Being a Mom, My Greatest Joy

Dr. Kevin Leman forgiveness, legacy, hope,

Like many women I know, I was brought up unprepared for the challenges of motherhood. In return, I did not seek after it with much enthusiasm. I was afraid of what might happen if I were to bring children into the world because I was filled with anger and bitterness from my own childhood. Every child longs for love, acceptance, comfort, and approval and I am no different. When these needs are unmet, a child/young adult will seek to have them met in things such as drugs, sex, control, money, success, or unhealthy relationships. Thankfully, I encountered the only person who could give me unconditional and perfect love, acceptance, comfort and approval and that was Jesus Christ. He gives freely and without any strings attached. His redemptive love rescued me on February 25, 1987 when my husband, Jon, and I together accepted Christ. I received exactly what I needed to begin the journey of motherhood as I was given the Holy Spirit to teach and guide me (John 14:26; 16:13). In time I forgave my parents as it did me no good to harbor bitterness or resentment toward them. Dr. Kevin Leman says, “Forgiving is not saying what happened was okay and it’s not excusing it, but it is allowing something new to grow.” Today I am able to celebrate new beginnings.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV) Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

How exciting my past need not limit my ability nor yours to be a godly mother, that’s the beauty of the Christian life. You may not be able to change your past, however, by being proactive you can change the legacy you leave. Recently my mother praised me saying, “Cherie, I’ve turned you away from me; just like my mother did to me. I wish I could have broken the cycle before it affected you and your sister. I’m grateful that you have not continued the same cycle with your daughters; this makes me really proud. Maybe it will end with you? ” Sadly, her choices limited our relationship for many years. I celebrate that my choices are to build relationships with my daughters and leave a better legacy. I in no way can take credit for the changes that have occurred in my life. In my weaknesses, God is strong. Instead of facing inadequacies alone, I have learned that, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). Where we may feel ill equipped, God is there to be our strength. After all, like the old adage goes, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”  God’s word is a critical tool in preparing us for our calling as mothers. I chose to be in God’s word, study it, meditate on it and live it out. More importantly seeking and desiring an intimate relationship with my Maker broke so many chains as I discovered who I was in Him verses my family of origin, In Christ my life has purpose and meaning.  I celebrate that God’s word gives direction and as we are faithful to follow Him, we hope our children too, will follow in our footsteps thus breaking the bondage of generational sins. Psalm 119:105

I purposed to be a mother based on biblical principles instead of social norms or past experiences. This choice lead me on a journey completely different than I ever experienced or envisioned. Along the journey, God placed spiritual parents in my life to help strengthen and teach me as I traveled the journey of motherhood. I am thankful for these amazing individuals that discipled me by investing in my life personally. When I was unable to find encouragement face to face I realized it could be found through books, conferences, and classes for a season. The point is you want to grow and thrive in your relationship with Christ by replacing wrong thinking with truth. I was challenged to stop complaining about what I didn’t have, but instead shape my legacy with what I did have via a mission statement asking what do I wish to pass on to my children?  I celebrate that with God all things are possible even leaving a godly legacy. Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Being a mother has been one of the greatest joys in my life, certainly one worth celebrating. I am in awe that my two eldest daughters have both graduated from college and are living amazing lives that are bringing glory to God as they seek to serve Him. I am so proud of them. They are obedient and respectful of others and us. They challenge me with their walk and love for God. They have been some of the best teachers in my life. My youngest daughter continues to grow and mature as I seek to lay a solid biblical foundation for her by making sure she knows and loves the Lord.  My greatest joy is knowing that my children are walking in the truth and following Jesus with their whole hearts which is biblical (2 John 1:4).  What more could I want as a mother?  I celebrate motherhood and the three precious gifts that God blessed me with, as children indeed are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127

Oh I have so much to celebrate as I was given the opportunity to be a mother and, together with Jon, we have raised a godly heritage. I see the fruit of our labor and celebrate that with God all things are possible even for a reluctant mother like I was. My hope is to encourage those traveling the journey of motherhood feeling ill equipped.

As a mother what desires do you have for your children?  Read 2 John 1:4, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” What can you purpose to do that would set your children on the right path to walk in truth?

12 Ways to Connect With Your Children

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have oneDear Moms,

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one.  Believing in your child and highlighting their assets creates a strong connection between you and your child.

Today’s American families are starving for connection. Personally, I have found 5 C’s helpful to remember – connect (just do it), consistency matters, put time together on the family calendar , be creative, and communicate your desires plus seek their input.

Below are several ways my family has connected over the years. While these suggestions will look different for each family, I personally appreciate looking into how others go about life.

