Figuring Out How to Mother Well (DBC - Chapter 10 - Figuring it Out New) - Sarah Mae
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Figuring Out How to Mother Well (DBC – Chapter 10 – Figuring it Out New)

I have three reasons to figure out anew how to do this mothering thing well…




“Love is the fuel that energizes every other type of growth. If you love well, you will influence your children, and your love will cover over many inadequacies.” -Sally Clarkson, Desperate

I have three sweet babies that I love and want to raise well.

One of the ways I will do this is by sacrificing some of my own desires so that I can do right by them. In chapter 10, we hone in on this sacrifice, and our expectations and our desires and the way of Jesus.

Oh how the Father loves His children and sacrifices for them! But in that sacrifice, there is joy – it is not all miserable and gloomy.

I want to  hold onto to the fact that in choosing to sacrifice my life and my expectations for my life for my children, it doesn’t mean living a miserable life; there is a tension there that I want to work through – finding the joy in the sacrifice.

And that’s what I want to talk about today, finding the joy in the sacrifice.

Sally says, “the ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations in our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.” (P. 122.) However, she goes on to say, “I don’t however want to affirm a sense of punishment. Following the example of Jesus in submitting our own will to do God’s doesn’t mean we are called to live miserable lives where we punish ourselves through the denial of anything good.” (P. 123.)

Throughout the writing of Desperate, one of the biggest things I reflected on was how I had set myself up for failure with the high expectations and un-required ideals that I set of myself (Chapter 1). Learning to release myself from those ideals and instead focus on how God made me and what He asked of me, has helped tremendously in my parenting. Now I’m  in a place of “figuring it out new.” This is where I take the old, unrealistic (for me) ideals and ideas on motherhood and trade them in for ideals and ideas that work for our family. It’s where I find that intersection between sacrifice and joy; reality and ideals.

I find it easy to stay in a place of, “Motherhood is hard, let’s just get through the days.” Sometimes, and in some seasons, that is the reality. But for me, right now, I want to say, “Motherhood is hard, and choosing to be intentional with my babes is even harder. With the help and power of the Holy Spirit I will aim and work to meet realistic ideals that are important in the raising of my children.” I don’t want to slough off these important days because it all feels too hard. And I don’t want to go about my days grudgingly; I want to enjoy my life, even in the sacrifice of it.

I really want to live and love and choose well in the tension of it all. And to do this, I have to day-by-day, moment-by-moment rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and His leading for what will work in our family, what ideals we should aim for, and what ideas we should cling to. Everyday I wake up and say, “Lord, help me walk in the power of your Holy Spirit today.” Honestly, without Him, I can’t make it through my days, and I certainly can’t do motherhood well. I’m a mess, and I’m tired a whole heck of a lot, but I’ve got power in my spirit, and I’m relying on it by faith to teach me and help me do more than survive. I want to rock this life with all I’ve got, because it’s all worth it.

And those babies, they’re worth it. They are always, always worth it.

Your Turn!

How do you enjoy life, genuinely enjoy it, in the sacrifice? 

I want to hear from you on how you live in the tension between ideals and reality, joy and sacrifice.

Leave a comment and tell me how you are figuring all this out. (Email readers, click here to come on over to the blog and comment!)




This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read written for moms, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a mom, especially of little ones, who sometimes feels like she can hardly breathe (or go to the bathroom in peace!!) or anyone who wants to understand moms.” Amazon Review

You can purchase Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe at Amazon, B & N (who accepts Paypal online!), (also accepts Paypal), DaySpring, and pretty much anywhere books are sold.

The winners of the signed books are…

Kathy L. and Tammy L.! Congrats!


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  • Jessica

    uh oh no linky thing again 🙂 we have had a tragic accident within our church family this week and this post took me to asking what will my children remember of me and then making that the new me!

    • Sarah Mae

      I didn’t put the linky up because only a few people responded to it, and they were from mostly old posts. 🙂 But I’m glad you leave your link here!

