Slow Down, Weary Mom

I heard him cry in the monitor.

Seriously? I thought. Three straight nights of post-bedtime tears. I was so over it.

Walking up the stairs, I devised a scheme to get me out of his room as quickly as possible. But as my feet hit the hallway leading into his bedroom, I felt God’s gentle nudge.

Slow down. He needs lullabies of grace tonight.

I took a deep breath of faith, and for the next forty minutes, I sang my scared little boy to sleep. My lullabies had calmed and quieted his four-year-old soul.

Like a Weaned Child with His Mother

I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:2)

How does God calm and quiet our souls? Like a mother.

Most of us have witnessed, in some way, the soul-calming effect of a mother’s presence on her child. There is safety with a mother, just as there is safety in the Father’s arms (Isaiah 33:2). The child hears peace in her voice just as the sheep hear peace in the Good Shepherd’s (John 10:27).

When a child is hurt or scared or sick, he calls for his mother. He trusts her completely. If the mother he trusts teaches him that there is one in whom his soul can trust even more, then hopefully, one day, he will cry out for Jesus instead.

God’s good purpose for mothers goes beyond feedings and diapers and taxi services. He designed you, dear mother, to be your child’s first glimpse of his comforting love for us in Christ. No one is better suited for this job than you. What a privilege, then, for you to put God’s soul-soothing character on display for your children.

Rooted in God

In the message “Join Me in Soul-Satisfaction in God,” John Piper says, “Psalm 131 is about a kind of contentment, or stillness, or quietness of soul, that is rooted not in circumstances, but in God — a God who never changes in his utter commitment to us in Christ.”

If we desire for our children’s souls to be rooted in God as he describes, then we as mothers have the great responsibility of providing a climate that is prime for growth. Root systems thrive in rich soil and sunlight. With ideal conditions early on, roots are able to absorb water and nutrients that eventually help the plant thrive in less than desirable circumstances.

Nourish Your Child

The monsters and thunderstorms that induce fear in our children’s hearts right now will turn one day into real-life demons and tempests. We can begin the good work of preparing their souls for battle today. When our children come to us afraid or anxious, we have the God-ordained privilege of offering them rich soil and sunshine. Our hugs, snuggles, words, and lullabies are life-giving minerals to their souls.

How do we nourish our children? We offer them steadfast love and faithfulness. We bear with them, forgive them, show them kindness, listen to them, and offer them words of encouragement and life by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ on a daily basis.

Drench your child in God’s word. Shine light into his darkness. Sing him to sleep. Take your child by the hand and lead him to streams of water so that God can plant his roots down deep and allow him to bear good fruit in the coming seasons (Psalm 1:3).

Lay Down Your Life

Motherhood is exhausting. It requires all of our energy — both mental and physical — and at the end of the day, it’s not uncommon to feel like we’re doing it all in vain. At times, it feels like you’re giving up your life for your child. If it does, be encouraged that you’re probably doing it right.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)

As we lay down our lives for our for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we also lay down our lives for our children. Today, take the time to kiss the boo-boos, wipe the tears, and sing lullabies of grace. Let your children rest in the comfort of your presence now so that they learn to rest in Jesus soon.

This article first appeared at Desiring God

Ruth 4:14

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A Perfect Example in Motherhood

I mommed so hard this week, friends.

I mopped up puke from wooden floors, scrubbed permanent marker off our office walls, put Galvatron in a gazillion time outs, battled night terrors, carried a screaming toddler out of the church sanctuary during our pastor’s prayer, and received blows to my chest and heart from tiny clenched fists.

And that was on top of wiping the usual boogies and butts.

So last night, when I listened to Mark 5-6 while folding laundry, I heard the passage how I had never heard it before–through the lens of a weary mom.

And let me tell you, ladies…I felt like I was going to have a panic attack on behalf of Jesus.

Everyone was crying out to him. Sick people were grabbing at his clothes. The crowds were pressing in on him. They were hungry, needy, and constantly touching him. He couldn’t get a moment to himself. If I didn’t know better, I might have guessed he was in the throes of motherhood.

A Day in the Life of a Mom Jesus

At the beginning of chapter 5, Jesus gets off the boat to go about his work of sharing the gospel and is immediately greeted by a man with unclean spirits. After Jesus casts out the demons, the man begs to come with him like a child begging to come to the store with mommy. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you,” he says to his child. Then he hops on the boat and crosses the sea.

This time, he’s greeted by a crowd of people. One man, a ruler named Jairus, asks him to heal his daughter. Jesus goes with him and the crowd follows him and presses in even harder. A bleeding woman grabs his garment as he walks, and he feels power come out of him. “Who touched me?” he asks, and the disciples look at him likes he’s crazy. “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” But like a mother, he can sense when one of his children is sick and crying out for help. As he goes to tell her that her faith has made her well, he overhears members of the ruler’s household saying that his little girl has died. He heads straight for the little girl’s home to find friends and family weeping and wailing. He tells the girl to rise, and they are “overcome with amazement.” And then he does what any good mom would do…he tells them to give her something to eat!

After all this, he goes back home to Nazareth where he’s greeted with nothing but contempt and disrespect–it’s a thankless job, after all. He sends the disciples out to do his work, and when they return, he suggests they all go to a desolate place to rest and enjoy a meal. But c’mon, Jesus. A moment of rest? Pffft. The people run to where they’re going before they can even get there. They just want to be with him, and they’re hungry–all 5,000 of them. In true mom fashion, he whips up a meal, cleans up after them, and puts away the leftovers.

Nighttime comes, he goes up on the mountain to pray, and he just wants to go for a quiet walk on the water while everyone sleeps on the boat. But when he tiptoes past the boat, the disciples see what they think is a ghost and are terrified, so Jesus has to hop back into the boat to calm their fears and lull them back to sleep. He’s just like a mom climbing into bed with her babies and assuring them that there isn’t really a monster in the closet.

They come ashore once again, and the crowd immediately comes to him, bringing their sick.  They implore him “that they might touch even the fringe of his garment.” And at this point, all I can think is “GET THAT MAN A DRINK!”

But seriously, I just sat there in tears because I realized at that moment that Jesus gets me. He knows what it’s like to have grubby little hands pulling on him. He knows what it’s like not to have a moment to eat or rest. He knows what it’s like to be interrupted and rejected and needed every second. He knows what it’s like to #momsohard.

