16 Ways to Prioritize Your Marriage

by Melisa Gaines

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When my oldest two children started kindergarten and second grade, they learned the word “divorce.”  I knew they were going to learn words like this, but I was still sad I had to explain the meaning.  Like most other families, we have divorced couples in our extended families, but until this point we were able to keep this word out of their vocabularies on purpose.

We wanted them to have a proper, biblical view of marriage as long as possible.  We taught them marriage was designed by our Creator, and was meant to be shared between one man and one woman for a lifetime.  It represents the relationship between Christ and the church, as the husband is the loving head of his home and the wife respectfully submits to his leadership.  The Bible teaches this view, so we teach it to our children (Ephesians 5:22-33).

I’m concerned some couples begin their relationship with unrealistic expectations.

Marriage is not always bliss. You won’t always agree, get along, or feel loved by your spouse.  My husband and I have the rare privilege of coming from homes where both sets of our parents have been married more than 35 years.  A few years back I noticed from time to time they still argue.  At first I was upset, thinking to myself, “Really, after 35 years of marriage we won’t have matured past this petty arguing?”  But then I was encouraged by their examples. It taught me that, yes, 35 years in to this marriage thing, we are still going to be sinners.  We are being sanctified, but not yet glorified (Romans 8:30).  And we keep pressing on.

After almost 12 years of marriage, my relationship with my husband is sweeter than it was in the past.  Having to work for something usually makes you appreciate it more.  Since my children know about divorce now, sometimes when my husband and I aren’t getting along, one of them asks if we are going to get a divorce.  We explain we need to apologize, forgive, and work it out, but we won’t stop loving one another or give up on our marriage.  We tell them that one day when they are married they will argue with their spouses also, and they need to reconcile their differences, just like they do now with their siblings.

It’s important for us to prioritize our marriages to guard against divorce, but also for the sake of our children’s emotional stability.

“A healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the home.  When there is harmony in the marriage, there is infused stability within the family.  A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow in the nurturing process.  Healthy, loving marriages create a sense of certainty for children.  When a child observes the special friendship and emotional togetherness of his parents, he is more secure simply because it isn’t necessary to question the legitimacy of his parent’s commitment to one another.” -Gary Ezzo

Most parents want emotionally stable children, but may be unaware of the damage they are causing by not loving their spouse.  I want my children to be sure of the commitment my husband and I have to one another.  I want them to see us serving one another, forgiving one another and putting each other’s needs before our own.

Romans 12 tells us, “Let love be genuine.  Love one another.  Outdo one another in showing honor.  Live in harmony with one another.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  When we prioritize our marriages it has a positive impact on our whole household. Continue reading →

Be Who You Want Them to Become

by Rey Cooke

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Recently I was invited to share a few “words of wisdom” with newly expectant parents at a baby shower.  I was honored to be a part of this special occasion, but I really had to ponder what to share that would encourage the young couple and not scare them half to death.

Those of us who have parented already, know the ups and downs of raising children. Truthfully, they are the greatest, most entrusted gifts given to us by God. They are also the most overwhelming responsibility!

Your greatest blessings and inheritance from the Lord (Psalm 127:3) is your greatest work and responsibility.

I don’t want to sound like I have all the answers. By the time your children are actually teenagers and dating, what worked for me might be completely obsolete to you. What I do know is that God’s Word stands the test of time. He is the same God yesterday, today and forever!  There were days as a young parent that I could barely keep my head above water, but God not only sustained me, He gave me what I needed for the day.  

My days of parenting young children are behind me, and I write from a position of understanding what families face today. God knew from eternity past what 2017 would look like.  He knew the impact technology alone would have on our culture. As a grandparent and mentor to women, let me encourage you with the same words I shared at the baby shower.

You cannot IMPART what you do not POSSESS.  We must Be what we want our children to Become.  It’s that simple!

They will pick up far more from watching how you handle your problems than from you telling them how to handle their problems.  They will learn how to save or spend money exactly how you handle your money.  If you watch inappropriate media, they will watch inappropriate media.

