You Are Loved

Before I had children of my own, I remember hearing other parents say things like “you can’t imagine the kind of love you have for your children,” or “you just can’t understand how you can love another person so much.” I knew they were probably right, but it was still maybe a little cliché in my mind. And then I had my sons…and it happened to me too. I fell completely, unconditionally, endlessly in love with them. I look at them and I am overwhelmed by it! I suspect I am not alone, and most of you moms reading this right now will agree that you have done the same thing.

When little ones are two and four, “I love you” seems to flow so freely! And believe me, I am storing every one of them up in my heart for the days when they might not come so easily! My four year old will say, “I love you mommy.” I respond, “I love you more!” He answers, “I love you most!” I say, “I love you the most to infinity and beyond.” You get the idea! Or I’ll ask the boys “How much does mommy love you?” And they know the answer… “SOOOO MUCH!!”

Sometimes I’ll say to them kind of quizzically “I wonder why I love you so much? I guess it’s because God made you just for me.” I tell them that they are my best gifts from God. And I tell them that the amazing thing is that God loves them even more than I do, because He made them. That is pretty incredible. But it’s true! Now my oldest will say to me “Mommy, I wonder why I love you so much? I guess it’s because God made me just for you.” Oh the sweetness of a child’s heart! 

As Valentine’s Day is approaching and everything is hearts and roses and love in the air, I started to examine the question that I ask my sons a little more seriously. Why do I love them so much? How is it possible to love someone else so completely just because they are yours? Why do I still love them just as much when they are not behaving particularly lovable as when they are wonderful? The answer, I think, is made very clear in the Bible: we love, because God first loved us. So simple and yet so amazing and complex!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4: 7-11

That’s the reason we love our children so much. It comes from God. He is the source of love, and it is part of His very nature. It certainly doesn’t come from how good or loving we are, and not even because of how cute or fun our children are. It comes from the simple fact that HE LOVED US FIRST! When I look at my sons, I see the evidence of a God who loves us! I am aware that the love parents feel for their children was carefully created and designed by our loving Father, and graciously put into our hearts in order that we might see Him more clearly.

The love we have for our children is like a beautiful mirror that reflects back to us the love God has for His children.

“The love we have for our children is like a beautiful mirror that reflects back to us the love God has for His children.”

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

It says in Genesis that God made us in His own image. When I look at my sons I think to myself “has there ever been a more beautiful creation in all the world than their sweet faces?!” I bet you have said the very same thing about your precious babies. It doesn’t matter the specifics of what they look like, they are made in your image. More importantly they are made in God’s image and somehow deep in our hearts we recognize that. Even if your children don’t look like you physically, maybe you are an adoptive parent, or a stepparent; it is still just as true. It makes me feel humbled and in awe to think that God could look at us and see even a glimpse of His own image. What a gift it is to be a parent and have a daily reminder that we have been created by such a loving God!

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:1-4
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

When you love someone you want to know that person. It is amazing to watch as your children grow and you get to see their unique personalities and qualities. To think that God knows everything about them, and us, down to our thoughts before we think them! He was there from day one, as each of us was in the womb, carefully designing every trait, seeing every day to come. What great love!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

This is the culmination of our Father’s great love for us. While we were still undeserving sinners God sent His own beloved Son so that we might be saved and reconciled to Him. God sacrificed His son, so that we could be adopted into His family as His redeemed children. That is true love!

The next time you look at your child, and your heart overflows with love, remember where it comes from. We are made in the image of God, He created us, He knows us, and even though we didn’t deserve it, He sent His own son in the person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to save us. Through His perfect life that we couldn’t live, His atoning death that He died in our place, and His glorious resurrection, He offers us the gift of salvation from sin and death and the hope of eternal life. He did all this because He loved us first, and in fact, He is love. There are many counterfeit versions of love out there. But we can trust in the one true source, our God who made us and loves us with an everlasting love. So Happy Valentine’s Day, moms! Give glory to God that today and every day, your children are loved. And you are loved!

