Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: Review and Summary
This past summer, I had the privilege of working through Melissa B. Kruger’s encouraging devotional Bible study called Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood. Broken into eleven chapters, each chapter includes sections of days one through five, so that one can work through the material a day at a time for daily Bible devotionals over eleven weeks. Each chapter consists of a topic in the theme of walking with God: walking by faith, walking in wisdom, walking in prayer, etc. As Melissa B. Kruger states, such a study is needed to give us the right perspective as mothers during all seasons of life: “I pray that this book … will lead you into timeless truths about God that can encourage you as a mother. Daily time in the Word and in prayer provides the nourishment our souls need as we care for our families… We never graduate from our need of His grace… The goal of this study is not necessarily to figure out specific parenting techniques or strategies but to walk with the Lord in the busy season of motherhood and let His presence infuse and shape our lives.”
This study greatly refreshed me! I really liked that each of the eleven chapters was broken up into five lessons of manageable sections of material for busy moms to promote daily Bible devotionals over eleven weeks. I also found it helpful that each chapter had a theme for the five days of devotions to keep the focus on how to walk with or abide in Christ and grow in the fruit of the Spirit. This book is wonderful for personal study as well as group study, for Kruger includes a study guide at the back of the book, which lends itself to meaningful discussions. In addition to a section of Scripture for moms to memorize, there is a resource of twelve topical verses for children to memorize, which includes the topics of faith, truthfulness, trust, compassion, joyfulness, obedience, and more. This could be a character study for our children. Thus, as moms do this study, we can encourage our children to also grow in Christ. I highly recommend Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger.
Chapter 1: “Understanding Your Purpose: Walking by Faith”
The first chapter is called “Understanding Your Purpose: Walking by Faith.” It is imperative to ask what our purpose is as we as women seek to balance the many roles and opportunities in our lives. Kruger brings us to the heart of the matter by quoting the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” She supports this with many Scriptures including 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We come face to face with our need for Christ: “The reality is that we are incapable of either [glorifying God or enjoying Him] until we believe in Jesus by faith. And faith is a gift only God can bestow. We ask Him for it. Then it is by faith we can walk with God and can live by His Spirit. By faith we are transformed daily to look more and more like Jesus.” We are challenged to walk by faith in Jesus Christ and then to bring our children to Him; if they see us seeking Christ, they also will be impressed with the importance, need and joy of walking with Him.
Chapter 2: “Knowing God’s Word: Walking in Wisdom”
Continuing with the basics of the Christian life, chapter two is “Knowing God’s Word: Walking in Wisdom.” Kruger points out the truth, “As we spend time with God each day in His Word, our minds are transformed… The best way to have success in motherhood (or anything) is to delight in God’s Word. As our minds are renewed, we are transformed increasingly into the image of Jesus.” We examine John 15:4-11 about remaining in Jesus Christ and thus not mothering in our own strength, for “no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” Kruger encourages, “Abiding in Jesus is not simply one more thing to add to your to-do list. It is an invitation to joy! …We live in a fast-paced society and often yearn for instant gratification. We sometimes want the blessings apart from the abiding. However, God has inextricably linked the sweetest satisfactions in life with abiding in His presence so we understand that He is the source of all goodness. Just as our physical bodies were created to need multiple meals each day, God designed our souls to prosper only as we regularly feed on His Word.” With many inspiring verses supporting these ideas, Kruger also recommends choosing a verse or passage of Scripture to pray for each of our children over the course of their lives.
