“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created,” (Esther 4:14).
*Translation is not direct*
If I had to count the number of times that I have felt dangerously out of my depth, I would imagine the number would be somewhere around 3,898,706,412. When God presents me with challenges, I consistently respond with, “You picked the wrong girl. You must have me confused with another Megan. You have the wrong one.”
These moments, when life has culminated in what feels like a category five natural disaster, you can feel as though you are incapable. Sure, you have had trouble in the past, but something about this challenge feels insurmountable. This one feels daunting, completely impossible.
For me, one such challenge involved completing my college degree. Taking 17 credits, managing three jobs, and leading two clubs—I was sure I would fail. There were several instances where I seriously considered catching the next plane to Bora Bora.
Perhaps you can relate. Maybe for you, these doubts stem from being a parent to a child with special needs. Listening to the specialist describe the challenges ahead, you think, “Lord, you have the wrong mom.” Your paralyzing fear leaves you feeling entirely inadequate and unable to provide the support you know your child needs.
Maybe your uncertainty comes from the new promotion you received. Reading the description of your new responsibilities, you find yourself saying, “Lord, you have the wrong employee.” Your anxiety makes you believe that you will disappoint your team.
Maybe your concerns are connected with a parent recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Reading the materials provided by the doctor, you are sure, “Lord, you have the wrong child.” Your inability to provide a solution makes you certain that you are incapable of caring for your dad.
These fears are not small, they are not insignificant, they are not unfounded. They are, however, unnecessary. They are unwarranted because God has prepared you.
Read that again. Then read it once more.
YOU. Yes, you with the crippling anxiety. You with the self-doubt. You with the uncertainty.
He has designed you for this very moment. You have been created to navigate through these troubled waters. He has spent time preparing you, training you to be a skilled sailor. God has given you these challenges because he knows you can handle them.
He knows this because He was the one who knit you together. He was the one who formed you. He was the one who built your bones, crafted your DNA, and constructed your features. He knows you because he made you.
Your Heavenly Father also knows that you are not alone. Because while he has allowed these challenges to enter your life, he has not abandoned you. He understands that these appear to be big problems, but He knows that He is so much bigger.
Jesus reminds us of this truth in Matthew, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26).
His words in Esther and Matthew are reassuring us that we can handle these challenges. We can overcome these obstacles. We can conquer these fears.
Remember these words when you experience job relocation. Meditate on these truths when your colicky baby refuses to sleep. Read these passages when the doctor informs you the cancer has returned.
Because these are the moments for which you were created.
When you hold your baby those first moments it’s hard to imagine there will be battles ahead. When I had my firstborn, my great aunt told me to enjoy all the moments, especially before she could walk and talk. I would learn soon enough that shortly after a toddler learns to talk, they learn to say no.
As time passes, and especially if other children join the family, it is easy to become weary of the discipline. Notoriously as soon as you start nursing the baby, the two year old decides to climb on a chair and into mischief. Your first efforts, verbal scolding and even cajoling, often do little to encourage a change in behavior.
The first obstacle is mustering the stamina and strength to deal with the endless battles each hour brings. The second is to keep your composure as a Christian mom while doing so.
Now that I have teens I see the importance of facing the battles, even and especially the ones we’ve faced and dealt with a hundred times before. I don’t want to face them. I don’t want to put the emotional effort into the barrage of excuses of why this particular rule doesn’t make sense.
But I’ve found discipline is worth fighting for, and though they aren’t quick to admit it, older teens respect you more for sticking to the rules you decided were worth fighting for. Several times after a battle, one of my teens has sent a text letting me know I am loved and they are just struggling.
It’s a pretty safe bet that if we don’t instill Christian values our kids aren’t going to “pick them up” elsewhere. The world and the army of evil are battling for our children.
We don’t discipline to make them into puppets or to earn favor or to make us look good. We discipline our children to teach God’s rules are not meant to be a burden, but a blessing. And we discipline to teach our children self-control and to look outside of their own interests to notice others. These are lifelong issues.
Even if our children turn away at some point, it is our job as Christian moms to stand firm. We love, certainly and unconditionally while continually standing on the truth of God’s ways.
