sow in hope {encouragement for moms}

A mentor recently asked me how motherhood was going. I was honest. “It’s hard,” I said, “Mainly because I can get discouraged in teaching the same lessons to the same child over and over and over and over again, wondering if they’ll ever get it.” She kindly chuckled with a touch of sympathy. Then she said something that hasn’t left my mind.

She said, “Remember to sow in hope, Lara. Sow in hope of the harvest.”

I have chewed on those words ever since. Sow in hope. Sow in hope. And I’ve asked God to expand those words in my spirit.

 

sow in hope

 

I’m not a farmer. But my grandparents were farmers. And I remember us taking trips to Tennessee for visits. We’d usually arrive in their gravel driveway just as the late afternoon sun was starting to set over the hills. Cows would be grazing in his pastures. His tractor would be resting in the field. And with the smell of my grandmother’s southern cookin’ lingering in the air, we would take a walk through their garden and they would talk about rain levels and hopes of a coming harvest.

I didn’t pay much attention.

But I learned this. I learned that a farmer sows seeds in hope. He cultivates the ground and pushes seeds into the earth. He pulls weeds and feeds and waters. He sweats and prays. But he doesn’t make the seeds grow. Only God can actually bring the harvest.

 

I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

 

I’ve thought a lot about what this sowing and reaping looks like in motherhood. And I know that many of us will struggle with the idea of sowing in hope because it means a release of control — or perceived control. It means years of pushing the seeds of God’s word down into the soil of the hearts of our kids — one by one, day in and day out — without always seeing visible signs of growth. But if we don’t sow in hope of a coming harvest then discouragement will press down. And discouragement is not our inheritance in Christ.

It may not be a tomorrow harvest. Or even a next day harvest. But God does have a good plan. He’s writing our story just as much as He’s writing their story. And His loving Father heart can be trusted.

We sow. We water. We sweat. We pray. But we do it all in hope. We do it resting in the God of hope. Because He alone brings the growth. He alone brings the harvest.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How does this “sowing in hope” challenge or encourage you?
 

Also, don’t forget, only 5 days left to take advantage of that mac-daddy deal I mentioned yesterday!

 

inspiring motherhood {and everything else}

Can I say that I’m “reading” a book if I’m actually “listening” to it through Audible? I think yes.

So I’m “reading” Bonhoeffer — which, for the record, should only take me a total of 22 hours according to the app. Twenty-two. That’s a thick book…I would imagine, if my version was on actual paper.

Anyway, I was listening to, I mean reading, it the other day and it messed me up. Like, I was undone while driving. And I’m not even to the part that tells me of Dietrich’s martyrdom. It was just a story — a description — of his mom.

The author says that Dietrich’s mom was the “soul and spirit of their home.” Soul and spirit.

 

soul and spirit

 

It doesn’t sound as devastating now when I type it out but it spoke to me. The author goes on to say that Dietrich’s mom read poetry to her kids and sang hymns with them and performed dramas in the basement and set up a carpenter’s area in which the boys could to do their “work” and… lots of other awesome things. Mostly, she was present-active.

And I didn’t feel guilty. As neither should you. I just felt inspired. I mean, I can’t sing well. And we don’t have a basement. But I want to be the “soul and spirit of our home” — not in a weird theologically incorrect way, just in a motherly way. I want my kids to look back to their childhood and see me present, my eyes looking straight into theirs.

I want to inspire them to create and learn and develop into the one that their God designed them to be — unique and beautiful. I want to be a safe place for them to be messy and emotional or even confused about their faith. The soul and spirit of our home.

But the more I think about it, we are the soul and spirit of every minute we take up. Or at least a soul and spirit. The question is, “what do we leave behind?” Because whatever is in us pours out of us. If we’re full of fear and worry, that’s what will come out. If we’re full of anger and bitterness, that’s what will come out. But if we’re full of love, peace, faith, and hope, well…

Our soul and spirit touches every space.

 

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
~Jesus
Matthew 12:34

 

It’s not about guilt. Guilt isn’t from our God. Guilt points and jeers and blames. It doesn’t spur on. It crushes.

It’s about inspiration. The inspiration to be fully present, overflowing the love of our God onto those beside us.

Love that gives us a glimpse into the soul of another. Love that drives us to be all-there because the minutes are fleeting, and babies grow to be kids who grow to be…gone. Love that says, “Now is all we have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow never comes. Be all here.”