Pray Without Ceasing

In the first edition of the “Thankful Mommy,” I talked about rejoicing always. In this, the second, I want to build on that and bring to mind one of the greatest tools we have as moms, prayer.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There is something so powerful and so comforting about knowing we can go straight to God in prayer about anything, at any time. What a privilege that is! And even more that He wants us to come to him.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Psalm 55:22

Just as we would want our children to come to us with anything that is in their hearts to share, be it joy or sadness, success or failure, our Heavenly Father wants that connection to his children too. That’s why He reminds us so many times in His Word to pray! That’s why so many times in the gospels we see Jesus retreating to the Father in prayer. That connection is essential for life and renewed strength.

For some reason, however, in our busy lives, prayer seems to be the last thing we remember to do. When we are already so frustrated or discouraged we don’t know where else to turn, then we pray. What if prayer was the first thing we went to, instead of the last resort? For me, prayer has become my greatest asset in the daily routine of trying to be a God-honoring mom to my boys. It is how I have kept my sanity and my patience when I wanted to lose it, and has helped me stay focused on my ultimate goal of letting my family see Jesus through me. I am getting better at making prayer my first line of defense instead of my last resort. But it is always a work in progress. Here are some ways we can practice prayer as moms that I hope will help you and your children every day.

Pray first.

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Psalm 5:3

It makes such a difference when the first thing we do after we wake up is to say good morning to God. We sing a sweet song they learned in Bible study and thank God for the day. We ask Him to bless everything we are about to do and help us to be pleasing to Him and share His love throughout our day.

Pray when it’s good.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

Psalm 100:1-2

Some days are just good. Some moments so special that we have to stop and just thank God for His goodness. When little ones are being kind and loving and obedient, make it a habit to stop thank Him who is the source of all love. We might just say “thank you God for helping us be such kind and caring brothers to each other”. We might be out on a bike ride or walk and just thank God for His creation, His little gifts to us every day. We might sing a joyful song as we go about our day. Whatever you are doing, don’t forget to thank God for the sweet moments.

Pray when it’s bad.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

On the other hand, some days just seem to start off with everything going wrong…maybe there is sickness, or fighting, disobedience, and tears. In those time we have to refocus our eyes on our help. We ask God to forgive us, help us forgive each other, and help us to be more like Him. I can’t tell you how many times in the middle of a tantrum I have just said “We need to stop and pray NOW!” And that’s just what we do. It is amazing how it can get us back on track.

Pray for others.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Teaching your children to pray for others is so important. They begin to understand compassion and to look at others and try to see them as God sees them. I especially want my boys to pray with me for their father. I am so blessed in this season of life to be able to stay home full time with my little ones. I want them to see me thanking God for my husband’s job, and how hard he works to provide for our family. We pray for God to bless his efforts at work and keep him safe when he is away from us.

Also pray for other family members, friends (and even enemies), people in your neighborhood, city, country, and even across the world (such as deployed military, or believers in other countries). Whenever the boys and I see an emergency vehicle going by we say a quick prayer for the responders and whoever they are helping. Another idea would be if your kids are old enough to see or hear the news to pray for people involved in those stories.

Everyone could use a little more prayer!

Pray when they sleep.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

At bedtime we thank God for the day. We ask him for safety and security while we sleep. I remind the boys that we can sleep in peace because God is in control and always watching over us and protecting us.

Pray for yourself as a mom.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

I pray for help in the daily struggles to show patience and self-control, for the ability to show kindness, grace, and mercy to my children even when I don’t feel like it. Often times my prayer is nothing more than a quick “help me, Jesus!” when I feel my patience slipping.

But mostly, my prayer is that when they are grown my boys will remember seeing Christ through the way I treated them, my husband, and others around us throughout their childhood.

I pray that they will always know that mom’s love for them is endless and unconditional, but God loves them even more than me!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

1 John 4:10

Pray for their future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

No matter how little or how old your children are, you can always pray for God’s plan for their futures. I usually remember to do this one after they fall asleep and I am looking at their sweet faces. I am there in the quiet overwhelmed with gratitude to God for giving them to me. I ask him to bless them with health and safety, and that they grow strong physically, but more importantly that they grow in character and spiritually. I pray for their future success in school, career dreams, and for their future spouse. I pray that they become men who love God and others, who protect and care. I pray that God would keep them from temptation and sin as they grow into boys and men. My greatest prayer for them is that they would recognize their need for Christ and the salvation He offers to those who call on Him. I pray that they would love His Word and want to know Him all the days of their lives, and that they may be a light of hope to others that need to hear the gospel.

Praise God for His glory.

