February 20, 2021

7 Good Things To Tell Yourself When You're Having a Bad Day As a Mom

The best gift I’ve ever gotten from my children was a yellow sticky note left for me on my kitchen counter. It read, “We love you.”

I can guess what you might be thinking. “Really? The best gift? Not the Christmas ornament with your firstborn’s handprint preserved in clay? Not the wall hanging with the names of every family member spelled out like a Scrabble game board?”

I did love those gifts, too. But the "we love you" note was the best because my children gave it to me on a day I was so very unlovable as a mother.

I’d had one of my typical mom meltdowns. I’m sure there was yelling and door-slamming involved. And, I’m sure I freaked about something that was, in fact, nothing. Truly, I’m sure my daughters snuck off to their rooms to commiserate about “mom being a mom”…and to write me this note, which they surreptitiously left for me to find.

All of which is just to say that I’ve had more than my share of bad days as a mom. I’ve had to learn how to reset my defaults…to reprogram my thinking. If you’re having a day that’s headed toward bad in a hurry, here are a few things to tell yourself that might bring it around to good.

1. God cares about moms.

I believe God has a special place in His great heart for moms, as evidenced by this lovely passage from Isaiah:

“See, the Sovereign Lord…tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:10a, 11, emphasis added).

2. A bad day does not make you a bad mom.

The pursuit of perfection in motherhood seems like an honorable goal because we know a terrible, wonderful truth: THIS JOB MATTERS. A lot. So when we miss the mark, we’re tempted to overgeneralize and overreact: a bad morning becomes a bad day, and a bad day becomes bad motherhood.

But oh mama, with God, there is grace. Yet if achieving some level of “good” as a mom is a goal we pursue above all else, it is an idol. And Jonah 2:8 is starkly clear that grace and idolatry cannot live together in the same spiritual house: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

I don’t want to give up grace that could be mine. I don’t want you to give up grace that could be yours. And it’s not about giving yourself grace nearly so much as it is about receiving the grace Abba is offering. Take it, and then pour it out onto the people who call you “mom."

3. Now is a good time to pause, praise, and pray.

When I’m staring down a bad day on my motherhood journey, I tend to go into frantic-mom mode: running around, pinging from uncompleted task to uncompleted task, jabbering incoherently to myself. What I need to do instead is hit the pause button.

I need to praise God for who He is and for the blessings He’s given me, including the children and the home that usually “inspire” my busyness. And then I need to pray for strength and patience and perspective and hope. (For starters.)

4. All the little things you do make a difference in the big picture.

On a day that seems ripe for a do-over, it’s tempting to focus on the constant tasks that demand our attention and are never, ever truly “done”: laundry, dinner, driving kids places, baths, bedtimes… But woven into this fabric of daily life are the interactions and loving gestures and words of teaching and encouragement that shape soul the soul.

“Parenthood is a partnership with God. You are not molding iron nor chiseling marble; you are working with the Creator of the universe in shaping human character and determining destiny” (Ruth Vaughn).

That’s some big-picture perspective right there.

5. It’s okay if your day is a “just get through it” day.

A few years ago, when my parents, my siblings and their families, and my little family and I were all on vacation together to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, my sister taught us a new card game. I don’t remember the name of the game or how it worked, but one goal of it was to earn points. On one of her turns, my sister ended up with a low score of just a few points but remarked that it was “better than zero.”

Since then, “better than zero” has become a life litmus test of sorts for us: if something is “better than zero,” that’s often good enough. Of course, I know you’re trying to make the most of your time and opportunities with your precious children.

But some days, anything better than zero is a win in and of itself, and it’s just fine if today is one of those days.

6. You’re not supposed to be able to do this on your own.

There’s a phrase floating around in the mom social-media world these days that says, “You are enough.” It’s meant to encourage us, but it always rings hollow to me. I read it and think, “No, I’m not.” But here’s the thing: I’m not supposed to be.

