Let the Education Begin

education

Motherhood. We tend to think of this as a season for teaching. We bear the responsibility for a tiny life and for the next 18 years – or more accurately for the rest of our lives – it is our responsibility to guide, correct, and teach these God-given blessings. That’s what I thought anyway.

It didn’t take me very long after giving birth to my first son to realize that the one who was going to do most of the learning was ME! One of my favorite sayings when coming upon a new challenge quickly became, “No one tells you about this before you enter motherhood!”

At first it was very concerning as I realized daily all the things I didn’t know, but over time I have come to embrace the learning process. I now know that I would never be what I am today if it were not for the education that has taken place throughout my years as a mother.

As I began my mom journey, I was encouraged by the Bible verse, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young.” Isaiah 40:11 (AMP)

As I struggled with making decisions; dealing with crying babies; breaking up toddler fights; and knowing how to handle medical crises, homework assignments, and broken hearts, I often felt unprepared. This typically led to times of discouragement and doubt. But when I discovered this verse in Isaiah, I was encouraged to know that I was not alone in the mothering process. The Lord was really the One Who would shepherd my children – and even more than that He would lead me as I led them!

I gave in to the learning process. I recognized that to be a good mother all I have to do is follow the Good Shepherd.

By seeking Him daily through His Word, asking His guidance, and giving myself the freedom to learn through my mistakes, I grew as an individual right along with my children – and I was a lot easier to live with!

Through the years, I have continued to grow because there are always new challenges. And as any woman with children knows, a mother never stops being a mother. It is a journey of learning, leading, and following that lasts a lifetime.

So don’t be discouraged. Make it your priority to follow the Shepherd Who carries the lambs in His arms and gently leads the nursing young. Let the education begin!

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What No Mom Wants to Talk About

no mom 2

Don’t TV stations do a great job of pulling you to a must see show? I had seen the ads for Tyra and knew it was one I didn’t want to miss.

In her very frank way, the talk show host was dragging all “private” issues out in the open as she interviewed a panel of teen girls. The topic: sexting. The surprise guests: their mothers. Wow were they surprised as these moms heard their thirteen, fourteen and fifteen-year-old girls talk freely of the explicit language and NUDE pictures they regularly exchange with their friends. The shock on the mothers’ faces proved they had no idea it was happening. The nude girl on the phone was a totally different girl than the daughter in their home…or so they thought.

I don’t know about your community, but it is a common occurrence for my girl to see phones passed around in her school. It’s no secret. She and every other student know exactly what the kids are sharing.

“Nudes” as they are called, fall under the topic “No Mom Wants to Talk About”. Tough conversations are more than uncomfortable, but we must have them. Nudes have become common place in our kid’s culture. We cannot pretend it is not happening. When we turn an eye, we’re turning to hide.

For starters, Mom, it is important to know who your child is on social media with. Are you following her on Instagram, Twitter or Snap Chat? Is the boy at the supper table each evening the same guy on Instagram? Is she one girl when praying at night, and a different one when texting in the dark?

Maybe you don’t follow your child because they have protested; pulled the “privacy” card. In our house you have a right to your privacy when you begin paying for the roof over your head. Giving too much privacy when a child is still maturing puts a child at risk.

As their parents, it is our responsibility to challenge our kids to live a life that honors God in every aspect of their lives, and social media is no exception. This is the platform where they can begin to display their bravery with their faith, like Peter did. 

In Acts 5, Peter was being pushed and pulled by those around him who called the shots, the guys who determined who was in, and who was out (they had so much power they could determine who would live and who would die!) Peter’s answer to these dudes was “It is better to obey God rather than men.”

Does the life of our kids’ reflect Peter’s statement?

Standing for something when everyone else is falling for everything is beyond hard. Yet in 2 Timothy 1:12 ESV, Paul challenges Timothy, “ which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Don’t be afraid to challenge your child.  Who are they going to be, and what are they going to stand for?

And before you have some words to say, take some time with some words to pray:

Jesus, help ___________ to want to stand up for you. Holy Spirit, whisper to her if she is being fake. Empower her to be real and choose to obey you. Amen.

Ask your child to be honest today. Is the the girl she is projecting and the girl she is at home one and the same?

