How Every Mom Can Plant Seeds of Greatness (Dads, Too!)

If you're like me you probably read that title and thought, Yeah, sure. Easy for you to talk.  

That's because we remember all too well the many times we shushed our children or lost control and started yelling.

Blog. Mom. Son. Daughter. 5.16And that's just for starters. Our minds flood with memories of failing to be the kind of mother we once assumed we would be. Could be. Should be.

Once we had very clear pictures in our minds, didn't we, of the "perfect family" we would have? We assumed if we really, really wanted to be good moms and really, really tried, all the rest would follow naturally.

In no time at all we became wiser. 

Let's be honest here: Being a mom is hard. (So is being a good dad.)

Beforehand we thought, New babies are so adorable! Children are so enchanting!

And they are. Before becoming parents we could not imagine we could ever run out of patience.

Ever run out of love. 

But we do, sometimes. Almost. Like before our newborn finally, finally, starts sleeping all night. Or when our older child pushes all our buttons.

It is scary to admit how weak we are, even to ourselves. We pray for forgiveness, fearful God might punish us for even having such thoughts, however fleeting they may be.

Immediately we resolve to do better. To be more patient, more joyful. To only smile, every moment. No matter what.

Then in no time at all we fail again.  

If you have been there--or are there now--put your feet up and relax. You're among friends, so let's turn the corner in minds and remind ourselves what we're about.  

Recognize the influence you have

Abraham Lincoln said, "All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother." 

Few of us expect to hear glowing tributes like that when our children reach adulthood, but certainly we want to help them grow as individuals and to strengthen the good qualities already implanted in them by their Creator. 

That's a noble goal, but how are we supposed to accomplish it?  

By now one thing I know for sure is that every one of us can rest in the assurance that we and our children are a perfect match for each other.

Think about it. God creates each child and He places us together because we are exactly right for each other--even on our worst days.

Parenting, you see, is a growing proposition. Our children grow up while we grow and stretch in understanding and as individuals.

Our task is to show love and speak love and ask God to enable us and guide us. Every moment of every day and every night.

The simple prayer of a mom or dad who longs to rear their children rightly touches the heart of God, even if all they can manage is, "Help me, Lord!"

Trust me, you won't sprout angel wings

You will disappoint yourself, over and over, but God is faithful, so just ask. Little by little you'll find your love and patience somehow expand. 

You'll develop courage, too, so you can stick to your family standards without apology, simply because you know they are right for your children and your family.

Where do you start? Here: 

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has not one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends."  --John 15:12-13  ESV

That covers it all. Every day.

Is it easy? No

In so many ways moms and dads continually lay down their lives every day.

Children take over our lives. They take up what we used to call "free time." Occupy our thoughts, continually. Consume family income. And on and on.

Yet most parents would not trade even one child for all the gold in Dubai.

When we pray, God will enable us to live out love more selflessly. This transforms our days from the daily grind to the daily gladness.

Don't get me wrong. I did not cheer at the constant cooking and laundry and all the rest. I'm not sure anyone ever has.

But when we do what we do flows out of love, every day becomes worthwhile  That includes the day you have kids barfing upstairs and a puppy with the runs downstairs and then the dishwasher dies.

You stay because your purpose is more lasting than the quickie pleasure of escaping to Starbucks.

Now about those seeds of greatness ... 

President Lincoln grew up in a log cabin. He had none of what we label "advantages," except the one that matters most: He was loved and he knew it.

Jeff Oppenheimer, author, wrote a novel about Lincoln and his stepmother, That Nation Might Live. He put it this way:

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