God did not create us to be “enough” on our own. Indeed, He created us to need Him. And, He puts it this way in His Word:

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

The idea of God’s power being “made perfect” is not an indication it’s lacking anything; rather, “made perfect” carries the idea of completion. It’s as if the best backdrop for God’s power to show itself off is our weakness.

Next time you’re having the kind of day you’d like to trade in for a new model, do a little “boasting”: “Hey, God! Here’s all my weakness! I’m primed for your power!” It’ll be the perfect package.

7. Your kids will remember the love

My teenager started her birthday one year crying in her bedroom. It was, thankfully, not my fault: the weather was decidedly not in favor of the beach plans she’d chosen for her celebration, so a complete revamp was necessary.

We hastily constructed Plan B and set about putting it into action. At the end of what had started out as a very bad day, our birthday girl pulled her big sister and me in for a hug and told us, “I had a wonderful day. I felt so loved.” And I thought, “That’s IT, isn’t it?”

Oh, mama, I’ve been through a lot of days with my kids, and I want you to know this: at the end of the day—good days, bad days, any day, every day—love is what your children will remember most.

I’ve still got that sticky note from my daughters tucked away in a kitchen drawer for safekeeping and future reference. It reminds me of what was true the day they gave it to me and of what, mercifully and beautifully, is true now: love wins the day, on any kind of day.

A version of this post first appeared on Ruthie Gray Dot Mom.

February 17, 2021

16 Verses For When You’re Awake In the Night Worrying About Your Kids

Moms of young children do not so much sleep as they hover in a semi-conscious state, waiting for someone to need something.

Moms of older children, on the other hand, do not so much sleep as they worry in a reclining position, wondering about what their grown kids need that they don’t know about or do know about but can’t do anything about.

Momsomnia is a battle, and like so many battles, we fight it in our minds first. Since “just don’t think about it” works approximately 0.00 percent of the time, we’ve got to have a sharper weapon. 

Enter the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—with which we can offend the enemy and take a stab at those 3 a.m. (or whenever-a.m.) thoughts.

The next time you find yourself worrying in a reclining position, maybe these Scriptures and accompanying breath prayers—meditations based on the Scripture that you can pray in one inhale and exhale—will help transform it into a position of peace.

1. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Your plans are good.

Your plans face forward.

Your plans give hope.

2. “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” (Psalm 16:7-9 NAS) 

My eyes are on You.

I will not be shaken.

I can rest secure.

3. “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

You go ahead of my children.

You are always with them.

You will never, never, never, never, never* leave them.

(*The original language here has never “nevers.”)

4. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

I will see Your goodness again.

I will wait for You.

I will not lose heart.

5. “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.” (Psalm 31:7-8 NIV)

You see what troubles me.

You have not given me to my enemies.

You set me in a wide-open place.

6. "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand." (Psalm 37:23,24 NIV)

You make my kids’ steps firm.

They might stumble, but they won’t fall.

You hold them up.

7. "The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121:7,8 NIV)


You’re watching over my children's lives.

You will keep harm away from them.

You always see their comings and goings.

8. "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them." (Psalm 145:18,19 NIV)

When I call, You come near.

You fulfill my desires.

You hear my cry, and you save me.

9. "How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:19,21 NIV) 

You are gracious and want to help.

You answer my cries quickly.

You will tell me which way I should go.

10. "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV)

I confidently expect what you will do.

You make my strength new.

You help me keep going strong.

11. "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." (Isaiah 43:2 NLT) 

You are with my children.

Deep waters won’t drown them.

Hot fires won’t destroy them.

12. "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." (Isaiah 64:4 NIV)

No one compares to you.

You’re working while I’m waiting.

You are acting on my children's behalf.

13. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV)

Your compassions never fail.

You mercies are new every day.

Your faithfulness is great.

14. "The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

You are with my children.

You delight in them greatly.

You sing and You save.

15. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

You give me more than I deserve.

Your grace never falls short.

My weakness is the perfect place for your power.

16. "I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

You are the Beginner of good things.

You carry the load.

One day, all You started will be perfectly finished.