The Transforming Power of Motherhood
As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ahhh sweet Motherhood! Family, children, people to love, what a blessing! As I develop a heart of gratefulness for the common everyday simple things, everyday has become the best day of my life! And the best is still yet to come!
But the opposite is true too. On days when I am not nurturing a heart of gratefulness and peace, it affects not only me but the atmosphere of my home and my family. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?
So for Mother's Day I started thinking about the things I am grateful for, to foster that heart of gratefulness. Certainly my husband and children are at the top of the list. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE being a mother, I was born for this and built for this! I have been a mother since I was 16 years old and I have never known adulthood without motherhood. Even though it was very hard, I wouldn't change it. Being a mother helped transform me into the person I am today.
Sorry for the math lesson, but do you remember back in math class learning about supplementary angles? You know two angles that add up to be 180 degrees?
Motherhood is like that for me. God has used it (and still is everyday) to transform me. Me + the beautiful, refining, sanctifying gift of Motherhood = 180º turnaround. No power has been a greater force in my life than motherhood.
Motherhood is a high calling isn't it? To shape and nurture great souls. The important task of raising the next generation. Children don't raise themselves, they must be tended and loved. It must happen with intentionality, building them, practicing love over and over for years and years, one moment at a time. Choosing to put aside yourself, doing what you sometimes don't want to do, to touch and change the life of your child.
Being a mother is to set yourself up to be an example. To say like Paul did in Philippians 4:9, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice." Children don't always listen to us but they never fail to follow our example! Whoa! Soul-tending is a mighty responsibility! Knowing your purpose helps push you through the pain.
Motherhood has the greatest potential to influence human life. But that can go either way, for good or for evil. Not every woman uses her influence for the good of her children. As someone who worked in a jail ministry for several years, I've learned that not every woman chooses to lay down herself for the benefit of her children. I have seen so many woman weep because the bond with her child had been broken, mostly from her own choices. And it was heart wrenching. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1
Which is why, as I was thinking of my grateful list, I am thankful for the hard things. The parts of motherhood that have stretched me beyond my own capacity and brought me to my knees crying out God. He has used this incredible powerful love that I have for each of my children, to shape me, mold me, and mature me. And that has helped me to be a better mother to my children, a better example for them to follow.
So, first of all, I'm thankful that I am not enough. I can not nor will I ever be, perfect. I am not wonder woman, though I do things that make people wonder. I am not super mom, mother of the year, or someone who has it all together all of the time. Although I may have other people fooled (Ha!), my kids see it all. They see every flaw and imperfection. They see every reaction and hear almost every word out of my mouth. I can't fool them.
When they are little, they see me as this strong person who always knows what to do. But as they get older, they come to realize that I really am just a regular person who is trying to do their best. They see I have flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. They see it all!
And I'm thankful for that. Even though I love them more than anyone else in this world, it's not enough to save them. My weaknesses point them to a love better than mine. A perfect love that can save them, God's. Back to the math lesson, God "supplements" me. He completes and enhances all that I am to help me be who I need to be for each one of my children. I have done my best and I have gave my all but I can't meet all of their needs, although, He can. If I teach them anything with my life, I hope it is to point them to the One who can fulfill them and to His perfect love that brings freedom.
I'm thankful I have no time to myself. When was the last time you hunted for a four-leaf clover? Or stared at the clouds moving across the sky? Or swung on a swing? I get to do that almost everyday because of my kids. They want me with them. They drag me with them. And I have had some of the greatest adventures because of it!
When you have a lot of kids, there is always a need to meet, always someone who wants something. Sometimes my door is like a revolving door because the second someone walks out, someone else walks in. And I love that! It has taught me to sacrifice my own wants/needs for others. I have had some of the sweetest times, the best conversations, and greatest laughs because of them! I am so thankful I get to be a part of their lives and that they want to open up and share their hearts with me. My kids have enriched my life so deeply and I don't want to miss a second with them!
I'm thankful for messes. Messes mean our house is being used. It has helped me accept imperfection and actually thrive in it! I'm more stressed out when the house is clean then when it's messy. Messes mean fun things are happening, learning is occurring, relationships are being built, memories are being made. Sometimes people have it confused and think we are here to serve our homes, but our homes are here to serve us.