When you don’t see the intended outcome with your 18 month, 2, 15 or 32 year old don’t give up, but rather pray and gently, but firmly press on, heeding the apostle Paul’s advice to the Galatians: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:9).
Press on and fight the battles. Your son(s) and daughter(s) are worth fighting for.
This article was written by Amber Swenson.
“Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”
Reading those lyrics may have invoked a vivid childhood flashback for you. Perhaps you immediately attached the melody and sang along as you pictured your younger self, spinning in a circle, tightly grasping the hands of your friends. United, you sang, “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”
We all fall down. Sin, death and the Devil bring us down—and not in the playful way we experienced singing this song. No—this fall is far less graceful and far more painful. Envision the worst injury you have witnessed in sports. Picture Lawrence Taylor enveloping Joe Theismann, Kevin Ware crashing to the hardwood floor, or Zach Miller pounding the turf. (For those uneducated in gruesome athletic injuries, just imagine bones placed in unnatural positions and facial expressions that would make you cringe).
These images describe the falls we take with every sin we commit and every temptation we accept. These falls are debilitating, and without assistance, we cannot come to our feet. There is no amount of mental fortitude or physical determination that can make us stand. Only God’s outstretched hand can give us the strength to make a comeback.
And (thankfully), that’s exactly what God does—He gives us His hand and pulls us up. Throughout the Lenten season, we are thrown to the ground as we remember how our thoughts, words, and actions nailed him to the cross. Then Easter comes and the risen Lord lifts us higher than we could ever imagine.
His complete triumph and unwavering hand serve as the hand, reaching out to save us. With this, we are able to be like the children singing “Ring Around the Rosy,” and immediately rise again. We are able to take help and live as redeemed children of God.
Today, as we begin the Lenten season, we come to our Savior in repentance and humbly seek his outstretched hand. We remember the sacrifice that was made and recognize that only He can provide the strength to stand. Unlike the childhood tune, “we all fall down,” is not the end of our story.
Becoming a parent is an exciting, joyous, overwhelming, terrifying, and anxious experience. Or so I have heard. Though I have cared for children through several jobs, I have yet to become a parent. So, I have enlisted the help of several seasoned professionals for this piece. Today, we are discussing the adventure of parenthood through the lenses of mothers at various stages in the journey!
Here are the things that no one tells you about being a parent, and the things you never imagined you would do as a parent!
“I didn’t receive much advice before becoming a mom, most of raising my children was trial and error! My mom once told me to be careful about punishing my children after I grounded one of them. She said by grounding them, I was basically grounding myself! She was right. Longest week ever!”
-Lorna, mother of two grown children
“No one told me how much my children would teach me about relationships. Before I became a mom, I never realized how much I would intensely and instantly love them the second they were born. This love taught me more about God’s love, and the love I have for my husband. Children taught us to manage our changed relationship and challenged us to make each other a priority. Being a mom has also taught me about my relationship with myself. I never realized that I would have to “re-discover” myself once they were semi-independent. The truth is, parenting never gets easier, the challenges just change.
On a lighter note, there have been several things I never thought I would do, but motherhood has pressed the issue. I never thought I would sit by idly while my two-year-old daughters played in a mud pile at the park (also never imagined taking pictures to document the moment)! Using my children’s first and middle names to communicate that I meant business is a technique I never thought I would need, and finally, I never dreamt I would cut up hot dogs for a tank full of crayfish!”
-Mel, mother of two sets of identical twins (ages five and eight)
“I never thought I would be the parent who packs anything and everything before leaving the house, but I totally am!”
-Bethany, mother of two-month-old
“You never stop worrying about your children, even when they leave your house. Your heart is always with them, and it will break with every trial they encounter. No one tells you how challenging it will be to endure these heartbreaks.”
-Carol, mother of two grown children
“I remember thinking, ‘I would never do/say that with my kids.’ Oh how ignorant and high and mighty you can be when you’ve never been a parent. You can plan how you want things to go in your life as a parent, but life can really get in the way... things can very suddenly take an unexpected turn, but it’s important to stay in God’s word and go with the flow as long as it doesn’t compromise your faith.”
-Sarah, mother of four children (ages one, three, five & eight)
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