Encouragement for moms from REAL Titus 2 Women

Tuesday, I wrote a post dedicated to those women who have already raised their children well. It was my way of begging these amazing moms to be nice, and leave a legacy of grace for those coming behind them.

Sadly, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, older moms feel the need to crucify rather than edify. 

Right after the post went live, I received an email in response from a dear mentor mama in my life. Funny thing is, I only just met Jan Skaggs a couple of years ago, and she lives in Austin, TX. It’s not like I get to see her every day, or sit on her (amazing) front porch and sip sweet tea as we talk about life. But since I first met her, she has deliberately pursued me with grace, taking every opportunity to pour life, truth, and encouragement into my heart.

When someone does that, I listen. 

Reading her words confirmed everything I know to be true. They were so good, in fact, that I felt compelled to share them with you. So what follows are Jan’s words of encouragement to me after I was criticized by a mean mom.

But I also thought it would be fun to collect the thoughts of some other Titus 2 women I know who are getting it right. After Jan’s thoughts, take a minute to read some more encouragement from my friends Kate Battistelli (Francesca Battistelli’s mom, ya’ll), and Sally Clarkson.

Encouragement from REAL Titus 2 Women

We tend to view our precious ones in “snap shots” of time, but we’re really living an epic movie.

Note: It really would be helpful for you to read Tuesday’s post first. Take a minute and then come back?

From Jan

  1. Raising children is a loooooong process! We tend to view our precious ones in “snap shots” of time, but we’re really living an epic movie. The goal of godly, spiritually mature adults is still way out in front, and no one can (or should ever) be judged by one frame in a lifetime.
  2. It’s not a matter of “controlling your children,” it’s a matter of training them. Again, a process. My favorite wisdom about this comes from my brother: “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Over time, they’ll get it.
  3. The woman whose words were so hurtful probably either has NOT raised her kids as well as she thinks, or she HAS and she’s taking credit for it, not recognizing the incredible grace of God to her. There is a mystery to how children “turn out,” due in no small part to their own personalities and choices. The good Lord, our perfect Father, recognizes that children have a mind of their own—He gave it to us—and parents of little ones are not responsible for everything their children do (or don’t do).

From Kate

It’s an amazing honor to raise children to serve the Lord. Those of us who’ve done it have survived the daily battles/joys/frustrations of parenthood and lived to tell the tale! Our job now is to encourage women younger than ourselves, to affirm they are doing a great job and also to remind them this mothering gig is not easy and it tests every bit of Christian virtue we think we have!

As a mom with a grown child, I encourage older moms to help younger moms in these three ways.

  1. Remember. Try to remember what it was like when you were a young mom. We’ve been out of those days for awhile and just like the pain of childbirth, it’s easy to forget what it’s like when you’re no longer in the trenches. It’s easy to throw around cliched comments, easy criticisms and lame advice. It’s far more fruitful to offer to lend a helping hand or a warm hug, time to talk and cup of tea. Take time to get to know the young moms. They need someone to tell them they really are doing a good job and sometimes they will make mistakes but it’s ok and it rarely does any lasting damage to their children. Please don’t constantly remind them how quickly their children will grow up. When you’re in the day-to-day, believe me it doesn’t seem as if it will EVER end, especially if you have toddlers or elementary-aged children. Cut them some slack and try to remember you didn’t run a perfect household with perfectly behaved children either.
  2. Times have changed since we were moms. Technology exists today we didn’t have. Cell phones, social media, the internet. These are all new and provide young moms unique challenges and distractions we never faced. Information continues to explode, the world is getting more confusing, not less, and they are facing temptations we never had to deal with. Be patient and be gentle. Our job is to help give them concrete examples of eternal principles as they raise their families. We teach by example, by modeling biblical womanhood. It’s a process. We teach and admonish, correct when necessary (if we’re given permission to speak into their lives), set a Godly example and be the woman they want to imitate. Live the truth and the truth is this: love rules!
  3. Use your words oh-so-carefully. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Words can be creative and build up or deeply destructive and tear down. Avoid criticism because, well, see point number 1! I want to remind younger moms, including my own daughter, that they are doing a remarkable, world-changing, incredibly difficult job in a world growing darker by the day. I want to offer them hope and remind them they CAN do it and also, the season they’re in will come to an end. I want to be a light to guide the way and a signpost to point them in the right direction. Let’s be women they want to follow. Women who can say with confidence, “… this is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

From Sally

As a mother who has raised her children, my desire is to encourage and give hope to the mama’s who are right in the thick of the battle. God has not called me to judge young moms, but to help them. Having made so many mistakes along the way, and often feeling so alone in this great calling, I did not want other mamas to go the road without providing some encouragement, hope and help along the way.

Motherhood is a very long-term journey. God intends that each child have someone devoted to them their whole lives—a mom! But each mom needs her own coach and cheerleader to walk beside her—to mentor her and to help her understand spiritual righteousness; to help her patiently love her children so that she will give emotional health; and to teach her to create a haven where the lives of their children might thrive in a loving, protected and stimulating home that the mom has created.

