“To Mother” Day

flowersMother is most commonly used as a noun. It’s a name, an identity, a role. But it’s more…and less. The noun isn’t required as much as the verb is. I’ve seen a lot of women mother, some who could technically claim to be a mother and some who couldn’t. Look around and notice the mothering going on around you. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve noticed. Thank you to those who mother.

To mother is to mourn the loss of the child you were supposed to adopt while consistently praying for him…and the mom who changed her mind.

To mother is to celebrate the life of your child regardless of how long you got to hold her…or even if you never got to hold her.

To mother is to wait and wait and wait, enduring months and years of scrutiny and paperwork, just for the opportunity to adopt.

To mother is to sleep beside a child…or lie awake beside a child…as you make sure tubes, needles, and other medical equipment does its job.

To mother is to say goodbye too soon, knowing a part of your heart will never return, yet trusting God’s purpose in the beautiful life you shared.

To mother is investing in the life of someone who calls someone else “mom” but longs for someone who loves with compassion and discipline.

To mother is to consistently learn about someone as she grows, not keeping her in a stage where she no longer is.

To mother is to question, listen, and speak only when necessary, trusting God to know when each of those moments and situations are.

To mother is to take care of someone, regardless of the age and expectations of the relationship.

To mother is to share…because none of us can do it all, and God never intended it that way.

To mother is to accept you don’t have all the answers. You’re learning and growing right alongside those you are mothering.

Each of us only has one biological mother, but if we’re limiting ourselves to be mothered by only one woman, we’re missing out. And if we’re only mothering those who can biologically claim we are their mothers, we are missing out, as are the people around us.

Celebrate this Mothers Day by mothering. Transform Mothers Day into Mothering Day. Relationships are worth the effort.

Fit Faith: Frequency: My Special Day

Consistency is important, but sometimes it’s the special once-in-a-lifetime experiences that stand out. The very infrequency of something strikes it with a bright highlighter, illuminating it for later attention and recollection.

I rarely asked for anything special on Mother’s Day. I felt as if every day of the year was Mother’s Day, because I got to bask in the joys of being a mother. Yes, there were challenges every day, but in the context of the blessings, I could accept them and appreciate the opportunities I had.

One Mother’s Day, I surprised everyone by announcing there was just one thing I wanted: to load up everyone’s bikes and go for a ride on my favorite hiking path after church. No one was as excited about it as I was, but they entertained me. The girls weren’t very old, and they knew the bike ride would be long and challenging. Tim knew he wouldn’t be able to ride his bike at full speed with the rest of us along. But we packed a lunch and headed to the trail after church.

It was a glorious day for me, and no one else seemed to mind it much at all either. We rode five miles, stopped for a lunch break beside a small lake, and made the return trip. It was a gorgeous day.

Had I experienced bike rides with my family every weekend, I probably would have enjoyed some of the experiences and endured others – when someone would be grumpy or get hurt or the weather wasn’t ideal. As it was, I had one glorious day of memories with my family on our bikes on that path.

Something similar happens when we go on a retreat or attend a conference. We walk away rejuvenated and ready to tackle our lives with renewed energy and purpose. The infrequency makes these experiences impactful. We build time with God into our daily lives: devotions, prayer, accountability. While we benefit greatly from the consistenty, daily also means routine. When we’re at conferences and retreats, we step away from routine. While routine is excellent for discipline, occasional escapes encourage us to listen in fresh ways.

How can you capture renewed energy and purpose on limited time, money, and flexibility?

Here are a few thoughts:

Use your senses. Quietly reading your Bible is wonderful. Experiencing God’s Word through multiple senses helps us put an exclamation point on a verse. Consider how you can see, hear, and touch Scripture.

Use repetition. Carry your quiet time throughout the day with you. We too easy compartmentalize our time with God. Choose one key verse of the day and post sticky notes in places you’ll find them throughout your day. Set your cell phone alarm to vibrate hourly as a reminder to reflect and act on the verse.

Use social networking. De-compartmentalized your faith while engaging others. Tweet a verse each day on Twitter. Post a reflective question or action challenge on Facebook.

Whatever your approach, seek renewed energy and purpose with occasional escapes from routine. Listen to God in fresh ways. Open your ears to hear from God.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. (Proverbs 8:34)

Today Is Mother’s Day

I’m not confused. I know it’s not yet May. I’m not trying to get extra gifts or attention. But I believe today is Mother’s Day, because since I became a mom, I have tried to count every day as Mother’s Day. Every day I get to be a mom is a blessing. It’s not always easy. There are some days I’ve wanted to snuggle into motherhood and others I’ve wanted to run far, far away. Yet I’ve tried to savor the variety of experiences.

And it’s not just the experiences I’ve had and continue to have with my two grown daughters that I savor. I have several young women I’ve “adopted” who I truly love. I have a blast investing in their lives. In most cases, our lives collided because of mayhem in their lives, leading them to reach out for help. While I supported them through a season and continue to support them, I feel like I’m the one who receives the most blessings. I get an opportunity to invest in someone’s life, meet her where she is and walk through a season together. I gain a friend in the process.

And then there’s my own mom. You’ve probably gotten to know her through some of my blog posts. She’s taught me a lot and is an important person in my life. I respect and love my mom, and I’m thankful for the 43 years we’ve had together (some better than others, of course!).

I don’t want to appreciate these people just one day a year, and that’s probably why I’ve had a bit of an aversion to Mother’s Day, not wanting to make too much of a big deal about it. There have been a couple times I asked for something specific, such as spending the day biking a favorite trail, but in most cases, I simply wanted to enjoy motherhood.

While I was on a plane recently, I remembered a specific Mother’s Day when I was flying home. I was on the West Coast until Saturday evening, and I didn’t want to miss Mother’s Day at church with my girls (who wants to be the missing-in-action mom on Mother’s Day?!), so I took a red-eye. During a brief layover in Chicago, I changed clothes and slapped on a bit of makeup, so when I landed in my home airport, I could drive straight to church. I was a bit tired, but it was definitely worth it.

I got to the church only a few moments before the service began, and my girls were eagerly waiting for me. Some men in the church had organized a special treat for women that morning: a chocolate fountain with all kinds of scrumptious goodies to use for dipping. My girls didn’t want me to miss out. They had created a personalized plate of goodies for me…and I enjoyed every bite!

I made every effort I could to get home that morning, and my girls anticipated our family being together. As I flew home recently and recalled that day, I wondered how intentional I am about anticipating the opportunities I have to be together with my girls, my mom, and the many amazing women in my life.

It’s not just about Mother’s Day. It’s about fully living your day TODAY.

What would spur you to jump on a red-eye to get to someone?

Who would you fix a plate of chocolate for because you don’t want her to miss out?

Who do you need to connect with today? To sit and listen to? To invest in? To giggle with?

Don’t wait until tomorrow. Today is the day.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”… (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)