I (Quin) remember one night when I "lost my cool" before I had learned that I could call on the Holy Spirit's help in a trying situation with my children. Our 12-year-old daughter had a school friend over to spend the night, and I let the girls sleep on the downstairs pull-out sofa. My husband had to be up by 6:00 A.M. to go to work, so I reminded them of that before telling them goodnight.

At 1:00 A.M. I went down and asked the girls to stop giggling and talking. At 2:30 my husband went down and asked them to stop. At 4:00 I went down again. This time I yelled, "Your father has to get up to go work in two hours! March up those stairs and get into your bedroom -- both of you. Now go to sleep."

As the girls meekly went upstairs I crawled back in bed. At last the house was quiet, but I could not sleep. Another voice was keeping me awake. A still, small voice that said, "You were wrong to yell. You lost your patience and you were not a good example. Yes, they were wrong, but so were you. Now go and apologize to those girls."

Thirty minutes later I surrendered to that voice by getting up and knocking on my daughter's bedroom door. "Girls, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled," I said. "You were wrong to talk until so late, but I want you to forgive me for my anger and for yelling."
They did, and we hugged one another.

That scene flashes before me often -- even after all these years -- and it reminds me how important it is for me to rely on the Holy Spirit's help instead of handling matters in my own way.

Not an Easy Role

In our survey of dozens of moms, we asked them to identify the most difficult issues they face in their role as a parent. These are the ones most often mentioned:

• Dealing with discipline issues

• coping with sibling rivalry

• coping with their own guilt over mistakes they have made

• trying to instill spiritual values in their children's lives (and often feeling a failure at the job)

• helping their children deal with disappointment in not reaching a desired goal

• dealing with a child's chronic illness or depression

• helping their children fit in with their peer group

• setting kids free to have their own experiences with God

No doubt you can identify with one or more of these issues that moms everywhere wrestle with from time to time.

It's all right to admit you have not achieved perfection...that you have rough edges. Truthfully, we don't know of a "perfect mom" anymore than we know of a "perfect child." But we can have as our goal becoming a mom who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance. Becoming means "to grow to be" or "to come to be." Thus we can say we are in the process of becoming a Spirit-led mom.

Sure, there may be days when you feel you're failing at the task. But the important thing is not to focus on your mistakes. Instead you can learn from them, humble yourself to as God -- and sometimes your children -- for forgiveness, and then give thanks to him for helping you improve until you see more successes than failures.

No Instant Results

Becoming or growing to be a Spirit-led mom isn't instantaneous, as our next story illustrates. I (Quin) met a young mom named Mary when she led the worship at a meeting where I was the guest speaker. She had been a Christian for only six years. Yet her loving, personal relationship with Jesus was evident as she worshiped and played her guitar, literally leading us into the Lord's presence. It was so awesome that I could barely regain my composure to get up and speak.

I learned that Mary grew up in a dysfunctional home where her alcoholic father had abandoned her mother and their three children, and she had only rarely gone to church. Because she identified God with her dad, Mary did her best to "be a good girl" so God would love her. It was a long time before she learned that her heavenly Father loves her unconditionally and she couldn't earn his approval through good behavior.

She finished college, married, and had a child of her own before she received her first Bible as a gift from a friend. Mary read it with a deep hunger, but still, she often would call this friend and complain about her problems. One day the woman rebuked her: "Mary, you haven't given God authority in your life. You're trying to do everything on your own."

Knowing her friend spoke the truth, Mary knelt down in her bedroom and prayed, "Come into my heart, dear Lord, and cleanse me from all my sins. Wash me clean and change my life. Help me to be a wife and mother who will bring you glory. Show me how to win my family and friends to you. I pray in Jesus' name, amen."

Just about this same time her estranged father needed a kidney transplant, and Mary was a perfect genetic match to donate a kidney. She felt God wanted her to do this, not only as an act of compassion, but as a way to reach him for Jesus. Her prayer was answered when, soon after the surgery, Mary's dad committed his life to Christ.

"I learned right after I became a Christian that I must depend on the Lord for every single decision I make -- for every way I react to my husband and children or other family members," she said. Mary, whose three children are now eight, six, and two does several things to maintain her walk with the Lord:

• She daily reads her Bible, meditates on it, and writes her thoughts in a journal.

• She keeps contact with a few older Christian women she's asked to mentor her.

• She stays around the Spirit-led moms. "I try to be with Christian women so that, even on my bad days, I have an example of the right way to respond to my children."

• She volunteers in the music department and hospitality ministry at her church so that she can use the gifts and talents God has given her.

• She reads biographies of Christians who have changed the world and stories about composers who wrote the hymns she has come to love.

• She looks for ways to bring God into everything she does with her children. She says, "When the children get a 'boo-boo,' we stop and pray for healing of that hurt."

Mary's list is not a universal prescription for raising godly children -- you can make your own list. There are many simple things a mom can do that will yield eternal results. But the important thing is to seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you relate to your children and try to address their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.


Taken from Becoming a Spirit-led Mom by Quin Sherrer & Ruthanne Garlock; Copyright 2004 by Quin Sherrer & Ruthanne Garlock; Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR; Used by Permission.