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Tag: motherhood

Solidarity, Sisters!

Parenting four boys means being surrounded by noise, energy, dirt, gas, burps, noise, physical activity, video games, toys, noise, competition, bugs, frogs, oh, and did I mention noise? That is the beautiful and chaotic motherhood life that I have been given. Many times I have wished for girls, but I quickly settle back into gratitude for the small tribe of males the Lord has loaned my husband and I. We are raising men for His Kingdom.

My main parenting struggle enters with the whole “raising” scenario. Who knew that training and parenting children could be so draining? Motherhood didn’t come with an “off” switch. There is only a recharging session while they sleep.

The constancy and exhaustion of raising small humans is the context in which I want to share a story which occurred this week. As a family, we decided to take an impromptu road trip for a few days. It was fun to take off on a mostly unplanned trip: four days carved out to adventure together. We visited state parks and a science museum, went on a cave tour, and even happened upon a fair. We made fun memories as a family, and for that I am very grateful.

This is a real-life picture of motherhood with four boys!

During our trip, we stayed in a hotel. As one might imagine, trying to sleep in one big room was not conducive to falling asleep each night. The boys wanted to talk, joke, touch each other, throw stuffed animals at each other, and generally keep each other awake. Our early-rising child woke everyone up before daybreak each morning. Additionally, the boys seemed blissfully unaware of their volume or how that volume might affect the people staying on either side of us.

The last morning of our trip, I felt particularly annoyed with their loud behavior. It didn’t seem to matter that I had politely, then kindly, then firmly told them to tone it down. The volume continued. I sat them down and had a stern “talk” with them about how their behavior might be affecting the other people in the hotel and how they needed to behave when we went down for breakfast. They all solemnly nodded and did their best to contain their energy all the way down the hall and into the elevator.

When we got to the continental breakfast, I spent 10 minutes pouring juice, finding seating, getting utensils and condiments, and situating the boys before I could eat my own meal. Finally, I sat down with my food and coffee and looked up at my husband. He casually stated, “I don’t think you’re the only one who is struggling with parenting this morning.” He glanced to his right, and my gaze followed his. There stood a mom with three elementary-aged children. She was refilling plates, getting utensils, answering questions, admonishing her children’s behavior, and looking incredibly exhausted. I observed her over the following moments. Unlike myself, she was there without a husband. Although I saw her take a few deep breaths in her obvious frustration, she maintained calm for her kids, finishing the meal, and finally blissfully, took a sip of her coffee.

I passed her while refilling my coffee cup. Quietly, I touched her on the shoulder and declared, “Mom solidarity! You are doing a really good job.”

She blinked at me in surprise and then smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Each mother has been given a different set up: unique children with unique personalities. Some of us are married and some are single. Some of us have girls, and some of us have boys. Some of us have one child, and some of us have eight. What remains the same is the load of blessings and exhaustion that come with the motherhood journey. Some days are great, and others are really hard. Sweet moments of cuddles and kisses are often followed by a sibling fight and spilled milk. If you have lived serving those who can not yet serve themselves, then you are a member of a tribe of women who are changing the world one day at a time. Knowing this, we can have compassion for others we see in the trenches.

We all worry that we’re messing up, and mom guilt is the worst! It feels incredibly reassuring when someone else “gets it.” After seeing my son have an utter meltdown one day last year, I received a text from a mom friend of mine telling me what a good mother I was for my son. It only took her a moment, but the message I received was: “You’re not alone. I see what you’re doing. You’re not screwing this up. Keep up the good work.”

As helpful as it is to be encouraged by other moms, it is even more reassuring to know that the Lord has grace for us mothers as well. One of the verses that has encouraged me most in mothering is:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

Picturing the Lord as my shepherd is a comforting image. That last line though, just about undoes me: He “gently leads those that are with young.”

God doesn’t run ahead without us mothers. He doesn’t even wait for us to keep up with His plans. He leads us. He leads us gently. He knows that we are not equipped to do this job perfectly. He knows what it costs us. He knows the joys and the tears, and He promises to gently lead us.

