Article by: Sue Donaldson
I went out the front door the other day, and our girls called out: “Mom! Where are you going?”
I laughed and replied, “I’m only picking some rosemary for the roast.”
With our older children sheltering-at-home, the tables are definitely turned.
It’s endearing they don’t let me out of their sight. I know my kids are simply showing me that they love me, and I appreciate it.
One time I did let our eldest out of my sight was the day we moved into our new house.
She was 17-months-old, and I was thrilled to have a home with a yard. Friends had stopped by earlier to see the new place and rejoice with us.
Later on while making dinner, I could see Bonnie outside playing and smiled again. Wow. This is so great that she can play outside.
However, some moments later, I could no longer see her. Just out of range, I thought, I’m sure she’s exploring.
But then I realized it had been too long since I had seen her toddling about.
I went to the door and saw the gate was ajar, left open while showing our friends around.
I raced out of the yard and up the street.
I couldn’t see her, turned around, ran my hardest, my legs like lead.
Just as I passed our house, I spied a woman walking toward me, Bonnie in her arms.
“Does she belong to you?” she smiled. “I found her collecting the neighbors’ newspapers.”
I expressed my utmost gratitude, grabbed my little one, and cried. I only had one child, and I couldn’t even keep track of her.
There’s no harder job than being a mother.
I used to think it was teaching ninth grade remedial readers, but then I became a mom.
It’s a challenge to see parenting as rewarding, much less to believe we are doing it well.
We may look at successful women in careers or ministry and muse, “Wow, their lives look so fulfilling. They influence and impact so many people. (And they dress so well and their make-up is so perfect.)”
Then we lean over to scrape up the dried Cheerios on the floor and sigh.
Here’s the point: parenting is hard and we may worry, “Are we doing enough to protect them, guide them, and nurture them in the ways of Christ?”
How can we continue in this significant role of parenting with joy, confidence, and purpose?
Only as we look to God and His Word each step of the way.How can we parent with joy, confidence, and purpose? Only as we look to God and His Word each step of the way.
Parenting includes worries like no other, and they begin the moment the baby slips through the birth canal.
Within days of my firstborn’s arrival, I remember my mom observing, “Bonnie’s feet are so cold.”
Now that’s she’s 31, cold feet are the least of my worries.
But God calls me to a higher calling: to parent without anxiety.
We like to think that it’s okay to worry. Our mothers worried and their mothers before them.
It can become a badge of honor how much we worry and for how long.
On the other hand, joy is the flipside to worry.
I can only move from worry – because I still worry – to joy when I take my worries to the One who loves our children more than we do.I can only move from worry to joy when I take my worries to the One who loves our children more than we do.
David wrote, “When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19 NIV)
No matter what age our kids, we can go from peace to panic in two minutes flat when they are suffering.
I’m comforted by the knowledge that David worried, too, and not just a little.
“When anxiety was great within me…” But he knew what to do with his worry: give it to Jesus.
We can spend far too much time talking about our struggles to others, instead of talking to the One who can do something about them. And when we do, we will find joy.
Before Google, there was Dr. Dobson. Before Dr. Dobson, there was our grandmother. Before everyone else, there was God and His infinite love, wisdom, and strength.
Parenting children at every stage calls for all three all the time.
When our daughter was in second grade, I was pressed for direction and courage in short order.
I knew she needed a different teacher, but I didn’t want to be “that mom” who caused problems.
A friend counseled, “Sue, you are your daughter’s main advocate.”
She was right.
We prayed together, I made phone calls, met with the principal, and God worked it all out.
I’ll never forget it.
My pastor said, “Trusting God means going ahead while afraid.”
I was afraid.
I went ahead.
God led the way.
Each time that happens, whether in parenting, work, or ministry, my faith grows muscles, and I become more confident—in Him.
Without challenges, big or small, we don’t get the opportunity to know Who our God is for ourselves, not just Who we read about on a page.
My favorite parenting Scripture is Isaiah 40:11 – “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (NIV)
Not only does our Shepherd love His lambs and hold us close, He offers special care for mothers: “those that have young.”
When I recall God’s deep love for me and mine, and call on His wisdom, He makes me a confident mother.
With Him, I can move forward even while afraid.When I recall God’s deep love for me and mine, and call on His wisdom, He makes me a confident mother.
When I worked part-time from home, my husband would often ask, “Did you work today?”
I would reply, “I work every day, I just don’t get paid every day. In fact, I think I may need a raise!”
It is tempting to measure my worth by what I do.
When we ask ourselves, “What did I do today?” we are really asking:
“Is my life worthwhile?”
“Do I have value?”
“Was it worth it to get out of bed this morning?”
We are tempted to answer in terms of what we didn’t accomplish.
“I didn’t finish the laundry. I didn’t start the laundry. I didn’t do very much, although I was busy all day with the kids.”
Paul reminds us that what matters to God doesn’t have to do with our productivity on any given day.
2 Corinthians 4:18 reads: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)
God isn’t interested in a To-Do List checked-off so much as our focus on the “unseen” and “eternal.”
When we pour our lives into people and God’s Word, we are doing what matters: telling your little one that Jesus understands, helping your teenager navigate her future, calling your adult children back to what they learned at your knee—Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells you so.
All these little things make your life count.
You parent with purpose, God’s purpose, by setting your mind on things above, and allowing Him to guide your to-do list for eternity.You parent with purpose, God’s purpose, by setting your mind on things above, and allowing Him to guide your to-do list for eternity.
Parenting is the biggest, hardest job on planet Earth.
But we can do it with joy, confidence, and purpose when we seek God daily, and trust Him with the result of our efforts.
Author and speaker, Sue Donaldson, and her husband, Mark, live in San Luis Obispo, California. Sue and her husband have raised three daughters who keep them at the bank and on their knees. She loves connecting people to one another, to God, and to His Word, and has been speaking for the last 20 years or so with long pauses for babies, diapers, and soccer pasta parties. Sue blogs at WelcomeHeart.com and hosts a weekly podcast entitled, Make it Count: Living a Legacy Life. You can also connect with Sue on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.