Motherhood

Soul to Soul

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Mamas, today I am happy to share a guest post by Allison Wisted.  These beautiful words spoke to my heart and I am sure they will speak to yours as well…

 

By: Allison Wixted

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

“What is she thinking?”

That’s the question I ask myself hundreds of times each day.

She is our twelve-year-old daughter, who happens to have Down syndrome.

She is significantly delayed cognitively and physically, more than even most children with Down syndrome.

She is also a spit-fire strawberry blond who loves to run, laugh, listen to music, and give us a tween “stink eye” when she doesn’t get her way.

She is a gift from God who checks our “pride monsters” at the door.

She reminds us to slow our pace to God’s “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).

She is so many things, just as we all are.

We are each a unique life bundle. Our lives are canvases of characteristics painted by our actions, choices, and thoughts.

And this is where my throat lumps. What are our daughter’s thoughts? Specifically, her deepest thoughts? Selfishly, I want to hear them because that’s how I connect on a soul level with others. I want to touch her soul with my words, but it’s like a wisp in the wind. I can see it – almost grab it sometimes when she peers into my eyes – but then it dances away on gusts beyond my reach…

Our daughter with Down syndrome does speak a few words, but oftentimes they’re out of context. That said, her immediate physical needs motivate her to speak in context… like “want to eat,” “cookie,” or “please.” Her spoken word bank tops out around 10 to 20.

She has never used words to express how she feels, however. For feelings, she employs physical-behavioral means, which come in the form of a broad smile after that cookie, a hoe-down-worthy stomping after being told “no,” or her go-to for “mad:” a sit-down-and-won’t-budge.

Since she isn’t able to express her feelings with words, I feel distance between us. I’m a verbal processor. Words, language, and conversation are like oxygen to me. Our other two children adeptly express themselves with words – sometimes too well! Why can’t I have that with our twelve-year-old daughter?

This is when I plaintively pray for a device to plug into her brain that reports her thoughts!

Where is technology when I truly need it? I want to know whether she knows God. I want to know whether she loves me. I want to know whether she is happy living in our home.

God then tenderly taps me on the shoulder, interrupting my reverie. He reminds me of His truth about our girl: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

And I melt. Our girl, in all her meekness, is set for a beautiful inheritance.

Perhaps she has already moved to a higher plane and has a direct line to the deepest One of all? Maybe her unique-to-Down-syndrome Brushfield spots – tiny stars in her deep blue irises – were placed there by God to remind me of the mysteries and the majesties of His vast universe? Maybe He is just reminding me that my meager human understanding will always be just that? (Proverbs 3:5)

Maybe I’m the one with the shallow connection to God?

Maybe I’m not meant to connect with her the way I want to now – at least not on this earth? Maybe I’m to wait until we reunite in eternity? If so, I can’t wait to plug into her beautiful soul on that glorious day! I long to collect all her hopes, dreams, and deepest desires…

And this is when gratitude creeps in.

God knows me so well. He knows how to draw me close. With a sheepish side-grin and a wink upward, I clasp my hands together and close my eyes. I begin to pray, thanking Him for the gift that He has given us in our girl. The lessons that she teaches us. That God loves us enough to entrust us with her care. But mostly that our girl keeps me plugged into God, the ultimate source of soul connection and renewal!

Reflect:
1. With whom do you struggle to communicate? (Maybe they don’t have a cognitive or physical disability, but they have personality traits or habits that rub you the wrong way or prevent a healthy relationship.)
2. Write a prayer asking God to help sort out your struggle in His will.

Motherhood

Fulfilling His Plan

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By: Betty Predmore

Last night our two youngest, both adopted, thanked us for adopting them. Sweet little Lizbeth says, “Thanks for saving us.” Jovanney adds, “Thanks for giving us a home.”

There were moments yesterday, when their rooms looked like an F5 had landed there, that my frustration with them was high. There are moments on many days that I feel inadequate for this job. But then there are moments like last night, when two sweet little souls speak their heart to you in a way that touches you all the way to the tips of your toes. And then you realize…I am adequate for this job. God chose me just for these specific children. God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows far better than I do what these kids need…what I need.

This is the case for all of us mamas, biological, step, adoptive. There are times we doubt our abilities. There are moments when our frustration gets the better of us. There are instances of fear. It is in these moments that we seek our Father for direction. It is at these times that we trust in the One whose plans are far greater than ours.

