Motherhood

A Gift and a Challenge

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And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2:13)

As I ponder what my mama heart is thankful for today, I am thankful for the children He chose to give me. Think about it for a moment…God picked YOU specifically for the children you have. He knew YOU would be the one He could entrust to guide them, teach them, and love them. He knew YOU would lead them towards His light and His love.

Most of you reading this today are probably grateful for the children you gave birth to. You can probably still remember the moment each of them was born. I can remember those special details from the births of all four of my children. But I also very specifically can recall the moment I first laid eyes on the three that God brought me through adoption. The three children that God gave me as an extra special gift. He chose ME to be their mother. What a blessing that is!

I do not pretend to be close to knowing all there is to know about raising children. I do not try to trick anyone into believing that I have it “all going on” in the mothering department. But what I DO know is that I trust my God. I believe in Him. I want to be obedient to Him. I am very grateful for the gifts I have been given. I have been given so much. I have had the opportunity to learn many life lessons. I think one of the most important things I have learned is that family is not always defined by shared bloodlines. In our home, it is more defined by a deep sense of love and respect, tons of laughter, many tears, and a fierce sense of protection. Family is those who will hold you when you are scared, cry with you when your heart is broken, and laugh at the jokes that aren’t funny. Family is unending patience and much forgiveness. It is praying together and staying together. In this house, family is a blended bunch of craziness that comes together to create something awesome…something only God could assemble together and make it work.

Yes, I was chosen to be mama to this rowdy brood. It is my greatest gift and often my biggest challenge. My family may not, and probably doesn’t, look like yours. But that’s okay. God chose YOU to be mama to the special ones He knew would make your life complete. Take a moment…ponder the gift of motherhood…let gratitude and thankfulness sink into your soul. Then close your eyes and whisper a soft thank you to your Father in heaven, who knows you so well, and knows just who you need to make up your family.

Motherhood

A Handful of Quietness

By:  Betty Predmoreimage.png

I read somewhere today…”taking care of yourself is the first step in taking care of your children.” Boy, does that make sense! How often do we neglect our own needs for the sake of our families? I don’t know about you, but I am always quick to put my own well-being on the back burner for the sake of my kiddos. That’s what a good mom does, right?

We all….yes, even us mamas, need to find time to rest, renew , and refresh our bodies and our souls. Ecclesiastes 4:6 tells us, Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. That tells me that even a little bit of rest is good. All the toil that goes into our days, all the striving to be a good mama, can zap us, but just a hand full of sitting in His presence can renew our souls.

I don’t know about you, but when I get tired and weary, I get discouraged. The devil wants nothing more than to rob me of the joys of motherhood through discouragement and doubt. Psalm37:4 reminds me, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When I take time to rest in Him, to take joy in His presence, He fulfills the desires of my heart. And Mamas, isn’t our greatest desire to be a good mother, a good example of Christ, to our children?

Some days are too long. Other days are too short. Whatever day you are in today, I pray that you take a moment for yourself. Grab that hand full of quietness that you need and deserve. Let the Lord restore your soul and refresh your mind. Allow Him to work in you so that you can be the mama that your heart desires to be. He is here to walk this walk with us so we never have to feel alone, to guide us when we are lost and strengthen us when we feel weak. Oh, what a wonderful Savior we have! And because of Him and his love for us, what wonderful mothers we can be!

Motherhood

Memory Walk

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By:  Betty Predmore

I experienced something new today….something that touched my heart is a special way. I participated in a memory walk for babies who died in pregnancy or infancy. I was there with my niece and nephew, who lost their baby in May at an early stage in their pregnancy. Oh, how happy we were when we heard the pregnancy news! I literally jumped up and down and screamed, then held my niece tight as we cried together. I knew how long and hard she had tried and waited for this baby.

But the birth of this baby was not to be. God had other plans. The sorrow has been tremendous, but we are all comforted in knowing that little angel is in heaven, with some other special members of our family we have lost this year.

So today was in memory of that precious little one that we didn’t get to meet, that tiny hand we didn’t get to hold, that soft face we didn’t get to kiss. I was amazed at the amount of people in attendance today. I was shocked at how many were there walking not just for one baby….but two, three, four, even five. To see those babies names on the wall of memory and to hear each one called out loud was a sobering experience that brought me to tears. As I looked around, I saw many of those families with new little ones or toddlers, and I am sure these new children have brought hope back into their hearts. But what about the ones who have yet to have a child? Are they feeling hopeless in these moments?

