Some weeks ago, my three-year-old and I were out in the backyard while his younger sister napped and his older brother was at preschool. The clear, bright sky was strange for a winter day in Portland, Oregon. January typically calls for two types of rain: drizzles or downpours. But this was a burst of warm light I hadn’t expected. 

At my son’s request, we played Ring-Around-the-Rosie on the trampoline. As we came to “all fall down,” we fell on our backs, bouncing up and down. My son’s laughter shot through the trees, and the sound of it sent a shockwave through my heart. I realized I hadn’t heard him laugh like that for a long time—too long.

Our family had been in a rough season, a long winter of struggle. Laughter had been replaced with yelling—at my children, and sometimes at God. My husband, in his fourth year of medical residency, was rarely home. I was often parenting solo with three children, four and under. Each morning began at 5:00 a.m. with my three-year-old crying, and would seem to unravel before breakfast even began. My life seemed like a DVD on repeat—with my boys’ incessant fighting, a baby who needed my tired arms more often than I could give them, and the roller coaster of guilt from not being able to rise above it all. Deep down I felt like a fragile, frozen branch, with so much pressure building that at any moment I might snap, breaking into a thousand pieces. I wondered when, or if, things would ever change.

And yet, on that particular winter morning, something out of the ordinary occurred. There I was, lying next to my son, watching the sun light up his flushed cheeks, seeing his curly hair tousled wild by the wind, memorizing the way his eyes crinkle up when he smiles. And my heart started to ache—the kind of ache that means something frozen is thawing; something that appeared dead is sensing the tingle of life. 

I gazed up at all the old oak trees surrounding our yard, stripped bare of all their leaves. Each time autumn rolls around they have to go through the same routine of dropping their bright decorations, one by one, until nothing beautiful remains. The stark branches are left looking barren, vulnerable, and slightly pathetic. Perfect descriptions of myself, I thought.

But, invisible to the eye are the vast root systems digging deep, soaking up nutrients in the soil even during the harshest of winters. The inner life of the Oak continues its quiet, steady work, preparing the tree for its next awakening. Over time, the earth softens and one day, almost imperceptibly, tiny buds burst forth from the rough branches. New life makes its entrance once again.

As certain as the seasons change in the natural world, so it is with parenting. Each season inevitably comes. Each season has a purpose. Dark, cold, lonely winters of painful pruning. Wet springs that signal hope with new sprouts of growth. Warm, glorious summers filled with rest, rejuvenation, and fruit. I can’t force the lovely seasons to remain any more than I can escape the harsh ones.

So in that moment, I lingered next to my son on the trampoline. I looked over at his elfish little face, the sun bright on his red cheeks, his smile free and contagious. We smothered each other in a big hug. Here was God’s whisper of grace to my weathered soul. All is not dead. All is not lost. There is hope, even in barrenness. There is growth, even in darkness. There is a gentle promise that new life will appear again. And it may come as soon as tomorrow.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Heidi Cox

Heidi currently lives in Washington State where she has one husband, three children, 28 coffee mugs, and too many stains on her carpet to count. Heidi has been published in the anthology, Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World and on the MOPS blog.

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading