It was a Tuesday morning and I was sitting in our kitchen at our breakfast table. My children were playing in their rooms together nearby, my food was cold in front of me after an hour of trying to get a chance to eat it, my blue coffee mug was empty from attempts to caffeinate the earliest parts of the day, and now my toast was wet. My toast was soggy on my plate from the tears soaking into it, and it was a holy moment.
Tears are not an unusual thing in motherhood, but this morning was different. They weren’t tears of frustration or anger, tears of exhaustion or anxiety – I’ve had my fair share of those – but no, on this morning, they were tears of gratitude.
You’ve already heard hundreds of stories about Jesus, and you’ll continue to hear them as you grow up. I’m glad about this, but I know we become numb to familiar things. So I want you to remember this: No matter how regularly you hear about Jesus, don’t for a second think He’s regular. Common. Easy to predict. You see Him as a cartoon in your books, but He’s real, and everything He did made people’s jaws drop.
Did you know that one time Jesus flipped over tables at church and yelled at people? That’s not regular.
My baby girl is having a baby girl! I attended two baby showers for her this weekend. She was gifted with all things pink and we had a wonderful celebration. She and her husband have painted and set up furniture for a nursery and they have been given books and lots of advice. But there is no amount of training or reading of books that can prepare you for the first time they lay your baby in your arms.
I still struggle trying to describe what happened when they laid my first born in my arms. I looked up at my husband, and said, “I don’t know what we are going to do, but I can’t leave this baby.” I instantly knew that no one else could love him like I did. My heart had undergone a dramatic upheaval as this little boy had entered the world. All I could do was stare at him and marvel that he was our son.
If I could cup the face of sweet mommas, I’d tell them, “This secret is necessary for survival. You cannot mother well without it.” So, what is the secret?
As Bible studies and discipleship groups came to a close for the summer, I began asking God what He’d have me do in my time with Him over the next few months. I spent several days praying for His direction. I sensed Him saying to me, “Come closer. Dig deeper. Search for Me. Know Me.”
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I was already doing this. My time with Him had been fiery and steady. I wasn’t sleeping through alarms or dozing in my spot (well, not often anyway). To what exactly was He calling me?
“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4
As I write this letter to you, you are beginning the first day of your new school year. I am about two months away from giving birth to my first biological baby. I say first biological baby, because all of you were my babies before I conceived this one. My baby girl will come into the world with around 40 older brothers and sisters that she might not ever get to meet. I had the privilege of teaching about 20 of you at a time over the last two years. I always knew that whenever I became a mom, I would stay home to raise my baby. What I didn’t know was how much I would miss you guys when I didn’t get to see you at school every day.
Have you ever felt your prayers went unanswered? Or maybe felt that somewhere between your heart and heaven, they got twisted around and the opposite became a reality? Maybe you stepped out in faith and boldly claimed one of His many promises for a loved one or a circumstance, only to have life rain down a series of gut-wrenching blows that leave you disillusioned or even angry.
Seven years ago, Jim Cymbala came to my church and spoke on prayer. At the time, I had an 8 month old daughter and was 8 weeks pregnant with my second. My heart was deeply moved that night and with complete faith I cried out to the Lord about specific aspects of my life, my marriage, and my family. I wanted change. I wanted what I know Scripture says He wants. The problems that came in the months and years following that benchmark night felt nothing less than a slap in the face. It was like my prayers were denied.
My daughter came into the world with her heart bent toward her Daddy.
As an infant, she tracked the sound of her Daddy’s voice and responded to his antics with infectious laughter. When she could walk, her feet followed his steps and kept her close to his side. When she could talk, my daughter’s focus on her Daddy became more evident, especially in the questions she asked.
My daughter’s toddler and preschool days were punctuated by questions like, “What is Daddy’s favorite color?” or “Do you think Daddy will like what I made?” It seemed that each day she awoke with fresh motivation to create something that would make her Daddy smile.
But by far, her most repeated question was, “When will Daddy be home?” Never truly satisfied with my answer, she adopted the afternoon habit of positioning herself in front of our living room window, face pressed to the glass, watching and waiting for the sight and sound of Daddy’s truck pulling into the driveway. When we moved to a house whose windows did not have a view of the driveway, she learned to identify her Daddy’s return by the sound of the garage doorknob turning. Hearing the distinctive “click”, she would shout to her little brother, “Daddy’s home!” and run to the top of the stairs, squealing and jumping with joy when her Daddy came through the door.
When I was pregnant with my first child I couldn’t wait for two specific things. First, I was so excited to wander up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby with a Starbucks in hand, gazing at the fall decor while my itty bitty baby slept in the cart. (Now if I have my 3 kids with me, I avoid Hobby Lobby. Oh how life has changed.) Second, I was so looking forward to dressing my baby up for our church trunk or treat! Even though I am not an over-the-top costume kind of girl, this first baby thing had me all in a tizzy. I had Gable Claire’s outfit picked out before I even knew she was a girl. What was she dressed as you ask? (Drum roll please.) She was a bag of popcorn! My husband dressed up as the popcorn vendor, and my daughter was nestled against him in a baby carrier that I had turned into a red and white striped bag of popcorn. Trust me when I say the girl was adorable! I was so excited to get to church and show her off to the world, and then it happened.
I sat in disbelief as I read one too many social media posts along with comments tearing down my husband and eight year old son over youth sports. At the end of a particularly hard season of public ridicule, it was a rude awakening to the strange new world we are living in where slander, smear campaigns, and the like are not limited to celebrities and politicians, but now it is open season on the most vulnerable among us, our children.
None of us are immune.
Although I felt overwhelmed and unprepared going into this particular kind of trial, the Lord has shown me that with His Spirit I was not ill equipped and neither are you, dear mom. Knowing this truth, how should we respond when our families are under this type of spiritual attack?
Mama Bear—all of us have her in us, but what do we do with her?
Should we let her roar or allow the Holy Spirit to tame her?