Jesus–An Example in Motherhood

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus sympathizes with us, mamas. He knows how draining and discouraging mothering can be. He was probably tempted to tell his children to leave him alone, to smack their little hands away, to go lock himself in the bathroom and cry…yet he was without sin.

Jesus is a perfect example in motherhood.

What did he do when his sick children came to him? 

He lovingly nursed them back to health.

How did he react when his plans were interrupted by needy children?

He turned what could have been annoying interruptions into opportunities to share the gospel with his children. He chose his children’s hearts over the tasks of the day.

How did he respond when he wanted to eat in peace but his children just wanted to be with him?

He had compassion on them and filled their hungry bellies.

How did he find quiet time with God in the midst of all the noise?

He kept pursuing moments with his Heavenly Father, but wasn’t angered or surprised by interruption.

How did he deal with rejection and ingratitude?

He did the next thing, keeping his eyes up.

“Yea, but he’s God,” you might say, and you’d be right.

But he is the God who lives in you.

His patience, love, and compassion–they all take up residence in the heart of the Christian mother. Friend, you can “mom” like Jesus because you have been clothed in his perfect righteousness. You don’t have to rely on your own strength to #momsohard. Jesus is strong for you.

Let the Little Children Come

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” Jesus said to his disciples, “for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

As mothers, we are the gatekeepers. We can either lead our children into Jesus’s presence with our love or we can hinder them with our lack of patience and grace.

May we all follow the example of Jesus who has loved us in such a manner that we, too, have been called children of God (1 John 3:1).


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Hope For the One Dreading Christmas With Family

This Saturday, we’ll load up our minivan with kids and presents and head down to my sister’s house for the first of several family Christmas gatherings. ‘Tis the season, right?

I’m looking forward to this weekend, but what do you do when the idea of gathering with family fills you with dread?

Over the years, I’ve had my share of dreaded family gatherings–the first Christmas after my parents divorced, the Christmas after my father in-law’s death, the Christmas when our baby was sick, Christmases when relationships have been strained.

I could offer you a list of life hacks to get you through the dreaded gatherings, but what if I told you that you could do more than “just get through”? What if it was possible for you to feel real peace, joy, and love in the midst of family strife?

Friends, there is hope–real hope–for our dreaded family gatherings in Jesus. Through Christ, we receive what we need to celebrate Christmas with the ones we love, even when it’s hard to love them. His gifts of peace, joy, and love move us from a place of dread to a place of hopeful confidence.

The Gift of Peace

In our B.C. (Before Christ) lives, we were at war with God. The Bible says we were “hostile in mind” towards him, “doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:19).

God could have rightfully ended the battle and done away with us for good, but instead, he sent us a Great Rescuer–the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ his son.

“Glory to God in the highest,” the angels sang on the night of his birth, “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).

This angelic proclamation truly is good news for those who believe in Christ–not because we have done anything to please God, but because he is fully pleased with us through his son. Colossians 1:19 says, “For in him (Christ!) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

When Jesus died on the cross, he made peace with God on our behalf. If we believe in Him, God has laid down his arms against us.

As part of his family, we, too, can make peace with those around us. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

As we gather with our families this Christmas season, old wounds may start to bleed again and bitterness might bubble up. The holidays have a way of bringing conflict to the surface, but as blessed peacemakers, we can choose to cease fire with those who war against us.

Sister, because you have peace through Christ, you don’t have to get the last word in.

Because you have peace through Christ, you don’t have to defend yourself.

Because you have peace though Christ, you don’t have to put up a fight.

Just as Christ laid down his rights for you, you can lay down yours for others this Christmas. Your family members may not reciprocate, but you are at peace with God, and that is enough.

The Gift of Love

It’s one thing to lay down your weapons. It’s another thing entirely to invite enemy combatants into your territory and welcome them with open arms of love.

But that, dear ones, is exactly what God has done for us through Christ!

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

God sent his only son to take on human flesh not just to save us from certain death, but to save us into everlasting life with the one we once raged against. All because He loves us. Pretty amazing, right?

And you know what else is amazing? As those who have been so loved by God, we have both the means and motivation to love others as Christ has loved us.

1 John 4:7 tells us to “love one another, for love is from God.”

Oh, the freedom I have found in this verse, friends! The same God who commands me to love others has provided the very love I need to fulfill his command through Christ. I don’t have to make a withdrawal from my own measly love account in order to love others because Christ has already lavished his own love upon me.

As we think about his steadfast love, we can’t help but want to love others how Christ has loved us. Suddenly, we see difficult family members not through eyes of self-protection or vengeance, but through eyes of mercy and grace.

When we’re looking to Christ to fill our love cups, we are protected against bitterness and resentment towards family members who are incapable of or just plain bad at loving us. We don’t need the love or approval of family because we have been deeply loved by God. We can love our families not out of our own wicked hearts, but out of the abundance of Christ’s love for us. 

The Gift of Joy

Maybe your family has experienced a devastating loss this year. Maybe your relationships are strained or even broken. How are you supposed to find joy in the midst of such sorrow?

Are you ready for some good news, friends? Joy isn’t something you have to chase after–it’s a gift.

On the night of Jesus’s birth, the angel brought the shepherds “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” That means he brought good news of great joy for us too! What is this good news exactly? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10).

Our pastor, Mike Bullmore, reminded us last week that true joy “comes through being in a right relationship with God through Jesus.” It’s not the same as happiness. “Joy comes from being in Christ, which doesn’t change with your circumstances.

Your family’s circumstances may be just awful this year. Cancer, divorce, unemployment, sickness, heartache, death–whatever you’re suffering from, know that it’s okay to be sad. And to phrase it slightly differently, it’s okay not to be happy.

While you may not be happy this Christmas, you can be joyful. As Paul says, the Christian can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

In his letter to the Romans, Paul prays that God would fill his brothers and sisters with joy as they trust in Christ (Romans 15:13). This is my prayer for you as well this Christmas, dear ones. May God fill you with his joy as you trust in Him.

A Coming Christmas

There will come a time when every day will be Christmas–when we will gather together with our adopted family to celebrate and sing praises to King Jesus!

Until then, don’t let your own family drama distract you from the baby at the center of the Christmas story. Keep your eyes on the savior–looking to him for peace, love, and joy this holiday season. He is the giver of every good thing and the maker of every family in heaven and on earth.