Chapter 3: “Entrusting Your Child to the Lord: Walking in Prayer”
Chapter three is “Entrusting Your Child to the Lord: Walking in Prayer.” Here we are inspired in pursuing a deep prayer life – praising God and pouring out our souls to Him. Kruger exhorts, “Prayer is vital for the health of any Christian and especially important for a mother.” We look at how Jesus often withdrew to secluded places to pray, and as mothers, we too should seek “to purposefully set aside time for prayer” and while finding a quiet place can be a challenge for a mother, “your goal might be to find a solitary time of the day rather than a solitary place.” Psalm 86 provides a model of David laying out his heart before God in praises and truths about God as well as many requests; psalms like these are helpful to pray through because of the heartfelt language and praise we can offer to our Lord which might not be in our ordinary vocabulary. Matthew 6:5-15, the Lord’s Prayer and the verses preceding it, offers the primary teaching of Jesus on prayer – who to pray for, how to pray, where to pray, what to pray. Paul also teaches us what to pray in his epistles; again Scripture passages are a wonderful place to begin our prayers. For example, Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the comfort that we need not be anxious but should bring all of our requests and gratitude to Christ, and we will know his peace. As Kruger points out, “…Much of motherhood is about watching and praying… I am not left to watch alone, worried and anxious. In a moment my heart can turn to the Lord in prayer and find peace for all that I cannot control. The Lord listens as I pour out my requests on behalf of my children. In every season of motherhood, the Lord invites me to prayerfully trust in Him as I watch my children grow.”
Chapter 4: “Ordering Your Home: Walking with Carefulness”
In chapter four, “Ordering Your Home: Walking with Carefulness,” we consider our priorities as mothers so we can be intentional in our activities. In examining Ephesians 5:15-6:4, we see we are to “be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise” in our families, which are the building blocks of our society. Husband and wives have roles to fulfill which mirror the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church – husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, imitating Christ’s willingness to lay down His life for the church, and wives are to submit to and respect their own husband, as the church submits to Christ. So each the husband and the wife “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Children are to obey their parents and thus learn submission to authority, while fathers (parents) are to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” As we seek to be intentional, Kruger encourages us to look at how we spend our time and challenges us to look at our priorities with the woman of Proverbs 31 as our inspiration.
Chapter 5: “Reflecting the Heart of God: Walking in Love”
Chapter five, “Reflecting the Heart of God: Walking in Love” delves into the first fruit of the Spirit. First, one must understand the depth of God’s love for us as believers – how deep and long and wide and high is the love of Christ for His people! We are reminded again and again throughout Scripture that God dearly loves His children: “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…” (Romans 8:31-39) Because God loves us, we also want to respond by loving Him first and our neighbors second. However, Kruger warns that we must be careful of creating idols that will hinder us from loving God first, such as in our attempt to love our families that we make our families idols above God. Kruger states, “Growing in our affection for Christ does not mean that we love our families less. Our love for others actually increases the more we love Christ.” As God loved us first, we have the source of love to be able to love others and to do good works to serve God and others. In studying 1 Corinthians 13 and other verses, mothers see what their love towards their children should look like: patient, kind, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, compassionate, humble, gentle, sincere, forgiving wrongs. God loved us, and so we are enabled to love our husbands and children well, hopefully to support God’s love to take root in their hearts as well. “Motherly love is a key instrument in the Maker’s hand to prepare His people to accept and believe in His love for them.”
Chapter 6: “Encouraging a Thankful Spirit: Walking in Joy”
Chapter six is called “Encouraging a Thankful Spirit: Walking in Joy,” which is the next fruit of the Spirit. This week of study is about joy, thankfulness and contentment. Kruger points to the source of joy in our lives and the ability to give thanks and be content as not our circumstances, but God – “who He is, His presence in our lives, His works, His Word, His strength, and His love. Abiding in God as the author of joy leads to everlasting and abundant joy.” While she doesn’t explicitly define joy, Kruger suggests it is knowing it is well with our souls because of Christ’s work on the cross and keeping an eternal perspective or our eyes fixed on Christ. “God wants our greatest delight to be in who He is and the work He has done on our behalf.” Other sources of joy are our salvation and fellowship with other believers. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Giving thanks and having a joyful heart are not based on events but are to be done always and in all circumstances. As we learn to find joy and contentment in Christ despite trying days and suffering, and as we give thanks in all circumstances, we will be able to “reflect joy to our children.” Kruger encourages mothers to help our families find ways to be thankful, for “creating a thankful home is the first step in creating a joy-filled home” where we also have the confidence of knowing “our true home is coming in heaven.” Seeking joy, thankfulness and contentment is seeking Christ! We are always pointed back to Christ!