 

Lynn - Headshot  edited   Lynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 speaker and the author of several books including her newest “Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants”. Lynn helps set girls and women on the path toward wise choices by leading them to the only love that can fill the love gap in their hearts. Her husband and their three children live in North Carolina where they love hiking, rafting and anything combining chocolate and peanut butter. Connect with her more at www.LynnCowell.com

 

 

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The Voice, The MOM Initiative & Titus 2

voice

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5 (NLT)

Have you seen The Voice. It’s one of the number one shows in the country.

Each season they begin the show with blind auditions. The judges face the audience while the signers give it all they’ve got in hopes that at least judge will turn around and pick them to be on their team.

Each of the four judges builds a team and then begins mentoring the singers to help them in their journey to become the best singer they can possibly be.

The judges who are older and more experienced schedule some time to meet with the younger singers and… 

  • Give them helpful tips
  • Teach them what they may not know
  • Help them understand their strengths and weaknesses
  • Make them aware of things they may not have known existed
  • Are there for them when they need a listening ear or aren’t sure what to do
  • Warn them of things they need to avoid
  • Help them hurdle over the obstacles of fear, doubt and insecurity that may be hindering them from fully embracing their identity as a star.

Basically, they pour themselves into those who are now where they once were – the help them fulfill their potential.

Minus the judging and the competition, it sounds a bit like what we do at The MOM Initiative to me. 

Mentoring. Titus 2 in real life! It’s what we are all about because it’s what God’s Word calls us to.

MENTORS who are older and more experienced schedule some time to meet with the younger women and… 

  • Give them helpful tips
  • Teach them what they may not know
  • Help them understand their strengths and weaknesses
  • Make them aware of things they may not know existed
  • Are there for them when they need a listening ear or aren’t sure what to do
  • Warn them of things they need to avoid
  • Help them hurdle over the obstacles of fear, doubt and insecurity that may be hindering them from fully embracing their identity as a mom.

Basically, they pour themselves into those who are now where they once were – the help them fulfill their potential and the mom God created them to be.

Okay, so The MOM Initiative and The VOICE are also very different… but they get the power of mentoring.

The CHURCH should get the POWER of MENTORING TOO!

Titus 2 ministries should be foundational to every women’s ministry because it is what the Lord has called us to do in order to not only leave a legacy of faith but to also reach women for Christ through the power of missional mentoring.

It’s what The MOM Initiative is all about. We minister to moms who know Christ and reach those who don’t… and we do it through mentoring moms in tailor-made MOM Groups across the world.

MOM Groups can be one-on-one, in a small group, or in a large group.

They can be in a home, at a park, at a coffee shop, in a low income apartment complex, at a crisis pregnancy center, in a juvenile shelter, on the mission field, or in a ob/gyn or pediatric doctor’s office.

MOM Groups can be organic in nature or very structured. 

We help you tailor a mentoring ministry that works for you and make mentoring easy and missional!

It’s Titus 2 in real life – reaching the moms of this generation so we can reach the heart of the next generation.

* DOES YOUR CHURCH HAVE A TITUS 2 MINISTRY? 

* DO YOU HAVE MOM GROUPS IN YOUR CHURCH AND/OR COMMUNITY?

* HAVE YOU WANTED TO BEGIN A TITUS 2 MINISTRY BUT COULDN’T FIND ONE TO FIT YOUR NEEDS? YOUR VOLUNTEER BASE? YOUR SKILL SET? YOUR LOGISTICS?

The MOM Initiative can help you tailor a Titus 2 ministry in your church and help you leverage your current and potential community relationships to help you make mentoring missional and begin ministering to moms beyond the four walls of your church as well as within it.

If you’d like to know more, email me at info@themominitiative.com and schedule a personal conference call to discover how you can begin an new tailor-made Titus 2 ministry in your church or enhance the one you already have.

You can also find out more by clicking this link to our Join the Revolution page.

Oh…and by the way… if only 3 moms in 1/2 of the churches in the United States would mentor just 3 other moms, we could impact a million moms for Christ and ultimately reach 2.5 million children as a result! 

So…Are you READY to JOIN the REVOLUTION? READY to TAKE TITUS 2 to the STREETS? 

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Brave Moms Raise Wildly Brave Kids

brave

It’s no secret my siblings and I were raised by wolves.

