Archives for January 2012

Motherhood is the most wonderful, fulfilling thing in the world. . . and other myths

First, I want to say that motherhood IS wonderful. And at times, incredibly fulfilling. It is one of the most precious things this side of heaven. But let’s be honest. It’s hard. REALLY hard.

REALLY . . .

REALLY . . .

REALLY . . .

HARD.

I used to pride myself in being an emotionally stable, competent, confident, godly woman. Since Shepherd came into my life, I break down into tears at least once a week, have a constantly nagging sense that I know nothing at all, fear I’m the most incapable woman on the planet for this job, and am routinely amazed (not in a good way) at the sinful thoughts and attitudes that are present in my heart. For me, motherhood has been a much more agonizing journey to Christ-like selflessness that I ever imagined. It’s been good. But did I mention that it’s also been hard? (Note: Not looking for sympathy or advice here – just keepin’ it real!)

I had one of “those days” last week. You know, when the only word you can think of to describe your child is “annoying”; when it feels like your house will NEVER be clean and organized; when all of your friends and potential play-dates have other plans; when your husband unexpectantly has to work late (again); when you look in the mirror and find 4,789 things you’d like to change about yourself (but can’t even find the time or energy  to tend to your severely neglected toenails); when you look in the pantry and [gasp!] you are out of coffee (oh the pain, the misery!!!); etc.. Ever had one of “those days?” If not, can I come live with you?

When I was done with my emotional breakdown that night, I looked at Greg and said, “I wish I was one of those women who found motherhood more fulfilling.  What am I doing wrong? What am I missing?”

My husband is smart enough to know that I didn’t want an answer to that question – I just wanted to be heard. And I’m sure he was more-than-happy not to give one.  But it’s something I think about a lot. A question I actually would like to solve. One that I’ve been seeking the Lord about lately. I don’t claim to have found an answer, but I have been reminded of some really important truths that I pray will encourage you as much as they encourage me:

  • No earthly thing is supposed to fulfill us completely.

No human being has arms long enough to reach our deepest needs. No relationship can satisfy our hearts entirely. Those days when motherhood feels utterly unfulfilling are days that point to the reality that there is only one relationship that truly satisfies and fulfills. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst” (John. 6:35). No one or nothing else can make that claim! To look to my role as a mom to fill me to overflowing with an abiding sense of joy and satisfaction is to seek from it that which can only be found in Christ. And last time I checked, that is pretty much the definition of idolatry. Perhaps the simplest explanation as to why I don’t always feel fulfilled by motherhood is that I’m not supposed to.

  • Our holiness is of much greater value than our happiness.

Shepherd is not just my love, my little dude, my buddy, my first-born – he’s a tool in the hands of the Master Sculptor who is shaping, molding, and (at times) violently chiseling me into a more beautiful reflection of Jesus. The temper tantrums, humiliating public meltdowns, stubborn disobedience, entire bowls of cereal and milk dumped on the floor, refusals to use the potty, teething-related demon possession grumpiness, ridiculous pleadings for independence (“No mom! I do it myself!), beads stuck in the nose at the worst possible time, poop rubbed in the carpet, and all the other stuff that can turn an ordinary day into one of “those days” . . .  it’s all good-old-fashioned sanctification girlfriend!

By “sanctification,” I mean that process of God changing us into who He desires for us to be. Sometimes He uses major life events to cultivate character, but more-often-than-not He uses the little things (such as “those days”) to make us more and more like Jesus. You and I can rejoice in knowing that if it doesn’t kill us (haha!), it truly will make us stronger, more dependent on the Lord, and more surrendered to His will.

I once heard that ANYTHING that makes us more aware of our need for Jesus is a blessing. “Those days” of motherhood sure do that for me, and so I will choose to count them all joy even when I’m not feelin’ it (James 1:2-4). A happy mommy is great, but a holy mommy is far greater. They often co-exist, but once-in-a-while you have to sacrifice one to get the other.

  • Sin hinders our capacity to enjoy motherhood to the fullest.

At the root of almost every one of “those days” I’ve had as a mom is an ugly combo-pack of selfishness, ingratitude, and laziness. (Which happens to be a great recipe for a full-blown pity party.) Why? Well, since Shep has come along I have more play dates than date-dates; the Food Network and HGTV have been replaced with Barney and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; leisurely lunching with girlfriends is a distant memory; I now pick a mall based on the quality of the play area rather than the quality of the Macy’s; the restaurant choice is now more determined by the presence of macaroni and cheese on the kid’s menu than the taste of the food; and “sleeping in” has no relevance in my life anymore. Sometimes I flat out don’t want to spend my morning at the park or my afternoon “playing trucks.” And to be really honest, I rather sit and watch paint dry than rehearse (for the millionth time) the difference between a triangle and a square, count to twenty, or review the primary colors.

Here’s what I’m getting at: Motherhood is a journey to selflessness like no other. It requires us to demote (and at times even put to death) our own desires and interests for the sake of a child or children who are not yet able and may never be willing to sincerely thank or applaud our sacrifice. And we do this not just once, but over and over again, day after day, year after year. And let me tell ya – as long as sin abides in us, that will be a LOOOONNNNGGGG, hard road to walk. If we aren’t diligent to weed it out, sin can make motherhood absolutely miserable.

Um, Aprile, I thought this was supposed to be encouraging!?” Oh, it is! You see, God has provided the perfect remedy for our sin. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we can confess the contents of our sin-laden hearts and rest in knowing that He forgives ; that His mercies are new each day (praise God for do-overs!); and that through His Spirit we can possess selfless, grateful, servant attitudes even when another one of “those days” comes along ( 1 John 1:9, Lam. 3:23; Gal. 5:16). There is great hope for weary, grumpy, self-centered mommies in the transforming message of the gospel! And for that, I am DEEPLY grateful!

