Saturday, April 15, 2017

Grace Behind Bars by Bo & Gari Mitchell

Meet the Mitchells... A well-respected Christian couple who run in circles helping others and serving the community.  So how do they react when someone takes advantage of that kindness and it lands Bo Mitchell in prison?  That's what you will discover in this true story.

When we're too busy or distracted for God to get our attention, He has a way of slowing us down.  This could come in many forms - but for the Mitchells it came through an illness and imprisonment.  It was encouraging to hear about their perspective through these trials.  They took a bad situation and chose to trust God and learn everything they could from it.  This attitude ended up leading to a stronger marriage, character improvement, and deeper relationships with the Lord.  While we may not ever be in the same situations, learning to approach trials with their outlook would benefit anyone.

After being released from prison, Bo had a difficult transition back to "normal" life.  He felt weighed down by the pain of his experience.  One phrase he wrote really jumped out at me.  He said if he didn't take the lessons he learned and then move forward, "my mess would remain a mess rather than become my message."  Bo sets a wonderful example of how to use the "mess" you've created and turn it into a message to encourage others.

This story gives a glimpse into life behind bars - a place that many of us will never see.  It was interesting to read and easy to relate to.  Bo & Gari - thank you for sharing your story!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Mother's Guilt

A few weeks ago we had a prayer time at our church and I sat down in front of a wooden cross.  I found myself thinking of Mary and what she must have been feeling, standing there watching her son be crucified.  Obviously she would have been heartbroken.  But did she also feel helpless?  Did she feel like a failure for not protecting her son as a mother should?  Did she wonder if she could have done something to prevent this series of events?

A Mother's Guilt.  It can start as early as pregnancy when deciding which foods and vitamins to eat to help our baby develop properly.  Then the baby comes home and the real worry begins.  Suddenly you are in charge of keeping an infant safe from harm, making sure he gets enough sleep and the right nutrition.  As the child grows, now you have to consider his cognitive and emotional development too!  There is an endless list of things we as mothers are responsible for.  Diet, exercise, safety, health, toilet training, education, character development, and of course documenting all of the important milestones.  We compare our mothering skills and children to others and then feel guilty when we don't seem to measure up.  I would bet that mothers of even the most successful children still struggle with feelings of regret and failure.

I know I'm not immune.  I lose my patience and yell at my kids.  I wonder if I'm spending enough "quality" time with them.  I worry about whether I'm making healthy enough meals and teaching them good eating habits.  I feel guilty that they aren't driven to grow spiritually and that I'm not doing enough at home to encourage that.  I see their character flaws and wonder if my actions contributed to them.  I see them get hurt and wonder if I could have prevented it.  I know I have many reasons to be proud of the way my boys are developing, but I still have a nagging fear that I'm failing them in some way.

So what do I take away from this picture of Mary at the foot of the cross?  I remind myself that just as God chose Mary to be Jesus's mother, he chose me to be the mother of my sons.  He knows my strengths and weaknesses, just as he knows yours.  I also remember to trust in God's plan and that He can use any situation for good.  It may grieve us to watch our children hurt and struggle, but God won't waste that pain.  Just as there was a reason for Jesus to die, so God can use our children's struggles to shape and mold them into the people he wants them to be or serve a greater purpose.  The things we perceive as "failures" may fall exactly into God's plan.

So Mommas - Do your best and then give yourself some grace.  You were chosen to be a mother. God loves your children.  Let's trust Him enough with their futures to let go of the unnecessary guilt.   Hopefully we can look back one day and see the ways in which God has uniquely shaped their lives and be proud of our part in it.