Thank you Lord for bringing these children to me. Thank you for trusting me with their hearts and their lives. May I, each day, live up to the challenge and blessed opportunity you have given me. Help me, Father, each day to fulfill Your plan.

I can do all things brought Christ Jesus, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Motherhood

A Child of God

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By:  Betty Predmore

As I sat with my bible and my coffee this morning, the voice of my 8-year-old daughter drifted from down the hallway. She was lost in her own thoughts, singing a song that she made up in her head, oblivious to the fact that I could hear her. “I am a child of God!” she sang, repeating this verse over and over. I sat and listened, encouraged by the fact that even in her moments of total abandon, she recognizes her position as one of God’s precious children.

There is no doubt in her mind. No worry that God might love her brothers or sisters more, no apprehension of being “less than” in God’s eyes. She recognizes, as we all should, that we are all equal in the sight of God.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:26)

What about us as mothers? Do we make sure our children know they are equally loved? Or are we more like Jacob, pouring our love and attention into one specific child? My goal for my children is that they all love and appreciate each other, that they are there to encourage and support each other, and that they are each other’s strength long after I am gone. This cannot be achieved if they are resentful of one another, hurt by feelings of inadequacy, or insecure. So it is my job to make sure they all know how loved they are, how treasured they are, how very priceless they are to me. They are each so priceless….for their own unique reasons. They are gifts from God, designed to bring me so much joy and teach me so much about life, all from their own individual perspectives.

Ponder for just a moment this morning. Are you making sure to show equal amounts of love and attention to your children as you go through your day? Are you making sure you spend time in conversation with each of them, getting to know them for who they are? Is your hug as strong for one as it is for another? Are your moments of laughter shared with each of them? Or are you like Jacob, lovingly creating a beautiful cloak for one, while the others stand by and watch?

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. (Genesis 37:3)

What about grown children? Do you pour all of your love and attention into one….clearly sending a message to the others that their place in your life is not equal? I know it sounds awful but I can assure you, it happens. Does it happen intentionally, or is it because sometimes a mother is just unaware? Did Jacob purposefully single out Joseph as his favorite or was he unaware of his actions, and the way they made his other sons feel?

But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (Genesis 37:4)

I try to be careful about this. When I send out an “I love you” or “I miss you” message to my adult children, I make sure to include them all. If I call one of them and talk on a certain day, I will call another the next day. My love for them, my hugs, my acceptance of them…all equal. Sure, there are times when I spend more time or focus on one or the other, but always, my love for them is equal. I don’t want my kids getting together and plotting the demise of one of them out of resentment and bitterness, like Joseph’s brothers did. And while I knew they would never plot to kill or sell off a sibling, they might build up resentful, hurt, bitter hearts towards each other. And oh, how sad that would make my mama heart!

There is a lot to be learned from Jacob and Joseph. There is wisdom there, staring us in the face, telling us not to make the same mistakes. When we raise our children in confidence of who they are, of Whose they are, they are assured of their value. When we love and nurture them, and appreciate them for the special things that make them unique, they are confident. When we approach parenting with a sense and purpose of equality, we build them up. When we assure them not only of our love for them, but of God’s great love for them, we give them the freedom to sing in their moments of abandon, “I am a child of God.”

 

Motherhood

The Magic of My Kingdom

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By:  Betty Predmore

If you ask a lot of children where the happiest place on earth is, they are likely to say it is that great adventure park where a walking mouse holds court, along with his silly dog friend, and a duck decked out in blue. That is a place of magic and adventure, where memories are made and smiles are abundant.

If you ask that same question to my son, he will tell you the happiest place on earth is his mama’s house. There are no animals walking around as humans, there are no turbulent rides of excitement, and you can’t buy churros at a corner stand. But what you DO get is enough.

In my magic kingdom there is always excitement. One day you might be waiting on the tooth fairy, the next it might be an unannounced camping trip. There is always delicious fine dining in mama’s kitchen, thanks to dad’s culinary skills. We may not have a churro stand, but there are always treats like Sissy’s homemade cookies, Emmie’s brownies, or one of mama’s cakes.

Magic and adventure….there is plenty at mama’s house. There is the magic of unconditional love, forgiveness when necessary, compassion and tenderness, and acceptance. There is great adventure in our family “nerf wars” and pool races. There is the adventure of beginning each new day, knowing that God has something really awesome for us. There is adventure in the moments of expectation and the moments of surprise.