Being the product of a desert-raised dweller growing up in the 80’s, my mom’s philosophy to mothering was this, “Outside!” My five siblings and I spent hours on end out of eyesight, playing in the gullies and washes of our Arizona home. We only came home at dusk or to be fed or when someone needed stitches; and we didn’t return to the house until our wildly concocted stories matched of why Child A hit her head on a pipe. Besides, mom didn’t really need to know the reason why Doyle needed stitches when he “fell” off the homemade seesaw we made out of a coffee table; nor did mom really need to know the reason why Becky had severe rope burn because we were playing Trapeze at the top of a two-story tall tree.

This wolf-type childhood embellished many of our Shaw traits which included being strong-willed, always seeing the possibility, and pushing all that much harder to make something happen. It served me well when I became a teenage mom; I thought, if my mom can raise six kids, work full time and be married to the nursing program–why can’t I?

2005 became the year of triumph as I heard the roars of the “Shaw Clan” over the noise of the University’s packed gymnasium for graduation. In a matter of seconds, the courage and bravery of my childhood fueled my early years of mothering. I was either insane or had some bravery in order to to be a full time mom, wife, and college student for four INSANE years to accomplish a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice–a degree that has served me quite well with my kids. :-)

This of course means, it’s very apparent my children are somewhat being raised the same way.

At times it was embarrassing because my kids would act out of line, but then I realized something, my kids weren’t afraid to take risks.

I began to embrace I was that mom with those kids.  But I struggled with it for a long time, being surrounded by sweet and precious moms, reading blogs about the preciousness of motherhood, and watching tv shows where moms resembled Martha Stewart.

I am none of those. NONE.

Don’t get me wrong, when I first experienced motherhood post utreo–I freaked about SIDS/kidnappings/locking baby in the car (by the way I have the lock mobile on speed dial) / breastfeeding / bottle feeding/ making babyfood/ GMO’s/ too much TV / FBI Surveillance / yelling/ not yelling / and DHHS stocking me.

But after college graduation when my brood grew to three very loud, ADHD, boisterous, strong-willed kids, I realized little things like not washing hands, sharing germs, boy farts in the middle of the store, and Sunday School time outs didn’t label me as a bad mom. My kids do not have a sweet, precious mom.  Instead they’ve been blessed to have a wolf-raised mother combined with a fiery personality who doesn’t know when to shut up, lacks the gene for gourmet meals, has a criminal record, and freaks when clutter makes her feel OCD. And instead of seeing sweet, well-mannered children, I found myself face to face with mini me’s in one shape or form.

Over time I realized this lack of preciousness has been both a gift and blessing to my kids. Why? Brave moms raise brave kids.

That’s right, that crazy mom produces kids who are resilient, tough, able to think for themselves and know where the boundaries are. After all, they pushed and took risks to understand the cause and effect of set boundaries. And despite how our modern parenting has turned the word risk into a bad word, risk taking is a disciple making, Jesus following quality.

Jesus’ disciples weren’t your typical, everyday men. They had reputations, were known for murder, performing hard labor jobs, or robbing others of their money. But these men changed the world. They opted to take the ultimate risk–leaving everything they knew and loved to follow Jesus. That risky choice etched their names into stories recorded on ancient scrolls for future generations like us to read in awe.

All passionately lived and obsessed over kingdom work–changing lives and dying as martyrs. The difference between these men (and women) boils down to one key identifier: Risk. And this is how I want to raise my kids; I teach them to pattern their lives after Jesus’ Disciples–to have their hearts engulfed in spreading the Gospel.

So here’s the question, are we really brave enough to trust God with our kids?
Do we really believe God’s word for them, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Do we really want our kids to be sold out for Jesus?
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

And really… what if our children suffer, fail, lose, and or come up against life’s greatest pains for the sake of being conformed to the image of Christ?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

To shy away from this world in order to conform to His image means this: risk everything! Risk. It. All. And this is what I truly want to see in my kids. Sure, it will be messy, dirty and marked with suffering. Most assuredly they will journey through some of the deepest valleys known to man–risking everything as they are called according to His purpose.

And most likely I will freak, question how I raised them, and go OCD in organizing my Tupperware as I worry over the choices and mistakes they are making under my roof. But I realized something, if I am too afraid of the world and all the evil it holds, how can my children learn to problem solve, think for themselves, and try a million different ways to accomplish something if I raise them in fear?

