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[The Influential Woman 8] A Mother and Her Children

Barbara had been looking forward to her high school reunion for months. She had been a popular teenager, and now that ten years had passed since graduation she yearned to see her school friends and catch up on their lives.

Josh, Barbara's husband, had suggested she buy herself some new clothes for the event, and she'd even had a manicure and pedicure so she'd feel especially attractive. Josh was out of town, but had encouraged her to go without him. "Get a baby sitter and have a great time," he said as he kissed her good-bye. "I just wish I could be there too."

I wonder what everyone is doing these days? Happily imagining the various careers and choices her classmates might have followed, she steered the car into the Sheraton parking lot impatiently. She could hardly wait to walk into the big hotel ballroom, pick up her name tag, and start visiting.

At first she was ecstatic, thrilled to see so many dear, familiar faces. But as the evening progressed, she experienced a growing sense of sadness. Of course everyone asked her, "And what kind of work are you doing?"

"I'm a homemaker and a mother," she replied. But every time she said it, she felt a little more embarrassed. Her best friend Kate had become a lawyer. Sharon was a social worker. Cheryl was teaching fifth grade.

"You're so smart, Barbara. I can't believe you're sitting home all day doing nothing!" Ken had always been the class clown, and he was still a tease.

"Well, I wouldn't say I'm doing nothing, Ken," she answered with a smile, trying not to sound defensive. "I really do keep pretty busy." Her mind flashed to the endless responsibilities she faced at home. If I'm doing nothing, she thought to herself, why am I always so tired?

"How many children do you have?" Kate seemed fascinated with her family.

"Two boys and a girl," Barbara smiled, encouraged by her friend's interest. "I'll show you their pictures."

"They're cute, Barb. They really are." Kate barely looked at the beaming little faces before she handed the photos back to her friend. "Jerry and I don't believe in having more than one child. There are just too many people in the world."

"So do you and Jerry plan to have a child?"

"Oh, no," Kate laughed. "Not yet, anyway. And probably not ever. I'm really kind of turned off with the family thing—no offense, Barb." Kate patted Barbara's leg kindly. "Nothing against you, but I think diapers and bottles and stuffed animals are for girls who just can't do anything else. I'm gifted, and I want to make the most of myself."

Tears stung Barbara's eyes. True, Kate had never been known for her tact, but her words still hurt. Barbara glanced down at her new dress. It suddenly looked frumpy to her, and her carefully manicured nails seemed too short and too pink. She glanced at her watch. It was only 8:30. Maybe she's right, she mused. Maybe I've missed the boat somewhere . . . She sat down alone and looked out at the laughing, happy crowd.

Just then Sharon sat down next to her. "So tell me what you've been up to, Kiddo!" She squeezed her old friend's hand warmly.

Barbara smiled sheepishly. "Oh, nothing really. I'm just a housewife, you know."

Since the dawn of time women in every culture have identified themselves with homemaking and child rearing. Such an honorable vocation required no apology. However, in our contemporary western culture, humanistic philosophy has been incredibly successful in changing the way women view themselves and their worth, both in their homes and throughout society. Virtually every aspect of traditional female responsibility has been denigrated. This is particularly true of those responsibilities associated with domesticity.

James Dobson put it this way: "The term 'housewife' has become a pathetic symbol of exploitation, oppression and stupidity." I think it is an important undertaking for us to unearth the subtle influences this sort of thinking has had even within our more conservative Christian culture. Most of all, I think it is imperative that we take a clear-eyed look at mothering and see just what God thinks about its importance in our world.

Blessings from Above

Concepts like "Population Zero" and other global concerns have targeted childbirth and large families, not only in developing countries, but in North America. Their propaganda contradicts both Old and New Testament Scriptures, which promote the expansion of families.

God's command to reproduce was given to the first two people, and it never was rescinded. In fact, after the flood in Genesis 9:1, it was repeated again.

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth."

In 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul said, "So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, [and] to manage their homes."