Merry Christmas to each of you, my sisters in Christ!


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A Lineage of Grace

I had the great joy of writing this poetic drama for the Ladies’ Christmas Brunch at our church . The theme of the morning was “Chosen and Redeemed.”  The piece is entitled “A Lineage of Grace,” and it tells the stories of four unlikely women who have a part in Jesus’s lineage: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary.


Tamar: The Forgotten One

My husband was wicked,
so horribly so,
that God struck him dead,
leaving me all alone.

According to the customs
and laws of the Jews,
his brother should take me,
but instead, he abused

And refused
to give me a child to call mine,
no son to continue
the family line.

When Judah, his father,
learned of his sin,
he assured me he’d make
things right once again.

He promised another
son of his own
to take on the duty
in time when he’d grown.

I waited and waited
for what he said he would do,
but with another promise broken,
I knew I was through.

Through with the lies,
through with the pain,
through with the waiting,
through with the games.

So I acted a whore
and covered my face,
for I knew that Judah
loved the thrill of the chase.

He approached me
and offered a deal for the task.
I asked for his ring and his cord
and his staff.

You see, I became pregnant
after the deed,
and these objects would prove
that the son was his seed.

Or sons, I should say,
for there was not one, but two.
I finally had
the sons I was due.

Looking back on my story,
I’m ashamed of my plans,
for taking the matter
Into my hands.

Desperate, I did
some things I regret,
but God, in his mercy,
did not forget

His daughter.

For from one of those seeds,
came redemption from sin.
Now Jesus, the Savior,
is one of my kin.


Rahab: The Harlot

I, too, sold my body
to men for a price.
I considered my sin
a necessary vice.

So I wasn’t surprised
when two men came at night,
but instead of “the usual”
they asked if I might

Help them.
You see, they were Israelite spies.
Their leader had sent them
to town in disguise.

The King found out
and sent troops to my door.
He had heard they were hiding
in the house of the whore.

But I had heard of their God
and fear melted my heart.
I knew he was real,
and I couldn’t take part

In helping the king
to kill these two spies,
so I told them they’d left
and misled them with lies.

In the meantime, the men
were on top of my roof,
so I asked for assurance
of safety, for proof

That my family would be spared
when they seized our land,
that none of my own
would die at their hand.

A life for a life,
they gave me their pledge
and a cord
to hang out my window ledge.

This cord of scarlet
indeed kept us alive.
They came in and conquered,
but my family survived.

And what’s more,
they took us in as their own,
not leaving us to face
a new world all alone.

As for me, I was rescued
in more ways than one.
God graciously gave me
a husband and son.

Once called the “harlot,”
I have a new name.
Daughter of God,
forgiven, no shame.

From my line, God would send
one more scarlet red cord–
the man you call Jesus,
the man I call “Lord.”


Ruth: The Widow

I was a widow.
My husband had died,
along with his father
and brothers beside.

With no man to marry
or give me an heir,
my mother-in-law thought
it would only be fair

To release me
and send me on my own way.
But instead of departing,
I decided to stay.

“Your people, my people,
your God, now my Lord.
I will go where you go
and board where you board.”

So we set off for Bethlehem,
a small little town.
The harvest had started,
barley cut down.

We arrived, and I gleaned
in the field of a man
named Boaz, a member
of my late husband’s clan.

Boaz, the son
of the harlot redeemed.
His mother once shameful,
her son now esteemed.

Boaz gave in abundance,
supplied every need.
He protected and blessed us–
a refuge indeed.

Naomi, my mother in-law,
advised me to go
and ask for redemption,
so that he might bestow

A blessing far greater
than barley or wheat.
So I heeded her counsel
and laid at his feet.

I asked for redemption,
a new kind of life–
That he take me, redeem me,
And make me his wife.

So he went to the elders
who sat at the gate
and asked for permission
to buy our estate.

He paid for the land,
purchased me as his own.
I was no longer forsaken,
no longer alone.

We, too, had a son
named Obed, and he
was the father of Jesse,
and from his family tree

Would come Great King David,
then the greatest of kings,
King Jesus, Redeemer,
Of whom my soul sings,

“Bless the Lord, for he
has not left me this day
without a redeemer.
He has shown me the way!”

The truth and the life
was born in a crèche
in the city of Bethlehem.
Flesh of my flesh.


Mary: The Virgin

A young, humble girl,
a virgin, engaged,

in an instant, my life
would forever be changed.

“Greetings!” said Gabriel.
“Do not be afraid!
You’ve found favor with God.
Do not be dismayed.”

“Behold, you’ll conceive in your womb
and give birth
to the Son of the Most high,
who’ll reign o’er the earth.”

The spirit would come,
overshadowing me.
The power of the Most High
would cause it to be.

Still, my heart pounded
right out of my chest.
Of all women, why
was I chosen and blessed?

How could it be
that I was the one
chosen for this–
to bear God’s own son?

He looked on his servant
of humble estate.
Exalting the lowly
to bear one who is great.

He’s shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud.
He has brought down the mighty,
the humble, endowed.

The hungry he fed.
The rich sent away.
He’s remembered his people,
though we’ve oft gone astray.

Oh merciful God,
Great things you have done.
My spirit rejoices
in Jesus, my son!

Redeemed by the son,
I was chosen to raise.
Chosen, redeemed,
to God be all praise!


Mothers of Jesus: Chosen and Redeemed

Forgotten.
A prostitute.
Widow.
Redeemed.

None worthy of choosing,
yet now, we’re esteemed
as mothers of Jesus,
the Great High King.

We were chosen,
redeemed,
now Christ’s praises
we sing!


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Teaching Your Kids is Good for Your Soul + A GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Stephanie from The Shepherd’s Treasure for giving me a FREE Shepherd’s Treasure set to give away to one of my dear readers. I have not been compensated for this post and the opinions are my own. 


When my sister was little, she loved to play school. She enjoyed it so much that my parents sectioned off part of our basement for her classroom, complete with desks, chalkboards, educational posters, and hand-me-down textbooks from her teachers.

Teaching her imaginary students helped her learn. In fact, it was her go-to study method until her senior year of high school when she graduated at the top of her class.

