Monday, February 23, 2009

Gathering at the Well this morning we find the talk about motherhood and children, a topic I'm not well-versed in.
As many of the regular readers here at A Magnolia's Heart Beats know, I never had biological children. Oh, the desire was there for a time, but after an eight year period of prayer, a time of infertility and miscarriage, it wasn't to be and I had a hysterectomy at age 29.
I had the pleasure of assisting in raising my bonus daughter, though, from the time she was six years old until she flew the nest, married, and made grandparents out of us. I learned alot about motherhood, mostly from the example of other women. I wish during that time I had taken my cue from the Bible and had the resources available now that I didn't have back then. You can't go back, though, and all in all, she turned out to be a great child.
I had a wonderful example to follow through watching my own Mother raise my sister. My little sister is a year and a half older than Kristyn, and since I was almost 13 when Jenn Jenn was born, I got to see alot of what went on in the proper care of children. Momma is a great Mom and I love the way she loved us. She always had time for us and never shooed us away. I don't know how she ever had any kind of a personal life while raising us because it seems we were her life. Her love never waxed cold.
It isn't exactly like that for mothers in this day and age. As Sherry, our host for today, says, "We need a transformation; we need the power of the Holy Spirit to be released in us. It starts with repentance and forgiveness, then continues through prayer and the study of God's Word. If you are struggling--confess it to Him and ask for help. Include Him in your questions and challenges--ask for His help to develop new heart-habits that will reap a harvest in this world and the world to come."

I would encourage any struggling mother to seek God to transform her heart. My nest is empty but I still pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be released in me. I have struggles in other areas of my life and need His precious guidance. My nest fills up quite often with visit from the Grands, Kristyn & Corey's precious wee ones, Nolan and Liam. I saw them briefly Saturday and they'll be there tonight I'm sure. Next weekend we'll likely keep one or both of them at some point overnight. For the brief time I have them with me, I want to be the best I can be for them. I want to make sure I am the best Nonnie I can be, and the best example I can be to Kristyn.

On to the discussion questions. Sherry writes:

Are there areas of hardness and coldness in my life? What are the roots of these? Do I need to release someone who has hurt me in my past?

I think many of us bring some kind of baggage into motherhood. This baggage can weigh us down and settle us into a hardness that rivals concrete. If someone from our past has hurt us, now is the time to forgive them.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

This speaks to me and says that sometimes we have to forgive people in a very large way. Forgiveness isn't always easy, but it is a matter of obedience. It doesn't mean letting someone keep hurting you, it's a matter of the condition of your heart and letting it heal. You can forgive someone but still keep them at arms length, not giving them the chance to hurt you again. While God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, we simply are not wired that way.

The Greek word for forgiveness used in the verse above is aphiēmi. This word means:

1) to send away
a) to bid going away or depart
1) of a husband divorcing his wife
b) to send forth, yield up, to expire
c) to let go, let alone, let be
1) to disregard
2) to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic)
a) of teachers, writers and speakers
3) to omit, neglect
d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
e) to give up, keep no longer
2) to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person
3) to leave, go way from one
a) in order to go to another place
b) to depart from any one
c) to depart from one and leave him to himself so that all mutual claims are abandoned
d) to desert wrongfully
e) to go away leaving something behind
f) to leave one by not taking him as a companion
g) to leave on dying, leave behind one
h) to leave so that what is left may remain, leave remaining
i) abandon, leave destitute

Look through these descriptions above and see how you can forgive someone in a way that is freeing to you.

Do I need to confess and release myself from the bondage of sinful patterns in my own life?

We have to let go of anything that is holding us back from being a mother to the wee ones in our lives. If we don't, our hands will be so tied that we cannot touch their lives and shepherd them the way they need to be. Whatever sinful patterns we have need to be removed. We may not even know what they are. We may not feel particularly sinful or we may be doing something so routine and habitual that it doesn't seem like a sin to us. We must invite God to search our hearts and free us. The Psalmist invited God to do just that.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." ~ Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Once we have our hearts and minds turned upright, we can lead our children, grandchildren or whomever our charges are in the way that God leads us, the way of the everlasting.

What are some ways that I can turn the conversation around when other women begin to gripe and complain about their children?

