Heavenly Minded Mom: A 90 Day Journey to Embrace What Matters Most

Heavenly Minded Mom: A 90 Day Journey to Embrace What Matters Most

by Katie Bennett

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Overview

The lives of moms are all too often consumed with wearisome, empty striving. We work to keep up appearances, meet worldly standards, and find satisfaction in the offerings of this life such as success, admiration, and ease. However, God has set eternity in a mother’s heart, and deep inside, we long for more.

In Heavenly Minded Mom, author and blogger Katie Bennett beckons us into a new way of viewing our present reality by rising above the ordinary and routine to see a bigger plan and purpose for motherhood.

This uplifting book offers moms the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, wrapped in the hope of the Gospel, and presented in bite-sized portions. The 90 compelling meditations, scripture readings, and invitations to journal and reflect, will encourage us to reevaluate how we envision our lives and to claim a heavenly mindset towards our mothering tasks. These inspirational readings will help us discover a new way of looking at our responsibilities as a mom through God’s eyes.

Embrace a simpler life filled with God’s promises and love as you reflect on God’s powerful work as it has woven through your past and present in anticipation of its impact in the future and your spiritual legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501845529
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 651,470
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Katie Bennett, author of Heavenly Minded Mom and the award-winning blog and podcast, Embracing a Simple Life, beckons mothers into a new way of seeing their present reality. An educator by trade, she stepped out of the career world and embraced a no-frills, no-extravagance lifestyle. Katie and her family live in rural Missouri where they practice clearing out the excess and making the most of what matters most. Follow her at embracingasimplerlife.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

In Everything, There Is Futility

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

— Romans 8:20-21

In everything that is done in this world, there is great futility. Mothers know this well. The laundry, the dishes, the cleaning — all of these things are constantly undoing themselves. We feed our families, but they will be hungry again. We fix a problem, but our solution creates another problem. Things naturally move from organization to chaos, and we must work diligently and persistently to keep it at bay. Each day's tasks will reoccur, and in all this work there is great frustration.

Even in our childbearing there is grievance and struggle: the unpredictability of conception, the pain of pregnancy and labor, and the tear-soaked path we walk by bringing little hearts who are bent toward sin into a dark and dangerous world.

All of this futility and strife was set into motion in one fateful moment. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, "creation was subjected to frustration" (Romans 8:20). This curse blanketed creation, and we feel it every day. As men strive to provide, they are faced with toil, thorns, and ultimately death. As women seek to be wives and mothers, we are met with pain and subjection. Each of us is destined to return to the dust from which we came. Our situation is not good, but God's mercy is evident even here. You see, creation was frustrated so that it might "be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God" (8:21).

If we did not lack, how could we long for restoration and new life? If the world were whole, how could we hope in Christ? No, we cannot hope for what we already have. And so, we wait eagerly for "our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies" (8:23).

Futility leads us to blessed disillusionment with the world so that we might see God as He is in contrast and put our hope in Him: "And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (5:5).

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read Genesis 3:14-19 and Romans 8:18-30.

Journal Your Thoughts

What stood out to you from today's reading?

How do you see frustration and futility manifesting themselves in your own life?

CHAPTER 2

God's Priorities for You

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

— 1 Peter 1:15-16

What are God's priorities for you? Have you ever thought about that? Are His goals for you characterized by wealth, comfort, and ease? Is His chief hope that you would have a smooth existence on this earth? Is that the driving aim behind His work in your life?

No, of course not! God sees a far greater picture than this. He knows that your life is brief and fleeting. He knows that it will pass away in a flicker of time, and you will reign with Him in eternity forever. His priorities for you are not summed up by a sugar-coated, trial-free existence. Rather, He longs for you to become like Christ. He loves you, and He knows that this is far better for you.

Through very intentional work, God lovingly molds us according to His priorities. From His lofty vantage point, He sees clearly what is needed in our lives, and thus He leads us toward a place of greater maturity, depth, surrender, and dependence as we allow Him. These are the things that hold lasting value. This value utterly eclipses any and all momentary gain we might think we prefer in the present moment.

Because we cannot fully understand the scope of what God is doing in our lives or in the world — in this span of time or throughout eternity — we must trust Him. Rather than consuming our prayer lives with nothing more than requests for safety, blessing, material possessions, and success, may we also learn what it means to pray kingdom-minded prayers. May we align ourselves with the heart of God and choose to see the bigger picture that He sees.

