By / May 7

Mother’s Day can be bittersweet for many. One in 10 couples struggle with infertility, and approximately 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages. For many women who long to have a child, Mother’s Day can serve as a difficult reminder of what they desire, but do not have. The potential pain of Mother’s Day extends further still — for women have chosen an adoption plan for their child, single women who desire to be married and have a family, or women who have had an abortion. And others might be grieving the loss of or navigating a difficult relationship with their mother.

Waiting

Personally, Mother’s Day can be filled with conflicting emotions. I was born with a somewhat rare medical condition that prevents me from bearing biological children. The loss of that dream feels especially poignant this time of year. But I also have a desire to honor my own mother and mother-in-law and celebrate the women in my life who are mothers. Romans 12:15 is often on my lips as I navigate these tensions and seek to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

My husband and I are in the process of an international adoption from India. This Mother’s Day, I feel the strange tension of pursuing motherhood but not yet stepping into the role of “mother.” I’m waiting for paperwork to be approved, for a social worker to deem us eligible to be parents, and to be matched with a child. But I know that waiting is not in vain. 

As an adoptee myself, I’m aware that my children’s stories will contain trauma. Even if our children are adopted young, there is trauma involved any time there’s a break in the natural family. The issue of adoption and child welfare is deeply important to me. I’ve spent time and energy navigating the complexities of these issues in order to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children. While we wait, we are reading books on trauma-informed parenting, listening to seminars, and gleaning wisdom from other adoptive parents so that we can love our children well. Our waiting is not in vain.

Watching 

We’re also watching the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in India with broken hearts. According to the BBC, “India has seen more than 300,000 new cases a day for nearly two weeks straight while deaths stand at 220,000. Experts say total Covid cases and deaths in India are likely to be much higher, citing lack of testing and patients dying at home without being seen by doctors.” The images and stories we’re witnessing have caused global alarm and attention. I can’t help but wonder how many children will be orphaned because of the thousands of COVID-19 deaths. 

Praying 

As we watch and wait, we do the best thing we know how to do: We pray. We lift up our future children in prayer almost daily. They might not be known to us, but they are known to our Father, and in that, we take great comfort. We pray for their safety and protection. We pray for their biological parents and the challenging circumstances that led them to making an adoption plan for their children. We pray for the leaders in India to make good and wise decisions for their citizens. We pray for the souls of our children, that they might come to know the Lord as their Savior at a young age.

In my waiting, I often echo the words of David, “O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.” Waiting can often feel helpless, but Psalm 27:14 reminds us to “be strong, and let your heart take courage” as we “wait for the Lord.” I fix my eyes upon the Lord and ask him to fill me with his strength when I feel weak. 

If you find yourself in a season of waiting right now, allow me to remind you that you are never alone in your struggle. Psalm 38:9 reminds us that “all our longing is before God; our sighing is not hidden from Him.” The Lord promises never to leave or forsake his children. He promises to be good and to set his steadfast love upon us. When you feel overwhelmed and discouraged, on Mother’s Day or any time, press into the promises of the Lord. 

By / Jan 8

Since becoming a mom, I always feel speechless when people ask me how my week was. I give them a blank stare while I try to think about it. I’m always grasping for something that happened that was a big deal, or an event, or something with some element of excitement to it. Sometimes I do have something exciting to share (or at least my mommy mundane version of exciting—got a toddler potty-trained, anyone?), but most of the time I don’t even remember what happened in the last week, because it’s so muddled up with the ordinary busyness of motherhood. 

Monotony can be disheartening. There are times when I have to put on my cap of duty and just get the bathroom cleaned. Or when I’m tired of taking my boys to the same places to play over and over again. Sometimes it feels as if I just planned my meals yesterday and now I already have to think about what we’ll eat this week, and then shop for it all. Again. 

I spend the majority of my time taking care of my family and my home. I tell my boys to stop fighting, and 15 minutes later I’m saying it again. I begin the evening’s meal preparation, even though I just put away dishes from our previous meal. Care-taking contains a litany of repetitive tasks: changing diapers, infant feedings, nap schedules (if you have one), getting children out the door in time for school, homework, baths, and bedtime routines. Every day is fundamentally the same. 

When it comes to our everyday tasks, life can feel very ordinary; not so special or exciting. We live in a culture that values, and lives for, the big and exciting things of life: such as new babies, weddings, family vacations, or a big birthday party. These are the moments captured on Instagram.

Repetition built into creation

Repetition has a way of blurring our days together. It can make everything feel colorless and faded, and as if those bigger exciting moments are the only splashes of color. But what if we’re underestimating these ordinary days and repetitive tasks? What if we’re missing something? The mundane moments of motherhood are difficult, but the mundane beauties can be missed: cuddling on the couch to read a book together, having heart-to-heart talks, spotting an act of kindness between siblings, praying together, and talking about Jesus and the gospel. These are all sweet parts of this repetition. These are ordinary moments for eternity. 

