A Joyful Mother of Children

The year 2020 has given us all more time to pause and reflect. One thing that has impressed itself on me is the family God has blessed me with. As other outside demands and activities faded into the background, I noticed my family coming into clearer focus.

In our culture, it is easy to relegate our children to the bottom of the pile of things to do. We have our to-do list, and our children’s needs are often fitted in around our schedule. It led me to think of the high value God puts on children.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord.”

Psalm 127:3

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Matthew 19:14 NIV

In the early church, encouragement was given for the older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4 NIV).

Loving our children can be seen in a variety of ways. It is looking after their wellbeing. Creating a healthy, peaceful environment for them to live in. Caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I have had to ask myself, am I being intentional in my parenting? Am I letting my children spend too much time on screens, so I can “get stuff done”?

Being intentional takes effort. And time. And planning. And doing.

I want to involve my children in the life of the home, by having them help with chores, teaching them skills for life, so they will feel a valuable part of the family and will be prepared for independence when the time comes for it.

I want to be more intentional about instilling spiritual values into my children. Not in a stiff, formal way, but, sprinkling it in throughout the day.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV

I want to create more of a learning environment in our home, where good books are read and shared, introducing my children to great men and women of faith from past generations. 

And I want to get involved in their lives. Find out what their interests are, take time to listen, and learn about them.

Often as mothers, we find ourselves constantly directing, instructing, correcting. But it is good to take time to stop and listen. To stop and play. To enter their world for a while. To have fun with them!

Psalm 113 verse 9 says, “He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children”.

A joyful mother?

When I first came across that phrase it caused me to pause. Am I a joyful mother? Unfortunately, I had to admit I was often definitely not a joyful mother. Motherhood is hard work. But as I thought about being a joyful mother, it helped to remind me that children are a gift from God. He has kindly blessed me and my husband with four healthy boys. We should value them as much as God does and see them as the main responsibility in our lives, not an added extra.

This past year has made me reconsider my priorities. Yes, I am called to serve within my church family, and to reach out into my community, but not at the expense of loving my children well.

Of course, we will not do this parenting thing perfectly. We can all give ourselves grace, but we also need to embrace this job with energy and approach it with joy. God has given these children to us.

Like the woman in Proverbs 31:26-28 we can:

  • Teach our children – “She opens her mouth with wisdom”.
  • Listen and respond to our children with kindness, not being abrupt or impatient – “on her tongue is the law of kindness”.
  • Set our priorities and values for our home – “She watches over the ways of her household”.
  • Make the necessary effort – “and does not eat the bread of idleness”.

And then we too may be privileged to hear the echo coming back to us through the years, the voices of our children . . . “Her children rise up and call her blessed”

Joy in Despair

Sundays are meant to be peaceful.

That was my fleeting thought as I mounted the stairs yet again one Sunday morning.
Being a mum of four boys I am no stranger to noise, but this particular Sunday things were getting out of control at an alarming rate. Hurtful words, someone left out, tears and shouting. Doors banging. Emotions boiling over.

I had already refereed several disputes that morning and as I waded into the melee I was met with a barrage of accusations and defences. What left me slightly bemused and extremely frustrated was that this scenario was sounding identical to the previous dispute only ten minutes earlier. Only this time the players had changed position!
One who had been upset moments earlier by his older brother’s hurtful comments and exclusions, was now treating his younger brother in exactly the same way. Yet somehow was unable to see (or admit) that he was doing anything wrong. This was completely different apparently!

It is in moments like this that you just want to roll your eyes, grind your teeth, and walk away – fast! And I have responded in one or all of these ways at different times.
But this time I knew I needed to see this through.

I was determined to see this through.

Surely I can make an eight year old see sense!
I could convince him that he was not being kind.
I could make him see his actions from his brothers point of view.
I could make him admit he was wrong.
I could handle it.
And so the debate raged on, moving from the bedroom, to the kitchen and still he stubbornly clung to his position that he had not done anything wrong and he was completely innocent.
I was trying every angle with no success, and in that moment I realised something.

I am completely helpless to change his heart.

I cannot make my child compassionate.
I cannot make my child humble himself.
I cannot make my child have a kind and caring heart toward others.

Despair seeped in, tinged with fear.
Fear for the future. What sort of man would he grow up to be? My imagination ran wild.

“I can’t do this!” was the cry from my heart as I sat down at my kitchen table, feeling at a complete loss. I can’t make him into the man I so want him to become.

But in that moment of complete helplessness and deep despair I felt the Lord whisper in my heart.

“This is good.”


“This is a good place to be. This is exactly where I want you to be.”

Realisation dawned on me and with that, a deep joy flooded in.

This is where the Lord wants me!
He wants me to know I can’t do this on my own.
He is reminding me, “You can’t change their hearts, but I can.
I’ve got this.”
I can rest in Him.
It is not my job to make and mould my children into what they should be.
Ultimately, they belong to God.
He can do the heart transforming work. I can’t do that.
It is not my job to try and conform them to His image.
I can give that burden to God. I can give my child to God and trust Him to change them from the inside out.
He will make each one into who He wants them to be in His time.

It is very humbling to admit our inability. We want others to look at us and our children and applaud our efforts. We love to hear compliments on what lovely children we have, how well behaved they are, etc. And of course we want our children to behave, but often I find it is my pride that is at work.
I start to feel pretty good about myself, as though their good behaviour is a credit to my parenting skills, or when they misbehave, my first thought is, “what will people think of me?”.
We forget God and become our own god, thinking we are in control of our family. We will ensure everyone behaves so as not to embarrass ourselves, rather than because it is sin against God.
While it is humbling to be faced with our own inability, it is also very freeing.
To know that if our children are to become anything for God, it is up to God, not us.

Of course we are not able to do this work of raising children and training them in the instruction of the Lord. That’s why we desperately need the Lord.”

(G. Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full)

We should know this. All through scripture this theme is repeated.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. (Psalm 118 v 8)
We are to be strong IN THE LORD and in the strength of HIS MIGHT.

Not our own strength, remembering that “the Lord is the strength of my life”. (Psalm 27 v 1)
And yet so often we fall back to thinking we can do it on our own. That we should be able to do it on our own.

What freedom in knowing we don’t need to “have it all together”. The Lord is not finished with us yet. He is not finished with our children yet.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. (Ephesians 2 v 10) He is still at work. We can trust Him.

Release the reins to God.