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The Confident Mom
Guiding Your Family with God's Strength and Wisdom
By Joyce Meyer, Jodi Carlisle
Hachette AudioCopyright © 2014 Joyce Meyer Jodi Carlisle
All rights reserved.
Are We Having Fun Yet?
The very idea that the words Confident Mom and Joyce Meyer could appear together in print anywhere at any time proves two things about God. First: He is, without question, an absolute miracle worker. Second: He has a great sense of humor.
When I first started this journey called motherhood, I didn't have a single shred of confidence. Actually, I was petrified. I felt unprepared, insecure, and inadequate—and I felt that way for good reason!
When I gave birth to my first child, I didn't even know enough to realize what was happening when I went into labor. My husband had left me for another woman early in my pregnancy and, without the money to pay a private physician, I'd been going to a hospital clinic for maternity care. I'd never seen the same doctor twice (actually they were interns) so I'd somehow missed out on the basic information new mothers need.
As a result, for about the first six months after David was born, I was literally afraid of hurting him. It took all the nerve I had just to bathe him. I had no idea how hot his bath water should be, or how hard I could scrub him without hurting him.
If you've heard my story, you already know I had a host of other problems back then too. I was still suffering from the effects of the years of sexual abuse I'd experienced growing up. I was unhappy and totally lacking peace. I felt discouraged and hopeless. Unable to sleep, I'd been taking over-the-counter sleeping pills. Unable to eat, I'd gained only about a half pound the entire time I was pregnant. The strain on my body (coupled with the emotional pressure I was under) left me very sick.
On top of it all, I was broke. I'd held down a job through much of my pregnancy, but when I finally had to quit, I had no way to pay the rent on my small, third- story, garage apartment, which with no air conditioning and no fan was like an oven in the 100-plus degree summer heat. I didn't want to move back in with my parents because of the abusive behavior of my father. So when my hairdresser had compassion on me and offered to let me live with her, I accepted.
Worse yet, when my unfaithful husband showed up at the hospital after the delivery to claim the baby and ask me to take him back, I said yes to that too. Never mind that he was in trouble with the law. Never mind that he had no place to live himself. I agreed anyway to move with him into his sister's house until I could go back to work.
At times it felt like I had nothing going for me, but that wasn't true. I had this one very important thing going for me: At nine years old I had asked Jesus to be my Savior. He came into my heart and—even though I went through times when I felt rejected and abandoned by people—He never left me.
What He's done in my life and in the lives of my children in the many years that have passed since my first terrifying days of motherhood is nothing short of miraculous. Of course, those familiar with my story know that the Lord brought Dave into my life, and he has been a wonderful and loving husband. And today, all four of our children are grown and helping in our ministry in one way or another. They're all talented and amazing. They love the Lord. They're a blessing not only to me but to many others as well. Every one of them is far wiser than I was at their ages. All of them have children of their own now, and they're proving to be great parents.
These days I can truly say I'm thrilled with how my children (and grandchildren!) are turning out. So, by God's grace, I do have a testimony to tell. But even so, it makes me chuckle to think the Lord would lead me to share this book with you. After all, the road to confident motherhood has been a long one for me. I've been anything but a "traditional" mom and I've made plenty of mistakes along the way. So I can tell you with confidence that if God can help me be a good parent, He can do the same for you. I am convinced that He can transform this puzzling, intimidating journey of motherhood into your greatest victory. Better yet, He can teach you to rejoice every step of the way.
Instructions Not Included
Personally, I put a lot of emphasis on rejoicing. I spent so many years being miserable that these days I am determined to enjoy my life. I make no apologies for it either, because I believe it's as important to God as it is to me.
Why else would God include so many verses like these in the Bible?
... I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
Romans 14:17 NKJV
The kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 John 1:4 NKJV
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
Clearly, God wants us as believers to enjoy the life Jesus died to give us. And I believe that He wants every Christian mom to fit the description in Psalm 113:9 of ... a joyful mother of children (NKJV).
If we're completely honest about it, however, we must admit that many times we don't experience that joy. Although we love our kids and agree in theory that being a mother is one of life's greatest pleasures, the joy of motherhood gets buried under a heavy load of work, worry, and frustration. If someone asks, "Are we having fun yet?" all too often the answer is no.