My husband, a (really handsome) public school administrator said that the research backs it up. When we teach others, we end up teaching ourselves as well.

Teaching Our Children

As moms, we are constantly teaching our own pupils at our kitchen tables, on our laps, and in our mini-vans. God has designed it so that we are the most influential teachers in the lives of our children. He also frequently uses our children to remind us of his faithfulness.

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts,” the Psalmist writes (Psalm 145:4). Then, in the very next breath, he says, “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate” (Psalm 145:5).

We can’t declare God’s mighty acts without meditating on them ourselves. God uses each bible story, each memory verse, each advent reading to make himself known to our children, yes, but also to remind their parents of the glorious splendor of his majesty.

The Shepherd’s Treasure

Last year, we welcomed a strange little red-headed man into our home for the holiday season.

As I was searching for advent activities for my kids, I came across The Shepherd’s Treasure, a Christ-centered alternative to the popular “Elf on the Shelf.”

At the beginning of the season, we read a story introducing us to a little shepherd boy who was searching for his treasure. We named him “Bo,” and we spent the next 25 days following Bo on his very special treasure hunt.

Each morning, we’d find Bo somewhere in our house with a note. Watching my little ones scamper down the stairs to find Bo made my own heart beat faster. Their excitement was contagious! Like my kids, I was eager to find Bo and hear what he wanted us to learn about Jesus that day!

That he is the root and offspring of Jesse…

That he is victorious over death…

That he is the maker of every family in Heaven and on Earth…

That he wants us to be fishers of men…

That his love for us is higher than the heavens…

That he washes us white as snow…

That his name is a strong tower…

For the first time in my adult life, the busyness and distraction of the Christmas season didn’t steal my joy. Morning and evening, Bo helped me to meditate on who Christ is and what he’s done so that I could then proclaim Jesus to my children. God used that silly little red-headed shepherd to prepare room in our hearts for the Messiah.

On Christmas Day, we found Bo kneeling down before Baby Jesus inside a treasure chest. I do not exaggerate when I say that tears of joy flooded my children’s eyes as they realized that JESUS was our little shepherd’s treasure.

That moment–a moment when two generations stood together in awe of our Savior–is forever stamped on my heart. It is truly my favorite Christmas memory of all time.

SHEPHERD’S TREASURE GIVEWAY

I love The Shepherd’s Treasure so much that I contacted Stephanie, the founder and owner, to see if I could buy one to give away to one of my dear readers. Being the beautiful, gracious woman of God that she is, she offered me a set for FREE!

I am super excited to give away a FREE Shepherd’s Treasure set (book, shepherd, and Baby Jesus) to one of you this week. I pray that whoever wins it will be blessed by it this Christmas season.

To enter:

1) Follow @daughteredeemed on Instagram + Like the Giveaway post + Tag a friend on Instagram who you think would like to win a Shepherd’s Treasure Set

OR

2) Like the Giveaway Post at the Daughter Redeemed Facebook page + Leave a comment sharing one of your favorite Christ-centered Christmas traditions

Contest Rules

You must be 18+ years old and a U.S. resident to enter. The contest will remain open through 11:59 p.m CST on Thursday, November 9. The number of eligible entries will determine odds of winning. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, November 10. The set will ship directly from The Shepherd’s Treasure between November 15-22. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

Thanks for participating, friends!


Pssst! If you haven’t subscribed to our email list, make sure you fill out the form below so you can get a free copy of this beautiful digital print from Doorpost Truth.

Ruth 4:14

 

Real-Life Daughter Redeemed: Loving Your Neighbors with Jaz

For a few years now, I have dreamed of doing a series of interviews with real-life daughters redeemed. Today, that dream is coming true!

I knew I wanted this first interview to be a special one, so I asked my dear sister in Christ, Jasmine (aka “Jaz”), to share with us on the topic of loving our neighbors. Jasmine and I met years ago through mutual friends and got to know each other a little better when she started attending CrossWay Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin. When CrossWay planted a church in the nearby city of Kenosha, she and her family jumped right in!

Jaz blogs about their neighborhood ministry at Mama J’s Jabberings, and I have been so very encouraged to watch God work through her family. I’ve told her on numerous occasions that I think she needs to write a book, but for now, let’s all soak in the wisdom and encouragement she has for us in this Real-Life Daughter Redeemed interview. Seriously, friends. This is a treasure trove of gospel goodness.

Tell our readers a little about yourself.

I’m just your average girl who was far from God but was brought near by the blood of Jesus. I love my husband, kids, coffee, and teaching Kindermusik.

I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and never left. I’ve been married to my husband, Rick, for 18 years and we are living a life we never dreamed of or planned for. God erased our original hopes and dreams and gave us new ones, and we are grateful. We have six children, so life is a messy, loud, and busy adventure.

We are members at Christ the King Church, a four-year old church plant of CrossWay Community Church. We are located right in the heart of Kenosha, so there are many opportunities to make known the life-transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a diverse group of people.

How did you come to live in your neighborhood?

Several years ago my husband and I were convicted by a sermon preached out of John 17. In His High Priestly prayer, Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” We were convinced that as “sent ones” we needed to live intentionally as missionaries right where we were living and raising our family. We had not been doing that well.

We began to pray for our neighbors, but also for the city itself, and decided that at some point we would like to move to an actual neighborhood (we were on a private road with neighbors who wanted to be left alone). We began to intentionally spend time downtown, and God began to knit our hearts to the community and increase our desire to live, love, work, and be a gospel presence in a part of the city where a lot of people were hurting and considered outcasts.

In God’s providence, my husband lost his nice job at his family’s business and took several part-time jobs. As a delivery driver for a pizza place and an inspector of foreclosed homes, he spotted the house we currently live in quite by “accident”. Before we knew it, we were looking at the house and buying it with the knowledge that CrossWay would be planting a church in that general area. We literally moved in two weeks before the church leaders announced the location of the church. In God’s sovereignty, we ended up ten blocks from our church and in one of the more active, people-filled, materially poor neighborhoods in Kenosha!

What does neighborhood ministry look like for you? Can you describe a “typical” day for us?

We have an open door, open yard, open life policy every day. We invite people into our home, make lots of sandwiches, and pour lots of coffee. We spend a lot of time getting to know our neighbors, laughing and crying, sharing stories and parenting hardships, praying with people, and talking about Jesus and the Bible. We visit apartment buildings, porches, yards, and do a lot of living in our front yard like everyone else in our neighborhood does. We just do so with gospel intentionality.