And just like that great theme park, my magic kingdom has plenty of smiles. There are the smiles that greet each other in the morning, ready to begin a new day. There are the smiles of welcome after a day away from home. There are the smiles and laughter that come from silly jokes, old stories, and selfie poses. There are smiles and shrieks of laughter through the tickles and hide-and-seek chases. There are smiles and embraces for those who come home to visit, and even smiles through our tears when we say goodbye.

And ALL of this….everything that happens in my magic kingdom, makes our beautiful memories. This life that God has given us, this family that He has joined together, has made some beautiful, unforgettable memories together, and I know God is just getting started! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” His plans for the future of this family are awesome. He wants to prosper us and bring us new things….new adventures, new opportunities to love, show grace & compassion, new chances to learn from each other and from Him. His desire is that we continue to follow Him, and grow in our knowledge of Him. He wants us to smile and laugh together, and make millions more new memories. I know a lot of that will happen in my house….my very own magic kingdom.

Motherhood

A Shrug or a Hug

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By:  Betty Predmore

Well mamas, as I sit here in the aftermath of my children leaving the house for summer school this morning, I realize I have been kissed, hugged, and shrugged this morning. My youngest gave me a sweet sloppy kiss as she left, excited to do some cooking in class today, and wishing me a good day. My teenager left me with a hug and the hopes that he will finish a project he started at school yesterday. Middle son…well, he left me with a shrug, not too happy wth me that he is not allowed any video games this morning.

All in all, I am feeling like a winner. Two out of three isn’t bad, right? I chuckle as I wonder if God has the same thoughts about us. If He can get a positive response from two/thirds of his children, would He consider that a good day? I am praising Him for His goodness and mercy this morning. I know that He has such grace for us in the mornings we shrug instead of hug.

Lord, help me to greet you with a hug of joy this morning, not a shrug of unhappiness. Help me feel your love for me, even on the days you discipline me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Motherhood

“She’s a Personality”

Lauren Moye

By: Lauren C. Moye

“ Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” 1 John 3:1 (HCSB)

My one-year-old daughter wins the heart of anybody she chooses. She’s an entertainer and notices almost everything around her. So if somebody looks at her, even from a distance, the act is on. She’s all wide smiles, fake sneezes, and high-fives. Because of this, I’ve gotten used to responding to compliments with, “She’s definitely a personality.”

People outside only see her best points. They don’t know the more frustrating things about her personality. She is equal parts sunshine and thunderstorms. Sometimes she has meltdowns over being set down, only to get even more upset when she’s picked back up to be soothed.

Just yesterday, I stepped out of the room for a minute to straighten up the kitchen after breakfast. I wasn’t aware that my husband had left an opened pack of sunflower seeds, the shells still on, out. A week ago, it would have been safe from her reach. As it was, when I came back into the room, she had dumped all the contents out in front of her. Since my child is prone to shoving an entire fistful of food into her mouth, I already knew what was coming. She did, too.

Muffled grunts came from her mouth as I walked towards her. She stood up and tried to run. I caught her and sat her on my lap. She wiggled away from me. This time, she was smarter about it. She waited until the last second to duck away from my arm. This time, instead of trying to go gently for her stomach to lift her into my lap, I caught her arm. More muffled wails emitted from her mouth. I pulled her back into my lap and held her securely with one arm. It took almost eight minutes before I successfully wrangled the last of the seeds from her mouth. The whole time, she fought me by twisting her head away, clamping her jaws shut, and blocking my progress with her tongue. She fought me with everything she had over shelled sunflower seeds. And the whole time she fought me, she screamed and sobbed like I was torturing her.

I think when we talk about being God’s children, we’re guilty of imagining the sweet children happily clustered around Jesus. The truth is, parenting is about more than the joyous moments. There’s tears, late nights followed by early mornings, and discipline. There’s rescuing your child from danger – both physical and spiritual – only to be thanked by tears, screams, and hurtful words.

1 John 3:1 tells us that we truly are God’s children. When we look at God’s love, we find He has the love of a parent. I don’t know about you, but I imagine that when God looks at me, He sometimes says, “Yep, that Lauren is definitely a personality.”

Motherhood

The Aftermath

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By: Betty Predmore

I sit here this morning, surveying the aftermath of a weekend with house guests and birthdays. On Friday, my home was something to be proud of. It was clean and sparkly, everything was in its place, and it was ever do serene. This morning there are shoes in the floor, toys strewn across the table, a pile of used towels in the bathroom, and a table full of birthday gifts I don’t have the energy to put away.

