“Just Wait: It Gets Harder”

A young mom friend shared that she gets the above response whenever she mentions that life can be hard with several little children at once.

Why do we women do that to each other?

I’m so thankful that when I was a young mom, a special older lady told me that each stage of our children’s lives has it’s high and low points, and we shouldn’t dread any stage. I think at the time my oldest was about to turn two, thus I was cringing at the thought of the “terrible twos.” Her words helped me not to view that season of life negatively, and the “twos” were not all that terrible.

Though baby- and toddlerhood hold some cute, sweet, fun, and incredibly precious  moments, small people depending on you for every little thing can be exhausting. I loved my babies and little ones, but this stage of life was hardest for me. When they can feed themselves, go to the bathroom by themselves, dress themselves, etc., life gets a lot easier.

Perhaps for some moms, what I call the “taxi years” are the most taxing, when you’re chauffeuring kids to sports practice, music lessons, church activities, birthday parties, school activities, etc., etc. That season does have its challenges. We tried hard to strike the right balance by offering our kids a number of opportunities without the whole household revolving around children’s schedules. It’s not easy. But one perk was that one of our children opened up much more in the car than if I tried to draw him out across the table.

Probably most who warn about harder years of parenting are referring to the teen years. Once, when my children were still young, an older mom and I were working on a bulletin board together at church. As she shared something about her teenage daughter, she said something like, “Don’t dread the teen years. If you keep the relationship good, keep communication open, and train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the teen years don’t have to be a trial for either of you.” And she was right, just like my mom friend who told me not to dread the “terrible twos.” The world has bought into this idea that rebellion is a teenage rite of passage, but it doesn’t have to be. They do ask hard questions, but we should welcome them and help them seek answers. They should be coming to a point where their beliefs are becoming their own rather than just rotely following what they’ve always been told. There might be a few bumps in the road towards independence, but it doesn’t have to be an all-out war.

And then we come to parenting adults. In some ways, it’s a relief that all their decisions are their own responsibility now. Yet we have to let them make their own mistakes. We only offer advice when asked, and then carefully. We have to let go, but we can pray.

Each stage of development is a necessary part of growing up. Each has its hardships and its blessings. We need to encourage each other all along the way.

Imagine you’re hiking up a mountain trail. The way is rough, you’re hot, and you’ve still got a long way to go. Way up ahead you see another hiker. You call out to her and ask how the trail is between you. She says, “You think it’s bad now; you think you’re tired now; just wait. It only gets harder the further you go.”

How encouraged would you be? Not at all.

How much better if those ahead on the path called back, “Yes, it’s tough. But God gives grace. You can do it. Keep up the good work!” Or, even better, we can share how we found verses like 2 Corinthians 9:8 true in relation to motherhood: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Motherhood has been one of the hardest aspects of my life. Not much else (besides caregiving) showed me how selfish I was and how much I needed God’s grace. But watching and learning from other moms was a great encouragement.

Much has been said in recent years about mentoring, but we don’t need to set up formal mentoring relationships in order to encourage others. So often, I’ve received the most encouragement from off-the-cuff, seemingly random conversations in passing. But looking back, I know they weren’t random. I know God placed those people in my path for  my encouragement.

I’ve shared before this poem from an unknown author that was quoted in Rosalind Goforth‘s autobiography, Climbing (one of my favorites). I had always thought of it in relation to life in general, Christian life in particular. I had mostly thought of it in relation to missionary and other Christian biographies. Even though it’s not specifically about motherhood, much of it can apply. We don’t need to demean or “one-up” others. Older moms, let’s call back encouragement to younger moms. Older women, let’s support younger women whether they are mothers or not, married or not.

Call Back!

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held where the very air was still.

O friend, call back, and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky-
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

Has someone “called back” in a way that encouraged you? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments.

(I’ve read several posts about encouragement this week. This must be a
message God wants emphasized at this particular time.
I love how Kelly expanded this truth to all scenarios here.)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Literary Musing Monday,
Hearth and Home, Purposeful Faith, Tea and Word, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Let’s Have Coffee, Recharge Wednesday, Share a Link Wednesday,
Wise Woman, Worth Beyond Rubies, HeartEncouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith ‘n Friends)

 

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The Joys and Pains of Mother’s Day

I don’t envy pastors trying to prepare messages for Mother’s Day that celebrate, honor, and encourage moms while being sensitive to those for whom Mother’s day might be painful.