So, the next time you have one of “those days” and start beating yourself up for not being the “Super-mom” who loves to spend every waking moment with her children and never, ever fanaticizes about running away to a remote, kid-free island where she can watch endless hours of HGTV, eat at fancy restaurants, and read an ENTIRE book without interruption – STOP IT!

First of all, “super-mom” is a figment of your imagination. (Unless, of course, you know any moms who have achieved sinless perfection. NOT!)

Second, that kid-free island fantasy is ENTIRELY normal. (Right? Please tell me it’s normal!)

And third, motherhood – as amazing and wonderful as it can be – isn’t supposed to fill you up. That’s Jesus’ job.

So pull the plug on that pity party, open your heart before the Lord, and soak in some truth!

And don’t forget – “those days” don’t last forever!

And the winners are . . . .

. . . Yolanda and Tracy Long!

Congradulations ladies! Since we go to the same church and all, I have your addresses. The books should arrive Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks to all of you who left a comment here or on Facebook. They got me really excited about starting this.

Can’t wait to read this book with you!!!

It’s Book Club Time!!! (pssst . . . don’t miss the book giveaway!)

Here’s the low-down on the FIRST EVER Marinate Blog Book Club:

The Book

Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible and what He Wants to Do with You

By John MacArthur

By it here!

How It’s Going to Work

I have to be honest – this is completely uncharted territory for me! But here’s my “vision” for this thing. However, this being the first go around, I’m sure there will be some tweaking. Your feedback is always appreciated!

  • You will read the assigned chapter, underline/highlight some things, and answer some very general “marinate” questions about what you have learned and how you plan on applying it by the video date. (Questions listed below.)
  • Every Monday afternoon starting on January 16th (see the schedule below) I will post a video discussing the assigned chapter of the book. In the videos, I will share the things that stood out to me, how I plan on applying them, and issue a challenge to you based on the reading from the week.
  • That day (or whenever you get around to watching the video) you will use the comment section of the blog and/or the Marinate Bible Study Facebook page to interact with me and each other. You can post questions, comments, thoughts, your favorite quotes from the reading, etc. This is optional, of course. Feel free to do this book club in complete and total secrecy if that’s your preference. : )
  • Also, I am hoping you will send me your thoughts, insights, and questions via e-mail as you are reading so that I can talk about them in the videos. Send them to aprile@aprilesweers.com and write “book club” in the subject line. You can send them my way all the way up to the Saturday before the Monday discussion. Please, please, please send me your thoughts!!!

Following the Blog

Another confession: I am blog ignorant. Meaning, I don’t quite understand the ins and outs of subscribing to blogs. I do know, however, that when you log onto www.marinateblog.com, you should see a little “follow” tab at the very bottom right of the home page. If you click on that, it will pop up and allow you to enter your e-mail address. When you do, you will receive an e-mail every time I post something to the blog. This will help ensure you don’t miss anything.

I will also let you know of anything new via the Marinate Bible Study FB page.

The Reading/Video Schedule

I know that most, if not all of you are very busy ladies. And many of you are taking in-depth Bible study classes on top of this. My desire is for this book club to be a light, fun, easy, and LIFE IMPACTING oasis in your life. So, we are going to take it pretty slow. And know that if you get behind for whatever reason, the videos will stay archived on the blog, so you can relax and do this at your own pace. This book club is a NO STRESS ZONE! Let’s say it out loud toegther: NO . . .STRESS . . .ZONE. Very good!

January 16 – Preface and Introduction

January 23 – Chapter 1, Eve: Mother of All Living

January 30 – Chapter 2, Sarah: Hoping Against Hope

February 6 – Chapter 3, Rahab: A Horrible Life Redeemed

February 13 – Chapter 4, Ruth: Loyalty and Love

February 20 – Chapter 5, Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace

February 27 – Chapter 6, Mary: Blessed Among Women

March 5 – Chapter 7, Anna: The Faithful Witness

March 12 – Chapter 8, The Samaritan Woman: Finding the Water of Life

March 19 – Chapter 9, Martha and Mary: Working and Worshipping

March 26 – Chapter 10, Mary Magdalene: Delivered from Darkness

April 2 – Chapter 11, Lydia: A Hospitable Heart Opened, the Epilogue, and Wrap-up

“Marinate” Questions

If you have the newest paperback edition, there is a study guide starting on page203. I encourage you to work through these questions. However, to keep it super simple, I am assigning you only three general questions to think through and help you marinate in the truths of each chapter. (You may want to buy a cheap notebook for all your Book Club musings.) Here they are:

  •  What truth (or truths) from the chapter touched your heart and/or challenged your thinking the most?
  • What are you doing about it? In other words, how are you intentionally applying this truth to your everyday life?
  • What Christ-exalting fruit are you praying will be produced in your life or are already seeing in your life as a result?

That’s it! Three questions! You can do this!!!

Remember, I want your answers (along with any other thoughts or questions) to show up in my inbox! By doing so, you can help make the videos much more interesting and interactive!

Can’t Afford a Book

Money is tight these days. If you can’t afford the book but really want to participate in the book club, shoot me an e-mail and I will make sure you get one.

Book Giveaway!

Wait! Don’t go! You have a chance to win a free copy of the book! Just post a comment regarding ANYTHING about the Book Club (Examples: “Can’t wait!”, “Love John MacArthur!”, “The book looks really good.”) either here on the blog or on the Marinate Bible Study Facebook page and I will randomly select two ladies and have the book shipped to your home. Already have your book? Win one for a friend!

This giveaway will close at 5:00 p.m. Friday, January 6th.

If you have any questions, let me know. Can’t wait to read with you!!!

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