Mother’s Day is on its way!

Rewind to joy, reflect on grace

If you had a minute left with your mom or child, what would you say?

It’s taken me a while to find the right answer to that question. I have been blessed to be a mom for almost 26 years. Now, I know what I’d say. I’d look each of my children straight in the eye — and say, “I love you. God loves you more — always remember that.”

Years ago, people told me, “You won’t truly understand the challenges of motherhood until you are a mom.” Yeah right, I thought. What is there to do except have fun with my husband, conceive children, give birth, and raise them? 

At the time, I was quite naive and did not understand the complexity of filling a mom’s shoes, and her-ever changing role — until I became a mom. Yet I looked forward with great anticipation and was excited for the day when I’d get to put little shoes – like these – on my first child.

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Today, I’m rewinding… remembering joy. 

“The test is positive!” I exclaimed to my husband, Rich.

Nine months later, I’m waddling. She’s kicking, which hurts, and can’t be stopped. (Perhaps this was God’s way of foreshadowing future challenges and later independence). I’m thinking, “Hurry up, little one!” And I’m rejoicing in the little life that’s growing inside of me.

The big day came. After twenty hours of labor and an unexpected C-Section, I got to experience the joy of holding our precious baby daughter, Lauren. I vividly remember counting all ten fingers, and all ten toes, while thanking God that our child was here, and healthy. “God, thank you!” My husband kissed my forehead — then hers.

We locked eyes, and I whispered, “I love you.” It was as if a miracle was born. God was the Creator, and I got to be the means by which He brought new life into the world. I felt such joy! That joy happened almost 26 years ago.

Then, there was deep sorrow. There would be joy again, but in between… I had three miscarriages. I cried tears of sorrow and longed for another child – loss hurts. Yet during that sorrowful time, I began to see that God restores broken hearts. He loved and comforted me through the pain. I learned to cherish every “first” moment as a precious gift – first smile, first steps, first “I love you, Mommy and Daddy!” Also, God gave me compassion for others who have lost children. If you have experienced that grief, I am so sorry.

About 20 years ago, I cried — tears of joy. This time, God gave us a baby son, Jordan – strong-willed then, and still determined today. Doctors thought that I’d miscarry him, but apparently, God had a different plan. Jordan’s birth was another miracle.

Then, sorrow returned. I had a fourth miscarriage. Why again, God? This hurts! 

When I prayed, asking why, He again comforted my heart. Remember – I love you. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In hindsight, I can see that He was emphasizing the miracle of life – of a child being born. Cherish life my friend!

17 years ago – another miracle, another season of joy – our second son, Austin, was born. My pregnancy with him put me on bed rest for several weeks; now, he jokes, “Mom, I was putting you on vacation!” Thank you, son! I didn’t know then, that this rest was a blessing. Now, with teenagers, (as much as I love them!) – I don’t get much “vacation” time!

Slow down. Rewind and count your blessings, Helo — you are blessed to get to be a mom.

I came so close to leaving — for good — too soon, and not getting to watch my children grow up, attain milestones, make me laugh, keep me up at night, leave the nest, and walk down the aisle. I’m thankful to be here, watching all these blessings.

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Friends, don’t fast-forward and worry about loving your children. Rewind to joy. Remember blessings. When I remember hearing my children’s first cries, I cry as well – tears of joy. I marvel at the miracle of life and remember how capable God is, and how much He loves us. We moms need to remember that our children ultimately belong to God. They are His children first, and ours second. We need to trust Him to take care of them. Even when we aren’t capable, God is always capable of loving, protecting, guiding and transforming. He is the Father of their souls.

I am not perfect at being a mom, and loving my children — but He is. He teaches us how to love. Being a mom, with so many roles, can be difficult. We want and strive to be a Christ follower, wife, mother, daughter, sister, caretaker, cheerleader, prayer warrior, counselor, cabdriver, housecleaner and manager… and more! Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, as if we aren’t measuring up. “God, can I rewind and try again?” 

Have you ever felt that way? I have. I’ve wanted to be a better mom — saying, “Tomorrow, I won’t make the same mistakes! I’ll say more “I love you,” and more “I’m sorry.” That’s when God reminds me of His love and forgiveness – His grace. 

He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Forgiveness makes way for grace. I can’t – and don’t have to be – perfect, because there is grace enough through Jesus to cover my weaknesses and to love perfectly, on my behalf. Jesus saves by grace through faith, and He is enough.

His grace gives us joy. We don’t have to be “perfect” moms, and our children will never be perfect either. If I had just a moment left with my children, I’d whisper with joy, “I love you, God loves you more.” And I’d remind myself – “I am, was, and will be a good mom — never perfect — but good is all I need to be.”

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On Mother’s Day, the only gift that I really want to unwrap is, “Mom, I love you.” At the same time, I remember, God loves me like no one else can. His love reflects in me – and prayerfully, hopefully reflects in my children’s hearts. There is no perfect mother, and there is no perfect child. But in God our Father, there is love, forgiveness, and grace enough for us all. Remember that there is prayer – trust Him and cry out to Him! There is also joy – life itself is a beautiful, miraculous gift.

Here is a prayer that I have prayed, and in which you are welcome to join: “Dear God, please bless the mess in my home. Please give us grace to cover our imperfections — help us to lift one another up. Remind us to love each other with grace and forgiveness.” Amen.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Helo