• Guest post: How the Gospel Shapes Me as a Mother to Young Children by Erin Crispin

    Hans’ note: As a basketball player I love Erins blog! On her blog she details the life of a young Christian mum who is married to a pro baller Joe Crispin (who can flat out shoot!). Please check out her great blog www.marriedtoaballer.com and follow her on Twitter

    I remember being a young 24-year-old preparing to have our first child. I had read countless books, visited various websites and was a plethora of information on how to best raise a Christian child. What none of these resources ever told me was that in the process of “raising a child” it was me who would do the most changing.

    I have now been a mother for 7 years and have four children ages 7, 5, 3 and 13 months. Every day is a reminder that although I need to preach the gospel to them, often that preaching is just as much for my own heart as it is for theirs. Whereas I used to think of our teaching and discipline times as opportunities to plant the seed of gospel into their young hearts. Now I see that it serves as a reminder to me of what God has done and is doing for me through the work of Jesus.

    We use a little saying in our family whenever we are speaking of obedience. It is from the definition of obedience in “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” and it goes like this:

    The happy way is to obey without challenge, without excuse and without delay.

    The reasons we added the “happy” part in their is because Jesus did not call us to obey out of duty, but out of finding our delight in His perfect plan for our lives. The obedience comes with a reward. Instead of “happy”, our Bibles often have Jesus using the similar word blessed. The Beatitudes (here quoted from Matthew 5) are usually the most recognizable of Jesus’ sayings where He promises that good will come from obedience to Him:
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    As we read these words, we see that we are motivated to obedience through finding greater delight in God that we do in sin. So when I share the gospel with our children throughout the day, the message is:

    Jesus died so that you can be forgiven of your sin and live in victory over it because you have been given a new heart to now find God as your treasure instead of sin.

    And this is the message I need to be reminded of every moment of the day. Because like the old hymn says:

    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for thy courts above.
    “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

    When we believe the truth that God’s way is the happy way, we all obey without challenge, without excuse and without delay. The gospel is the reminder we need consistently to trust that moment by moment.
    Erin

  • Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a young mother and wife by Nicole Hamilton

    Hans’ note: I met Nicole at bible college and it seems she has not lost any of her spark and humor that made her such a great person to be around. Please take time to read her blog. It is a great read!

    Motherhood is a season of life which gripped my heart with an unprecedented amount of emotion.

    Guilt and self-loathing: As I took my first shower as a new Mum while my baby girl screamed in her bassinette for some comfort… Or as you hear your two year old mimicking a phrase that you know is yours, but which you wished you could attribute to your hubby instead.

    Frustration and sadness: As the years of broken sleep keep adding up and our beautiful children struggle to breathe at night through crippling sickness.

    Satisfaction and delight: When one of them shares a beloved toy or better yet, recalls that: “God is everywhere, Mum. Did you know that?”

    Being a mother is definitely the most challenging and yet exciting season of my life yet. Because despite feeling like my heart is able to be crushed in a million pieces at a moments notice, the benefits of being a mother are great, and the importance of being a godly mother even more significant. What I realised early on in motherhood was the necessity for me to be a person worth imitating. Paul often urges the churches: “Therefore, I urge the churches to imitate me.” (1 Cor 4:16) And the reason why? Because of his “way of life in Christ Jesus”. Whether we want to have the role of mentor or not, this is what a parent is. We will instruct our kids on how to live by the way that we live. And if they see that our lives are lives of value and significance because of Christ, then we are doing our jobs well.

    Early on in motherhood it became absolutely clear to me that the way that I support and love my husband, Craig, and the way that I nurtured my own growth with God was essential to my goals as a mother. Part of my passion and deep-seated desire is to ensure that our children see that Christ is worth our everything. If my beloved (and best-friend) Craig heads away to teach about Jesus, the way that I reflect Craig’s absence will make an impact on our children’s minds. If I allow myself to hold an unbalanced and resentful view of ministry, then how can I expect my children to find joy in expending themselves in service for Christ? If I choose to read my bible and pray, then that will not only affect my attitude towards our children, but will hopefully impress upon them the godly habit of disciplining themselves for the race we’re running. Nurturing my walk with Jesus is a key element to my “success” as a mother. Sure, I’m going to make mistakes and fail. Sure I’m going to live a much-less-than-perfect life. But the walk alongside my forgiving saviour is the key. So I consciously reflect on my mistakes with my children (not all of them, sheesh I wouldn’t want to overwhelm them!) Sometimes we repent together in our prayers at night for the mistakes we made during the day. Sometimes we just come together and thank God for clouds and pink milkshakes. Other nights our 3 year old thanks God for dying to take away all her naughtiness. (This one always brings tears to my eyes.) Yes, being a mother is more than fetching soggy poo out of the bath plug-hole or learning all the names of the Yo Gabba Gabba family. Being a mother is the opportunity to impress God’s message of salvation upon our kid’s hearts so that they know and love Him and are passionate to share this relationship with their world. I think God has given us a very special and beautiful responsibility. And the best part is, all we have to do is live alongside these beautiful creatures of our creator. Loving them as best we can and loving God a thousand times more than that.