What a relief! I can trust that as I follow my Shepherd, He will lead me as I lead my children. They will follow my voice as I follow His. Then, by His grace, they will one day know His voice and follow Him for themselves. I am not in this motherhood thing alone.

In the meantime: Solidarity, sisters. The road is tiring, but it is good work we are doing. The best work.

Pause: Find a moment to be still. (In the bathroom with the door locked if need be.) Breathe deeply, and exhale slowly. Read and meditate on Isaiah 40:11.

Renew: What images come to your mind as you read this verse? If you are a mother, reflect on times that you can bear witness to how the Lord led you in your motherhood journey.

Next: This week, ask the Lord to bring a Mom in your life to mind. As the Lord brings this person to your mind, pray for her. Then, make it a point to speak encouragement to her or give her a gift that reminds her that she is seen and appreciated.

May we be reminded of our Good Shepherd’s faithfulness and gentleness in leading us.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Becoming a Doula: An Interview with Brenna Turner

In this podcast episode, my guest Brenna Turner shares all about the life experiences and faith journey that led to her becoming a doula. She explains that motherhood has always been her focus and dream and that through her work as a doula she has the opportunity to encourage other moms as well.

Brenna Turner, doula at The Birth Beacon

Brenna remembers that from a very early age her family was having conversations around birth, but it wasn’t until the birth of her own children that she began to look into doula work. She has a passion for equipping and encouraging women through pregnancy, birth, and through the postpartum period.

A Scripture Brenna has found applicable and encouraging in her own life is:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

To find out more about Brenna’s work and ministry as a doula, check out her website: thebirthbeacon.com. If you enjoy this podcast or know someone who would be encouraged by this episode, please subscribe and share! You can also join in the conversation about this episode at PRN’s facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

Pause, Renew, Next!

Pressing In During Hard Seasons: An Interview with Cynthia Simpson

Sharing a table and a microphone. Getting ready to podcast!

In the life of every believer come seasons of trial and hardship.  In this episode, Cynthia shares her story of learning to “press in” to the Lord during one such season in her own life.  She talks about “seeking the Lord in the heartache.”

Many passages of Scripture are spoken of in this interview:

On comforting othersII Corinthians 1: 3 – 4 ESV – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

On being content and cultivating faithfulness:  Psalms 37: 3-5 NASB

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and a]cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Cynthia’s long-term verses that she finds herself always going back to: Proverbs 3: 1 – 6

I am very grateful to Cynthia for sharing her story.  I was really blessed by this interview, and I’m sure that many of you were too. Was there something in Cynthia’s story that spoke to you or encouraged you? If you would like to share your thoughts, join us on the PRN, Pause, Renew, Next, Facebook page.  You can also share your thoughts in the comment section below.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Full Transcript

Missy: Hi, I’m Missy, and you’re listening to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. A podcast about soul- care, Scripture, and stories of faith. If you like this podcast, please subscribe and tell your friends. Enjoy!

Ginny: Welcome to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The podcast. I’m Ginny Detweiler. I’m happy today to introduce you to one of my favorite people: Cynthia Simpson. I’ve known her for many years, and I’ve watched her faith firsthand. Cynthia, can you introduce yourself and tell a little bit about yourself to our listeners?

Cynthia: Yes, so I’m Cynthia, and I am a mom of three boys and my husband. We live in Greenville, South Carolina. We are very involved in our church family, but then also I just love to be outdoors with my boys. I’m waiting for them to get a bit older so I can take the mountain biking, and do all kinds of outdoorsy things. So right now we’re sticking to nature trails and biking around our neighborhood, but we’re gonna graduate someday.

Ginny: Awesome. So Cynthia and I actually went to college together, and for many, many years after college you were a house parent in group homes. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like?

