Mothering: a holy work

Mothering is something that God invites all of his daughters to participate in.

Mothering is a selfless act.  When we mother someone, we are giving them our protective care and kindness.  It involves looking after someone else’s needs, providing for them and lending support. Mothering is nurturing something in someone else.  It’s giving a piece of ourselves to someone else.  So while we may not all be mothers (noun) we are all called to participate in the act of mothering (noun, adj.).  

Mothering is done in nuclear families and mixed, with the neighbors across the street and with nieces and nephews.  Mothering can be done with co-workers, friends, even the children of our friends.  Mothering extends across social and economic boundaries, it crosses personal beliefs and distances.  It cuts through barriers and connects our hearts to another.

For a stay at home mom with young kids, it looks a lot like tending to the daily physical and emotional needs of their littles.  It’s the TLC they give when their child falls and scrapes a knee and the late night rocking back to sleep.  It’s a lack of time for yourself because you’ve given it to another.  It’s selfless and exhausting and holy.

Mothering my daughter, now 13, looks different than it did when she was little.  Instead of kisses and band aids, she needs me to listen to her, to pay attention to what is important to her.  She needs me to lead in example more than ever before, because she’s looking to me to see if I’m being authentic, to see if what I say and how I live, truly line up.  It’s intentional and hard at times. It’s also holy.

When we were youth pastors, and I was surrounded daily by amazing teenage girls, I found they craved acceptance.  They just wanted to know that they were loved and accepted for who they were.  They needed to hear, “You are enough, just as you are.”  I loved my girls and worked hard to be honest and real with them.  Over time, we built trust with one another and it gave me the unique position to be able to speak truth into their lives.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was mothering even then, long before we decided to have kids of our own.

Sometimes mothering involves calling something out in someone else.  Highlighting something special in their life that maybe they don’t have the vantage point or perspective to see yet. It can be something as simple as stating what they are good at, or what you see in them that you admire.  Sometimes, the Holy Spirit breathes on those simple words and it’s like the oxygen needed to fan the flames and bring a thing, a decision, a person, to life.

Mothering can sometimes feel mundane, but it is always holy.

If you look up synonyms for the word mothering, here’s a few of the words that will come up:  Cherish, care for, nurture, rear, nurse, tend, bring forth, produce, bear, inspire, reproduce, cure, heal, remedy…and the list goes on.  Nothing short of holy work.

Some of us are mothers, but all of us are doing the holy work of mothering. And today, (and every day) I honor you.

For those of you who are experiencing a loss this Mother’s Day, whether it’s grieving the loss of a child, the hope of one, or perhaps the expectation of what you thought motherhood would be like, I pray God would send someone to mother you during this difficult season.

Philippians 2:1-4 says this: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility values others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others.”  Paul is basically saying here that if we have experienced the comfort and tenderness of God’s love for us, then we ought to follow His example and do the same.  We should pour into others this same love and tenderness that we have been shown.

We have been authorized and empowered to carry out this holy work.

The reason we can mother well, is because Jesus is our example.  We have experienced encouragement from Him, we have felt comfort from His love and we have felt His tender compassion towards us. He is our example in all things, even in mothering.

I pray today that you would experience his love and comfort in a personal way and that it would spur you on to share it with those around you.  Mothering is a hard and holy work, but you were made for it!

Great Summer Reads

It’s finally summer and you know what that means!  Well, aside from lax schedules, entire days spent outdoors and lots of late nights, for me it means more time to read.  Some of my favorite books have come from recommendations from others and so I thought I’d share a few of mine with you.

Chipped teeth & chipped lies

My daughter was a little over 2 years old the first time she knocked out her front tooth.  It was a beautiful Spring day and we were all playing outside.  She had meandered towards the neighbor’s driveway and was playing with a giant red ball, the kind you can buy at Walmart for like $2.88. She was chasing after it and decided to dive on top of it, hoping to land her squishy little belly onto the soft underbelly of the ball.  But she missed it, the ball kept rolling and she landed face first onto the concrete.

The second time she knocked out her (other) front tooth was when we were visiting grandma Broberg and she decided to quietly sneak into the kitchen, drag a chair over to the cupboard, and hoist herself onto the counter to snag herself a famously dubbed “grandma snack.” Well, she achieved her goal only to succumb to a faulty dismount that left her with one less tooth.

So when I learned last week that she had sustained a badminton racquet to the mouth from a kid in gym class and had chipped off a large portion of her front right tooth, although I shouldn’t have been too surprised, I was.  I figured she was done with tooth injuries but I guess I was wrong.

