My husband and I have just returned from caring for four of our grandchildren for a week. Having offered our daughter and her husband a much-needed week away, we knew that moving into their home and assuming total responsibility for their four children, ages 4-10, (along with their 17 year old exchange student from China), would require God’s help to serve well. Now, settled in my recliner, (exhausted to the bone) the Spirit has prompted me to break my fast from writing by sharing a few precious reminders God gave me during our time in their home.
To begin, I want to make it clear that it was the Lord’s idea to offer an entire week away to our children. I was not ignorant of what this would require of me but, thankfully, I have walked with God long enough to know that He is faithful to equip and empower us for the work He calls us to. At the same time, He expects us to participate in that work! By God’s grace, as we stepped out by faith in obedience, we witnessed His abundant faithfulness beyond what we had even imagined. Today, I write these words, not only to every mother and grandmother, but to anyone who takes seriously God’s command to invest in the next generation. With the hope it will encourage you to press on in your call, here are six reminders that God gave me this week:
Reminder #1: There is Power in Prayer
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16b
Because we know our own weakness and that we could not do this in our own strength, I asked some faithful friends to pray for us before we even packed our bags. As I look back over the week, I saw those prayers at work in countless ways:
- We had renewed strength for each day
- We experienced an ongoing spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, which carried us along even in more difficult moments.
- We saw countless glimpses of God’s grace at work in our grandchildren each day.
- We rejoiced in knowing that God was using this time to refresh a weary couple’s marriage.
As I sensed the incredible power of prayer at work during our week, I was reminded of the importance of being faithful to pray for those striving to raise children who know and love the Lord. This is God’s call for parents, grandparents and the entire church, for nothing good happens apart from Him! Let us repent of the lie that we can manage any part of any day apart from God’s wisdom, love, and sustaining grace.
Who are you praying for?
Reminder #2: There is Wisdom in Preparation
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10.
I find it exhilarating to think that God has already prepared the work He wants us to do while we live out our salvation during this earthly journey. As God’s image bearers, once we have received our call, I believe that He expects some preparedness on our part as well. So, before we even began the week, along with prayer, we considered what we wanted to accomplish (apart from merely surviving)! Every job I’ve ever had has included planning meetings and creating strategies to accomplish the goals that have been set. And yet, many parents and grandparents fail to do this in the most important job of all! Rather than looking to God’s Word for direction, they let the world set the agenda for their family. As I have suggested to many parents: Consider what the Lord would have you teach and train your children to know and believe before they leave your nest at 18 or 20, and work backwards from there. Although days can seem interminably long when children are young, the years really do go incredibly fast.
Do you have a plan for teaching your children the big story of redemption that is recorded in God’s Word along with His purpose for His church? Do your children understand that their greatest problem is sin and what Christ has done to rescue them? Are they growing in godly character?
But perhaps a more important question is this: What are we modeling for our children? This week I was reminded that if I didn’t get adequate rest, I couldn’t give myself wholeheartedly to four active children. And if I weren’t leaning constantly on the Lord, I would easily respond in my flesh. So I gave up doing other things to get a good night’s sleep. I set my alarm to go off early enough each day to get time in God’s Word and prayer so I could warmly greet each child as they awoke- in the Lord’s strength rather than my own. As my heart was continually reoriented to God’s Word, I was able to put off selfish ambition and self-sufficiency and clothe myself in Christ.
Reminder #3: Parenting and Managing a Household is Full Time Work
“…train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled” Titus 2:4-5.
This week, I needed to lay aside many other things to give myself fully to the week’s demands. Because I was not driven by a demanding schedule, it allowed me to be “all there” for the children I was caring for, as well as to employ many teachable moments.
Yet, the world’s messages to women are a far cry from leaning into God’s design as keepers of our home. Today’s voices tell us:
- The marketplace is where the action is.
- Anyone can parent your children so go out and make a name for yourself and bring home a paycheck. Even if we do know the value of raising our own children, moms can be tempted to find their identity through ministry, volunteering, or doing something else that gains recognition.
Don’t get me wrong; there is great value and joy in serving needs outside of our families and we are called by God to use our gifts for the glory of His church. Furthermore, in today’s economy, there are moms who would love to stay home, but must work to help pay the bills. What God’s Word makes clear is that, unless we give highest priority to the needs within our homes and families, we will likely live in a state of chaos that does not glorify God.
Along with this, while today’s parents have many distractions and pressures, there are two that, I believe, are exceptionally costly in that they threaten the health of family life. The first is that of being so scheduled that there’s little time available for unhurried conversations at home. But even more concerning is the constant distraction of our smart phones that constantly steal our attention away from children who need our love or discipline.
Some of my most precious blessings this past week came during unexpected little moments, which, by God’s grace, I was fully present for. It is these memories that will be forever etched in my mind and heart, such as the moment in the middle of nearly non-stop whining, when my four-year-old grandson suddenly asked me to pray for him. It was a holy moment and God answered that prayer.
In short, I was reminded that parenting isn’t something you do while you are doing other more important things. Parenting is a calling and a mission that requires purposeful prayer and gospel focus every day.
Is your weekly schedule aligned with God’s priorities for your life and family?