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

1 Chronicles 16:23-24

Just praise God for how good He is, how glorious and worthy of praise. We can never run out of things to praise God for if we just look around at creation and our lives. The one thing I want my boys to hear on a daily basis is how thankful I am to God for the gifts they are to me as my sons, and for the ultimate gift of His son Jesus Christ and salvation through Him.

Conclusion

Prayer doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out, or formal process. And it doesn’t have to just be about big, important things. You can share your greatest concerns and also your simplest thoughts with God. Prayer can be out-loud, in your head, alone or with others. If you are someone who benefits from writing your thoughts, try a prayer journal. That way you can go back and see how God has answered your prayers at different times. If you are a list person, make a top 5 or 10 things/people you are praying for, and top things you are thankful to God for.

Prayer is a ongoing conversation with someone you love all day, every day. Just like you might send a quick text to your husband to share something with him, say a word of thanks, or an “I love you,” send a quick word to heaven and stay constantly connected to the source of strength and hope for this journey of life.

Remember, moms, you are never alone. The same God who gave you these precious children is there every step of the way to listen whenever you need Him. So pray first, pray hard, and pray without ceasing!

Rejoice Always

Welcome to the first ever “Thankful Mommy” blog post. Lately, as I have been thinking and praying more and more about actually posting my thoughts and prayers for the internet world to see, I have been reading and I have noticed a theme…moms are tired! It seems most moms want to be joyful but are just weary, and tired, and ashamed of losing their tempers with their children, or being in too much of a hurry from one thing to the next. Moms want their joy back, but don’t always know how to get it back.

            I was talking to my husband the other day about my desire to start a blog for moms. His response was “What is your purpose in writing this? What do you hope to accomplish?” Those are important questions to me because honestly, there are plenty of mom blogs out there. Does the world really need one more blog for already busy moms to spend their few extra minutes of time reading? Do I have anything to say that is going to make life any better or easier for my fellow moms in these trenches of the years of motherhood, trying to mold their precious little ones? My answer is this. I just want to encourage moms with Biblical truth. That’s it. That’s where the joy comes from, that is how we get it back, from the truth of God’s Word alone.

            The name “Thankful Mommy” just comes from the fact that I am thankful to be a mom. I am thankful for my two sweet sons and the gift that they are from God. It is the desire of my heart, even in the hard moments, to try and never take that for granted. But most of all I am thankful to God, for His goodness, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His salvation through Jesus Christ, and His word that reveals Himself to us.

            So wherever you are in life, if your children are little like mine, or school age, or even grown. If you are a mom that serves her family staying at home full time, or a mom that serves her family with a job outside of the home, my prayer is that you will find some encouragement here.

            I will always include a Bible reference in my blog and encourage you to reflect on that as you go about the busyness of your day. This one is actually the “memory verse” my 2 and 4 year old sons are working on right now. It has a really cute song that makes it even easier to memorize. I would sing it for you if I could. But for now I hope you will read it and think of it when the challenges come.

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your [b]gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 4-7.

            I just have to tell you how much I LOVE this passage! I love it from the first word, “Rejoice!” Notice that it doesn’t say rejoice when you have a great day or everything is running smoothly, it says to rejoice “always.” If you are a new year’s resolution kind of gal, the practice of rejoicing always, despite day to day circumstances is a great resolution to make.  That is really a goal we should practice for life, not just every new year, but every new day, to wake up and before the worries come, rejoice. Just thank God for a new day, a new chance. Let Him be the first person you say “good morning” to when your eyes open. It can change the whole coarse of your day.

Then it goes on to say people should know us by our gentleness. That is such a sweet word to describe motherhood isn’t it? Some days we might not look very gentle, but it is a beautiful reminder. And be anxious or worry for “nothing”.  That seems almost impossible when we feel like there is so much to worry about. The apostle, Paul, then explains that when we just go straight to God with our prayers, and requests, and thanksgiving, the Lord gives us HIS peace, which passes all understanding. The kind of peace that in the midst of a tantrum, or a spill, or a mess, just allows us to realize this motherhood thing is a gift. It is another way God shows His unfailing love to us and through us.

            I am looking forward to getting to know each other better as we walk this sometimes smooth, sometimes bumpy motherhood road together. Today it is my prayer that you will rejoice in the Lord with me!

-Angela