how to enjoy the messes, the hard days, and all the seasons of motherhood

Noah, my second son turns 8 tomorrow. It's so weird how fast it happens- the days when they are 2 seem to drag on forever, but once they hit 4 or 5 you start to wonder where a whole year went. How do the days seem so long and the years so short?

it seems like yesterday they were this big... noah and elijah with their daddy in 2008
My children's birthdays always make me feel a little bit sad. I'm excited for them to grow up- I love seeing them learn and get bigger {and more independent!}, but at the same time it's bittersweet because I know it won't be too long before they will be leaving to start their own lives.

Each season is so much shorter than I even realize.

I just don't want to mess up this season of motherhood, you know? I want to give it my very best, and yet I fail at being a good mama and wife all the time. I know this is human, this is what it is to live in flesh, yet my heart still desires to be better- to love them more, to be a sweeter mama, to be less busy and more aware of their needs before they even ask. Before it's too late and they're all grown.

I want to be a good wife while I'm still young. When I turn 67, I want to look back and say I didn't do too badly when I was 30. :)

It's so much easier to put things in perspective when you think of the big picture of years...but I think my main problem is that I'm a little short-sighted during the days.

I so often forget that every little choice I make each day will add up to the decisions I made for the years.

Will my children remember a mama who really harped on them for every mess they made and how they should do better? Or will they remember a kind mama who knew how to keep a house clean and taught them well how to do the same?

The difference of those two is in how I teach them with my words and actions. There's nothing wrong with a mama keeping her house clean and teaching her children to do the same, but how their mama reacts to them makes all the difference in the world.

But how do I love this life? How do I enjoy the messes and the interruptions instead of wanting them to be over? How do I react to them with kindness and love? I want these to be the good days, the good months, the great years. They might be my only ones, after all. I don't want to see each day as another one I have to get through.

I want God to remind me of how fleeting this life is so that I will see the big picture more often. I love what is written in the Psalms- it's what my heart is crying for right now:

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
Psalm 39:4

I need the Lord's help on every level, I really do. I make a lot of mistakes. I sin constantly, and without Him I will never get this. I don't know how to do it without Him- my heart needs Him to give me wisdom. How do I interact with these people I live with so that our lives are joyful and sweet instead of stressed and irritated? I'm full of flesh and they are too. I'm tired at the end of the day, and they are too. We are sinners, all of us.

It only makes sense to ask God for help... is there any way to get it right other than to go to the Creator of marriage and motherhood Himself?

This is what He taught us through His word- here's one way we can love this life and see good days on this earth as believers in Christ. It in our actions and words- we are called to bless:

1 Peter 3:8Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

For some reason it is so easy to only think of those verses in terms of dealing with outsiders, but I want to have sympathy, a tender heart, a humble mind, and brotherly love when it comes to my family too. Why is that always so much harder??

We won't be less accountable to do those things with our family- instead I think we might be more accountable because we've been given the chance to do what is right over and over again.

But how does it work when it comes to my husband or children?

I want to have a humble mind when it comes to disagreeing with my husband. Most of our arguments come from when I pridefully insist my way or what I know is right. Even if it is, am I being humble by firing back strong words of how wrong he is? I mess up here all.the.time.

And how many times do I miss ministering to the hearts of my children because my own heart is not tender- it's hard toward their misbehavior, and I want them to change right now. How often would a tender heart help me teach them how to do things the right way? Or how they are to react when mistreated?

My heart needs help- I can't react with humbleness, or with a tender heart, or in peace, unless God gives me His Spirit to do it with. My nature tells me that much- oh, how instantly I can react wrongly without even a second thought! Words roll off my tongue faster than should be possible.

But my God knows this about me - and He has promised to give me a new heart that is like His:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

He already knew before I was ever born that I would need heart surgery, and He provided a way for me- and all of us- to have His Spirit through the sacrifice of His Son. Isn't that amazing? He already knew I would fail Him- that I would need His heart! 

I don't have to do this daily life on my own. I don't have to be discouraged every day because I fail so stinking constantly. My God has won this battle, and His promises do not fail. EVER.

Remember verse 12 above? The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous {who are only made so because of Him}, and His ears are open to their prayer.

He won't leave us stranded. When we cry out to Him for help, he HEARS us!! He is constantly watching us, and listening for those who are His.  Isn't that incredible?