It's not just the day-to-day demands of motherhood that steal our joy (although they can sometimes seem endless and exhausting), but the sense of responsibility we feel for our families. We're aware of how much our children depend on us, and we're often afraid that we're somehow going to fail them—that we don't really know what we're doing. That we don't have what it takes to be everything they need us to be.
As moms, we may not talk about it much but the concerns are there nonetheless. According to one poll taken a few years ago, most parents are their own worst critics. Frequently plagued by feelings of failure:
They worry that they make too many mistakes.
They're afraid they won't know how to cope with the problems their kids face.
They feel like they're not the examples for their children they should be.
They regret some of the choices they've made as parents and think it's too late to go back and make things right.
They doubt their ability to relate to their kids and the issues they confront in the world today.
I can sympathize. I've worried about such things myself over the years. Every one of my children is so different from the others and every stage of their development brought such unexpected challenges, I often felt like I'd never figure them out. Oh, how I wished each one had arrived (like household appliances do) with a complete set of operating instructions! God could make things so much easier for all of us moms if He'd just attach to each baby's big toe a booklet that reads: For optimum results in infancy, do this ... at two years old, do this ... during teenage years, do this ...
But obviously, He chose not to do it that way—for me, for you, or for anyone else.
I believe it's because God has a better plan. He wants us to navigate the deep, mysterious, and sometimes stormy waters of motherhood the same way the disciples navigated the tempestuous waters of the Sea of Galilee. (See Mark 4:35-41.) He wants us to stop being afraid and put our faith in Him and His Word, to believe that because we have the God of the universe in our boat, no matter how hard the wind blows or how high the waves rise, we can make it in victory to the other side!
You might say, "But, Joyce, right now I don't feel like I have what it takes to make it through in victory! My toddlers are throwing fits, my older kids are having trouble in school, and my teenagers are rebelling in ways I never expected. By the looks of things, my parenting ship is taking on water and sinking fast."
I understand. I've been there; and I found out there's only one way to stay afloat in those kinds of storms: Take your eyes off your feelings and look to Jesus. Dare to believe that because you're in Him, what Romans 8:37 says is true for you:
Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? I believe it means you know in advance you've been divinely equipped to overcome any kind of trouble. It means you can face life with boldness and say, "Nothing in life can defeat me because the Greater One lives in me. He's provided me with everything I need to handle what He has called me to do. I can win every battle because everything I need to overcome them is mine in Christ Jesus. Because I'm in Him, I have what it takes!"
You Have What It Takes
It's impossible to enjoy anything when you're afraid of failing at it.
It's impossible to enjoy anything when you're afraid of failing at it. But once you know with all your heart that you really do have what it takes, being a mom can be a lot more fun. You can do it with joyful confidence and with your own unique style. You can also experience the freedom and joy of helping each of your children be their own unique person.
Picture it for a moment. Think about how fun it would be to approach every day—not with head drooping and shoulders slumped, focusing on the ways you've fallen short—but letting God be the glory and the lifter of your head (see Psalm 3:3). Imagine having so much confidence in what He's put on the inside of you that when it comes to being a mom, you embrace your role with overwhelming joy and excitement. Well, it all begins when you believe that God has already equipped you with everything you need to be a confident, successful mom.
"I know you're right, Joyce," you might say, "but I don't feel very talented or gifted in my role as a mother. In fact, sometimes I feel like I don't have much to offer at all." If that's you, I want to share some inspiration with you about a mom in the Old Testament who felt a lot like you do—just before she experienced one of the greatest miracles of all time.
The Bible first mentions her in 1 Kings 17:9. There God names her as the person He had chosen to supply food to the prophet Elijah during a drought-induced famine. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, God told Elijah. I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.
From a human perspective, God's plan seemed pretty unreasonable. This widow couldn't even afford to feed her own son—how was she going to feed the prophet? When Elijah shows up at her door, she has nothing and is deeply depressed. So you can imagine how she responded when Elijah asked for some bread.
And she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it—and die (v. 12).
Talk about a mom who felt like she had nothing to offer! This woman tops us all! Yet God saw something in her that she couldn't see in herself. He saw her as a fountain of blessing that, in His hands, would never run dry. Which is why He instructed Elijah to say this to her:
Fear not; go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of [it] first and bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son.
