Letters to a Young Mother
Encouragement for Mothers
I have always loved to write, and in my younger years I filled book after book with the mundane uneventful details of my life. It’s been excellent for me to see how I’ve grown over the years. As I considered how to be an encouragement to young mothers, I wondered what kind of encouragement I might have needed 30 years ago. So I went into my storage closet and pulled out my very first journals. I found a book I labeled “Volume 1 – 1985-1988” and began reading. Below you’ll find words of encouragement that I’m writing to my younger self. I pray it will bless you and help you as you grow in Christ.
On This Page
- I Wish I Was a Better Mother
- It Will Be All Right
- Never Alone
- Whatever You Do
- What Do My Days Look Like to God?
I Wish I was a Better Mother
Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the Children Come to Me . . .”
Micah 6:8 – “ . . . act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before your God.”
Snippet from a Journal entry from March 17, 1989 -
“I am not a good Mom, but I try . . .”
That’s what I felt like 26 years ago . . . My children were ages eight, almost four and almost two. At the time my life was crashing in on me. My dad had left my mom just eighteen months before, and finances were tight. We had just bought a house and, because housekeeping has never been my forte, one can assume I was having a terrible time keeping up with the laundry, the cooking and the cleaning. Fortunately, I was able to stay at home with the girls, even though it meant we ate a lot of ground beef and cereal.
Looking back, I wonder why I thought I wasn’t a good mom, and I wonder how many others out there are like the young me. How many women think because the house isn’t perfect and they yell more than they’d like, they don’t have what it takes to be a parent? Just in case you’re wondering, let me give you the short list of my parenting faux pas:
- Each of my younger two children fell on their heads while climbing when I was nearby at least once.
- When my husband was working, we always ate macaroni or ramen noodles.
- We had “fend for yourself” day at least once a week. That means everyone gets whatever they want to eat out of the refrigerator (leftovers, fresh ramen noodles, cereal, etc.), everyone prepares their own food, and we gather at the table or in front of the television to eat it.
- None of my children were in sports or dance and seldom could we afford music lessons.
- I refused to let my kids be in more than one extra-curricular activity at a time outside of church because I wanted to have a life too.
- My kids were tardy for school at least once every nine weeks because I slept in.
- When the oldest was thirteen they came and told me they would start packing their own lunch because they knew it was hard for me to get out of bed.
- I once forgot that my teenager was at a football game. When she called to ask me to pick her up, I asked where she was. (and that wasn’t the first time I forgot to go pick someone up)
So, now that you’ve read my honest list, which is not by any means exhaustive, some of you are thinking, “She was a terrible mother,” while the rest of you are counting how many of those things you’ve done or are breathing a sigh of relief that you aren’t alone.
Now, almost 30 years since that journal entry, I realize that I was comparing myself to other mothers or my expectations of the perfect mother instead of looking to scripture to set the bar. The Bible doesn’t really give a lot of instruction on raising children. Proverbs 22 tells us to train them in the way they should go, and Deuteronomy 4 instructed the Israelites to make sure their children knew about all the things God had done for them through the years. Of course there is the highly controversial Proverbs 13 promoting corporal punishment when necessary, and Exodus has more than one mandate for older children who talk back or are disrespectful.
However, I think the best thing I ever did for my children was to follow these two verses: Matthew 19:14 says, “Let the children come to me . . .” and Micah 6:8 which says to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God.” As I raised my girls, I tried my best to always bring them to Jesus and to walk humbly myself before God in such a way that they could see it.
When we, as mothers, consistently put our children in a place where they can “come to Jesus,” we are giving them the best gift possible. I tried to put as many Jesus loving adults into their lives as I could. Between Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and those ladies who just became extra “grandmas” to my girls, they had many opportunities to see Jesus.
Additionally, as much as I humanly could, I tried to be “just.” Often that meant I had to control my temper or see their side of the situation. As I grew and learned to “love mercy” more, I was able to put that into play even as I disciplined them. And I hope my outward attempts at living out my faith in a real way influenced them and helped them to see how to “walk humbly before God.”
I didn’t get a lot right raising my kids, but looking back, I know that putting them into Jesus’ hands and trusting Him to take care of them was really all that was needed. My girls are all grown up now. Two of them have children of their own, and the third takes care of at least 100 pre-teens 180 days every year. All three have a relationship with Christ, and are living out their faith.
