Note: This is a devotional I did for a baby shower. I thought it might be encouraging to other moms who did not attend that evening. It's always good to hear that you aren't alone in your struggles of motherhood.
I am honored and humbled that Anna asked me to speak tonight, but I’m also scared to death to speak in front of a crowd. So, let’s begin with a word to prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this time we have to gather together in joyous celebration of Charina and her precious baby boy. Please fill me with Your peace as I speak to these ladies, and may I be a blessing and an encouragement, especially to the young moms as they do this thing called motherhood. Blessing this evening and our time together tonight, in Your precious name, Amen.
On the table you will each find an index card and a pencil. There should be one for each of you. I am going to read a little story, and in it are the nine fruits of the spirit, found in the book of Galatians. They may or may not be the exact words, but something that means the same thing. Write the words down as you hear them read in the story.
They wanted to dig to the center of the earth! I debated whether or not I should say no. I did not have the patience to deal with dirt covered children, mud caked into my carpets, or yet another change of clothing per child. I was always the one to take the easier route, meaning if it meant work for me than it wasn’t worth it. I mean, really, with life as a full time, stay at home mom, with five children, that meant work enough! Cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry, homeschooling (at the time), constantly stepping on and picking up Lego bricks left on the floors, settling arguments over ridiculous issues…the list goes on.
As I struggled with the thoughts of frustration such a mess could bring, I asked myself, “What could it hurt? They’re actually getting along out there!” Not once had I heard a screech or a raised voice indicating a battle was ensuing. No, it was actually a peaceful moment. Besides, a little extra laundry wasn’t the end of the world. And a dirty floor could be washed – again. I figured I would be kind in this matter, so, in the end, the joy of watching the children play nicely and creatively won over.
“Let them be kids,” I thought meekly. “Childhood goes by too quickly to put too many restrictions on fun, creative play. And I love hearing their happy voices outside my window.”
So, I let them dig to the center of the earth. It was a spot in the yard hidden behind the bushes near the stream. I could see them gathered around in excitement as the oldest dug with all his might. They took turns shoveling and tossing the dirt away as the hole slowly grew deeper. I went out to check their progress, and the children excitedly showed me how far they had gone. My oldest was up to his waist in the muddy pit.
“Great work!” I commented. “When you reach the center of the earth, make sure you tell me so I can toss a rope down for you can climb back home.”
“But I don’t know how to climb a rope!” one of the boys said.
“Just tie it around your waist and walk up the side of the hole. It takes a lot of self control to climb, but I know you could do it. You’re strong like that!” I replied.
A great big grin spread across his face as he turned back to watch his brother dig even deeper. Their lively voices were full of eagerness of finding great treasures inside the earth. Anticipation grew with each brightly colored stone they pulled out. The shovels were not gentle on them, but any blisters that formed on their hands were ignored. It was pure, childish delight. They spent the entire afternoon outside, with a childlike faith, believing they would find lots of rubies, diamonds, and dinosaur bones once they reached the center.
I’m sad to say that they did not reach the center of the earth that afternoon, nor did they after eating dinner on the back deck that night. Daddy hosed them down with cold water before letting them anywhere near the inside of the house. Wasn’t he thoughtful? After a bath, they climbed into bed, tired and sore from all their hard work. They all fell asleep immediately that night, making bedtime sooooo easy for me! I wish every night was like that!
That story was a true story, which happened about 12 years ago. It was always something that made an impression on me, the way they worked together! It was one of those proud moments where I felt like I might be doing something right because they were actually getting along! It was one of those moments as a mom where I let go of my own struggles to keep a perfect house, to constantly keep my children looking somewhat presentable, and to always keep everything perfectly organized. And it was a moment where I let my children be children. Their dreams were so innocent, and the smiles on their faces were far more priceless than any gems they hoped to discover in the ground. But not every day was like that.
There were many mornings I would wake up after a long night with a sick child and all I could think about was how much I wished it was night time already so I could climb back under the covers and go to sleep again
Other mornings I would wake up to hear their voices through the walls, and dread the day because I did not want to face the children’s arguing and bickering, the lies, stubbornness, or mischievous things my children would do. They each had their own struggle to deal with. And as their mom it was my God-given job to help them learn how to deal with their struggles and learn how to overcome them. To give them over to the Lord.