Chapter 7: “Fighting Against Anxiety and Worry: Walking in Peace”
In chapter seven, “Fighting Against Anxiety and Worry: Walking in Peace,” Kruger focuses on how Christ is the only one who can give us peace. First, Christ is the source of peace as we trust in Him. While we were once at war with God as enemies of Him because of our sin, Christ became our peace by dying for us while we were still sinners and reconciling us to God, making us friends with God and at peace with Him. (See Romans 5:1, 6-10, Ephesians 2:14-18.) Yet, Kruger reminds us, “Even after we believe in Christ by faith, we still struggle to obey God. There is a war between our flesh and the Spirit of Christ that lives inside our hearts.” Sin affects our ability to be at peace in our hearts for “there is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22) but “those who walk uprightly enter into peace.” (Isaiah 57:2) God disciplines us when we are in sin, for the discipline “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10-11) The way to peace on a daily basis then is obedience to Christ. “Just as a train glides smoothly when it follows its predetermined track, we enjoy peaceful lives when we follow the wisdom of God’s ways,” Kruger says. She goes on to show us that one of the major sins as mothers that robs us of our peace is worry or anxiety. “Anxiety is actually a lack of trust in the Lord and a form of prideful independence.” Kruger points us to Matthew 6:24-34, which encourages us that we do not need to worry about food, drink, clothes or tomorrow, for God takes care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Will he not take care of us? We are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness! Other passages reassure us that we can cast our anxiety on Christ because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7), in Christ we find rest (Matthew 11:28-30), and the peace of God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we bring our prayers, petitions and thanksgiving to God. (Philippians 4:4-9) Praying and trusting Christ enable us to keep our minds steadfast and in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) To summarize, “while we gain nothing by our worry, so much is promised when we pray.”
Chapter 8: “Letting Go of Harshness and Anger: Walking in Patience and Kindness”
Following the theme of walking in the Spirit, chapter eight is about “Letting Go of Harshness and Anger: Walking in Patience and Kindness.” These fruit of the Spirit are closely related, and “motherhood is full of opportunities to extend patience and kindness,” Kruger tells us. As always, we first look at how God demonstrates these characteristics toward His people: He is patient with His children in their sin, correcting them and showing kindness so that they come to repentance and salvation (2 Peter 3:9-15, Romans 2:4). As mothers, our patience can be tested by our circumstances or our children’s behavior. Kruger describes, “Anger responds quickly, overflows with harshness, and yields regret. Patience requires both a slowness to react and a willingness to listen, which are increasingly rare in our fast-paced, give-it-to-me-now society. By taking time to listen to our children and seeking to understand their perspective, we can cultivate peace and grace in our homes.” Making the effort to pause and pray and reflect – show patience – gives us the opportunity to respond graciously rather than in anger and impatience. It is in these times of pressure that the Spirit enables us to grow in our patience and kindness, which necessitates that we are abiding in Christ. In Colossians 1:9-14 and Ephesians 4:1-2, Paul encourages us to live a life worthy of the Lord and our calling, citing patience as one of the ways we do this. We can be patient and kind because God has been patient and kind to us. After all, “Love is patient. Love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) We must be aware of others’ needs and not too self-focused if we are going to be kindhearted, and Kruger suggests ministering to others outside our homes to model kindness and to give our children opportunities to learn to serve others. Kruger summarizes, “Reflecting on the Lord’s patience toward our weaknesses produces a spirit of humility and gentleness within our hearts. His Spirit enables us to demonstrate the fruit of patience, a quality especially needed as we teach spiritual truths to our children… Confessing our weaknesses and abiding in Christ changes us to become mothers increasingly characterized by love that is patient and kind.”
