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The Courage of A Mother | by Seana

Photo by connieriggiophotography.com

She told me over the phone that she was pregnant. I swallowed. “How is she going to take care of this baby? Is she still using drugs? Is she going to abort? Dear, Lord, please don’t let her abort.”

With a thickening pause she added, “Don’t worry. I’m going to put it up for adoption.”

Relief released my tension, but then came the complex emotions of sadness and joy spinning together, making me nauseous.

“Can you help me find a program or place to live while I have the baby?” She asked.

By God’s grace and favor, we found her a pregnancy home to stay in. She remained sober through the birth and we dreamed together, as we did in the park as children years before, of what this young child will be when he grows up. As children we imagined having husbands and homes, not being homeless and pregnant.

During the following months, her love for her unborn son cultivated. We talked about what giving birth is like and what to take in your hospital bag, but instead of shopping through baby registries, she combed through parent profiles.

How do you choose a parent for your own child? Selflessly, bravely.

This week I read the beginning of Exodus, Moses’ birth story. During the time of Moses’ birth, all the Israelite parents were forced to leave their baby boys in the Nile to die by exposure, drowning, or however else babies left in the wild die.

I picture Moses’ mother. She just pushed her last exhausting push with joyful relief, but the next words meant life or death for her child. “Please be a girl, please be a girl,” I imagine Moses’ mom thinking. Instead, the word “boy” turns the beautiful moment into one of fear and angst.

However, Moses’ mom was brave. She saw that Moses was different and hid him for three months. Then, when she could no longer hide him, she makes a special basket with tar and places in along the Nile. What was she thinking, I wonder? The Bible does not say, but as I watched my friend offer life to her son, I can imagine. I believe she was heartbroken for the life she could not give Moses, but prayerful and hopeful for the life her son could have if she gave him away.

I held my friend’s sweet, perfectly health baby boy the day he was born; such a gift to the world in a small, totally-dependent package. I prayed over him and asked God to be with him, no matter what, no matter where, all the days of his life. I cried. I too lost the joy of knowing him as he grew up.

What I see from Moses’s mother… what I see from my sweet childhood friend… is the courage it takes for a mom to lay aside her own dreams, desires, and life itself, to offer her child to another for the sake of that child.

And in the case of my sweet friend, the birth of her son eventually brought her heart to a tender place to receive the birth, death, and resurrection of God’s one and only Son.

Whether women raise the child they did not birth, or birth a child they do not raise, it takes much courage to give of our selves so another may live.

Live courageously, today Mamas! God has a plan for your life and all the kinds of children He brings into it.

-Seana

Friend of the Friendless | by Julie

friends

I have no friends! Sure there are the moms at school that I chat with at our kids sporting events, the beautiful ladies I meet with at church for weekly Bible study and, of course, the virtual friends in the Facebook realm, but while I probably refer to most of these women as my “friends”, in all reality they are really just glorified acquaintances. I’ll see ya when I see ya people. Out of sight, out of mind people. You get the idea. If I suddenly vanished nobody would probably even notice, and if they did, it would probably be because they needed a babysitter or were soliciting for a fundraiser. I’m pretty sure none of my “friends” would be sending out a search party. . . lol . . . I’ll laugh to deflect the sheer patheticness of that statement.

Since childhood I’ve been aware of the God-placed space in my heart for companionship. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one.” Bible verse after Bible verse stresses the importance and power of fellowship with one another.

Not money, not food, not success, nor good looks can replace or compare to the gift of sharing your life with other people.

As a shy child, making friends never came easy for me and I kind of flitted around from group to group. I would pray for friends (still do) until I finally came into my own around my junior year in high school and began developing real, satisfying friendships on through college. But like most childhood friendships do, most of those relationships have long grown cold due to distance, marriage and time.

As a married mother of two I have ushered in a new season of my life. There are no more high school football games, youth group outings or college parties busting at the seams with single people connecting and sharing life in their abundance of free time. There are new responsibilities – work, parenting, managing a home – that leave little time to connect with and make friends.

As a young mom with young children it still seemed fairly easy to connect with other women. Moms were always looking for friends to have playdates with, and groups like MOPS and Mommy & Me abounded to provide moms a place to find support and friendship. And God blessed me; heard my prayers. During this period in my life I found myself surrounded by the best friends I have ever had. I finally felt completely fulfilled in my relationships with other women and it brought an invaluable richness and meaningfulness to my life. End of story, right? Wrong!

After developing, nurturing and enjoying these friendships for a few years, God had other plans. We moved. Three hours away. And like in my youth, although I still feel very connected to this group of ladies in my heart and love them dearly, geographical distance has taken its toll, and these friendships have fallen into that group of acquaintances, albeit my most prized acquaintances.

