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!

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)



To Motherhood



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.

Good-bye sweet girl

Good-bye sweet girl.

These are the words that were silently spoken by my heart this morning as I watched my daughter leave for school.

I stood there, from our front door, watching her walk away.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  The chilly air kissed my face and my bare feet were planted on the cold, wet concrete steps.  My heart felt like it was stuck in my throat and tears, like prisoners, tried escaping down my cheek.  All at once it felt like a decade had passed me by in the blink of an eye.

Today my baby is 10.

I remember the days, they don’t seem all that long ago now, when I would find myself dreaming of a time when my kids would be more independent.  I remember anticipating the days where all three of my children would be able to feed themselves, get dressed on their own, and do basic hygiene without any help from their mama.  And I realize, a little despairingly now, that my dreams have come true.

Lessons from my 30’s

So, I’m turning the big “40” here in a few days and while this milestone birthday can be a bit depressing for many, I find myself excited for this next decade and all that it will hold.  Honestly, turning 30 was kind of hard for me. And yet, as leery as I was heading into those years, some of my greatest personal growth occurred during that time. Here are a few things I have worked hard at in the last decade that have also enriched my life immensely.

1.)  Girlfriends that love fiercely.

One of the best things about being this age is that I’ve learned how to choose well when it comes to my friendships.  I’ve discovered that great friendships don’t just materialize, they are made.  It takes time and energy to form a deep and lasting friendship.  A friendship that’s worth anything to you has undoubtedly endured misunderstandings, hurt feelings and a few bumps and bruises along the way.  But that’s what makes them so valuable.  You’ve invested your time and a decent amount of work into the relationship.  You’ve taken risks and have shared vulnerable moments together.  If it’s a truly deep friendship you have probably had to lovingly correct, ask for forgiveness and possibly even work through moments of jealousy. But strong, healthy friendships go there.  They do the hard, deep work because they know the reward is worth it.  These friendships, the ones that love fiercely, that go the extra mile and are committed to digging in and doing the hard work when life calls for it, these are amongst the sweetest gifts God gives.