Seeing a gift as a gift leads to greater joy

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I’m very thankful for my wife, who goes above and beyond as a wife and mother every day. With homeschooling, the regular chores, and then added responsibilities when I’m away from home,1 she deserves a lot more than a mere “thanks.” (And yet, this is pretty much what I’ve got for her right now.)

But my wife isn’t some sort of unusual super-star who goes above and beyond. She’s like most of the wives and mothers I know. They work hard—really hard—caring for their families. And more often than not, it’s without complaint, and without a break. It’s easy for the unceasing requests to wipe noses, mouths and other orifices to either supplant their identities or eat away at their spirits; and what is a good gift becomes tiresome toil.

That struggle isn’t exclusive to mothers, though—it’s common to us all. That’s one of the things I really appreciated about this passage from Gloria Furman’s excellent book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. Gloria writes:

When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God. No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.…

The gifts that God gives us serve this holy purpose—to direct our praise to the giver of those gifts. If you enjoy the gift of your children and the gift of your motherhood, but your joy terminates in those gifts, then you’ve missed the point of those gifts. (30-31)

Motherhood (and fatherhood, too) is a wonderful gift, as any mother, including my wife, will tell you. If this good gift is given the wrong sort of attention, it makes for a terrible god. But when we give it the right sort of attention–when we see the gift as truly a gift—it is a glorious way to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus.


Photo by Andrea Bartholomew.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Amazon’s Big Deal sale started yesterday, and there are a number of great books on sale including these four by Kevin DeYoung ($2.99 each):

Also on sale:

Today’s also the last day to take advantage of Crossway’s regular weekly deals:

9 Things Adult Daughters Want Their Mothers to Know

Gaye and Anna Clark:

Anna, like many young women, is a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl. Throughout her life, he’d been the go-to parent for her. “I’m just like Dad,” she would explain. “Besides, Nathan is your favorite anyway.”

Ouch. I didn’t want to be accused of playing favorites. With my husband’s recent death, I held both my children closer than ever. How could I improve my relationship with my adult daughter and point her to Christ?

Recently, I asked Anna, now 22 and a senior at Covenant College, to give me nine things a mother needs to know about her adult daughter. So she and her friends crowded around a lunch table. Much of what they said, to me, looks a lot like the practical application of Ephesians 6.

God Moves

Kevin DeYoung continues his series “Hymns we should sing more often.”

Nashville timelapse

If you were wondering why I think Nashville is a pretty rad place to visit, this might help:

Why Not to Have a Woman Preach

Tom Schreiner weighs in on Andrew Wilson’s response to John Piper’s response to the question of whether or not women should preach in the Sunday morning worship gathering.

The Real Miracle

Nick Batzig:

A friend recently said to me, “I don’t deserve the life I have. Years ago I was wandering from God out in the far country and He saved me; He gave me a wife that I don’t deserve, children that I don’t deserve, a biblically faithful church and is now giving me opportunities to be used in His church. People are always talking about miracles, but this is the real miracle–that God would save us, redeem our lives and use us in His Kingdom.” I couldn’t agree more.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

In honor of Mother’s Day next weekend, Crossway’s Kindle deals are focused on books for women:

Also on sale:

Cyprian’s prayer for perseverance through persecution

This is really great.

Would the Apostle Paul Listen to Lecrae?

Brandon Smith:

What we tend forget is that the hymns or chants we love were once themselves “modern” and sometimes controversial based on their tune, tempo, or similarity to “pagan” music forms. Our desire for older music is misguided because we forget that our music will one day be the “ancient” music some pine for. Age of the song should be disregarded.

Are We Hiding Behind Pulpits?

R.C. Sproul Jr:

Before we answer we have to confess that the ideology is not a direct assault on any of our most ancient creeds. Our Lord never spoke specifically against the peculiar sin that animated this small group. There may be a few obscure texts in the Bible that, indirectly it would seem, touch on the sin. But truth be told, one could preach through the whole Bible without ever having to actually name the twisted doctrine of this group.

Nothing Left to Hide

Jon Bloom:

We all know insincerity when we see it. Most of really don’t like it when we see it in others. And we roundly condemn misleading marketing by mendacious merchants.

But most of us also find it hard to fully live “without wax” ourselves. I know this by observation and experience. I know it mainly because I know me. I am a clay jar (2 Corinthians 4:7) — and one that is quite flawed. And my sin-nature is a mendacious marketing merchant. It does not want you or anyone else to see my defects. It wants to hide the defects behind a deceptive wax and sell you a better version of me than is real.

Nehemiah’s List

Michael Kelley:

I live by lists. In fact, I take so much joy in crossing things off a list that if I do something that’s not on my list, I’ll write it on there just for the sheer pleasure of crossing it off. It’s encouraging to me, then, when I look to Scripture and see other list-makers (maybe there’s a place for us in the kingdom of God, too).

Is there really a BAD gift for Mother’s Day?

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Yes. The answer is yes. 

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and some of us may be in scramble mode. We didn’t already pick up something or we’ve been so busy that we totally forgot. But some of us, we’ve got it covered. We got the card. We got the gift. We’re set.

Maybe.

Unless we aren’t.

Now we’re starting to second-guess ourselves and wonder, “Did I just get [my wife or mom] a terrible gift?” The cold-sweats have kicked in. You’re considering ordering some flowers RIGHT NOW just to cover yourself.

But do you really need to freak out like this?

Maybe. But, really, probably not. You just think you do.

To help you feel better, I wanted to share the secret of what makes a bad Mother’s Day gift. Are you ready for it? Here goes:

A bad gift is something inconsiderate.

Simple as that. Here are a few examples:

If she life isn’t a reader, don’t buy her books. And especially, don’t buy her books that you want to read. This is also known as “pulling a Homer.”

If she hasn’t been eyeing certain brands of vacuums for years, don’t buy her one. However, if she’s spent a great deal of time lamenting her college-broke budget vacuum that doesn’t even pick up red pepper seeds, you’re in the clear to buy a good quality one.

If she’s not a fan of women’s retreats, don’t buy her tickets to the TGC women’s conference. While I’m sure the event will be great, it’s probably not the best thing for a woman who really hates pretty much any sort of women’s event.

I could go on, but I trust you get the point.

So what makes a good gift? Here’s what I’ve found is helpful:

Keep it simple. Focus on what she likes. Flowers and/or chocolates, while they might seem cliché, are still effective (at least in my house).

Keep it fun. And by “fun,” I mean fun for her. Emily is pretty easy-going in this regard. She likes action movies (though she doesn’t like going to the movies very often), walking around museums (even kind of lame ones like Museum London) and Starbucks dates where we can have grown-up conversations.

Just ask her. This is the most effective way to get a good gift. You don’t have to read her mind, or attempt to discern what she wants by understanding the meaning of every smirk and raised eyebrow. Emily really appreciates it when I just ask—and those are the best gifts I can give.

So can you get a bad Mother’s Day gift? Yep. But is it easy to get a really great one? You bet.


photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc