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Entries in Motherhood (4)


Motherhood: A Bumpy, Painful Road to Navigate

I've watched Julie Watson's life for several year. I saw her godly heart. Her commitment to good health and positive choices. Especially her choice, with her husband, to give three children a home where they can grow in every aspect of their lives. In this special Mother's Day UPGRADE, she shares her heart about that "mothering" journey, and offers positive principles for all of us who are mothers or who work with children.

“Motherhood.  Why didn’t anyone warn me how painful it can be!” Julie says. 

Painful? I (Dawn) thought at times, "excruciating!" Though I see now, on the other side of parenting, all the blessings that came our way, I still have memories of frustrating, trying days.

Julie continues . . .

Before becoming a mother at the late age of 45, I used to dread Mother’s Day! Year after year, I watched friends attend special Mother’s Day celebrations, receive sweet gifts made by tiny hands who revered the ground they walked on, and sip on sweet gestures from husbands who did their best to make the day special.

Each year that just reminded me that I still wasn’t a mother. My husband did his best to make my day fun, as a mom to several “fur kids.” 

But the pain was real. It hurt. And, I was not alone.

I found many women felt the same way. Those who, like me, couldn’t have children of their own, or had lost children, had pain-filled memories of their childhood, or a poor relationship with their mother. There were many reasons for the pain, but it was there. 

Fast forward 17 years!

I became a foster mom to three beautiful children.

Yet, Mother’s Day still did not feel “real” to me, because nothing is official with foster kids.

It would be another two Mother’s Days until I got my wish!

Mother’s Day 2016 was truly my first. Yes, I received those sweet little hand-made gifts, happy smiles, big hugs, and all the yummy goodness that comes with it... for about an hour.

Then, it went right back into the toils of war!

Parenthood is hard! Being a mom is HARD!

All those years dreaming of it, yet I only pictured the warm hugs, smiling faces, and Norman Rockwell moments that filled my head from one too many Hallmark movies.

I neglected to focus on the screaming tantrums, sibling rivalries, moments of sheer chaos, and the first time I was told, “I hate you,” by those same sweet, little darlings I dreamt of for years.

Motherhood is gritty and unpleasant at best most days. At least, it was for me for several years.  We are just starting to turn corners now, but every few days they remind me we haven’t really—at least not yet. 

Yes, we have lovely moments sprinkled throughout our days and weeks. I treasure those... truly!  We talk and laugh, dance and sing, watch movies, and share the love of Jesus. We’re a regular family just like anyone else. 

But my kids have a past. It isn’t pretty, easy, or loving.

It was filled with neglect, abuse, feeling unloved and unwanted for years. One can’t overcome that overnight. No. It takes years! 

And so, we wait, love them, and work through their issues together, one day at a time.  We know God turns beauty from ashes and joy from mourning (Isaiah 61:3)!

Whether you’re a biological, adopted, foster, grand, or step mother, please know there are proactive things you can do to reach your child, as well as ways to cling to God during this bumpy and painful road of motherhood.

1. Listen

Open your ears and heart and hear what your children are saying—not just with their mouths, but with their behaviors too. 

Children often can’t process their emotions because they don’t understand what they’re feeling or have experienced. Get down to eye level with them and let them talk to you.

They may need to punch a pillow because they don’t know how to handle their anger. It’s ok. They just want to be heard and acknowledged that their feelings are real and they matter.

Spiritual Counsel—Go to the Lord in prayer, and listen to Him.  He will speak to your heart and refresh your spirit. 

Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). See also Jeremiah 31:25 and Isaiah 40:31.

2. Read their body language.

My kids always have tell-tale signs of their real feelings. I acknowledge what I’m seeing as well as what they say they’re feeling.

Then, we offer a safe space to talk about it and what it really means deep down. (For example:  they say, “I’m fine” or “I’m not mad,” yet their hands are balled up into fists.)

Spiritual Counsel—Use wisdom to decipher the truth and don’t let their fears control the outcome.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Also, “…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5).

3. Speak life and positivity into your child. 

They hear so much negativity all the time. Remind them of their godly gifts and talents, and that God has a perfect purpose and plan for their life!

Spiritual Counsel—Read the Word to guide you in raising your child in a godly way. The Bible is great resource for parental guidance. 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). See also Jeremiah 29:11.

Are you struggling today with being a mom? You are not alone. Reach out to other moms for help and support! We need to stick together, not compare or condemn one another.

As soon as we realize we are stronger together, we might just come out of this bumpy, painful journey alive and sane!

What can you do to reach out to the children in your care and speak to their deepest heart needs? Who is in your “mom support group”?

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years as a Development and Executive Director before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. In 2016, God created a beautiful forever family when she and her husband, Shawn, were able to legally adopt the children. Julie now helps others find hope and freedom from emotional eating & unhealthy habits as a C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Theo Rivierenlaan at Pixabay.


