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10.01.2013

31 Days: Motherhood as a Ministry

In my nearly twelve years of being in the Christian church, I have come to realize the importance of involving yourself in a ministry. As it should be! Christians are called to love and serve people. Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations. That happens through ministry! We build relationships that allow us to share the Gospel. We want people's lives changed and that happens through falling in love with Jesus! And this isn't a one way occurrence either. We grow in our faith alongside the people we serve. It's a perfect design, really. Christian ministry looks different for every single person. Some people lead churches in worship, teach in Sunday school, or serve as a high school youth leader.

For two years before Amelia was born and a year after, I did just that. The high school group was small when I first joined, so small that we met in the basement of our deacon's house. Our church had just hired a new youth pastor and I figured he could probably use some help. As a side note, God will rock your world if you join a ministry because so and so could probably use your help. To be completely honest, I was quite prideful and selfish in my first efforts as a youth leader. Thankfully, God is gracious. He equipped me in many ways as meaningful relationships began to grow within our group. Some of my deepest growth as a Christian was in those years of serving high school students.

As one can imagine, Amelia's arrival thoroughly changed my ability to keep serving like I had in the two years prior. My commitments needed some adjustment so I could figure out my new role as a mother. For the first six months of Amelia's life, I wasn't a huge part of youth group happenings {retreats, river floats, game nights, etc}. This was hard for me. Super duper hard. Over the course of a year, I had many conversations with our youth pastor, Jason, as I struggled through this change. Aside from my husband and our new marriage, that youth group was my life before Amelia came into our world. I had so much of my heart invested in the lives of those students and the ministry that served them. I couldn't stand to be so distant. 

A new school year started six months after Amelia was born; I was ready to dive back into youth ministry! I arranged to have a babysitter for Amelia so I could attend weekly meet-ups. I even brought her along to some events. After all, high school girls LOVE babies. I found a new way of serving that worked well for the next year and a half. Another school year came to a close as Amelia turned sixteen months old. Summer passed and I became pregnant with our second daughter, Elsie.

amelia's 18 week ultrasound // 2 month old amelia
family photos 2013 by anthem photography
The kick-off night for youth group was in the middle of my first trimester. I went but I was absolutely wiped out afterwards. A few weeks went by as I continued to be very sick and unable to attend youth group. Every week, I would text Jason telling him I couldn't be there. Somewhere in those weeks, a peace settled on me that I had never felt before in regards to me serving in youth ministry. 

I knew that my time was coming to a close.

Even though I knew this ending of a season was completely necessary and right, the peace I had in those first weeks started to come and go as I became increasingly disconnected from the group. Several of my closest friends were still youth leaders. My "kids" were moving on and growing with their new leaders. I felt so out of the loop.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had poured so much of myself into the youth group. But there needed to be a drastic alteration of where I was spending my time and energy! So in all the disconnect, the Lord began refocusing my heart. I was getting closer and closer to the birth of my second child. Amelia was entering the teachable twos {that's what we call the terrible twos}. Danny's job was constantly shifting which caused a lot of stress. He had an injury that required him to be on short term disability for four weeks. So much more of my time was spent just being at home, taking care of my people. They needed all of me. Thankfully, since I was out of youth ministry, I had that to give.

my littlest disciples ♥
Christian ministry looks different for every single person. Some people preach, lead bible studies, or take care of their families and raise children. My coming to this realization has been so difficult but really great for growth. If you're anything like me or any other human being for that matter, it feels nice to be appreciated or to be needed! During my years of serving in youth ministry, there were plenty of moments where I could see how God was using my life. It was great to feel so important.

By the way, please don't hear me saying this is why we do ministry. Instead, I'm just saying we're all humans who ebb and flow through humbleness and pride.

Fast forward to now and let me be honest, there isn't a ton of appreciation spoken in our home in regards to what I do as a stay-at-home-mom. I'm not mad about this. It's just the truth. Unlike my three years in youth group leadership, the majority of my productivity is unseen. It's just chores. I'm only changing diapers. Cooking dinner shouldn't be that hard. Raising tiny humans? C'mon, people have been doing it for years. This is all just fine. I'm thankful that nobody around me actually says this. But our culture certainly does. I feel it so often.

The reality is this: Amelia and Elsie are my littlest disciples. I am being made more like Christ so that I can reflect Him to them. This happens in our every day life of playing, cleaning, and being together. My reflecting Christ may or may not occur depending on how I respond to a giant mess made on the floor or Amelia biting Elsie. Do my discipline tactics show love and provide the right consequences so that my children can learn responsibility? Do I reflect Christ in the way I speak of others? As they grow up, will they see a wife who respects her husband? Are my children growing in their knowledge of Jesus? Are they seeing my love for the Lord and falling head over heels in love as well?

You know I could go on forever as I prove that motherhood is not doing just minuscule this or thats. From us, children learn how to do life well and in the name of Jesus. For a short time, my life was used so that a few high school students may grow in deeper relationship with God. I had the privilege of speaking wisdom, laughing hysterically, and shedding tears with some of the most Godly young men and women I've ever met. They're people I see and do life with still today. Many have gone off to college or started jobs, some have gotten married, others are traveling the world! Seasons have changed for all of us. There's no doubt that my life had impact as a youth leader. However, my impression as a mother matters more right now. From their birth to my death, I will be influencing my children. As Danny and I grow our family, we pray and pray that the generations after us would have deep, personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

While I didn't mean to write a novel, I hope you better understand the importance of you as a mom. What we do as mothers is crucial for the Kingdom of God. We are raising the next generation of Jesus followers! That's a big job that requires willing moms, a lot of coffee, and more of God than we could ever imagine. So let's be a little easier on ourselves. If serving here, there, and everywhere is making you feel crazy... maybe it's time to cut back. Slow down. Simplify. Start somewhere. Allow your family a weekend of no agenda. Stay home all day with your kids and do nothing but play! Dear friend, I'm writing to myself as well. This stuff is not easy to do. But I promise it will make motherhood easier.

Have you had to let go of other ministries to embrace the fullness of motherhood? Have you been able to stay involved with ministry outside the home the same way now that you have children? In any case, what changes have you had to make?


2 comments:

  1. I am going to enjoy reading this series, even though I'm a few days behind and it will take me a few days to catch up. This was an awesome reminder for me just when I needed it! I'm glad this is the topic you chose. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you're reading along! And ya know what, the posts have been reminders for ME too! Especially this first one. Every day I have to tell myself of the joy and gift it is that I get to serve the Lord by serving my children. I wasn't sure who would be reading but I've prayed that whoever does, that they would just be encouraged. :)

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