For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: The jar of meal shall not waste away or the bottle of oil fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.
She did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days.
The jar of meal was not spent nor did the bottle of oil fail, according to the Word which the Lord spoke through Elijah (vv. 13-16).
Not only is that a wonderful Bible story, it's the story of every Christian mother. All of us realize at one point or another that we don't have enough on our own to meet all our children's needs. In a world filled with danger, we can't guarantee their protection. In a world filled with spiritual darkness, we can't always keep them surrounded with light. In a world filled with questions, we don't have all the answers.
In our own strength, all of us are like the widow in 1 Kings 17—our pantry is pitifully bare.
But even so, we don't have to worry! God has promised to do for us the same thing He did all those years ago in Zarephath. If we'll take a step of faith and give Him what we have, He'll make our lives an ongoing miracle. He'll pour out through us a never-ending supply of His love, His power, and His grace. He'll provide enough, not only for us and our children, but for others too.
So go on and rejoice! Instead of focusing on your own weaknesses and personal shortcomings, celebrate the strength of the One who is in you. Every time the devil threatens to starve your confidence or sink your family's ship, remind him that ...
God Himself has said ... [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 13:5).
In Christ, God ... always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ's victory] ... (2 Corinthians 2:14).
... The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! (Ephesians 1:3).
When you put your faith in God and meditate on verses like those, you'll be able to accept the unique challenges of motherhood with fresh boldness and joy. You'll live like you were born to do this and you're loving every minute of it.
Without hesitation, you'll be able to say, "Oh, yeah, we're definitely having fun now!"
Perfect Women Need Not Apply
I'd like to be the ideal mother ... but I'm too busy raising my kids.
In reality, she doesn't exist. But somewhere in the shadows of most every mother's mind, she is alive, well, and causing major problems.
Her house is always pristine. (No junk drawers for this woman. Everything is organized and stored in attractive, clearly-labeled containers.) Her vegetable garden is an agricultural wonder (organic, of course). She sews like a tailor, does business like a CEO, cooks meals for the poor, and pumps iron daily at the local gym. And she does it all with unfailing patience, sweetness, and smiles.
Some might consider her the Proverbs 31 woman. But the truth is, she's not. The woman in Proverbs 31 has been given to us in Scripture to inspire us. She gives us goals to reach toward by faith and by dependence upon God. But this woman who we strive to be like is a counterfeit designed by our own insecurities that makes us feel inferior and condemned. She's the pie-in-the-sky image of the perfect mom who makes the rest of us feel like failures no matter how hard we try.
She's the reason that in one survey of more than 500 mothers, perfectionism was identified as the number one issue that keeps moms from enjoying the everyday moments of their lives.
And this chapter is all about getting rid of her, because this flawless fictional woman has been undermining moms for far too long. She's caused us too much trouble and cost us too much joy. So there's no question about it: we have to give her the boot and replace her with somebody more scriptural.
The only question is, whom should we choose?
As I've already mentioned, the Proverbs 31 woman is an obvious winner. But there are others in the Bible we might also pick. Women like the ones who appear in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the passage commonly referred to as the begats. (see Matthew 1:1-16 KJV.)
Generally speaking, the begats aren't famous for their inspirational content. But when it comes to providing us with first-rate maternal role models, they're a divinely-inspired gold mine. They reveal exactly what kind of mothers our all- knowing, all-wise God chose to place in Jesus' family tree.
In the begats, we get a picture of the kind of mom through whom God can really work wonders—and it's a picture that doesn't look anywhere close to "ideal."
Take Sarah, for instance. As Abraham's wife, she's mentioned (not by name but by inference) in Matthew 1:2, and she was far from perfect. In fact, she made quite a number of shocking mistakes. If you've read her story, you probably remember some of them.
She got impatient with God's plan and came up with her own scheme to produce the son He'd promised—she arranged for her husband to have an affair with her maid.
She got jealous of the maid's son and demanded they both be driven into the wilderness, despite her husband's protests.
When God showed up again—in Person!—to reconfirm His promise, she literally laughed in disbelief.
Excerpted from The Confident Mom by Joyce Meyer, Jodi Carlisle. Copyright © 2014 Joyce Meyer Jodi Carlisle. Excerpted by permission of Hachette Audio.
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