God’s Grace for Mothers

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Episode Synopsis

In this episode Jani and Heidi examine grace-filled mothering—the source, the cost and the rewards.

Audio Transcript

Heidi: Hello everyone. Welcome to our podcast today. We’re so glad that you’re listening in. As you know, we’ve been talking about children and a little bit about motherhood over these past couple episodes. And the last two episodes, we really talked about a mother’s guilt, the weight that we feel as we work through different things in motherhood. And today we wanted to focus on the grace that God has for mothers when we feel that guilt set in, what does the Lord speak over us?

Jani: That’s so good, yes. Isn’t it important to understand God’s grace? It’s vital to our life as Christians because God’s grace shows us who he is and who we are and how relationships work best. We need to understand, as moms, that who we are as Christians is more important than who we are as mothers. Why? Well, because our mothering flows out of our inner lives and we can’t fake it with our children, can we Heidi?

Heidi: No. I just love that Jani. Who we are as Christians matters more than who we are as mothers.

Jani: Yes. Let’s remember that as we try to be good mothers, we all want to be good moms. I want to be a good grandmother. I get this from scripture because our mothering will flow out of that inner life of who we are in Christ Jesus. Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” That means that it’s my heart that waters my life, that sustains all of my life. It’s out of my heart that my mouth speaks. There’s another verse Heidi, would you read it in Matthew 12:34?

Heidi: Yes. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Jani: Whoa!

Heidi: That’s such a big one, yes, that what is flowing out of my mouth is what’s coming from my heart.

Jani: Yes and so when words come out, let’s listen to them. They’re showing us what is abounding in my heart. I wonder, listener, what is abounding in your heart today? As you give yourself to your children, fatigue and self preservation will wash away all your patience and self control and you will need Jesus more than ever because true life flows out of us from the internal fullness of the Holy Spirit. John 7:38 puts it this way, “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” We want our mothering to be filled with grace. Well, if we want to know how to do that, if we want to know more about grace filled mothering, then we need to spend time with the grace giver. Let’s not be moms who wait for the next stage to read our Bible, pray, and spend time with the God of grace. Let’s be women who commit to take 15 to 20 minutes every day to quiet our hearts before the Lord Jesus Christ. Young mom, if you’re waiting until your baby is sleeping through the night to get back into the Word, then when your baby does sleep through the night, you’ll be tempted to wait until she sleeps past 6:30 in the morning. Once she does that, you’ll be tempted to wait until she starts preschool. It will always feel easier in the next stage you’re imagining ahead. But be careful because as a mom, you are training for the next stage in this stage. Your time in the Word every day is laying the foundation for your next stage.

Heidi: I love to think of it this way, Jani. I always think of a teacup, because that’s what we enjoy together. But I think of a teacup and we pour some of that out into our children, but what is pouring back into us? And it’s really that time with the Lord. We need that time in the Lord to fill up our cups. So then out of the abundance of that, that’s what I want to pour onto my kids.

Jani: That’s good. And of course I loved the teacup analogy! Oh, Heidi, you’re great. I wish our listeners could see your beautiful smile. You just make me smile. Oh, hopefully they will. Hey, I know we need to post more pictures of you!

Heidi: Your’e so funny! We wish we could sit with all of you guys and have coffee.

Jani: Yes or tea.

Heidi: Yes!

Jani: Well, as we were saying, we want you to hear this very carefully, way down deep in your heart, that your time in the word today is laying your foundation for tomorrow. Proverbs 4 uses these verbs to show our relationship to the word and the wisdom it offers: hold fast, keep, get, love, prize, embrace. As I’ve said before, being in the word will cost you something: sleep, time, intellectual energy, but not being in the word will cost you so much more. Keep going to his word. Oh, listen to these words from Proverbs 2, “Call out for insight.” You’re calling out to God, “Give me insight in being a mom!” “…and raise your voice for understanding. Seek it like silver.” It’s not easy to find silver. You have to dig deep into the mines, “…and search for it as for hidden treasures.” It takes seeking, it takes searching, but then here’s the promise, “…then you will understand every good path for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” Ray says in the notes for Proverbs in the Gospel Transformation Bible, “You don’t drift into wisdom, you pursue it.” Let’s be moms and grandmothers and aunts and Sunday School teachers who pursue wisdom. Let’s not try to drift into it. You sacrifice for your children, not because they are so wonderful and not because you are so wonderful. You sacrifice your time to be with the Lord because Jesus is so wonderful. We need to learn to love our children out of something larger than ourselves. Otherwise, all we’ll have to give them is ourselves and we want more than that, don’t we Heidi?

Heidi: Yeah, we do.

