“ALL THAT I AM or hope to be I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
Happy Mother’s day to all of the moms out there. There is no other name on earth more precious than MOTHER! From rocking babies to kissing boo-boo’s, Mothers, we have a tremendous duty and responsibility before us to love and nurture our children and to train them in the way that they should go.
Mother, do you know that you have the ability to change the world by raising your young people to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul! Countless generations are affected by the prayers of a righteous mother. When you teach your child to pray, love Jesus and serve others, you never know how God will multiply that mustard seed of faith.
[ctt template=”2″ link=”bOk4e” via=”yes” ]The child that challenges you today could be a world changer tomorrow![/ctt]
I have read countless stories of great men and women throughout history and the impact their mothers had on them. For instance, Abraham Lincoln’s mother impacted the Kingdom of God and future generations because she taught her children to pray, love and seek Jesus.
Referring to Sir Issac Newton, Jabez Burns says in Golden Thoughts of Mother, Home, & Heaven the following.
“But Newton, though not blessed with learned parents, possessed a devout and Christian mother, whose sole aim and study was to sow the seeds of piety and virtue in his mind, and whose tender care preserved to us, under God’s blessing, one destined to be the glory of his country, and his race.”
[ctt template=”2″ link=”LA7U2″ via=”yes” ]Moms, what you do matters![/ctt]
I know that wiping noses, changing diapers, scrubbing toilets, teaching, training, carpooling, and doing laundry are not glamorous jobs, but what you do in your homes and for your family has eternal consequences. How you raise your children today is more critical than ever before! The world needs the light of Christ to shine boldly and brightly through our children even more as our world grows ever increasingly dark.
Mother, your children are watching you. Be careful about how you live, because your little eyes and ears are always watching and listening. Children do what you do, not what you say. For example, if you tell your kids not to do something, but you do that very thing, they will perceive you as a hypocrite. For example, if you tell your kids not to smoke, but you smoke. Your words must line up with your actions.
Moms, be careful to make wise choices. Do your children see you praying and reading your Bible? Do you pray with your children? Do they watch you serve others? You will provide a nurturing home for your children when you live your faith out in front of them, day in and day out. “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 11:19 ESV
My husband’s mother was an incredible example to me as a young wife. Read more about her influence on me in 5 Things Gigi Taught Me.
When my boys were young, we were a part of our church’s homeschool group, Harvest Christian Schools. Galatians 6:9 was the scripture our group was founded on, and over the years it has brought me so much hope.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.- Galatians 6:9 ESV
So hang in there momma. Keep up the good work! What you do matters. You will reap a harvest if you don’t grow weary and don’t give up.
Have a Blessed Mother’s Day!
I have exciting news to share with you this week! Recently, I had the opportunity to share my testimony on Casey Tate’s Podcast, Steadfast. Many of you have read parts of my testimony of losing our son Little baby Liam, but there is just something special when you can hear someone’s testimony.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:4
If you know anyone struggling with the loss of a child, infertility, miscarriage, or someone who just needs to hear a reminder of God’s faithfulness, please share my testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of suffering the loss of a child on Casey Tate’s Steadfast podcast. The Deep Wounds of Losing a Child
God is so faithful! He is working in the lives of people all over the world. On Steadfast, Casey Tate covers a wide variety of topics on her Podcast from sex trafficking to physical illness, and everything in between. Recording the podcast with Casey was a lot of fun! She does a great job of pointing people to Jesus, and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of this special ministry. All of her podcasts are available to listen to on iTunes.
We all have a hard story. Whether or not we chose to tell it or let our shame consume us is a decision that will chart the course of much of our lives. God’s grace, his redemption, can change us from the inside out. Steadfast is a collection of brave women that want to tell you their story so you can know that you aren’t alone in your struggles; there is community among the broken. Join us every week and find the freedom that can only come from the steadfast love of our Almighty Father. – Casey Tate
Be sure to check out my post on Loved Baby: a beautiful devotional book to help you grieve and cherish your child after pregnancy loss.
Recently, I was contacted by a friend about how to establish and nurture a healthy relationship with our boys. Over the years, she has watched the way we have raised our boys and has admired our ability to reach them.
I wish I could say, if you do X, Y, and Z, then your kids will turn out perfectly, but that is not the case. Each child comes with their own unique set of abilities, personalities, and temperaments. What works for one child may not work for another.
