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Mom advice, pass it down

Mom advice, pass it down

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12

This was written to Timothy, a young pastor, by his older mentor, the Apostle Paul, as parting words. Paul was reaching the end of his ministry and giving a final charge to Timothy for the work ahead. Though it’s written to a man, a pastor, I think it has ample application for moms, too. 

Moms, and dads, but moms in particular are given children to care for and train up in the way they should go. Moms are on the front lines of doing and providing everything for their children. All the basics and lots of extras. Food, clothing, education, moral character building, common sense (for heaven’s sake), social skills, shake-it-off-and-try-again skills, eggs and toast making skills, whites and darks know-how, dance party skills… 

As mothers we have a responsibility to pass on the faith and heritage that was entrusted to us by the Lord, just as Timothy’s grandmother and mother did with him (2 Timothy 2:5). Whether it was our biological parents or others stepping in as spiritual parents, in many cases both, someone was there faithfully bringing us along. This is what Paul was instructing Timothy in and it is no easy task.

At our church on occasion we sing an old hymn, “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” The last verse goes like this:

A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
in robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
to follow in their train.

No matter our station in life the life of faith is a fight. We need brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers around us to link arms with and lead us on. So for this Mother’s Day I’ve asked some of the best mothers I know to give us their one bit of advice for mom life. These are mothers young and old, mothers of large families and mothers of small families. They’ve worked, stayed at home, fostered, adopted, home-schooled, private schooled, public schooled, and been through the ins and outs of life like everyone else. I hope you’re encouraged.

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Pray for and with your children. Have daily family devotions. Do not neglect corporate worship. Allow your children to serve God alongside you. It is important to allow your kiddos to see you love and trust God and your joy in serving Him and His church.

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Adding another child to our one and then another, I started to realize that going anywhere would pretty much always be hard! So I adjusted my expectations and as a result, I could roll with the punches much more easily and cheerfully. Now I remind myself often: Hard is not the same thing as bad.

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The best advice I can pass on is to have a date night every week. Your children are the overflow of your love in marriage, so you must keep building into it. It can be very difficult especially when every resource is strained, but it’s worth it. Our children are now adults and we are caring for my mother, but we still do what we can to keep a regular date on the calendar, being creative with whatever time, money, and energy we have.

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Stop trying to be supermom. Die to your pride. Give up competing with other women. You can’t be or do for your children all that they need. But God can. You can’t save your children. God alone can. But when you recognize your inabilities and weaknesses and come to the place where you must depend on Him, that’s a very good place indeed!

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Remember, it’s just hair. Keep the big picture in view and trust in the Lord.

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When you especially feel the weight of your own inadequacies and failures, don’t give up and disengage. Cling to God and His promises. Remember that God chose you, with full knowledge of all your weaknesses, to mother these particular children, and He will wholly equip you.

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Often I’m tempted to think that Jesus does not understand what it’s like to be a mother. But I’m encouraged when I remember that part of Jesus’ work was ministering to people who wouldn’t leave him alone, even to pray or sleep. Crowds pressed in on him, asking for favors, asking for miracles, asking for food, pulling on his clothes. When I think of that, I know Jesus understands and I can trust that He has shown me the right way to respond. So I can turn around and care for my little flock, drawing on His compassion, His patience, and His love for those under His care.

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Apologize to your kids when you sin against them. Sometimes we like to repent to God and skip the apology to our kids. But acknowledging our sin before our kids is what keeps us from hypocrisy.

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Be joyful. You set the tone of your home. Smile at your children and delight in them.

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Recently we asked one of our grown sons what he thought we should do better with our younger sons. He said that we should “let them fail sooner”. In our effort to make sure they obeyed us we may have held them too close, or we hovered too much, not giving them the opportunity to fail or do something wrong. We always wanted our children to do the right thing and make wise choices. But maybe we didn’t give them room to make a decision and we would make it for them. Weighty consequences leave an impression! And yes, the sooner the better.

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Do not, under any circumstances, hide your children’s sin from their father. You are teaching them that they can sin without consequence.

Also, when your husband (or whoever) publicly chastises your child, keep those mama bear claws and your pride under control. We do not want our sons raised by weak men who pander to our feelings. We want men who will teach our children the way they should go. (Even if it hurts our pride.)

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Don’t settle for anything less than respectful and cheerful obedience. Slow obedience is no obedience. Expect great things from the little moments. You never know how God is working!

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When looking at someone else facing an intense trial it is easy to think that were we the ones walking through it, it would do us in. But in reality, God gives the grace for whatever he calls us to walk through. 

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Fill your home with good music that worships the Lord (and not just the kiddie stuff). Let it steep in your home and family. It will lift your eyes out of your mess and bring perspective to life with kids. Sing and dance along with your kids and let them see you praising God in everyday life. 

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Mothers often idealize the little years. While they are precious & should be savored, don’t dread your children growing up. It’s what God has made them to do! While it may be painful to work through their sin, it is a joy to see those things fade and how they come to love and serve Jesus on their own. 

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Children are not a stable equation. It’s not like a recipe where we can expect that by putting the right ingredients together in the right order and by the same method, we will get the same results every time. Each child has his own strengths and weaknesses. Each child will both challenge and delight us in unique ways.

With each child I’ve had, more of my sin is exposed. That is one of the great benefits of motherhood, isn’t it? We must serve the Lord in our weakness and give Him the glory for any good that comes of our feeble attempts to raise the children He has blessed us with.

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Expect being a mother to be the hardest work you’ve ever done— and the most rewarding. But expect the hardship, so it doesn’t blind-side you!

Being a mother is like being “poured out as a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17) Praise God for the opportunity to die to ourselves and grow to be more like Christ.

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About The Author

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Amanda Mentzel is wife to Jake, mother to Peter, Lucy, Iain, Abraham, Geneva, Ozias, and Haddon. Amanda can’t stand articles that hinge on cutesy turns of phrase, despite the fact that she sometimes creates them.

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