The Mist of Motherhood

RACHEL CRADDOCK|CONTRIBUTOR If I am being completely honest, laundry is my least favorite household chore. Like Mary Poppins, I can find an element of fun in most jobs that must be done around the house. But when it comes to laundry, I long for a fairy godmother’s power to simply swoosh away the piles of dirty clothes. Being a mom to four means my laundry basket is always full and sock-matching seems never-ending. We have forty-two pairs of socks in a week’s worth of laundry; the odds of finding all eighty-four socks in the same week are slim. In the new heavens and the new earth, when Christ returns to redeem and restore all things, I have a holy anticipation that socks will no longer go missing. I am convinced sock causalities must have something to do with the Fall. In my flesh, laundry is a begrudging chore. In my flesh, I can’t see laundry rightly as important kingdom work. When I focus my eyes on the earthly things I can see—the piles, the baskets, and oh-so-many socks—I easily become overwhelmed.

The Mist of Motherhood2022-05-03T21:30:53+00:00

Parenting as Our Father Parents Us

CHRISTINA FOX | EDITOR When my son was little, he was prone to wander. Those days, he lived more in his imagination than in real life. This often led him away from us when we were in a crowd. I remember during a visit to Disney World I urged and cautioned my son in the importance of staying beside us as we navigated the crowded park. Yet not long later, I watched as he meandered away from us. Rather than going after him, I kept an eye from a distance. I wanted him to realize what he had done. So I followed him, ensuring he was safe, but waited for him to stop and look for us. Eventually, he did realize he had gotten separated from us and I could see him searching the crowds, a look of worry stretched across his face. He spotted us and ran up to us in relief. I then reminded him of the rule of staying together. And he did so. At least for the rest of that trip. Prone to Wander So often as a mom I grow frustrated when I have to teach and reteach my children the same lessons. I find myself impatient with how easy they forget. After all, how many times does one have to get lost in a crowd before he learns his lesson? How many times does a lesson have to be taught before it sticks? In my own heart, far too many times.

Parenting as Our Father Parents Us2022-05-04T00:33:31+00:00

A Mother’s Persistent Prayer

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR Like many moms, I started praying for my children before they were ever born. I’ve since prayed for all aspects of their life: physical health and development, emotional growth and maturity, behavioral challenges and struggles, and most importantly, their spiritual life. I’ve prayed they would never know a day in their life that they did not know who God is and what he has done for them in Christ. I’ve prayed the Lord would ratify the covenant and bring them to saving faith. I’ve prayed they would grow to love God’s word more and more and desire to grow in their faith. I’ve prayed God would protect their minds and hearts from evil. I’ve also prayed that the Lord would prepare and equip them for how he will use them throughout their lives for his Kingdom purposes. These are prayers I’ve prayed over and over. Perhaps you also have specific prayers you repeatedly pray for your children. Ones that bring you to your knees day in and day out. Ones where you quietly weep as you beseech the Lord on your child's behalf. Ones where you continue to wait on the Lord's response. We are not alone in such persistent prayers. There is another mother, one who lived long ago, who also prayed the same prayers over and over for her child. She also longed for her beloved child to come to saving faith. She persisted in this prayer, and in time, she witnessed the Lord answer it. A Mother’s Unceasing Prayer for Her Son The early church father, St. Augustine, is known for his influence on the early church. One of his most famous writings, Confessions, is an autobiography where he looks back on his life before coming to faith. It reveals how the Lord worked in his life to bring him to himself. Confessions is a conversation, a prayer from Augustine to God, confessing his sinful and wayward heart. In this work, we get an inside look at how God worked in Augustine’s life, bringing him on a winding journey through false religion, idolatry, loss, and hardship to see his great need for the grace of Christ. We see him wrestle with the doctrines of the faith. We see him try to find life and hope outside of God. We see him brought to his knees and receive the gift of grace. It’s an amazing story, one which in many ways mirrors our own journey to faith. One of the most influential people in Augustine’s life was his mother, Monica...

A Mother’s Persistent Prayer2022-05-04T23:17:54+00:00

Thankful for Godly Mothers

SHARON ROCKWELL|GUEST The prophet Jeremiah included words of encouragement for Jerusalem and especially for those who trusted in the Lord. When I think about Mother’s Day approaching, I think about all the amazing mothers who trust in the Lord while raising their families. The words in Jeremiah 17:7-8, apply to all the godly mothers I know, including my own. “Blessed is the man (or mother) who trusts in the Lord,    whose trust is the Lord. He (She) is like a tree planted by water,    that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,    for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,    for it does not cease to bear fruit” (words in parenthesis, mine). I am thankful for a mother who took me to church. And though she could not carry a tune, she also taught me her favorite hymns, so that sitting in church I could make a joyful noise unto the Lord and join in with corporate worship. I am thankful for a mother who taught me to say “Yes, I did it,” “I am sorry,” and “Please forgive me.” I learned the appropriate response for my sins, and how to ask forgiveness, first from others and later from God. I am thankful for a mother who taught me from a young age to say the “God is good” prayer at meals, then encouraged me to pray “thank you” prayers before I went to bed until prayer became a habit. As I grew, my mother would pray with me for all of my personal problems, big or small, and was quick to remind me when she saw God’s answers to our prayers, until I began to seek them out for myself. I am thankful for a mother who helped me memorize scripture. Our Sunday School class regularly rewarded us with bookmarks or pens when we learned the Ten Commandments, or other portions of scripture that were part of our lessons. My mother celebrated those rewards as if I had graduated with an advanced degree. To this day, those verses remain in my heart...