There are a lot of children in our neighborhood so they play with my children. You will often see kids playing a game of catch or football, drawing with chalk on our driveway, sitting on the porch chattering away, or performing the occasional dance show. We host a Bible Club for children every summer, and this year we did what we called “Hotdogs and Hangout” once a week all summer long. We taught a Bible lesson, served hotdogs, and hung out with whoever showed up.

As we learn and grow, our ministry changes. Because a bridge has been built between the neighborhood and our church, we recently started a once-a-week gospel-centered mentoring ministry for children. Each week, mentors eat dinner with the children, play games, have a story time, and work on educational skills. We then teach a Bible lesson and break back up into discussion groups. This has become a vibrant church-wide effort. I’m filled with gratefulness and in awe of what God is doing.

You live in what our culture would probably label as an “undesirable” neighborhood. I know you’ve experienced some scary stuff on your own block, but you and your husband have chosen the Great Commission over safety and comfort. How have you been able to do that?

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

Knowing who we belong to is a very comforting and compelling reason for us to stay on mission.

We believe the the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus brought the good news of the gospel to the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised. As his followers, we want to participate in His ongoing work.

Many people in our neighborhood are living in material poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, and mental illness. We see sin destroying those around us. They are dying in their sin–some literally though overdose or violence. The people in my neighborhood need more than food, fair housing, and clothes. They need good news, and they need to be set free. We have the words of life and know the One who can save them. God did not call us out of the kingdom of darkness we were living in to be comfortable and safe. He called us to be disciples who make disciples. As people who have tasted God’s goodness and grace, we want others to taste it.

I love the verse in the song “Glorious Christ” that says,“You left the air of heaven to breathe the dust of earth and dwell among the outcast and the poor.” This is where we want to dwell for His name’s sake. Just as Jesus came to dwell among us, someone needs dwell with them–truly growing to understand and share the good, the bad, and the ugly they face everyday. This is a very relational community. Coming in once a week or once a month like you’re a savior means nothing to them. We are convinced that the best way to bring the gospel to this particular community is to dwell with them.

The scary things we have experienced have only been used to get us to see the urgency of the task and shake us out of our slumber and complacency.

When a man you see everyday is shot and killed in broad day light, and you know his fiancé and children and experience the effect it has on them and your community, you say, “We have to open our mouths. We have to be the hands and feet of Jesus now and until we die.”

When you sit on the porch and see a car drive around the corner and you hear, Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!” you don’t say, “Let’s blow this joint.” You cry and get angry right along with your neighbors and friends, and you stay woke!

Sisters, speak words of life to your neighbors. This world is broken. They need to know that there is a God waiting to rescue them.

I’ve seen pictures of neighborhood kids around your table. Do you have any practical tips for women who might feel intimidated by inviting the neighborhood into their homes?

When we moved in, our neighbors were highly suspicious of us. They would not speak to us, and sometimes the women would rush to their doors if my husband said hi. We decided to bake some cookies and muffins and go door to door giving them out. At first, nobody would open their door more than a sliver. But after that day, I got smiles, my husband got a hi back, and then all of the sudden doors were opening when we knocked. Kids were allowed to come over and play, and we became brave enough to invite our neighbors into our home a little at a time. Now we no longer have to invite anybody. They just show up!

Start by praying for your neighbors. Ask God to give you a desire to be hospitable. You’ll be amazed at how God will use these prayers to knit your heart to your neighborhood.

Then, just do something!

  • Bring your neighbors some homemade goodies and tell them you just wanted to bless them today.
  • Sit at your picnic table and invite a neighbor over for coffee.
  • Plan a neighborhood cook-out. Keep it simple. Just pass out invitations and set out some food.

Start with the people right beside you. It doesn’t have to be the whole neighborhood!

Your church family has been great at partnering with you in sharing the gospel with your neighbors. How have they come alongside you, and how can we come alongside our own brothers and sisters as they seek to love their neighbors?

Ministering in our neighborhood has truly been a church effort. I have never done a Bible club alone! One summer, I had a sister come and walk the neighborhood with me praying several mornings a week. Our elders have prayed for us, encouraged us in the Word, and equipped us with resources and classes (see the question about resources for some great ones). I also had one dear friend from church come every week and help with Hotdogs and Hangout, which was a huge time commitment.

Our church opened up its doors for the gospel-centered mentoring ministry I mentioned earlier. We have nine adult and five youth volunteers serving every week by giving rides, teaching math and reading, leading a discipleship group time, teaching Bible lessons, cooking dinner, and telling fun stories to engage the children’s minds. They are investing their lives into this neighborhood for two hours or more each week. Some have even begun to visit families and engage the children outside of that time!

How can you come alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ engaged in neighborhood ministry?

  • Pray with and for those who are engaging their neighbors intentionally.
  • Go to a neighborhood cook-out that they are hosting and help with the food.
  • If they invite neighbors to an event you’re at, make every effort to get to know them.
  • Ask your friends how they are doing emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
  • Consider giving them a break so they can recharge and refresh. Neighborhood ministry can be intense and extremely time-consuming. We have had brothers and sisters invite our children to spend time with their families so that our kids can take a break from our relationship-heavy lifestyle. We have even been gifted time away!

It takes a church, friends. Christians are known by their love for one another. Let your neighbors see that love!

You are closer to the black community than most white evangelicals—what would you like to say to your white brothers and sisters in Christ on the topic of racism? How we can do our part to promote racial reconciliation?

I fall so short in wrapping my head around this. My family and I are learners right now. We are learning to listen.

Brothers and sisters, please listen to the black community. Listen to your black brothers and sisters in Christ. Their life/American experience is very different from yours. You and I do not understand it–we just don’t.

Stop throwing around statistics and talking about the major improvement in society and in your church. You just sound like you’re making excuses.

Stop saying that racism is a thing of the past, because it isn’t. I’ve seen too much while sitting on my front porch or even sitting next to my black friends on their front porch. Racism is alive and well.

Make an effort to be friends with people in the black community. You’ll find that you care about the things your friends care about. You will actually weep and rejoice when they weep and rejoice because you are invested in each others lives and what affects them affects you. I’ve experienced firsthand how your heart and perspective changes when you actually get to know someone.