I was hopeful, though, excited, to add even more beautiful women to my circle. I jumped in with both feet, striking up conversations with the other moms at school, joining church small groups, local mom groups, etc. Fast forward six years, after a couple of dysfunctional, failed attempts, I still have no true friends.

Making new friends as a mom of school-age children has proven much more difficult. By this stage in life, it seems most women have an established group of friends and there aren’t any vacancies they’re looking to fill.

Maybe they just don’t have time. Maybe they just don’t have the energy to get someone new up to speed on their life. Maybe. . .Maybe. . .I don’t know. Even at church, bridging the gap between acquaintance and actual friend seems like an insurmountable task. I put forth the effort suggested to connect – joining groups, attending functions, volunteering, but still no dice.

Remember that episode of I Love Lucy where she thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday and feels like she hasn’t a friend in the world? She wanders off into the park and comes across the Friends of the Friendless and they immediately embrace her and rescue her from her aloneness. Not because she’s pretty. Not because she’s got a great sense of humor. Not because she has money. But simply because she needs a friend.

One of the members says, “I would like to tell you of something that happened to me. And the lesson I learned, and the meaning of true friendship. I didn’t have a friend in the world. I was just a bit of flotsam in the sea of life. A pitiful outcast, shunned by my fellow man. I was a mess. And then, one day they came along, these good people. . .unasked. The Friends of the Friendless. And they put their arm around my waist and they said, ‘We will be your friend, because you are friendless, and we are the Friends of the Friendless. And if you accept our friendship you will never again be friendless, for we are the Friends of the Friendless, and you will have friends.’ To this day I have never been friendless. I have friends. Friends in the time of joy; friends in the time of sorrow. Real friends. True friends. Friends.”

Wow! I want a friend like that. And then it dawned on me. I’m not friendless. I have a friend like that. We all have a friend like that.

Jesus came to be a friend of the friendless.

He was a friend to the sinful woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. He was a friend to Zacchaeus, the corrupt tax collector. He was a friend to the promiscuous woman at the well. He was a friend to Thomas, the doubter, and Judas, the betrayer. He is a friend to all of us. He shares in our grief. He rejoices in our happiness. He loves us unconditionally for who we are, just because. He is the ultimate bestie. And because of Him we will never be alone. We will never be friendless.

Still, even God said in Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone,” on this earth. I miss and desire friends to laugh with, friends to cry with, friends to support and encourage me on bad days and celebrate with me on good ones. . .So I’ll continue my quest for true friendship resting in the contentment and peace that I find in my Savior. Wouldn’t it be so much easier, though, if there was an e-Harmony or Christian Mingle for platonic friendships?!

MWF seeks loyal BFF. Enjoys chit chat, lunch dates and the occasional girl’s night out.
Must love laughing and be able to finish off a gallon of ice cream in one sitting.
Remembering my birthday is a plus!

So if you’re in the market for a best friend, I’m accepting applications!

I Can’t Do Everything | by Breanna

pasta mess

Motherhood isn’t glamorous. Being a new mom has quite the learning curve & surprisingly, I would say the most important & most challenging lesson has been that I simply can’t do everything. Life changes once you become a mom and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I couldn’t do all the things I could easily manage when it was just me and the hubs.

A few weeks after our first baby girl was born I was so excited to get together with some of my girlfriends! The endless stream of family was awesome, but sometimes you just need some girl time! We all have pretty busy schedules so it took some time but we finally picked a day and had a girls night all scheduled and I was soooo looking forward to seeing my pals and of course showing off the most beautiful baby in the whole world. Then I realized I had signed up for a Meal Train on the same day to deliver dinner to another pal who had just had a baby. I thought to myself, “No problem! I could do both.” So, I made a plan of making two dinners: Baked pasta & bread to go and pizza for my girls here.

So Ruthie and I set off for the grocery store to get everything we needed for our evening. This was one of our first solo trips to the grocery store and after struggling with our Moby wrap, sweating (so much sweating), and a screaming baby we finally got back home only to realize I’d forgotten to stop at Papa Murphy’s for the pizza! Ruthie hates the car & screams for every blessed mile of car travel so I just couldn’t bear another trip out in the world. So, slightly embarrassed – I texted one of my pals and asked if she could please stop and grab a couple pizzas on her way & of course she would! I think they actually offered this from the beginning but I was pretty determined to prove I could take care of it.

My friends pulled up in the drive and I was SO excited for some girl time! As they were unloading, the timer for the baked pasta went off. They came in and were making themselves comfortable as I took the bubbling dish out of the oven. It was in a foil disposal pan to make life easier for my pal. However, the pasta was too heavy and the foil began to bend under the weight & in mere seconds, before I could even flinch – pasta & sauce was everywhere! Mostly it landed on my thighs and spilled down the cabinets and onto the kitchen floor. HOLY SMOKES! It was SO hot!! So hot on my legs, that without really thinking, I ripped off my jeans for some relief.