We are called to bless instead of curse- to be humble, to be tenderhearted, to be in unity with everyone, including our family, and we can do it because of what Christ did for us first. He was cursed and didn't return the curses, insulted and beaten without cause for our sake, and even defeated death so that we could stand with His power, and in His presence.

Our Jesus took it all on Himself, so that we could become His righteous, chosen people.

I don't understand it. I don't know why He loves us so much. But we are His treasure, His chosen ones, and we are called to live like it! We are called to be a light and react with humbleness because He did. And we can do it because He did it for us!!

We are not alone- He knows our weaknesses. He knows how shoes left out everywhere {!} grate my nerves on a daily basis, but He wants me to cry out to Him and seek peace with my family. He wants me to be humble enough to reach down and pick up the shoes 50,000 times so that I have to draw from His strength and not my own. He is pruning my old heart each time to look more like His new one, because He loves me and he wants me to bear His fruit.

Those are my spiritual sacrifices to Him- giving up my will for His. To serve instead of being served. To bless when I feel like cursing. He wants my heart to live for Him, and to love others more than myself.

It sounds impossible, but I know my God can do it. He has asked me to do it, and He has given me the power to do it through Him. He has promised me He will not leave me or forsake me, and that He will give me the strength I need.

Oh, I want to number my days. I want to live in wisdom. I want to know that if I were going to meet Jesus tomorrow morning, I would be happy with the way I lived in Him today. I want to know that if this was my last week- last year- on this earth, that my family would remember a girl who loved Jesus more than anything, and a girl who loved and gave up herself for them on a daily basis.

I want those thousands of little daily choices to add up to one obvious decision- that girl lived for Jesus alone and not for herself.

Please let it be so, Jesus. Holy Spirit, please teach me to number my days so that I can have wisdom today. Remind me of how fleeting this season is. Of how fleeting I am.

Oh Jesus, please let my life be for you and not myself. Forgive my hard heart, make me new, give me a clean and pure heart through your Son so that I can stand before you blameless and whole. I know you have already done the work- please change my heart to be more and more like yours, and make every day I have with these children and this husband count, Lord Jesus. Please don't let me get in the way with my sinful desires. Please overcome my flesh and give me a new spirit that is humble and full of peace.


Platinum Rose said...

Thank you for sharing your heart on this! It helped a lot to read this today, dealing with the toddler tantrum days! You so beautifully reminded me of how to keep my own reactions in check. Blessings to you!

MariLynn said...

Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom today. My oldest is planning on getting married this summer. I look at moms with little kids and I want to go back and have my "young" kids again. Praying that you will be able to live out this advise. I am praying that I too can follow it as I enter this new season of motherhood.

Anonymous said...

So, so good-- and true. Thanks so much for the reminder . . . these days are fleeting: my oldest is 16 now, and it's hitting me like never before. I'm so thankful for the grace God gives in those moments when I feel awash with His goodness and mercy and am able to respond in kind.

Anonymous said...

SO needed to read this today! Thankful God puts other people in our lives to remind us of Him! Thank you!

Natalie said...

Wonderful post. I truly feel you and your prayer is my prayer! Thanks for being so REAL!!

Anonymous said...

This is my heart every single day and you said it so, so well. It'shard to resist sin and be the Mama we want to be. I was reading this morning about delighting in my weakness so God can be exalted. He never said it would be easy but He sure will be right there with us. He is my portion....and He is MORE than enough!

CaveGurl said...

Thank you for sharing this today! This is exactly where I am at today. Thank you so much for including your prayer, it is my prayer too! I am so blessed and thankful God put your post on my radar today! I'm praying for you and all Mom's struggling to live as God has called us. ((hugs))

mwimp said...

it's so true no matter what we are going thru with Him we will make it and enjoy it. right now my heart is hurting as i found out we weren't chosen for a group of siblings that I'd already feel in luv with for adoption. but i know that His plan is better than any we can imagine or make. and for that I know He will get us thru this, and that our perfect for us children are out there and we are waiting on them. without Him i would question that if my heart hurts this much how would i EVER be able to do foster care when we may have to give them back. thank you so much mandy!

MJB said...

