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Motherhood

Fresh Start for Moms

5.5.2020

Just over a year ago, Fresh Start for Moms was released as a devotional companion to the book, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday. And today, we’re giving you the first three days for free! We encourage you to set aside the next three days to really make use of the sample below. Along with your Bible, grab a notebook to record what the Lord reveals to you along the way. This might be just the fresh start you need, momma!

DAY 1: GETTING A HEALTHY GLOW

At the ripe age of thirty-three, I’m starting to notice the crater-sized pores on my face, the stray facial hairs, and the ruddy complexion. Yesterday I found a hair that was literally an inch long coming from my forehead! How? When I look in the mirror, I feel too young to feel this old. I get overwhelmed by the idea that this skin isn’t getting any better, and the rate of deterioration is only going to accelerate over the next thirty-three-plus years.But before I take a nosedive into a sea of miracle creams, I’d like to spend some time in the book of Exodus, where we can learn an unexpected lesson in beauty from Moses. I know. It seems like I’m reaching on this one, but stay with me. That old guy with skin that was no doubt windburned and dry from decades in the desert knew a thing or two about getting a healthy glow.

I’ve always been captivated by Moses and his relationship with the Lord. The conversations he had with God and the things God said about him carry a lot of relevance for us today. I’m continually amazed by the intimacy he had with the Lord—something I wouldn’t typically expect for someone in the Old Testament. Over and over in Scripture we see Moses coming to the Lord in prayer, and we see God responding. God saved the Israelites time and time again, he healed Moses’ sister Miriam, and he turned away his wrath—all because Moses asked him to.

Perhaps most amazing of all, Moses got to go on a mountaintop and speak face-to-face with God. Here’s what happened afterward: “The Israelites would see the face of Moses, how his skin shone [with a unique radiance]. So Moses put the veil on his face again until he went in to speak with God” (Exodus 34:35, amp).

Y’all, I just love this! I want that healthy glow—the kind that comes from spending time in the Lord’s presence. I want to invest my time doing something that literally changes my countenance. I want to glow—not the glow that comes from too much time in front of my cell phone screen, but the one that comes from staring into the face of God as I read his Word and pray.

As much as I’d love smooth, porcelain skin, that desire starts to wane as I compare it to the potential for a heavenly glow that no manufactured product could create. And it’s not just Moses who got to experience this: “The Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). As I read these words, my heart aches with excitement over the idea that this can be true of me—that I, too, could reflect the glory of the Lord.

The real glow is found in the presence of the Lord, so keep running back to him. Wake up each morning with him so that when you close your Bible or say “Amen,” you walk out fresh-faced and ready to tackle the day.

I want my kids to notice a difference in me after I pray and read the Word, not just when I slap on a little lipstick and mascara. I want to walk away different. Spending time with God has the power to do that. I just have to apply his Word to my life.

Here’s one final encouragement as you ponder what it means to glow as you spend time in God’s Word and in prayer: “Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” (Proverbs 3:7-8, MSG).

The presence of the Lord changes us. It brings life to our aching bones and aging faces, and it can change our countenance more than any magical elixir.

Action Step

Commit to meeting with the Lord each morning, even if it’s just for a few minutes, before you meet with anyone else. Let him shine on you so that you can walk out of your room or your house different than you were before.

Prayer

Father, I want beautiful skin, but I want you more. This is my prayer: that I would clamor for time with you more than I strive to perfect my outside. The radiance that shines in me when I am in your presence is more beautiful than anything I could imagine. Help me to remember that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Morning Questions

In Fresh Start for Moms, there’s space to answer these questions each day. Feel free to pull out a notebook and record your answers there–that’s how you’re going to get the most out of it!

  • Takeaway Today: Who in your life has a glow about them from spending time with Jesus? How can you spend some time today basking in the Lord’s presence? You could put on worship music in the car or listen to Scripture while you’re running errands.
  • Dreading Today: Is there anything you’re dreading today?
  • Redefining Today: If so, what is another way you can view that thing you’re dreading?
  • Asking God Today: What request are you bringing before the Lord today?