Thankful for Godly Mothers2022-05-04T23:12:02+00:00

The Greatest Pregnancy Reveal in History

LAURA BOOZ|GUEST The day I finally saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test, I held my breath. Could this be true? I wondered. My husband and I had trudged through two long years of infertility and were crushed by ghost lines, false positives, and dashed hopes. We longed for a child more than anything else.  On my way to work, I stopped by the doctor’s office for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. The doctor told me to call in later for the results. I went through the motions of teaching poetry and grading papers, but all I could think about was the possibility that I was pregnant. At my first opportunity, I called the doctor’s office and I will never forget the nurse’s response as she looked over my results. She said, “Well it’s very early, but you are pregnant.” Later that day, I saw my husband. You’d think that after all those months of waiting, I would have done a dramatic pregnancy reveal with balloons and clever word play, but I was so shocked that I just blurted out, “I’m pregnant!” We sat together, amazed. We estimated that our baby was the size of the period at the end of this sentence and yet she was already our greatest joy. We talked about what our lives would look like as a mom and dad. We thanked God for granting our relentless request. And then we went to the store to buy the coziest baby blanket on the planet. Learning from Mary’s Pregnancy Reveal When Mary was newly pregnant and just arriving at the home of her cousin, Elizabeth, she did have a dramatic pregnancy reveal. Upon seeing the expectant Mary for the first time, Elizabeth felt her own baby (John) leap in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth exclaimed a blessing upon Mary that affirmed everything the angel had promised to her. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:42-45)...

The Greatest Pregnancy Reveal in History2022-05-04T23:51:24+00:00

A Whole Lot of Mothering Going On

While this post is somewhat about motherhood, it’s more about mothering. And while I will be talking about my perspective as a mother, I hope there is something here that will encourage you— whether your mothering is in the biological realm, the spiritual realm, or both. To embrace our God-given design as lifegivers is a joyful expression of who we were created to be. I’m a mother of five and a grandmother of eight. I’m fortunate that my own mother was able to come stay with us when a new baby arrived. Having her there to help in all sorts of ways made those first crazy days survivable. As terrifying as it was to bring that new little person home from the hospital, it was nothing compared to watching Mom drive away and knowing I was now on my own. When my own daughter began having children, I couldn’t get that airplane ticket fast enough. Every passenger between Houston and Nashville knew that I was going to meet my newest grandbaby! From my experience of being both on the receiving and the giving end of this special kind of caretaking, I can’t help notice some similarities with our role as spiritual mothers as well. Eat, Eat! We all know the intensity of a newborn’s cry for food. Eating is serious business! But a new mama needs to eat as well. Remember that early fog? When you feel like you just ran a race and want nothing more than to sleep, unless that something more is food? Labor and delivery were only the beginning of this marathon! Having mom there to shop and cook and do the dishes and make all our favorite meals was more than just help: it was nourishment for our weary, hungry souls. The last thing on my mind when I was a gazillion-weeks pregnant was making things look pretty, yet here Mom was: putting the jam in a pretty dish, folding napkins, and making our time around the table a celebration. When my own house was full of little ones, my older children knew the best part of having a new baby was the meals from our church friends. Every night was like Christmas as these dear saints blessed us with dinner (usually with plenty of leftovers!). I will never forget the morning that Miss April brought over a platter of freshly fried chicken. I don’t remember why she was there at 10 AM, but I do remember that those drumsticks didn’t make it to dinnertime!  After spending a week with my daughter last month, I was reminded how much hungry kids can eat. What fun to bake and cook for a crowd again! If you are in a spiritual mothering relationship, you know that one of the best ways to care for your daughter is through the word of God. It is her food and she needs to eat. Sometimes we model that by showing her what a beautiful feast looks like: a specially prepared Bible study or devotion, a lesson from our own life that we can share. Sometimes we show up with that “emergency meal” and remind her that no Christian can survive on a starvation diet...

