May 4, 2015

How to Hold on to Your Children with One Hand and Christ with the Other

A Review of Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood

When I became a mother, I used to remember my earlier devotional life with the same wistful longing married couples sometimes have for their tender newlywed days or working women sometimes have for their carefree college years. Before husband-and-kids, I would spend hours reading the Bible, praying, singing psalms and hymns, memorizing, meditating, and studying whatever biblical theme the cross-references and the Spirit suggested to my heart.

After the birth of my son, I would sit bleary-eyed in the rocking chair at 2AM and debate the risk of waking the baby if I reached for my Bible. It didn’t get much easier. Over time, “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” replaced my psalter, bumps and scrapes interrupted my prayers, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie became more familiar to me than the Sermon on the Mount. Holding tiny fingers with one hand and my often-neglected Bible with the other raised for me the perennial question: Can women have it all?

The answer, in Melissa Kruger’s new devotional Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood, is: We must.

For a mother who belongs to Christ, there is no option. Unless she studies the Bible, she will never be a teacher of her children. Unless she prays, she will never give a wise answer to her children’s requests. Unless she loves Christ, she will never love her children.

Kruger’s book, then, is not about being a mom but about being a Christian. Not about becoming a perfect parent but about becoming like Christ. Not about quick answers but about a life transformed by the whole of God’s Word. The first four chapters (to be studied over the course of one week per chapter) lay the foundation for a life of godliness—faith, Bible study, prayer, obedience—even in the midst of mounting laundry. The final chapters focus on the fruit of the Spirit, encouraging moms to seek that fruit in their own lives.

In her introduction, Kruger writes what should be the heart-cry of every godly mom: “In the midst of my weaknesses, I need the soul-strengthening refreshment that can come only from time spent with Jesus. I need reminders of his love for me, so that I can love my children well. I need to know that he is in control when my life feels like it is spinning out of control. I need the power of His promises to provide peace for my anxious heart.” And her book does an excellent job of pointing readers in the right direction. 

In these pages, moms will find thoughtful reflections on the themes of Scriptures accompanied by heart-searching questions, and it is now my go-to gift for baby showers and new moms. Who needs another pack of onesies when she could have encouragement to have it all? Kruger is not afraid to make her readers dig for truth (she even assigns homework!), and, in this, she functions as a kind of accountability partner for the sleep-deprived and diaper-weary.  At 2AM or 2PM, Kruger is a girl’s best friend, a mom who has been-there-done-that and knows what you and I really need is more of Christ.

April 27, 2015

Signposts Along the Way

"It is the journey that matters, not the milestones," an acquaintance said. This is not true for me, as a believer. As I make my way through the Christian life, I need those markers.

They help me assess the journey. Have I made any progress in sanctification over time? Am I still on the right path? As I look back on the places where I stumbled, do I see how the Lord helped me get on my feet? Can I trust Him for guidance as I move forward? Milestones tell me that the answers are yes. "Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come. T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far, and Grace will lead us home."

Sunday Women just celebrated an anniversary, which caused me to look at the four-year stretch I travelled since the blog started. What did I experience along the way? God has loved and taught me and been a real present help in trouble. I sinned; I felt joy; I knew sorrow. I still have frustrations, but I am encouraged to continue the journey. I am looking forward to being in the place where everything is put right.

To illustrate some of God's goodness over the last four years, I linked to some of my posts below. You might see a posting that you missed the first time or one that has more relevance to you now.

Marriage My husband and I marked 40 years of marriage. God blessed us with several celebrations and trips that year. Little did we know that the 41st year would be one of confinement where even a trip to the supermarket presented risks to my husband's weakened immune system.

Husbands: Some Assembly Required shows some ways to keep your marriage vibrant while A Wife and Life Manual talks about some specifics of being a pastor's wife.

Ministry I was part of a search committee that found an associate pastor for our church. The group grew closer together as we served the Lord in this way. I was able to see the process from both sides because I had been a candidate's wife, and, now, I was helping our church look for the right candidate. Supernaturally, the Holy Spirit helped our diverse group narrow the choices and come to a harmonious agreement.

In a three-part series on candidating, Am I Mrs. Right? provides reassurance for the pastor's wife when her husband is looking for a new church. Is This the Right Church? addresses some of the concerns people have while candidating. Is There a Right Way? mentions things for candidates to consider when applying.

Loss This past year, I said goodbye to three important women in my life, my mother, my mother-in-law and my favorite aunt. Soon after the blog started, my husband had cancer surgery. Last year, he had chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, which was unrelated to the first cancer.  I still have moments of sadness when I realize what I have lost. But God gave me the peace that passes understanding during those times.

Dark Days for a Pastor's Wife talks about how others might not understand it when a pastor's wife goes through hard times. Give Thanks to the Lord shows how God helps me to praise Him in life's trials.

What milestones have you passed? What have they revealed about God's grace to you?
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