Messes also help show the goodness of order and beauty. When I restore the house to order, my kids see that. They see me work on our home to make it more functional and also more beautiful. I don't have to clean, we could live without that, but it makes ours lives easier and more peaceful. I don't have to decorate and make my house charming and lovely, but I do to surround them with beauty, to inspire them. God didn't have to make our world colorful, we could have got along in black & white. He didn't have to make taste, we could have eaten without that. He didn't have to make aromas, but think of all we would miss! Spring breezes, flowers, cinnamon rolls! His beauty reveals His character and reassures us of His goodness, even in the messes of this world. He gave us so much more than we needed to survive. He gave us abundance! And as a mother, I can do that too! I can color the world for my children by bringing beauty to it. I can make life warm, cheery, engaging and not just in physical ways. God made each one of us different to bring what we can to the world, but, especially to our kids and families.
I'm thankful for toilets to plunge. I often wonder how much of my life has been wasted waiting for the stupid toilet tank to refill so I can flush the toilet again after the kids clogged it! Ugh! It's weird, but in my house, it's reality. I'm thankful for kids who take forever to put on shoes, and who dawdle at the table when we need to leave. It has all taught me patience. When I was young I thought when I finally got my drivers license I would never have to wait on anything again, ha! Then I had kids! I have learned that there's some things you can't force no matter how hard you try. Losing my patience with them is not worth my relationship with them, the one that I work so hard to build. I have learned it is better to always plan extra time in our schedule for dawdlers and ones that can't find their shoes, than to stress out over small things like that.
I'm thankful for food I have to cook. I literally cook 100,000 times a day. I love to cook, but that much work can suck the life right out of you! #thecookistired Sometimes, especially during quarantines 😉, the joy of cooking is lost having to feed my family day after day. But I'm thankful that I have to do it. It has taught me to be a servant to others. If I don't cook, we don't eat. There's no one else who is going to do it on a regular basis. It's my job. It is important because it means so much to my family. They get so much joy from it (most of the time). I am nourishing their bodies and their souls and they will remember all the happy times surrounded by good food at the dinner table because of my efforts.
The other day, since we've been having a polar vortex in May, I made chili and cornbread. My little four-year-old danced around the kitchen when I pulled my mixer out. He was so excited that he was getting something yummy to eat! He was such a good reminder to me how important my job is and what a blessing it is to serve others!
I'm thankful for imperfect kids. Our biggest blessings are often disguised in our greatest struggles. Phew, this one is a hard one to write! I'm crying just thinking about it. I have a daughter with special needs. She was born with Hydrocephalus and at two years old suffered brain damage because of a shunt malfunction. She had strokes on both sides of her brain and lost the ability to do everything and went completely blind. She is now 13 and has cerebral palsy. My Elizabeth, God really does use the weak to lead the strong. She has never once in her life asked me, why me? She has never once ever complained about why she can't do things that other kids get to do. She has never complained about the pain she has because her body doesn't function normally. She just accepts life like it is and finds joy in it.
I have two sons that we adopted from foster care that have been through a lot, but they love anyway. I have kids that make choices I don't agree with and I have to watch them struggle and it's so hard! Like me, my children are not perfect. I have had the times in the hospital at 3am wondering if my child is going to survive, I have had the nights when I can't sleep and I stay up begging God to save my child, I have had the days when I feel like I'm fighting against Satan himself for my children. The power of my love for them has risen up in me and taught me to be an intercessor and a warrior. No one has showed me more about the faithfulness of God than my children. I have learned some things and I've seen enough to say, God is good. God is using my children to make a diamond out of me. "I am better healed than I ever was unbroken." ~Beth Moore
Not everything is fixed or ok. But even in the waiting and through the rooting season, it's my heart that is being worked on and prepared. Each struggle and each battle has strengthened me and equipped me for the next one. I hope my kids see, that despite all our struggles, I never gave up, on them or on God. I feel like I've earned the title of a mother to 7 kids. That is an honor. Motherhood is a gift denied many, I don't take that for granted. Yet, I want to remain teachable and moldable for whatever God has for me next. In whatever ways He is bringing richness and depth to my life.
Motherhood has helped me open my heart to have a heart in full bloom. I am so thankful that I have got to walk hand-in-hand with my 7 kids. Some of them are grown now and I already wish we could go back to the moments when they were little, just to snuggle them one more time. And watching my younger ones run and play is such a gift! I literally feel like I can absorb them into me with my hugs. These are the days.
I'm thankful for each facet of motherhood. The sweet times that are so wonderful with the snuggles, the tenderness, the joy. And the hard times with the messes, the toilet plunging, and the battles. We are not blessed in spite of our struggles, but because of them! Over all and through it all is love!
"But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." 1 Timothy 2:15