Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. As I sit here and reflect on the day I couldn't help but be drawn to youthful wishes and the way God answered prayer.

I couldn't have been a young woman more than twenty years old when I cried out to the Lord for the first time. I wanted, more than anything, to be a mom. Sure, at that age I wasn't wholly prepared for what the role entailed but I was, none-the-less, hopeful for what it would bring. You see, I fully trusted and believed that having a child of my own would mean I would always have unconditional love.

The kind of love I could give another and the love I would receive from another. Not because I was raised with that level of understanding, but because I wanted, more than anything, someone to prove my love to and someone I felt would do the same in return.  After all, don't mommies always love their babies and do for them everything they can?  Well, at least, I was going to be that mommy.

God didn't answer my prayer at that age. No, I think He still had quite a few things to teach me. I look back and thank Him for knowing me and what I needed better than I thought I did. However, I cannot lie, I prayed that same prayer constantly for a few years - sometimes to the point of making myself sick.

Then one day, my prayer was answered. This time not when I had wanted it, but God surely knew when I needed it. My first precious little one was given to me at a time in my life when I was seeking in all the wrong ways, but God knew. While I may not have honored the steps of the process of becoming a mom (marriage first), God still blessed me and in the spring of '02, He gave me little #1.

Her perfect little face, sweet soft voice, blue eyes, and tiny little - everything - had me at first glance. She was mine. My gift. My blessing. My answer to prayer. Then, 20 months later little #2 came. And just like that, this small, feisty brunette wiggled her way into this momma's heart and squeezed it so tight it still overflows with love. 

I won't sit here and tell you all the years have been rainbows and unicorns. They haven't. Becoming a momma is just as much a learning curve as it is a teaching opportunity. In fact, in spring of '08, God gave me one more little girl, one who is the perfect mix of her two older siblings. She came to fill and complete the family He would honor me with giving birth to.

I was then a momma to three of the world's most beautiful girls. They were all that I could have dreamt of and more. I know I haven't been the perfect mom.  I haven't been the most patient, always giving, always kind, always servant-minded, but I have always loved them.  I have always sought to be better - for them.

In fact, there is no greater honor than being a mommy.  None. To hold them when they are sad. To listen to them talk about their day.  To laugh with them when they are being silly. To play games with them when they are bored. To run my fingers through their hair and scratch their backs where they can't reach. To encourage them when they are scared. To help them with homework and projects. To take them to their favorite store for the perfect pair of shoes. To guide them through class selections and first job applications. To help them narrow down a college for the day they start their next big adventure. All of these.  These are my answered prayers. Prayers, I didn't even know I was asking for when I prayed the very first one.

And that is how God works. He loves so big. He takes the smallest of requests, and when it aligns to His will, He gives and He gives and He gives. But my momma story doesn't end there. No, not even close. Because a few years ago He had another adventure for me. Another opportunity to grow and teach more littles.  This time they came in the form of two little boys on a spring day in '15. That day he made me a step-momma.

Looking back 20 years ago, on those prayers, I petitioned my heart before the Lord for, I never would have imaged this would be how He'd answer them. But He did.  And He did it in the only way a loving, caring, faithful God can. He answered big. He answered perfect.

As you celebrate this Mother's Day I encourage you to reflect on all the ways God answered your prayers.

(Please understand that I have only shared the highlights in this post. For life is often filled with pain and sorrow, and many opportunities to cast your eyes on Him.)

Wishing you a day filled with sloppy kisses, sticky hands, messy kitchens, and noise beyond belief. May you hug each memory close to your heart and remember the time you had and have.

You were made for such a time as this. Love them fiercely.  Grow them gracefully.

Love, M

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Together - A Reflection on a Post About Marriage

I read a blog yesterday a friend of mine had shared on her Facebook page. It was about a woman, who after several years of marriage, six children, and countless other life experiences with the man she had married in her early years, still reveled in their love of one another. Sure, the premise of the blog had a physical undertone, but more than that it allowed the reader to relate to the fact - sometimes you just have to come together to get through it together.  I know I could relate.

This post garnered many comments from other friends, and while I was unable to meet the level of understanding several of the others who commented on the post did, I still understood.  You see, unlike many of those who commented, I have been divorced and remarried - this gives a completely different view on the subject.

Upon the first read, I was reminded how much stock we place in perfection while in a relationship. We, as a society, have gotten to a point where we believe a relationship needs to be conflict free in order to be good or "meant to be". We have also gotten to the point where we ignore the differences and refuse to express ourselves in front of our families (read that: children) for fear they aren't going to grow up with any sense of security. In my opinion, both of these ideas are hogwash.

Marriage is messy. Marriage is digging in the trenches and coming out covered in mud and grit and heaven only knows what else. Marriage is deciding, up front, no matter what else may happen, you are in it for the long haul.  Marriage is a daily choice of picking, rather choosing, your spouse above yourself.

All this for no other reason than, you have to. In order to make it work you need to see a few things. (I'm not a professional, these are just my observations.) First,  you are not the same person he married any more than he is the same person you married. It is true.  Every moment of every day we change. We grow a bit older (biology), we change a little physically (wrinkles and sagginess in all the wrong places), we learn something new (academically or otherwise), and we live in an ever-changing society that, like it or not, does imprint itself on us in some manner (large or small).

