Celebrating Motherhood

I was recently asked to say a few words at a luncheon celebrating motherhood at my church. It was a beautiful time with several moms of all ages and stages sharing thoughts and encouragement on motherhood. I was asked to tell what I celebrate most about motherhood and also, the challenges I face in this empty nest stage of life that I am in. I thought I would take a little time to write a post about the things I shared.

All three of our children are married now and living on their own. We are empty nesters! We are also grandparents to three little girls and one sweet boy. There is so much to celebrate!

When our children were growing up, we knew we wanted to establish them firmly in the faith and lead them to come to know Jesus. To that end we did certain things to try to make that happen. We took them to church—regularly. We spent time with other believers in our home for Bible study and fellowship. We taught our kids that the Bible is the standard and guidebook for life. We prayed for them and with them. We knew that passing on the baton of faith to them was the most important thing we would do as parents.

However, we were not perfect parents, by any means! We still sometimes argued in front of them and were never consistent enough with family devotions. We were too lenient at times and too strict at other times. We made lots of mistakes. Nevertheless, we tried to give our kids a foundation of faith on which they could stand. Even though you and I are not perfect parents and parenting is not an exact science (if you do this, you get this result), God will honor your desire to raise kids that know and love Him. Thankfully, all three of our kids came to know the Lord at an early age.

Today, I celebrate God’s faithfulness.

I celebrate that our kids have taken ownership of their faith. They are each involved in local churches where they live. They are in home Bible studies with other couples their age and sometimes they are the hosts.They value God’s Word and they pray about things. They are using their gifts to serve in the church as God provides opportunities.

Our oldest son and his sweet wife take our grandkids to church every Sunday and are teaching them to memorize scripture. They are the 4th generation being raised to love and honor Jesus Christ. That is something to celebrate!

“I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in the truth.” 3 John 1:14

I celebrate the way God is answering prayers in the lives of our children. He is opening doors of opportunity and paving the way forward. He is showing Himself strong and faithful and we are in awe.

As I said, parenting is not an exact science. We can do all the right things and our adult children can still go off the rails in their life, into addiction, self-destruction or rebellion. I know that my own children will certainly face trials, difficulties, temptations and heartache in their lives. They are not perfect, nor immune from life’s struggles. The Bible says trials and tribulations are a part of life on this fallen earth and are inevitable.

The thing to remember is that God uses all of the yucky parts of our lives—our mistakes, sinful choices, bad decisions, etc.— to shape us into vessels that can be used for His glory. His goal over our lifetime is to make us more like Him. We call that sanctification. If you have wayward young adult children, know that God will use their struggles to draw them back to himself—in His time. Meanwhile, you can pray for them. Prayer is a mom’s most powerful weapon. And, you can trust Him. God loves your adult child even more than you do and He has a plan and a path forward for them.

Has it been challenging since my last child got married and left home? Absolutely. I enjoyed being a mom. I embraced it and always viewed it as a high calling. I knew there was nothing more important that I could be doing with my life than nurturing these three little children that God had blessed us with. So, when the last one left (our daughter, who got married last year), I thought to myself, “What now, Lord? I’ve spent years raising and launching these kids—what is my purpose now?” Women can feel a bit lost after spending so many busy, task-filled years raising their kids. Suddenly, they don’t really need you anymore.

After my last child left, the Lord reminded me that He still has a purpose and a plan for me. He doesn’t put us on a shelf when we turn 50 or when the last child leaves our home. There are so many instances in the Bible of God using older women to accomplish His work.

And, the good news is I have more time, more flexibility, more space in my life to do new things—to use my giftedness in kingdom work. In addition, I have the experience and wisdom now that I didn’t have years ago—thanks to God refining and humbling me throughout my life. I have a story to tell and you do, too!

I celebrate a new season of life and look forward to what God has for me to do.

I celebrate grandparent life. It is so fun and sweet. I will, of course, tell my grands about the love of Jesus and teach them stories from God’s Word whenever I have the opportunity.

Won’t you celebrate motherhood with me? Make a list of all the ways you celebrate motherhood or comment below.

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She’s a Daughter of the King

My daughter. When I look into her face I see glimpses of myself, so many years ago. But yet, she is her own person. A face full of joy and possibilities—loving life, drawing people in with her contagious smile and her easy manner. A good friend. Accepting, encouraging, laughing. Helpful, respectful, responsible. Athletic and strong. Feminine and lovely. Forgetful—mind going in a million different directions. Hurrying, busy and sometimes messy. Impulsive. Gregarious. Sociable and fun-loving.