What I do know is that each child is a blessing from the Lord, and He knows our children even better than we do. Pray for your children. Pray for wisdom in reaching their heart, pray for how you may best nurture that child specifically. Pray for your relationship with him, and pray for his relationship with the Lord. One of the greatest joys that I have had as a parent is sharing the love of God with my children, and leading them to Christ.
I once met a woman who remarked how similar my son was to her son. I knew her son, not as a boy, but as a grown man. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man, and so I asked her what I should do with my son, so he would turn out like her son. I will never forget the response of this wise woman. She said, “Wear your knees out in prayer!” What great advice! It is not only our privilege and a joy to pray for our children, but it is a necessity. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and the enemy wants to destroy our boys.
In John 10:10 we learn, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly.” Praise Jesus! He came that we may have an abundant life!
Raising boys who become men who love the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Having your son’s heart requires intentional parenting. Making wise choices about what our children are exposed to is also very important – cultivate a love of whatever is noble, true, and right. Expose them to good literature and stories about heroes of the faith. Be mindful of what they see on television, computer screens and video games. Emphasize purity of mind, and thought, and deeds.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV
I think a popular children’s bible song says it best: O be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go and be careful little mouth what you say.
Parenting our boys sometimes requires us to make unpopular or counter-cultural choices that are in their best interest. This is why prayer is so necessary so that we can know what is best for our family, and for each individual child.
Communication is Key
Keeping lines of communication open is vitally important. Time spent around the family dining table talking about anything and everything is a great tool for discipleship. We talk to our kids about everything, and we have always encouraged them to communicate honestly with us. As our boys have grown, we have had many important conversations until late at night. I think a huge part of having your child’s heart comes from good communication. I want to make myself available to them, whenever they want to talk.
My friend indicated that she felt like she was missing the mark in reaching her 12-year-old son’s heart. Junior high can be a challenging age! Our once sweet little boys become full of testosterone and start to become men, and they begin to change. Our roles as mom change also, as they pull away from us. It is our job to continue to love, nurture, and pray for them as they become the men God has created them to be. When boys hit junior high age, it is important for the father to become more involved in leading and disciplining his son.
Hard Work and Purpose
Boys require hard physical work. It is good for boys to work hard physically, either in playing sports or manual labor of some kind. I always joke that boys are easy: just feed them well, put a ball or a shovel in their hands, and let them go. They need physical work, but they also crave purpose in their lives and should be challenged intellectually. This will look different for each of us, which is why we should pray for wisdom specifically for each child.
You may also like Wisdom for Parenting Teens and Young Adults
There are many good books on parenting. The most important book is The Bible – we must teach them to know and love the Lord and the Word of God. The Bible is our instruction book for life. In addition to the Bible, listed below are some of the books that I have found helpful in raising my boys.
Created for Work, Practical Insights for Young Men – Bob Schultz
Shepherding a Child’s Heart -Ted Tripp
The Power of a Praying Parent -Stormie Omartian
The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson
Keeping our Children’s Hearts – Steven and Teri Maxwell
Hints on Child Training – H. Clay Trumbull
Bringing Up Boys – Dr. James Dobson
Parenting Beyond the Rules – Connie Albers
Prayerfully this will encourage my friend, and anyone else struggling to reach the heart of their son. What are some other things that you have found are helpful in raising boys? I would love to hear from you.
Nobody warned me that it would be this hard. Watching them grow and then letting them go….
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. – Psalms 127: 3-4 (ESV)
It is hard to believe that I grew these three young men in my belly. Where did the time go? They seemed to be little for so long, and then one day, almost overnight they have all become men. Each one is unique with differing gifts and abilities, but all are a blessing. We have raised them to be warriors for the kingdom of Christ. Peter and I have been intentional and careful stewards of these treasures, and soon we will be launching these arrows out into the world.
No one warned me how difficult and painful it would be on me when they started to pull away.
A boy has to detach himself from his Mother in order for him to grow into the man God calls him to be. This is the way it is and has always been. It is good and natural, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Letting go is hard on momma’s heart.