Cynthia: Yeah, so I just felt like the Lord; just, you know, I always had a heart for missions but I never had a heart to go outside the country, and I quickly realized that the mission field in the United States is: it’s still the “orphan and the widow”, but our “orphan” in the United States is the foster care system. And so that’s where, you know, it’s kids, just, their families cannot take care of them, and so being in group homes you saw a lot of hurt, you saw a lot of brokenness. And so I think it was really hard to see that and to see that it was hard to fix. Like, you couldn’t just go in and fix it, but the flip-side was I saw Jesus fixed so much, in so many small areas where there were just victories and answered prayer, miracles: just amazing how God would just intervene in different lives of the different children and even adults that we were working with: just stories upon stories. And so, I did it, actually, for over ten years. I did it five years before I got married and then six years with my husband. And it’s just amazing the life stories that you hear and to see some of the kids that have grown up, you know, and are on their own now. And so it’s been a very neat journey. I loved it. It was a good job.

Ginny: Neat. I know that lately you’ve been walking through some hard things with your family, and I wondered if you would like to talk a little bit about that with us?

Cynthia: Sure. So basically my youngest son has been dealing with eczema for a little over two years, maybe closer to three, and, you know, initially it was just kind of a small eczema. When most people have eczema, you know, it’s just certain places on their body, and it’s not a big deal. In the last six months, it’s flared up to be 80 to 90% of his body, and we, in the past two years but especially the last six months, we’ve done a lot of just trying to figure it out, you know, and eczema is so tricky. But we have been to allergists. We’ve been to doctors. We’ve done testing, you know, skin testing, blood testing. We have done a lot of naturalists. We’ve done a lot of natural medicine. And to the point where it just really feels like we’re in the middle of it, and you just don’t see the answered prayer. And I think the hard thing too is it being my son, and he’s four now. But you know he has to wear mittens a lot, like all night, and then a lot of times during the day we have to keep mittens on him so that he’s not tearing up his skin. And it’s just really hard to see him struggling with, not only just being so itchy and scratchy and uncomfortable, but just like not feeling well. He literally will be lethargic and sad and just not interacting with his brothers. And so it’s kind of becoming, it’s a consuming thing because you can’t resolve it. And so we’ve done so much prayer, and you know there’s so many friends and family who are praying for us and praying for my son’s healing, and we haven’t seen it. And so then when you’re in a path like that for a long period of time, you start to say, “Oh, why are we not, like we’re doing everything right, we’re supposed to be doing. Why are we not seeing an answer?” And I think that we all face that at certain times of questioning: “Okay, Lord, your Word says this, but I don’t see it. Like I don’t see working.” And so I kind of saw a diagram one time of kind of like this hill, and when you first are saved and have your experiences with the Lord, you’re at the top of the hill. And then, as you walk with the Lord, at some point you’re gonna hit a valley. You know, and that valley is gonna be different things, and that valley can be different depths, but when you get in the valley you have a choice of either ignoring the struggle and pretending like it’s not there and going back up to the top. Or you can wrestle, and you can say, “Okay Lord, these are your promises. This is what you said, but I don’t see it.” You know, in like almost like arguing with the Lord, or…

Ginny: I think “wrestling” is a really good word for that.

Cynthia: Like wrestling, like it just, and you wrestle through it, and then as you wrestle through it, the Lord brings the healing or the breakthrough or whatever it is, and then you’re on a new higher hill where you’re stronger. And even a couple of weeks ago in church I remember the pastor saying, “You know you’re in a tough time when you can redefine ‘tough.'” Because two years ago I thought my son’s eczema was tough, and what I’ve been experiencing last six months makes two years ago look like a piece of cake. Like, I would love to go back to what it looked like before. And it’s just gotten even harder. So it’s like you know you’re in a rough season, when it’s being, when you’re a definition of rough is, is not, is harder than what your rough used to be. I guess kind of repeated myself.

Ginny: I completely understand what you’re trying to say.

