Being a Mom, My Greatest Joy

Dr. Kevin Leman forgiveness, legacy, hope,

Like many women I know, I was brought up unprepared for the challenges of motherhood. In return, I did not seek after it with much enthusiasm. I was afraid of what might happen if I were to bring children into the world because I was filled with anger and bitterness from my own childhood. Every child longs for love, acceptance, comfort, and approval and I am no different. When these needs are unmet, a child/young adult will seek to have them met in things such as drugs, sex, control, money, success, or unhealthy relationships. Thankfully, I encountered the only person who could give me unconditional and perfect love, acceptance, comfort and approval and that was Jesus Christ. He gives freely and without any strings attached. His redemptive love rescued me on February 25, 1987 when my husband, Jon, and I together accepted Christ. I received exactly what I needed to begin the journey of motherhood as I was given the Holy Spirit to teach and guide me (John 14:26; 16:13). In time I forgave my parents as it did me no good to harbor bitterness or resentment toward them. Dr. Kevin Leman says, “Forgiving is not saying what happened was okay and it’s not excusing it, but it is allowing something new to grow.” Today I am able to celebrate new beginnings.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV) Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

How exciting my past need not limit my ability nor yours to be a godly mother, that’s the beauty of the Christian life. You may not be able to change your past, however, by being proactive you can change the legacy you leave. Recently my mother praised me saying, “Cherie, I’ve turned you away from me; just like my mother did to me. I wish I could have broken the cycle before it affected you and your sister. I’m grateful that you have not continued the same cycle with your daughters; this makes me really proud. Maybe it will end with you? ” Sadly, her choices limited our relationship for many years. I celebrate that my choices are to build relationships with my daughters and leave a better legacy. I in no way can take credit for the changes that have occurred in my life. In my weaknesses, God is strong. Instead of facing inadequacies alone, I have learned that, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). Where we may feel ill equipped, God is there to be our strength. After all, like the old adage goes, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”  God’s word is a critical tool in preparing us for our calling as mothers. I chose to be in God’s word, study it, meditate on it and live it out. More importantly seeking and desiring an intimate relationship with my Maker broke so many chains as I discovered who I was in Him verses my family of origin, In Christ my life has purpose and meaning.  I celebrate that God’s word gives direction and as we are faithful to follow Him, we hope our children too, will follow in our footsteps thus breaking the bondage of generational sins. Psalm 119:105

I purposed to be a mother based on biblical principles instead of social norms or past experiences. This choice lead me on a journey completely different than I ever experienced or envisioned. Along the journey, God placed spiritual parents in my life to help strengthen and teach me as I traveled the journey of motherhood. I am thankful for these amazing individuals that discipled me by investing in my life personally. When I was unable to find encouragement face to face I realized it could be found through books, conferences, and classes for a season. The point is you want to grow and thrive in your relationship with Christ by replacing wrong thinking with truth. I was challenged to stop complaining about what I didn’t have, but instead shape my legacy with what I did have via a mission statement asking what do I wish to pass on to my children?  I celebrate that with God all things are possible even leaving a godly legacy. Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Being a mother has been one of the greatest joys in my life, certainly one worth celebrating. I am in awe that my two eldest daughters have both graduated from college and are living amazing lives that are bringing glory to God as they seek to serve Him. I am so proud of them. They are obedient and respectful of others and us. They challenge me with their walk and love for God. They have been some of the best teachers in my life. My youngest daughter continues to grow and mature as I seek to lay a solid biblical foundation for her by making sure she knows and loves the Lord.  My greatest joy is knowing that my children are walking in the truth and following Jesus with their whole hearts which is biblical (2 John 1:4).  What more could I want as a mother?  I celebrate motherhood and the three precious gifts that God blessed me with, as children indeed are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127

Oh I have so much to celebrate as I was given the opportunity to be a mother and, together with Jon, we have raised a godly heritage. I see the fruit of our labor and celebrate that with God all things are possible even for a reluctant mother like I was. My hope is to encourage those traveling the journey of motherhood feeling ill equipped.