First, we dream of them before they are ever conceived. Then we grow them inside of us, oftentimes in pain and sickness, but we love them and long to meet them. Then we bring them forth into this world and our lives are forever changed. We nurse them, feed them, diaper them, dress them. We kiss boo-boos, tell bedtime stories, and give baths. We teach them to pray, to love Jesus and to love one another. We discipline and teach while they grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
After years of being the most important person in their life, suddenly one day they start to pull away and they don’t need you as much or at all. As they pull away it is heartbreaking to their mama!
How do you love them with every fiber of your being and then simply just let go?
By entrusting them to the care of Jesus. I will always be their mother and no matter how old they are they will always be my little boys, but I need to let them go so that they can become the men God created them to be.
3 Things I Have Learned in Letting Go of My Kids
1. Jesus is able to complete the work that was started. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
2. My job as a parent never ends, but the way I parent must change with the changing of the seasons. “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
My kids need my continued prayer, no matter old they are. “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Jesus, thank you for the blessings of children! Help me to cherish every moment that I have with my boys. Help me to remember that we have raised them well, and it is not my responsibility to control them, but instead it is time to let go and entrust them to your care.
Peter, my husband, is the light of my life, and my best friend. In December of 1993, our life was forever changed, that was the day I gave birth to my eldest son. We instantly fell in love with our bundle of joy! Peter and I were young, inexperienced parents, but we were given an incredible gift, our precious son Jacob. He was a wonderful little man, and he made me want to have more children just like him.I longed for more children, but I was a busy working mom and many years passed before I would become pregnant again. Finally, I did get pregnant again in 1998. This pregnancy was not as easy as the first one. I had trouble with spotting early in my pregnancy, and I began to experience some health problems. I was diagnosed with Gestational diabetes and was put on a very strict diet, exercise regime, and was very closely monitored. On a routine visit to the hospital, I was hooked up to a monitor to make sure everything was going okay. But today, something was terribly wrong. My baby’s lungs were not moving. They didn’t know if he was breathing okay, so they ordered an emergency C-section. This was a horrifying time. Several hours later, I gave birth to our second son, Connor.
Everything seemed okay at first. But everything was not okay. He was born with a condition called club feet. His feet were upside down, and backward. I remember holding him in those early hours after he was born, with my eyes full of tears, and all I could say was that he was perfect. I had longed for this child, and to me he was perfect.
The years that followed were downright difficult! Connor was in and out of the hospital from the time he was born. The first doctor that cast Connor, cast him to tight and Connor’s toes were turning black and blue. He was losing circulation to his feet. We took him to the ER, and they cut his cast off. The attending ER Physician said it was a good thing that we brought him in because if we had waited much longer, he would have lost his feet. He was only days old. And things continued to get worse from there.
Connor had a myriad of health issues. He had several foot surgeries. We were constantly either in the Doctor’s office or hospital. During one of his hospital stays, he contracted the roto virus. A diarrhea virus that lasted for six weeks!! He had cast all the way up his legs and that made dealing with a diarrhea virus even more difficult. Also, he had over 15 ear infections by the time he was a year old. He was an extremely colicky baby who did not sleep. He would scream for hours on end, sometimes he would cry all night long.
We were exhausted and desperate for sleep. After trying just about everything we could think of, there were only two ways we could get him to sleep, either put him in a baby swing or have the vacuum cleaner on all night. We would put him in the swing and rock him back and forth continuously, and we would turn the vacuum on for white noise. We leaned the vacuum cleaner up against the wall so we wouldn’t burn the motor up. I am sure my neighbors thought we were crazy for vacuuming all night! But if I even tried to shut the vacuum cleaner off after two or three hours, he would wake up screaming at the top of his lungs.
At a year old Connor received one of his vaccinations, and shortly after he began having Grand Mal seizures. He had one seizure. Then another. Then another. They started out several hours apart until he was constantly seizing. We rushed to our pediatrician’s office, and he sent us to Texas Children’s hospital in the Houston Medical Center. After several hours in the ER, and with no real treatment, we were sent home. Only to find ourselves right back in the ER with Connor seizing more frequently. As a parent watching your child have seizures is an incredibly frightening thing, you feel completely helpless. It is horrific to watch your child flail uncontrollably, and there is nothing you can do about it. It took Connor being pumped full of the barbiturate Phenobarbital for him to finally stop seizing. For the next year, Connor laid around limp, pumped full of drugs. These early years were extremely tough with Connor.