A Whole Lot of Mothering Going On2022-05-05T00:45:24+00:00

For Every Woman on Mother’s Day

KATIE POLSKI|CONTRIBUTOR When I was about twelve, I was asked to help with a special assignment at our church on Mother’s Day. As each mother entered, I was told to hand them a pink carnation and say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I distinctly remember my follow-up question: How will I know who is a mother? These kinds of gestures are certainly thoughtful and meant to be celebratory, but, oh, how narrow-minded we can be on this holiday! As a believer in Jesus, be encouraged this Mother’s Day not for the reasons the world labels it as “happy,” but find joy in the precious words of Jesus that bless and exhort each who are uniquely touched by the emotions that accompany this particular day. For Those Who Have Lost A Child “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38) You likely enter Mother’s Day with empty hands and a longing heart. Whether it’s because of a miscarriage, disease, or other tribulation, there are so many tender emotions tied to Mother’s Day because of layered grief. Dear woman, be encouraged by the depth and width of the love of Jesus. There is no hardship or suffering that is great enough or powerful enough to separate us from the love of Jesus. It’s because of this immeasurable love that we need not be consumed by grief or bitterness. It’s because of this immeasurable love that you put one foot in front of the other, still loving those whom God has put in your midst. You are embraced by the powerful love of Christ, and nothing can loosen His grip. For Those Who Long for Children..

For Every Woman on Mother’s Day2022-05-05T00:46:15+00:00

For the Mom Who Longs to Be Seen

It's that middle place for children, right after self-awareness and just before it's singed with pride and embarrassment: When they look back at you after a great or terrible act with a question in their eyes, "Did you see that?" Of course, this carries far past the little years, but there is this short period of time where their need to be seen is so... seen. They threw a ball! Did you see that? They pushed their brother. Did you see that? Their chubby little fingers stacked the third block and it didn't fall—head turns and eyes grow: Did you see that? Our seeing their accomplishment actually completes it for them. But it's more than that, isn't it? They feel at home in our gaze; they feel like a whole person with our eyes on them. To be seen is to be. We would be fools to think that we somehow grew out of this basic human need. We've just figured out how to shade our eyes so that no one sees us looking around, trying to catch another's gaze: "Did anyone see that?" Longing to Be Seen We can feel this sorely, though not solely, as mothers—when every part of our body and brain and soul just needs to lie down, and we can't even remember what made us so tired in the first place. We hurt from loving, we ache from longing, and no matter how affirmative our husbands might be, we can still feel unseen. (Is anyone watching me make four lunches at once?) We may (I have) turn to sharing our moments on social media. Maybe a few hundred hearts and thumbs will quench this thirst. Maybe a comment of solidarity will pick me up off the ground. But it can't last, can it? I can't hold that person's face in my hands and fix their gaze forever. It's not just the hard moments that we wish for others to see—like when two people need their bottoms wiped at the exact same time (always, always... law of nature!). But it's the beautiful moments, too: when your baby hugs your leg and says, "I love you!" for the first time, unprompted. Oh, did anyone see that?! And so, like I experienced as a young mother, our brains can spiral down into a philosophical depression—is my life of motherhood the proverbial tree that falls in the forest? Do these common, everyday moments mean anything outside of someone's gaze?...

For the Mom Who Longs to Be Seen2022-05-07T22:41:44+00:00

No Throwaway Seasons

In an age of public sharing, we see people lament life’s transitions. Moms post pictures of the moving boxes or the progression of their baby bumps with coordinated letter boards. They write about the sadness of the empty womb or express their struggle as they wait for a child’s diagnosis. We’re getting used to embracing the awkward and painful transitions of life by locking arms and coming alongside one another in the journey. There is some good in this trend. Acknowledging and validating the messy seasons of life assures us we’re not alone. This gives us a sigh of relief. After all, Jesus wept with the hurting, cautious not to gloss over the hardship of struggle, pain, and death. But we have to wonder if positive affirmations and prompts to “look ahead” extend our gaze far enough for real hope. I can relate to hard seasons of transition when our family size changes. When we had four kids three and under, one being a newborn, the days were incredibly long. One morning before church, my husband left early, leaving me at home with everyone else. I was determined to make food for a potluck we were attending after church. In a couple of hours, I needed to nurse, shower, change everyone’s clothes, and make a meal. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. When we finally made it to the potluck, I was so tired and frazzled, I misstepped and dropped the meal before placing it on the table. Seeing the dish shatter into hundreds of shards of glass on the concrete was an embarrassing representation of my heart during our transition to a new normal. I was a big, hot mess going a hundred directions, unsure of my usefulness in such a pitiful state...

No Throwaway Seasons2022-05-07T23:13:14+00:00

A Prayer for Back to School

It’s that time of year again.  Yellow buses practice their circuitous routes, stores brim with school supplies, and teachers adorn their rooms with inviting bulletin boards and welcoming smiles.  Back to school is officially upon us. I ended the summer reading through the Psalms and Proverbs.  As I drank in the wisdom of these two books, certain passages in particular have encouraged and directed my hopes for my children as they head back to school.  These verses have shaped my prayers and given words to the longings of my heart. As my children spend less time in my presence, I am thankful that I can bring all my concerns and cares before the Lord in prayer. Lord, I pray that my children would understand their need for Jesus and rejoice in the good news of the Gospel. Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death (Psalms 68:19-20). Lord, I pray that my children will love learning; that their hearts would seek to understand the world you have created.  The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly (Proverbs 15:14).

A Prayer for Back to School2022-05-07T23:19:34+00:00
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