I am so grateful that my niece and nephew, and all our family, can put our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so glad we can find strength for tomorrow and the promises each new day brings, knowing God has something awesome planned for our family. Thank you, Jesus, that you hold us in the palm of your hand.

So as this day winds down, I pray for my beautiful niece and nephew. I pray the Lord continues to give them strength, hope, faith, and perseverance. I pray they continue to remember this precious life gone too soon, yet are able to enjoy the glorious days of parenthood with other special children meant just for them. I pray that as the days, months, and years pass, that we never forget this special little one who brought our family so much joy, even if it was for such a short time.

 

Motherhood

When “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Backfires

By:  Rebekah Hargravesrebekah hargraves

When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy (well, and a “cooker”, as I apparently said one time!). I always dreamed of having little ones of my own, wanted to be a stay-at-home mom just as my own mom was, babysat all throughout my teen years, and even was a nanny up until the day before I went into labor with my first baby. I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about motherhood. Now as a mama to my own two little ones ages 2 1/2 and 10 months and the author of a book on motherhood, I am still passionate about this calling of mom, but in a slightly different way.

What may come as a surprise to some is that I began Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) with a chapter entitled “Lie #1: Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling”. Considering my background, that doesn’t quite sound like something I would write, does it? Though I am just as passionate as I have ever been about  the beauty and importance of motherhood and the truth that it is a high and holy calling, I nevertheless no longer hold to the idea that motherhood is a woman’s *highest* calling. In fact, I believe there are actually some adverse ramifications which stem from this idea.

The passion of my heart is to draw women back to the Word of God, to help them see just how very relevant and applicable it truly is to each and every struggle, question, or lie they could ever face in life. We need to be looking solely to the Word of God for the basis of our every belief, the forming of every aspect of our worldview, and the truth we need for our daily lives. This is certainly true in the case of the idea that “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling”. What began with very good intentions (i.e. an effort to counter the culture’s lies that about mothering not being a worthwhile endeavor and motherhood being unimportant and not something to be pursued) has inadvertently produced some unfortunate results in the process.

At this point you may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?” In a culture which disdains children and motherhood, what’s so wrong with proclaiming motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling? Well besides that being a painful and unfair sentiment for a single or barren woman to hear, that idea also leads to problems for women who are mothers.

 

How “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Actually Harms Moms

At face value, there may appear to be nothing wrong with the concept of motherhood as being a woman’s highest calling. There are, however, several issues with this idea:

  • When we believe motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling, we begin to think mothering should crowd out everything else (and allow it to do so!).

We all know firsthand just how pervasive mommy guilt can be – we experience it whenever we attempt to have some “me-time”, we feel it anytime we pursue our own hobbies or interests, we get weighed down by it when we drop the kiddos off at their grandparents’ house so we can go out with our husbands. This is because we have bought into the mistaken idea that all our time and attention should always be focused on our children. Now, don’t get me wrong – if you are a mother, I firmly believe that apart from the Lord and your relationship with your husband which should come first, your children are to be your #1 priority. You should be putting intentional time and attention into mothering them well. It is wrong, however, to believe that you have only been given time for those things which strictly pertain to motherhood. This is what we begin to believe, however, when we believe motherhood to be a woman’s ultimate highest calling – our relationship with the Lord gets put on the back burner, our kids replace our husbands in our order of priorities, and everything suffers as a result.

 

  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, our identity gets wrapped up in motherhood.

When moms believe motherhood is to take up all their time and attention, they end up forgetting who they are and who God created them to be. We hear so many times moms say something to the effect of, “I can’t remember that girl I was in high school.” or “I feel like the woman I was before I had kids is gone.” or “I can’t even remember the interests or passions I had before the kids came.” This is what happens when we allow our identity to be wrapped up solely in who we are as moms. This does nothing but lead to our burning the candle at both ends and becoming chronically stressed out and depleted.

When we instead remember that our identity is to be found in the reality of our being image bearers of God and redeemed saints through Christ, everything changes. We begin to remember again the woman God originally created us to be, the woman with unique and specific passions, gifts, talents, and interests. The woman who has God-given permission to pursue those things, even in the midst of motherhood (see Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Corinthians 12). When we are careful to, yes, prioritize our children and to delight in the sacred calling of motherhood, but to also live life as the multi-faceted, whole woman we were designed to be, we flourish – and so do our families!