God's priorities for our lives are deeply spiritual and eternal. Let's stop holding tightly to the things that God does not hold tightly to, and let's stop running after the things that God does not run after. Let's be holy as He is holy. Let's strive to be perfect as He is perfect. Let's be spiritually minded as He is spiritually minded, and let's be wise as He is wise.

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read 2 Timothy 2:11; Matthew 5:48; Corinthians 2:10-16; and Ephesians 5:15-17.

Journal Your Thoughts

What are God's priorities for your life?

How can you join Him in the work He wants to do in you?

CHAPTER 3

The Idol of Results

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

— Ecclesiastes 4:4

There are many beautiful, precious outcomes of motherhood: the friendship that children add to one's life, the honor they bring, and the joy of watching them follow the Lord and do what is right. When everyone is in a sweet frame of mind and everything is going according to plan, motherhood is very fulfilling. This is the ideal I looked forward to as I awaited the arrival of my first child.

However, I quickly learned that results are slow to come by in parenting. I watched as my children, one by one, grew out of their seemingly innocent baby stages and began grappling with a startlingly rebellious nature. I learned firsthand that, try as I might, I was not in control of their hearts. In these, and in so many other ways, we weren't "there" yet — in sleep training, potty training, independence, self-discipline, character, commitment to Christ, and so on. All of these were an increasing source of frustration and failure in my life. And thus God began to open my eyes to see that I was living for successes and results rather than embracing the journey with all its struggles.

We do this often in many different ways, and not just with regard to our children. We live for achievement. We strain for the next thing: to get the pay raise at work, to grow our family, to move into that dream house, to put the diaper years behind us, to survive the sports-practice years, to successfully launch our children into the world, to reach retirement. We strain ahead, finding hope in end results and great angst in the difficulties of the process.

But that hope of "arriving"? It's a false hope. And all those results do not hold any more meaning than does the journey to get there. In fact, if we fixate on results, we run the risk of missing our actual lives.

Over time, God helped me slowly shift my focus away from my vain need for results. I've learned instead to set my gaze on the simple task of obeying Him right where I am — right where He has placed me. Today that means cleaning scrambled eggs off of a wooden floor, patiently disciplining and training my children, and being faithful to show up and point little hearts back to Jesus. It means thriving on the presence of God in my life, learning contentment, and striving to take each moment as a holy opportunity. As we learn to live the journey and trust God with the results, we gain joy, peace, and the truly abundant life.

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read 1 Timothy 6:6; John 10:10; and Ecclesiastes 6:9.

Journal Your Thoughts

Reflecting on your life, do you find yourself living for results (and finding angst in the journey), or do you embrace the struggle and live in joy?

Is there a specific process in your life that God is leading you to more fully embrace?

CHAPTER 4

The Idol of Seeking Possessions

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

— Luke 12:15

Let's contrast two lives. One woman lives in a gorgeous, landscaped, well-furnished home in a beautiful neighborhood. She shops to fulfill her desires for new clothing, decor, and gadgetry, and she drives the new car of her choosing. All these things take up quite a bit of her time and attention: dreaming, planning, shopping, and managing. She is a Christian, but she has a hard time feeling content because she often sees or hears about new things she would like to have. Her life is, in large part, consumed by her possessions, just like those of her neighbors. Materialism is her culture, but it is demanding. There's always something new to want.

A second woman finds herself in a rural village in a developing country. She lives in a cinder block home with no glass in the windows, a dirt courtyard, and walls adorned with only a few sparse and tattered decorations. She keeps her living space neat, and she is grateful for it. She too is a Christian, and each day she faithfully works hard to provide for her family's most basic needs. She does not put her hope in possessions, nor does she spend much time dwelling on them at all because they are few yet adequate. Rather she puts her hope in heaven and trusts God for future reward.

The world leads us to believe that we need what the first woman has to be content and happy in life. Even Solomon explored this possibility in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He longed to find meaning in life, so he did an experiment. Solomon was a very wealthy king with almost unlimited resources at his disposal, so he decided to deny himself nothing. He did not restrain himself from any joy, and yet all the while he remained clear eyed so he could evaluate all these things.

Do you know what the wisest and most wealthy man on the earth discovered through this ultimate experiment? There was nothing really worthwhile in any of it. He saw that the pursuit of possessions and earthly pleasures was meaningless, like chasing after the wind. Because in the end we will all die, and all these things will vanish and cease to matter.

