Hi there!! I am Ashley, a Southern California mama of two littles working on bringing home our son or daughter from Ethiopia...
When McCall asked me to guest post during her "I'm That Mom" series, I was all over it. I am so excited to be here. McCall and I are both Ambassadors for Noonday Collection and so that means that our hearts basically beat for the same things: Jesus, being a voice for the oppressed, adoption, family, and fashion, baby. What I forgot to tell McCall when I signed up to post was that I have "helium hand." Yep, it's that hand that raises slowly to volunteer yourself no matter who is asking what. You need someone to pick up you kid from school? Helium hand. You need someone to be team rep for the t-ball team? Helium hand. You need someone to bake 500 cupcakes and deliver them across town at 5 AM? Okay, so maybe I don't volunteer for that one, but you get the idea. My point is, I am in a season of over-extension and poor McCall has had to wait for me to buckle down and get this post done, once and for all. So thank you, girl, for your grace and here I am. I'm going to get. this. post. done. Boom.
Motherhood. Okay. Where is God leading my heart on motherhood right now? This is actually an easy one for me this month. It's right here: Discipleship.
I was fortunate enough to attend a conference this month called MomHeart by Whole Heart Ministries. And it was life-giving. A breath of fresh air that gave me an entirely new and direly needed perspective on motherhood: this most important job God has given me to do. There are about ten posts I could write inspired by the information I took from this conference, but here is are the basics.
God has not left us uninformed on how to do the MOST important job he's given us to do. Often when we feel lost or stumped or exacerbated, we look for book and formulas and systems. But we have something eternally better--the Holy Spirit. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you ALL THINGS and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14: 26
We have the freedom and grace to parent by faith. What does this look like? It looks like partnering with God each day to discern our child's individual needs, personalties, and issues of the heart. Often we get caught up on undesirable behavior and want to squash and it squash it quick. But do we take time to really look at the issue of the heart?
For instance, and I'm gonna give it to you real here, I would say 90% of the times that my 3 year old displays undesirable behavior is when I am distracted as a parent. Like a good friend of mine put it: "Mommy is distracted and you aren't appreciating that... go sit in time out!" Man, this is convicting for me. So often, our kids just want our attention. Other times, they have needs... such as, "Is this child defiant or just hungry? Does he need time-out or simply a nap? Is he being rebellious or am I? Is this a battle I need to win because I need his heart to follow Christ in this situation, or am I simply being prideful and want him to obey my every word?"
There is a certain brand of hyper my son gets when he is flat-out exhausted. I like to call it the storm before the calm. I know a lot of parents that would see him in those moments and see it as defiance and recommend time-out or a spank... but this mama knows, "He's exhausted." Sometimes we feel like we are excusing poor behavior, and I'm sure there are times when we could, but other times you just know your baby! It's a mother's intuition.
Another thing that struck me is how often we react to undesirable behavior and think that our reaction is enough to teach what we expect. And this just isn't so. We need to intentionally teach them what we desire them to know. If we want them to speak with manners, we must show our babies manners. If we want them to be gracious, we must show them grace. If we want them to be Christ followers, they must see us as we follow Him.
Grace and truth are not mutually exclusive. You don't have to choose between love and wisdom. We can have both and we can give both to our children. The embodiment of both in one is Christ. And that is the greatest command and privilege of our jobs as mamas--to truly disciple our children to know and follow Jesus. How often do we wake up and see the dawning of a new day as a new opportunity to pour into our children? We have the opportunity to cooperate with the God of the universe to mold these precious little humans he has put in our care. We can set out to shape their hearts. And no one can do a better job at mothering the children God has given you then you---He created you to be their mama!!! And to raise them to bring Him glory. See what I'm talking about---this perspective makes me feel pumped to get up in the morning and be my kids' mommy.
Sally Clarkson posed a couple of questions to us: Do our children look at us and see a mama who's heart is on fire? Do they see a mama who is truly alive in a way they desire? Do we make our babies feel alive? Are we building a home that reflects a kingdom built for the Lord, or one built for this world? Hard questions... good questions to motivate us. I want my kids to remember me as truly alive... heart emblazoned for the Lord.
Now, not all days are good days. And we are sinful women and our kids are sinful kids and if we are not kind and forgiving of one another and doing this parenting thing in community, man, we are in for a lot of frustration. So let's always remember to give grace to one another and grace to ourselves. AND GRACE TO OUR KIDS. "You have given me the shield of Your salvation, And your right hand upholds me; And your GENTLENESS makes me great." Psalm 18:35
Sarah Mae spoke and shared that just like us, our babies are clay in the Potter's hands. We can do lots of things, but only God can mold a soul. Let's trust that God will finish the work He has begun in us and let's believe that He will finish the work He has begun in our children. Through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we are perfect in the eyes of heaven. Let's live with the freedom we have in Jesus... let's mother with grace, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit. Let's feed ourselves with truth daily so we have truth to pour out. Let's accept the grace given to us so we can pour out grace.
Thank you, McCall for inviting me over!!! I hope that wasn't too all over the place. Seriously, there was so much wisdom shared at this conference that it would take me weeks to share it all. I can not recommend MomHeart enough if you have the opportunity to attend. And in the meantime, you can visit the MomHeart blog, Sally's blog, and Sarah Mae, too. And I'm over at Love Makes a Family if you'd like to stop by and follow our adoption journey.