1) Family Mealtime by far has been one of the most important ways for our family to connect and develop a sense of who we are as a family. We aim to sit down and eat at least five meals together achieving far more.

Mealtime is one way to provide a nutritious meal along with a healthy deposit of quality time into one another’s lives. Understandably, toddlers can be difficult to manage at the table, but remember, table time is a golden opportunity to train them. Over time, with consistency, they will become accustomed to sitting, listening, and participating in the good conversations and fun during mealtime.   We view family dinner as a time to connect, laugh, tell stories and catch up on one another’s daily “high point and low point.”

2) Establish a family night where together you play board games, watch family movies, look through family photos or videos, enjoy pizza, etc.… As your children get older let them become involved with the planning.

3) Spend quality time daily with your child. Kids spell love T-I-M-E and know the difference between quality verse quantity investments. It’s easy to assume that you spend all day with your child but are you connecting? Make a habit of getting down on the floor to enter your toddler’s world. Ask your grade school children what quality time would look like to them.

4) Date your children. My girls relished the one on one time they would have with their dad or me. It was fun to take them places they enjoyed such as ice cream as well as allowing their dad to occasionally treat them to a special dinner, teaching them what it’ like to be lavished by a man. I found having a monthly date with our children allowed them to share their hearts more deeply as they didn’t have to compete for attention and it gave them something special to look forward to.

People always told me that my girls would grow up quickly, but I had no idea just how fast time would pass. When my girls were toddlers while attending a MOPS gathering, someone read the poem below. Neither my husband nor I can read this poem without tearing up.

Poem to busy to stop and play

5) Make memories by celebrating milestones. Memories are those once in a lifetime events that mark the moment. Consider the many first events in a child’s life and creatively finds ways to commemorate them. Events we celebrated include first Christmas, relinquishing a pacifier, potty training, beginning Kindergarten, accepting Christ, baptism, completing elementary school, menstruation, graduation, etc.…

celebrating birth of child and becoming a big sister

 

6) Make holidays, special events, and family traditions meaningful. Traditions are the things you do year after year and are known as the “We always do___________________.” An older post I wrote on meaningful traditions offers suggestions on cultivating traditions.

7) Have endearing names and special saying. Jon fondly calls Cayley “K-Bob.” When parting one another’s presences we usually say, “God be with you and I love you,” while waving the I love you sign. SHMILY – See how much I love you.

I love you, special sayings, goodbye

Cherie Werner @thewerners.org

8) Make your home a sanctuary, a safe and inviting place that your children and their friends would want to hangout. It helps to maintain a kid friendly home verse a museum that discourages kids from being kids in fear of breaking things.

9) Serve together. Service should begin in the home to each other and be carried into the world outside the walls of the family.  As a family we began serving the homeless of Austin when my daughters were toddlers.  We have gone on several mission trips to Mexico one when Cayley was three.

serving together as a family

Suggestions for toddlers:

  • Teach your kids to serve by providing opportunities for them to serve others while they serve alongside you.
  • Teach children how to pray for missionaries.
  • Collect bottles of shampoo and soap to donate to a women’s shelter
  • Donate toys and gently used clothing.
  • Give gifts to less fortunate kids at Christmas time. (Operation Christmas Child boxes, Christmas Angel,
  • 2-year-old can help with household tasks – unloading the bottom rack of the dishwasher, setting the table, making bed, pushing the laundry basket down the hall
  • Serve the elderly neighbors by bringing them a card or meal or just pay them a visit.

Adolescents need to know that they matter. As your children mature, it’s helpful to find volunteer opportunities that fit their personality.

  • Homeless shelters or outreaches
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Food Banks
  • Ronald McDonalds House
  • Visit little ones at local Children’s hospital

10) Invest and be interested in your child’s passions. Becoming a student of your children is helpful in discovering what their gifts, talents, and abilities are. Since we are all created for a purpose, we must help our children discover their unique place. Previously in a post, I answered this question, “How did you discern your children’s career desires and passions? How did that direct their educational choices both in high school and transitioning beyond high school to college?”

11) Express your love and appreciation via the written word.  Slip notes into their lunch box or under their pillow. Begin a parent-child journal to go between each other sharing positive words of blessing, recognition, gratitude and hopes for the future.

12) Bedtime routines provide a wonderful time for connecting with little ones.  As you bathe, cuddle, read and pray together you mostly likely will encounter inquisitive children who are slowing down enough to verbally process their busy day.

While it goes without saying there are numerous ways to connect with your children.  Your job is to just do it.  The benefits are numerous.  Please share some ways you connect best with your child(ren).