This past week so many thoughts passed through my mind. I contemplated getting rid of Facebook, shutting down my blog, reducing the amount of peripheral fluff. And I prayed and sought and talked with my husband. And I felt like never before such a strong urge to be intentional.
In the end, since I’m still writing here, the blog isn’t going anywhere. But I have placed some borders on my social media usage because sometimes the fluff gets in the way of what I really want to be focusing on. Being intentional.
Because what my daughter’s need most is their mother. Not a Pinterest inspired version. Just me. Just as I come. My heart, my love, my time, my attention.
Before Elizabeth was born I felt a strong urge for intentionality in my mothering. And after she came and I started reading the parenting books, it didn’t take me long to realize the parenting I wanted, the ministry of motherhood I longed for, wasn’t found in the pages of the books I had been given. I shut them all. In fact, I’ve really only read through 3 or 4 parenting books all the way through and I can assure you they are not the ones you may expect.
I began to get a little confused as to what my role was. I missed ministry and speaking into the lives of women and children. My husband in his own gracious way encouraged me to shut the books, to get rid of them, and to open the one book that would give me everything I needed. The Bible. And so, being the great wife I am, I followed his advice.
And then about a year later, I opened Sally Clarkson’s Ministry of Motherhood. I read through the first 3 chapters, wrote down some notes and shut the book (eventually I finished it!) She finally offered the words and the calling I was waiting to hear.
“I realized with the passing of each day that spiritual and emotional maturity would not just happen to my children because I wished it so. It would not come just from a passive example of my being good. Effective spiritual, emotional, and social training in the lives of my children would have to be both intentional and planned.” Ministry of Motherhood, p. 13
She put words to where my heart was stirring. Having been involved in campus ministry like Sally, I had discipled young women before. I had gained the wisdom of a discipleship model; to pour out my life investing in the next generation, living, loving, serving, training and pointing them to Jesus.
As soon as I read those chapters, I shut the book not because I didn’t like her advice, but because a light bulb went off. God was calling me as a mother to intentionally disciple my children. I had known this in a way prior to having Elizabeth but so much other fluff had been added. Peripheral things that seemed trivial in light of the Gospel. God calls parents to impart His word to them, to teach them about Himself, and to raise up children that know who He is. He asks more of us of course, but this is a foundational truth.
And I shut the book because that discipleship model I had been taught in college was something I knew how to do.
These girls, this season I’ve been given, is where my ministry is. Where my heart needs to be poured out. And discipleship happens best when you get involved and get intentional. It's messy and hard, there are questions and times of failure, but discipleship is coming alongside and teaching, equipping, helping and just plain being there.
The whole mystery of parenting fell away when I realized I just needed to rely on the Lord and set forth an intentional heart to focus on my daughters. Young children learn by observation. This is a known truth. They learn by watching what is going on around them. That’s why if you spend time with kids that are a little wild, your child will probably want to test out being a bit wild and that’s okay and very normal.
For me, knowing my daughters will be watching me, learning from me, copying me makes me not want to get my act together and do things perfectly, but instead to be ready. To be immersed in God’s word, to be authentic and real, to admit when I’m wrong, be affectionate and offer grace. To give them myself, even the messy parts. God has called me as a mother to be intentional about sharing who He is and who Jesus is to my children. And for me this happens all day long. Not just through stories and His word but by living life in a way so that they "hopefully" see me more often as humble and in need and God as the one who supplies.
Hard, yes. Worth it, incredibly.
My heart has been burdened that I can’t just say the words. I can’t just offer platitudes and good jobs. I can’t just sit on the sidelines and hope they catch on. There’s hard, intentional work to be done. My daughter isn’t going to catch on like one catch’s a cold. We’re building a foundation together.
Creating a family, creating a legacy, creating a life together. Being intentional about what that looks like, how's it's played out, and what stays and what goes has helped.
In those years of waiting for children, Alex and I began to imagine the type of life we would want if we ever had children. And there are moments, like Saturdays as we sit and listen to the music at the Farmer’s Market, where my heart swells because those fleeting notions are turning into reality.
Everyone has a different vision of this…that’s what is so fantastic. Everyone has a vision for their family, for their children. Some are world driven and others heaven focused. But we all have some sort of thing we are being intentional about imparting.
For us, we’re attempting to be intentional about creating a family atmosphere that’s full of love and grace and forgiveness. Where fun things happen as a family and where one can always feel safe. We want our daughters to enjoy being with us. We watched families, we've asked advice, gleaned wisdom and are attempting to put it into practice.
We are intentional about teaching our girls about who God is daily. If they don’t learn who He is from what we share and how we act, speak and behave, they will leave our house ill-equipped. Even if He never calls our daughters to true faith in His son, I pray they leave our house with a real and authentic view of who Jesus is.
Being intentional never seemed so daunting or difficult as it does but thankfully God is with me in this and I know that discipleship is always worth the hard work put in. As someone who has sought out a mentor and been poured into for the past 10 years, discipleship is worth every minute, even as adults.
We don’t give up even though we want to sometimes. We keep imparting the same truths over and over again. We train, we encourage, we offer grace, we are quick to listen and slow to anger (try!!), and we continually offer opportunities for Elizabeth to practice what she is learning. For her, it’s sharing, walking and staying close to mom when in a store, listening and obeying, sitting through dinner, pouring water, getting dressed, and praying. She has her own little prayer she knows. “Thank you Jesus, Amen.” They’re never too little to learn God’s word or speak to Him.
For the fall, I’m hoping to create a little curriculum alongside the monthly truth’s our church is teaching to our kids on Sunday’s. This month they are learning that “God Made Me” and it’s become a theme we can focus on throughout the month. Nothing fancy, nothing Pinterest-y. Just talking about how God made her. Every part of her.
For me, I’ve had to turn off the world a bit to be more intentional. That peripheral fluff has to go…otherwise I’m distracted by the minor things. Even though I don’t have a physical “boss” I have a boss who’s watching every move. Who gives grace and offers second chances over and over again. I have a God who cares how my day goes and one who has given me the tools to be intentional in my mothering.
He’s called me to go and make disciples…and He’s given me two right in front of me.
*in case anyone is wondering, here are the books I’ve read all the way through and have really enjoyed and found incredibly resourceful and helpful*
Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
For the Family’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Disciplines of a Godly Family by R. Kent Hughes
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
as well as these non-Christian books
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen La Billion
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Favorite kid books
Learn about God series by Carine Mackenzie