In many ways, she is so like me—her mother’s daughter—in some ways, not so much. But, most importantly, she is her heavenly Father’s daughter—a daughter of the King, made in his image to reflect his love and grace to the world.

May I always remember that she is His—perfectly created to bring Him joy —fitting like a glove into the Father’s kingdom plan. And may I always urge her gently onward towards becoming more like Him— loving, serving, growing—shining her beautiful light for all the world to see.

My daughter. My friend. My heart. My joy.

Thank you God for daughters.


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Protecting the Birds in Your Nest

Yesterday, my husband and I discovered a pair of Carolina wrens had begun building a nest in a watering can on our back patio. We watched off and on all day as the wrens worked tirelessly bringing twigs, straw and bits of grass back to the nest, making a sturdy, covert home for their future family. The nest is tucked away in the bottom of the can and under the cover of our porch, protecting it from the sun and rain, but my husband and I still worry that any number of predators on our wooded property will eventually make a feast of the eggs or hatchlings. We often see raccoons, foxes, snakes and hawks, all of which would eat those eggs in a skinny minute. We decided there isn’t much we can do but watch and hope that the babies make it out alive.

Watching those wrens made me think about our own empty nest. All of our children are married and living on their own and we are so thankful for God’s protection of them as they were growing up. But when they were at home and still in the nest, we knew it was our job to protect them from the dangers of the world and to strengthen and shape them into confident, kind and caring adults.

Can we protect our children from the world’s influence? What are the biggest dangers out there today?

Well, the secular ideology of the world is everywhere. The culture has forgotten the basics of gender, decency and order. The Bible and Judeo-Christian values seem to be relics of the past. And common sense has left the building. It certainly sounds dire, doesn’t it?

But God is still on His throne and Christian families everywhere are more determined than ever to raise their children to stand firm on the Word of God. Hopefully, you are one of those families.

What can you do to protect your kids? Well, here are a few things to think about:

Take your children to church where they can hear what God (the creator of the universe) says about who they are and who He is. Many churches have vibrant youth programs where your teen can be under the influence of a godly youth minister. It’s good to have an additional Christian adult that your teenager can go to for wise counsel when necessary. The best youth ministers, however, know that they are a partner with you in your child’s spiritual development (and you are the senior partner). At church your child can learn that God has a plan and purpose for their life and that they are infinitely loved by Him. They can gain tools to help them navigate life’s twists and turns.

But, church should not be the only place they hear about spiritual things. After all, they are only there a few hours a week. You are the primary spiritual discipler of your child. Make it a point to have family devotions and to pray with your kids. Talk about spiritual things, and bring spiritual concepts into everyday situations. Use biblical principles when guiding them through tough issues.

If at all possible, put your children in a Christian school (many of them offer scholarships so be sure to ask) or connect with a homeschool organization. If your children are in a public school, know what they are being taught and be involved. It is you who is in charge of their welfare and character development. God has given you this responsibility.

Know who your children’s friends and influences are. Start when your children are young teaching them about friendship—their closest friends should be believers (or from believing families) who are attempting to walk the same path of obedience to Christ. Spend time with other Christian families when your kids are young. Help them grow those friendships. They will have a wider group of friends, of course, who may or may not attend church, which gives your child the opportunity to be a positive, Christian influence.

Monitor and limit your children’s exposure to entertainment and technology. It is full of language, visuals, and ideas that are contrary to scripture. Know what they are listening to and watching. Of course they will complain! But you are the parent!

Discuss important issues of the day with your child, according to their maturity. If you don’t talk about your beliefs on issues like gender, equity, sanctity of life, marriage, etc., they will only hear what the world has to say. We want them to know what God’s Word says about these issues.

Pray regularly for your children’s protection and development. Help them to know they are loved unconditionally, and can come to you with any problem that comes up. The importance and power of prayer can not be overstated. I still pray for my grown children daily and have seen God answer prayers uttered on their behalf, over and over again. God is faithful and hears our prayers.

I know that parenting is not an exact science. You can take them to church and teach them about the Lord and they may still choose to hang out with a bad crowd, make unwise choices, or fall into addiction.

But, our children are worth fighting for and if we can take steps to give them a greater chance at a life under the umbrella of the Lord’s protection, then we must do so.