As a mother what desires do you have for your children?  Read 2 John 1:4, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” What can you purpose to do that would set your children on the right path to walk in truth?

Mothering, Impacts the Life of Others

Over fifty years ago God ordained my time, place, and gave me a Mother as seen in Psalm 139: 13 You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb

I am extremely grateful for the bravery of my mom who chose life as today I realize her decision created a difficult road for her.  Her choice allowed me to have a place in this world.

Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” These are my sentiments as I know the road I’ve traveled has allowed me to be who I am today.  

When one spells mom upside down, it spells wow.  Indeed being a mother is wowful 😉 I am thrilled to have my mom here in Austin this week so I can celebrate Mother’s Day with her. Grateful for her love and support in my life.  It beautiful how our relationship has grown over the years. I love you dearly.

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Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you for being here so we can celebrate with you.

I have one biological sister and a step sister.  I appreciate how God has knitted our hearts closer together as we have grown and matured.  My mother’s mom in the generational photo is no longer with us but is not forgotten on this day of remembrance as without her, well there would be no mom or me.

July 12, 2012 I became a spiritual mother to my sister 😉 when she accepted Christ. It’s been a blast to watch her love for Christ increase. I’m so proud of her.

As a family normal is totally overrated.

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My mother, sisters (Francois & Alyce) and four generations shown.

When I met my husband, the unexpected gift I was given was an incredibly generous, accepting mother-in-law.  I am madly in love with her only child, my husband, Jon. Thank you for always being there and for loving me like your own. If you weren’t my mother-in-law I’d choose you as my friend.

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Thank you for raising the man of my dreams and accepting me into your life.

One of my greatest callings and blessings has been being a mother to Cayley, Courtney, & Caryn.  Indeed children are a gift from the Lord and I am so thankful for my gifts.

Having two independent adults I am amazed that they have become my best friends. I only wish they lived in closer.  I have learned so many truths from Caryn and Courtney as their lives are a living example of what it truly looks like to have a thriving relationship with Jesus.  3 John 1:4 puts it this way, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

Motherhood has been the most incredible job that God gave me to do. It has been through the task of bringing up my daughters that I have matured and learned to love abundantly, to be selfless, and gracious. Oh I still have much to learn as my youngest reminds me 😉

I thank God that He knew I was far from ready for the empty nest by blessing us ten years later with our Cayley.

I am so proud of who my daughters have become, are becoming, and how they make the world a better place to be. To the world, a child is only one person, but to a mother, her child is the world. 

It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest privledge of being called “Mother.”

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It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest privledge of being called “Mother.”

There have been many women who have graciously, laboriously, and lovingly invested in my life and for this I say thank you.  I am unable to adequately pay them back but I pay it forward by following your example of investing in others.

Me with some of my spiritual moms and those I am blessed to be a spiritual mom to.

From my experience, there are many who do not have a mother due to death or abandonment. Others have strained relationships or are geographically separated from their mothers.  Regardless, it has been my privledge to pour into the lives of women that God has brought into my life. I am grateful for the many ways God had made me a spiritual mother. It is a privilege to nurture and invest in the relationships of many college students, friends, and others over the years. I am in awe of those who have made significant steps toward Jesus as a result of God using me in their lives. It is an unspeakable joy to journey alongside others, helping them nurture their relationship with the Lord and experiencing more of his love in the process. The blessing of spiritual motherhood is the reminder that you are making a difference in the lives of others and they are loving and following Him. Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As women, we are called to both mother and to be mothered regardless of our age or what season of life we are in. 

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Our love to God is measured by everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.

It’s been said “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring: all of which have the potential to impact the life of others.”

May we all desire to deeply invest in others.

 

 

 

Advice To My Youngest On Turning 13

Dearest Cayley,

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I can never say I Love You enough nor will I stop 😉 It’s crazy you are now thirteen. What would I be doing once your sisters left home if you had not come along? How blessed I am to be given a second chance at mothering. In some ways I have grown and often times I feel green.  You are very unique and so different from your sisters.  A decade later I have found that technology has changed the parenting dilemma.  Regardless, I know God choose to bless us with you for such a time as this.  Together we sharpen one another. So I complied 10 thoughts I desire for you to remember as you continue your life journey.