Besides being a command, throughout Scripture the birth of children is always viewed as a blessing. It is never considered a curse.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

Psalms 127:3-5

In Deuteronomy 28, God instructs His people about what their behavior should be in the Promised Land. And one of the indications of his approval was, "The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb." Having children was a specific sign of God's blessing and prosperity. On the other hand, throughout Scripture the inablility to have children was considered a reproach, a curse, a sign of disfavor, and a tragedy.

I do want to make a point here that is very important. Today, although children remain a blessing, infertility does not have the same theological significance. You can't say to an infertile woman, "Well, that's God's curse. You've done something wrong." All the promises for blessing in the Old Testament are in the context of Israel in the Land of Promise. We, in Christ, are under a different covenant.

I have a daughter who has problems with infertility. I was so encouraged when she said, "Mother, I believe that if God wants us to have children He will bring us those children when He is ready." She and her husband were willing to wait for God to choose when, if, and how they would have children. And He has given them a beautiful baby girl by adoption who is a wonderful blessing to our whole family.

I just want to reassure someone who may be feeling that her infertility is a curse from God. God has many reasons for sending trials and disappointments in our lives. Just look at Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2. She became a deeply spiritual woman because of her barrenness. God needed a man to turn the nation of Israel back to God. So He started with a mother who would willingly give her son to serve God for life. Hannah was that mother, and she became the woman she was because of the disappointment and suffering she experienced. Her son Samuel led Israel all of his long life and then anointed her first two kings, Saul and David.

God's Fatherly Love

Besides being our "pride and joy," children benefit us in one very essential spiritual way. They model our relationship with God as a heavenly Father. In John 1:12 we are told that when we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior we become sons of God, children of God. The word in the Greek is "born ones" of God. In Psalms 103:13-14 we see how God uses human parenthood to convey His feelings toward us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion upon those who fear Him;
for He knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.

I find it much easier to come to an omnipotent, omniscient God knowing He is my heavenly Father than to an awesome, majestic God who is simply my Creator. Do you see the difference? God uses actual relationships that we have on earth to help us understand Him better.

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus compares earthly parents with our heavenly Father. He said in verse 11:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

When we have children, they touch something in us that no one else is able to reach. They cut across an egocentricity, a basic self-centeredness, that is ingrained in all of us. Just think a minute how we willingly get up ten times a night, if necessary, to care for our babies. How we sacrifice our own comfort to meet the needs of these demanding, helpless little ones who are totally dependent on us. God also uses our love for our children to teach us about His unconditional love for us.

Have you ever had a child who strayed and broke your heart? Perhaps your children have disappointed you, rejected everything you stand for, and gone out on their own. Then they've returned to you. What did you do when they came back? Did you say, "I no longer want anything to do with you?" Or, with open arms, did you welcome them home? Of course you did.

My ability to forgive and love my children demonstrates how God's love for me never ends. If I, with all my capricious instability, can keep on loving children who are sometimes unworthy and ungrateful, how much more is God's love absolutely certain? There is something about having children that helps us understand the fatherhood of God in an incomparable way.

To Have or Not to Have?

Now here's a question worth considering: If children are a blessing from God and are so important to our understanding of Him, do we believers have the right to decide never to have children? Why would a couple make a decision like that?

I think that there are two basic reasons for choosing to remain childless. The first is, quite honestly, selfishness. "We both have careers. We won't be able to travel. We won't have time to do things together. We won't be able to afford our lifestyle."

And the other reason? I'm sure you've heard people say, "Why bring children into this terrible world?" That simply amounts to unbelief. In essence, it is a refusal to believe that God has the ability to keep His children for Himself, even in this depraved society. Believing that does take a lot of faith. And seeing it happen requires a lot of consistency, patience, and commitment on the part of the parents.

As we've noted before, there are three reasons for sexual intercourse, besides consummating the one-flesh relationship. They are reproduction, pleasure, and the prevention of immorality. You do not have the option to decide which reasons you like and which reasons you don't. You can't say, "Well, I love the pleasure, and I'm glad it prevents immorality, but I don't want children." That is really not an option that God has given you. You can't decide what to eliminate.

