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

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.