On one hand, it’s good to honor mothers. The Bible does. Motherhood has taken a beating by society over the last several years. Moms have a heavy load, often unseen and unappreciated. They need all the encouragement and support they can get.

On the other hand, some dearly want to be mothers, yet God has not granted that request. Mother’s Day only adds to their pain. I appreciate Wendy Alsup’s thought that “God uses both the presence and the absence of children in the lives of His daughters as a primary tool of conforming us to Christ.”

Some moms downplay the hoopla. They would rather have their family appreciate them year-round, not just on a certain designated day. And, true, it doesn’t make sense to disrespect someone every other day and then buy them flowers and a card on Mother’s day. But I always look at special days in the same vein as Thanksgiving. Yes, we’re supposed to be thankful every day, but Thanksgiving reminds us of all we have to be thankful for. Jesus’ resurrection impacts our lives every day, but it receives special focus at Easter. So Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or someone’s birthday are just opportunities to tell someone you love that you appreciate them. Some do have a lot of hoopla; others prefer low-key observances.

Some moms grieve that their families don’t acknowledge this day at all, and they feel more taken for granted than ever.

I am very blessed that my family goes to a lot of effort to make me feel special on Mother’s Day. But I try to keep in the forefront of my mind that Mother’s Day isn’t about expecting that honor, as much as I love and appreciate it. Mother’s Day was established to promote honor of our own mothers. I wrote a couple of years ago about honoring the moms in my life, women who have influenced me or nurtured me in some way. Still, I do admit it would hurt if no one in my family observed Mother’s Day at all. Erin has some good thoughts along this line.

For others, Mother’s Day is profoundly sad. Some grieve the death of their children, estranged children, mothers who are still here physically but far away mentally or emotionally, mothers who rarely, if ever, showed love, mothers who abandoned them, mothers who have died.

My beloved mother passed away nearly fourteen years ago. My husband’s mother just passed away in January. The lady who was like a second or spiritual mom to me is about to meet her Savior face to face any moment now. Even though I can’t “do” for these special ladies any more, I honor them in my heart, remember their examples, and hold on to the good memories.

For those whose families show their love this day, I wish you joy.

For those who feel like failures, may you be uplifted once again by His grace.

For those who feel abandoned or unloved by parents, may you truly know “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).

For those who sorrow, I pray for the peace that passes understanding. May His merciful kindness be for your comfort, according to His word unto you (Psalm 119:76).

See also:

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Wise Woman, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest roundup of good reads on the Web:

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to The Story Warren. “The good news is, it’s not our perfect love and perfect parenting that will reflect Jesus to our children; it’s admitting our dependence on Christ’s perfect love and perfect life that points them to their own need for a Savior.”

Love Hopes All Things–and Tosses the Worst Assumptions, HT to Challies. “With the admonition to be slow to speak we should also remember, So be slow to assume.”

What Do We Do When Our Stories Collide? “Yes, at first, the timing for the two stories could seem awkward at best, even insensitive. But it was also an honest view of real life. How we can be dealing with one thing – a joy-filled occasion – and be unaware that the person next to us can be grieving.”

Individual and Community Discipleship. Discipleship isn’t always about two people working through a curriculum. “I have a received a lot of discipleship from Christians who were just doing what God made them to do.” Me, too.

A “God Is Faithful” party. When friends didn’t want the attention of a going-away party, Sue turned it into a “God is faithful” party. Love this idea!

An RV Renovation, HT to Decor to Adore. Wow! Inspiring!

This video was shared at Appointment Etiquette at a Writing Conference. It’s all about the wrong ways to get your manuscript to an agent or publisher, but I think you’ll find it funny even if you’re not interested in publication:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

My round-up of exceptional online reads discovered this week:.

It’s OK to Choose Grace and Space. “There’s no Goals Police or Resolutions Monitor waiting to slap your hand if you don’t produce.”

Wherein an Anthropomorphic Tree Upends Me. HT to Story Warren. Beautiful.

What If Motherhood Was Meant to Be Hard? HT to Story Warren.

Letters to Taylor: On New Beginnings. HT to Story Warren.

Being Lazy Is Actually Good For You sometimes.