 

  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, motherhood actually loses its very importance and purpose.

 

The ironic thing is that, in a valiant effort to restore to motherhood its importance and worth, we have actually deprived it of both. We want the culture to understand that it is a beautiful thing (and a worthwhile endeavor!) to be a mother, but when we separate motherhood from its God-given role, instead placing it on a higher plane than God does, it becomes stripped of its high purpose. Here is what I mean: As I touched on above, our identity as Christian women is to be found in our being image-bearers of God and ambassadors of Christ. In reality, this is not only our identity, but our true highest calling, as well. A woman’s highest calling is to bear the image of God to the world and to represent Christ well. Motherhood, then, becomes an outworking of this, one important and impactful way in which a woman is able to spread God’s truth to future generations. Our Savior came to earth through the avenue of motherhood and childbearing (Genesis 3:15, 1 Timothy 2:15), and the spread of His truth today continues throughout the generations as women have children and more image-bearers are born.

Therefore, it is when we understand motherhood in its proper context, as one beautiful way in which the truth of God is able to be spread and our ambassadorship for Christ is able to be lived out, that motherhood then receives great importance and purpose. When we instead make the mistake of taking motherhood off by itself, raising it above the level of importance God gave it, and having it stand alone as the highest calling for women, then what is it all for? What then is the purpose of motherhood? Why is it believed to be the “highest” calling? There is no answer for this. It is only when we understand motherhood in light of the Gospel that the work of mothering becomes a vastly important work.

 

Look to Christ, Mama!

So, sweet mama, as you go about the daily work of mothering, working day in and day out to care for the needs of your children, to raise them up in the way that they should go, and to impart God’s truth to them, remember – what you are doing is important. It is beautiful. It is impacting countless future generations. It is not, however, your ultimate highest calling. The whole of your identity is not to be wrapped up in it. If you think it is, there will come a day in which your children are all grown and gone, and you will be left wondering what your purpose is in life. If you allow the sum total of your identity to be wrapped up in motherhood, you will feel like a failure when your children make mistakes, thinking yourself wholly responsible for how they turn out. If you place your identity in motherhood as your highest calling, it will lose some of its importance.

Instead, look to Christ. Daily look to Christ and find your mission, your identity, your calling, and your purpose in Him. When you do, your motherhood will be drastically changed for the better, and you will truly be working towards the advancement of the Lord’s Kingdom.

God bless you, mamas!

Bio: Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to “edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood”. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)”, releases in November.

Facebook: Hargraves Home and Hearth

Instagram: @rebekahhargraves

Twitter: @hhomeandhearth

Website: Hargraves Home and Hearth 

Motherhood

One Lucky Mama

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By: Betty Predmore
It’s been a crazy week. Busy schedules, meetings, out of town trips….all lead up to consumption of my time and fewer moments spent talking with my kiddos. While I love the place God has me in ministry, and the opportunities He is giving my husband and I in our careers, I sometimes long for the simpler days, when I worked from home and our schedules were not so overwhelming. Life tells us to go, go, go….but sometimes we just need to STOP!

The Lord allowed me some precious time talking with my teenage son tonight. We talked of normal things….school, friends, curfew. He told me about a friend at school that lost a family member to cancer today. He told me how upset this young boy was. We talked about how hard it is to lose someone. We also talked about how much he misses his Grandaddy….has it really been almost two months since he passed? We agreed that we both hate cancer. I know we are not supposed to hate, but that disease is terrible, and it causes so much pain for the people who suffer from it and the people who suffer alongside them.

I look at this boy and I marvel at the fact that God chose me to be his second mama. Ever since the day he walked to our house, just six years and one day old, he has been a blessing. I often ask God just what I did that allowed me to deserve such an honor. He whispers back to me…”You were willing.” Thank you Lord that you know my heart so well, and that you knew I was willing to open it up to this beautiful boy, his brother, and his sister. Thank you for trusting me with their little hearts, and for allowing me the opportunity to lead their souls to you.

And in the busyness of life as I know it, thank you for some sweet moments to remind me of just how special this boy is and what a lucky mama I am!