But one of my own struggles was not knowing how to help them all the time. I struggled with my flesh getting in the way of teaching them the right way. Yet, if I was supposed to teach them that God is good and can help them through their struggles, I needed to allow Him to help me through my own struggles which included a lack of patience, not always having joy in situations, not feeling peaceful, not always being kind with my words, not being gentle, etc.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Inside my basket, I have something that represents each fruit:
Love – I have here a little stone sign to remind us that love never fails. I Cor 13:4 says, “Charity (or love) suffereth long, and is kind.” I John 4:8 says that God is love. True, Biblical love is a choice, not a feeling. When it comes to our children, we may not always feel like loving them, but we need to make that choice to show them love because God is love. And His love will never fail.
Joy – I like joy. It means feeling great pleasure or happiness. What brings you happiness? I like getting flowers. (hold up roses) Seeing these red roses bring me joy. Romans 15:13 says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Find joy in the little things your children do and say, and write those moments down. It will be those memories that will help carry you through the tough times, and 12 years later you can laugh and reminisce about it with your children at the dinner table.
Peace – Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Pull out baby lullaby toy.)I found this and immediately thought of peace when I heard it. I love watching a baby sleep. They look so peaceful and sweet and it’s hard to believe something so small and fragile could make so much noise when awake and hungry. We are to rest like that too. When we keep our mind on the Lord, trusting Him to take care of all the little details and in between things we don’t have control of, we bring a peace to our home that our children will feel, and they too will be at peace.
Goodness/Kindness – Goodness is also considered being kind. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Showing kindness to our children is a given, but we need to also show them how to be kind to others. Have them help you make cookies to give to someone, or write some notes to shut-ins and include a picture from the children. And always, always, say thank you to people for things they do to you. (Pull out thank you cards.) This will teach your children gratitude in all areas of their lives.
Patience – Patience means the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Wow, that’s a tough one! This does not come easily to any of us. Patience means waiting. Psalms 37:5 says, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…” So for patience I picked up a little tool that represents waiting…or the passing of time. No one likes to wait for an answer. We want everything now, like our children who come in the kitchen half an hour before dinner saying they can’t wait for dinner or else they’ll die. We as their moms need to teach them to wait without getting upset. We need to learn to tolerate their childishness without getting upset. Now that is a challenge I still struggle with. But be careful when you pray for patience because God does have a sense of humor. He will bring some crazy events your way that will make you realize how easy it was before you prayed!
Self Control – Next comes self control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” If we don’t have self control, situations can get out of hand. We are unprotected, like that city that has no walls to keep out the enemy. (Pull out bag of chocolates.) We may eat too much and then feel guilty afterwards, another symptom of the lack of self control. By showing our children how to control hunger, anger, our tongue, etc, we are teaching them something that they will carry with them into adulthood.
Gentleness - Titus 3:2 says, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” (Pull out loofah.) It is a natural thing to tend to the needs of our bodies gently and with great care. I even found a soft loofah that doesn’t scratch and leave red marks all across the skin. We need to tend to the needs of the children as gently as we tend to ourselves. This includes their need of spending time with them, and listening to them when they need to talk. We need to teach them to respond gently to their siblings, with kind words and respectful attitudes.
Meekness – When I think of meekness, I think of Jesus on the cross. He never complained about what the people were doing to Him. He was humble. He was like a lamb. (Hold up the soft lamb.) I Tim 6:11 says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.” Again, some of the qualities we’ve already covered are mentioned in that verse. Keep yourself humble in front of your children. Apologize to them if need be. Show them humilty and they will learn to be humble and meek.
Faith- Lastly, but not least, comes faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Salvation requires faith. Not only believing in Jesus, that He died on the cross for our sins because we needed a Savior, but also believing God can do great things when we go to Him in prayer. Pray with your children. Let them see God move and answer prayers. (Hold up journal.) We walk by faith and not by sight it says on the front. Keep a journal and write down what God does for you. Show your children when they need to be encouraged to trust the Lord for something they are praying for. Show them God still works today.
So, in closing, I wish I could say that there weren’t going to be hard days as you train your little ones. You’ll have your struggles. You’ll have those moments where you’ll want to run away. But if you ask the Lord for wisdom and strength, He will be there right by your side each step of the way. Keep your basket of the fruit of the spirit handy, and remember that since God created that fruit, it’s good to partake of. And take great joy in the times that bring a smile to your face as you listen to your children play peacefully together. They all need times when they are allowed to dig to the center of the earth. They may be looking for rubies and diamonds, but to you, their mom, seeing the smiles on their faces is a priceless gift. And you will be rewarded with a far greater treasure as you see the fruit of the spirit grow in them as they grow into young adults.