The high calling of a mom set free
I'm guessing you've picked up on a theme in my writing lately. You probably know by now that I love writing about the things we’ve been set free from. We’ve been set free from the pressure to be perfect, the striving to be enough, and the need to control the outcome of all we pour into our kids. We’ve been set free from the power of sin, the sting of shame, the grip of guilt, and the weight of our worries. And so much more.
But today I thought it would be fun to chat on the blog about what we have been set free for, because even though I don’t write about this as often, I do sense it holds equal significance for us as moms.
So what is it that we have been set free for? One of the beautiful things we have been set free to do is make the Good News central in our parenting and experience God’s grace in our homes- because, as we all know, being a mom set free doesn’t mean we’re free from doing the hard and holy and humbling work of motherhood. It doesn’t mean we don’t need to be purposeful in our parenting and intentional with our instruction. What it does mean is that we *get to* rest in the assurance of God’s sovereignty and grace, as we do the hard and holy work!
I’d like to share with you why this is on my heart today.
Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a room full of lovely mamas of mostly little kids - mamas who held babies in bjorns and had toddlers hanging onto their legs. And while the message of freedom resonated deeply in their tired bones, they were also hungry to know some of the ways we have made the gospel a daily (and mostly enjoyable) part of our daily life with four boys who range from two to thirteen.
So I want to share with you some of what I shared with them, in case it might be helpful for you. With the summer upon us, we have a great opportunity to establish new rhythms of grace in our homes and be intentional in planting seeds of faith in our kid's hearts.
The early years provide incredibly fertile soil to plant seeds of faith and help our kids hide scripture in their heart, even though they have yet to discover it’s power for their lives in the future. The early years provide pivotal moments to establish our loving authority and teach our kids that we say what we mean, and we mean what we say, and we can be trusted to establish healthy boundaries and enforce reasonable consequences – with wild amounts of grace.
That being said, if you’re reading this as a mama of older kids and you are just starting on this mom set free journey, or you feel like you haven’t done enough so far, don’t let the enemy feed you lies that it’s too late. It’s never too late for grace! So journey along, my friend.
When we make the gospel central in our homes, we fulfill the greatest calling we have as parents – to make the love of Christ known and felt.
So today I’m sharing a brief excerpt from “Mom Set Free” with you about our high calling as mamas, and I hope it encourages and equips you to take that next step in making the gospel central in your homes.
Also, I’ve updated the “resource section” of my website to share with you some of the tools we use to help our kids grow in their relationship with God. You’ll find some of the devotionals that our boys love best to start and end the day. (I’ve also included a few resources that I know girls enjoy too) You’ll also find the resources I rely on for growing in my own walk with God. That being said, I do believe that the posture of our hearts is more important than the practical tools in our hands. We are partnering with God in the work that HE wants to do in our kid’s hearts. The purpose of planting seeds of faith is to help our kids know God better and draw closer to His heart where transformation happens.
And more than anything, I believe prayer is our most powerful parenting tool. This is why my husband and I pray with the kids before they go to school. We pray for help when they encounter something hard and we pray thanks when they experience something wonderful. We pray after an argument and we pray when we end the day. We pray and we pray because we want our kids to know the amazing access they have to God their Father. We pray because prayer gives us peace that passes understanding. We pray because our prayers are part of God’s rescue operation in our kid's lives (2 Corinthians 1:3-11 MSG). So let’s use those practical tools and stay on our knees in prayer and watch God move in power!
Alongside you in freedom,
Excerpt from Mom Set Free, Chapter 6
I can’t think of a better place to for us to start our conversation about the significant role we play in our children’s lives than with Deuteronomy 6:4–7. If we want to know what God has called us to do, we can find the answer here. This is one of the linchpin scriptures of the whole Bible—a scripture that, according to Jesus, is the summation of all the law and all the prophets. And it holds great guidance for us as parents.
In this passage we find Moses instructing the Israelite people on what to do with the Ten Commandments he’s just given them. He says:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4–7 NIV)
Seeking to raise a child who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind is our highest calling as parents.
Now, if you’re thinking, “This is no small task! This is a lot of pressure!” I get it. But with the commission comes the grace. His grace is the motivating and empowering fuel. God’s love for us stimulates our love for Him, and our love for God stimulates obedience.
We see this truth reinforced in countless passages in Scripture, but I love how simply—but profoundly—John frames this in 1 John 4:19 (NIV). He writes: “We love because He first loved us.”
Our love for God is our grateful response to the love God has given us in the sacrifice of His Son. God’s love inspires ours.
What does this Gospel message have to do with our parenting? Everything! Because herein we discover how to fulfill our calling: we impress on our kids a whole-being love for God by first impressing on our kids God’s indescribable love for them.
See, our kids need to know God’s heart for them before they will ever desire to seek His heart above all else! They need to know the extent to which God went to rescue them and demonstrate His love for them in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
If we try to raise kids who love God only by giving them the commandments of God and telling them they should love God, we will more likely raise rule followers than God lovers. We’ll more likely raise kids who flee the faith because rules don’t breed gratitude and melt our hearts. Love does.
Think about it. We know this to be true in our own lives. We want to follow God to the extent that we have experienced— personally tasted—the extravagance of His grace for us. The real us. The sinful, flawed, broken, imperfect us. It’s not the “shoulds” and “oughts” that build love for God. It’s that He loved us enough to rescue us, even while we were running and rebelling and refusing to love Him in return.
When we are personally “impressed” with the extent of God’s love, then we will want to—not have to—love God. And this is what we most need to remember when leading our kids in loving and serving God and one another—we love because He first loved us.
This is the Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ that transforms hearts and homes!
A recent article published by The Gospel Coalition affirmed this Gospel-centered approach to parenting. It concludes:
"The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded twenty-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central.
The twenty-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents . . . ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.
This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel- centered homes leave the church; people from messed- up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crap- shoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church."
We, as moms, have the great privilege of—and responsibility to— impress upon our kids the heart-melting, life-giving news that “immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ” (Ephesians 2:4–5 MSG).
Indeed it is both a privilege and a responsibility. And trust me when I tell you, I’m talking to myself here because I am often convicted about how I prioritize nurturing my child’s faith. I have to continually re-evaluate what I prioritize in my kid's lives and whether I am parenting with eternity in the forefront of my mind.
You see, our culture tells us that our ultimate goal should be to launch kids who will have big bank accounts and big résumés and big awards and big toys. But Scripture paints a very different picture. Our ultimate goal should be to launch kids who have a big faith anchored in the big grace of God. Of all the things we can give our kids in this world, God has called us to give them Him above all else. Because only in Him will they find the fulfillment their hearts crave, and only in Him will they find the purpose-filled future He designed for them. This world is not their permanent home, and it’s our job to help them live in light of eternity. Living in the grace of God for the glory of God!
But, as we do, let it bring us great relief to remember that God longs for our children to know the fullness of His love even more than we do. So we are free to give them the Good News in God’s Word, show them with our own lives what it means to live by grace, pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to their true selves—radically loved, forgiven, and treasured children of God—and then rest in God’s sovereignty and grace.