Connor did not walk or talk when he was supposed to, and we didn’t know what else could be wrong. We constantly took him to doctors and specialists looking for answers. At age 3, we took Connor in for a hearing test, and the audiologist suggested something else was wrong with Connor. We took him back to his pediatrician who finally diagnosed him with PDD-NOS. Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified. This is an autism spectrum disorder, and for the next fourteen years, we lived with this devastating diagnosis.
Years worth of therapy, specialized schooling and countless doctor appointments made some slight improvements in Connor’s life, but his language was minimal, and his deficits were huge. We faced the fact that Connor may not be able to live on his own, although we always held out hope for a better life for him. Connor has always had a very sweet spirit, with a huge smile. He impacts people and melts hearts everywhere he goes. There is an innocence about him, and a child-like faith that makes him precious.
We continued to pray and seek God’s will for Connor, and at the end of last year, God finally answered that prayer! We took Connor to a specialist, who for the first time in Connor’s life accurately diagnosed his condition, and told us things about Connor that no one else was ever able to diagnose before. Connor was given the diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis.
According to Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance, “Autoimmune encephalitis is a rare and serious condition in which the immune system attacks the brain, resulting in impaired brain function.”
For many people, this would be a devastating diagnosis, but for us this finally meant hope. Because unlike Autism, there is a treatment for Autoimmune Encephalitis. I will talk about Connor’s journey and progress in future posts. But today I would like to leave you with a final thought.
Don’t give up, don’t lose hope! Continue to pray for those situations in your life that look hopeless, because in Jesus there is hope! He is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Turn your eyes to Jesus and cry out for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5.
Much to my surprise, on Jacob’s 17th birthday and just a few weeks before my 40th birthday, we found out that I was expecting. After so many difficult pregnancies and losses, and years without getting pregnant, I was in shock and thrilled when my Doctor told me I was pregnant!!
I was considered a high-risk pregnancy. Because of my history, and my age, my Doctor, monitored me very closely from the beginning. On a routine blood draw, we found out my progesterone levels were deficient. So we immediately began supplementing with progesterone, and things seemed to be going okay. I was thankful for each day that I was pregnant. We had our first ultrasound, and everything seemed to still be moving right along. I got past the first trimester and began to let my guard down a little. When it came time to have another ultrasound and find out if we were having a boy or girl, I couldn’t wait! I was so excited!!! My mother-in-law and my youngest son Ian were with me, and all eyes were on the ultrasound screen as we awaited the news, boy or girl? The tech told us that we were having a boy!
Everyone was so happy! Everyone, that is, except for the ultrasound Tech who kept taking measurements. We noticed that she kept measuring his spine over and over. She seemed to be taking a long time, meticulously looking at his different body parts and re-measuring. She brought in the doctor… who informed us that it looked like he had a heart condition. But that was not all… In addition to that, he also had arms that were not fully developed, and his hands seemed clenched.
So we were sent to a high-risk doctor for a level 2 ultrasound, and some genetic testing because the doctor said that our son likely had a chromosomal disorder. After the level 2 ultrasound and the genetic tests, we learned that our son had a two-chambered heart, instead of a four-chambered heart like you and me. They thought that he may have Spina-Bifida, which caused him to have an improperly formed spine. There was a cyst on the umbilical cord, and his cranium was shaped in such a way that would not allow his brain to fully develop. The Doctor said that his improperly formed arms and hands were backward. Our son was diagnosed with Trisomy-18, also known as Edward’s syndrome, a chromosomal disorder on the 18th Chromosome.
Ninety percent of babies with Trisomy 18 don’t live more than a few hours or days. Most boys with Trisomy-18 rarely ever live to see their first birthday and over fifty percent of them never even make it to birth. The first thing the Fetal Maternal Specialist and the genetic counselor asked us was if we would terminate the pregnancy. This is considered to be one of the “hard cases” that made it okay to abort our son. Armed with information that our son probably wouldn’t survive, and if he did, that he would be severely handicapped, they expected us to abort him.
After all, many parents who receive this diagnosis for their unborn child chose to terminate their pregnancy. For us, we knew the difficulty of having a child with special needs. Our middle son Connor was born with clubfeet and many other health challenges. For us, we knew the pain and suffering that our family would have to endure to choose to continue on with the pregnancy. But for our family, abortion was not an option! We firmly believe that our Heavenly Father is both the Author and Finisher of life, as is stated in the Bible in Acts 3:15.