God Bless You Mandy & Your Family!! Well Said, and I believe you & every word you said!!Love You All!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article. All I could do is cry the entire time, barely able to read it. I feel like this all the time especially right now while my husband is deployed. What a blessing to read this and know others feel the same exact way. It seems I've not been able to feel anything or read my bible or even pray. My heart feels so hard. I didn't feel this way until about 2 weeks ago. I know God knows my heart, but he also knows what I need to do and is waiting for me to do it. Please pray for me as you read this. Thanks again for sharing...

JoyBelle said...

This has been on my heart a lot lately. Especially being hormonal and fatigued from pregnancy. Thank you for keeping it real. We all need to hear this and remind ourselves from time-to-time (for me it seems I need to remind myself every single solitary day).

sophie said...

Thank you Mandy! It's soooo good to read that! And what you say is so true!( How do the days seem so long and the years so short? Ha!)
And I thank God for making me discover your blog, so rewarding (or enriching? What is right word? Google translate once enriching and once rewarding!!!)

kelli@eatprayreadlove. said...

yes. exactly this.

Anonymous said...

This ministered to me so much! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you for being transparent with us, your sisters in Christ. God bless you.
-Hannah H

Mandy said...

oh thank you! I hope your day was better! :) Thank you for your encouragement! :D

Mandy said...

thank you for praying and sharing your wisdom, MariLynn!! :D

Mandy said...

I love it- delighting in our WEAKNESS- such a God thing!! :D He IS more than enough, isn't he? :DD

Mandy said...

oh thank you, girlie! Praying for you as well! We are in this together!! :D much love!

Mandy said...

oh, I'm sorry, Michelle! I am so glad you are leaning on Him when it isn't easy!! So proud of you! :D much love to you!

Mandy said...

oh, it sounds like you do have a plate full, friend! I'm so sorry! I am so thrilled to hear your heart for Him even when it's hard! I'm praying for you!

Mandy said...

oh thank you Sophie! both words are good and encouraging! :D thank you!

Mandy said...

oh, I know what you're feeling, girlie! I am so thankful for you reminding me I'm not alone either! :D thank you!

Mandy said...

thank you for encouraging me today, Hannah! I am so glad we get to do this together! :) The Lord bless you as well! :D

Mandy said...

Love you, friend! :)

Lis said...

This is so beautiful. I feel I need to read it every day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This whole concept that you wrote about has been on my heart the past couple of weeks, but I couldn't find the right words for it and it was just a glimpse. So many nights I feel like I'm in "survival mode" and just want to make it to BabyLove's bedtime that I forget to seek Jesus for strength during his 2 year old moments and to stop and enjoy my babe while he is still young. Thank you sooooo much for reminding me that Jesus helps us through these difficult times as mothers and he fills in for us when we fail. Thank you!

Lauren - Ambitious Stitches said...

I just got home from a really tough ride into town with my husband and 3 kids. The baby screamed the whole way. My 7-year-old cried and threw tantrums every 5 minutes for a bunch of reasons. My 4-year-old was disagreeable simply because his big sister was. I was not tender-hearted towards them and their reactions towards my stone heart made me angrier. I really, really needed to read this today. Failing daily is so frustrating and lonely, but I need to keep reminding myself that no matter how bad it seems, God sees me and loves me and has already promised to give me strength. Thank you so much for this post!

Anonymous said...

Love this! I so need this inspiration daily to stay focused on the mother and wife I want to be for my husband and 3 girls(twin 4 year olds and a 4 month old) i have the same fears and worries about failing as a mother and (ruining) my girls with my quick responses and lack of patience. Thank you for telling the truth and realities of being mama!! :)

Heather McEntire said...

I just started following your blog on Facebook, and I can't even express how much I needed to be reminded of this TODAY. Thank you so much for putting thought into this - I have 3 small girls and I know it's not easy to talk about how frustrating life can be. I have such a struggle for patience every day! I'm humbled by your gentle words of wisdom.

Erin H. said...

I needed this so much right now!! I am in the season of 3 children under 4 yrs old, and oh, I sm do weary and beat. This too shall pass but I need yo be in the here and now and realize yhsg the choices I make today do matter :)

Anonymous said...

Thank You So Much for writing this! I needed to read this today, right now!

Melissa said...

I found this through fb. Beautiful post full of grace and truth! Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you and yours!

Anonymous said...