Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

I was just so tired.
 
Last night, as I nursed my youngest in the quiet darkness, her beautiful face melted my soul. My tired and grumpy feelings of late have led me to lose sight of the glory and the blessing that my children are to me. I felt mournful, repentant, hopeful, and thankful all at the same time, as I gazed at her – ever trusting – despite my tainted outlook. I think it was a godly kind of sorrow.
 
2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that “…God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret his sending it…” (The Living Bible)
 
It’s such a beautiful mess, this motherhood thing. And I don’t even mean the laundry piles, the dirty toilets, or the mountain of dishes on the counter. I’m mostly talking about myself!
 
What I realized in that holy moment with my babe was that I have been missing out by getting washed away by it all. My children mean the world to me, but I wasn’t acting like it. So many of my words had been corrections. So many of my looks had been suspicious. So many of my sighs had been impatient ones. As I thought it over, I murmured something to my little suckling child about wanting to love her with my whole heart.
 
And then I stopped in my tracks. No. Something about that sounded wrong. Who am I supposed to love with all my heart, mind, and strength? I was immediately convicted as I remembered my merciful God. I had just reviewed this at the Spring musical put on by my nieces’ Christian school.
 
“What is the greatest commandment?”, I heard the little actor query inside my head.
 
“To love the Lord my God with all my heart and mind and strength…” I answered back, as Christ had done so many years before, this time making it personal. God, I have NOT been desiring you or leaning on you like I could. I know that my strength for each moment, for each child, comes from you.  
 
“…And the other is like it. To love my neighbor as myself.”  Oh no. I haven’t been doing that either.
 
“And who is my neighbor?”  That little kid from the play just wouldn’t stop jogging my memory.
 
I took over from there. Well, in this case – in this season of complete and utter exhaustion – some of my most important neighbors are my children.  
 
And how must I love them?
 
Just as I love myself. Have I even been loving myself? Nope. Not quite.
 
Just in case you’re there too, I just want you to know you’re not alone. I myself was very thankful when our couple’s counselor validated our exhaustion during a session recently. This phase of child rearing, where you have several young children under 5 – or 6 or 7 – is simply exhausting. There’s no other word for it. If holding it together in the midst of the chaos is all you can do, then you’re doing well.
 
But by re-setting our priorities, I think we can do better. By leaning into our Savior in a deeper way, we can find more strength. And by halting our work and resting, we can love ourselves in such a way that raises the quality of our neighbor-love.
 
For me, it meant leaving the dishes on the counter one more day, and elevating my foot so it wouldn’t flare up on me again. It was a rough choice, because the Mommy Guilt. We’d all been busy, the dishes left very little counter space, and my husband had to help get dinner ready. He wasn’t expecting me to sit on the couch, rubbing my toes with essential oils when I should have been scrubbing, loading, chopping; scrambling to catch up with the day that the hiking plans had interrupted. We had to talk about it later after the kids went to bed.
 
He finally got me. Understood. Agreed.
 
I’m learning to stand up for me just enough that I can be a better mom and wife. And I’m figuring out how to carve deeper, more intentional devotion into my schedule so that I don’t forget my God. We are not forgotten. But we forget ourselves all too often in the delirium of the daily grind. We will never be perfect this side of heaven, but every day we can be better lovers – of God, of selves, of our neighbor-kids. Will you cling to the cross this Easter, and become a better mom with me? 

Stephanie Ross

Stephanie is a kindergarten teacher turned homeschool mom. She’s finally living the off-grid homesteading dream (that took about a decade to agree on) with her hubby and three girls. For her, writing is a way to get the words out without having to talk; though she really loves to talk. Her favorite person to talk with (mom) has been in heaven for eleven years. She writes about living with grief, parenting, and relationships.  

The Quiet Work You’re Doing Matters, Mama

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and two girls playing on bed

Mid-morning light spills through the kitchen window as I stand at the sink washing dishes.  “Mom, Caleb just punched me!” 3-year-old Aiden calls from the living room. “He took the remote right out of my hands!” Caleb contends. “I saw the whole thing happen,” their big sister interjects. “It was totally Caleb’s fault.  He started the whole thing.” “Mind your own business!” Caleb barks as he charges toward his sister with his fist in the air. It takes every ounce of restraint I can muster, but I manage not to get sucked into the yelling match happening in front of...

