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Mom's Most Important Mission

Updated: May 30

EIGHTH EPISODE

 

Aloha Ladies! Welcome back!

 

Well, this past Sunday was Mother's Day, and I was honored to be asked to participate in a dance performance showcasing motherhood's different seasons and how God is always there. Now, I was asked to fill the "empty nester" role, but at first practice, it became apparent that I was actually playing a dual role: empty nester turned grandma.   If I'm honest, most days, I don't feel like a grandma, and people still find it hard to believe that I am one, but with a granddaughter getting ready to turn eleven, I cannot deny the title, so I embraced the presentation.  

 

Backstage before the first performance, it struck me that I had already lived each of the seasons of motherhood and that each one transpired at warp speed. It seems like it was just yesterday. I remember so clearly the birth of my daughter, getting her ready for school, the struggles in her teen years, and the crushing loneliness when she left home. It went by in the blink of an eye- yet, during the seasons, it seemed like they would last forever. 

 

There is so much that I would love to do again- to linger in the good times and respond differently in the bad times. Yet, if I had a time machine, the one thing that I know for sure I would do differently is I would have made my family, my home, my number one priority. I mistakenly believed that I had, but, in retrospect- I got caught up in "good intentions" and "appearances."   Pursuing education, money, career, house, cars, vacations, and even ministry sometimes took priority over my family.

 

Of course, I rationalized that my daughter deserved the best, so that meant I needed to do all these things: give her dance, music, and gymnastics.   I needed to serve in the church to demonstrate to her what's important.  

 

Yet, when I look back, I realize that I didn't always do the best job of stewarding what God had blessed me with, and I didn't appreciate that my first and most important ministry was within the walls of my home!     

 

I remember when I first got out of the military and moved to North Carolina.   I wanted so much to be a stay-at-home mom, but what I found very quickly from women around me was that a stay-at-home mom carried this negative stigma. When I would meet new women- even at church- the first question always seemed to be, "What do you do?" and when they learned I just stayed at home, there was this disdain in their response and demeanor- like somehow, I didn't rate or measure up. Somewhere in history, society began to teach us that for women to be "equal," we must conquer like men- that our worth is found in the workplace or even in ministry- working, striving, or serving the outside world.   So, I fell into the trap and picked a career that demanded long hours and frequent travel.   The money was good, but it came at a price, and my husband and daughter paid it. 

 

It wasn't until my daughter was in high school that I went on this women's retreat to Billy Graham's Training Center at the Cove and heard a message from the guest speaker that really convicted me: she taught on Proverbs 14:1-  “A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” This was the first time I heard a woman speak on the importance of understanding what God has purposed for women and the greatest ministry we have been gifted-  our home. She confessed that she had devoted her life to ministry, serving God and the church, involved in so much that was good, but it was at the peril of her own family.   Her marriage was suffering, and her children were becoming bitter and resentful- pulling away from the church and not wanting anything to do with God. The very thing she thought she was doing right – being that example of a woman who loves the Lord had backfired. When God finally spoke to her and gave her this Scripture, she realized she was the foolish woman who was responsible for tearing her family down. That all the "good" she thought she was doing in ministry wasn't honoring to the Lord because it wasn't from a place of overflow- it was from a place of famine- her family was in poverty. She was taking from them to pore out into others. She cautioned all of us to evaluate our lives and be the wise woman who builds up her home.   You can do, do, do, and even do good things by serving the Lord, but if it comes at the price of neglecting or putting your family second, you've missed the heart of God, and you've missed your greatest purpose and ministry because your family is a gift from the Lord!  

 

As a wife and mother, we are CALLED to build our house- this is our first and most important ministry, and the foundation is laid during the early seasons of motherhood well before the empty nest! Those years are crucial, and they cannot be reclaimed once they are gone.   That's why we MUST steward them well and with the proper perspective and balance.

 

So, today, I want to speak to all the mothers out there regardless of what season of motherhood you are in…. even if you're like me, the empty nester, or grandma, you still have a role to play in mentoring the younger generation. 

 

To get a sense of how to achieve the proper perspective and balance, we need to look to what God's word has to say on the matter, and one of the first places that speaks to this is found in the famous Proverbs 31 Woman, which comes directly from the lips of a mother:

 

A wife of noble character who can find?