We can talk about racial reconciliation all we want, but until our dinner table changes, it doesn’t really matter. Honestly, this article says things way better than ever could.

If a black person comes into your predominately white church, do not assume they need something from you. I’ve heard too many stories that show how condescending we can be.

And please, please, stop saying that this is not a gospel issue. Racial reconciliation is a gospel issue. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the wall of hostility has been broken down. We need to live out the blood-bought unity we have in Christ. If we really want to see racial reconciliation in our churches, it is going to take us dying to ourselves, our preferences in worship, and our political agendas for the glory of God.

Are there any resources you’d recommend to us as we seek to love our neighbors?

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”

-Matthew 9:35-38

  • The Bible – I can be tempted to simply meet the physical needs of those around me, but true life comes only through the word of God. I am learning to drink deeply myself so that I might give it boldly to others.
  • Prayer – Pray earnestly. We are in a spiritual battle. We must be utterly dependent on the Spirit to move. He alone can change hearts.
  • The Art of Neighboring -A Christian website with lots of helpful resources for neighborhood ministry.
  • The Turquoise Picnic Table – Kristen Schell put a turquoise picnic table in her front yard in hopes of engaging more with the people around her. That small step of faith has turned into an entire movement of #frontyardliving. This video tells her story.
  • Helping without Hurting – A FREE online study on mobilizing your church to engage in effective, non-harmful poverty alleviation
  • Church in Hard Places: How the Local Church Brings Life to the Poor and Needy – A book by Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley that offers biblical guidelines and practical strategies for planting, revitalizing, and growing faithful churches in hard places
  • Missional Motherhood – This book by Gloria Furman had a tremendous effect on my thinking and living as I saw my role in God’s unfolding story of redemption. I hope this tidbit from the book helps you to see your home and neighborhood a little differently than perhaps you do now…

“We, too, as ‘aliens and strangers’ in a world that is passing away, need to learn that our home is not our refuge. We nurture life in the face of death and leverage our homes for gospel work. For those whose hope is in the coming kingdom, our homes are less like retreats and more like a network of foxholes for planning and hosting kingdom advances into this present darkness. Our homes are centers of hospitality to show strangers and neighbors the light of Christ. And they are equipping centers for traveling ambassadors to help them on their way to doing the King’s business.”

– Gloria Furman, Missional Motherhood

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”

-Matthew 22:37-40

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

If anything, dear reader, I hope you are encouraged that God calls normal Christians “sent ones.” You are an ambassador. You are a peacemaker. You are a gospel-worker.

My husband and I are not professionals. We are not in full-time ministry. We are not seminary graduates. We work normal jobs in order to make ends meet. We are in the thick of parenting. We have piles of laundry like everybody else. We are just normal disciples who have been called–like you!–to proclaim all of God’s excellencies to those around us.

Our big, faithful, missionary God has called you to live on mission with him. It doesn’t take great giftedness or big programs. He will take your small and seemingly insignificant step of faith to make Jesus known to the person next door to you, and he will multiply it for your good and His glory.

Thanks, Jaz, for sharing your heart for Jesus and your neighbors! May God continue to do great things in downtown Kenosha.

Ruth 4:14

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Because I Knew You…

To my sweet baby in Heaven,

It’s been more than two years since we lost you. We said goodbye just two days after we said hello. Had I waited to take a pregnancy test, I probably would have never even realized that the blood that flowed was shed for you.

But God, in his kindness, prompted me to buy a test at Target that day in May. And in his sovereignty, I ditched my plan to surprise your dad with the news and just told him as soon as he walked in the door. (I’ve never been very good at surprises.) And in his goodness, he let us know you and love you for 48 sweet hours.

I’m so glad he did.

Your daddy and I love going to musicals together. One of our favorites over the years has been Wicked. There’s a line from a song towards the end that gets me every time….

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Oh, sweet baby of mine. I am so thankful for the privilege of knowing you. In your short life, you made me a better mother, friend, and person. Because I knew you, I truly have been changed for good!

Knowing you made me grow in my knowledge of God. As I drew near to him, he was faithful to make himself known to me. I came to intimately know his comfort, healing, and hope, and it made me love him all the more.

Knowing you has helped me understand grief. Grief isn’t linear. It ebbs and it flows. I remember waking up one morning a few months after my miscarriage and realizing that I hadn’t thought of you the day before. I wept as I realized that the world–my world–kept turning without you in it. But I also rejoiced in how God was slowly, carefully mending my heart.

Knowing you has taught me how to walk with friends who are grieving. I have learned how to better care for my sisters walking through the valley by serving them and gently pointing them back to the unchanging, unwavering, unending love of God. My sympathy has turned to empathy, and I am grateful.

Knowing you has taught me to trust in God’s sovereignty over all things. Just before I started miscarrying, your daddy and I were watching a special on the Duggar family. It wasn’t something we would normally watch, but God knew it was just what we needed that day. As the family mourned the loss of their own baby, Jubilee, Jim Bob prayed, “Lord, you give and you take away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Literally moments later, your daddy prayed that same prayer as we pleaded with God to save you.

In the same breath that God gave you, he took you. In an instant, we were faced with a difficult question—could we trust him? At face value, it seemed like a cruel joke. Why would he let us know you if he was just going to rip you away? But we knew our God, and we knew that he is the antithesis of cruel. He is rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love.

Death is a tragic reality of our broken, fallen world. But Christ conquered death so that you and I could spend eternity with him. The answer to the question, then, was and is a resounding, “Yes!” We can trust him completely with your life and ours.

Knowing you has given me hope. Two verses deeply ministered to me as we grieved your death.

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” – Psalm 71:5-6

This Psalm reminded me that you leaned upon the Lord even before your birth. And when he took you from the warmth of my womb, you continued to praise him! Your hope in the LORD encouraged me in my own faith, dear child. It was contagious!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5

The phrase “born again to a living hope” was my anthem after our miscarriage. These words had two very special meanings to me: I firmly believed that you were born again to a living hope in Heaven, and the living hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ gave me the strength to face each day with confidence.

Knowing you has made me long for heaven. Its not just because I believe I’ll see you there, though I so look forward to that day! You, little one, make me think on Heaven. And when I dwell on being with God for eternity, I can’t help but yearn to be there with you and all the saints, giving glory to our great God together.