Chapter 9: “Training Hearts Through Discipline: Walking in Goodness and Faithfulness”
“Training Hearts Through Discipline: Walking in Goodness and Faithfulness” is the focus of chapter nine. Focusing first on God’s goodness, we are invited to “taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) Then, because God is good, and because “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith,” we imitate goodness, “for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Next we gaze on God’s faithfulness: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) God keeps his promises, “for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23) We also are called to emulate God’s faithfulness as demonstrated in the parable of the master who gives each of his servants talents of money, but expects a return on his investment (Matthew 25:14-30). When we use the gifts God has given us to produce the fruit of His kingdom – when we are faithful – we know we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” As mothers, we are called to faithfully tend to our children’s needs and discipline them out of love, even as God disciplines us. Indeed, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness… and produce a harvest of righteousness and peace…” (Hebrews 12:7-11) Kruger explains, “The Lord acts as a gardener, faithfully pulling the weeds of sin from our hearts in order to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. He knows that we cannot thrive apart from His Word and that we need regular pruning so we will bear more fruit.” In turn, we must also discipline our children, for this is how we actively love them. Without discipline, our children will go their own way – the way of the sinful flesh – and become spoiled and unhappy. Instead, God’s Word tells us, “Train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) and “bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) so they too may enjoy a relationship with God and the harvest of holiness, righteousness and peace in Him. While it is not usually convenient “to take the time to provide careful training and loving correction,” it is “part of loving my children well,” reminds Kruger. There is a strong connection between goodness, faithfulness and discipline. Because God is good and faithful and disciplines his children, we as mothers also seek to bear these fruit of the Spirit and tend to our children. As Kruger concludes, “A good teacher is faithful to lovingly train and instruct her students.”
Chapter 10: “Guiding in Godliness by Example: Walking in Gentleness and Self-Control”
The tenth chapter turns our attention to the fruit of gentleness and self-control. It is called “Guiding in Godliness by Example: Walking in Gentleness and Self-Control.” We examine verses about God’s gentleness and Christ’s self-control when He was tempted in the desert by Satan. How gentle our God is with us! “He 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 40:11) Christ calls the weary and burdened to come to him, for he is “gentle and humble in heart” giving us “rest for our souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) Thus, we must be gentle and humble with others, especially our children, in sharing the gospel and defending the faith, in instructing them when they oppose us, and in restoring them when they are caught in sin. Making the connection between gentleness and self-control, Kruger exhorts us, “Self-control is a necessary part of loving our families well. In order to demonstrate faithfulness, patience, or gentleness to our children, we need self-control.” Christ sympathizes with us, since He was tempted on this earth, and He calls us to, “be self-controlled and alert” for our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) We are not alone in fighting temptation and seeking to be self-controlled, for “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3) As we pursue self-control, we can also sympathize with and encourage our children to look to God for help in self-control. It is important to consider gentleness and self-control together and how they balance each other, for if we have gentleness without self-control, we might be too gracious and yielding, and if we have self-control without gentleness, we might become too rigid and legalistic. Kruger encourages that we should “make [our] home a place that combines the warmth of gentleness with the safety of self-control… Children thrive in a home where gentleness is met with the stability of self-control.”
Chapter 11: “Recovering from Perfect Mom Syndrome (PMS): Walking in Grace”
In the final lesson, Melissa Kruger addresses “Recovering from Perfect Mom Syndrome (PMS): Walking in Grace.” We all dream of being the perfect mom and believe the lies of society that we can do it all well. Kruger describes, “The symptoms of PMS include comparison with other moms, a sense of failure, judgmental attitudes, fearfulness, joyless performance of duties, incessant chasing of new activities, and a weary and worn heart… The remedy for our malady is a precious word: grace.” When we recognize that God has saved us by grace and that we have done nothing and can do nothing to make ourselves righteous (see Romans 3:21-28, Ephesians 2:4-10), we have no room to boast. We need not despair at our weaknesses, but we should also not boast in our strengths. Instead, because of God’s grace in both our weaknesses and strengths, we should worship God! Christ is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way as we are and yet without sin, so we may approach his throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:14-16) We will fail and sin against our children, but rather than hiding this from them, we can model confessing our sins and turning to Jesus for forgiveness. We also can demonstrate obedience to God and forgiveness to others, showing our children much grace, even as God is gracious to us as mothers. “Gracious parenting begins by daily recognizing our own need for grace,” Kruger reminds. Rather than sinning more because we are under grace, we are able to obey God’s commands because of grace. Indeed, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) None of us “have it all together” or are perfect mothers, so Kruger ends this study by recapping our need to abide in Jesus through His Word and prayer and to let him transform our hearts so that by the Spirit, we can yield His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. God grants us the grace to remain in Him and to serve our families well in the season of motherhood.
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