Monday, April 30, 2012

Family Planning by Rachel Oliver

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”  
                                                                      ~ John Steinbeck

My mother had me, her first child, when she was 25 years old. As 25 came and went in my life, without a husband or children, I realized my family was going to look a little different than the family I grew up in. I met James when I was 30, and happily said “I do” a few weeks before my 32nd birthday.
"Each mom’s journey
is as unique as the
individual mom is herself."

As we rounded our first anniversary, we dumped the birth control and decided to see what would happen. We’d had lots of talks about how many kids we wanted and were pretty confident in our timeline. As the summer came and went with no positive sign on that pregnancy test, we became a little more proactive in our attempts. Finally it happened, we were pregnant! A week after we found out, I miscarried. We mourned our loss and, with our doctor’s approval, jumped back into trying. Two months later we celebrated another positive test (well, three really … just to make sure!). But a few months later, we were again met with a devastating loss.

My journey to motherhood probably doesn’t look like yours, and it certainly hasn’t been what I planned. Each mom’s journey is as unique as the individual mom is herself with twists and turns, up and downs. I may not know where mine will go from here, but I know it isn’t over. And I have great hope for the future because I know my loving God is the one mapping it out.

Dear God, you know the desires of my heart. Help me trust in your plans for me and hold me close through whatever my journey holds. Amen. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Relax by Tally Flint, mom of four

My 4-year-old twins had their well-child appointments yesterday and were due for a whopping four shots each. Gearing up for something like that is never fun, but I’ve learned that being up front about it is best. The doctor left while we waited for the nurse to return with the vaccinations. My boys paged through books, played with the doctor’s swivel chair and occasionally repeated that shots are not fun but would be over soon.    
"I thought of all the times
when I work myself up
with anxiety and fear."

The nurse arrived and Oliver went first. As soon as the antiseptic-treated cotton touched his leg, he let out banshee screams of terror, flailing about, and making it difficult for the two of us to hold him steady. He was wound so tightly that he actually bled when the nurse poked him, and his legs remained sore throughout the rest of the day. Jack, however, calmly reclined on the table, took a deep breath, smiled widely and stated surprisingly, “That didn’t even hurt!”

Oliver made it so much harder on himself by tensing up and giving in to the fear. I thought of all the times when I work myself up with anxiety and fear. I worry about every detail instead of simply breathing deeply into God’s promises for my life. Promises that he is in control, that he loves me and mine and that he has a very real and good plan for me. Next time I’m faced with unpleasant circumstances, I plan on following Jack’s example.

Dear God, help me cling to your promises during both the joy and the pain of life. Comfort me and hold me close, help me go through challenges knowing I’m in the palm of your hand. Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Four O’ Clock Panic by Clair Boone, mom of two

 Although I’m the only one that cooks in our house, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had that “4 o’clock” feeling. I’m sure you know it well! That “Oh my goodness we need dinner” panic.

I cook daily yet still seem to procrastinate every time until I can’t possibly put it off any longer I take a quick look in the freezer, grab spices in an effort to get creative and pull out pots and pans only to hear that familiar sound: my baby crying. There is a certain finesse required to pull things out of the fridge while balancing a 1-year-old on your hip. And I’ve started to think it requires something beyond myself to add into the mix a preschooler shouting from the bathroom, “Mom, I’m ready to wipe!”  
"Can someone say win-win?!"

Getting a nutritious meal on the table proved a struggle every night. Something had to be done. So I gathered like-minded moms from my MOPS group, and our meal swap was born. On a set day, each person contributed enough ingredients to cook two different meals for a family of 4-6. By the end of our efforts, we all went home with many healthy, freezable meals that we could cook in a pinch. We saved money, allowed for no-pressure cooking and spent a fun day with girlfriends. Can someone say win-win?!

Mothering takes patience, yes, and energy. But it also takes creativity and a support group helping you along the way. I am so glad I’ve stumbled on a way that gives me both.

Dear God, thank you for being a creative God. Grant me inspiration as I go about my day-to-day mothering. Amen. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hurt Knee, Pierced Heart by Alexandra Kuykendall, mom of four

I hit my knee on my van this morning. I was climbing into the back to unfold the third row of seats before taking a carload of kids to school. It hurt. It will go away, I thought. But it didn’t, it throbbed. I didn’t even hit it that hard. What a wimp. My thoughts continued. I held my knee, gritted my teeth and looked down at the concrete garage floor. “Are you okay Mom?” Surprised, I looked up to my staring audience of three daughters and one carpool friend. “Yes, I’m fine” I said, reassuring them it hurt for now, but it would get better.

"I pray for their children who ask
“Are you okay Mom?”"

I looked at the floor again and pictured being thrown onto the concrete, kicked in the knee, and not stopping there … the chest … the head. Why would a bump on the knee take my mind there? My husband and I are part of a community that offers safe housing for women and their children escaping domestic violence. Last week I heard one of the moms describe being thrown down a flight of stairs by her child’s father. As I felt my knee throbbing, I imagined my whole body hurting like this. Then I pictured my audience. My children watching as someone I loved, and they loved, hurt me in a terrible way. My ache grew from my knee to my heart.

As I’ve been limping around the last few hours, my thoughts keep landing on my fellow moms. Every painful step reminding me of the physical and emotional pain they live with because someone they trusted turned on them. I pray for their children who ask “Are you okay Mom?” even though their little hearts know something is terribly wrong. I pray for their protection and for more safe places for these families to find refuge. I pray grateful prayers that the worst my children see is my own clumsiness climbing in and out of my van.

Dear God, thank you for being ever present in any painful situation and for being a strong and mighty defender of the weak. I know you fight for us. Please teach me how to fight for justice with you. Amen.

Domestic violence touches one out of four women at some point in their lives. If you or someone you know needs help, talk to a MOPS leader or church counseling resource and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, Focus on the Family also has counseling resources for family issues at 1-855-771-HELP.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Excitement by Sherry Surratt, MOPS CEO & President

Let’s hide ‘em again mom!” This came from my three-year-old son, Mike, as he held up his striped Easter Basket brimming full of plastic eggs that we had just discovered in the back yard. I wondered briefly if I could persuade him to pursue another activity that didn’t involve me stooping, bending and trying to think of even more new hiding places. What in the world is so fun about finding the same eggs over and over again? But Mike loved it. I hid the eggs several more times, and with each discovery he’d call out “I got ANOTHER one!” in a sweet, excited squeal.

As I think back over all the Easters in my life and the ones yet to come, I yearn for that same fresh anticipation. Though it happened long ago, it was my Lord and Savior Jesus who so freely gave his life for me. Though I hadn’t yet been born, God was willing to send his only son to die for me.
"God, don’t let me forget what an incredible
love you have for me, even though
I’ve done nothing to deserve it."

This Easter, I’m asking God to give me child-like excitement over Good Friday and Easter Sunday. God had an incredible plan so many years ago that isn’t just a story written in a book. It was the ultimate design that made a way for you and me to be forgiven, cleansed and restored. God knew we couldn’t do this ourselves and he loved us so incredibly much that he made a way. And the way cost him dearly; the price of his son Jesus.

I invite you to experience this Easter with fresh eyes. Read the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in John 20-21, and let God remind you that this was for YOU. You are loved, treasured, sought after. He desperately wants to know you and have a relationship with you.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 "