Does this upset me? Does this frustrate me? Does this make me weary? Absolutely not! When I look around this morning, I don’t see a mess. I smile and remember the laughter that was shared in my home this weekend. I remember the smiles of my little girl as she turned 8 years old. I remember the squeals of my granddaughter, and my little boys wrestling with their big brother. I remember the delicious meals my husband made so lovingly for his family, and I remember all the hugs and kisses.

I am proud of this mess. This mess means that this mama shared a beautiful weekend with her babies. This mess means that loved flowed through this place. This mess means that “mama’s” house is home.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

Motherhood

Placing Your Nest

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By:  Betty Predmore

Even the sparrow has found a home , and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3)

We mamas will do anything to protect our children. We go to great lengths to make sure our homes are safe, the food we serve is safe, that we teach them about 9-1-1 and about stranger danger. We want to protect our children….from danger, from doubt, from insecurity, from fear, and from pain. We want them to be safe at all times and we want them to have that sweet assurance that they are protected.

I think of the swallow….just a small bird, yet so wise in the placement of her nest. She was preparing a safe place to have her babies….a safe place near the altar of God. She knew instinctively that her nest needed to be positioned near the place that resonated reverence and awe for the King of Kings. I find that amazing, and see it as yet another example of God’s awesome creation.

As mamas, are we like that swallow? With all of the worry and fuss over the physical safety of our children, are we making sure they are spiritually safe? Are we preparing a place for them, bringing them up near our Father? Are we feeding their souls? Are our homes filled with the security and assurance of the Holy Spirit? Are we teaching them about the love of Christ?

Just like that mama bird, we are responsible for our children. They are depending on us. God gave them to us with the purpose of us raising them up in His ways, teaching them to live and to serve like Jesus did. That spiritual nurturing is so important in His plan for their lives. Be wise. Be prepared. Be safe. Place your “nest” at the foot of the cross and let God hold your family in his safe and comforting arms.

Motherhood

The Promise of His Word

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By:  Nicole Espino

I remember it so clearly as if it wasn’t almost nine years ago. I had just experienced the quickest and easiest delivery, my doctor was even surprised by how effortless it was. I was so thankful because I had just endured a very painful and long pregnancy due to pelvic issues. But there I was holding my sweet baby boy, the joy that filled my heart was almost too much to contain. There is nothing like that moment they lay that sweet baby on your chest and you breath in their precious baby scent for the very first time. New life, new breath, new beginnings filled my heart. There is so much hope and so many dreams we have for our children. What did God have in store for this precious new life.

I don’t think we are ever fully prepared for the hurdles though that come our way, especially in the joyful moments. This hurdle for my family in particular came in the form of a failed hearing scan. When we learned of my sons hearing loss, so many questions and fears filled my heart and mind. What did I do during my pregnancy to cause this, how severe is his hearing loss, will he be able to talk, will he live a normal life? The questions swirled inside for months as we went down the long road of tests and doctor’s appointments. It was not what I had envisioned for our little family. All those previous hopes and dreams turn into questions and fears. It’s only natural when you are faced with an unexpected turn of events. Included with the hearing loss were all sorts of developmental delays and at 2 years old we discovered that our precious boy had Autism as well. I was in denial at first, I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew that if my son was going to have any chance that we had to get him the services he needed.

But even though our journey with my second son has had its ups and downs, he has brought so much joy and change into my life, I am a better mother because of him. God’s promise found in Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This has proven true over and over again. The one thing these hurdles have done in my life is caused me to run to Him for strength, wisdom, and grace in times of personal weakness.

So here I sit, almost 9 years later, pregnant with my 3rd child. And the funny thing is about painful memories from the past is that they have a way a resurfacing. To be honest, as excited as we are to have our first baby girl, my heart has been wrestling with fear, doubt, and anxiety. What should be a joyous time has become a time of fearing the future all over again. Will she be healthy, will I be healthy, how am I going to handle three kids??

I’m sure you are all too familiar with the mind games the enemy plays with us women. But then I remember all the ways God held me and took care of me and my children, and I choose to trust God. It’s not easy sometimes, but He reaches out to me in my pit and gently whispers His fatherly words, “I love you! I’ve got this in the palm of my hand!”

