The Love of a Mother

Right now as I write it is a few days away from Valentine’s Day. So, naturally there is an emphasis on love and showing love towards others- those special people in our lives whom we want to show our love for through cards, sweets, flowers, and gifts. It is even celebrated in school (still) with little valentine cards for classmates and parties with cupcakes and juice.

This talk of love has made me think about love. But, more specifically a mother’s love. See, I am a mamma bear when it comes to my kids- which yes, they are not really littles anymore! My youngest turns 23 in a few days, but, yes they are STILL my KIDS. If you aren’t familiar with bears, especially mamma bears- they are protective. There is a saying that you never get between a mother bear and her cubs in the wild. I’ve never tried this and haven’t seen a bear in the wild that close- so I can’t really say if this is true, but it is what I’m told.

So, as a mom it really hurts me when someone hurts my kids or says something bad about them- my mamma bear rises up in me and I feel hurt too. It is difficult to explain to guys- no offense- or those without kids of their own- the love I have for them is just strong, even as they are well into adulthood. There is this incredible bond that begins before they are even born. I love my husband, but at times if I am honest, this love for my kids is just as strong.

Maybe its the carrying them for nine months, or the realization when you hold them for the first time – that this little human is totally dependent on you that spurs you on to make the vow that you’re never going to let anyone hurt them.

Early on in our marriage my husband and I experienced infertility and thankfully, we were eventually able to conceive and have three awesome kids of our own. So, I really feel blessed to have been able to bring these little humans into the world. Maybe that’s why I feel even more love and thankfulness for them. I am blessed by God and fortunate to be their mom.

Over the years, I have heard criticism that hurt and pretty much all the time was unfounded, like the time someone told me to cut my daughter’s hair as a baby because she had too much! Or that one was fat for a baby, or one must be autistic, or another diabetic because he liked to drink water as an infant. There are certainly too many critics and experts on infants and children. There isn’t a shortage. But, through it all I had to vent a little to my husband and then move on to forgiving the critics. That is the difficult part. How do you forgive someone who hurts your little kid with their words? Or hurt you about your mothering?

Honestly, it is just like any other kind of hurt that requires forgiveness. We cannot hold on to grudges, and anger towards others, who like us are created in the image of God. We all have spoken critical words towards others at one time or another. Maybe we were hurting ourselves, or full of fear and anxiety and we lashed out without thinking. Sometimes our mouths can get ahead of our brains. Yikes! Been there done that!

God asks us to forgive those who have wronged us and even pray for our enemies. It is tough stuff, even for mamma bears like me. But, greater than a mother’s love for her children is God’s love for His. Not are all God’s children-only those who have called upon Him for salvation- but all are created by Him. All are known by Him before they take one breath here on earth. And He love all of them. The whole world. That’s not just the planet He talks about in John 3:16- but all the people- all His creation. If God can forgive us our wrongdoing against Him, surely we can too. Maybe the greater the love- the mamma bear kind of love, takes more effort to forgive those who hurt our children, but with God’s help we can do this.

This applies to us all, not just to moms and dads. We are all God’s creation, and we will hurt each other. But we can also love others and forgive others because we are made in God’s image.

So, this Valentine’s day, remember that God has so much love for the world that He sent His Son to redeem it. He protects and loves us, even more than a mamma bear- His love is perfect and greater than a mother’s love. He loves you!-God Bless- Nancy

Faithful and True

For the Word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does- Psalm 33:4

If you ask my kids or my husband about me they will probably tell you that I’m too hard on myself- Too critical- To quick to judge myself and find myself lacking.- Too concern with doing everything right- Too worried about what others think of me- Too uptight about making a mistake. I suspect I’m not the only one.

We too often try to keep up with others, or at least what we think others are doing- all those perfectly touched up social media lives and perfect Instagram photos. Have we lost sight of our real selves, in favor of trying to be who we see on our phones? Have we lost the uniqueness God has placed within us? Are we allowing ourselves to imitate others, like we post our tik tok videos? Can we allow ourselves to be real, open, vulnerable, and admit we are not perfect? Can we be original, instead of copies?

We make mistakes. We can fail. We can repeat our mistakes and fail many times. But that never lessens what God thinks of us. He knows we will fall short. He knows we try. More importantly He knows our hearts, our intentions. And yet He loves us. Many of you I’m sure have John 3:16 memorized, or at least have seen it at football games- that is back when football games had fans in the stands. God loved the world. But do we really get that He loves us? Personally? I’ve heard before that its a good idea to insert our name in place of the “world” when we recite this verse…. Try it. For God so love_______, that He gave His only Son for her/him, that if ____believes then ____will not perish but have eternal life.

I know, it might seem extra to you, but the point I want to remind you of today is that God is faithful. He loves you. Nothing will keep Him from being faithful. Nothing will stop God from loving you. He sent His Son for you. He knows you cannot measure up to His standards. That’s why He sent Jesus.

And He knows that trying to seem perfect, to try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, is impossible. Trying to be like someone else, is impossible. He created you to be you.