What about conception control—is that wrong for a believer? You'll notice I said "conception control." I am deliberately avoiding using the term "birth control," because some people bring abortion under that umbrella. We really want to control conception, not birth. And we need to ask ourselves, is that an option for a Christian?

There are two extremes with regard to this. There is one position stating that if you believe in the sovereignty of God then you will do nothing to prevent having children. Then there is the point of view which we just considered, opting for no children at all. But what about family planning?

Wise Family Planning

I read a book when I was first married written by Otto Piper, a theologian. He said something that really helped me. He suggested, "If the intent of the marriage is to have children ultimately, there is nothing wrong with planning." This is especially relevant when you have to regard the health of the mother, the health of the children, and the financial ramifications."

Personally, I think it's not a bad idea for a husband and wife to wait to start a family for the first couple of years of their marriage. This gives them ample time to fully enjoy each other before they have to be involved with the concerns of pregnancy, preparations for a baby, and childbirth.

Unfortunately, Fred and I had our first son just ten months after our wedding. It made our marital adjustments very difficult. All of a sudden I was transformed from a romantic partner into a sickly creature who was throwing up all day long. It was a miserable pregnancy, and it really did take the fun out of our relationship.

I know there are some books and teachers who maintain that we must trust God with our family planning because He is sovereign, and that is true. But I don't see any problems with taking advantage of advances in medical technology.

You are free to disagree, but I would like to say that if conception control is used, the method should be carefully considered. Of course the IUD is not really birth control, it's really a form of abortion because it prevents the implantation of the already-fertilized egg. Besides, IUDs have been largely discredited. Some have produced infections and sterility.

Many experts aren't convinced that "the pill" is safe. It can cause many side effects, especially if you have other health considerations. I have a problem from a health standpoint with a method that interrupts the normal activity of a woman's entire endocrine system.

Vasectomy and tubal ligation are very final and deserve extensive prayer before a decision is made.

One day a woman named Trish and I talked about this issue. She had been married before, and her ex-husband hadn't wanted children. She'd had some female surgery, and in the process had elected to have her tubes tied. Not many years later, her marriage dissolved.

"Now I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world," she couldn't help but smile as she talked about Tom. "But the trouble is, we really can't have children unless I go into the hospital for some fairly complicated surgery."

"Are you thinking about doing that?"

"Well, yes, I'm thinking about it. But it's expensive, and there's no guarantee it will work. I'm thirty-five, too, and I'm not sure whether it's too late for me."

"It's a difficult choice, Trish."

"It is. But sometimes I just sit and look at Tom and dream about 'our baby.' And I can't help but feel cheated. I know he feels the same way. I just wish I hadn't made such a final decision in the first place."

Although they are somewhat less dependable, the best choices for contraception are abstinence during certain times in a woman's cycle, or barrier or rhythm methods. If God overrules and gives you a child, then say, "Thank you, Lord." The fact is, we simply can't play God. And we can't be angry with Him if things don't quite go our way.

Our fifth child was unplanned. I was thirty-nine when David was born. In fact, I had already been thinking about how much freedom I was going to have when my four oldest were in school! But David has been such a joy and delight, it would be awful to think of life without him.

We just have to let God be God.

Guiding, Guarding, Giving Love

And what parental responsibilities do we have? The ones God has given us are not optional. We have the absolute obligation to provide for our children. This includes home, food, clothing, education, security, strength, and love. We need to remember that children are small, dependent, and helpless. They must have external strength to fall back on so they can relax and feel safe. They get that strength, almost in total, from their father and from their mother.

This requires your physical presence. A child's needs are not programmed to fit into your office hours. You can't say, "I'll meet your needs from four to five o'clock, but I'm busy before and after."

A child requires spiritual instruction. Christian parents must both model it and teach it. Please do not leave that to the Sunday school or the Christian school alone, no matter how qualified they seem to be. And, may I point out, the very first thing children need to learn is to honor their parents—and that means obey them. Ephesians 6:1 says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." Why is it important for us to teach our children to obey us? Because it also teaches them to obey God.