Yet, today’s moms are supposed to do all of this without help or training or support systems—or next door neighbors to help her in times of need. All of us have good days and bad and lots in between. But the role of a Titus 2 woman should be to give hope, inspiration and training to the mom who feels alone in her home.

One of my favorite aspects of Jesus’ words this year in my personal study is that He is “gentle and humble of heart,” and He then says, “Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). When someone is humble, merciful, gentle, kind towards me, then my heart is open to learning from them, because I trust they will have my best in mind. However, if I fear I may receive more criticism or harshness, I will run far from that person. And so in the spirit of Jesus, let us come to each other humbly, in gentleness, to give hope, to walk as a shepherd tenderly caring for her sheep—as that is the picture I think Jesus gives us, so we may guide and encourage the mamas He brings into our lives.

*******

I’m so blessed by these precious women who truly get what it means to pour into the next generation. What a treasure they are to those of us still mucking through the trenches of motherhood. Thank you for being so loving and kind, ladies!

Pray with me, friend?

Lord, my heart is hurting for those among us who don’t have a real Titus 2 woman in our lives to help us walk through life with grace. So I want to lift those women up to you now, and ask you to meet this need in their lives somehow, some way. In Jesus’ name.

Red Letter Words Comments Graphic

Like this article? You might find these resources helpful:

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (Sally’s book co-written with Sarah Mae).

Growing Great Kids: Partner with God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life (Kate’s book).

Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess

How to Control Your Emotions, So They Don’t Control You: A Mom’s Guide to Overcoming

Surprised By Life: Five Ways to Respond Well When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned (Free)

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using them, I’ll receive a small portion of the profit. Thanks for supporting my ministry!

Creating a Personal Mission Statement for 2014

Yes, I know I’m late. It’s almost the end of January and I’m just now getting to my prayer word and mission for 2014. Craziness.

Well, actually, it has been craziness around here. Since early October I’ve been in overdrive trying to get everything ready for the Praying for Boys launch. In all seriousness, I’m not sure I worked that hard on my Master’s degree (and I worked pretty darn hard on my Master’s degree, friends). Now that Praying for Boys is out I’m sensing the need to really examine my priorities for 2014 so I control my calendar instead of it controlling me.

Can I get an amen?

need help controlling your calendar so it doesn't control you?

I looked at my 2014 calendar the other day and realized that I’m pretty much already maxed out for the year. I’ve intentionally left some sacred space for emergencies and “God-opportunities,” but overall, I sense that God is calling me to say “no” this year more than I say “yes.”

How did I come to this conclusion? Partly because I read Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, but mostly because I want the words I write about to also be the words I live (<<— Tweet That!). How can a mom have a deep, rich prayer life if she’s using every spare minute to work on the next big project? How can a wife be a safe place for her husband to land if she has a computer in her lap most of the time?

She can’t.

There are seasons in life (as much as my friend Stacey hates that word) that require harder work and more intense personal sacrifice. I’ve been in one of those for several months now, and might not get all the way out for another month. I don’t regret this season, but I’ve learned that I can’t live in it all the time. There has to be an ebb and flow to life—up time and down time—and if we don’t get intentional about creating the down time, it won’t happen.

There are too many good, worthy things out there demanding our attention, any of which could use our helping hand (or platform). So how does a mama know which ones to put her hands to, when?

She creates a personal, yearly mission statement

(thanks Stacey for reminding me to do something I’d been wanting to do for a while now).

I’ve decided to let every opportunity that comes my way in 2014 flow through this personal mission statement. I really think it’s going to help me say “yes” both to my family and my personal calling, and say “no” with the confidence that some opportunities will have to wait until a different season.

1. To honor God with my life and gifts.

Above all else, I want to make His Name great. Not my own, not my children’s, not the MOB Society’s…just His. I believe that by making His Name great—whether I do that in my home or in my career—I’m furthering the Gospel, and the Gospel is what I want to be about. Making His Name great will also help me perform all of my duties—whether online or off—with a deeper level of excellence.

2. To minister the Gospel to my husband and children first and foremost, and everyone else second.

No matter what, I believe my husband and children are my first and most important mission field. There are so many injustices that need the attention of the body of believers in this day and age, and I’m drawn to giving my time and energy to them because I want to make a difference in this world. But I refuse to forget the mission field in my own home—one that looks at me with big brown eyes and says, “I need you, too.” God has given me these boys (two little ones I gave birth to, and one big one I pledged my life to) so that I can minister the Gospel to them. I will not neglect to share the love of Christ with the most important people in my life in order to share it with others.

(Please don’t hear me saying that sharing the love of Christ with others, or working to end social and spiritual injustices is unimportant. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that if I don’t love my family well, nothing else much matters).

3. To use my gifts to bless others.

If you took everything I’ve worked for away, I would still write and share the hope of Jesus with others. It’s what I’m hard-wired to do. It might look different than it does now, but I would be unable to stop doing it. That’s how you know you’ve found your gift, friends. If the world took any notoriety you might’ve gained from it away, would you keep doing it? If so, there’s your gift.

