Reflection on Being a Mom

I just want to share with you from today’s sermon at church.  It was very inspiring and I was filled with gratitude and joy about my future generations to come. To me, there is no greater joy and as well, no greater heartache, than when it comes to being a mom. And I love being a mom. It’s the highest calling in this life besides our purpose in it.

We ALL have the same purpose in life – The Great Commission – to go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As a mom, we are called into partnership with God for this purpose. We can choose this partnership or not. Same thing with our spouses. We can choose to be in partnership with them or not. Sometimes that is beyond our control. But it is much harder without.

Then, we have been given a position of influence. When we utilize the position(s) of influence we are in, we are effective in our partnership with God. As a mom, this means accepting the position of motherhood (whether working at home with our kids or working outside the home): loving, teaching, equipping and disciplining our children in the way they should go, so that they will grow to love and know Jesus and then pro-create future generations of little disciples to do the same. Some mothers have chosen to accept their position of motherhood, some have chosen not to.

As a mom in partnership with our spouses and God, if we do these things, we will one day, successfully launch out these young “arrows” into the world and be blessed by the promises we have in God for our roles as godly moms. And I love what the pastor’s wife said about these arrows…they are our weapons we launch out into the world that make the Enemy of God very nervous, because they (our children) will continue to grow God’s kingdom here on earth.
 I have always believed that my most important job as a mother was to make sure that the children God blessed me with, grew up to know, love and serve Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind. They could be in whatever profession or position God called them to, but if they didn’t accept Christ, then I didn’t do my job well, while they were entrusted to my care.

Even if a child chooses to be wise in their own eyes and become a prodigal to all that they know to be true, if I have done my part in loving and training them well (without exasperating them), then I believe God’s word will not return void in their heart, no matter how long it takes.

Today as a mom I feel so blessed to know that all 3 of my adult children love Jesus, follow Him, and share Him in practical ways with everyone they come in contact with. I am even blessed by the inheritance of two more sons through their marriage to my daughters, and their love of Jesus as well!

I know that it is a very hard job to be a mom.  I believe it’s the hardest job in the whole world, because it is a job of sacrifice, of laying down your life and selfish desires, for that short period of time that they are on loan to you from God.

Be encouraged by grace that if you mess up, God can help you, all you need to do is ask. Also be willing to be a partner to your children’s dad. You were not meant to parent alone. But if you are alone, be sure to find support from others. Be a praying mom above all and seek God’s wisdom in how to be the best mom you can. There is room for failure. Be transparent and admit those failures at appropriate times, but never give up. Keep your wits about you and remain calm and in control of yourself as much as possible!

If you didn’t feel loved by the mom God gave you, be sure to be the mom that your children need. You can stop generations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment and the pain that it causes within one generation, with strength from God, perseverance and help from others.

If you always wanted to be a mom, but can’t be, find someone to be a “mom” to. There is someone out there who needs the love that you have to offer. Happy Mother’s Day dear friend and woman of God!

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭26-29‬ ESV)

“Turning in” an Answer to Gray Divorce

Well, I sat down to write a simple FB post and share an article a friend had posted and found myself getting pulled in. So, here is a second blog this week, because I am on a roll.

So, as I mentioned, a friend of mine just posted this article and it is another great example on how to safeguard your marriage and is a follow-up to my blog on Gray Divorce this last week. In this article, research was done on observing newly married couples to see if there was a way they related that made their marriages more effective and if so what were those ways. They discovered it reflected the concept of being intentional to “turn in” towards your spouse vs. “turning away”. This is done through acts of kindness, respect, thinking from a positive perspective towards your spouse’s intention, and constructive responding.

While this article and research focused on the younger newlyweds up to several years into the marriage, this was also what the research at Bowling Green University (What is this Gray Divorce?) in Ohio had found for couples in their latter years of marriage; there needed to be that intentional “turning in” towards one another to counteract the drifting (even if it is unintentional) that can occur before couples hit the Empty Nest Stage, due to the focus they have placed on their children for so many years. This neglect of nurturing the marriage can lead to what the researchers call “Gray Divorce”.

It should come as no surprise that love and choice fit right into this as we consider our walk as Christians. And we have access to the greatest love of all found in God’s display of love for us in choosing to send His only Son, Jesus, to die for us and our sins so that we could become reconciled to Him. Jesus intentionally submitted His will for the will of the Father’s. It did not come easy to Him – He sweat blood over it as He asked that the cup might pass. But then He said, “Your will be done” and He submitted to the Father by choice. We have to be intentional to choose this kind of love in our lives as well; to die to ourselves for God’s will in our own lives that we might reflect this true and sacrificial love to our spouse. It’s painful to do. I know. My husband and I have practiced it in a very real and hard way coming back from divorcing one another. And we have had to be intentional to also do it in the silly little every day things or whenever something crucial comes up. Our Empty Nest is fast approaching. Marriage is hard, but rewarding when you can break through the pain and hurt and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s harder to make something work than to give up. We are all running a race and we need to keep focused and stay the course, focusing on what is ahead, not looking back.