We need to discover how to spot these daily beauties and cherish them—because God created them. He made repetition.

Think about our world for a moment. Every day the sun rises and sets; every day the moon waxes or wanes; and every day these acts praise their Creator. In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton mentions how the repetition of the sun’s rising might not be due to a lifelessness, but due to a rush of life. Chesterton compares the repetition found in nature to a child’s enjoyment in repeating the same games and songs. He says this is because children have “fierce and free spirits”; their joy in repetition is due to excess of life, not absence.

Chesterton then says,

“For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy . . . . The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”1G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Moody Publishers, 2009), p 92

The act of repetition can be a thing of beauty all by itself. For example, we’re called to repeat the Lord’s Supper as a church body (1 Cor. 11:23-25), and as we repeat this act it becomes imprinted upon us—informing us about Christ and about ourselves. We’re teaching ourselves the gospel over and over. As we know from observing our children, things must be repeated if they are to be learned. So, we must come again and again to the communion table—and to worship, prayer, and God’s Word—if we are to become more like Jesus.

Someday we’ll be more fully like God and no longer grow tired of repetition. We will have the “eternal appetite of infancy,” as Chesterton expressed, and will exult in the joyful monotony of worship. We’ll cry, “Encore!” every time we worship the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins. Until then, we are given tastes of this beauty here on earth as we repeat our tasks of mothering. 

The little things add up to big things

It’s the little things we are called to. The day in and day out. The minute by minute. These little moments that can feel so monotonous have the power to shape you and your children. This poem by Julie A.F. Carney called Little Things, that I’ve read with my own children, is a great reminder of this:

Little drops of waters, 
Little grains of sand, 
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.2Gyo Fujikawa, A Child’s Book of Poems (Sterling Children’s Books, 2007), p 89.

Just as many tiny droplets make up one vast ocean, so all of our days are made up of tiny moments. We don’t always see the bigger picture when we’re teaching our children a Bible verse, or probing their hearts, or spending time with them. Capturing the little things is what motherhood is about. When we train our children (talk to them, ask probing questions, and then pray with them)—or when we instruct them in God’s Word and help them apply it to the everyday struggles in their lives—then we are capturing the little things that will add up to big things. This is the glory found in the mundane. These are the most important times. May we be ever mindful of the Spirit’s work in these seemingly insignificant moments. 

When we read the Bible, we see the Holy Spirit move in miraculous and seemingly impossible ways. His ways seem so big and exciting. But for us today, the majority of the time, we will see the Holy Spirit work in little things. He works on us and our children moment by moment, day by day, little by little. He is changing us one step at a time. He is working through our repetitive tasks to change our hearts and the hearts of our children. He is working through every Bible verse, every moment of instruction, every prayer, every conversation. He works through our actions of serving care and nurturing kindness (even in the times when our heart attitude doesn’t match our actions). 

Feeding your child when they are hungry, changing a dirty diaper, bathing your child, and scrubbing the dishes all show your child Christlike service. You are their first glimpses of a Savior. But we don’t always see it until those little workings of the Spirit bear fruit and flower into something bigger (Gal. 5:22-23). We have to have faith in the Spirit’s work when we can’t see the big picture in the ordinary moments of motherhood. We can ask the Holy Spirit for help, so we can remain steadfast and faithful in the mundane tasks before us everyday. 

This is an extract from The End of Me by Liz Wann, which helps moms find resurrection life in the daily sacrifices of motherhood. This short, easy-to-read book encourages mothers to depend on Christ when they reach their limit. The book will be available in March 2021 on The Good Book Company website, Amazon, and wherever books are sold. 

  • 1
    G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Moody Publishers, 2009), p 92
  • 2
    Gyo Fujikawa, A Child’s Book of Poems (Sterling Children’s Books, 2007), p 89.
By / Jun 17

It was a sunny Sunday morning when I shifted dad’s car into reverse and slowly backed out of the driveway of my childhood home. My father, freshly showered and shaved, sat in the passenger’s seat; his clothes, photos, and boxes of Bibles and files filled every inch of cargo space. With the help of some neighbors, we had managed to get his TV into the backseat, too. A 10-hour drive stretched out ahead of us. My stomach churned and hands trembled, but I put on a brave face and a smile. “Here we go, dad. Isn’t this going to be great?”

Everything had been just fine in theory. I had been touring retirement communities for months, gathering information, talking with my dad about how nice life would be near the grandkids. I’d been crunching numbers and exploring senior care options. A realtor and I were working to get his house on the market. The rest of the family had been giving much needed help with the house and good advice along the way.