    She is worth far more than rubies.

11. Her husband has full confidence in her

    and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax

    and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,

    bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night;

    she provides food for her family

    and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

    out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

    her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

    and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand, she holds the distaff

    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor

    and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;

    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


It’s a lot, right?    I feel both exhausted and inadequate just reading it, but there are a few things I want to point out…. 

 

First and foremost, out of these 22 verses, only one focuses outside the family-  Verse 20-" She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”    All the other verses deal with her household.

 

Secondly, we see here that balance, stewardship, health, focus, diligence, and perspective are fundamental.

 

Lastly, let's not miss the most essential point: this is a season.   She has children and a husband at home- in this season of her life.

 

Even Jesus himself had seasons.   We know this because His ministry began when he was 33 years old! He was the head of the household as his earthly father was deceased. He was skilled in carpentry and in God’s word.   Even when his mother came to him at the wedding in Cana to ask him to do something because the wine had run out, His response to her was, "My time has not yet come."    In other words, it's not the right season.   Jesus focused on his family until it was TIME to begin His ministry.    He waited on His heavenly Father to lead and instruct Him, and when the time was right, then He put everything aside to do His Father's will.

 

Much like Jesus, we, too, have seasons and choices. And with each option, we will say either "yes" or "no" to Jesus.    So, how can we navigate as mothers? Knowing the proper seasons and knowing when to say "No?"

 

I believe the answer lies in understanding Jesus as the Vine.  

 

Jesus himself tells us in John 15:1-4: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.”

 

Here, we see that Jesus is "the vine," Father God is the "gardener," and we are the "branches."    Jesus is the life force that provides us with everything we need to flourish. Father God does the hard work of pruning us so that we can be more abundant. All we must do is be a "branch."

 

Jesus tells us how, in verse 4, he says, "Abide in Me, and I in you."   The Greek root word for "Abide" is meno, which means to stay, abide, remain, wait, rest.

 

Unlike the Proverbs 31 woman who seems to be in constant motion, Jesus tells us that to produce and achieve more, we must "abide" in Him. It seems counter initiative at first. But he is saying that we need to slow down enough to receive everything we need from Him to produce a harvest.   We must stay connected to Him -- abiding, dwelling, delighting- all words that convey a slower rhythm of life built on trusting Him that we are at the right place and the right pace. 

 

If we aren’t careful, we can miss our season to minister to our families because we are too busy focusing on other things. Too busy doing- for ourselves and others.   We can even get so caught up in the joy and delight in the act of serving Jesus that we don't realize that we've missed the mark.   Because Jesus doesn't call us to "perform" or earn his love, we should take joy and delight in Jesus himself.  That’s it- just like Mary, who sat at his feet while her sister Martha did all the work! 

 

This is where having a core group of solid Christian women in your life is so important: to surround yourself with those who can lovingly point out hard truths and unhealthy patterns and challenge your approaches.   We need accountability because it provides us with a safety net to help us ensure that we have balance, perspective, and pure motives-  that we aren’t missing the crucial seasons in our life and that we are indeed producing fruit pleasing to the Lord.   I pray you have that group of women, but if not, let me be that voice to you right now. I'm not here to judge, criticize, or condemn you.   I'm not here to say working outside the home is wrong or that being part of a ministry is wrong.   I'm saying take notice of the blessings and gifts you've been given and take advantage of the season you are living.   Carpe diem- seize the day and know that there is an appropriate time and season for everything.    

 

There is freedom in understanding your purpose, season, and place as a branch connected to the true vine of Jesus.   Fruits take time to develop and only blossom in the right season. So, if you have been blessed with a husband and children THESE ARE YOUR FIRST PRIORITIZES – your FIRST MINISTRIES.   

 

Ladies- Be the wise woman who builds her house in the right season. The woman who prioritizes time with the Lord. To abide rest and refresh in Him.  The woman who commits and invests in her marriage. The woman who serves her family and her children FIRST.   The woman who makes wise choices that impact eternity and knows that there is a season for everything.  

 

Remember this quote from Andy Stanley, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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