Today I have the opportunity to introduce you to Mandy Johnson. Mandy is the wife to Ryan and mom to four beautiful daughters Gracie (10), Ella (9), Lily (6), and Maddie (4). They live in Abbeville, Alabama where Ryan is the pastor of FBC-Abbeville. Mandy keeps her days busy with homeschooling her girls, spending time with family and friends, and using her gift of hospitality to love on anyone and everyone! This family means a great deal to ours and I hope you are encouraged by Mandy’s words today. You can also read more of Mandy’s writings as she is one of the writers at www.anumberofleadingladies.wordpress.com.
When I think about motherhood, I think about many things: late night feedings, laundry for days, dirty hands and faces, hugs that you wish would last forever, boo-boo’s and band aids, and the busy hectic schedule. The list could go on and on. When people see me out with my four girls, I almost always get the same reaction, “I bet your hands are full!” I usually smile and say,” Why yes they are, but my heart is fuller!”
This got me to thinking one day, “What are my hands filled with?”
In literal terms, this could mean many things. Last year while my family and I were visiting Disney, we were making the most of our last night. It was quite late and the bus was quite full. My oldest daughter, who was struggling with migraine-type headaches, was feeling the effects of riding near the back of the bus and having such a headache. I had recommended to her that she try and go to sleep. Just 5 minutes into our 20 minute ride she told me she felt like she was going to be sick — not something you want to hear! Before I could prepare and grab the bag that contained our souvenirs her mouth opened and my hands went up. In the catalog of my memories I never would have wanted my hands or my lap full of — well, you know — but that was the Lord’s plan at that time. He has such a sense of humor.
I can think of other stories where I have held my precious children in my hands to cuddle them, love on them, kiss them or just hold them close. But, to be honest, there have been many times that I have lifted my hands to the Lord and wrung my hands in frustration.
Whatever our hands may be filled you, whether blessings or difficulties, know that the Bible speaks direct encouragement to each of us. Lamentations 3:22 says,” Great is His faithfulness, his mercies begin anew each day.” I know I am thankful for that. Some days are hard. At the beginning of this school year, I was homeschooling my 3 oldest daughters (9,8,5). Just when I thought we were on a great schedule and getting things down, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. While I had stayed with my mom in the hospital, my girls had gotten behind in their studies, I had missed dance practices, special holiday events and much more. I felt defeated and at a loss. It was always on those hard days that the Lord would remind me that tomorrow was a new day and that His mercies are new EVERY morning! Not just when I had a good day but EVERY morning.
Being a mother has many responsibilities. I think one of the greatest responsibilities that we have as mothers is defining the love of God for our children with our words and actions. If this is the first time you’ve thought about that, the accuser will begin to make you feel guilty by thinking all the times that you’ve lost your temper, been impatient, or been overbearing. We all fall short of modeling the loving character of God in perfect balance. That’s why it’s also important that I teach my children the truth that there is only one person who loves them more than I do: God Himself. Even though we are imperfect, we teach and model the love of God through sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, our energy (can I get an Amen!), our finances and even our bed spaces. You may struggle with feeling confident that you are pointing your children to Jesus, but know that with each sacrifice, each word of encouragement, each hug, and each time that you have to say you’re sorry, let them know why you’re doing it — because of Jesus. Being a mother is leading our kids to Jesus every day. Teaching them that life is NEVER about them but always about Him.
So how do we as mothers teach our children these great responsibilities??? By surrendering our lives DAILY, did you hear me? DAILY! Not just on Sunday mornings, but EVERY morning! I cannot teach my children about surrender, sacrifice and love without doing so myself each day. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
Join me today in declaring that your treasure is in Jesus so that whether it is a good day or a bad day, an easy day or a trying day, He can transform my heart, so that I can continually say, “Yes! My hands are not just full, they are overflowing with blessings!”