We began telling others that Liam was a gift from God and that God would determine his future. We knew that the Lord had a purpose and a plan for his life, no matter how long he lived. The next several weeks were emotionally draining, not knowing what to expect, and trying to plan for what may be ahead of us. Instead of planning a nursery and a baby shower, we began to think about funeral arrangements, and how we would spend whatever time we had with our son.
A few weeks later, at a routine Doctors appointment, we discovered that little Liam’s heart had stopped beating. Liam was stillborn on March 21, 2011. We played worship music in the room, and after giving birth to him, we cherished every moment that we had with him. We had a photographer come and take pictures for us. We held him, we loved him, we cried and prayed over him and then released him to Jesus. We suffered much grief that day, but we did not grieve without hope. We know that our son Liam’s body is whole and that he never had to suffer the pain of this world. That he is waiting for us in heaven, and we can’t wait to see him again!
“Gigi”—the name we affectionately gave my husband’s mother. She taught me a lot about being a wife, a mother, and a Godly woman. It was not just in the things she said, but even more so in her actions. The way she lived her life had the greatest impact on me. She had her priorities straight: she loved God first, loved and served her husband second, and her children/grandchildren third, and finally loved others. I learned five key lessons from her:
1. The importance of hospitality and the family table: Gigi taught me that the conversations the family has around the table—be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and anytime in between—are the moments that we tie our heartstrings with our loved ones. Every time we would come to visit, she would have us sit at the kitchen table. She would offer me a piping hot fresh cup of coffee, and we would sit and talk for hours. When my husband and his brother were growing up, each day when they came home from school, she would sit them at the table, give them a snack, and talk to them about their day before they went out to play. As growing young men, they spent hours around that table with their parents. Many lively conversations were had around that table about life, morality, religion, politics, books, culture, and memories of family members. I was honored to marry into the family and join in this special time around the table. The times spent around the table with them kept our family grounded, our heartstrings tied to together, and created a lifetime of memories for us that we still hold dear.
2. Love your husband: Titus 2:4, says “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.” Gigi loved her husband with her whole heart and put his needs before her own or that of her children or grandchildren. Gigi was a stay-at-home wife and spent her days anticipating her husband’s needs and doing things that would delight him. She would pick out her husband’s clothes, and make sure they were neat and pressed for him, and made sure he looked sharp as he headed out the door each morning. She prepared special meals for him, and always placed his desires above her own. He was a professional man working in the oil and gas industry, and he was a very successful man because his wife loved him, she exemplified Proverbs 31:1 which says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” This was especially true when my Father-in-law had a brain tumor and spent the last few years of his life in and out of the hospital and Gigi never left his side.
3. Love your children: Gigi loved her children with all her heart! Gigi was sweet and kind and gentle. She showed me how to love my children by the way she loved her children and her grandchildren. Gigi loved her children and spent time pouring into their lives, and the lives of their children. Hours were spent at the family table playing with Legos building towers and playing with play dough or coloring. She was always quick to give a hug and kiss, and tell you how much you were loved. She would write my children notes telling them how much they were valued and how special they were. She spent her time building them up and making them feel special and loved.
4. The importance of prayer: Gigi spent time with God in his Word, and she faithfully prayed for her family and those in need. She prayed for her family daily. She made sure her boys were in church, and she spent time teaching them to love the Lord. Gigi loved to journal and spent hours writing out prayers for her family.
5. Caring for those in need: Gigi loved people. She had her priorities straight—she loved God first and foremost, then her husband and that love extended out to her family, and finally then to others. Gigi faithfully lived out a 1 Corinthians 13 life: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” That was Gigi. Gigi had a very generous and giving spirit, and much like Matthew 25:36 “I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me,” she was quick to help a friend in need. She would visit those in the hospital and care for those less fortunate.
Gigi taught me many things about being a lady. She loved extravagantly while she lived on this earth. Now that she has passed on, we miss her incredibly, but our lives have been forever impacted by her actions. She left us with a remarkable legacy of love, and she lives on in our memory. The lessons she taught me along the way have challenged me to love God more, put my husband first, love my kids with all my heart, to be a good friend and to care for those in need.