  • Lori Tintes Hartmann

    I was a single mom of 2 little girls anf fresh out of drug treatment when I met Jesus. I really had no idea how to be a mom. I knew enough that how I grew up was not the best way to parent and so my cry to God was “What is normal? How do I be a mom that doesn’t hurt? Help me to be the best mom I can be.” And he showed me. I studied how Jesus lived his life on earth and that became my prayer. “Help me to be Jesus with skin on to my children and to all people.” Through this He gave me such a love and joy as a mom. He filled me up daily and it over flowed to my children. He led me to people to learn from and books that help me to learn but I learned mostly from the bible. I learned very quickly that this job as a mom was something I couldn’t do without Him.
    That was back in 1985 and my family has grown much since then and He has given me more children to love and raise for Him.I would say for me it is grace that gets me through. It’s grace that fills in my cracks and gives me what I need daily to do this mommy gig. I ask HIm daily to fill me with His joy, love and grace and what He wants us to do that day.
    Since I have raised 5 children to adulthood I would say that it was grace, laughter and other mommy friends that got me through the tough or mundane times and I learned a lot that has helped me this time around. I think keeping my focus on what is most important and not getting worked up about the small things. Now that I am doing this mommy gig a second time around I find that I am more calm about things. Keeping in mind that these precious little’s are His and they are on loan to me for how ever much time He see’s fit. Finding joy in this journey of serving my family can be hard some day’s which is why I need to run to Him daily to get filled up. Still there are days that I fall so short as a mom and that is where grace comes in.

    • Sarah Mae

      So beautiful, thank you!

  • Cynthia

    It’s a constant reorienting of my thinking. Daily. I want to do this, accomplish that and look a certain way. Some days none of that gets done. Some days none of it should have gotten done! I try to keep in mind that my life is not my own. It belongs to the King.

    • Sarah Mae

      Yes, I think you are right on with that constant re-orienting of our thinking. THank you!

  • Bethany

    I like to try to record 5 things a day of little moments and everyday things I’m thankful for (from Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts) like my two-year old’s chubby cheeks or the way my 4-year old sings when she’s outside playing. I also like to take pictures of everyday activities–eating snow ice cream, coloring at the table, playing outside in the fire pit.

    • Sarah Mae

      So wise – you will love looking back on this!

  • Allison Gobbell

    To enjoy life I have to slow down and enjoy the moment. Only then do I notice the good and begin to give thanks. When there is less than ideal, ugly, sin coming from my blessings, I remember how I fall short myself. When it gets really bad I pray like the dickens! And always, always stay in the Word of God. These are things the Lord has taught me through mothering my 7 amazing, awesome children.

    • Sarah Mae

      7! Wow, how wonderful! 🙂 And yes, prayer, oh my goodness, yes!

  • Elizabeth

    I can really relate to the constant tension you write about and I think it is healthy, keeping us asking God for wisdom as we try to live this one life well. I think that giving motherhood my very best helps balance out the sacrifices with joy. This came to me after I had my third child and days and nights were so full. Through trial and error I found that the more I put into my children, the more fun I had doing it, and my worst days were by far the ones when I tried to do as little for them as I could get by with. When I created a life worth savoring with my kids, we were all happier. It was the smallest details that made the difference, like not just getting the baby clean in a bath, but taking time to rub on the best smelling lotion and revel in his sweetness. Instead of just getting toddlers fed, putting the simplest of foods in a lunch box and all going out side for a picnic added so much to an ordinary day. Reading an engaging book to a little one is so much more pleasant that listening to her whine while I try to do something I want to do more. In a mysterious way, just as Jesus promised, the more I gave, the more I received!

    • Sarah Mae

      I love this so much, thank you!

  • Erika Crowl

    “Fun in the mundane” – This comes to mind when you mention “joy in the sacrifice.” Somehow, humbly, this was my mom’s unspoken mantra. Trips to the grocery story, the bank, or post office became little adventures. I find myself doing the same thing with my own family. I think it involves putting on 3- or 6- or 10-year old glasses — even when I prefer to wear my own — and trying to see the world as they would in our day-to-day activities. I haven’t mastered this but I know it’s a way to keep joy flowing 🙂

    • Kate Craig

      I so want my kids to say that about me!

  • Amy Clary

    I’ve recently started forming the habit of morning prayer where I intentionally ask the Holy Spirit to guide my day. I realized my desperate prayers of “Oh Jesus, be with me” were already answered. He is, without a doubt, with me. It was through further prayer and seeking God’s word that I realized I forgot about the Holy Spirit completely.
    Now, I ask him from sun up to sun down to walk me through my day. I listen for his nudges and for the times I should say nothing {isn’t that one hard, sometimes?}.
    And as Christy Nockels said on a vlog years ago, I “invite the glorious to be part of the mundane”.
    You’re so right, Sarah. Parenting is difficult but adding to it a life of intentionally choosing our little ones is where the real sacrifice lives. We must always give that living sacrifice to Him. He gets the glory today and He will get the glory years from now when our children are grown.