And, finally, I’ve always loved this quote:

Laudable Linkage

Welcome to my latest round-up of noteworthy reads around the web:

The Error of Counterfeit Holiness. “Making holiness primarily consist of externals confuses what holiness is versus what holiness does. Defining holiness by what it does leads to works-dependence. Defining holiness by what it is leads to God-dependence.

How Self-esteem Ruins Bible Reading.

Share Ministry, Even If It’s No Big Deal, Because It Actually Is, HT to Challies.

Why I Abandoned Seeker Church, HT to Challies. Lots of good thoughts here.

Difficult Relationship? Write an Action Statement.

Our Bodies and Birth Trauma This Side of Eden, HT to True Woman.

God Calls Me to Motherhood and Art. How Do I Do Both? HT to Story Warren.

The Spiritual Discipline of Driving With the Radio Off, HT to Linda. I do like the radio or an audiobook on in the car, but I need and treasure silent moments in other parts of the day.

And finally, a couple of thoughts from Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: Gospel Meditations for Mothers

GM4Mothers Gospel Meditations for Mothers by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Hannah Anderson, and others, was just published a few weeks ago, in time for Mother’s Day. Like the others in the Gospel Meditations series published by Church Works Media, this booklet contains 31 one-page devotionals relating to various aspects of its topic.

Topics covered include grace, to ourselves and other mothers; love; criticism and commendation; fear; discipline; trusting God for our loved ones. A sample of chapter titles:

How to Raise a Pharisee
Motherhood Is a Marathon
The Source of Your Strength
How to Clothe Yourself With Love
Show the Joys of Mundane Christianity

A couple of quotes that stood out to me:

You can be certain that every trial God puts in your domestic life is there to strengthen, purify, and mature you (Day 22).

Christ’s call to rest is a call to come away from other masters and submit to Him alone. It is a call to come away from following the expectations of other people and our own sense of performance. It is a call to be conformed to nothing but His perfect image, to allow His nature to mold and shape our own. So that as we follow Him, our souls–just like His–will be free from the weight, free from the strain, free from the feeling of being driven like a pack animal (Day 23).

I’ve read several in this series, and this is a great addition, both encouraging and convicting.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are noteworthy reads discovered this last week:

Hope for Parents of Prodigals.

Is Behavior More Important Than Doctrine? HT to Challies.

God Is With Us Every Present Moment. A book I’m reading talks about “reframing” memories. This is a good example.

The Space Between Courtship and Dating. I think this is right on the mark.

How to Repair the National Marriage, HT to Lisa.

Love Other Mothers as Thyself. “When we impose one-size-fits-all labels upon parenting, we fail in our call to love one another, and we also disregard God’s sovereign work in motherhood.”

Contentment in Motherhood, HT to Story Warren. Though the context of the post is motherhood, the encouragement to contentment and basis for contentment in Scripture are good for anyone.

Daring to Be Wholehearted. “The appeal of Cool is obvious in a world where things go wrong and we are sometimes powerless. But like an impulsively purchased pet python that seemed so harmless as a baby, have we forgotten how Cool can consume?”

Growing Old Graciously, HT to Challies.

When Flesh and Heart Fail: Why Believers Should Consider Advanced Directives.

Salvation Bracelets in Africa? No, Thanks, HT to Challies. “In order to share the gospel effectively, we must be willing to let go of our assumptions and to sensitively ask lots of questions in order to examine the culture deeply. We have to forget what feels comfortable and natural in our own culture and embrace what works in the culture we’re serving in.”

This is sweet, HT to Story Warren. A family took in an abandoned calf they found after a hurricane, and their dog “adopted” it:

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest round-up of noteworthy reads on the Web:

How to Shipwreck Your Theology. ““What is the most brilliant theology good for if it is to be shipwrecked in one’s own house?”

Maybe Women are Some of the Worst Offenders.

9 Things to Know About a Widow’s Grief.

Love Letter to a Lesbian, HT to True Woman, from a former lesbian.

“Let Me Know How I Can Help!” (This Will, Because They Won’t), HT to Linda. Practical ways to ask for or offer help in a time of need.

How Breastfeeding Changed My View of God, HT to True Woman. “God’s love for us is no Hallmark sentiment. This image is not primarily a celebration of our newborn cuteness…Rather, this verse reveals God’s hard-won, self-giving, dogged commitment to our good, a refusal to let us go—however frustrating we become, an insistence on seeing his image in us—and a painful provision for our most desperate need.”