Cynthia: But I think what I love about that is the pursuit, and that may be that, you know, most of us, you know, if we struggle for anything over a month, we’re just like, “Okay Lord, where are you at?” But then to talk to people who have been struggling with things for decades. You know, and for me like this six months to two years you know just depending on what I’m talking about as far as eczema and the wanting healing and not seeing it. It feels like forever when you’re dealing with it day in and day out, and it’s affecting your day-to-day life. It’s not like it’s something that just comes and goes. It’s something like hourly, and then even at nights, like when he is in his really bad flare-ups, you know, he’s up anywhere from an hour to three or four hours a night. Which means I’m not that much, and so then I’m not sleeping. And so that’s a really hard season to try to parent and love well and to walk well during the day on like four hours of sleep, when you’re a mom.

Ginny: Especially past the newborn stage: that is rough.

Cynthia: So I think just recognizing this season for what it is, and not giving up on the Lord, and not giving up on His promises. And that’s just, like I’ve had an opportunity to pray for other people for their breakthrough, and I’m like bawling because I want my breakthrough. Like I want to have breakthrough in our struggle. But at the same time, like, if we’re not seeing breakthrough, and we’re not seeing healing right now, it’s not because I need to learn a lesson. It’s because the Lord sees something bigger and something better. And like my son is so strong and just a little warrior. And so to see him be strengthened in this, and through him struggle with it, and for us to grow in it too. It’s just, you know, it’s been a walk.

Ginny: Yeah. So I know a lot of people can relate to struggling, but what is it like as a mom. Because I think when it’s in your own body is hard enough, but to watch your child is a different thing. What is that like?

Cynthia: It feels really hopeless. Because you can’t do anything. Then you’re doing everything you can. And you’re using all your own wisdom and all your understanding, and you’re still not getting it. And I think that’s just when I lean into the Lord. Like I write down scriptures, and I wrote down a scripture: it’s in my journal written down. And it says that, “I will give you understanding in everything” – second Timothy 2:7. And so, like, that’s a promise. Okay Lord, you said you’re gonna give me understanding in everything, so I stand on it. Like you don’t understand right now what’s going on, but healing is coming. And so you know like with our son, he wants to eat certain foods he can’t eat, and so I always tell him like, “Hey buddy, you can’t have right now, but someday you’re gonna be able to eat eggs, and you’re gonna be able to have milk.” And you know those kind of things where it’s not hard to cut that stuff out. There’s so many things that you can eat. It’s not hard to cut it out, but just to have the freedom again will be super nice. So we look forward to that.

Ginny: The words that you used with me when we talked about what it is that you wanted to share on this podcast were “to be able to press in during hard times.” So describe what you mean by “press in.” Because I think I know what you mean, and I think you even bringing up Scripture tells us, but can you describe what that looks like for you?

Cynthia: Well, I mean I think if you challenge anyone to look at when they’re struggling with something, like, if they have – if you have a relationship with the Lord, then when you’re struggling that pushes you closer to Him. And I hope that it does, and I think that the Lord allows us, things to come against us so that we will press into Him. And so for me, instead of just the whole thing of like when you get in the valley you can just give up and pretend like it’s not happening and pretend like life is hunky-dory and nothing’s wrong, or you can say, “This is a struggle, and I don’t know how to handle this, and I don’t know how to fix this, but here’s what Scripture says.” You know, and so pressing in for me is that I’m spending time with the Lord daily; I’m making it a priority. Because then when I get the unexpected phone call from the doctor, or my son wakes up, and it’s an awful day, and I can tell at 9 o’clock in the morning, you know, he’s gonna be wearing mittens all day, and you know I’m gonna be trying different techniques to try to calm him down and keep him distracted from his discomfort. You just lean into that, you know, and you sing praises. Because I think anytime that you’re focused on your circumstances, it gets very depressing, and so I just have try to remind myself, like turn on the praise music and worship the Lord. And you know because then the children start dancing and singing and having a good time too, and it turns into a really good dance party around breakfast time when we turn on praise music. But I think that’s pressing in. It’s seeking the Lord in the heartache. And like, okay, we’re dealing with this, but what can I learn? What can – how can I see you working? Like how can I see what you’re doing in this hardship? And so like for us, like, if Nolan’s having a good day, I’m just like, “Thank you Lord; thank you for today.” I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. You know we’ve tried different medicines and stuff, and so if the medicine works that’s great! Like, and I know in the back of my mind it’s a two-week medicine, and it’s in two weeks I’m gonna be back at square one, but I’m gonna be thankful for these two weeks. So just like being thankful every day.