 

 

Motherhood

Walking Away

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By:  Betty Predmore

We said goodbye on the steps of the Student Union building. I stood there with my precious daughter in my arms, savoring every last second. It seemed like a mere minute ago that she was the tiny bundle of joy that made my heart want to burst with love. How strange it seems to think that it has been over 18 years since I held that precious newborn, as her little fingers wrapped around my hair.

I knew this day was coming. I have been so proud of her….her intelligence, her devotion to her family, her compassion for her fellow man. What a special girl she is. My heart has always wanted her to live out her dreams, be her own unique self, and experience life to the fullest. But as I faced that moment of letting go, I wanted to grab her and run. If only I could run back to a yesterday when she was a toddler chasing after her siblings, or a little girl performing dances for her family. How sweet those years were and how quickly they have passed.

Of course, I couldn’t run back in time. I was left to do what countless mothers before me have done, what I have done with my older children, and what she will do one day in the future with her own children. I was left to stand there as my baby girl walked away. She didn’t look back. Was it because she didn’t want to see my tears? Or because she didn’t want me to see hers? I watched that long, wild hair bouncing as she took step after step towards independence. I watched until there was only one thing left to do….so I turned and walked away. And as I walked, I did the only thing I knew to do….I prayed. I prayed that God would soothe my mama heart. I prayed that my tears would cease. I prayed that my precious girl would make good choices, good friends, and sweet memories. And I prayed that my Father in heaven, whom I trust with ALL that I have, would protect her from the evils that I know this life can bring.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:7-8)

 

Motherhood

When Are You Having Kids?

By:  Alison Rodriguez

That question. Oh, THAT question.

It used to make my blood boil when someone asked me that question.

So many times, my mind screamed:

None of your business!
I’m trying!
I wish I knew!

Instead, the polite person in me – well, really, the person who did not want to face the fact that something was wrong – would often reply:

Oh, I’d like to finish my master’s degree first.
Maybe in a couple more years.

Except one time. Someone at work caught me on a bad day. A lady from another department whom I don’t know very well asked the forbidden question. No made up excuse this time. She got Ally’s famous evil eyes, and, “I actually can’t have kids.” In that moment, I found great joy in the shocked look on her face and her fumbled attempt at a response. All I could think was that’s what you get for asking a personal question to someone with whom you don’t have a personal relationship.

For so long, I used school as an excuse. And then when I finished, I used my husband going to school as an excuse. Excuses are lies you tell others hoping you’ll begin to believe them yourself. Truth be told, I dreamt of holding my baby boy or girl on graduation day wearing my master’s cap, gown, and hood. Now, I dream of having our little one sit on my lap at my husband’s graduation as he receives his master’s hood.

I know that most people have only good intentions when asking this question, but it carries so many assumptions and connotations.

When are you having kids?

…assumes someone wants kids.
…assumes someone can physically have kids.
…assumes that conceiving is the only way to grow a family.

To those trying to conceive, this question strikes a painful chord deep within their soul. It is a reminder that they are not pregnant. It is a reminder that something is wrong with them. It is a reminder that this little person who has mommy’s eyes and daddy’s smile still isn’t here yet and may never be.

This blood-boiling question and my long-time response to it made me realize one very important thing. The condition of your heart determines the character of your response. My heart was bitter so my response was bitter. I created bogus excuses to comfort myself and so easily told them to others.

 

 

Now, when asked this question, I’m truthful. I no longer feel shame in sharing our journey, because I know God has me in this season for a reason. Instead of being a source of heartache, this question has become an opportunity to share what the Lord has done in our lives and hearts. No more bogus excuses. I now share that I have a little angel baby watching over me. I now say that we are halfway through the process of adopting a little one from the foster care system.

When are you having kids?

Does it still strike a painful chord? Yes.
Do I still want to yell, “none of your business!” Sometimes.

But I’m so thankful that those moments are now few and far between. I’m thankful that God did not leave my side for one moment while I worked on changing my heart.

One thing I ask of you: Can we change this question? Can we be mindful of who we ask it to? You never know who is struggling with infertility, and what this question represents in their life. 

Let’s change this from “having kids” to “growing families”. So many families are grown through fostering, adoption, and surrogacy. And some families remain as duos with pets. Let’s refrain from asking this question to people with whom we don’t share a personal relationship. Asking coworkers and acquaintances might not go over so well.

And one last request. Take a moment to evaluate the condition of your heart. Most times, the first thing that needs to change in your circumstance is your heart’s response to it.

With love,
Ally Rod