateful for a God who will never leave me, who loves me when I don’t like myself, and for a Mom who lives out her faith so beautifully and openly always pointing me to Christ! I love you!
Mrs. Valerie Harris is wife to veterinarian and author Dr. Alan Harris, homeschooling mother of six. Her eldest daughter, Lisa, is wife to Jon and at the time of this writing, was mother to three little girls (including a set of twins). Valerie welcomes your emails at [email protected].
Photography: JenniMarie Photography