What’s Your Mission?

May I encourage you to inventory what’s to come in your 2014? If, like me, you’re already feeling overwhelmed by what needs to get done, and thinking that a year is just not enough time to cram all of the opportunities in, create a mission statement for this year, commit to it, and use it to guide all of your “yeses” and “nos.”

If you choose to create a mission statement, would you share it with us in the comments? I would love to be inspired by what’s important to you in 2014.

*****

Boymom friends, I would love to have you join me tonight (1/21/14) at 9 PM EST for The MOB Society’s monthly MOB Chat Facebook! I’ll be the special guest, and we’ll be talking about the importance of raising and praying for boys!

If you have questions for me on the topic of praying for boys, or about the book specifically, please leave them here or in the comments.

TONIGHT (1/21/14) with special guest and author of Praying for Boys, Brooke McGlothlin

See you there!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a resource through this page I receive a small percentage of the sale. Thanks for keeping me up and running!

this is how to defend the truth when it’s being lost

Twice in the last week I’ve shared a post on my personal Facebook profile and, within seconds, wished I hadn’t.

The first time it was about a topic currently all over the news (I won’t say what, because you probably know). The second time it was an article from a website I had never heard of before, and knew nothing about.

Both times I ended up taking the articles down. Why? 

There can be no doubt that social media spreads words and ideas faster than any other medium this world has ever known. For people like me, who offer words and ideas for a living, this is great. Apart from the grace of God, and the advent of social media, I wouldn’t be able to share my heart with you. So on a deep level, I’m grateful for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like.

But, as most everyone knows, there’s a dark side to social media that keeps rearing its ugly head over and over. It jumps up in our hearts, commanding control of our fingertips, and makes us feel we have the right to say anything about anyone at any time just because we’ve been given the right to free speech.

Maybe we do have that right. Maybe, because of free speech, we actually do have the right to say whatever’s on our mind—no doubt social media makes it easier—but somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that our words affect real people. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that there are real consequences to the choices we make. And it might seem like some words on Facebook are a small thing, but the events of the last few days have proven just how wrong this is.

Our words can be misconstrued, deconstructed, misquoted, and misunderstood in a matter of mere seconds. 

Ann Voskamp wrote it best when she said, “There is nothing more explosive than words. Words are nitroglycerin. Words can literally ignite a heart, detonate like a global bomb — or explode in your face.

As a Christian, there are any number of issues that flash before my eyes on a daily basis that can incite me, cause me to want to defend my faith, and hastily type words so that others can “know the truth.” But I’ve learned this about myself…maybe it describes you too?

The times when I most feel the need to be heard are often the times I most need to be quiet.

be quiet

There is a time to defend the faith. There is a time to open the mouth. There is a time to open dialogue with different-minded friends. But the heart should always be open first. The heart should take the time to understand the issue before the fingers type out a response.

That’s why I’ve decided on a new social media strategy. It looks something like this:

1. God has given us all a little bit of influence.

Just this morning, I shared an article that I had to immediately take down. A friend was quick to point out that words I had taken literally were satire. As I read the words, my emotions went off the scale, and I hit “share” without pausing to check the source first.

And you might be thinking, “no harm done. You were able to take it down quickly.” But here’s the thing: my friend, whose post of the same article initially grabbed my attention and caused me to read it, took it down quickly too. But not until after I read it and shared it. And not until there was already a flurry of comments.

Social media gives us untold amounts of influence on those around us. We must be wise in the way we use it.

2. If you can’t offer thoughts that move others toward a solution, don’t offer your thoughts.

Last week—after a knee-jerk article share on Facebook, and the comments from friends that ensued—I realized that I had broken my own rule. I’m still trying to work out how I feel about what’s been happening in the news as of late, and I don’t really have any insight that could help others come to their own conclusions, or offer a solution to the problem at hand.

So until I do, I’ll keep my mouth shut. 

Oh friends, (and this spoken from one who struggles with a quick temper herself? I can still be so quick to judge, so quick to believe the worst, so slow to try to understand) could we do this differently?

Could we pause to pray before we hit “share?”

Could we cease to retaliate, and strive to understand before lashing out?

Could we count the cost of our words, knowing that every one of us—whether big or small in the world of the web—has the power to influence just one…and that might be all it takes to start a wildfire?

Could we purpose to use our words to build up, instead of being quick to react out of a need to be heard?

Could we learn to control our emotions, instead of allowing them to control us?

These days are the training ground for Christians—our response to the difficult, frustrating, obscene, horrific, and sometimes abominable things going on in today’s world matters to God. It has always, since the beginning of time, been His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Kindness doesn’t have to eliminate truth, it just draws the sinner (me included) to a loving God over and over again, giving her the desire to lay down a heart filled with beliefs and emotions, and ask the Savior of the world to make it look more like His.

This is the way for change. That we would ask God to change us first, so our lives will reflect Him and others can see Him through us.