Knowing you, my child, has been one of the greatest joys of my journey here on Earth. Thank you for proclaiming Christ to me and to others in your life and death. God has used you to change my life for good.

Until we meet again,

Mama


Resources for our sisters walking through pregnancy and infant loss…

Books

Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto {A friend gave me this book after I miscarried, and it was a huge encouragement}

Hope When it Hurts: Biblical reflections to help you you grasp God’s purpose in your suffering by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton

Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God by Nancy Guthrie

 

“There is hope for the woman who has miscarried since a baby was given to her more than 2,000 years ago. He lived for her, he died for her, and he will return for her.”

-Jessalyn Hutto, The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry

 

Articles

Letter to a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child by John Piper for Desiring God

Embracing the Grief of Miscarriage by Kelly Needham for True Women

5 Things God is Teaching Us Through Miscarriage by Abbey Wedgeworth for The Gospel Coalition

The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry by Jessalyn Hutto

How Miscarriage Led to My Crisis of Faith by Trillia Newbell for Christianity Today

Help After Miscarriage: Be Pro-Life by Courtney Reissig {This one is especially helpful for women who want to support their sisters in Christ through miscarriage}

 

“Your son is not lifeless. He simply skipped earth. For now. But in the new heavens and the new earth, he will know the best of earth and all the joys earth can give without any of its sorrows.”

– John Piper, Letter to a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child

 

Podcasts

Risen Motherhood Ep. 23 – Hope After Miscarriage: Two Moms Share Their Stories of Loss & Healing 

Risen Motherhood Ep.39 – Infertility, Miscarriage, and Motherhood with Courtney Reissig

Revive Our Hearts Podcast Series When a Heartbeat Goes Silent with Mark and Sarah Vroegop

 

“God comforts me by reminding me of who he is. He is my God. He is my personal, intimate, fatherly God. He is with me. I am not alone in my fear. And because he is with me, I need not be dismayed. He will strengthen me, he will help me, and he upholds me. I can receive his care and believe because he is God.”

-Trillia Newbell, How Miscarriage Led to My Crisis of Faith

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A Prayer for My Three (White) Sons

Heavenly Father,

You are the Creator of the universe and the Giver of life. You have fearfully, wonderfully, and intentionally made each and every one of us. Before the foundations of the world, you called out a people for yourself–a spectacular rainbow of men and women from different tribes and tongues and cultures who profess you as their King!

In your sovereign plan, you chose for my sons to be born into a twenty-first century American white suburban family. I often watch the news and wonder why my sons were born into such privilege while other young men are born into such hardship. But your ways are better than ours, and I know that we can trust you.

Lord, first and foremost, I pray that you will save my sons. Sin knows no partiality. Privilege does not guarantee their salvation–it is only by your grace that they might be saved through faith.

May they love you with all their might and seek to honor you in all their ways. Give them a hunger for your word. Let it penetrate their souls and equip them for every good work.

Give them hearts that beat for you and for others. Help them to love fiercely and serve joyfully. Raise them up to be bold ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that they will stand, sit, march, and kneel with the marginalized. Grant them empathy and compassion. Let them be slow to speak and quick to listen. Give them courage to speak up for the voiceless, the poor, and the destitute.

Keep my sons from evil. Kill any hint of hatred that resides in their hearts. Guard them from self-righteousness. Have mercy on them, and do not let them inherit the sins of their father and mother.

Lord, let them see the world in splendid color and rejoice in your grand design! Open their eyes to behold the beauty of the cross–the only place where boys of white privilege and black oppression can both come on equal footing and receive grace upon grace.

Help me, Father, to raise (white) men of noble character.

In the name of Jesus, our Redeemer and Friend,

Amen.

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My Bucket List

In March, I decided to start a #30before30 bucket list. I asked friends and family for ideas and pieced together a list of thirty goals to accomplish in the next six months. Here’s the list in all her glory:

1. Read the Harry Potter series
2. Take a bubble bath
3. Color a page to completion
4. Go horseback riding
5. Write a worship song 
6. Watch the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice”
7. Submit a guest post to a Christian blog
8. Make a Shutterfly album
9. Moisturize my elbows
10. Go to Tom + Chee
11. Reupholster our dining room chairs
12. Do a Paint Nite
13. Keep a prayer journal
14. Learn how to do a new braid
15. Make 30 blessing meals for families or individuals
16. Go swimming with my kids
17. Learn how to prune bushes
18. Paint our bedroom
19. See Hamilton
20. Take an overnight trip with Dan
21. Invest in friendships
22. Hang out with all four of my sisters just for fun
23. Read a biography
24. High tea
25. Church scripture memory
26. Get a massage
27. Sit in a hot tub
28. Teach Duke a trick
29. Go to Northwestern
30. Create a will

Today, is the big 3-0, and I am pleased to tell you that I failed my #30before30 challenge. It’s what I now affectionately refer to as my #13before30.

Six months ago, I would have been sad had future Chelsea told me that I wouldn’t complete it. But today, I’m content.

Shock in the Night

I drafted this list in March, and a month later, my life flashed before my eyes when I went into anaphylactic shock in the dark hours of the night.

The morning after my incident, I had a greater sense of urgency. But it wasn’t directed toward the bucket list, it was pointed straight at my heart.

I suddenly became acutely aware that God is the one breathing life into me each morning and that my life is not my own. The “bucket list” isn’t mine to make. It’s his.

A Bucket List of Two

My bucket list changed that day from thirty to two:

1. Love God and seek his face.

Before my episode, I was a sporadic Bible reader at best. With three little ones, I convinced myself that I never had the time.

But thanks be to God for revealing my need for him and his word! Today, I wake up like David and say,  “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

I now realize that things of this world will never satisfy me like Christ. They can offer temporary joy, but he alone gives me abundant life (John 10:10).

2. Love others by pointing them to Jesus.

If you’ve been around here long, you may have noticed an uptick in my writing beginning in April. Before then, I was lucky to write something every few months.

Yes, #7 on the list was “submit a guest post to a blog,” but can I tell you what really happened? As I beheld the face of Jesus through God’s word, I couldn’t keep silent!

As scripture says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). My heart overflowed with words about Jesus, and I had to write them down. I wanted to tell everyone about this man who lived and died and rose so that we–yes, you and me!–could be in right relationship with God.