Believe me, I know how difficult it is to let yourself off the hook, off the endless futile cycle of trying to do everything perfectly. Just to be clear, I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about what we do and become lazy, but just that we need to realize since God understands that we cannot measure up and sent Jesus, then maybe we should try to extend more grace upon ourselves. To let ourselves make more mistakes, not intentionally, but just not deal with ourselves so harshly. We all have what is known as self- talk, how we talk to ourselves. Aligning this self- talk with what God’s Word says about us is so important. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made. He never makes mistakes- we are who we are because God created us that way. We are all just works in progress. Someday we will be finished, looking like Jesus, but until then, we will be ourselves, imperfections and all. God Bless- Nancy

Being (a) Present

For many years my Husband and I would pack up our snacks, our stuff, our presents, our kids and load our mini van up to the brim for the trip home at Christmas. It was hectic, tiring and stressful at times. I remember once when we were stuck in a blizzard driving across the country. We were stuck for two days outside Buffalo, New York until the roads were cleared and reopened. Another time we couldn’t find any room at the inn, and were forced to drive some 20 plus hours straight through instead of stopping for the night. Despite all of this we tried to make it home for Christmas to visit mine and my Husband’s parents and grandparents. Looking back now, I am thankful and grateful for those crazy times- all of it- including the car sick kids, multiple bathroom stops,  numerous diaper changes accomplished on the seats of our minivan and even all the spilled fast food drinks, fries, chips and ripped up paper pieces that our daughter liked to decorate the van with.

The best thing with all of these trips is that we were together and we could visit our parents for Christmas. Sadly, as the years have passed, we’ve lost some of our loved ones and we can no longer visit them at Christmas. So, as I reflect back, I am thankful for the struggle and stress of the past, driving so often to visit family. When young families are in the thick of raising kids, its hard to see a time past that, but it arrives and soon we find ourselves without our loved ones to visit and our kids all grown up. Life is never static, it is a constant change and we have to learn how to move through the changes. It isn’t easy, and to do it well we need God’s help.

Maybe you’re dreading visiting families. with all the traveling by air or car and needed a reminder from me that its worth the struggle. Or, maybe you’ve been too busy to think about Christmas. So, let me talk to you too. See, you can be with others this Christmas, but not present. You might not have to drive far to be with your family and friends this Christmas, but you’re not really enjoying being with them and spending time with them. We all try to buy the right gifts to give. Some can afford big extravagant gifts, while others cannot. Some might spend hours hand making gifts. Others might spend hours shopping and choosing the perfect gift, and standing in long lines at the store. But let me tell you the secret of it all. People would rather spend time with you than have a present you stressed over.

The best gift you can give is yourself. The fully present self. The put- down- the- cell- phone -and -talk- with others self. I think it’s easier to give presents than give ourselves, but giving ourselves is the best gift. Need an example? Well, its Christmas, and what is Christmas about? Answer: Jesus. “For God so love the world that He GAVE His one and only SON that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16, NIV) God gave us his son; a person. This is the WHY we celebrate Christmas and give gifts in the first place, because of the gift given to us. So why not take His lead by giving yourself this Christmas to others. Spend time with those you love; talk with them; play with them, put down the cell phones and close the laptops, turn off the Tv’s. And BE PRESENT. God Bless- Nancy

Giving Good Gifts

So, how’s that Christmas shopping going? How many times have you heard that question this year? It seems like it is a common question this time of year as we approach Christmas, a time to celebrate Christ’s birth by exchanging gifts with our families and friends. But maybe the real question should be; how are you at picking out gifts? I find that the people who procrastinate at their Christmas shopping are the same ones who struggle to figure out what a good gift might be. They fear giving the wrong gift, so they put off their shopping.

Thankfully, God knows how to give the best gifts. of course the first and best is His Son Jesus, but also there’s the spiritual gifts that He gives to believers. There are many self tests out there to help you discover your spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12 gives a good list of these gifts as does Ephesians 4. These good gifts are for the benefit of the church, to grow it and build it up. But, there are other gifts that God gives. Our natural abilities and talents that helps us to do our vocations and hobbies.

Recently I was reading an article that suggested parents should not recognize or celebrate their children’s natural gifts and talents. Instead it was suggested that parents should encourage their children to work hard and excel at everything. All it takes is a little self determination and everything is possible. Well, I  believe that God creates each person individually, I mean look at your fingerprint- there isn’t another one like it. Our natural talents are meant for us and is a part of who God made us to be and should be celebrated. We as human beings are unique and specially created by God. We are not cookie cutter.

Sometimes, I think we can forget this. We try to be or do something we are not. We are trying to use a gift that doesn’t fit, because, well, we don’t have that gift. It is a fake it till you make it philosophy, but it’s not long and we can become frustrated trying to do something we were never meant to do in the first place. We should always operate in what we have been gifted in. It is the right gift. The right fit. The good gift from the ultimate gift giver.

I was reminded of this today. I am responsible to use the gifts I have been given, not try to use someone else’s gift. It is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t fit and it’s a struggle to figure out how to make it fit. In the end, it’s a choice to select to do what I am gifted to do and not try to do everything.God Bless -Nancy