Our job isn’t to act as a shield, hiding them from the world, nor should we act as lawnmower moms–creating a clear cut paths without any obstacles. Our job is to love them through their embarrassing moments, to coach them through their mistakes, to give wisdom and to teach discernment in their failures and success as Jesus goes about his messy business of conforming our child to his image.

Because if we don’t allow them to face hardship, to take risks, and to encounter our cold world–they won’t become great disciples. They won’t have a passionate faith of their own where they are running straight for the heart of God.

So let us go about the business of raising brave kids through moments where they will have the choice to choose courage.

Let us open the boundaries wide so they can choose risk, fail, try again and succeed so they can choose perseverance.

Little mama, be brave and let go–just enough for them to experience what it means to take courage, to persevere, to risk—to be sold out for Christ.

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Heroes at Easter

Easter

When Easter comes around some of us struggle with the dilemma of how to approach Easter with our children.  Christmas is pretty easy.  It’s the time Jesus was born as a baby. Children understand that.  

But Easter? How do we explain the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, so a child can understand it?  And then to compound these issues, how do we handle the Easter bunny, which is the part of Easter that children do relate to, but which has nothing to do with the true meaning of Easter? 

Children love heroes. For little boys, nothing surpasses the thrill of Spider Man, Batman, Tron and an array of new monster and dinosaur heroes that parents may have a hard time relating to. 

For little girls, the joy of seeing the rescue of a damsel in distress warms her heart and reassures her that life can be safe and secure when heroes are around.  

Underneath it all, doesn’t every girl want to one day find a hero?  And doesn’t every boy dream of becoming one? 

My Second Grade Hero

When I was in second grade, Stephen, a boy in my class, stood up for me in my utter embarrassment when other children laughed at me and pointed to a hole in my pants. “I don’t think it’s funny,” he said . . .  and the other children stopped laughing.  He became my hero, my first childhood “like.” And if I’d had a boy instead of two girls, one of the names I had chosen to use was . . . you guessed it . . . Stephen.

 But who is actually the greatest hero of all?  Who sacrificed his life for us so we could live forever? Who loved us so much that even when we ourselves were a sinful mess and oblivious to our fate of destruction, he chose to rescue us and die for us?  And beyond that, this hero didn’t just die the death of a martyr, he showed His power by coming back to life!

Wow!  Now that’s a hero!

And that’s Jesus!

The biggest hero of all.

My new children’s book for Easter, which released this January, is about an ordinary rabbit that is willing to sacrifice his life for a little angel when a tiger threatens her life on the first Easter eve. It’s a winsome allegory about prayer, God’s omnipresence, His great love for us, and what Jesus did for us at Easter.  It’s the story of a hero. Here’s an excerpt from The Bunny Side of Easter:

Audrey flapped her wings and rose up on her toes. “God loves us soooo much,” Audrey [the angel] said.  

How much?” Hal [the bunny] asked. 

 Audrey stretched her arms as wide as she could. “This much!”

“Wow, that’s a lot,” Hal said.

As the story progresses and danger draws near, the little rabbit steps up to the plate and lets his bravery shine through when he saves her life and becomes an Easter hero . . . who then becomes the Easter bunny. 

Bunny Side of Easter Cover 200The Bunny Side of Easter is an adventure story of heroism that points children to the biggest hero of all—Jesus our savior who saved us, so we could live forever. 

The Biggest Hero of All

So when talking to your children about the significance of Easter this year, let them know that Jesus is our BIGGEST hero.  And if you want a little story to more easily lead you into that discussion, you might want to check out my new book, The Bunny Side of Easter. A discussion guide on my website will help drive the conversation. 

If you’re one of those parents who have trouble knowing what to do with the Easter bunny and how to explain to your children how it relates to the true story of Easter, you may find that the heroism analogy in this little book can actually use the Easter bunny to help your children better understand what Easter is all about. For Easter is all about our hero—the biggest hero of all who came to rescue us and give us eternal life.

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Head shot - FFWC 1-croppedAs author of The Bunny Side of Easter, Linda W. Rooks takes her life-long love of children’s books and uses it to tell a winsome, but exciting adventure that points children to the real meaning of Easter.  Her first adult book, Broken Heart on Hold, was published in 2006 and continues to minister to women in broken marriages. Linda’s writing has appeared in a number of national publications, including Chicken Soup for the Beach Lover’s Soul, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife. She has appeared as a guest many times on TV and radio talk shows across the North American continent.

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