Both women I described above have the opportunity to follow God wholeheartedly and store up treasures in heaven. The wealthy woman is not disqualified from this pursuit, but she certainly has no advantage over the woman in humble circumstances. Neither does poverty make the second woman more holy than the first, but perhaps she has fewer obstacles to overcome in her act of surrender. The sacred task of both women is to put their hope in God, to be generous, and to do good. That is how "they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:19).

Today, we must remember that possessions cannot give life meaning and that eternal purpose is found at the foot of the cross.

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read Ecclesiastes 1:12-15; Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; and 1 Timothy 6:1719.

Journal Your Thoughts

Which woman do you identify with most and why?

What is God calling you to do about it?

CHAPTER 5

The Idol of Sin

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

— Galatians 5:24

Have you ever thought about the futility and utter foolishness of sin? It is easy to downplay this truth and, as a result, allow ourselves to keep things in our lives that we should not. We believe that God will forgive us, so we are not motivated to nail our personal unforgiveness, gossip, wayward daydreams, idleness, addictions, or self-serving ways to the cross. We do not fear God, so we do not abandon sin. We keep the things we like, despite the fact that they are at odds with God's holiness.

However, the choice to sin is not only futile but also tragic. It assumes that "the now" has value over eternity. It assumes that our appetite today is more important than God's loving desire for our life. It shows our blindness to the bigger picture. The fruit borne by sin is death. When we sin knowingly and willfully, we become partners with darkness. We give it root in our lives and effectively disassociate ourselves with those who belong to Christ. This is why we must ruthlessly cut it out of our lives at all costs: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Through confessing our sins to God and acknowledging our brokenness before Him, He takes the penalty on our behalf.

When we raise our gaze to heaven and allow its light to shine into those places, the meaninglessness and calamity of these pet sins will be illuminated. We will cut away the vines that tangle up and around our feet and legs and throw them off with abandon. In this way, we are freed up to run the race God has called us to, with heaven as the finish line and a crown of righteousness as the prize. Without a backward glance, we "press on toward the goal" (Philippians 3:14).

Like an athlete, we exercise self-control and discipline our bodies for godliness, but while an athlete pursues a perishable prize, we do it for one that is imperishable, lest we be disqualified. This is the eternity-soaked life.

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read 1 John 2:4-6; Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Journal Your Thoughts

What sin have you knowingly clung to?

Write a prayer to God asking for His strength to let it go, allowing His light to shine into that area of your life.

CHAPTER 6

The Idol of Emotion

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

— 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

How often we fail to understand the urgency of the mission — the urgency of the kingdom of God and its relevance to this day in which we live. This kingdom is fast approaching, like an army marching on the horizon.

Meanwhile, too many of us are caught up in our own earthly romance. Or we are left wallowing in sorrow in the aftermath of loss, disillusionment, and disappointment. Perhaps our excitement over that business opportunity or our interesting upcoming plans distract us. Many of us dig our hands deeply into the dealings of the world, and then become completely wrapped up in those things.

This leads us to spend our days planning date nights, or nurturing our identity as a suffering soul, or anticipating our next fun-filled girls' weekend. In these three diverse ways, we run the risk of making our feelings king in our lives. None of these things must be allowed to disengage us from the urgent work that God wants to accomplish through us.

Here's the truth: the time is short! We must not allow ourselves to be sidelined by the temporary. This is not just for our own benefit and future reward, but for the sake of others — for the sake of the kingdom of God!

The world in its present form is passing away, and yet so many Christians are numbed to this truth. As a result, we are unmotivated to get over ourselves and press on with heavenly focus. And yet, this is what we must do. The cost of distraction is high.

God is glorified in the midst of our emotions. After all, He created them! But may we always be ready to turn our face toward His glory, take up our cross, and follow Him every day and in every way. May we always be willing to submit those emotions to His enduring truths.

In it all, this is our chief concern: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind and to "love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

* * *

Embrace God's Word

For further insight, read Matthew 16:24; Luke 10:27; 1 Peter 4:7-8; and Matthew 24:3644.

Journal Your Thoughts

Do you find yourself distracted by your emotions in this world, whether romance or grief or happiness? How?

What is one way that you can practically disentangle yourself from things that distract you in order to live a more urgent, heavenly minded, and kingdom-focused life?