If you are grumpy, irritable and complain, your children will be grumpy, irritable and complain. If you are impatient with them, they will be impatient with others.  

We cannot impart a godly example if we do not live one.

Continue reading →

Moms Need Moms

by Erin Mullen

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While kids scurried around the playground after church, a good friend and I stood there chatting away. No topic off limit. No thought fully completed (remember…kids scurrying).  We would have stayed and chatted the afternoon away, but the husbands had their stomachs set on lunch. As the husbands began herding the multiple children, My James said something to the effect of, “You girls! I don’t think you would ever run out of things to talk about! You would stay here all day!”

My dear friend replied back in complete, jovial honesty, “Moms need moms!” And she was right. 

Moms need moms.

Older, younger, one kid, five kids, same life-stage, or further down the road; we NEED each other. Present. Loyal. Observant. Vulnerable.

Lately, new stressers have entered my life: looking for a house, contracts, and impending boxes to be packed, not to mention a husband who travels and three kids. It was only a year ago that I came to a place that my anxiety brought me to rock bottom. During this season of whole-body healing and continued learning to trust, it seems the Holy Spirit has been opening my eyes to a new way of living. From sermons to friends, the whispering work of the Holy Spirit cannot be denied.

I have most profoundly seen, felt, and heard His consistent message through the actions of the believer mommas around me. They have stepped in and taken things off my plate to give me TIME to do other things. They have spoken truth with sensitivity, yet firmness. Others have made themselves available and present to be a safe place to vent and cry it out.

It was the same friend who said, “Moms need moms!” that walked into my house for her daughter’s violin lesson only to look me in the face and without hesitation say, “Are you okay?” As tears welled up in my eyes, she immediately put in motion children moving back out the door. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m taking London for the day and you need to call your other students and cancel.”

There was no judgment; no need to hear the story of how wrong my morning had gone. We all need a friend who, with love in their eyes, can say loud and clear, “Hey stupid! Cut yourself a break!” (She did not actually say that, but with all the love in the world, that is what I heard and knew she was right.)

I have been thinking a lot about the different motherhood relationships given to us in Scripture. That being said, some of them were good examples to follow, while others were good examples of what NOT to do. Continue reading →

6 Prayer Points for Your Child’s Future Marriage

by Amy Wootton

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My husband and I have three little ladies under the age of four. If you are like us, your child’s future spouse is probably somewhere playing in the dirt, wearing a diaper, drinking a sippy cup,  and sporting a nap-time cow lick with a 7:45 bed time. It’s crazy to think that one day our little babies will be husbands or wives, but it’s true! We’ve heard it a thousand times from the well-meaning ladies at church or in the grocery store, “Don’t blink. They will be grown and gone before you know it.”

Am I right?

To say that we want the absolute best for our girls would be a huge understatement. We want nothing less than God’s best in every area, especially for the men that our three will one day marry. My husband and I have already started talking to our oldest daughter about how one day she and her daddy will work together to find the man God has for her. She then goes back and forth from telling us “I’m never leaving you and I don’t want to get married” to “I want to marry the nicest man in the whole world.”

The reason we have already begun to plant those seeds in her little heart is because we believe the person she chooses to spend her life with is the second greatest decision she will ever make. First, of course, being her decision to choose Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

There are many practical ways we can start preparing our kids for this future shaping choice, but today I want to talk about the greatest tool we as moms have: Prayer! Y’all, some things will only happen when we commit them to prayer. I have seen this played out in my own life and the life of my family.

My parents, who are amazing prayer warriors, have been such great examples of this principle. They have prayed and prayed for me and my brothers (and our spouses) since before we were born, and I can guarantee you God answered their prayers in big (BIG) ways! My dad went 15 years and fasted most every Friday morning for his children and our future spouses. He knew what was at stake. He was committed to calling out to God in prayer.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am the exact opposite of a procrastinator. I try to be Mrs. Prepared. I love to get things done, check them off my mental list, pack in advance and be a step ahead of the game. Some of you can totally identify, and others are like “not so much.” Regardless of how planned or not you may be, one area where moms can not afford to procrastinate is in the fervent prayers we pray over our children’s future spouse.