When it was time for our children to leave the nest, there were certainly things that we could have done better, but, we knew that we had taught them about the Lord and His love. We had exposed them to the gospel and we had impressed upon them the idea that God’s Word has the answers for life.

Now, they are on their own. It is their choice whether or not to embrace their faith and to grow in Christ. I am happy to say, they are each a part of a Bible-believing church and are all kind, caring and generous individuals. I know that as time goes on they will experience ups and downs, struggles and successes in their lives as God continues His work of sanctification. Being a Christian does not make us bullet-proof. But, it does mean that when we experience difficulties, temptations and tragedies, God is there—to guide, comfort, convict and restore.

I still pray for protection for my little birdies—the ones I raised, and the ones on my back porch! And I will be praying that God will guide you as you raise your own birdies to know and love Him.

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” Psalm 34:7-8

“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in you; Let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them; Let those also who love your name be joyful in you. For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor you will surround him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Well, spring has sprung. It’s the end of April, and we all know what that means: Mother’s Day is fast approaching. I know that soon there will be an inquiry or two from my kiddos (and husband, who still lovingly gets me a present from him even though I am not his mother) as to what I would like for Mother’s Day this year.

I decided I would write a post about this topic since at least 15% of my grown kids and their spouses read my blog posts (insert sarcastic emoji here) so there is a pretty good chance they may see it. Yes, I am an optimist.

I am currently into watching and feeding birds in my yard and have a much too extensive collection of bird feeders! I blame COVID. It was during the lockdown that I began watching birds, having nothing else to do and nowhere to go! It can be expensive to keep all those feeders full of birdseed. My friend recently told me birdwatching is the #1 sign that you are getting old—she’s probably right. Anyway, in the last few years, bird feeders, birdhouses, bird books, and bird paintings, have consistently been on my gift wish list. Last Christmas, my sweet husband, thinking he was on the right track, ordered a wearable hummingbird feeder helmet with camera—I kid you not! The feeder extends from the plastic face shield and apparently, the wearer is to sit outside and wait (potentially for hours) until a hummingbird comes. There are several problems with this: It is 90 degrees in Florida most of the year, I have tried hummingbird feeders before with little success, I refuse to look that ridiculous—even in my own backyard. The helmet was quickly returned.

Another of my hobbies is reading. I love books from many different genres. I especially enjoy historical fiction and Christian fiction, but also love biography and other non-fiction. I always have a book on my nightstand and must have a book in my travel bag on any trip we take. I love to highlight books I am reading, so that I can remember the important or pivotal parts of the story or quickly find excerpts I want to share with my husband. He’s always so thrilled for me to read to him, especially about the life of Queen Elizabeth or how to improve communication in marriage (again, insert sarcastic emoji here). When I finish a book I am always a little sad knowing that the story is finished and it may be a few days before I can dive into another tome. I wonder if anyone else feels this way? Thank goodness for Amazon and overnight shipping! Anyway, a book is always a great gift for me.

Having retired from teaching, I do have time these days to go to my local day spa for a massage, pedicure or facial. Any mom would appreciate a gift card for one of these services, including yours truly. In general, I am low maintenance and frugal so, I don’t go and do these types of things unless I have been given them as a gift (with the exception of the occasional pedicure with my daughter).

Speaking of hobbies that older folks are usually into—there’s gardening. No, I’m not a gardener at all, although my mama was an avid one with a green thumb! I can barely keep potted plants alive for more than a couple weeks (sometimes days)! And, I don’t enjoy working outside in the heat and humidity—and then there’s the dirt! I do, however, love to see colorful plants and flowers outside my window or when I’m sitting on my porch or patio. I love to look at and enjoy their beauty. So, another great Mother’s Day gift idea is a garden or yard refresh, or maybe a newly designed flower bed area. I actually think my husband is already on the case with this one and is working with our landscaper friend to put in a butterfly garden outside my kitchen window—I’m thrilled!

Something that truly blesses my heart and soul is my children’s heartfelt expressions of love written in the many cards and notes they have given me over the years. I have saved them all—from the sweet “I love you” pictures scribbled in crayon, to the grown up notes of appreciation and gratitude. I have some of them tucked away in the Bible that I carry to church each week and others in a special keepsake box. It’s funny, we don’t often feel that love and appreciation from our kids, especially during the middle school and teen years, but some day, mama, you will hear the love in your grown child’s heart after they’ve lived a little bit of life on their own and hand you a birthday card filled with heartfelt words of appreciation for the way you loved and supported them. It is awesome.