3 Steps to Joy for Young Mothers

Kate Hagen's desire to help mothers is an outgrowth of her counseling ministry; but more than that, she loves young moms and feels compassion for their struggles. In this Personal Care UPGRADE, she suggests three ways young mothers can include more joy in their lives.

Kate says, "I wish I could go back and tell myself these three things." 

Oh, Kate got me (Dawn) there! So many things I'd tell my younger self, now that I'm seeing life from a more seasoned point of view!

Kate continues . . . 

Yesterday I was reading a journal from my early years of motherhood. As I read my old entries, I was heavy hearted as I remembered all the guilt and desperation I felt—always wishing I was doing better.  

I want to go back to that Kate and give her a hug.

I want to tell her:

  1. Enjoy your kids more!
  2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.
  3. You're doing the best you can right now! And it's enough.

If Kate from 10 years ago could spare 15 minutes, I would expound by telling her about these three steps to joy. 

But I would make it quick, because there would be a child to run after at any minute!

1. Enjoy your kids!


Look for God's image in them. When you see them in the morning, and you're a Zombie monster due to a terrible night's sleep, look into their big eyes and think, "You are made in the image of God."

I promise, it will help! God’s loving image is there, even when they won't let you go to the bathroom by yourself.

One of the best mom verses is I Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Yes, my kid's sins (shortcomings) are covered as I love them, and SEE God's love in them.

Be your kid’s biggest cheerleader.

I remember deciding I wanted to be seen by my kids as a cheerleader more than a police. It was a life-changing decision that positively affected my relationship with my kids immensely.

As much as possible, be slow to anger and slow to speak, and instead be quick to listen and quick to forgive.

 These contrasting ideas will really help you enjoy your kids more. It’s a guarantee.

Have these be your rules: less talk; more listening. Don't worry if you break them. You will. But, have them be your standard. (God does.)

2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.  

I spent so much time and ink feeling bad about not being close to God.

It's good to cry out to God. It's very Psalmist!

But I think I often missed the joy God was trying to give me by longing for it to come the way it used to. Before kids. 

I wanted the old, deep, spiritual connection I had when I was 20 and had all the time in the world to spend in meditation. This was NOT possible during this season. 

Letting this expectation go, and enjoying the ways God WAS showing up, might have brought me a lot more joy. Looking for things to be grateful for, writing them down and speaking them aloud could have changed my joy-level greatly!  

Some of the ways God was showing up for me when my three kids were constantly needing me—and I had no time to meditate: 

  • In my baby's laughter
  • In chunky thighs (If God's not there, I don't know where God is!)
  • In sweaty hands grabbing for mine
  • In baby arms gripping the back of my neck

3. You’re doing the best you can right now. And it’s enough. 

"I'm not being the best mom/wife/friend I want to be."

That's true! Let that be true. And let that be okay.

It's really just an ego-centered thought. It's focused on you, not the other person. Feeling guilty that you're not enough isn't helping anyone! It's not a Jesus thought.

Let it come—it's ok that it's there—and then let it go.  

You're not being the best mom in the world. True! But, treat yourself the way God does. Be gracious with yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.  

I'd like to go back to that old Kate, give her a hug and tell her what a good job she's doing. Remind her to constantly be looking for ways to enjoy her kids. Encourage her to treat herself the way God treats her... full of compassion, mercy and love.  

What would you go back and tell yourself?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of svklimkin at Morguefile.


Mom, Don't Forget to Take Care of You!

Melissa Mashburn, a busy pastor's wife, knows the importance of caring for herself so she can be strong to care for others. She shares this Upgrade for moms (with solid truth for all women).

As moms," Melissa says, "we wear many hats, we are a referee, a tutor, a police officer, a maid, a chef, a boo-boo kisser, a nighttime cuddler and also a taxi."

Oh how well I [Dawn] remember those busy days of motherhood. I gave and gave and gave, and it wasn't long before I felt depleted. I needed to step off the motherhood treadmill sometimes!

Melissa continues ...

Yes, we are always on the go and usually with our kids in tow. We manage our households with great care and grace, but when was the last time you actually did anything for yourself ... or better yet, by yourself.

Did you just shake your head and giggle a little? I think you did.

I know you might be thinking, “How on earth can I stop and do something just for for me? Don’t you know how many things there are to do right now?”

Listen mom, I know you’ve been running around getting a ton of things done for everyone else in your family, but do me a favor and don’t forget to take care of you too. The Psalmist said God cares for us:

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall (Psalm 55:22 NLT).

But it's good for us to cooperate and take care of ourselves too!

You know when you are on a plane getting ready for take off and the flight attendant does the safety instructions? They always say, "In case there is a change in cabin pressure the masks will drop down. You need to place your mask on first before helping children or anyone else."