Ginny: Yeah, it’s a different mentality altogether.

Cynthia: Yeah, and it’s not always easy. Like, and you have good days and bad days, but I think it’s – the Lord’s really blessed me with strong friendships, and some friends who have walked through this before me. And so to be able to have their encouragement and shoulders to lean on has been really strong. So, I’m sure some day I’m gonna be on the other side, and I’m gonna call back from the mountaintop, you know, the people who were in the valley. And I read this in a book a while back. I think it’s Hannah Hurnard. And she was saying that when you’re on the mountaintop, after you’ve climbed out of the valley, you call back: “You can make it.” And so the people who are crawling in the valley, and trying to get up the mountain, and they can’t see the mountaintop, they can still hear your voice, and so you call back to them, and you say, “Hey, I made it. You can make it.” And so I think that’s what my friend is doing for me, and so then someday I’ll be able to do that for another mom who’s kind of struggling. Yeah.

Ginny: That’s in 2nd Corinthians, he says that we’ll be able to comfort others with the comfort that he’s given us. I think that’s so real, and I love that you have that support.

Cynthia: Yeah, it’s good.

Ginny: Can you talk about a time that the Lord really ministered to you, like, that you really felt His comfort during a hard time.

Cynthia: I mean, I think it’s been multiple different times in this whole situation because it’s been, like I said, almost three years long, and there’s been some really low valleys in those three years, and then there’s been, you know, times where it didn’t feel like, you know, it was just kind of life, and you just kind of deal with it: you don’t think about it being a valley. But I can remember one time when my son was really sick, and it was kind of related to his eczema, but it was separate. And he was just really not doing well, and thankfully he wasn’t admitted to a hospital, but he was just very sick at home. And I just remember saying, “God, you’ve got to do something, because if you don’t, if we keep going down this road, this road is death. Like, that’s where his body is going.” And so just like crying out to the Lord, and just like, “I need help.” And just feeling the Lord’s presence in the room of like, “I love your son more than you do, and I want him better more than you do.” And knowing that, and I think the Lord just keeps bringing it back to me so often. Like, “I love him. I have plans for him to prosper him and not to harm him, to give him a hope and a future.” And so I just hold on to those, and I think the Lord speaks it to me, so many, like there’s like that one specific time on the couch I remember, but then it’s like the sweet Spirit of the Lord just keeps reminding me over and over again of that moment and of His love for my son and for me. So, you don’t want to, like, wish hardship on yourself ever. Sometimes like I just want life to be easier; I just wish life could be easier. But then I have to say, what if life was easier, would I be in the word as much as I am now? Would I be looking for His promises? Would I be writing down His promises and then going back over them and reading them to myself and reminding myself and reading it before I go to bed and, you know like, sticking it on my wall and making my kids memorize Scripture that they probably don’t want to memorize? Like would I really be pushing myself and the people around me closer to the Lord if I felt like I wasn’t struggling with something? I mean I might be bad. I shouldn’t need to struggle to press in.

Ginny: I think it’s human nature: that’s what it is. I think we’re all like that. And that’s really part of the reason I want to do this podcast, because as a counselor I hold a lot of stories for people, and I think as Christians, especially, we’re guaranteed in the Bible that we’ll go through trials, but not often do we go around talking about them. Especially not at church sometimes, which is a shame, and so there are a lot of people that need to hear those stories that can be encouraged when they’re in the heat of it.

Cynthia: And I think that’s something if we’re honest with our self everybody’s struggling with something. It’s just a different area, whether it’s self-esteem or family or finances or whatever, you know. And for us, like, you know, Nolan’s health is a huge struggle, and it’s in the forefront of our minds most days. But there’s other struggles in our life that are happening. You know, they just kind of get second rate because your son’s health is number one. But I think, you know, everybody’s struggling.