I’m so thankful for those times of breakthrough, I wish I allowed Him to comfort me sooner, I wish I wouldn’t spend weeks agonizing, but God is so long suffering. No matter the outcome, God is big enough, strong enough, and fully capable of holding my world together. If He can hold our universe together, then He can certainly handle anything that comes my way.

My prayer for us Moms this new year is that we would cling to Him in the good times and the bad. That we would run to Him for everything, and that we would see how He is working all things out for our good, to change us, to mold us and to make us better wives and moms. God’s word is full of His promises, comfort, and encouragement. I want to commit to allowing His word to wash me from all my fears, no matter what happens, God is in control! And He is a good good Father!

Motherhood

I Didn’t Want Him

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By: Sherry Clair

The great thing about thoughts, is that no ones knows you’re having them. The fact that no one knows your thoughts can also leave you in a frightening and lonely place. Especially the thoughts that may shock those around you, the thoughts that leave you feeling guilty, the thoughts that you immediately feel shamed for thinking. Sometimes a situation arises and no matter how hard you try, you can’t prevent these thoughts from flitting through your brain faster than lightening. I’d like to share with you my scary secret thought, that to this day still haunts me.

It was March 21, 2012. It was rainy and dreary outside, I was alone in my car, pregnant with my second child. I had just found out that we were having a baby boy and I didn’t want him. Please, before you judge me, let me explain….

On February 14th, my husband, and I excitedly waited in a dimly lit room. We were expecting our second child and were eager to see him or her for the first time. A quick swipe of the ultrasound wand revealed a very small black and white wiggling baby. Various measurements were taken, pictures were printed, the technician quietly left the room and the doctor came in. He informed us that there had been some abnormal findings on the ultrasound; he explained that our baby had swelling everywhere. He went on to tell us that the chances of the pregnancy continuing another three weeks was slim, chances were very high that we would lose our baby. Utterly devastated, I clutched the photos and sobbed. We went home to wait.

God knew my heart and He knew my needs before I ever did. He placed a man in my life that did not have Thomas like faith; my husband. Josh’s faith swelled; he wrote out numerous healing scriptures for me to speak over the baby, fasted until our follow up ultrasound twenty one days later. We surrounded ourselves with Godly people and stood on faith that God would see us through. Our follow up appointment proved the power of prayer. Our baby was growing and thriving, showing no evidence of prior anomalies. We chose to move forward with an amniocentesis to confirm that there were no issues.

On March 21, 2012 I received a call from our doctor to call him back when I left work. Feeling confident that our prayers had been answered, I alerted josh that our results were in. I was confident that I could handle the good news on my own and quickly disconnected. I cheerfully answered and listed to what the perinatologist had to say; “The fetus has a chromosomal abnormality”. I couldn’t breathe, my heart pounded in my ears and my smile vanished. Sobs and tears consumed me, the word “abnormal” echoed through my head attempting to drown out everything else he was saying. “There is a third copy of the 21st chromosome, the fetus has Down syndrome. You will need to come in ASAP to make plans.” I murmured my goodbyes and hung up.

I was shattered; I clung to the steering wheel and sobbed uncontrollably. I thought back through the conversation; I knew that there had been a mistake. He had called the wrong patient, or had the wrong labs. Somehow, I managed to ask him if I was having a boy or a girl, “I believe it’s a male” was the detached response. It, fetus, abnormal, Down syndrome, I couldn’t understand how this was happening. We had prayed, fasted, believed; we had bigger than a mustard seed faith! I could barely bring myself to call Josh, I felt I failed him and my family. Guilt and anger overwhelmed me. In that moment, in the car by myself, I didn’t love the baby that was growing inside my belly, fighting so hard to be in our lives.

I slammed the car in reverse and backed out. I glared through my windshield, looking up into the grey sky, I imagined God looking back at me. “I cannot believe that you would do this to us. You have NO idea what you’re doing! You tell us to trust you, to have faith, and then you go and do something like this, you missed your chance God, how could you?” The blame wasn’t mine, this was Gods fault, and I was furious with Him. I’d love to say that the scripture “your sorrows may last for a night, but your joy comes in the morning”, was true for me, but it wasn’t. I was barely able look at Josh or our daughter the next day, feeling like somehow I hadn’t given them the son or brother I thought they needed. I broke down every time I felt the baby stretch reminding me that every single cell of his was “abnormal”. Every kick brought with it the fear of the unknown and guilt over the detachment I felt.