They will know we are Christians by our love. When we love our spouses well, God will be able to do His work in our spouse’s life and as well, He accomplishes His work through us. Marriage is a refinement of iron sharpening iron. When we remove ourselves and our agendas from the equation of trying to tell our spouse what they should do differently or how they have wronged us, we open the vertical communication between our spouse and God. Quite possibly it could cause your spouse and you to be reconciled to one another as your hearts grow in understanding of the reconciliation you have with God through your Savior. It really boils down to how big you believe your God is in your life (and of course both partners have to be willing to be open to see that).

Here is the link to the article about turning in (a very good read): Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits.

In minutes (it’s almost midnight), my song, A Still and Quiet Night, will be released and it supports this turning in to one another. Reflections at Christmastime can find us missing the past when our children were little. But we can build new memories in the “here and now” moments with what remains…”faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

A Still and Quiet Night - Cover

A Yielded Life – Part I

Meriam Webster defines “yielded” as: to reward, render as fitting, to give up a claim or possession on, to surrender, to cultivate, etc. (see: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yield)

Here are the many definitions of it in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (basically it means the same thing): http://biblez.com/searchstrongs.php?q=Yield

Be sure to read up on these though, because this will be a longer blog series that I want to share with you. This first part will reflect a portion of a testimony and story that I am writing in a book that I hope will be another important part of my ministry here at Jen Haugland Music.

As I went about a particular day in my week (last week), I think I may have experienced most of these different meanings of the word. I certainly yielded to my early morning schedule. I had to drop off my son with his sister early in Seattle,  so I could get to the recording studio in time to lay down vocal tracks for my new EP starting at 10. That meant I had to leave the house by 5:15 to catch an early enough ferry (which I missed by the 4th car) and know my route to my daughter’s house (which I overshot by going a back way from downtown Seattle and ended up in a very wrong neighborhood of W. Seattle and consequently was late to my recording time).

But the morning had started off so good as I laid in bed, slowly waking up, reflecting in my mind these songs that I would be recording that day. They were worship songs and meditating on them, word by word, gave me solitude with my Heavenly Father.  I prayed that He would be glorified in every song that I sang so that the listener on the receiving end of this upcoming EP project would hear whatever message God would have for them.

Then I turned over and looked at my husband of 25 years next to me still sleeping and remembered whom I yielded my life to in marriage, twice! I thought about my God of second, third, fourth (etc.) chances. This day was our 12th wedding anniversary of when Craig and I re-married each other after being divorced for 6 months (and married for 13 years previous to each other). On August 16, 2000, I chose to be brave that day, when I was so scared. I had thought about running away, even at that last moment before walking into that courtroom to go before the Justice of the Peace. My step-mom, whom I had just confessed my fears to, who was by my side said, “I am so proud of you honey, you are so brave” and she held my hand. I never forgot her words.

As I stood outside of that courtroom I thought about that word “brave”.  I had no guarantee that life would be easier, or different from the previous 13 years that we struggled through, but then I heard a still small voice in my ear reminding me, that if I would yield, I had a guarantee that He would be with me every step of the way and carry me when I needed Him too.  I yielded my life to Christ and remembered how much He yielded His life to me and also to my husband who very much needed the same forgiveness that I needed.

Apparently there is something to being brave…

Yes, I trusted my God that day, I chose to be brave and yield to Him and His will in my life (as did Craig), and our God has been faithful… these last 12 years have been the best ever and we count even the 13 before as a blessing as well. Yielding has produced much fruit in our lives. We stood against the forces of darkness that day that longed to destroy us and our little family. We stood against the societal norms of our times and the ‘lie of divorce’ as we stood inside that little room and we confessed to love one another forever with the love that Christ had shown us.

That day, we were surrounded by our small cloud of witnesses here on earth: our 3 beautiful children: Jessica, Rachel & Nathanael, Craig’s dad and mom and my dad and step-mom. I know our Heavenly Father, our Savior, the Spirit and a cloud of witnesses in the heavens were also rejoicing! It is a day we all highly treasure as a family. It changed our hearts, it strengthened our faith and it gave a solid foundation and future to our children who now understand a deeper meaning of what and who love is in their own lives.  It has changed our lives forever in so many ways and we are so thankful for the cross!WeddingDay08162000-1

(to be continued, A Yielded Life-Part II)…

Jessica’s Pearls

This June will be my oldest daughter Jessica and her husband Bailey’s 3rd wedding anniversary. Time seems to go by so fast. Just before her wedding day, I wanted to purchase a beautiful set of pearls for her so that she would always remember them as a gift from her parents, and also one that she could wear on her special day. Not long after the wedding and once they had settled into their first home, she realized they were missing. She had found the bracelet and earrings, but the necklace was lost. She was so sad that she couldn’t find them. I was sad too, when I heard that she had lost them.

