The Fruits of the Spirit for a Mother’s Heart

Dear Father,

The further I journey into motherhood, the more grateful I am to call you my Father. When I am overwhelmed, tired, and clueless on what to do next, You are there to show me how to parent with grace. When I wrestle once again with my attitude and temper, and I wonder where the gentle and quiet Spirit I pray for daily has gone, You remind me that the fruits of the Spirit are not the fruits of my Spirit but of Yours, living and breathing inside of me.

Lord, fill me with love – a divine love for my children – a love like Yours. A love that loves without selfishness, without agenda, without limits. Fill me with a love that drives me to do the hard things for the greater good, and to offer grace no matter how undeserved.

Lord, fill me with joy – the kind of joy that transcends happiness. Joy that soaks in the precious moments and presses on through monotony and struggle.

Lord, fill me with peace – a peace that is deep and unshaken by a chaotic home, a tantruming child, or a lack of sleep. Fill me with a peace that breathes in and breathes out, accepting and giving thanks for each moment.

Lord, fill me with patience – the patience I don’t have on my own. The patience that can see the forest for the trees. The patience that recognizes my children look to me for guidance, help, direction, and security. Patience that sees my children looking up at me and bends down to speak to them in a way they can understand – just as You came down to live in our skin and guide us home.

Lord, fill me with kindness – Teach me to be kind in the face of backtalk, bad words, squabbles, and rudeness. Teach me to treat my children as my neighbors. Fill me with the type of kindness that kneels down to wash their feet. Let my kindness be an example.

Lord, fill me with goodness – fill me with You. Fill me with pure motives and a true heart.

Lord, fill me with faithfulness – the kind of faithfulness that prioritizes You no matter what is going on around me. The kind of faithfulness that holds on to Your Gospel in the moments when things seem to be falling apart. The kind of faithfulness that disciples my precious children even when I’m worn and tired. The kind of faithfulness that makes time to rest in You but does not turn away those who need You when they come.

Lord, fill me with gentleness – Lord, how I need Your gentleness. Fill me with gentleness rooted in wisdom and empowered by Your Spirit. The gentleness that speaks slowly and listens quickly, that makes room for vulnerability, that creates a home of safety.

Lord, fill me with self-control – In the moments when none of these other fruits come easily. In the moments I want to yell, be sarcastic, or ignore. In the moments I want to forsake the dignity of my children and vent their failings to the internet community – please give me self-control. Teach me to control myself by surrendering completely to Your Spirit.

Let the fruits of Your Spirit be alive in me, that by drawing closer to Your heart my children might do the same.

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On revelations, pain, prayer, and hair-raising shivers

I was just about to get Malachi set up for lunch when he walked into the room saying “ouchy.” He was holding the left side of his forehead. I said, “Is your head ouchy, baby? Did you bonk it?” And then he scared me – he started saying “Ouchy, ouchy, OUCHY!” and grabbing at his head. He was in obvious pain. He started screaming and looked at me with panic in his eyes, getting more and more upset. In my gut I knew this was not good. He was in serious pain – it was probably a headache – but why did it come on so fast and so strong? I carried him into his room, shut off the light, and rocked him. He clutched at his eyes and cried. It seemed like a fast-onset migraine but it didn’t feel right, and I was scared.

But then something happened. With a feeling inside me that I’ve never had before, I put my hand on my son’s head and said, “In Jesus’ name, take the pain away. In Jesus’ name, take the pain away. In Jesus’ name, take the pain away.” I’ve never felt like that – it was all authority and faith and helplessness and confidence and eye-of-the-storm calm. And my crying, screaming, panicking boy sat up and stopped crying. I said it again and he slowly opened his eyes. I said it again and he looked at me. I carried him out to the living room and gave him a snack and some juice. About five minutes later he started saying “ouchy” and grabbing at his head again. And again, I walked up to him, laid my hand on his head, and said “In Jesus’ name, take the pain away.” And again, he immediately stopped crying, opened his eyes, and relaxed. And then he said, “Ouchy all gone.”

I don’t really know how to describe what I felt. I’ve prayed for healing and seen answers before, but never quite like this. Never so immediate, and never in response to a command (not just a request). I watched him like a hawk all afternoon and he was absolutely perfectly fine. My hair stood on end every time I relived my prayer for him and the Spirit I felt inside me.

My sophomore year of college I got paired up with a prayer and accountability partner who is still one of my closest friends. My relationship with her that year was one of the most spiritually profound of my life. Every week – every. week. – she and I would each, separately, hear extremely specific and out-of-the-blue things from the Lord to pray for each other. We would write down the day and time and then find out from each other what happened when we met again. Once I started praying as fast and furiously as I could for safety, safety, “Keep her safe, God!” And then about five seconds later my heart-rate slowed and I prayed, “Now give her peace.” When I asked her about it later I found out that she had almost been in a car accident and she had to pull over to calm down afterwards. Once when I was in one of the happiest times of my life I was privately struggling with some major doubt about a specific relationship and that doubt was tearing me apart. No one knew and I was too embarrassed to admit it. It came to a head while I was out of town, I prayed for the millionth time for clarity and peace, but this time – boom – it came. And I had complete and total confidence in the way I should move in the relationship and complete peace that it was the right decision. Beka had prayed in that exact moment that I would see truth. And she had prayed that all week for me until God let her go.

Much to my sorrow, this prayer relationship only lasted that one year. But occasionally we each still feel pushed to pray something very specific. After Malachi’s headache I texted Beka and asked her what she had just prayed for me, and she told me safety and calm.

Well then. If she felt led to pray for safety then maybe the gut-feeling I had that Malachi’s head pain was not a small thing was true. And the calm – Lord knows I needed that.

A couple times that day Malachi talked about what happened again. He would say, “Mommy Jesus ouchy all gone.” And I said, “That’s right, baby boy. Mommy prayed and Jesus made your ouchy go away.” And now almost every time he hurts himself just a little bit he immediately folds his hands and says, “Mommy, Jesus!” because he wants me to pray for him.

God has given me this incredible responsibility and opportunity to guide my children up in the way they should go. With my husband, to shepherd their hearts and lead them to salvation. Is there any greater responsibility in this life? Any greater privilege? It weighs on me and it’s a good weight most of the time. But lately it’s become too heavy and Jesus says His yoke is light. The incredible thing is that now my son associates both healing and comfort with prayer. I know that he will have to face pain. I know that there may be times when he begs God for relief and instead of being met with healing he is given a hand to squeeze through the pain. But in this moment, God chose to heal him. And in this moment, God taught me that my responsibility is not to do His job. It’s to point my son’s attention to the ways God is already working. God will reveal Himself to my son, and that is magnificent to behold.

Mommy, Jesus, ouchy all gone.

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