Second, we are the example to our children. If we hide everything, they learn nothing.  The inverse is true, too, and this is where we as parents have an even more important role. Letting the Littles see you work through hardship and conflict is actually beneficial. No, not the knockout, drag-out, in your face yelling all that is ugly in the world to each other, but because no two people are ever going to be symbiotic and there will be times those differences need to express themselves. Let them see that differences are a good thing and that there is a way to work through them together.

Third, and yes this one was saved for last because it is honestly the best. Love God together. Love God individually. Love God as a family. For all other things will become what they are when this is the primary focus.

The biggest issue I had with the blog was the fact she was reflecting on a relationship she had with the man who fathered all her children. The man who she was still married to after two decades, a man who literally watched her change emotionally, physically, and spiritually - sometimes by his help and definitely by the natural progression of life - maturing and aging. That left women like me who read the blog on the fringe. After all, I'm not married to the father of my children, nor am I the mother of my husband's children. I didn't marry him in my prime nor his. And I didn't marry him during the infancy of my faith any more than he was in his. I believe this is where some miss the beauty of remarriage.

This man I am married to, he loves me despite the stretch marks that were made growing another man's children. He chooses me even though time has added a few more wrinkles and parts of me are no longer perky and perfect to look at. He picks me at the end of a hard day; I am the one he comes to. Sure, sometimes we have to make a choice to make a choice - life is hard and marriage doesn't always make it easier.  Yet I couldn't imagine facing a day without him by my side. We fight fights that other married couples - like the one represented in the blog I read - don't.  However, we make it a point to fight them together and sometimes, we have to come together in order to get through it together. (Some things are simply universal.)

In the end, the blog gave me pause enough to be thankful for the life I have because I am married to a man who chose me not because he had to, but because he wanted to. And that alone is enough to make everything worth fighting/working for - worth doing together.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Encouragement of Easter

This morning, like many others, I awoke to numerous notifications on my phone.  One of which, was for a post made in the Christian Moms Who Write group I am a member of. The post was a simple question, made by the group founder and admin, "What encourages you most about the Easter celebration?"

I didn't hesitate in penning (errr...rather swyping) my response. After all, the answer had actually been heavy on my heart since I awoke Friday.

Good Friday is many things to many people. I look to it and see the good it holds - perhaps why it was coined as such - the fact my Savior willingly died for me.  However, to look at it in those terms only, in my eyes, is to miss the sorrow and to mourn its occurrence. I woke yesterday with the hymn, How Great Thou Art playing on repeat in my head. (My absolute favorite hymn.) And truly, who could deny His greatness?

My verbatim response to her question was:
"Easter encourages me on so many levels but before it does that, it humbles me. It begs me to ask, who am I? Then it reminds me it isn't about me at all. Then Easter gives me the hope that no matter what I think and feel about myself, no matter what I've done, come from, or may face going forward - it's covered. Each and every thing. Again, not because of me but because of Him who chose to create me. That somehow He decided on me and He never once gave up searching for me. And I found Him. We met. We flirted from time to time. I left Him for a while. Then I came crawling back. And there He was - waiting. And only because of Easter did that happen. And because of Pentecost which only came because of Easter can a piece of Him live in me. I'm not worthy but any stretch but He who is in me. And by God's glorious grace and intimate love can I sit here today and proclaim Him as mine. All mine. And to think, 2000 years ago, He already knew. #humbled #mindblown #iamsaved #iamhis"

For me, Good Friday is a humbling experience. We don't get the joy of the resurrection without the pain of the crucifixion. We don't get the honor or eternal life without accepting the price that was paid. In service last night we were reminded the cross is not a cheery symbol, but one of pain, anguish, and severe punishment by death. It is not a clean, pristine, and scar free symbol, but rather one that left the weight of the world and all the sin before and after embraced for all eternity. The cross, as shared by a friend at church last night, is a reminder to us that Good Friday was the death of death itself!  

Today I can sit here with 2000 year's worth of knowledge reveling the outcome.  I already know, in my heart and soul, the tomb was empty. Not because some book told me, but because I know Him. Personally. Intimately. Relationally. He is REAL to me. But there were almost two whole days where others didn't know. I can almost feel their pain, sorrow, and heartache. I can earnestly believe and share in their mourning. Here their beloved Jesus was dead. Their Messiah, my Messiah. YOUR Messiah. Immanuel. Dead. Buried. And then....then...

He rose!  He conquered death.  For all of us. He, Himself, took my pain, my shame, my past, my present, and my future, and He covered it. Completely. Better yet, He did this for you too.  For no other reason than, you were worth it to Him.  You and I meant the world to Him. He not only did this for us, but for those who came before and those who will come after us. 

And that, dear readers, is the encouragement of Easter. No matter where you are in life, no matter what you have done or will do, He still died for you.  He paid for it. ALL. OF. IT.  There is only one requirement He has - believe - and then accept Him in faith into your life.  (I encourage you to listen to this song: WE BELIEVE

May you have a blessed Easter and find the encouragement it holds for you.

- M