We are also to provide our sons and daughters with protection. It is not enough for us simply to watch them all the time. We have to prepare them to be on guard themselves. Teach them to look both ways when they cross the street. Teach them why knives and matches are deadly. And teach them that there are bad people who do terrible things to children. You've got to tell them that there are parts of their bodies that nobody should touch—nobody, including father, uncle, or brother. Tell them to tell you if anyone tries to do it.

In Dallas it is estimated that one out of six stepfathers and one out of forty fathers molest their daughters. That's not to mention all the offending brothers and uncles and friends and grandfathers. Sad to say, in some cases mothers actually molest their sons.

We need to give our boys and girls physical, emotional, and intellectual protection. That comes through instruction, and we have to be there for their spiritual instruction. Deuteronomy 4:9 says,

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Reading on, in Deuteronomy 6:5-6,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

When are we supposed to teach our children? During the day. Into the night. All the time. And that means that you have to be there.

We have a challenging job of disciplining them, too—a job for both parents. Please don't be the kind of mother who says to her kids, "You just wait 'til Daddy gets home!" They need to be disciplined on the spot, the minute they do something wrong. There has to be a connection between the discipline and the bad action. If you wait "til Daddy gets home" there won't be any logical association in their minds between their action and the consequences.

Proverbs 1:8 reminds us, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." The two parents are equally important.

Some of us have been confused by today's humanistic philosophy. Current secular child-rearing literature has as its base the concept that children are born good and only their environment makes them bad. The Bible contradicts this view, stating that we are born with a sinful nature and that is why we do wrong things. Consider the following time-honored Proverbs. Obviously, God's Word is not suggesting or condoning child abuse, but is simply recommending firm discipline that children will understand.

He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 13:24

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to his death.

Proverbs 19:18

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death.

Proverbs 23:13-14

The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

Proverbs 29:15

God's Gift of Discipline

Women with children at home are guardians of a future generation. Those boys and girls will become the business leaders, doctors, judges, missionaries, preachers, musicians, teachers, and political leaders of the future. The kind of people they will someday become is directly related to the commitment you make to them now. If you don't dedicate yourself to raising them, to giving them moral standards and Christian values, who will? Mothering is the single most significant thing most of us will ever do.

Being a good mother requires personal discipline. It also demands that we discipline our children wisely and consistently. God himself is our role model as a parent.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:5-11

God is raising us as His children the way we should raise our children. And yes, there is discipline involved. Discipline has both positive and negative aspects to it. There is instruction, correction, supervision, warning, admonition, rebuke, and infliction of punishment. All of those things are included in discipline.

But the word the writer uses for "trained" in verse 11 is an interesting one. It's the word from which we get gymnasium or gymnastics. The kind of discipline the author of Hebrews is talking about has to do with consistent exercise and training.

How are Olympic athletes trained? They work at their sport for hours and hours, every single day. One woman ice skater said on a recent television interview that she trains for eight hours a day. Hers is a continuing, constant effort to maintain and increase her skills. That is exactly what God is saying to us. We need to allow Him to train us, just as we need to train our children.

We can't allow our children to have everything they want, just as God doesn't always allow us to have everything we want. God disciplines us because He is our Father and we are His children. That gives Him the right to instruct us and train us and even chasten us.

But His discipline is a wonderful assurance. I once said to someone who was going through a very hard time, "Do you realize, this is proof that you are God's child? If you don't ever undergo discipline and instruction and correction and rebuking, it may be because you are not God's child. If you aren't at some time experiencing God's discipline, you are illegitimate."

We imperfect earthly parents have the responsibility to discipline our children, and, even though we make mistakes, our children are supposed to submit, love, and honor us anyway. How much more can we trust our heavenly Father, who never makes a mistake and disciplines only for our good?

God disciplines us because He is our Father. He does it for our good because it leads to holiness. No one ever became holy without effort. And no one ever became holy without discipline. The reason we discipline our children is so they will be good. We want them to grow up to have a good character. God is "exercising" us in His ways for exactly the same reason.