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1) Never forget you are fearfully and wonderfully made, yes made in the imagine of Christ who delights over you as He is a masterful creator.   (Psalm 139:13-16Ephesians 2:10 ) Comparison is the joy killer of being content with your many beautiful features. Never allow the media or others to dictate what true beauty should look like.

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2) Love the Lord with all your heart and get into the habit of beginning your days by putting Him first. You will often feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Time is something we all treasure, something we wish we had more of, but it just seems to slip so quickly through our fingers. We think if only I had more time I would spend it praying or reading the Bible, helping people, or making a difference.  (Proverbs 16:3; Luke 4:42, Matthew 14:13)  The poem The Difference is a good reminder of keeping God first.

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3) Remember to love and listen to your sisters as they are two of the wisest women I know.  Support one another. Talk to one another regularly by being the initiator as you have more free time. Be there when they need you and they’ll be there for you. They really do love you that is why they both flew in to surprise you for your 13th birthday. Sisters are forever friends.P1050675

4) Be bold, take chances as those who don’t take chances don’t make advances. Dream big because you serve a BIG God. Strive to reach the full potential of your calling in life. (Jeremiah 29:11).   Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to everyone through your speech,  by the way you live your life, in your authentic love, your faith, and your purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

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5) Continue to travel while you are young. We hope that through our various family excursions we have given you a love for adventure, exposed you to various cultures, taken you out of your comfort zone, and shown you how big and yet small the world is. May you bring the good news to those wherever you go in the future. Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15

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6) Enjoy life! Gather often with your friends, have fun, laugh a lot and enjoy the relationships God has given you. Also your best friends will be those who bring out the best in you. Never substitute face-to-face interaction with that of the internet or social media. According to a study, people are happier and laugh 50% more when talking face-to-face with friends or via webcam than when they use social networking sites.

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Cari, Cayley, & Laurena

7) Cherish your human connections with friends and mentors who invest deeply into your life and you will grow wiser and richer.  Appreciate and remember those who have poured richly into your life (your sisters, grandparents, teachers, Sarah T. Danielle A., Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Teresa, Ritz, Mrs. Cheryl D., Grandma Coleen). Allow them to speak truth into your life so you can learn something new. Proverbs 13:20

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8) We love you unconditionally, always, and forever. No one will ever love you like your dad and I love you.

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9) Be humble, teachable, and enjoy the learning process. Be a lover of learning as you gain the education needed to carry out the tasks for which God has designed you.  (Proverbs 9:9; 12:15; 11:14; 19:20-21; 15:22; Psalm 1:1-5).

Some of my greatest lessons have been learned through the pages of books. I have gained incredible insight, knowledge, and experience of various authors.  Reading exposes you to a world of imagination, showing you nothing is impossible.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Charles William Eliot

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10) Smile a lot and keep singing God’s praises. A smile draws others to you. The joy and love of the Lord are yours – so smile! Aim for joy found when putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last which creates true JOY. Being happy and enthusiastic is always a good choice and the joy of the Lord is your strength.   (Psalm 28:7; Nehemiah 8:10)

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In conclusion, do all things with Love. Love is so important to God that is is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. Love is referred to as the greatest commandment of all. Christ is love. John 13: 34-35 As we learn to love God’s way we provide the world with a tangible picture of Christ to the world.

I look forward to finishing the book Love As A Way of Life by Dr. Gary Chapman who writes, “Love is an attitude, that says, “I choose to focus my life on helping others.”  I appreciate those who use the following seven characteristics to define a loving person providing so much room to grow:

  • Kindness: Discovering the Joy of Helping Others
  • Patience: Accepting the Imperfections of Others
  • Forgiveness: Finding Freedom from the Grip of Anger. Life’s way too short to constantly be mad at someone.
  • Courtesy: Treating Others as Friends
  • Humility: Stepping Down So Someone Else Can Step Up
  • Generosity: Giving Yourself to Others
  • Honesty: Revealing Who You Really Are

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