This time was a little harder for her. The other two times she had lost a tooth, she had been so young.  Before her hot tears were dry on her chubby little cheeks she was running around again, defying nature without a care in the world.  But this time she was an 11-year old girl, keenly aware of how she presents herself to the world.  A middle school tween, trying to figure out her place in this world.  And although she’s incredibly brave, she’s also still my little girl.  I knew in my heart that the question was coming.

But I was wrong, she never asked me anything.  Instead, she declared it. “Mom, I’m so ugly with my tooth like this.” It broke my heart to hear her say it, but I let it hang there in the air for a moment.  Although untrue, it was an expression of how she felt, and I always want her to feel safe in sharing her feelings with me.  “I don’t think that’s true,” I finally said.  I went on to explain to her how nothing about who she is had changed.  And it’s who she is that makes her beautiful.

Several nights later I was tucking her in bed, snuggled up next to her.  I was tickling her back when she said it again, “I just feel so stupid & ugly with my tooth half missing.”  As we talked a bit more about how she was feeling and about what makes a person truly beautiful, I realized again how easy it is to believe lies.  How without even realizing it, we can believe things about ourselves and even about others, that just aren’t true.

We believe the lie that we aren’t GOOD enough. We aren’t SMART enough. We aren’t PRETTY enough.  But enough for what? Enough for who?

She was believing the lie that because her tooth was chipped that it somehow made her less attractive which in turn made her less valuable as a person.  Which is completely untrue.  But I quickly realized, I still have faulty thinking myself.  There are times in my own life when I’m too busy to get a home cooked meal on the table, or my house is messy, or one of my kids does or says something unkind, and I believe the lie that says I’m a failure as a mom.  Sometimes when I haven’t been exercising or have been eating my feelings, I believe the lie that I’m not enough because I weigh more than I’d like.  I’m constantly battling the lie that says I’m not enough as a pastor’s wife because my personality and giftings don’t seem to line up with what many would expect.

But the only way to combat lies is to replace them with truth.

We believe lies all the time.  Because of _____, you’re not enough.  When the truth is we are always enough for God.

The truth is because of Jesus, we are FORGIVEN (1 John 1:9), FREE (John 8:32, 36) SAVED (Ephesians 2:8-9) LOVED (John 3:16) (Romans 5:8) STRONG (Isaiah 40:31) (Psalm 27:14) (Joshua 1:9) & VICTORIOUS (1 Corinthians 15:57) (1 John 5:4) (Romans 8:37).

As we talked, I felt like we were chipping away at the lies together.   Like each lie that was identified and brought into the light, His light, was like striking a chisel with a mallet.  Slowly chipping away at the thick layer of lies and revealing His beautiful truth.

Today, let’s exchange the lies of the Enemy for the truth of His word. Let’s believe with all of our hearts that we are made in His image and our identity is found solely in Him.  We do not find our identity in other people, in our successes or our failures, we don’t find it material things or in our physical appearance.  We refuse to believe the lies.  Instead, we exchange them for the truth of who God says we are.

If you have time today, listen to Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say,” and allow the truth of who God says you are to change your faulty thinking. Let his truth replace the lies.  His word tells us that we are declared righteous through our faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1) and that He calls us by name and we are His. (Isaiah 43:1)

 

 

Unseen, important work

Sometimes the really important work in life doesn’t feel very important when you’re in the midst of it.

Instead, it feels hard, looks quite unimpressive and would be easier to just dismiss.  Because of this, I often find myself wanting to move on to things that look or seem more important.  I want to work on the seen things.  Our minds are trained to believe that if nobody sees the quiet, hard work, then does it really matter? In a world that glorifies what it sees, or what is posted on FB or Instagram, often it’s the small personal areas of our mind, heart & soul that we neglect.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

To be honest, I’ve been in a bit of a “blah” season of life lately.  Nothing particularly awful, but just a lot of normal crap.  You know what I mean.  Life is like that sometimes.  But what I’ve noticed is that when I feel like this, it’s easier for my mind to wander.  I am more prone to comparison, a tad more easily offended and just overall, a less fun person to be around.

But being that you don’t actually live in my mind with me, (go ahead and say a quick “Hallelujah” right now) I can easily present a fairly put together package on the outside while inside, my thoughts are leading me astray.

Chances are, you’ve experienced this yourself at one time or another.  From the conversations I’ve had over the years with countless women, it seems to be something that we females struggle with quite a bit.

To Motherhood

bittersweet

 

Motherhood, in its truest sense, is just plain bittersweet.  We do our best to embrace the present but it’s always accompanied by a remembrance of the past and a hope toward the future.  Because of this, our mama hearts are in constant limbo.  But, I believe there is something truly beautiful about the collection process of both the mundane and the magical.  Motherhood is largely comprised of the two coming together and creating in us a sense that all of life is a little bittersweet.