As I’m sure with many of you, when I was pregnant, I would lay my hand over my growing belly and pray for the man that God was preparing for each of my little ladies. I can guarantee you, I will not stop till the day they walk down the aisle.

So let’s get to it! Are you praying for the person your children will one day marry? What are some specific prayers that you are trusting only God to complete in the life of your child and their future marriage? God loves when we pray with expectancy and when we pray specifically.

Here are 6 Prayer Points for Your Child’s Future Marriage:

  1. Pray for yourself. That you and your husband will model a genuine Godly marriage before your kids, so they can see first hand what it should look like.
  2. Pray for the heart of your child. That they will accept Jesus, cling to The Word and live their life to please God. We cannot expect them to marry a strong Christian if they themselves are not serving the Lord wholeheartedly.
  3. Pray for purity. That God gives your child uncommon strength to stay pure in both the physical and the spiritual. That they will go against the grain of our culture and stand firm as they wait for the person God is preparing for them.
  4. Pray for relationship. That you and your child are able to walk the journey together when they enter the season of dating and marriage. Pray they will be open, communicative and receptive to the Godly advice you give.
  5. Pray for the in laws. Start praying that God gives the mom and dad of your child’s future spouse wisdom to raise up a mighty man or woman of God. Also pray that they lovingly pour Biblical truths into them as they grow up into who God has created them to be.
  6. Pray for the spouse. Pray that your child’s spouse will seek first the Kingdom of God. That they will be passionate about the things of God and love other people. That they will be a hard worker, kind, compassionate, wise and will one day love your child so very much.

It’s hard to think that my little girls, who may or may not have recently used toilet water in their tea set, will soon grow up and get married, but ready or not it is going to happen!  We cannot procrastinate our prayers. Nor can we just say a couple casual prayers now and then to check it off our “be a good mom list.”

Mom, I urge you to join me as we get on our knees and plead the blood of Jesus over our children, their future spouse and their marriage. This is a prayer God will honor!

Amy Wootton

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Gentle & Quiet to the Glory of God

by Stephanie Blackiston

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There is a lot in the news these days about women. God has entrusted us with great influence on our generation and the generations to come. As I watch the news, 1 Peter 3 comes to mind. It is where Peter tells us (women) how to act in a way that is PRECIOUS to God.

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4

I used to read that verse and think, “I can’t do that. That’s not me.” The fact is I can’t do it! And neither can you. None of us come by this naturally. What does God mean when He tells us to be GENTLE and QUIET?

“let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart

I love the phrase “the hidden person of the heart.” I have taught my children that it is our “inner man” who matters more than our “outer man!”

Our hidden girl is eternal. She is who God sees.

“People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The Greek word for heart is “kardia.” It denotes the center of all spiritual life. This is why we ask Jesus to come into our hearts! Giving Him the driver seat to our passions, desires, appetites, purposes and emotions.

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” Ephesians 3:17

Without Christ dwelling in your heart through faith, there is no way we can move to the next part of the verse. He is the only One Who can empower us to be “gentle and quiet”  (in the true Biblical sense). Continue reading →

Delightfully Different: Idealistic Living in a Fallen World

by Emily Cook

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“You don’t base your convictions on what culture has become or what culture is doing, you base your convictions in spending time with the LORD, being an idealist, and working that into a realistic part of life.” (Sally Clarkson in a recent interview)

Sally’s answer brought so much clarity to the churning that living in the 21st century world can bring to an idealistic soul. An idealist is a person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc. The synonyms for the word are optimist, perfectionist, reformer, visionary. If you watch the news, an idealist like me living in such a cynical world doesn’t make sense. It’s easy to get discouraged thinking, “What could my purpose be?”

I’m writing today to other idealistic Moms out there who long to see revival in their day. Take courage! There is wonderful kingdom work to be done. Think about Sally’s statement in light of mothering.

We have the power to change a generation just by practically living God’s way.