This was the best thing for everyone. This was the right decision. This was me being a good daughter.

The problem was, sitting there in that idling car, I didn’t feel like a good daughter. I felt like I was about to drive off a cliff with my father in tow.

How in all of heaven and earth was I going to do this? Me? The one who can barely keep her own four children fed and clothed some days? The one who does some of her best dancing right along sanity’s edge?

I knew good and well I didn’t have the capacity for this job, and yet here I was called to do it.

As I walk with Jesus and follow him into these places of personal inadequacy, I discover again and again the ever surprising truth that these are the moments of God’s great mercy to us—these moments when we fly past the limits of our own strength and find that the everlasting arms have been underneath us all along, sustaining us when we didn’t realize it, when we thought we were making the whole earth turn on its axis all by ourselves.

I wonder if you can relate to my story. Maybe you’ve been facing some of the same fears I have. If so, I’d like to offer you four insights the Lord has given me as I’ve been caring for my dear father.

  1. Trust God enough to say “yes.” God calls us to walk along paths we could never walk without him. What a beautiful thing it is when we open our arms and receive what he brings, trusting that he will care for us as we yield to him in humble obedience. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exod. 20:12). For me, the call to honor my father meant moving him to be near me. For you it may mean something different. This clear direction from God’s Word gives me the strength that I need to trust God and say “yes” to him.
  2. Remember where you’ve set your hope. The day my father signed the lease for his new home and the finality of this decision set in, I started losing sleep. Three nights into my insomnia, I got up in the dark of the night and went into the living room. With my forehead on the floor—the posture of my best praying—I began pouring out all of my fear to God, calling each one by name. After that, I named all the things I knew about God from the Bible and my own experience. I called out in whispered tones the stories of God’s faithfulness to me. I remembered how he had carried me through troubled waters many times before. I thanked him for his steadfast love for me. As I turned my inward gaze on my sovereign God, my spirit remembered how very little of my father’s well-being actually depended on me. Peace welled up from somewhere deep inside as the Holy Spirit ministered to me in those dark hours of the night. My hope was not in myself; it was fixed and firm in the God who made the universe (Ps. 78:6-7).
  3. Pray continually. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). As I am caring for my father, I am asking God for every single thing we need: a buyer for his house, compassionate and competent new doctors who will accept his insurance, help with his veteran’s benefits, wisdom to navigate the various government agencies who administer his retirement pay and on and on and on. Every answered prayer is a wonder of God, an opportunity to tell of his wonderful works in my family’s story.
  4. Follow the example of your gentle and humble Savior. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Think of the beauty of Jesus’s words in the context of caring for a parent. Jesus sets the example of humble service and invites us to join him. As we are serving our parents, giving rest to them in the humble ways we can, our kind and humble Savior promises us rest for our very souls. What a sweet invitation he offers.

I have lived the last 20 years many miles from my father; now I live less than 10 minutes from him. God has given our family a sweet opportunity to enjoy my father in these years—to hear his stories, to learn from his experience, and to help bring him much needed joy and community.

The way we honor our parents now matters tremendously, both to the generation that came before us and the ones that are following after. May the Lord Jesus be exalted and glorified through us as we honor him in this beautiful and vital way.

By / Jul 27

I don’t write much about motherhood because I don’t know much yet. I have one son, and he’s just four years old.

But it doesn’t take experience to know what I’m called to do.

I am raising a warrior.

I’m not called to raise a cute conversation piece or a well-adjusted kid. I’m not laying down my life so that my son can be popular, cultured or gifted. I’m about the business of raising a warrior of wisdom who loves Jesus, for “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

Through years of teaching other people’s kids, mentoring youth and counseling teenage girls in crisis, I saw and heard a lot. I don’t need years of parenting to know that the enemy of our souls wants to devour my son. It’s war out there, and I’m called to raise a warrior—to intercede for, train, love and prepare him “to shine . . . in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15).

And I’m scared.

I’m scared because I’m called to an unspeakable task—the nurture and care of an eternal soul. I’m just one insignificant woman who has monumental weaknesses.

I’m scared because I don’t get guarantees for how my son will turn out. Just because I train him to be a warrior, doesn’t mean he will be one. He has his own soul and accountability before God.

I’m scared of raising a young man in Southern California where flesh is god and entertainment is king, where souls are suffocated by sexual perversion and materialism and hostility toward Truth.

But God understands my fears and speaks to them. In Nehemiah 4, when the Israelites were working tirelessly to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, their enemies came to taunt them and thwart their efforts. Nehemiah rallied the people to continue their noble work in the midst of hostility and danger. He says,  in verse 14, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Fight for your son, Colleen.