Reminder #4: Eternal Things Happen in Mundane Moments
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” Galatians 6:9-10.
This week God also reminded me that much of a mother’s life is made up of seemingly mundane moments: unending laundry, cooking, cleaning, washing fingerprints off of windows and walls, settling disputes, trying to reason with unreasonable whiney toddlers, watching soccer games, combing out tangles, comforting crying children, tying shoes, helping with homework, enduring flu season, vacuuming, shopping, paying bills, and finally falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Yet, what may appear to be meaningless moments are actually holy moments when done as unto the Lord. God sees each runny nose a tired mother wipes. He hears the helpless cry of parents who lack wisdom for a difficult child. Even angels watch in awe as mothers and fathers faithfully set aside other pressing things to teach and apply gospel truths to the opportunities each day provides.
Will you ask God to help you be alert to the holy moments He has placed right in the midst of your day? Keep a journal for recording where you have seen God at work even in what seems mundane.
Reminder #5: God Parents Us as We Parent our Children
By God’s grace, I went into this week ready to lean on and to learn from the Lord, which I didn’t always do as well during my parenting years.
“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
For those who keep his covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:8-10.
As parents, it’s easy to believe the lie that our biggest parenting problem is when our children are demanding, disobedient, and selfish, depleting us of energy, finances and, at times, even our confidence. Yet, the Bible teaches us that sinful children help reveal sin that’s still at work in our own hearts, sin which we all too easily justify.
Proverbs 10:24 says; ‘The desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
In response to this, Charles Spurgeon said: “The desires God delights to grant are desires of grace, such as holiness, usefulness, likeness to Christ, and preparedness for heaven.” While that’s not typically what we ask God for, the sooner we orient ourselves to His purposes, the better it will go for us! Rebellious children reveal our own sin more than we would often care to admit. Demanding toddlers and teens are common tools in the Redeemer’s hand for exposing the selfish hearts of their parents. Praise God for the hope of the gospel and the forgiveness of Christ, as we establish an ongoing pattern of repentance each time God mercifully reveals our sin.
Is there a sin you need to repent of today? Remember that God gives grace to the humble!
As a grandmother, I am so thankful for the way God’s ongoing work of forgiveness, patience, gentleness, love, and kindness in my own life empowers me to extend these same graces in the lives of my grandchildren; which leads me to my final reminder.
Reminder #6: God’s Call is to His Church
Psalm 78 begins with a charge to God’s people to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”
I thank God for the privilege of being a grandmother. But, I also recognize that God has given all older women (and men) responsibility for coming alongside of the next generation. Thus, my final word is to grandmothers, as well as to anyone who may not have any children or grandchildren of their own.
Those who are in the trenches of parenting children and teens need the encouragement and help of others in the church. This has always been God’s plan as laid out in Titus 2, yet many have failed to take this command seriously. Here are just four ways that older women/grandmothers can come alongside of younger moms/daughters in the demanding and difficult season of raising children.
~Pray for younger women: Ask God to show you some young moms you could faithfully pray for. God’s Word teaches us how to pray prayers that will have an eternal reach. Let these women know you are committed to praying for them and their families, and ask them to tell you where they especially need God’s grace.
~Offer encouragement and care: Besides praying, take a further step by inviting a mom and her children over for a sandwich or cookies and milk. Don’t worry about sticky hands that might leave fingerprints on your clean windows, or fret that your own mistakes leave you little to offer. By faith, open your home in Christ-centered hospitality and let that mom know that she is doing the most important job in the world. You can be sure that the world is not telling her that.
~Serve: Sign up to take care of young children on Sunday mornings so couples can attend church together, or give one morning during the week to allow moms to study God’s Word at church.
~Give the gift of time, energy, and resource: Depending on your health and ability, here are some other invaluable gifts you can offer:
- Provide a date night for a couple to get out by themselves. Feed the children dinner and put them to bed before mom and dad return and you will doubly bless them.
- Give a few hours to a young mom of toddlers so she can have lunch with a friend, get her nails done, or just enjoy some quiet moments alone.
- Invest in the marriages of your children or other Christian couples by giving them the opportunity to get away alone for a long weekend or even a week.
Without a doubt, this kind of sacrificial approach to motherhood and grand parenting is costly, demanding time and energy we usually don’t feel like we have. It requires us to depend on the Lord to do what He is calling us to do. But above all, it is a privilege given by God that can display the power of HIs gospel.
All of our lives we must do battle with the selfishness that so naturally creeps into our hearts. Serving others is the best way to put off what is ungodly in us while showing the next generation what it means to love one another.
This past week reminded me of how much I loved being a mom to my own children, making home a place where they felt safe and loved. But it also served as a reminder of how utterly non-stop and exhausting it is in every way for those who give their lives fully to it. Nevertheless, I am more convinced than ever that, as much as I love being the Director of Women’s Ministry in my church, in God’s eyes the higher calling is that of being a mother and grandma. That’s because the influence and opportunity we have as women to shape the hearts of the next generation through our lives, prayers, and love, is equal to no other calling in this life. Therefore, as I resume my usual responsibilities this week, my prayer is that God’s people will find ways to humbly and intentionally invest their lives in the next generation for His glory.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,