Ginny: How would you encourage other women who are in a difficult situation or who are waiting on the Lord?

Cynthia: I would just say don’t give up. Have hope. You know God is a God of hope, and so no one, you know, I guess that I have friends who speak into my life, and I’ve been blessed in that way. But I heard someone say one time, “If you can’t hear God, you can read God.” If you’re in that season of waiting and struggling you better be in the Word, because that’s the only thing that’s going to get you through, is reading the Word and putting it in your spirit. Proverbs 3 says – it’s talking about the Lord’s commandments and His Word – it says, “Don’t let them leave you. Bind them around your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart.” And I think to be intentional about being in the Word is so important because in seasons of my life, especially in that newborn baby season, it’s really easy to drop your Bible reading. But I’ve had other seasons where running in the mornings took precedence over my reading my Bible, and so I was giving up my Bible time to run. So I was praying, and I was, you know, maybe meditating, maybe, while I was running, but I wasn’t in the Word, and I think it really slowed me down as far as my relationship with the Lord. And so I love to run, and I’ll pick it up again someday, but never again will I pick it up at the expense of reading the Bible – like my Bible time – because I’ve just recognized how important that is.

Ginny: That is good and a really important reminder for all of us to do that. I think it’s hard as busy women to sometimes make that a priority. I loved what you said about hope, and the Bible says that hope will not put us to shame. And I recently wrote a blog post about that, so friends if you want to go back and read my blog post about that, please feel free to do that on my website! Hope is like one of the most important things. So to close out our podcast, I have a couple of more fun questions for you because you’ve been talking about some hard stuff. So who is somebody who inspires you?

Cynthia: You know this is kind of funny. I think obviously my parents play a huge role in my inspiration, in my dedication to my family, and to the Lord, but it’s gotta be my grandma. Like, she passed away like three years ago, but, oh my goodness, we’re so much alike, and so I love her, and I love to think about her, and just the things that she’s taught me has been really neat. And so she’s always an inspiration. So I always try to think about how would she do this, or you know “I just stuck my foot in my mouth.” Uh, yep, grandma did that a lot too.

Ginny: Do you have a favorite quote of hers or something that she would tell you?

Cynthia: No, I just remember like her laugh. It’s just – her shoulders would shake, and she would kinda go, I can’t describe it, but I just love her laugh, and so I don’t know. She’s just a neat woman and just her legacy. I think that’s one thing that as I get older… like I’m not that old. I’m only 36, right? You starte to think about legacy, and I look at her legacy and I say, “Wow.” Her legacy was amazing, and that’s what I want because we’re guaranteed to die so what am I living for? I’m living to pass along the love of Scripture, the love for Jesus, the love of worship and praise, and giving thanks, like to be a thankful person, and to be a person who’s creative, and can handle things, so yeah. I mean she’s just an inspiration as far as how much she did.

Ginny: To close us out, what is your favorite Bible verse and why?

Cynthia: Okay, so I kind of, I have a really hard time when people ask me that question because just the whole Bible is good, right? And I’ve never had like a life verse like some people do, so my favorite Scripture verse is usually the one that’s speaking to me right now.

Ginny: Girl, we’re so much alike, because I’m the same way.

Cynthia: Well, I feel like… This is my thoughts on the matter, is that: if you’re trying to live in the past, or you’re stuck on a Scripture from the past, then it’s not a fresh revelation, and it’s good, but it’s living on the past. It’s like old stale bread. So I want something that’s for this season.

Ginny: So let me ask it a different way. What is your favorite Bible verse of the moment?

Cynthia: Yes. Thank you. Okay, so this is a really good one. I have two, so I’m just gonna have to read all of them. Okay so the first one is Psalms 37 and it’s 3 – 5: “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” And I think that’s for me huge. It’s just being content where I’m at and cultivating faithfulness with the Lord. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in him, and he will do it.” So as I walk this road of, you know, just things going on in our life in general, but then also my son’s health. Just trusting him and committing our way to him and knowing that the Lord has plans that we just need to walk day in and day out and be in touch with Him. But then kind of one that’s more long-term – that’s kind of like my first of the week – more of my long-term, I just keep going back to this Scripture verse, that actually my children are memorizing it right now, and so we’ve added like little hand motions to it, and it’s really fun: “My son do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commands. For a length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart so you will find favor and a good repute in the side of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” and I just love all this – the whole thing.