  • Raven

    It has been a battle for me for almost 10 years to be the wife and mother that I desire to be. I guess the last 8.5 years have been spent realizing, that is not an attainable goal for me, and now I have accepted that. I can only live each day with purpose, not my own purpose, but the one that God has designed for me by giving me 2 precious children and a wonderful husband. They are the ones I am meant to carry as my cross of dying to myself and living for Christ one day at a time. My purpose is to Love Him first and from the love and commitment of that relationship with Christ, love everyone he has blessed me to have as part of my life. Thank you for your encouragement to live with purpose of heart.

  • Lauren

    This message resonates well within my heart. And just this very morning I went for a walk, tears streaming down my face, ready to give up on being a parent during this season. Feelings of failure flooded my being while worship music played in the earbuds of my ipod. I felt like I would never be able to fix the mistakes I made early on in parenting my now 5 year old. (Much like the ones you mention in your chapter on formulas regarding your son, I cried through that chapter too, can you tell I’m a crier?!) Anyways, as I was walking this morning feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up on this parenting by faith thing, a song came on about the cross. Suddenly God’s gentle voice pierced the dark of my thoughts. “I sacrificed my very breath, my very life. I know what sacrifice is.” And I felt His arms surround me in soul nourishing comfort while simultaneously convicting me that my sacrifice is small compared to His. I continued listening as He reminded me that the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy the family and that my strength must be in Christ and I must lean on Him in prayer. The whole idea of parenting by faith means that even though I can’t tell it’s “working” or even if I don’t see immediate results, I’m still trusting that my work will bear fruit in their lives. I’m remembering now what Sally says in her Mission for Motherhood book, that Jesus gives us grace to grow. So I’m giving myself grace to grow as a mom and my children grace to grow into the people they will be. Though my children are young (5,3,and1) I have a feeling that I better get this concept deep into my thought process since we will never stop needing grace to grow. So to answer your question: just today, this very morning I realized that I needed to take joy in the sacrifice because it means that I am following in Jesus’ footsteps. And I’m determined to find the joy through gratitude and listing things I’m thankful for in my daily journaling. And the simple act of smiling more.

  • Kate Craig

    I’m not catholic, but I love the part of the catechism that says the chief en of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I get so caught up in meeting my standards that I forget to enjoy all he has given me. When my daughter is whining at my knees I try to remember that feeling I have when I watch her sleep – the joy.

  • meeshoo

    I have 2 year old twins (boy and girl) and a 5 yr. old (on March
    20th) boy. I also have a 21 year old daughter, they are my delight. However,
    not until I started reading Sarah Mae blog did I think I was a normal mom. I
    thought I was just a bad and miserable mother, especially when it came to
    bedtime. Now it gets a little better with the twins, but before I was a mess. I
    was always exhausted and overwhelmed and cried a lot, I could not wait for
    bedtime to come fast enough. Now I would get more frustrated when I put the
    kids to bed and they will not stay in bed. Last night my 2yr daughter was up
    for over an hour past bedtime and I got so frustrated. Now I know that she just
    needed more of me. I am a stay-at-home Mom and I get to stay in every way. My
    husband believes that his job is to provide for the family so he does not help
    out at home. Not with the house or the kids. This is frustrating mentally.

    I now make it a habit to ask God in the morning time and at
    nights when I lay down to sleep to give me patience with my kids. Sometimes
    when I am about to flip out the Holy Spirit reminds me that I have the strength
    through Him. It’s not easy but I escape therapy knowing I am normal. I think
    this is what makes a lot of parents crack….. Because they think they are just
    not doing it right. I am happy the day I
    stumbled upon your blog. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you so much. I share you on my Facebook so all my mommy
    friends can follow you. Most people put the best outside and hide the truth……
    Thank you for sharing the truth over again. Don’t stop my friend you are saving
    lives. Thanks you!!!!!

  • Darcie

    Sarah, I am starting a Desperate Book club tomorrow and wondered if there is website where I can access the articles you and Sally wrote while you did the online book club in the spring. I see you have ch 10 and 12, but can I also access the rest of the book? Thanks!!


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