But how?

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and don’t be afraid of

. . . weakness,

. . . evil,

. . . worst-case scenarios.

This great endeavor called motherhood is worth fighting the fear that accompanies it. Faith is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to believe God in the midst of great fear. Faith says, “I cannot, but God can.” Because God is great and awesome, and because His Spirit lives in me, I can fight for my son, for his eternal joy in Jesus, no matter what.

Fear vs. God

Fear complicates things and tempts me to find refuge in methods and formulas and reactions. What kind of education and home life and church and social circle will ensure my son’s safety and success?    

Fear takes my eyes off of Christ. When I fear, God gets small and my what-if’s get big. Unlike fear, God doesn’t complicate things. In Deuteronomy 6, He lays out the task of parenting with such simplicity it’s shocking: love God with everything I’ve got; keep His words close to my heart; then teach those words to my child as we go about our day together.

Fear makes the goal feel unattainable, but God says, “Colleen, do the next thing—and while you do it, tell your son about Me.” When I recall to mind what I am about (raising a warrior to shine in a crooked generation) and Who it is that’s actually accomplishing this impossible feat (Christ Jesus Himself!), I can move past my fears and faithfully plow the fertile soil of my son’s soul. 

In other words, I fight by faith. I believe God. I take Him at His word. And I fight on my knees. I pray. (I need to pray more.) A soul is at stake, and there is only One who can rescue and redeem him. So I talk to my Lord, I plead with Him, weep before Him for my son.

God has begun this good work in my motherhood, and He will be faithful to complete it. I will mess up a thousand times, and brokenness will mark my motherhood, but God always draws me back to Himself, to the cross and the empty tomb, reminding me that the power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in me.

I have only a handful of fleeting years to “train up my son in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but today is such a gift, and I have been given everything I need to accomplish the task of raising a warrior for God’s kingdom.

 

By / May 9

One of my favorite memories from childhood is making sugar cookies with my mom. Naturally, I wanted to continue this tradition with my own family. I vividly remember one of the first years that I attempted to bake with my children. I found my mom’s recipe and prepared the dough. I got out the cookie cutters, rolling pins, and sprinkles. I was ready to create that special mothering moment.

Instead, I made a mess.

At some point in our cookie making, someone did something wrong. While I have long since forgotten the initial incident, my poor reaction is emblazoned in my memory. In frustration I angrily scolded all three of my children. Tears glistened and their eyes widened with surprise at my harsh tone. The special memory I hoped to create shattered into pieces because of my own impatience.

Do similar memories fill you with regret and remorse? Do you wonder what to do when faced with your sin and failure? Thankfully, we have a Savior who rescues us from our sin and sympathizes with us in our weakness. Hebrews 4:14 -16 encourages us:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

We can approach the throne of grace with boldness because we have an understanding Savior. As a man, Jesus entered into all the difficulties and brokenness of this world. Even though Jesus never succumbed to sin, he experienced temptation. He does not sit in angry judgment as we approach him for mercy. He welcomes us with loving compassion.

However, in our fearfulness, at times we choose to conceal our sin. We may use circumstances as an excuse for our impatience or blame our harshness on our children’s behavior. When we hide our sin, we miss out on the grace and forgiveness that is ours in Christ. We also miss an opportunity to teach our children an important lesson.

When I impatiently scolded my children while making cookies, I felt such a sense of failure. It was tempting to hide my sin by blaming my outburst on their behavior. By God’s grace, his Word convicted my heart and showed me what to do. I couldn’t erase my sin, but I could confess it to my children. I told my children that mommy was wrong to become impatient and speak in such an angry voice. I asked for their forgiveness, which they promptly and gladly gave. Soon, we were back to making cookies, while I pondered what the Lord was teaching me.

The lesson I learned that day is that I cannot protect my children from my weaknesses. As hard as I may try, at some point my sin will affect their lives. However, the way I deal with my failure can be an example for them to follow.

Each of my children will face the weight and sorrow of their own sin. Just as we teach daily hygiene habits like brushing teeth, our children need instruction on how to find cleansing for their souls. Teaching our children about confession and repentance as well as grace and forgiveness will shape their lives for years to come. As they see us regularly practicing repentance and confession, the hope is that these will become a normal and natural part of their relationships with others.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus changes us from the inside out. We are no longer slaves to sin, but sin continues to impact our lives and the lives of our children. Thankfully, God can even use our weaknesses as an opportunity to teach our children.  As we mourn the messes we make in motherhood, we can also rejoice in the promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The example of confession and repentance that we set before our children provides a pathway for healthy relationships for them in the future.


Excerpted from Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger Copyright © 2015 by Melissa B. Kruger. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.