--- Suzanne ---
For Christmas last year my husband gave me a great gift. He bought us two dinners a week from a meal delivery service to give me a much-needed breather from meal planning. During those first few weeks, we feasted on street-style poblano tacos, tangy barbecue pork loin, and Parmesan chicken tenders—in other words, some of the best eating we’d done in months. Even the kids liked the simple, gourmet fare.
I only had one complaint: I still had to cook.
The boxes came with produce to wash and chop, meat to prepare, and sauces to concoct. All the ingredients were there, but Kevin and I (yes, that sweet man offered to help me) had to put in about an hour of work to get our culinary masterpiece on the table.
My disenchantment made me think about how we live in an “instant” world—mobile coffee orders, immediate information on the Internet, drive-thru everything, free overnight shipping. These things make us feel like we can have everything now and shouldn’t have to wait. Sometimes I can adopt this same mentality with my kids. I want to see instant results in my children without putting in the work. When they drop their jackets in the middle of the floor two days (or weeks) in a row, I’m aggravated. When I tell them not to fight, I’m perplexed when future playtimes resemble a West Side Story–style street rumble. And when I point out misbehavior, I expect angelic behavior the next time.
The truth is, raising the next generation of Christ followers isn’t an instant thing. It’s a long, labor-intensive process of teaching and training through many little circumstances and situations…every day… week after week…year after year. No wonder I’ve been more mentally and physically exhausted being a mom than I have at any other time in my life.
The familiar parenting passage, Deuteronomy 6:5-7, says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
These were God’s parenting instructions to His people, the Israelites. He told them to impress His commands on their children. Much like a cookie press that turns out perfect shortbread cookies with a beautiful design, God tells us to stamp His Word on our kids over and over again. How do we do that? The answer is surprisingly simple: Talk about it. Talk about who God is and what He says all. The. Time. Talk about it first thing in the morning. Talk about it last thing before bed. Talk about it at home. Talk about it pushing the cart through the grocery store. Talk about it driving home from school.
Making this kind of impression begins with me nurturing my own love for God. And after that, every moment is an opportunity to impress Him on my children.
This is a big task but also a doable one. The ingredients are all there— you, your children, God’s Word. But it doesn’t happen instantly; it takes work. It happens when I engage in real conversation with my three-year-old instead of scrolling through social media on my phone. It happens when I look for opportunities to explain how our everyday activities relate to God’s purposes in the world. It happens when we read the children’s Bible together at bedtime and talk about how amazing our heavenly Father is and how much He loves us.
Raising godly children doesn’t happen overnight. But that’s okay. At times I’ll still long for the instant results, but growing along with my children is a process. And as I take advantage of the everyday opportunities to teach my kids about God, I can trust that with His help the end result will be worth the effort.
Lord, thank You for entrusting me with this big, hard, beautiful, daunting, amazing task of introducing my child to You. Help me fight my cravings to see instant results and to instead focus on daily reinforcing Your truth on my child’s heart, planting seeds in each fertile corner. Bless my humble efforts and multiply them for the building of Your kingdom. Amen.
--- Gretta ---
I lost my identity when I became a mom. I didn’t notice it at first. You see, I was excited to be a mom…it was everything I had always wanted it to be. I loved this tiny baby more than I thought
possible. But six months into motherhood I realized that the only thing people talked to me about was my daughter, Kaia, or how I was doing with her. All my conversations revolved around her. She became my whole world, and I lost myself.
Come to think of it, I actually lost my identity when I became a wife. As soon as Jay proposed, all interactions with my friends became about the wedding. What were my colors? Who were my bridesmaids? What did my dress look like? And once we were married, everything was about the honeymoon and setting up our lives as newlyweds. People asked when we would start a family. And every decision I made, I now had another person to consider. I was no longer single and living on my own.
Wait a second. I lost my identity once I graduated college and started my career. I was consumed with doing a good job and having others see me as responsible and capable.
Hold on. I think I see a pattern here. Like millions of people, I have been in the habit of finding my identity in what I do, who and what I like, and what I have. You too? It’s easy to do. It starts when we are little. We are told we are pretty or smart or a fast runner. And the adults around us all seem to care about what we want to be when we grow up. Then, when we do finally grow up, we describe ourselves in these terms.
When was the last time you introduced yourself to someone new? What did you say? Here’s my typical introduction: “Hi, I’m Gretta. I am married with three kids, one girl and two boys. I enjoy hiking, baking, and spending time with my family.” Of course the description changes from time to time, but that’s basically the gist of it.
But what would happen if we were to focus on how God describes us rather than how we describe ourselves? What would we say? Here are just a few of the things God says about us.
• You are loved (Zephaniah 3:17).
• You are chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).
• You are forgiven (1 John 2:12).
• You are redeemed (Colossians 1:13-14).
• You are holy (1 Peter 2:9).
• You are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
• You are gifted (Romans 12:6-8).
• You are a child of God (John 1:12).
• You are an heir together with Christ (Romans 8:17).
• You are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
We live, relate, and serve out of our identity. If your identity is consumed solely with being a wife or a mother, what happens when you go through a rough season with your husband or when your children misbehave? When your circumstances or relationships change? You may begin to wonder who you actually are, and that doubt will slowly eat away at your core. But if you see yourself through God’s unchanging truth, your core identity cannot be shaken.
Read back through that list. What do you struggle with? Which of those truths is hard to accept? Take a few moments to ask God to give you His eyes for yourself, so that you can live and claim your true identity in Christ.
Hebrews 10:22-23 says, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
He is faithful. And you can claim your true identity in Him!
Lord, teach me to center my identity on You. I struggle to define myself and find my worth in being _____________. Please help me see what You see in me. Remind me of who I am and the glorious identity I have in You. Amen.
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Gretta Kennedy first met as roommates at Multnomah University. They are quick to admit they did not like each other when they first met due to opposite personalities. However, they worked out their differences and became best friends who roomed together for all four years of college. Two decades later, during a phone conversation, they realized God was laying on their hearts the desire to write a devotional for moms of young children to encourage and strengthen them in their role as mothers. It was then the idea for Grit & Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms was born.
Fellow Grit and Grace Warrior Moms can connect on Facebook (gritandgracemoms), Twitter (Gritandgracemom) and Instagram (@gritandgracemoms).
Gosselin lives in Bakersfield, CA with her husband, Kevin, and four children. The family enjoys escaping to the ocean.
Learn more about Gosselin at www.suzannegosselin.com. She can also be found on Facebook (suzannegosselinauthor), Twitter (@gosselinsh) and Instagram (@suzannegosselin).
Gretta Kennedy is a speaker, mentor and writer with a degree in women’s ministry from Multnomah University and over 20 years of ministry experience. She passionately supports her husband, Jay, and his fulltime camp ministry. They are raising their three children on Vancouver Island and report their adventures on the travel blog Traveling Islanders.
Grit and Grace is her first book.
Keep up with the Kennedy family’s adventures at www.travelingislanders.com and on Facebook (travelingislanders), Twitter (@traveislanders) and Instagram (@travelingislanders).