Keep Reading

Wear the Pretty Underwear

In: Faith, Grief, Living, Loss
Woman in evening gown, color photo

This week was monumental.  After 15 years, I finally finished a bottle of Victoria’s Secret perfume. I just wish I would have emptied it sooner.  It was one of those special occasion luxuries because it was not cheap. For years, I had saved this decadent perfume for date nights and holidays. It was too fancy for everyday use. And then, I was widowed without warning. My husband was here one minute, then gone the next. Impossible. Unfair. Traumatic. RELATED: What If Tonight Was Your Last Chance To Have Sex With Your Husband? But we were going to die in our...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Raising My Child’s Future Spouse

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy lying on car seat with puppy, color photo

Oh, hey there friend, you don’t know me yet or maybe you do, but at least for now neither of us know that our children will one day commit their lives to each other and by doing so forever knit our families together. One day, we will all sit in the front aisles of a church filled with scores of people who have influenced our babies, but none like us. No one else in that church will know the intentionality, love, and grace of God that it took to reach that day, but we will. The work you are doing...

Keep Reading

Spanking Made Us Parents We Didn’t Want To Be

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of mother pointing finger at child

Fourteen years ago when my husband and I were preparing for our first child, we felt we already had several tools in our toolbox. Both of us worked with children and youth, and we felt prepared for parenting. We decided early on that we would never spank unless we were completely out of options.  As our bright, sweet, bubbly firstborn entered the terrible fours (yes, he was a bit delayed in his toddler rebellion), we were surrounded by a community of people who believed in “controlled spanking” with hugs and grace afterward.  RELATED: These 6 Words Transformed Discipline in Our...

Keep Reading

I Was Raised by an Easter-Only Mom and I Want More for My Kids

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and daughter read Bible

Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted, and women tend to look to their upbringing for guidance. We may not even realize we’re doing it! But being a godly mother is even more difficult when you weren’t raised by one. The questions are endless: How do I model forgiveness? How do I set the right priorities for my household? How do I explain baptism to my 6-year-old? Is it okay to have undiscipled friends around my children? Do we have to pray over every meal? Is the occasional swear word acceptable?  These questions may be less intimidating if you were fortunate enough...

Keep Reading

Even When it Feels Like I Can’t, I Keep Going

In: Faith, Motherhood
Tired mom holding toddler

When I feel like I can’t do one more thing. When I am overwhelmed and touched out and lost in the logistics of it all. When my physical and mental energy are depleted. When the length of my to-do list needs more hours than I have. When I am so bone tired that I’m sure I just can’t go on. And there is still more to do. And the only choice is to keep going– I keep going. I dig a little deeper and find strength I didn’t know I had. RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it...

Keep Reading

What Happens When She Wants Another Baby and He Does Not?

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Husband and wife, pregnancy photo, color photo

I am on my knees, folded over, with my head resting on the carpet. I am in my closet, which doesn’t see much of the vacuum, and it is the only place I can find to sob out of sight. I feel hollowed out and defeated as if I have run a marathon and was cut short at the finish line. I cry out in prayer, pleading with God to soften the heart of my husband. I desperately want another child, and he desperately does not. I take a deep breath and dry my eyes because my 4-year-old outside the...

Keep Reading

Is Your Marriage on Cruise Control?

In: Faith, Marriage
Couple holding hands in car, above view

Cruising down the road, the highway curled before us like a ribbon into the horizon. Cozy road trips are a staple for my husband and me, and we look forward to the time together. Having been married for 37 years the adventure continues! We have loved each other through the ups and downs, and we have learned a lot about relationships. We also made a point of carefully watching successful relationships and surrounding ourselves with those whose marriages flourished. Nowadays, we have many young couples ask us what it takes to keep a marriage vibrant. One of the key ingredients...

Keep Reading

Ordinary Mornings, Extraordinary Grace

In: Faith
Emily Ley holding Sure as the Sunrise book by water's edge

“From his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Today, take note of what brings you gladness. That which gives you pause or causes you to take a deep breath. These are glimpses of God’s goodness in our lives, brought to life through moments and things, memories and sounds. Realizations and hope. In its biggest forms: a moment you wish you could freeze in time, and in its smallest: a sliver of grace, otherwise overlooked. I wake up to the smell of fresh laundry, sheets cool against my skin. One eye open, I peek down at the...

Keep Reading

She Just Needed to be Held

In: Faith, Motherhood
A little girl held by mom, color photo

“She just needed to be held,” I texted my husband after a two-hour battle to get my 3-year-old to bed. She’s been sick. Daddy’s been gone. And she needed to be seen. Held. Loved. And in that split second, I felt God say, “Just like you.” When things are chaotic. When we feel alone. When we feel weary. RELATED: God Sees You, Weary Mama When our spirit feels sick. When it all feels like too much to carry. We need Him. To breathe life into us. To remind us of our worth. To remind us of the hope He offers....

Keep Reading