    I love my life.

     

  • Guest post: How the gospel shapes me as a young mum by Kristen Young

    Hans’ note: Kristen is married to a Youth Minister, and has three young children. She is involved in ministry with children, young people and other Mums in a small town. In her spare time, she likes to write. Follow her on Twitter

    The Gospel.

    If there is one thing that is going to change everything for you, it is meeting Jesus. The Gospel is more than something you hear about in church on Sunday. It affects everything, no matter what stage of life you’re in.  My stage of life is that I’m a wife to one husband, and mother of three small children. It’s been a huge learning process, and I’m still on the journey, but here are some of the things I’ve learned so far about the Gospel and being a wife/mother:

    God is more interested in Who I Am than in What I Do.

    Before I was married, I worked a full-time paid professional job. I had Degrees! I was in control! I had business cards with my name listed in bold letters! I organised events! I spoke with important people! I had power lunches! Even after I was married, I worked for a few years while my husband finished his college studies. I was doing important stuff!

    Then I had children.

    Some people try to define it in important career-type terms: “Domestic Goddess” or “Domestic Engineer”. But it was hard to feel Goddess- or Engineer-like when my shirt was covered in porridge and I had just changed the sixth stinky nappy for the day. I longed for the days when I could be an adult, dealing with grown-up career issues. Not wrestling with toilet training or cleaning texta off the carpet.

    It was a hard lesson to learn. But ever so slowly, I began to see that God was more concerned with my character than my career title. In God’s mind, it is far more important for me to grow to be like Him. I can do that whether I have a full-time job in an office somewhere, or whether I am at home hanging out the washing.

    Who I am (my character) matters more to God than What I Do (my job).

    God is more interested in What I Do than in Who I Am.

    Status and titles are things that define, but can also imprison us. I am a Mother. I am a Wife. Everyone has a mental picture of what that should mean: am I the stereotypical 1950s Housewife, wearing an apron in an immaculately clean kitchen while baking souffle? Am I the modern Power Mother, handing my children their sushi lunches while preparing for pilates before I head off to work? Am I the new age Earth Mother, encouraging my children in permaculture, and teaching them how to repurpose household refuse?

    We want to be able to define ourselves in a way that makes us feel important. Status and Titles are things that we can too often strive for at the expense of what really matters.

    Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

    Jesus didn’t care what people called themselves, or what titles they had. He cared about how they lived. More importantly, he cared about how people lived in response to him.

    So what if I call myself “Christian”? Does my life show others that Jesus is my King? Or is it just a title that I wear like a badge of honour, while living the opposite way?

    So what if I call myself a “Christian Mother”? Does my life demonstrate to my children that Jesus is the most important reality in our existence?

    As a parent, we have the most amazing opportunity to help new human beings grow up to understand that their Creator loves them even though they rebel against him, that their Creator sent Jesus to die for them, and that they have the opportunity to love and serve their Creator and the people around them too. We can do that with what we teach them, but we also do it by how we live.

    Children enjoy having “opportunities” (like music lessons or craft or reading activities or sport), but most of all they benefit from the example that their parents set. As a wise teacher once said, our faith is “caught”, not just “taught”.

    James wrote: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18b).

    The Gospel changes our status (from sinner to forgiven), but it also demands a response. I respond in repentance – by turning to God and away from my sin. I respond in faith – by trusting Jesus. But I also respond in action – by living out my faith in my family and community.

    I’m not saying that this is easy. There are nights when I’ve spent more time awake tending babies than asleep, days I’ve spent in a sleep-deprived fog. There are days when the demands of the children have been so constant and so unrelenting that I’ve wanted to scream, “Where’s some Me Time for me?!!!” There are times when our marriage has been tested by miscarriage or prolonged illness, or lack of attention to each other’s needs. In each of these times, I’ve had to learn how to be consistent in what I say and do – or when I’ve been challenged at how I’ve let stress or Self stand between my family and Jesus. I’ve had to ask myself, “If my husband or the kids had to describe what they thought was most important to me, what would they say?”

    Prayer is important here. I’m amazed at how many times my stressed and strangled cries of “Help!” have been graciously and lovingly answered by an incredibly patient God. I’ve also learned the benefit of technology like iPods, so I can listen to sermons even while I’m cleaning out the bathroom, or take my bible with me in my handbag. These things have helped me to get back on track when life has been full of busyness and stress.

    I’m on a journey. I’m still learning to be a wife and parent. I’m learning how to live out my faith in front of an audience. I’m a work in progress (If I said I had it all figured out, you’d know I was lying!). But the Gospel is helping me to follow Jesus one day at a time, and to share his love with my family.

    Whether I’m covered in porridge or not.

    – Kristen Young