I am crazy-in-love with this picture of my three young'uns (the fourth child, the baby, is my sweet nephew) because it truly captures their personalities in one neat little package.
My daughter is the blissful mover. My oldest son (by a mere but important-to-him 11 minutes) is the nurturing teacher. My towhead is the imaginative dreamer. Born of the same earthly parents but fashioned by a heavenly Father into unique little people.
In raising these loves of mine, I sometimes wonder if I am either too strict or too relaxed in their instruction. I rarely feel like I've got the balance just right.
Do I lead them in making good choices and inspire their unique souls to flourish?
Am I encouraging them to stretch their wings and fly?
Or, in my busyness and absent-mindedness, am I clipping their wings instead?
Since the Enemy makes it a habit to study our weaknesses and attack our jugular, he knows how to exploit our parenting insecurities and doubts all too well. His whispered lies can sound like they are on loud-speaker. I have been guilty of listening to the point where I think I just don't have what it takes to get these children ready for adulthood.
Well, guess what? I don't! I need the Ultimate Parent every single step of the way. Through smooth paths and bumpy trails, His truth needs to be the loudest voice I hear. Truths like:
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
While I can and do call on God for guidance, I love that He gives us bonus blessings in the shape of others who will strap on a seatbelt and ride this parenting roller coaster with us. Not just spouses and family, but gal pals, too.
Set up by divine appointments, God has given me an entire posse of fabulous, magnanimous, hilarious mom-friends. And boy, do they ever refresh and encourage me:
"No, Kristen. Your boys won't always stuff their dirty socks in the sofa cushions."
"Yes, Kristen. You're still a good mom even if you had a fit in front of your daughter."
However, these friendships didn't happen without invested effort! As a military wife, I know what it's like to move to a new place and not know one single cotton-pickin' person. To make friends, I have to get myself out there (this used to be so hard for me)!
Why go to all the effort? Because God encourages us to do so, and for good reason. He knows that when we travel in "packs", we are less likely to become prey for predators-one Predator, especially.
Got one friend? Good. Got two? Very good. The more I can build up my posse, the more protected I am. The more encouraged I am.
Being a mom is delightful, but it is hard work, too. Thank God we do not have to do it alone! If you are struggling, ask Him to guide you. Pray for God's grace to cover your parenting mistakes (and we all make them).
And it's not just moms who need a "posse"! Every woman does, no matter the season or stage or her life.
If you find your posse to be lacking, pray for Him to show you opportunities to "round up" some encouraging, godly friends. I'll be praying that for you, too!
Kristen Strong is a wife, mama, writer, and work-in-progress. She and three close friends write to encourage at Moms Sharpening Moms.
You can also follow her on twitter.