Mamas, Stronger Together – Guest Series: Keep Church Every Day

Mamas, Stronger Together – Guest Series: Christian mothers have such a strength when we let down our guard and get real with each other, stop comparing ourselves to other mothers, when we stop making motherhood a competition, and instead build each other up as fellow mothers! Over the next weeks, we will hear from various Christian mamas who are each brave, beautiful, and strong in sharing the messages God has placed on their hearts. Enjoy the below message of encouragement from Nikki Nel.

Once upon a time I was a pharmacist, simply meddling in medicine. Now, I am a busy wife and mum of four. My hair is usually messy, I always forget something, and you will find me either in the kitchen or on the school playground, dressed in jeans, crumpled t-shirt and sneakers. And I’m an expat hoping that one day I can be more of a local yokel!

Will you come and read us a Bible story please?”

Too often I have this request. Ashamedly, I admit that much of the time I am so exhausted after long days of school runs, homework, sports, laundry, feeding everyone, and attempting to keep our home vaguely hygienic, that it just doesn’t happen. Sometimes (wrongly) by choice, sometimes just fuzzy-headed forgetfulness.

But of course, I say, “Yes,” to my kids when they ask. I should. I must. No matter how tired I am. Or how naughty they are being. It’s my purpose as a mum to teach my children about God. About our need for a Saviour. They need to know that they are truly loved. How else can they navigate the world I no longer recognise. Or is this just a cliche all parents throughout the centuries have said? And will they adapt to this “modern” world in exactly the same way I did?

Anyway, I won’t rant on the “world”. I will spare you my thoughts on this. Suffice to say love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself. I cling to these every day. I don’t know how else to find a way in “society”. These are basics I pray my children can root deep in their hearts.

I know that on occasion these requests for Bible and prayers, comes at the end of a day when I have been too busy to notice them, and they are simply vying for my attention. Or they are still awake at too late an hour on a school night, and trying to avoid getting into trouble. But this time is precious, and I like to think that it shows they know there is a healthy fear of God. Whether or not it is in their hearts yet I don’t know, but they must see it in me. I hope they do. Manipulation for “mum time” via the guilt-trip! But it works.

For us at the minute, this story time and prayers are crucial. We haven’t found ourselves yet embraced in the comforting arms of a church family since we moved to the Netherlands a couple of years ago from the UK. The longing is there but a variety of factors see us in this position, but it is a season and I trust that we will find fellowship eventually. It’s too important. We need to pray together, give thanks, learn together, break bread together and share our stories so that we can encourage and support each other. Motherhood is a minefield, and I don’t think we can do it alone.

I have always been blessed with church family—it’s where I have learned the most, so of course, I am desperate for my boys and daughter to have that in their lives. I want them to know that they are not alone. Like-minded thinking helps us grow and mature, holds us accountable, and allows for a safe environment in which we can figure out God and ourselves. I grew up in Northern Ireland in a bubble of churches and Christianity, so it was more straightforward to find my niche. And to this day those people are a firm foundation in my life and my kids run to the doors every time we go back to visit. We know we are loved and appreciated, and I still get encouragement and on occasion ask for prayers when we need it. They are only a phone call or text message away.

But whether we are blessed with a current church family or not, we all have the ability to help another tired mum juggling their own heart and those of their entire family. Even I can do it. Church is all the time! There is nothing more wonderful than a phone call from an old friend of faith asking how you are doing, or a message of encouragement!

When my husband and I started out in married life we moved around the UK a few times before moving to the Netherlands. It has sometimes been confusing and daunting searching for a church, but we have always been with the church family we needed for that season. God is good and he always has a plan. It is difficult to step out of your comfort zone and move, leaving a precious church family behind. Add in a new language to learn, different customs and traditions to figure out, and navigating not just yourself through it all can be particularly scary and often discouraging. But we are placed here for a reason, and I believe that it is important to keep church every day.

Go out and greet your neighbours. Be kind and bake cakes or make cards to wish them well. Get involved and love your neighbour. Shine like a light, be salt. We have met so many wonderful people since we arrived, and we feel truly thankful for those who have made us feel welcome. It doesn’t matter that they maybe all don’t believe. You just have to love them. So, I encourage you, don’t switch yourself off just because you haven’t found that sweet spot of worship. Keep church. It doesn’t have to be a total loss, open doors for God to use you and let your kids join in. They will keep learning. Be a witness to your own children.

Church is a place but it’s also a description of actions, loving God and making him first in your life, loving your neighbours, and as a mum teaching your children through words and example. But don’t forget about your own heart. I struggle with this a lot and recently needed to make a concerted effort to spend at least five minutes a day, in bible study, reflection, and prayer and it has most definitely helped to blow away the cobwebs of doubt, fear, and uncertainty. It keeps me hopeful, and I hope keeps me on my toes when it comes to teaching and praying for my children. Just as I am finishing writing this, I have come across Proverbs 31:10-31. It sums up much more eloquently what I think I am trying to say. What mums are meant to look like! We aren’t perfect but thankfully we have grace.

I wish I could share more. I realise my heart is a bit messy and there are many things that have made me who I am today. To all mums. . . keep teaching your children to pray and read them the Bible, and allow yourself to learn, be patient and trust God, and keep encouraging each other even if it is just over the airwaves. The mums you used to know living further afield may still need your wisdom! And to mums searching for a new church family whether home or abroad. . . don’t be ashamed, don’t fear not finding your feet. Life is in seasons for reasons. Keep the faith and run the race.

Nikki Nel is a mum from Northern Ireland, now living in the Netherlands with her husband, three sons, and a daughter. She loves nature and fresh air, gardening, being creative and baking cakes. She was born with two holes in her heart and still has one but hasn’t let it stop her. She enjoys running and swimming and once cycled the length of Africa. You can connect with her creativity in art and writing or follow her on Instagram: @littleheartscreative

4 thoughts on “Mamas, Stronger Together – Guest Series: Keep Church Every Day

  1. Church is a place but it’s also a description of actions, loving God and making him first in your life, loving your neighbours, and as a mum teaching your children through words and example. Thank you Nikki for this. And yes joining you in that concerted 5 minutes God time. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s