There is a Mother Theresa quote that I see quite often which says, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” If we want our children to bring delight to the world we must first delight in the things that are most important to God while we are raising them. Continue reading →

The Way We Judge

by Lee Stewart

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I used to judge those people who put leashes on their children. But a couple of years ago we planned a trip to NYC with all three of our kids, and I could not envision our subway experiences without fear. I mean it literally when I say it kept me up at night. Then someone offered us one of those backpacks with a leash on it, and it seemed like the perfect solution. I mean to us it’s a backpack with a leash, but to a kid it’s just a monkey with a long, cute tail. I decided I was willing to risk the judgment of strangers rather than risk the safety of my four-year-old.

So on our trip, my husband and I took turns wearing our baby or pushing him in a stroller. Our oldest child walked, and our four-year-old got the honor of being leashed. No regrets!

But let’s fast forward. That same child is now six, and the other day she rediscovered the monkey backpack hanging up with some bags. What fun! So she wore it around the house. No problem. Then she decided to take the backpack with us in the car on the way to Target. Sure, whatever. Then she decided to PUT IT ON in the parking lot. Gasp. So we’re walking through the parking lot and she’s holding out the monkey’s tail, offering it to me in public. And I’m shifting uncomfortably trying to figure out how to look aloof while my six-year-old wears a leash.

And then it happened. She asks me directly, “Will you hold the tail? Please?” And I say nope, can’t do it. But she asks again, as though confused. I mean isn’t this monkey’s tail made specifically for parents to hold on to?

I gave in. Because in that moment I realized it didn’t matter. So what. So what if I hold the leash connected to the monkey backpack that’s connected to my six-year-old.

If motherhood doesn’t lighten you up, then nothing will.

But if you saw me that day and thought, “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT MOM HAS HER KINDERGARTENER ON A LEASH?” Well, now you know the backstory.

There is always a backstory.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life it’s that things are not always what they seem. Do not judge anyone by their happiness or unhappiness. Do not judge them by their Instagram feeds. Don’t even judge them if their child is on a leash.

We can’t help it, I know. We look at the outward appearances because we cannot see the heart. But we should always account for the portion of information we can’t see.

We have to weigh our judgments—even positive ones—and realize we are not all-knowing. Don’t put any human being too high on a pedestal. Don’t put anyone too low on the totem pole. Don’t assume that mom is inferior to you. Don’t assume someone’s marriage is perfect.

I was a teenager sitting in Sunday school one day. During the lesson, we were supposed to pass a notebook around for prayer requests. I reached over the aisle in order to hand it to the girl in the next seat, but she did not look or reach back. I’ve got my arm out and the notebook is in plain sight, so I’m expecting her to take it, and I’m a little annoyed she’s not responding. Finally, the girl’s friend reached over and took the notebook from me.

After class, the friend comes to explain what happened. She tells me that this girl couldn’t see the notebook because she has a newly diagnosed eye disease—her peripheral vision is deteriorating. As it turned out, my expectations of her were actually physically impossible for her. I had assumed I had all the information I needed, but I didn’t.

All of this might sound incidental, but I have never forgotten it and what it implies.

Never underestimate the power of the backstory.

Knowing takes effort. You have to lean in and ask questions. Knowing doesn’t happen just by observation, or looking from a distance on social media. Don’t eavesdrop on someone else’s life. Move closer. Be direct. Sometimes it’s awkward and that’s okay. An eavesdropper hears things while no one else knows she’s listening. An eavesdropper wants second-hand information. But it’s a cowardly way to experience people. It lets you off the hook for being vulnerable and puts all the vulnerability on the other person.

Take the time to know people in a way that lets them know you, too. And if you don’t get that opportunity, then suspend judgment. There will be lots and lots of people in your life that you can’t truly know—some of them might be part of your family. So leave room for missing pieces. Leave room for the backstory that doesn’t belong to you. And give those people and those situations the grace to be something other than what they seem.

“Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

Lee Stewart

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Choosing Life in 2017

by Alli Hill

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Discipline. The word alone is enough to make us cringe. At the start of the second month of a new year, this word might even cause eyes to roll. It is the time of year, after all, when New Year’s resolutions start breaking down and gyms get less crowded.