Jani: Mothering is costly, but don’t let that bother you. Anything of worth is costly. Remember, you’re not alone in it, although you will feel alone when you’re the one getting up several times each night to feed your baby. Remember that every other person alive needed frequent feedings at first. Humor always helped me at this stage, and I love this quote I found in a Good Housekeeping magazine years ago. It was entitled, “I Like Babies,” and I had four little ones at that time and this was written by a mother of 10 kids. Can you imagine?

Heidi: No!

Jani: …but very once in a while I’d read through it and just chuckle.

Heidi: That’s what I love about you, that in the midst of so many different life circumstances Jani, the Lord always gives you something to chuckle about. It helps. I’m grateful.

Jani: It does help. He’s kind. Oh, I can’t wait to get to heaven and hear his royal laughter. Oh my goodness. Well, this is what the lady wrote, the mom of 10 babies in her article entitled, “I Like Babies.” It’s a good thing she did. She says this, “As a new mother, you might as well forget everything you ever learned about sleep. From the very moment that bundle of joy joins the family, your nights are shot. After falling into bed at midnight, you can expect to be up at 1:30 or 2:00 AM for feeding, changing, and burping. With any luck at all, you can get back to bed by 3:30, only to get up again for the 5:00 AM feeding after which you won’t get back to sleep at all because by then it’s breakfast time. In your innocence and exhaustion, you may tell yourself that things will get back to normal when baby gets a little older, but you’re wrong, things won’t get back to normal until baby gets married. For as baby gets older, you merely progress from nighttime feedings to nighttime earaches, kicking off the covers and better check to see if he’s breathing. By the time he’s old enough to convince you that he can breathe without supervision, he will be into the terrible twos, which is always accompanied by a terrible thirst…”

Heidi: Gideon just woke me up last night and said, “Mama, I just need a drink.”

Jani: Oh, so you can relate, that’s right! Well when she goes on to say, “…for the next year or two you will have to get up several times each night to get him a drink of water and…” I’m sorry to tell you this Heidi, “…and because he is still a little bitty guy and can’t hold all that water, you will have to get up again to take him to the potty. Now baby will outgrow this at about three or four but at that time he will undoubtedly have a little brother or sister.” (This is not an announcement about Heidi!) “…requesting the pleasure of your company at 2:00 AM and 5:00 AM and there you go all over again. Eventually of course, you will stop having babies and you will think, ‘At last I can get some sleep.’ Forget it. Just about the time your youngest baby began sleeping through the night, your oldest baby begins staying out half the night and you will be back to walking the floor and wondering if you are ever going to get some sleep. I was 39 when Patrick was born, so I figure I will be 60 before I can count on getting a good night’s sleep. I just read an article which said that women over 60 often have difficulty getting to sleep. I’m not surprised. By that time, they’ve forgotten how!”

Heidi: Oh, what a nice, sweet little story Jani. Thanks for sharing that today.

Jani: Isn’t that great? Let’s try to laugh about it. When the tears feel like they’re just right on the verge of spilling over out of exhaustion, let’s remember we’re not alone in this. Every other human being on the face of the earth woke up several times during those early months to eat and someone took care of them and it’s our privilege as mothers to do that. The price you pay as a mom is worth it. I, as a 70 year old lady, want to encourage you in it. The exhaustion you sometimes feel will fade into insignificance as your child grows and matures into a godly young man or woman. When the prophet Isaiah was searching for a metaphor to illustrate God’s constant love for his people, what does he use? A nursing mama. I love that, Isaiah 49:15. He uses the illustration of a new baby’s mother and her compassion for her baby. You see, as a young mom, you are imitating God as you serve your baby and God will be there with you, encouraging you and blessing you in your service to him and to your baby. His grace will be sufficient for every need you have. God’s grace now doesn’t mean we never work or strive or discipline ourselves. Heidi read second Timothy 2:1.

Heidi: it says, “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus Christ.” Yes. God gives us grace to be strengthened in and through it. That’s a great meditation verse. “Be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ,” that our grace and our strength comes from Him.

Jani: Yes, both. He gives us that grace. He wants us to be strong in that grace, receive it, rejoice in it and use it and that brings us to our next point. He gives us that grace so that we can use it with our children and pass it on to our children. Because every mother is a mirror of what life should be like to her child. In you, dear young mom, your child experiences what the world should be like. Your child will bear the imprint of your mothering throughout his or her life because nearly all human behavior springs from imitation. Children are sensitive, children are very pliable. They are open to the gospel. They are fresh and energetic with years of service to offer to Christ. As mothers, we get to teach our children that all the values we believe must be passed onto the next generation. Heidi, what are some of the values you teach your children?

Heidi: Love, faithfulness, honesty and hard work.

Jani: Yes, I see that in your children…

Heidi: …and forgiveness is what I always try to focus on because I sin and Mike sins and the kids sin and what does it mean for us to repent and confess and forgive one another as we go through that together?

Jani: Oh, that’s so good.