So, if you’re worried that you’re not really a very good Mom, don’t sweat it. If you are teaching your children to love Jesus, you are getting more right than wrong, and Christ will take care of the rest!
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It Will Be All Right
No weapon forged against you will stand . . .
This is the future for my servants
Your victory comes from me
As I read through my first journal, I found a recurring theme. Every entry revealed some sort of life problem. Sometimes it was a marriage issue, other times I wrote about one of the girls being sick or misbehaving. I struggled with some depression during those early years, but even with those dark clouds hanging over me, nearly every post ended with, “It will all work out.”
That journal saw me through a time of troubled marriage, a child with meningitis, my parents splitting up and more. Many of the things that I thought were life altering, had been forgotten. In fact as I read about those I’d forgotten, it felt like I might have been reading someone else’s diary. But that’s definitely my book and my handwriting.
As I read that optimistic final statement over and over, I smiled to think that it had indeed “worked out.” And if I had a word to share with my former self it would be a reminder of Isaiah’s prophecy that “no weapon forged against me will stand.” I would tell the young Lynne and all mothers everywhere, “it will be all right.” It might not be tomorrow, and it may not turn out the way you expected (my journal is proof of that), but for the servants of God, there is victory.
During the years of that first journal, I never dreamt I’d end up a pastor’s wife writing Bible Studies, devotions and curriculum. It was all I could do to get all of us out the door on Sunday morning for church! I spent a year telling Jesus that I was only going to church to teach my children they should be in church because I certainly wasn’t getting anything out of it. By the time I worried about the girls sitting still and not making any noise, with the youngest never sitting still, church services could not be labeled “worship.” But now “it’s all right” because all three of my girls have their own relationship with Jesus and are raising their children to know Him. Victory comes from our Heavenly Father.
So, today if you feel spent, if you feel like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, remember that those weapons the enemy has forged against you will not stand. God will crush them! It may take some time. There may even be a lesson you’ll need to learn before your Creator banishes them. But it’s a promise to His servants. He’s got our back. He will give us the victory. And everything will be all right.
Whatever You Do
Colossians 3:17 & 23
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. . . . [Yes,] whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for [your family].
“I get so tired of trying to decide what to cook for dinner. I’d just like some alone time with my husband. A week would be nice, but that won’t happen for at least eighteen years . . .”
Are those words that you might find in your journal? I think every mother feels like that from time to time. Even when we do get weeks alone with our spouse, often the mundane tasks that come with being a wife get tiresome.
Trying to decide what to cook, sorting laundry, driving children here and there, all of these things and more can make a young mother or even a grandmother feel discouraged and under-appreciated. As my children were growing, I often felt as though there was so much more I could be doing than just working to be more creative with the ground beef.
When my children were growing, I often needed Paul’s reminder from Colossians. And if I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say, I still need to hear those words from time to time. Right now I’m working on some new curriculum, and when those everyday chores like laundry or grocery shopping take me away from it, I can’t help but think, “Is this really more important?”
Truth is, it might not be “more important.” However, there are some things that just have to be done. Kids have to be fed, clothes have to be washed. Groceries have to be kept stocked, and, like it or not, the bathroom has to have a good cleaning at least once in a while. And the Bible tells us to do all those things like we’re doing them for God.
It’s not just the volunteers at the church who are working for the Lord, it’s the mom who scrubs the floor in the joy of the Lord and shows her children that even when we’re doing things we don’t enjoy, we can praise God. And while our Heavenly Father appreciates it when you sing in the choir or teach a Sunday School class, we’re really doing His will when “whatever we do” is in His name.
I write today to remind moms everywhere that when you are in the kitchen, you are working for the Lord. The times you help with homework and the errands you run for your family are really time spent working for Christ.
It’s easy to become discouraged when no one even notices that the refrigerator doesn’t smell anymore and the clothes we just washed and folded have been strung all over the floor. In fact, I believe God understands our frustration when the dirty footprints we just scrubbed up seemed to have reappeared while we put the mop away. But never forget that when it seems like no one notices, there is One who does. The One who sits in heaven sees you taking care of “His” precious children. He smiled when you praised Him quietly instead of getting angry. Your heavenly Father appreciates everything you are doing. So don’t do it for you kids or your husband. Just do it for the One who really matters.