C. S. Lewis’s Wonderful Letters to Children. I love his manner with them.

A Pathway to a Full Life.

This is cool and somewhat mesmerizing to watch: magnetism in slow motion, HT to The Story Warren:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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I have just a few this week, but I wanted to go ahead and share them lest I end up with an overly-long list next time.

What Does It Mean to “Accept Jesus”? “Accepting Jesus is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.”

Is It “Unspiritual” To Be Discouraged? HT to Challies.

Don’t Leave Your Convictions Behind To Get Ahead, HT to Challies.

A Genealogy of Grace (Mothers of the King). “Accept the fact that every family line, including yours, is a trail of wreckage and debris due to sin. When you do, you will learn to see something better and brighter. You will see his grace and goodness, bringing life out of ashes, light out of darkness, and glory out of decay.”

Would Bath-sheba Have Joined the #MeToo Movement? People have been debating for centuries about whose fault it was that David and Bathsheba fell into sin. I am not posting this to get into that, but I thought the author made some good points that are not often discussed in Christian circles and should be.

A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day, HT to Linda. Thoughts on honoring mothers without alienating others – principles good not just on Mother’s Day and not just in church. I especially liked “The Wide Spectrum of Mothering” under #2.

A different video I watched this morning made me think of this hymn, so I looked it up next.

Happy Saturday!

Honoring the moms in my life

May always makes me think of my mom, because Mother’s Day and her birthday are both this month. She passed away eleven years ago at the age of 68, much sooner than either of us wanted to say good-bye. That first spring I couldn’t go near a card shop because all of the items out for Mother’s Day were just too painful. Now, though the grief of missing her is still there, it is tempered with good memories.

One of the things I most appreciated about my mom was that she could be a friend to us without sacrificing her authority. I could talk to her about anything.

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My mom and I when I was a baby.

My mom and I before my wedding.

In my college years God brought a new family to our church. They noticed that I came to church alone and invited me home with them often. Mrs. C. became like a second mother to me. I’ve often referred to her as my spiritual mom. Her gentle example as a wife, mother, and homemaker taught me much, though I don’t think she was deliberately trying to teach me anything. We’ve corresponded for years, though her notes have become less frequent as she has gotten older and developed several health issues. I’ll always be thankful for her influence on me.

My third mom came into my life when I got married. My mother-in-law and I have had a very amiable relationship with no in-law horror stories. She had several problems in her life that would have made some people angry and bitter, but instead she sought God’s grace to surround the irritants like an oyster making a pearl. It has been sad to see her decline over the last few years, but we’ve been blessed to move her near us and to be able to include her in our family life.

2009

2015

The newest mom in my life is my sweet daughter-in-law, who is a loving wife to my son and mother to the cutest grandson in the world. 🙂

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There have been other women as well who had a word of encouragement for me along the way.

I am thankful for “Aunt Sylvia,” my mom’s best friend, who never married or had children of her own but brought us Christmas presents, was always kind to us, and who bravely battled cancer. She once stepped in to pick me up from camp to explain that my parents were with my sister who had been hurt in an accident while I was away, and I am sure her calmness affected me.

I remember spending many nights with my grandmother when she lived near us and accompanying her on road trips in the summer. She was always crocheting any time she was sitting down and her hands were free.

I remember working on a church bulletin board with a lady whose oldest was a teenager while mine was still a toddler. She encouraged me not to dread either the “terrible twos” or the teen years or any stage in between but to believe that even those stages can be good, and I am happy to report they were.

I am thankful for Aunt Bobbye, my mother’s sister, for her being available to us any time we needed her, for her zany sense of humor, her care and support at my mom’s viewing and funeral, and for her love and care and continued interest throughout my life.

I remember and am thankful for walks and breakfasts and lunches and “play dates” with friends in the same season of life as we encouraged each other in our mothering.

I am thankful for godly pastor’s wives I’ve had and their sweet spirit and godly counsel.

In every season of life there have been a few ladies just ahead of me that I could watch and learn from, though they may not have known they were being observed. Even now, on the cusp of an empty nest, I’m inspired by a couple of older ladies who have been shining and cheerful examples in their “upper middle age” years.

I am thankful for so many women who were examples to me and made me a better woman, wife, and mother. I hope I can encourage others as these ladies did me.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day and feel renewed in your roles this morning.

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