I think one good way would be to listen carefully and let them know that you will be in prayer for their child. Just as we do not engage in husband-bashing, neither should we engage in child-bashing. Simply do not go there. Your child's dirty laundry does not need to be aired. If you have concerns, have a talk with a trusted friend, don't air the concerns in a group. Leading by example is a good way in this case. I can tell you that I griped and complained about some issues regarding my bonus daughter that skewed the way family and friends thought of her for quite some time. I missed my sister's wedding over it. Cultivating a harvest of bitter words is something that you don't want to do.

Pray for God's wisdom, ask if you can change the subject, get up and leave, lead by example, sit in silence, do anything but participate in a conversation about negativity regarding children. Revealing personal indiscretions skews views. This I know.

Name some creative ways we can create warmer, more inviting environments for our children.

Oh, this is easy! I love this one. TURN OFF THE TV. Have a family game night. Have supper in an unusual place. For example, if you usually eat at the kitchen table, serve pizza and drinks (with lids on them) in the kids room on the floor. Get into their space and be "cool" with them for a night. Always be open for interruptions. If you are truly working and don't need any distractions, go to them before you sit down and ask them if there is anything they need. Let them know that you're going to be busy for a while and don't need to be interrupted, but you're here for them now. If you're simply surfing the net or reading emails make time for your kids. You can always come back to what you're doing. They grow up so fast, ya'll. I am amazed at how quickly Kristyn went from 6 to 20. I think I know how fast in the twinkling of an eye is. Make time for them, love them, be affectionate and hug them, tell them you not only love them but like them, spend one-on-one time with them if you have more than one child, the opportunities are limitless.

At the Well is hosted by Sherry today at - Please be sure to visit and gather with us...



Melanie said...

Great post, Laurie Ann! You touched on a couple of things that I struggle with and I love the scriptures you shared.

Love you, girl!

Denise said...

Such a wonderful post my friend.

Lady of Value said...

Children do grow up so quickly! I find myself wanting those days back of holding my little ones on my lap and just having them fall asleep on my shoulder. Great post! Lots of good advise.

Have a good Monday!

Joyfull said...

Great post, filled with encouragement and practical ideas. Thank you for sharing today.

Yolanda said...

Some of my fondest memories are when we would loose electricity for then my parents would play games with us in the eveings with no t.v. to watch.

Amydeanne said...

Laurie, thanks for your great post.. and the griping.. I had a struggle with infertility for 8years as well before my children came (very unexpectedly).. and I don't complain about my kids.. i'm very aware of that.. I will sometimes say they are busy, but I prayed and wished so hard for them and know they are a blessing everyday... and after all the issues we had I can't ever say that God didn't give me my hearts desire... when I hear others complain about their kids I try to bring a positive quality about them.... i think it makes the children happy and the mother happy to know that someone else has noticed a great quality in their babies!
God Bless
(and re: my youngest online is 3 years old!!!)

Lisa said...

Thanks, Laurie Ann, for sharing your thoughts. They were very helpful and encouraging, and also a reminder of the verse I read in my Bible Study this morning from Psalm 139. Yes, Lord, search our hearts!

Blessings, in Him,

Jennifer said...

A truly wonderful post today, my friend! There is nothing like motherhood whether it is biological children, adopted or "bonus" all takes a great deal of work, patience, prayer and learning from our own mistakes. Boy, have I had quite a few to learn from!

Can't wait to get together...I will email you...we have a problem with that date.

Have a great day, my sweet, sweet friend!!!

Rebecca said...

I agree with Amy, after struggling so hard to have ours, we don't complain about them either. What I loved was your suggestions to handling a situation where a mother is griping. Lots of wisdom there.

And I like the idea of having a family night just by eating in a different place. I remember a really special treat for us was eating out. So whenever my parents would get Chinese take-out, it always meant an indoor, family room floor, picnic.

Thanks for all the "practical." That's what I came looking for today. ~ Rebecca

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

"Once we have our minds and hearts turned upright we can lead our children"...Amen, my sister. This has been key for me.

Blessings to you!

Darlene said...

Great post!

saleslady371 said...

You have very wise words here. I was convicted on one point. Thank you.

He And Me + 3 said...

What a great post...thank you for sharing on this subject...I was convicted too.

Michele Williams said...

Great post!!! I really enjoyed it! Bless you my friend.

Sherry said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful post and getting in depth on issues. Your post really spoke to me with all that is going on. Thank you!!