My husband and I have joked for a few years now that we will be “fit in 20 (fill in the year)!” Until now, we haven’t put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. But this year, we gifted each other with the most romantic Christmas gift possible: an elliptical. So this is it. Fit 2017.

We started the year with a round of Whole 30 for the month of January. It’s a reset of sorts for all of your normal eating habits, where you eat only lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy oils. Basically you get really sad after the holiday treat binging, and can’t even have creamer in your coffee since dairy is prohibited. Why would we willingly put ourselves through this, you might ask? Fit 2017.

Additionally, we have watched health documentaries on Netflix. There is no better way to rid yourself of a late night ice-cream craving than by listening to nutritionists tell you the side effects of eating too much sugar and processed food.

In one of the documentaries in particular, I was struck by the words of an overweight man with diabetes. He was in a diner, eating a plate of gravy-covered liver and onions, but his words were profound to me. When asked about the difficulty of being healthy, he said: “I wasn’t surprised to be a diabetic, but it meant I needed to change what I’ve been doing. That’s the hardest part.”

I’ve thought about that statement for days now. To me, it summed up the difficulty I have had with consistent discipline throughout my life, be it physical or spiritual. The hardest part is giving up those old, bad habits and replacing them with new, healthy ones.

As a believer, it is easy to make the spiritual connection with this realization. Scripture is clear that Christians are “new creations.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The life of a Christian is a life of discipline. Discipline is a choice, and living the Christian life is full of choices we must make. Continue reading →

Living Life FREE

by Lindsey Wingo

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“The Lion of the tribe of Judah will be too hard for the roaring lion that seeks to devour.” – Matthew Henry

I was sitting in my living room before the sun was up when I read those words. And tears began to fall. I had allowed that roaring lion to torment me long enough. It was time to walk in victory. I was finished believing the lie.

“…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

We’ve all believed Satan’s lies at some point, haven’t we?

When I was a little girl a seed was planted in my mind. And through the years the seed grew into shame, fear, and secret oppression. I tried to brush it aside. I tried to ignore it. But every so often I’d hear it again, whispered in the back of my mind.

I’ll never forget the day when I was sitting at home with my brand new baby girl. I was a new mother and had never been more proud and thankful for a gift from the Lord. And there it was. The lie. Only this time, it was even worse. This time, it wasn’t about me anymore, it was about my sweet baby. And the tears wouldn’t stop. I was terrified and tired of the burden I’d carried for so long. That year I experienced a giant leap toward freedom when I chose to bring the lie into the light. Things aren’t nearly as scary when the lights come on. I spoke with a trusted mentor, as well as my husband, and began to pray against the attack Satan had launched on my life so many years before.

That was almost six years ago now. And although I have experienced tremendous freedom since then, the enemy still rears his ugly head every so often. And recently, when that old lie crept in once again, I decided I’d had enough. I would no longer be a victim of fear. It was time to stand up and fight. I went to bed telling God that the next day would be the day. I was fighting for freedom, and I needed Him to show up. And guess what? He did! Continue reading →

Our Top Ten Most Viewed Posts

While we are taking a break from sharing new content this month, we thought you might be interested in checking out our “Top Ten Most Viewed Posts.” Click the pictures below to read along!

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1) Motherhood vs. Your Quiet Time

Motherhood vs. Your Quiet Time

2) Marriage…After Baby

marriage after baby

3) Personal Prayer Testimony Video and How to Make a Prayer Notebook

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4) How Motherhood Changes Your Body

How Motherhood Changes Your Body

5) Five Powerful Phrases Our Boys Need to Hear

5 Powerful Phrases for Boys

6) #MomLifeUnfiltered: To My Younger Self

#MomLifeUnfiltered To My Younger Self

7) Finding Joy in Sorrow

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8) Learning to Trust God in the Middle of the Night

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9) God is Still Good: A Mother’s Journey Through Grief

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10) Oh Be Carefule Little Boys What You Hear

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If any of our posts minister to you, we would love for you to share them with someone else! And if you don’t want to miss out on new content from Missional Motherhood you can subscribe via e-mail above. Thank you for stopping by!