There I was standing there in my marinara stained kitchen, legs burning, new mamma stretch marks out for all to see & I was thinking, “I am so thankful I managed to get some underwear on this morning!” And then tears began to stream down my face, mostly because of the pain and partly red hot embarrassment for my new squishy exposed body (stretch marks and all) & the sinking reality that I couldn’t do all the things I did before becoming a mom.

My friends were so kind and so worried about my poor legs – which were burned pretty badly. My sweet husband came home and brought me burn cream & picked up some roasted chickens for our friends for dinner & delivered them. I bandaged & iced my wounds as my friends went right to work cleaning up the disaster that was now in my kitchen. That’s when you know you have good friends! They scrubbed the counter, cabinets, and the floor and cleaned up all the pasta and sauce that seemed to magically cover every square inch of my kitchen.

When I finally got brave enough to come back out, they asked if I wanted to reschedule our dinner and were so understanding. Of course not! They had come from a long way and it took too long to get this dinner on the calendar. Thankfully, we got to have some awesome time of chatting and laughing and of course they got their baby snuggles with Ruthie. Things were winding down and Ruthie was getting fussy, so I got out my cover and began nursing her. Nursing was another thing that was really hard for me as a new mom, but I was feeling pretty confident that things were finally getting better. Well, that attitude quickly changed when I heard/felt some rumbling from my sweet princess. Before I even knew what happened I felt warmth oozing out onto my freshly changed clothes! There was poop everywhere. So much poop. So we had yet another wardrobe change, this time not just for me but Ruthie too. And when I came out – much to my surprise my friends were still there! They hadn’t ran for the hills J We got to have a good laugh about it all.

Life as a new mom takes a lot of adjusting. Your hormones, your body, your everything — has changed & it takes some getting used to. I had to learn that I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t take care of everyone, but I am so incredibly blessed to be a mamma and to care for and love and raise up our baby girl.

Most of all, I’ve learned that as a new mama you need friends & community. To laugh with when you’re covered in pasta or poop, to cry with when you feel like a failure and just can’t figure out this breastfeeding thing, and to love you (stretch marks and all). I couldn’t have gotten through those first few months without some amazing friends & family. We need each other as moms to love & to walk along side one another without judgment or shame.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help him up.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

How Did We Get Here? | by Breanna

Today is a beautiful day – especially for the Pacific NW! Ruthie & I slept in this morning & then we met up with our friend Beth & her baby boys for a walk in the sunshine. We walked to Starbucks and got coffee & just talked about life & parenting our precious newborn babes. It was so refreshing to get out of the house, get some exercise and connect with a dear sister in Christ!

We came home & I put Ruthie in her favorite and wrap & we got to work in the yard. We watered flowers and planted part of our vegetable garden. We planted lettuce, chard, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes & radishes today. I can’t wait till we can enjoy delicious salads fresh from our own backyard! Then we pulled out our old clothes line & hung out our cloth diapers to dry in the sunshine.

How did we get here?

At this point it really hit me – baby wearing, veggie growing, cloth diapers! How did we get here? This life was certainly not my plan or my design for things.
When I was younger, I had a dream and a vision for my life – probably like most all naïve college freshman do. I was going to study hard & go to law school. After graduation I was going to work as a corporate attorney, wearing trendy suits & high heels, and make lots of money. I was going to live in a city – a big city – preferably far away from the podunk town I grew up in. I never wanted to get married & certainly didn’t factor children in to my glamorous life plan. I was young & extremely selfish & I loved my life and my plans.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declares the Lord” –Isaiah 55:8

Then one day after graduation I came face to face with a man unlike any other, and everything changed. His name is Jesus & He saved me from myself and slowly began to change my heart. Don’t ever think that the God of the universe, the God that made your heart, can’t change your heart!
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove your heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

It’s absolutely incredible to realize how much you can love

When I look at my life now it’s absolutely incredible to realize how much you can love something that you never even knew you wanted! Being a wife and a mama are the two most incredible blessings and bring me the most joy and fulfillment, yet were things I never even figured in to my plan. I’m so thankful for my relationship with the Lord and for my amazing husband – the two men who make this beautiful life possible. My husband is an incredible man of God who shepherds my heart & works SO hard to take care of me & Ruthie.

There are still things that I have to let go of – learning to walk with a trust God is a continuing journey. If you’re holding on to something today that isn’t from the Lord, let it go. It might hurt at first to see your vision die, but God is faithful & He will replace it with something far greater and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
                “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” –Proverbs 3:5