Discipline can be painful and unpleasant. It is a hardship. If the punishment you impose upon your children doesn't bring some discomfort, you are not disciplining them. It has to be painful because they must not want to face those consequences again. But I love what the Hebrews passage says at the end: Discipline produces righteousness and peace for those who have been constantly exercised by it. We are in a training program that will ultimately produce a people who are righteous and who experience peace.

In light of God's methods, we have to give our children freedom to make decisions. When your children come to you as they are getting older and say, "I want to do this and that," you will sit down with them and explain the alternatives and the consequences. Then you'll let them make their decisions, also allowing them to live with the aftermath. Sometimes that is going to be hard for you, but it is the only way they are going to learn to choose correctly.

Do you see the way God deals with us? God gives us the freedom to do what we want with our lives. He allows us to make choices—both good and bad ones—and subsequently allows us to reap the results.

One Highly Influential Career

Children need their parents' presence, time, attention, interest, strength, protection, discipline, and love. Meeting these needs is our privilege and a responsibility, not an interference or an interruption to some career outside the home. Mothering demands more diverse skills than any other vocation imaginable. It is difficult to think of a more influential position in life than mothering, where a woman can influence following generations for either good or evil.

Perhaps you've been led to believe that children under five years old don't really need the careful nurturing and involvement of their mothers. Some psychologists maintain that boys and girls will become more independent if they are raised in child-care centers.

By now we have had a couple of decades of experimentation with this fallacy. Many experts in child development agree that nothing can replace the relationship between mother and child—it is essential to normal, healthy development. Feminine responsibilities are so vital to the next generation that the future of our nation actually depends on how our women view their roles as mothers. Children who are not bonded to their mothers can be irreparably damaged emotionally. It has been demonstrated by researchers that sociopathic behavior is sometimes the result of unhealthy family life in the early years and the absence of adult/child contact.

There sometimes have to be substitutes. But no one can fully replace a mother in a young child's life.

Now, this does not mean you can't take time out now and then. Believe me, an occasional break will save your sanity. You need that. We are talking about habitually leaving your children alone.

Dangers in Day Care

A recent Reader's Digest article reports that nearly half the mothers of preschool children are now employed. Parents are leaving their children at younger ages and for longer hours. Child care in large, state-licensed centers is seen by many as the wave of the future. This mass surrender of child-rearing responsibilities to nonrelatives marks a profound change in human history.

There is growing evidence that there are negative long-term emotional, intellectual, and cultural effects of leaving children in day care. Studies of children with a record of early nonparental care indicate that these children are far more aggressive than other children. They are often less willing to cooperate, and experience a higher degree of frustration. They are sometimes ill behaved, and can completely withdraw themselves socially. Many infants somehow feel that, because their mothers leave them every day, they are being rejected. This can cause them to detach themselves from her emotionally.

Research involving middle-class children in Dallas found that those who spent extensive time in day care were more uncooperative, less popular, and had poorer grades and study skills, and exhibited less self-esteem by third grade. The Reader's Digest article reports that Penelope Leach, a British psychologist and author of Baby and Child, insists that babies need individual care for at least two years.

It goes on to report that Burton L. White, who wrote The First Three Years of Life, a parent's guide for children, says, "I urge you not to delegate the primary care rearing tasks to any one else during your child's first three years of life. Babies form their first human attachment only once."

Day care has become a popular subject in our culture. Women talk about it as a feminist issue, while it is addressed by corporations as both an employment concern and a factor in productivity. The real question, of course, is, "What about the children? Is it good for them? Is it best for them?"

Please think about this summary from the Reader's Digest article ("Hard Truths About Day Care," October 1988):

What the very young want, and urgently need, child-development experts agree, is not education or socialization, but the affection and unhurried attention of their parents.

The truth is, a day-care worker is doing a job. If he or she manages simply to be a kind friend to the youngster and a reliable guardian of the child's safety, that is all anyone ought to expect. Giving the child the rest of what he needs—a self-image, a moral standard, life ambitions and a sense of permanent love—is too much to ask of anyone other than the parents.

