I'm a single mom and have to work to keep food on the table. I'm exhausted by the time I pick up my kids at daycare, and I don't feel I'm giving my two girls—two and five—much quality time. Their dad is pretty much out of the picture. Any suggestions on how to be a better mom and lose the guilt?
Within your last question is the answer to the first: Lose the guilt. Easier said than done, I know. But try this approach—take a look at your inadequacy from God's perspective. He says to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness" (NLT).
I've seen this happen repeatedly: When I've reached the end of my rope, that's when the Lord steps in and makes the difference. You can trust he'll do the same for you in your situation.
God even specifically addresses you in his Word. In Isaiah 54:5-6, he says, "For your Maker is your husband … The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit." To your daughters he calls himself "a father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). God promises to be all that you and your precious little girls need.
A verse I hold tightly when I'm feeling like a failure as a mother is Isaiah 54:13, "All your [children] will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace." Isn't it comforting to remember it isn't all up to us? First and foremost, our babies are God's children, and he loves them even more than we do.
With this understanding of God's desire and ability to take what you have to give as a mom and make it sufficient, perhaps you'll be able to say with the apostle Paul: "So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT).
New Kids on the Block
My family just moved and my two children—a 7-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl—are having difficulty adjusting to a new neighborhood and school. We left behind a great church and lots of close friends and family, so it's been difficult for me as well. What is the best way to help my kids start to feel at home?
We recently moved to Texas from California, and my three kids were not thrilled about this transition. They left a church they'd attended all their lives and friends they'd played alongside in their playpens. I discovered the best way I could help my children in this move was by specifically praying God would handpick their new friends.
Surprisingly, it took our very outgoing son, Tucker, longer than any of us expected to make friends. I realized Tucker's lack of friends also meant he hadn't made the wrong friends. I'd rather he wait a little longer for the right friend than make a buddy sooner who might get him headed in a wrong direction.
Now let's talk about you. I'm guessing you've probably already told your children that to make friends, they have to be friendly. You must do the same thing. If you meet a woman in church whom you would like to get to know, then invite her out for coffee.
After a few lonely months in Texas, I finally had to take my own advice. It was scary inviting "strange" women over to my house for lunch, but only the first time. After that, they were friends!
It takes time to develop friendships. In the meantime, take advantage of this unique season. Soon enough you'll be pulled in a million directions—lessons, practices, church activities, and sleepovers. Invest in this gift of time by strengthening your closest bonds first. It's so easy to look outside our family for friends when the relationships that last the longest are living under your own roof.
Bad Language Blues
My 12-year-old son's started to use a few swear words he's learned from other kids at school. While he doesn't use it around me, I've caught him a few times using this language when he's had his buddies over to play. Help!
The fact that your son doesn't swear around you is to be commended, but he's obviously missed the point of why it's actually more important that he watch his mouth around his buddies.
Perhaps you could give your son a visual picture of why it's important to keep our words clean. Take two empty glasses and fill one with tap water and the other with water from the toilet bowl.
Now empty them both and refill them with juice or soda. Offer them to your son and ask him to choose which one he prefers to drink. He may think it's cute to choose the glass the toilet water was in, but if you press him to drink it, I assure you he'll back down and choose the cleaner glass.
Explain to your son how we've been given the awesome privilege of sharing the Living Water of Jesus with a dry, thirsty world. Tragically, if our mouths have been filled with "potty talk," then those who need refreshing the most probably will reject what we offer, no matter how life-giving it is.
The Bible says in Proverbs 15:26 that "The Lord … delights in pure words." Remind your son that using swear words to seek his friends' approval can't compare with the thrill of making God happy by keeping our words pure.
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