Evening Questions

  • Reflection: Were there any moments today when you sensed that you had a “glow” as a result of spending time in God’s presence?
  • Little Victories: Where did you see God show up even in small ways, reminding you that you aren’t alone?
  • White Flag Moments: When did you want to hide or escape today? It helps to recognize your toughest moments so you can figure out what’s driving you there and conquer the temptation to check out.
  • Memory of the Day: What do you want to relish and thank God for?

My Prayer

In Fresh Start for Moms, lines are included for you to write out a prayer to the Lord each day. We hope you’ll end your time that way as you complete these sample days!

 


 

DAY 2: OUR THREE ENEMIES

We have three enemies, Tim Keller says. And contrary to what I sometimes assume, they don’t go by the names of Tyler (my husband), Vivi, or Vana (my girls). Nope. My enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil. Today, momma, we are suiting up so we can learn how to respond to the real enemies instead of devoting energy to battling those who are, in fact, on our teams.

Maybe you’ve had days when you feel like you are taking on the greatest evil that ever lived: a toddler who hasn’t napped and is demanding dinner. Or maybe you’ve teamed up with your kids to feel like the victims of your husband, who got home late again.

Even the idea that we could see our kids or spouse as the enemy reveals that we have another enemy who is working aggressively to convince us that ripping our teammates apart is the way to feel better or get what we want. It isn’t.

Let’s talk specifics. Being aware of our real enemies and their usual tactics is the first step to defeating them.

Enemy #1: The world. Our world constantly lies to us about motherhood, and those lies can hold us back from enjoying the life God has graciously given us. We are currently living in enemy territory, and we can’t get so comfortable that we start thinking this place is our home. When we do, the lies can seep in and defeat us. As it says in 1 John 5:19-20, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ” (NIV).motherhood book

Enemy #2: The flesh. We were born sinners, and because of this, we don’t have a natural bent toward holiness. We are constantly fighting against our flesh, which is wired to choose evil. As hopeless as that sounds, as believers we are overflowing with hope because the Holy Spirit is at work in us. But we have to know our natural bent so we don’t trust every thought that comes to mind. Instead of going along with our natural tendencies, we need to set our minds on something better. Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (ESV).

Enemy #3: The devil. The devil has not a single good plan for our lives. He is out to destroy us. If he’s missed the chance to keep us enemies of God, he will at the very least try to keep us so busy and distracted that we won’t recruit anyone to the Lord’s side. Those distractions might come in the form of thinking of ourselves too much or even in the form of something good, like establishing our kids’ healthy physical habits, but at the expense of neglecting their hearts. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV).

The ally: God. Sometimes, as crazy as this might sound at first, we can treat God like the enemy. We balk at his direction. We assume we have a better plan. We get upset because life isn’t going the way we’d hoped, and we assume it’s because God has forgotten us or, worse, that he sees us but just doesn’t care. That’s when we need to remember that God sent his Son to die so that we could have life. Did you catch that? A full life. When our days get crazy, we have to run into the arms of God in full assurance that we are safe there, instead of running into the arms of the enemy.

Action Step

The next time you feel like you are bracing for a fight, identify the real enemy. Is the enemy really your kid who is fighting bedtime, or is it the lie of the world that your comfort is most important and your demands should be met perfectly? Meditate on these verses today: Romans 8:1-11; Ephesians 6:12; and 1 Peter 5:8.

Prayer

Father, I’ve been fighting the wrong enemies—and it’s exhausting. Arm me with your truth. Help me to identify my real enemies, and help me to create a strong alliance in my family and with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Morning Questions

In Fresh Start for Moms, there’s space to answer these questions each day. Feel free to pull out a notebook and record your answers there–that’s how you’re going to get the most out of it!

  • Takeaway Today: Who do you tend to assume your enemies are? Which real enemy (the world, the flesh, or the devil) trips you up the most?
  • Dreading Today: Is there anything you’re dreading today?
  • Redefining Today: If so, what is another way you can view that thing you’re dreading?
  • Asking God Today: What request are you bringing before the Lord today?

Evening Questions

  • Reflection: Were there any moments today when you sensed that God was your ally?
  • Little Victories: Where did you see God show up even in small ways, reminding you that you aren’t alone?
  • White Flag Moments: When did you want to hide or escape today?
  • Memory of the Day: What do you want to relish and thank God for?