Heidi: What are things you tried to teach your kids Jani? Well, I wish I had taught them more about repentance. You really are God blessed in how you’re able to do that with your children. I wanted to pass on a sense of who to respect, of honesty, loyalty, of generosity, of self-control. Oh, there was so many things that we valued that we wanted to pass onto our children and I love seeing the values you’re passing on to yours because God places a very high value on children. He tells us how we are to receive children. Mark 9:37 says that when we receive a child, it’s like receiving Christ. That’s amazing, isn’t it? He says, to receive a child is to receive Christ. And then a little further on in that chapter, Mark 9:42, he warns us that we’re better off dead than to cause a child who believes in Christ to stumble or sin. Oh what a serious warning. And then in Mark chapter 10:13-16, Jesus became indignant when the disciples didn’t value a child’s worth in Christ’s expanding kingdom. Oh, let’s value those children, and then Psalm 127:3. Would you read that for us, Heidi?

Heidi: Yes. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Whoa. Children are a blessing from God. Sometimes we don’t feel that. The first word there is “behold.” That means, “Hey, pay attention. Listen up. You’ve got to hear this. This is important.” God is telling us in that verse that he never sees a baby as an afterthought. Children come from God and are to be received as a privilege from him. He gives them to us as our inheritance, as his heritage. Children are his way of passing down his kingdom to the coming generations of spreading his wealth of love, joy, delight, peace, significance and faithfulness to the next generation. These are life’s real treasures. Raising children well is kingdom work. Through our mothering, we allow our children to taste the value of commitment and relish the peace of security. We teach them to embrace all the moral obligations that build solid relationships, enduring marriages, and secure families. A mother has the privilege of developing a sense of self in her child. Self worth is a reflection of how God and those around us view us. Now I’m not talking about self esteem, it’s a little bit of a different category. I’m talking about self worth. I’m talking about self-respect. Heidi, have you ever heard of the book, “Parenting by The Book?”

Heidi: I have. One of my friends was in a good discipleship group of yours and you recommended it to her and she recommended it to me so I have it on my bookshelf downstairs.

Jani: Yes, I really recommend this book, “Parenting by The Book by John Rosemond. He says that “The opposite of self esteem is not low esteem. Rather it’s humility, modesty and meekness,” which he calls strength under control. You see, you as a mom have the joyful, privilege and opportunity to pass on a vibrant sense of God. You have the joy to protect your child from evil and even death and to give your child intimacy and affection in his early years and then point him to find those soul necessities in God as he matures. You have the opportunity to set high standards of honor and morality for him to follow and to show him how the grace of God is the motivation and reward for anything of value he does. I’m not saying this is easy, it’s not, but God’s purpose for us as his daughters is not freedom from difficulty in life. His goal is to make us like Christ and through us to mark our children with the beauty of Christ. Grace is costly. It costs Christ everything. God intends to conform us to the image of his son. And what is that image? Well, Philippians 2 teaches that he humbled himself and considered others before himself, all the way to the cross. Can you read Jesus’s words to us from Mark 10?

Heidi: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jani: Even Jesus did not come to be served.

Heidi: What a good reminder.

Jani: Yes, but to serve. So as moms, we’re very Christ-like every time we bend down to serve one of our babies. I think that when we’re struggling with all those demands of motherhood, all those responsibilities, when I’m struggling and resisting and fighting against them and resenting them, my deepest problem is not that my husband is insensitive or that my kids are cranky or that my budget is too tight. The problem is that the way of the cross is costly, but what it costs is worth every ounce of energy and every minute of time invested and will reap benefits both here on earth and in eternity. Heidi and I want to encourage you, young moms, hang in there.

Heidi: Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on Christ. Keep praying to him and calling out to him.

Speaker 1: Yes, let’s conclude today with another quote that I really appreciated as my children were little. It’s from an old book called, “Stepping Heavenward” by Elizabeth Prentice.She said this while she was pregnant for the third time and gave birth. “I celebrated my little Eunice’s third birthday by presenting her with a new brother.” So she had two babies on the same day. “Both the children welcomed him with delight that was of itself compensation enough for all it cost me to get up such as celebration. Martha,” who was her housekeeper, “…takes a most prosaic view of this proceeding in which she detects malice of forethought on my part. She says, ‘I shall now have one mouth. The more to fill and two feet, the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days and less leisure for visiting, reading, music and drawing.’ Well, this is one side of the story to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet fragrant mouth to kiss. Here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost. Since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of my friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby. You are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her most tender cares to her life long prayers. Oh, how rich I am. How truly, how wondrously blessed.”

Heidi: What a sweet quote. That book is so good.

Jani: Let’s try to remember that our children are a blessing. Motherhood is costly, but I can tell you from experience that the price you pay for godly mothering will fade into insignificance as your children grow and leave you. Invest in them. Let’s close with this word from 2 Chronicles 15:7, “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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