Love inspires. Kindness inspires. Being fully present in this moment, and then the next, inspires. You and me watering the soul of another so that it blooms into all its intended splendor.

Ahhh.

That doesn’t mean that the grape juice won’t spill all over the kitchen floor. Or hormones won’t rage. Or someone won’t have a bad attitude for the day/week/year. It just means that as much as depends upon me and you, we can pray, “Lord make me the soul and spirit of this place, this moment, reflecting the beauty of Your tender love.”

It has to be of the overflow — us so full of God that He spills out onto those with whom we share space. Us walking in step with the Spirit of God by reminding our hearts of His Word and promises and strength. Reminding ourselves that people matter more than tasks. Us calling a friend for intercession when we’re at our breaking point. Us choosing to worship God regardless.

The soul and spirit of a place — the soul and spirit who reflects the tender presence of her Lord. May it be said of me.

 
Fill me, Lord…

These days, I would describe my soul and spirit as _______________. (Fill in the blank)

 

one thing that inspires change in people

I’m writing this blog post with a grimace on my face because I did one of those “Insanity” workout videos for the first time. Because apparently I’m insane. Because now I can barely walk. Because I have muscles in places that I didn’t know muscles existed and every last one of them is begging me for high doses of Ibuprofen. Woe is me with my first-world problems.

But as I’ve sat in all my soreness, I’ve prayed for you and for what God would have me say today. Because only He can takes words from a screen and graciously use them to minister to souls.

W o r d s .

I remember when God first told me — not audibly or I would have freaked — what He was leading me to do. I remember writing it down 13 years ago in my little journal with complete conviction, “You’re calling me to speak and write. What You say to me in the closet You want me to declare on the rooftops!” This prodigal girl turned seminary student, graced with forgiveness…and words.

 

grace words

 

Words hold such power. With them we can lift the downcast and stir up faith in the sullen. We can praise this unbelievably glorious God and pour life into those running the faith race with us. Or, devastatingly, we can poison the soul of another, encourage fear, and drag people in condemnation’s dirt.

W o r d s .

 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21

 

I’ve always heard it said that the closer we get to God the more depraved we see ourselves to be. Because He’s so glorious, and in His light we see more and more of our need for grace. And I think that’s an absolutely true assessment.

But I also think that parenting performs a similar task — revealing our need for grace. Lord, help me. We as parents have such deep, innate love for our children and we want them to live the blessed life. So our natural tendency is to try to control what they do because we want to help. And in that control, we have lots of emotion and out of that emotion we say lots of things. Lots of things. I get tired of talking.

But God has me wrestling with my words — in parenting and with everyone else on the planet, for that matter. He has me grappling with what words are truly helpful and what words are a reflection of me trying to control…everything, ultimately out of fear. Another post for another day.

The other morning in my journal I ended with “Lord God, put a guard over my lips!” Because I don’t want my words to be what hinders someone’s freedom. I want my words to bring life.

So as a mom, especially when I want to say things to reiterate poor choices and why those choices were so depraved, God is challenging me to speak life words, grace words.

When my boy does the same thing I’ve asked him not to do for the 83rd time that day after being disciplined 83 times that day — just like I disobey God — I’m tempted to say some…things. And sometimes I do say some “things”. But I’m learning what it means to speak life with the driving hope that life words, dripping with grace, bring the greatest change.

 

“The fruits of grace are always in the future.”
Tullian Tchividjian in One Way Love

 

“Son, you are precious — crafted by God. He has plans specifically for you. And He absolutely loves you. And so do I. And in spite of our many weaknesses and many failures, God sent Jesus to take the punishment we deserve. It’s because of Him that you and I are forgiven. It’s because of Him that we don’t have to control everyone and everything on the planet. We can trust Him to be faithful. We can depend on Him to fight our battles and lead the way. So let’s talk about how you can depend on Him when you feel like you want to (hit/kick/destroy/push/fight/mouth-off/etc).”

Words have power. With them we can pour out grace or we can spew condemnation. With them we can demolish fears or we can bind others with chains.

And when we fail to speak words marked with grace and truth — which we will later today — God speaks words marked with grace and truth over us. A priceless gift.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you experienced the power of words in your life?
 

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