As we approach Mother’s Day this year, my heart is full of love, gratitude and longing. I have two grown daughters, two granddaughters and I was one of two daughters. I see a theme here!
Since my girls were eight years apart after many years of infertility, I mothered children in my home for decades. Much like in your homes, in ours there were countless hours of homework, art, dance, piano and singing lessons, school and church musicals, soccer and football games. There were projects on the kitchen table, hours of carpools, cooking meals, and endless loads of laundry. There seemed to always be a mess on the floor and a rush out the door, and the constant juggling of work, ministry and home. There were fun movie nights and popcorn, shopping days, birthday parties, and tea parties, hours of discovery on road trips and vacations and hours of listening, giggles and snuggles with bedtime stories as we watched them grow.
Like you, I have seen the building of friendships and spent sleepless nights in tears for their broken hearts. There have been hours of prayer that they would draw near to the Savior, and that God would heal their pain, and protect their tender hearts. There were days of exhaustion so deep I felt it would overcome me and days of joy so deep I felt it would explode out of me.
We have celebrated graduations and all the hard work to get there. I have also known that aching in your soul when they go far off to college and you must learn to let them go. I have prayed that they would learn to dream the dreams that Jesus has for them knowing that those are the only dreams worth chasing.
We have celebrated the marriage of our oldest daughter and welcomed the son-in-law we prayed for since her birth. We have seen joyous birthing of grand babies and watched our baby girls become beautiful young women with loves and dreams of their own. You miss the wonder in little eyes and the pitter patter of little feet down the hall and then God gives you the gift of reliving the wonder through the eyes of your grandchildren.
Motherhood is about celebrating victories, bravery, discovery and giving. It's about learning how to love and learning there's more love within you than you ever imagined possible. Motherhood is about sacrifice, perseverance, and the gift of cultivating wonder, joy, beauty and adventure.
My girls are all grown up now and gratefully, I have grown up in the process. In the shaping of my children the Lord has shaped me. There have been laughter and tears in the growing, and there has been the abundant giving of grace. And there has also been the learning to slow down, rest in forgiveness and love, so much love.
I have known deep joy and blessing in being a mother, but one of the greatest gifts has come through my failures.
Motherhood has a way of exposing our sin, doesn’t it?
You learn your strengths and your weaknesses. Often, the more I strove to be the perfect mom, the more I would get frustrated at my impatience, my lack, and my words that would often cut and wound.
I wonder if any of you have ever felt that way? And surely in these days of sheltering at home, young moms, especially, are tested to be it all and do it all perfectly. They strive to meet everyone’s expectations and often feel like they have come up short. All moms know that weary feeling that there is simply not enough of them to meet all the needs. Nurturing and caring is hard work and life giving.
There can be a blessing found in that striving and failing if we look for it. During my season of young motherhood, I had the gift of great Bible studies and teaching.
I believe motherhood is one of the Lord’s most profound ways of refining and molding us into the image of Christ. I find I am often still in that refining fire, but I have learned to run to the cross and my Savior who knows my need.
I have often written about my own mom who is 91 and living with severe Alzheimer’s in a nursing home. She hasn’t known me for several years, but it is still so hard not to be able to see her face to face in this pandemic. I find myself thinking often about her generous spirit, always offering her help in whatever way I might need. Her love and legacy shaped my own mothering which in turn I believe has shaped the way my oldest daughter mothers her children. I still long for the times when I could ask my mom for advice, get one of her hugs or words of encouragement, recipes or gardening tips or simply let the tears of weariness flow on her shoulder. I always try to make my last words to her, “I love you, mom.”
Our mothering is never done. I am so proud of my daughters and grateful for the incredible gift that they have been in our lives. I see the beauty of Christ's character rising up in them and spilling over into the lives they touch.
As moms we’ll never love perfectly, but we can point our children to the One who does. And Jesus will cover us with His grace, draw us close and give us the strength and courage to face another day with grace.
Last fall I heard this beautiful, authentic song about the joys, struggles and wonder of motherhood by Caroline Cobb. I wept. It told my story and I think the story of so many moms as we seek to love well, but often fall.
May we always seek to honor the gift of our children and pursue the Savior's heart for them. Take a moment and click the link below to listen.
I’ve entered the stage of the last verse now – my hair is gray…I’m older…
Isn’t it the cry of our mother hearts that we faithfully sought to point our children to the cross and the wonder of the Savior’s abiding, beautiful love….
and in that, our children will never have to wonder if we loved them.
If you are one of the many in this world who never knew the beauty of a loving mother or still live in the shame or self-condemnation of your own mothering, may you run today into the love of the Savior that is wider, longer, higher and deeper than any human love could ever give.
Maybe you are not a mother. Is there someone in your life whom you could care for and nurture in the love of Christ?
This week why not look for a way to encourage someone you know who has carried the joy and struggle of mothering or if you can, perhaps offer words of love to your own mother.
For years I have prayed this beautiful prayer for my children and those I love
inserting their name to make it personal.
Would you offer up this Scripture prayer for someone you love today?
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long
and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measureof all the fullness of God.”
Grateful for the gift of motherhood that I keep opening with such joy!
It is the precious gift I hold and the gift that holds me.
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