Ginny: Great. I love that you said that, and I love that it’s on this podcast, because that is one of the 3 S’s: soul-care, Scripture, and stories so I love that. Thank you for sharing. Well friends if you’re listening, if you have any thoughts or comments about what you heard today about what Cynthia said or anything that relates to your own experience, join me on my Facebook page PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. to join in the conversation or feel free to comment on the website pauserenewnext.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and spread the word to others who you think would enjoy it as well. You can find PRN on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and can find the podcast on our website, pauserenewnext.com, on iTunes, Google Play, or anywhere else podcasts can be found. New podcasts are released each Tuesday and a new blog post each Friday. This is Ginny Detweiler with PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The Podcast. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

To Be Known

 

“We all are born into the world looking for someone looking for us.”  Curt Thompson, founder of Being Known

Mom and baby bonding time!

A few moments after my second son was born, I found myself somehow alone in a room with him (a miracle in a hospital).  Just minutes before there had been a rush of doctors and nurses. Then suddenly, we were alone. There he was, all wrapped up like a fragile, little burrito.  I could finally gaze at this little being, who had been growing inside of me for nine months.  

I examined his sweet, tiny face, and began talking to him.  I don’t remember what I said to him, but I do remember that there was an immediate response.  His little head and eyes immediately turned toward the sound of my voice, and he looked me right in the eyes.  In that moment, it seemed as if he was saying to me, “I know you, I recognize your voice. You’re my Mom!”  

That is our design plan.  We’re created to come into the world, ready to connect, to be loved, and to be known.  It’s not a want or a desire.  It’s a need, starting at birth and carrying throughout the lifetime.

To be known is a sacred thing.   We all know countless people but are rarely known by them.  Being Facebook friends or college acquaintances doesn’t satisfy our deep need for relationship.  In fact, some people are friends for years and never really feel known.  Being known requires an intimacy that is sometimes hard won, pushing through vulnerability, conflict, and insecurity.  It can only happen inside of trustworthy relationships, where we feel safe to be our authentic selves.

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.   I Corinthians 8:2-3

While I was pregnant with my son, I knew him in a sense.  He spent nine months growing in my womb. I was aware when he was awake and moving.  I knew that he was a boy, and I even had a general time frame for when he would be born.  I had some parenting knowledge and experience.  As the verse above states,  I imagined that I knew something, but I did not yet know as I ought to know.  I didn’t yet know all of the important aspects of my son’s identity: what he would look like, his personality, his quirks, his faults, or his strengths.  

After I gave birth, the knowing process expanded, because I could see and touch him.  I began to understand my son in a new way.  I became available every minute of every day to caring for his needs, understanding his rhythms, learning his sleep schedule, and even being able to discern what his different cries meant.  As he continues to grow, I get to know him in deeper and richer ways.  

How amazing then, that Paul promises, “if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”  We love Him, and we are known.  It’s that simple.  Our Heavenly Father is intimately aware of our comings and goings, our thoughts, our needs, our desires, and our passions.  Even in a marriage of 50 years, a spouse cannot read the other’s thoughts.  By contrast, God can not only read our thoughts, but He knows our thoughts before we’ve even thought them.  He can recite the number of hairs on our heads. That is a level of knowing far beyond what our finite minds can comprehend.

It’s comforting that God knows us fully, but is the process of knowing all one sided?  A few chapters later in I Corinthians, Paul speaks to this, saying: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  I Corinthians 13:12

Just as I loved and knew my infant son intimately, but he could not respond in kind, so we on this side of heaven cannot fully know our Father.  What is now 2 dimensional, as in a mirror, will one day be 3 dimensional, face to face.  One day, we will not just be known; we will know fully.   Our God-given need for connection will be met perfectly.    