Jessica's PearlsJust this Sunday morning I received a text from my daughter as she was preparing for a little getaway with her husband. She wrote, “Guess what priceless wedding present I found in our luggage today?” It was early and I was still trying to see the message clearly as I was just waking up.  I replied, “No clue.”  She wrote back, “The pearl necklace you bought me!” Oh for joy! I was so excited for her. They had been missing for almost 3 years! I imagined her joy was greater than mine. I was also reminded of the scripture about the pearl of great value. So was Jessica. We eagerly pulled out our Bibles from 400 miles apart from each other and searched out that scripture. The next text we sent to each other (almost simultaneously)was the reference to the same story in the Bible. We were on the same page with each other, mother and daughter without knowing it. It was a special moment.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13: 45-46, ESV)

Have you ever gone searching for something of great value and then once you found it, sold everything you had so you could purchase it?

I think about the great cost it is for us as believers to follow Christ. He is that fine pearl that we have found. Do we continue to value that fine pearl? What are all the things that we so willingly have given up and sacrificed to follow Him? Maybe it has been a painful sacrifice, but the joy has outweighed it all? Or maybe you have found the fine pearl, but are still contemplating the cost?

Conversely, I think of Christ who left glory in His Deity with the godhead to come to earth in human form. He chose to humble himself by taking on the form of a human being, even to become obedient to death on a cross (See Philippians 2). In Hebrews 12:2 it says that Christ, “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.” Death did not hold its victory over Him. His goal was to reconcile humankind to himself. The joy set before Him? Huh? To endure the cross? Who would find that joyful? God alone…because His plan was perfect. It was His joy to know that He was purchasing back mankind, once and for all for His own glory. You are a fine pearl to Him. Your value is so great, that Christ laid down His life and then raised it back up again for you. And because He now lives, we too live and we all have a citizenship in heaven that we are waiting for with Him.

Christ gave everything for you. Will you answer the call in your heart to give everything you have in turn for Him? If you are a believer, will you continue to count that cost daily? Maybe even considering it all joy… even when trials come? If you are searching for that fine pearl, will you sell everything you have to purchase it? It’s the greatest cost and the greatest reward!

 

 

Sorrowful Even to Death

Sometimes our sorrows and griefs can be so overwhelming that we wish we could die or have contemplated taking our lives in suicide. This is sorrow at its worst, when we think we can’t go on anymore. And then the Enemy uses our thoughts to attack us in these lowest times. He is the deceiver and destroyer of life. Don’t listen to the lies, you are not alone.

On a night of intense sorrows, and after Jesus had shared Passover with His disciples He went to Gethsemane to pray. He took three of his closest friends with Him: Peter, James and John. Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled and He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little further he fell on his face and prayed saying. ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.” Matthew 26:36-40, ESV

Jesus was indeed sorrowful and anguished. Luke tells us that He even sweat drops of blood in that anguish. Even the grove itself was a place where olives were pressed. And Jesus was pressed here, in this moment; even before He experienced death on a cross for you and me. He suffered greatly. He was betrayed and then beaten and humiliated unto death. He bore it all. His purpose from before time, when He was in the Godhead was the way of the Cross.

Yes, He knows our deep sorrows and griefs that we suffer. He went to death so that we would be freed from the bondage of sin and death. No intense grief or sorrow that permeates our souls could ever be greater than what He bore in His body, because He bore it all, from all of us, for all of us. When all the sins of the world were laid upon His shoulders as the One and only perfect sacrifice, for that brief moment, He was all alone. Intense heaviness, through and through. Even in that moment, Satan thought he had defeated Jesus in death. But we know, on that third day, Christ raised Himself from the grave and He now lives. This is our hope for all humanity! Because He lives, we live!

Jesus has promised us, He is with us always – forever! He will never leave or forsake us. He is God with us and now His Holy Spirit lives in us as a deposit and guarantee that He is coming back for us! Lift your eyes up to the One who rescues you and forgives you of ALL your sins. He bears all of your burdens and sorrows. He mourns with those who mourn. He draws near to the broken-hearted. He is the forgiver of sins and He is the giver of all LIFE!