During the month of April, most school-aged families enjoy a week of spring break. As a mom of five, distance runner, XC Coach, and my dear friend, our Heart of Womanhood guest writer understands keeping a fast pace in life. Rest assured, Maria Grogan also understands the need to strive for rest! God knows too! So, mommas, even if you cannot head to the beach for some R & R this spring, take a 3 minute break to breathe God’s truths deeply into your soul so you too can enter His rest. 

I came to know the Lord in the most unusual way. When my husband and I got married, we were given a Life Application Bible as a wedding present. That Bible sat in our bedroom for a few years collecting dust. However, God began stirring my heart with so many questions. I had spent my life in pursuit of significance, looking for satisfaction in my accomplishments. In high school I sought to make good grades. Then, I strived to excel in my sport.  In college I was driven to earn a degree that would lead to a successful career. Then, I became obsessed with getting married. ‘Surely this will make me happy?’ I thought. Next, we were consumed with saving up to buy a house. Finally, I threw myself into decorating our home, believing that this would somehow bring contentment. Yet every single one of these things kept falling short. If I could pick a song to depict my life at this time, it would be “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. No matter how hard I tried, there was a void in my heart that could not be filled.  

One Sunday afternoon, I wiped the dust off that wedding present and started reading. As time went on, I kept coming back for more and more. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that:

‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.’ 

As I read, He breathed in His life; He breathed in His teaching; He breathed in His reproof; He breathed in His correction, and He breathed in His righteousness.  I came to know Him through and through and He became my All in All. He showed me that eternal life was not through all my works, but He was the work. This change in me had a domino effect on those around me. Soon after, my husband surrendered His life to the Lord too, sparking a spiritual renewal within my husband’s parents and family as well. 

Not my work, but His.

When we began having children, of course our soul’s desire was that they would come to know Jesus. In our early years, we couldn’t get enough of reading Christian parenting books. I wanted all the advice I could get my hands on. We wore ourselves out with going to Christian conferences on marriage and children and you name it J. We wanted to fill ourselves with all the knowledge so that we could train our children up in the Lord. To this day, my bookshelves are filled with books by Dr. Dobson and Gary Chapman, and so on and so forth. I couldn’t see it then, but looking back now, I wanted our children’s childhood to be so different from how I grew up. I was determined to work and do everything in my power to instill the importance of the Lord in their lives.  

Don’t get me wrong, all of these things were good. I would advise all new parents to heed advice from Christians who have gone before them. I would definitely recommend that new parents or newlyweds read a book or two about the new season of life they are entering. But now, many years later, after four of our children are grown and out of the house and just one remaining in high school, I have so much that my older self would want to say to my younger self.  


I would want to tell my younger self to relax! Do less striving and leave more room for resting in the Lord. Everything that happens or doesn’t happen in my child’s life is not completely dependent upon what I do or don’t do as a parent.

Just to give you an example of this, I homeschooled my older children in their elementary years. One of them couldn’t spell worth a lick. I determinedly set out to change that. I cannot tell you the hours of time and money spent on curriculum to improve his ability to spell. Guess what? Today he has graduated from college and graduate school and as I write this blog, he is in the process of entering full time ministry. Guess what? He still can’t spell worth a lick! But that inability has not stopped him from doing what the Lord has called him to do. If only I could have relaxed a bit and been able to realize that my child was going to have weaknesses and deficiencies. That there might be some subjects in school that he is average or even below average in and that is okay. Each of our children are unique and specially designed by God to become who He desires them to be.  We can rest (not work!) in the fact that He will equip them. 

Less is more.

Secondly, I would tell myself that less is more. Our children do not have to have every experience or be involved in every activity under the sun. They don’t need to go to Disney World every summer to have a great childhood. Elementary aged children don’t need travel teams to succeed in life. What they do need is time to play outside and just be kids. What they do need is time at home around the dinner table having meals together as a family. Resting in the security of a loving, nurturing home is far more important than filling their lives with endless activity. 

Less doing, more resting. Honestly, this message is at the heart of all that I would have told my younger mama self and what I slowly learned (and am still learning!) over the many years of raising my children. Resting. The definition of rest includes ‘ceasing work or movement in order to relax; to refresh oneself or recover strength; ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.’ The thesaurus includes many synonyms for rest such as: breathe, relax, depend on, hinge, pause, wait. Genesis 2:2 has much wisdom to be found in regard to rest: ‘By the seventh day God had finished all the work he had been doing so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.’  Even the God of the universe rested from his work! If God rested, shouldn’t we?   

All those early parenting years I was consumed with doing everything ‘right’. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I erroneously believed that how my children turned out was dependent on how hard I worked to ensure that they became Christ followers. I was resorting back to ‘works’ just as I had done as an unbeliever. As hard as it was to admit, my ‘doing’ was steeped in unbelief and lack of trust. Just as I had surrendered my life to Him, I needed to surrender my parenting to Him. I needed more of Him and less of me. How to do that exactly? Just like my salvation story, the answers were in His Word:  

‘There remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from their works, as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ Hebrews 4:9-12 

Enter His rest.

Entering His rest. Striving to enter His rest. Think back to the definition of rest from earlier: resting from activity to recover strength, pausing, breathing, relaxing, depending on. We enter his rest by being still and spending time with the Lord in His Word and prayer.  In his rest he fills us with His Word, giving us His strength and His help. We enter His rest in prayer by casting all our cares on Him. By giving Him all that is weighing us down. If I’m going to be known for striving for something, I want to be known for striving to enter His rest! For one thing, much of what our children are taught is caught. They learn so much more from what they see us doing than what we tell them to do. If they consistently awaken in the morning and see us in God’s Word, it will have an impact on them. Additionally, and even more importantly, as we routinely enter His rest, it will sanctify us through and through. Spending time in His Word will influence our parenting as only He can. Last but not least, praying for our children is the greatest work we can ever do. I cannot tell you how many times He has instructed me to just shut up and pray (too many to count J). The best way we can fight for our children is on our knees. Pray scripture over them. Text them Bible verses you are praying over them. And pray for the Lord to fill in the gaps in all the places you have fallen short. Because we are all going to fall short. Only God is the perfect parent—the perfect parent whom we can call on for help moment by moment.  

More of Him, less of me. Resting in Him. It may be the unpopular route, but it’s also a good indication that you’re on the right path. God’s upside down dichotomy is always found on the road less travelled. In closing, I am reminded of the story of Mary and Martha. May Jesus’ gentle rebuke in Luke 10:41-42 awash your mama-life with renewed purpose today:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  

Twenty-six years ago, Jesus drew me in at His feet and I chose Him. His words forever changed me. Not just me but all of those around me and ultimately, our entire family line. May you choose today to be a Mary-Mama in our Martha-centered world. Consistently enter his rest today, and tomorrow and the next day…and slowly watch God breathe His beautiful story into you and your family for generations to come.  

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 

Striving for rest,

Maria Grogan

and the Heart of Womanhood Ministry Team

If you want to find a rhythm of rest by studying God’s Word with your daughter, check out our Portraits of Womanhood Bible Study Series,  @ http://heartofwomanhood.org . There’s nothing more powerful than moms and daughters striving for God’s rest together!