Tuesday, 9 May 2017

How To Shine When Being a Mom is Hard

It had been a long journey. My mom, my kids and I had being traveling for 12 hours, and I was looking forward to this final leg of the journey. Soon we'll be home. 

As I sat at the ferry dock, I envisioned the large, modern ferry with comfortable chairs, tables, and space enough to recline. This new, fast ferry would make the hour-long journey home as comfortable as possible. 

But as the time to board drew near, my ferry was nowhere in sight. Instead, we were asked to board what seemed to be a rickety old boat that had us packed like sardines for the ride home. 

I was not a happy camper. This was not what I signed up for. 

I visualized the rough seas and the rolling and tossing of this old ferry. As I sat there on the boat pressed up against the window, I dreaded the ride home. The journey looked a lot different than I expected. 

But do you know what? I got home an hour later, safe and sound, and although the ride was not how I had imagined it, it wasn't all that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. All in all it was a successful journey home, even if it didn't go quite as I expected.


What about you? Is your parenting journey unfolding as you expected?

Perhaps it is. Perhaps you have found a formula that works... that produces expected results from your 'I-know-how-this-works' input. 

Or maybe... you're like me. Maybe you've discovered that the only thing that compares to the challenges of mothering is the depth of your love for your children. Your love for your kids is as deep as the challenges are high. And this mothering journey is stretching you in ways you didn't envision, exposing your weaknesses and testing your mettle and faith. 

It's nothing to do with my children. They are precious, wonderful gifts from God on their way to discovering all that God created them to be. It's all about me... and my recurring expectation that things should go as I plan, and the hard lessons I'm learning when they don't. 

Yep, this mothering journey brings me to my knees. And it is there that I hear the words... '
Keep calm, my child; keep calm and shine on.'

These words fill me with renewed courage and fortitude and hope. They remind me that I'm not alone. 

You see, when I'm not quite sure what to do...  when I am convinced yet again that I am ill equipped for this journey, I simply have to look up or rather look in and remember... remember the abiding presence of God... always there... always present... always guiding me... lovingly showing me that His presence makes it possible to 
shine even when mothering is hard. 

'Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40: 34-35

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

And my friends, I'm often at that crossroad, where I desperately need to 'keep calm and shine on'. Can you relate? 

So I've come up with a simple mnemonic that helps me know what that looks like - in a practical sense. I hope it helps you as much as it has me.

At just the moment when I humble myself before the Lord, calmly admitting my own weakness and accepting His strength, I am filled anew with His power that enables me to S-H-I-N-E

Set healthy boundaries rooted in unconditional love.

When it comes to parenting, boundaries are essential to protect our children and guide them into becoming the persons God created them to be. God parents us in exactly the same way. But admittedly, some boundaries we set tend to be selfishly motivated and controlling. God reminds me to prayerfully consider my children, and lovingly set boundaries based on His word. When we set boundaries in this way, our children feel loved and secure.  

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. Proverbs 19:18 

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Consider: Have I set clear expectations for my children that are motivated by unconditional love and lovingly enforced? Do I set a godly example for my children by my response to God's 'boundaries'?

Hold the criticisms and comparisons.

When my buttons are pushed as so often happens in parenting, I often respond first and think after. But my tongue has the power of life and death and sometimes, I hurt the ones I love with demeaning or derogatory comments. Sounds harsh, but true! Am I the only one? 

Our children are created in the image of God and are each unique and special. Nothing we say should make them feel less than 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Consider: Do I pause and ponder the power of my words before I react to my children? 

Imitate God - extend grace, be present, protect and guide.

When a parent surrenders to God; she teaches by her very example. 

"...you have been called to incarnate Christ in your [child's] life. This means that it is not enough for you to speak of [God's] grace; you must also be an example of it..." Paul David Tripp

Furthermore, just as God's abiding presence protects and guides us, so we too should protect and guide our children, which requires us to be fully 'present' with them - a feat that is not so easy in our (digitally) distracting world. 

Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children. Ephesians 5:1

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

Consider: Am I daily spending time in the presence of my Father - allowing His grace to transform me? Do my actions point my children to Christ?  Am I so busy and distracted that I fail to be 'present' with them? Do I take the time to listen to and talk with my child on a regular basis?

Never, ever quit - never stop believing, never stop trusting, never lose hope

Yes, we may grow weary, and we often do, but we can remember God's abiding presence, and humbly enter the sweet rest He alone offers.  

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (Amplified Bible)

Consider: Do I draw daily from God's infinite power and love, or do I give in to discouragement or selfish desires?  

Encourage, encourage, encourage.

And finally, my friends, encourage them by our words and actions. Embrace them as they are, image-bearers of our heavenly Father, searching, growing and prayerfully becoming who He has designed them to be.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, Colossians 2:2

Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2b

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Consider: When my children face the consequences of their actions, do I come alongside them and lovingly encourage them or are my actions harsh and rules-based? Do I share with them my own struggles in my walk with God and continually point them to God's all-sufficient grace?

What about you? 

Are you able to shine when parenting is hard... 
when the journey is not what you expected?  

Have you met the One who makes it all possible? 

Perhaps you have, but you have somehow lost your luster. 

I encourage you, my friends, to spend some time 
beholding the glory of His presence, 
coming alongside Him, and learning from Him.

My prayer is that as we spend time with God 
we will naturally shine in our calling as parents. 

Blessings to you, 

Recommended Resources:

I've only read a few chapters of this so far, but I'm loving it. 

Click here if you want your very own copy.

I'm on to this one next. Gospel-based parenting - just what I need.
To see more about this one, click here


  1. Perfect timing on this post to encourage mums!

  2. I loved the analogy of the ferry, and oh boy, I think I've been down that road (or on those seas) a time or two. Parenting certainly isn't a walk in the park but I'm grateful for sage advice like yours to help me SHINE through it.
    Thanks so much, Carlie! I'm glad you're steps ahead to show me the way. Love you!

    1. Oh, I preach to myself, my sister! You know how it is! But God... He is able. Amen! Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. What a great encouragement for Mom's. We must have been thinking a like. I just posted next to you at Purposeful Faith on Did God Choose the Wrong Mom? Hope you had wonderful Mothers Day!

    1. Thanks Maree! I found such encouragement in your post! So glad we met today!:)

  4. Pray, try and try again, bathe it in prayer again, strive to find out more it is what we want and then pray again
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    1. Pray, pray and pray again. Ain't that the truth? :) Thanks Angie!

  5. Beautiful words, Carlie ... And YES to parenting exposing our weaknesses and testing our mettle and faith. You nailed it with that. Your encouraging acronym is filled with lots of that E, for those of us struggling in this parenting journey. Today was the "last, last" for my older two ... although they have been "done" with school for about a week (as seniors, they had no finals) ... today they officially "checked out" of our district. Wow. Time for the next phase!

    1. Wishing you God's blessings as you move into this next exciting phase, Dianne! Thanks for your kind words. I'm always so encouraged by you!


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