My Prayer

In Fresh Start for Moms, lines are included for you to write out a prayer to the Lord each day. We hope you’ll end your time that way as you complete these sample days!

 


 

DAY 3: THIS PRESENT GUILT

As I plopped down in my favorite booth at the coffee shop with my green tea and added collagen (that’s to impress you health nuts) and began to write, I did this thing that I find myself doing most workdays. I got all sentimental about my girls and watched at least one video of them on my phone before I started my work. That’s cute, right?

But here’s what it actually looked like: I pictured the blissful fun I should have been having with them at that moment and immediately felt guilty for working instead of spending time with them. I chastised myself for being a distracted mom and wondered if I should go home so I could let the Lord use me to change their little lives. The result was a distracted author.

This is just one of the ways Satan uses false guilt to hamper what God wants to do through us. We can spend all our time thinking we should be in the utopian version of whatever we’re missing out on. On this occasion, though, as I was sitting in front of my computer wishing I was with my girls, I thought about the reality. I pictured my girls in the car with me without all the beautiful, noise-reducing Instagram filters. And guess what I was doing? I was wishing I had time to think and write! It’s absolute madness, right? I was doing the very thing I wanted to be doing in that moment that I thought I wanted right now. Here’s another way of putting it: the grass is always greener on the other side, while the guilt is always heavier on my side.

It’s true that there’s healthy guilt that comes from conviction over sin. But this guilt over not being everywhere at once is not based on reality. We cannot be physically present for our children every moment of every day. If we try to hold ourselves to this standard, the irony is that we will live consumed (and distracted) by our guilt for not spending enough time with our kids.

So yes, you might have some real issues to bring to the Lord about areas of sin and things you know you need to change. But let’s not amplify that by feeling guilty over made-up things. Instead, let’s live in the freedom the Cross offers so we can actually enjoy those kids we feel guilty for not enjoying more.

Here’s how this works in my world, practically speaking. I set aside the first hour after the girls wake up and the first hour after nap time as no-phone time. I make sure I am really present, and I ask them lots of questions. I make sure to fill their tanks. Normally that hour prepares my heart for a more present day, and if there are moments I just have to get the dishes done or do some work while they play on the floor by themselves, I don’t need to feel guilty about it.

I used to get kind of mad about how prevalent the message of grace is in the church. I used to think grace meant a free pass to sin. But that’s not real grace. When we truly understand grace, it frees us up to live a life of obedience. Grace doesn’t replace obedience; it energizes and propels our obedience. As we seek to be more present, we need to cling to this grace instead of living under a cloud of false guilt.

Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (NIV). I want to live each day as if I believe this to be true. Let’s not let our guilt about not being more present with our kids become another distraction from being present with them. May the grace of God propel us forward into obedience and into undistracted moments with our kids—without all the residue of guilt.

Action Step

Choose one hour today to be present with your kids. You can cook together or enjoy a meal around the table, distraction-free. If your kids are younger, you may want to start the time by reading books together. If you have older children, you might want to try a board game or card game.

Prayer

Father, I long to be present with my children, but in doing so, I carry a weight of guilt that you never asked me to carry. Show me how to walk in the freedom that you have already paid for. Let your grace propel me forward in obedience. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Morning Questions

In Fresh Start for Moms, there’s space to answer these questions each day. Feel free to pull out a notebook and record your answers there–that’s how you’re going to get the most out of it!

  • Takeaway Today: When are you most likely to feel a sense of false guilt? When is it hardest for you to be present (e.g., with your children, with your spouse, at work)?
  • Dreading Today: Is there anything you’re dreading today?
  • Redefining Today: If so, what is another way you can view that thing you’re dreading?
  • Asking God today: What request are you bringing before the Lord today?

Evening Questions

  • Reflection: Were you able to spend some time being fully present with your children? What went well and what was challenging about that time?
  • Little Victories: Where did you see God show up even in small ways, reminding you that you aren’t alone?
  • White Flag Moments: When did you want to hide or escape today?
  • Memory of the Day: What do you want to relish and thank God for?

My Prayer

In Fresh Start for Moms, lines are included for you to write out a prayer to the Lord each day. We hope you’ll end your time that way as you complete these sample days!

Hope you enjoyed this sample of Fresh Start for Moms! Click here to find the full 31-day devotional at a retailer near you!

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