Supermom Mythology

After Mom has worked all day, her hours at home are often strained, and she returns to her children drained and dispirited. Women have to recognize that they have just so much energy, and no more. It is impossible to expend your energy on a full-time career, meet the emotional needs of children, train and discipline them, keep up a household, and maintain a healthy, happy marriage all at the same time.

In Time magazine in 1987, there was a cover article called "Are Women Fed Up?" and this is a quote from it.

This nation is filled with burned-out women. Partly because they are trying to pull off something that cannot be pulled off except on the Cosby show.

Women have been told they can have, even ought to have, husbands, children, and a career all perfectly managed. Yet even Time magazine says such an arrangement is a myth!

God Is on Your Side

You may have trained for a career, even earned graduate degrees. You may find it necessary to stay current with research and development in your field while your children are small so that you can return to the workplace later. There are ways you can accomplish that without neglecting your children. The same is true of helping to resolve family financial difficulties.

Ask God to help you. "Lord, my children are my primary responsibility. I want to give them everything they need. Show me how I can balance everything. Show me how I can keep up with my education. Show me how we can earn a little extra money. Show me how I can do it from my home."

Karla had successfully applied for an accounting position with a nearby company. She and Dave desperately needed the extra money she would earn—his sales commissions were dropping dramatically because of the recession. For days she had been poring over fashion catalogues, planning to expand her wardrobe frugally so she could reenter the work force in style. All things considered, she was excited about doing something new and different.

Then a visit to her doctor changed her plans drastically. "You're pregnant, Karla! Congratulations!"

"What? I can't be pregnant! You can't be serious!"

"No question about it, Karla. That certainly explains your `flu symptoms,' doesn't it?"

Karla and Dave sat down together that evening, feeling some very mixed emotions. "Your job seemed like a godsend, but obviously there's no point in your starting it. I don't want to leave our baby in day care."

"Well, I hate the thought of it, too, but what are our alternatives? We're really struggling, Dave, and you're working much too hard." She couldn't help but notice the dark circles around his eyes.

Dave shook his head wearily. It was true—he was stressed and fatigued, working long hours as well as Saturdays. "I'm pretty well maxed out," he agreed. "I think we'd better pray about this, Sweetheart. God knows our need."

Dave and Karla held hands as they asked the Lord for a new course. They prayed that way for several days. Then one afternoon the phone rang, and a friend asked Karla if he could pay her to assist him with the accounting responsibilities for his small business. "I'll give you $250 a month if you'll help me out. I'm just no good at this stuff."

Just weeks later Karla had lunch with a friend whose husband was administrator of a local Christian school. When she learned that Karla was doing accounting work out of her home, she informed her husband. He hired Karla immediately to take over that very demanding part of his job.

Before the baby was even born, Karla had so many clients she couldn't take on any more. Now, years later, with her youngest child in school, she still chooses to work at home. "I can't afford not to! I make a lot more money at home than I can possibly make working for a corporation. God really knows what He's doing, doesn't He?"

If you are a single parent and must work to provide for your family, you can ask God to do something very special for you. Remember, God has committed Himself to be your husband. He will help you. He can show you a way to provide a strong, loving, Christian environment and influence for your children while you're away. And perhaps, with His guidance, like Karla you may find a way of earning your living from your home—many women have done this very successfully.

But I do want to encourage those of you who are staying home, devoting yourself to your children. Do you feel like you are wasting your time? Is your life boring? Ask God to give you joy in being a mother. And ask Him to give you an outreach so that you are not just locked into diapers and the kitchen. You don't have to spend all your time doing that! God can give you a ministry to others that will not take you away from your family.

Make sure your priorities are firm, and realize that you have God on your side. He will work with you so you can do what you are supposed to do. He will give you the strength and wisdom to do the job well. He will provide you with the diversity you need.

Whatever you do, place the same value on children that God places on them. They are a blessing above all other blessings. And the years when they are at home pass all too quickly. Look forward to the time when you can say, "I did my best for my children while they were home with me. Now I've got the time to pursue my own interests. And I can do so with peace of mind, knowing I did everything I could for them."

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