Well, I will now wait and see which kid will read this post and become the new favorite. In the meantime, maybe you have gotten a fresh idea or two for something you might like to receive for Mother’s Day this year. I’d love to hear your comments as to what gifts you enjoy receiving.

And, as all mothers know, the greatest gift is spending time with our children, eating together, playing games, talking about life, just hanging out. That never grows old.

Praying that you will get some time to enjoy your kids—littles or bigs—this Mother’s Day, and that your sweet husband will not buy you a hummingbird helmet.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Taking Care of Aging Parents: It’s Not for Wimps!

Today was a very busy day. Along with searching for a dress for my son’s upcoming wedding and shopping for groceries, I spent several hours at a nursing/rehab facility in our town at the bedside of my sweet 91 year old mother who was there recovering after a fall at home that resulted in several broken ribs.

Mom has always lived on her own and has resisted every attempt I’ve made to get her to move in with me. I understand. She is independent, strong-willed, proud, and wary of being a burden to anyone. She has lived alone since my dad passed away 9 years ago.

I believe that by virtue of the fact she has survived several types of cancer, stroke, the death of her spouse, and over 9 decades of life, she has the right to live as she wishes. Her mind is as sharp as a tack. It is her fragile body that is failing.

We are currently looking into home health care for mom for when she is released from rehab. This is all new to us and we are praying for wisdom and direction to do what is best for her as she presses on towards a full century of living.

Mom’s life has not been easy these last few years. Her eyesight is very poor, her hearing is almost gone and she suffers from severe osteoarthritis that has her in constant pain. I feel such sadness sometimes when I see her struggling to walk with her walker or cringing in pain from a shoulder that is bone-on-bone, devoid of any cartilage. Mom is a believer and has expressed to us that she is ready to go and meet Jesus. She has questioned on more than one occasion why the Lord would choose to keep her here on this earth for so long and in such a state.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that question myself and I think I may have the answer: I think Mom has survived these 91 years partially for my benefit. God has a work to do in me that can’t happen until I am pressed to do hard things. Things I would never choose to do on my own. Things that will stretch and challenge me. Things I can only learn by taking care of this helpless human being who spent so many years taking care of me.

Another reason I believe God is allowing mom to linger here on this earth is that she has not finished her mission! Mom continues to talk to people about the Lord, to pray and read her Bible. She is an inspiration to us and many others due to her life of faithfulness and service to the Lord.

When I first began helping my mom out at home several years ago— I am ashamed to say it, but—I sometimes resented the growing list of things that had come to be my responsibility, like paying her bills, doing her shopping, changing her bed linens, driving her to endless doctor’s appointments. I saw them as a chore. An imposition. An inconvenience. Mom had been so strong and independent up until then and had never required much help from us. Now, it felt like I was spending half my life taking care of her needs. Although I have a brother in town who helps out, especially when things need fixing in her home, I knew that being her only daughter, the responsibility for mom fell largely upon me. There was no one else. I was it. That felt overwhelming at times.

As I drove to mom’s house each day I would pray, “Lord, give me patience today. Give me mercy and empathy for my mama. Help me to love her well.”

Over time, a funny thing happened. God began to change my resentment into joy and my impatience into mercy. He softened my heart and opened my eyes. He reminded me of the selfless life this beautiful woman of God had lived to make me into who I am today. Suddenly, I was helping my mom out of love rather than obligation or default.

As time went on, mom grew more and more frail—her eyesight worsening and her mobility decreasing. One day she was visiting with a friend who had come to see her and she fell, breaking several ribs. Praise the Lord her friend was there and called 911. She spent several days in the hospital and then was transferred to a rehab facility where she is making slow but steady progress.

God continues to teach me patience and grace, selflessness and empathy, as he forces me to do hard things. Yucky hard things that go along with taking care of old people. Hard things that involve putting other things—more fun things—on the back burner to sit at my mom’s bedside and keep her company. He is teaching me that love sometimes means brushing someone’s teeth or cutting up their food, combing their hair or rubbing lotion on their dry, chapped skin. As I look into her tired, misty eyes I am learning to see my sweet mama through his eyes of love.

I am thankful to God for the opportunity to love my mom in her final years as he works in my heart and life to make me more like him.

I wrote this post 5 years before my mom passed away. I had never published it. I felt led to do so now in hopes that it might help a fellow member of my generation who is taking care of elderly parents.


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