As a mom, that used to really bother me. But then I realized that if you don't, then you won't be able to help anyone else in an emergency. The same holds true in your everyday, ordinary life.

Taking care of you doesn’t mean you neglect all those other things, it simply means doing things a little differently so that you can enjoy the peace and perspective that comes when you do something just for you.

My kids aren’t little any longer. I learned along the way that I could be a better mom to them by taking care of myself a little in the process. It will take some planning and coordination on your part, but when you do take time for yourelf, you will actually be giving yourself the margin you need when life gets stressful and hectic.

Here’s a few ways you can take care of you:

1. Don’t forget your quiet time - Start your day in prayer, even if it means getting up earlier than you normally do. 

2. Make time for your marriage - Once a month, schedule a "date day" with your husband. Go ahead and hire the babysitter, and block the date on the calendar.

3. Call upon your girlfriends - Schedule some time for you to go get some coffee, lunch, a manicure, or something you can do and enjoy, either alone or with friends.

Get creative on how to make that happen:  babysitting swap with a friend, or even share a babysitter between the two families.

4. Get involved at your church, preferably in a Bible study or a community group. Get connected with other women and/or couples.

Here’s a tip though ... go into it with open hands. Life can get complicated, and even the best laid plans don’t always come together the way we would like them to.

By having your hands open, you release all the stress and pressure to make things “perfect” and allow room for life to happen even in the middle of the change. Rest in God's loving care: You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care (Job 10:12, NLT).

Making it a priority to take care of you isn’t a selfish thing, it’s not even something that “other moms” get to do. It’s a chance to stop and count your blessings in the midst of being a busy mom.

Go ahead, try it today.

What about you? What’s one way you can take care of you this week?

Melissa Mashburn passionately pursues God daily, taking her ordinary life and placing it as her offering to Him. She is a writer, speaker, mom, pastor’s wife, and trained communicator through CLASSeminars, with extensive background in Women’s and Kid’s Ministry, and her passion is helping women “keep it real” in their lives and ministries. Melissa is married to her best friend, Matt (20 years), and they have two teenage boys. She loves to relax with a great book and giant cup of coffee. You can find her at Mel’s World with Melissa Mashburn.


'Building' a Family

Erin Davis is a young mother with godly priorities. I always appreciate her wise perspective of the high calling of motherhood. In this post, she encourages moms to stretch their vision.

“Throughout the Bible we find stories of women who, like Eve, were not perfect but still made a difference in God’s kingdom,” Erin says.

There’s Sarah, Hannah, Jochebed, King Lemuel’s mother and many more – women who made their mark in the scriptures while they left a legacy for their children.

Erin continues . . .

In the book of Nehemiah we find a story with the power to redefine motherhood.

Nehemiah was a trusted official under the Persian King Artaxerxes. He was also an Israelite who asked the king to let him gather his people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The king agreed, so people gathered and the building began.

When the enemies of Israel pushed back against the project, pay close attention to how the Israelites defended themselves:

“Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t’ be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your bothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”…. (Nehemiah 4:13-15, NIV, 1984, emphasis mine).

Instead of using an army of men, Nehemiah urged the people to fight by family. Husbands and wives gathered their children around them and prepared to fight for what mattered.

Could they have been victorious any other way? I don’t think so. Because they were fighting for their families, they were brave enough to stare down their enemies. And because they were fighting with their families, they were strong enough to win.

Because the people of Israel fought with their families and for their families, they completed a mighty task that displayed God’s glory.

Their story reminds me of the battle we are in and the kingdom we are called to build.

The moms from Nehemiah’s days encourage us to ask,

“What if parenting isn’t just about raising good kids but about winning a war? What if you aren’t just building a family, but are building a kingdom that will endure?”

The builders of the wall join Eve and other biblical moms in pushing us to think beyond the daily chores of mothering. They remind us that so much more is at stake than what we see in the daily grind of our role.

Listen, moms!

  • You're not just raising kids; you're living your faith.
  • You're not just mothering; you are running a race before many witnesses.
  • You're not on an unclear path; you are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who endured more hardship than you ever will. 

And He endured so you and your children can join Him in heaven at God’s right hand. [See Hebrews 12:1-2.]

The Israelite families knew they weren’t just building a wall. Likewise, you’re not just building a family; you are building your part of the kingdom. Doing so has the power to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and put His power and glory on full display.

It’s about LEGACY!

You’re having an impact on God’s kingdom. Keep building!

What are some ways your family works together to build walls of faith and unity?

Erin Davis is passionately committed to sharing God's Truth and is the author of many books, including Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood As a Sacred Role. When she’s not writing books, you can find Erin chasing down chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Note about photo in Text: This is not a rock wall in Jerusalem; it is a rock wall in Jericho, Israel. (Photographer unknown)