Pause: Meditate on the verses above for a few moments.  Is there a particular verse that resonates for you?  

Renew:  Think about a relationship in which you have felt really known and understood.  What set that relationship apart?  How do you experience being fully known by the Lord?  

Next: Being known can sometimes feel vulnerable, particularly if you have been hurt in relationships.  Focus on one close and safe relationship in your life (with your spouse,  a friend, or family member) and contemplate one way you can work at allowing that person to more fully know you.

May we revel in being loved by a God who desires to know us.  I hope that thought leaves you feeling treasured today.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Dirty Dishes and Sacred Moments

Motherhood is a gift, but many of the moments of motherhood are filled with mundane tasks, like managing sibling rivalry and cleaning up accidents.  In fact, just last evening, as a distraction from the chaos and noise of a day of schoolwork, I took my kids outside on a walk.  I was hoping for some energy release and fresh air.  By the time we had walked fifty feet down the driveway,  my potty-training three year old had an “accident”.  Just as quickly as it had begun, the walk was over.  Back we traipsed to the house to change clothes and take a bath.  The grandeur of the vision of mothering rarely matches up to the day to day experience.

Then, just in the midst of the mundane and the exhaustion, come unexpected, sacred moments with our children.

Sweet cuddles

When my youngest son was an infant, I spent countless hours feeding, rocking, cuddling, and patting his back.  One day, before his first birthday, I was patting his back after feeding him.  Unexpectedly, I realized that he was gently patting my shoulder to the same rhythm. This was a sacred moment in my mothering experience.  My youngest son is adopted.  In that moment, as we hugged and patted each other, I was confident that he knew fully that I was his mom.  His tiny hand and my big hand were comforting one another in unison.

All mothers experience sacred moments in their parenting journeys, but how much more must Mary, the mother of Jesus, have felt these emotions? She witnessed miracle after miracle as she raised her son: from the announcement of her upcoming pregnancy by the angel Gabriel, to His resurrection and ascension.  In the second chapter of Luke, on two separate occasions, Scripture says that Mary “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.”

After the shepherds came to see baby Jesus, Luke documents that they spread the word about all that they had seen and heard.  I picture their great excitement and jubilation, stopping everyone to proclaim the news.  Contrast this with Mary’s reaction:  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19 ESV

As an extrovert, I struggle in the treasuring and pondering department.  I’m more like one of the shepherds, running around broadcasting my thoughts to whoever will listen.  Certainly, there is a time for shouting things from the rooftops, but I can stand to learn from Mary’s example.  Some moments and experiences are so sacred, they deserve to be marveled over and  held closely.

Mary serves as a sweet and holy reminder of the importance of motherhood. We are witnesses of the miracles of our children.  No, we were not given the responsibility of raising the Savior like she was.  Still, made in the image of God, each of our babies are miracles and signatures of the Divine.  

The precious hands of our family

As mothers we are given a unique perspective on the unfolding of who our children are and who they will become.  We’re awarded a first class ticket to watch them grow and mature.  When they are in awe of a new discovery, they come to us.  When they are hurt and need comfort, they come to us.  What a privilege!

Pause: Quiet your mind and your body.  Think of a sacred moment you have experienced.  Remember how you felt in that moment.

Renew: Although this post was about motherhood, there are also sacred moments in our walks with Jesus.  Meditate on one of these experiences  in your own faith journey. How did you treasure that moment?  Did you write it down, pray about it, share it with a friend, or keep it to yourself?  

Next: The mundane and tiresome moments often drown out moments that could be found sacred if we shift our perspective.  Today, look for moments that you can treasure in your heart and take time to savor them. This can be done anytime: in the midst of chores, while exercising, or while driving down the road.

No matter the season of motherhood in which we find ourselves: the all-nighters with a newborn, the trials of toilet training, or the turbulence of the teenage years, may we learn to treasure the sacred moments.

Pause, Renew, Next!

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