[Jesus replied,] “You will leave me all alone.
Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32b
The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone,
for I always do what pleases him.” John 8:29
Sometimes as young Christian mothers we feel so alone. Whether we stay at home and have only children to talk to all day or we work outside the home and are sometimes excluded because of our faith, it’s often easy to feel alone. In fact, there are days when surrounded by people, included in every activity, laughing at good clean fun we will still feel alone. I think it’s a phenomena that every mother experiences, and as I read Jesus’ words, I believe it’s a feeling He was familiar with.
It’s easy to feel alone when everything seems to be crashing in, when friends try hard to be there for you, but just don’t seem to grasp the reality of the situation. When, like Jesus, all you can see before you is trial with no relief in sight, it’s easy to feel alone.
Unfortunately, that feeling of loneliness isn’t isolated to the worst days known to mankind, even when life is really going pretty good, we can still feel abandoned. When our husbands are working too many hours then going to the gym or hanging out with friends after work, we often feel alone even when hanging out with our friends. When the hormones are going crazy and sleep is a precious commodity, the loneliness feels as real as the frying pan in the morning no matter how many people call or visit.
It’s during those days that I need reminded of Jesus’ words in John. At least twice He told His disciples, “I don’t feel alone because I know my Father is with me.” I pray that most moms don’t need as many years as I did to find the secret to overcoming loneliness. You see, in these same chapters of John, we hear Jesus telling his disciples about the Holy Spirit. He promised to send His Spirit to comfort us, teach us, encourage us and walk with us. It’s the Holy Spirit living inside of me that allows me to “feel” as though “my Father is with me.”
As I mentioned it took me years to discover this mystery of scripture, and even more to allow it to permeate my being so I never feel alone. I pray that you’ll find this comfort quickly, but until you do I encourage you to put these words of Christ someplace where you’ll see them daily. Remind yourself often, “I am never alone because I know that my Father is with me.” Even on the days when you don’t “feel” like Jesus is near, use these verses to remind yourself that our feelings are not always facts.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be left alone. He understands what it means to be deserted by friends and be misunderstood by those who love you most. He has walked where we are walking, and He loves us! And He promises never to leave us alone. (God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5)
What Do My Days Look Like to God?
Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
. . . their days are like a fleeting shadow.
The kids are into everything, I yell more than I want to. I just need some peace. My quiet well-behaved daughter is getting so mouthy. These statements and more come out of the mouths of Christian mothers every day. Moments, even days, of frustration tend to make us beat ourselves up. Very few weeks pass without nearly every mom wishing they could do a better job.
Today as I read my old journals, I was amazed at the things that concerned me 30 years ago that I don’t even remember today. I smiled as I was reminded of those events that were a source of many tears and self-condemnation. The old saying, “This too shall pass” was at the forefront of my mind along with this verse from the Psalms. My days are like a fleeting shadow. Like Martha, as a young mother I was too often “worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41) when so few things were needed. Perhaps that’s why grandparents are often able to stay calm about things that upset parents, they’ve learned that the days are fleeting and the things that are important, the things we’ll remember as we grow older aren’t the fits or the tantrums.
When we are in the heat of the argument, it’s hard to believe that all of those tears will soon become a fleeting shadow. As the pain of the day heaps upon us, and we are overwhelmed with feelings of depression and anxiety, sometimes it’s difficult to imagine that even Christ can get us to a place of peace and beauty again.
Even when those realizations are hard, it’s still true. With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) That is a Biblical truth that has been proven over and over. As has, “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
What you are going through today may seem huge. The hurt you experienced yesterday may feel as though it cut so deep it can never heal. And while I don’t want to minimize your hurt or your feelings, I know that I often need reminded that today is just a blip on the timeline of eternity. Yes, your hurts, all of the things that caused you stress today are real. Jesus knows about every single one, and He cares! In fact, I believe He weeps with us, much like He did with Mary and Martha, even when He knows there’s an unbelievable miracle right around the corner. (John 11)
Life is often hard. There are no Biblical promises of easy, just blessed when you follow Jesus Christ. However, there is on more than one occasion a revelation that what we think will never end is just temporal. And when it gets really tough, and you’re beating yourself up for yelling at your kids or kicking the dog, seek Christ and His peace and remember that the stress of today will soon be forgotten because today is “fleeting like a shadow.”