I did the work of submitting an article to Desiring God and building a website and developing a social media presence, but it was GOD who did the work in me, friends. What you see on the screen is truly a testament to the transforming work of Jesus Christ in my life.

For Jesus’ Sake

Today, I’ll check #10, 20, 21, and 27 off the list because it’s good to have goals and dreams and fun! But at the end of the day, those things won’t matter.

What will matter is if I’ve loved God and others well. If I reach the end of my life and can check those two goals off my list, then I will die happy. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I proclaim not myself but Jesus Christ as Lord, with myself as your servant for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman {PLUS my guest post at Desiring God}

Today, I’m honored to be over at Desiring God talking about six ways for moms to redeem playdates. If you’re visiting from Desiring God, welcome!

As a mom of three little boys, playdates are part of our regular rhythm of life. My kids love playing with their friends, and I should love fellowshipping with other Christian moms, right? But to be honest, playdates often leave me discouraged. I go into a date longing for Christian community, but walk out feeling like it was no different from time spent with non-believing friends.

I recently shared my feelings with a few other moms (ironically at a playdate), and I was surprised to learn that they feel the same way. How is it that we — a group of moms who love Jesus — can gather for two hours and talk about nothing more than diapers and diets?

We decided then and there that it’s time for our playdates to be seasoned with the gospel. How do we practically achieve that? Well, you’ll have to pop on over to Desiring God to find out 😉

In the meantime, let’s talk about…

The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman

I was born and bred in the church, so I know the Proverbs 31 woman pretty intimately. You may too. She’s everywhere. Our church even has one of those Hobby Lobby “She is clothed in strength and dignity” canvases hanging in the women’s bathroom!

But until recently, I had never noticed the other Proverbs 31 woman. What about you?

Proverbs 31 begins…

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

Proverbs 31:1

Who is the “other” Proverbs 31 woman? King Lemuel’s mother. And let me tell you, sister, this woman is fierce. 

It’s no wonder that God saw fit to preserve her counsel in his holy word so that future generations might benefit from it. We can learn so much from what she says and how she says it! Trust me, after reading this passage, you’re going to want to hang her words in your own bathroom.

The Mother of Wisdom

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him. What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?

Proverbs 31: 1-2

Before she even opens her mouth to impart wisdom on her son, the king’s mother is already teaching us something.

God could have easily chosen to leave verse one out of the Bible. We’d hear the oracle that follows with or without it. But he specifically chose to tell us that his mother taught him, so it must be an important detail.

Many commentators believe that King Lemuel is likely King Solomon. Lemuel means “devoted to God” and is thought to be a name of affection given to Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba.

If we assume that King Lemuel is, in fact, King Solomon, then it follows that God chose to give Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, at least part of his wisdom through his mom.

Moms, hear me (and this goes for you too, spiritual moms). God has chosen you to speak wisdom into your children. God is using you and your words to mold their little hearts. We don’t know what the future holds for our kids–they may be kings or pastors or accountants or parents themselves– but we do know that we are training up a whole new generation of people to follow and glorify God. And that, my friends, is a high calling!

Mother Knows Best

Imagine knowing that people’s lives would literally depend on the decisions your child made each day. What kind of wisdom would you want to impart on your son or daughter?

King Lemuel’s mother offers two pieces of sage, Godly advice.

1. Don’t squander what God has given you.

Before she offers any wisdom, the king’s mother addresses her son with tender affection and appeals to the inherent bond they share when she calls him “my son” and then “son of my womb.” She reminds him that she knows him intimately–his strengths and his weaknesses.

Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Proverbs 31:3-5

Because she is his mother, she knows that he will be tempted towards lust and drunkenness and warns him against falling into those traps.

As king, he had been entrusted with God’s law and his people. When he took the throne, he actually had to write his own copy of the Law so that it would be engraved on his heart as he governed God’s people. (Deuteronomy 17:18-19) His mother knows that these vices will make him temporarily forget God’s word and impair his judgment, so she lovingly warns him not to throw away the tremendous gift God has given him.

Because we are also royalty through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:9), God has graciously entrusted us with his word and his people as well (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Like King Lemuel, we have been given an extraordinary gift–the free gift of salvation!–and we are to flee from anything that will make us forget the gospel and “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) God calls us to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Sister, run to Jesus each and every day. Spend time in his word. Bathe in it. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you. Pray that your hearts would beat as one. Don’t squander the good gift you have been given.

2. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The king’s mother doesn’t tell him to stand up for his own rights, but instead urges him to stand up for the rights of those who are poor and needy.

We live in a culture that tells us to fight for our rights. “I deserve it” is the anthem of our generation. But as Christians, we are called to lay down our rights and look to the interests of others. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” Paul writes, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Jesus offered us the perfect example of this when he laid down his life for us. He didn’t deserve to die a humiliating, painful death, but instead “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:6-8)

When you are tempted to take up your own cause, look to Jesus and take up his. Jesus loves people, and he holds a special place in his heart for those who are poor and needy. We honor him when we lay down our own rights and fight for theirs instead.

What does this look like for us today?

Think about the circle of influence God has given you. Who in your circle needs you to speak up on their behalf?

  • Are you teaching your children to embrace God’s good design of diversity and to speak up for their friends who may be treated badly because of their skin color, social status, or disability?
  • Are you speaking up when you see others fall victim to racism, bigotry, or hate?
  • Does God want you to be an advocate for an elderly parent or widow?
  • Have you considered being a foster parent to children in your community who need love and protection?
  • Can you spend some time volunteering at your local pregnancy center and give voice to the most vulnerable among us–the unborn?

Take some time to prayerfully consider how you might “open your mouth” for those in need.

A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

The words of the “other” Proverbs 31 woman may not ever be on a Hobby Lobby canvas, but I pray that they will be engraved on all our hearts–reminding us to flee from sin, remember the gospel, and yield our influence for good.

I thank God for sharing the wisdom of King Lemuel’s mother with us. This passage is a hidden gem in plain sight, spurring me on to become more Christlike in heart and action. God has used these verses to challenge and expand my ideas of what it means to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” and I pray that he’s done the same for you.

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Thankful for the following sources…

Gill, John. “Commentary on Proverbs 31:4“. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-31.html. 1999.