CHAPTER 7

The Idol of Busyness

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

— Psalm 46:10

We do not live in a "still" world. There are thousands of moving pieces at any given moment in our lives, many of them vying for our time and attention: the good causes, the bad habits, the basic needs, the relationships, the entertainment, the hobbies, the work, the technology, the events, the books, the chores, the shopping, and more. We buzz around from task to task in constant thought and motion.

Busyness is not always bad. In fact, in the Bible, Paul instructed older women to teach younger women "to be busy at home" (Titus 2:5). In a culture in which most work was centered around the home, this meant busily loving one's family, busily providing for needs, and even being productive within the marketplace.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Heavenly Minded Mom"
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Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Treasures in Heaven xv

How to Read Heavenly Minded Mom xvii

Heavenly Minded Mom in a Group Setting xxi

A Journey Worth Taking xxiii

Section 1 Tilling Up the Soil: An Assault on the Idols of Your Heart 1

In Everything, There Is Futility 3 2 Gods Priorities for You 5 2 The Idol of Results 7 2 The Idol of Seeking Possessions 9 2 The Idol of Sin 11 2 The Idol of Emotion 13 2 The Idol of Busyness 15 2 The Idol of a Pain-Free Life 17 2 The Idol of an Easy Life 19 2 The Idol of Entertainment 21 2 The Idol of Chasing Dreams 24 2 The Idol of Motherhood 26 2 The Idol of Human Wisdom 28 2 The Idol of More 30 2 The Idol of People-Pleasing 32 2 The Idol of Personal Projects 34 2 The Idol of Fun Experiences 36 2 The Idol of Financial Security 38 2 The Idol of Achievement 40 2 The Idol of Family 42 2 The Idol of Earthly Treasures 44 2 The Idol of World Betterment 46 2 The Idol of the American Dream 48 2 The Idol of Wants 50 2 The Idol of Happiness 52 2 The Idol of Fairness 54 2 The Idol of Loving the World 56 2 The Idol of Worldly Striving 59 2 The Idol of Nationalism 61 2 The Wise Man Thinks About Death 63

Section 2 Cultivating the Seeds of Eternity: A New Way of Seeing 65

I Am the Lord's Servant 67

A Better Hope for Mothers 69

Not All Things Are Beneficial 71

Complaining Put into Perspective 73

Rise Up to Go Lower 75

Jesus Is Your Life 77

The Good Things God Wants for You 79

Significant insignificance 81

Rooted and Established in Love 83

Don't Forfeit Your Soul 85

Surrendering Possessions 87

Seeing Suffering in Light of Eternity 89

Offering Our Body "Image" as a Living Sacrifice 91

A Higher View 93

Believing God 95

People in Light of Eternity 97

Life Isn't the Ultimate Reality 99

The Power of Faithful Stewardship 101

Two Secrets to a Satisfied Life 103

The Lost Art of Fearing God 106

The Blessedness of Less 108

Obedience Is Costly 110

Longing for Redemption 112

Grace and Peace in Frustrations 114

Blessed Surrender 116

Most to Be Pitied 118

In Christ Alone 120

Love Never Fails 122

The Faith to Forgive 124

Releasing the Past 126

Section 3 Apprehending Meaning: The Eternal Worth in Your Daily Living 129

Clean the Toilet in Love 131

Love One Another 133

By Faith We Follow Him 135

A Mother's Call to Make Disciples 137

The Riches of Christ in Us 139

Knowing God 141

Our Bodies, a Temple 143

The Good Fruit of Suffering 145

Created by Design 147

Laying Aside What I Think I Deserve 149

Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones 151

The Word of God Endures Forever 153

Poured-Out Mother 155

Spiritually Minded Relationships 157

The Eternal Significance of Mothering 159

Redeeming Vacations 161

Redeeming Home 163

Redeeming a Good Life 165

Redeeming Influence and Position 167

Redeeming Fashion 169

Treasures in Heaven: Laboring for God 171

Treasures in Heaven: Sacrificing for the Sake of the Gospel 173

Treasures in Heaven: Withstanding Trials and Persecution 175

Treasures in Heaven: Quiet Deeds of Faith 177

Treasures in Heaven: Doing Good 179

Glorify the Lord 181

All Who Are Victorious 183

Friend of God 185

"My Peace I Give You" 187

"You, Follow Me" 189

Conclusion 191

Additional Resources 193

Discussion Questions 195

Understanding Ecclesiastes 197

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