However, rather than a simple status update, I am going to elaborate on my thankfulness. It would be so easy, for example, to say "I am thankful for my husband"...but, wouldn't it be better if I explained just how amazing he is? I believe so! So here goes...my 30 day series of a Thankful Heart...OK, make that 29 days because I missed the first day of November (see...I told you I always "go against the grain"! hehehe)
Today (and always), I am so thankful for other mommies who encourage me and continue to lift me up.
We live in a world with many strong opinions. Although that isn't always a negative thing, it can most certainly cause a divisiveness amongst people. We've always been taught about being careful when talking about religion and politics (of course, that warning has never and will never stop me from proclaiming my love for Christ and my desire to follow Him). But what about motherhood? With a quick Google search, we are inundated with an exhausted list of blogs and news writings on the opinions of how best to raise our children. Even amongst a group of followers of Jesus, there are even beliefs on child rearing that completely divide people. Even books that claim the "Godly way" can contradict each other. It's so frustrating and confusing as a mother. It is so hard not to get lost amongst the muck of books and people who advice us and forget to remind us to fall on our knees and simply pray for the Lord to help us discern how best we are to raise our child.
In 2008, as a new mom to Ella, I can recall a particularly difficult day where I threw a book across the room because its methodology was not working for my baby. I was exhausted and weary from caring for a very colicky baby. I tried the crying it out, the not-crying it out, the 5 steps to a happy baby on the block or whatever the heck it was called. I tried changing my diet in fear that something I was eating was affecting my milk and perhaps bothering her sensitive tummy...all to no avail. And although well meaning people tried so hard to give me advice, all I really wanted was a hug. I wanted someone to tell me that I was a good mom. I needed someone to comfort me and tell me that "this will pass" instead of hearing "savor this moment" or even worse "just wait until they are teenagers". I wanted so desperately to have this Babywise baby that everyone talked about...but, no one told me that colicky babies are different. They may need a different approach for a few months until the "colic" starts to fade.
One especially weary day, at the end of my rope, I truly believe God appointed a very special group of mommies into my life. A group of women who all already had several small children took me under their wing and they poured love and encouragement into my heart.
I'll never forget that late August day in 2008. A friend I had known since college invited me to her small group...a group of women whom all went to different churches, yet were brought together because of motherhood. I only knew two of the women in that group of 7 or 8 that night. But, we sat around a round table and they said things I'll never forget.
"Sarah, you are a good mom. He gave you that little girl because He knew YOU were the best mommy for her"
"Sarah, forget those books for now. Just pray. Pray for God to show you how to mother. Everyone at this table?We all do the baby thing differently."
"Oh, your first baby? That's the HARDEST! It's so, so hard becoming a mother. Your body has never had that kind of lack of sleep. Everyone tells you to savor these days, but it's hard to savor it when you are exhausted and your boobs hurt!!" (one of my favorite quotes)
And the best advice ever...
"Sarah, rest in the peace that God will give you the sleep you need. Don't focus on how much sleep you are getting. Just know that God is taking care of you. When you are tired? Just make that your prayer...ask the Lord to provide the sleep you need for that day. Don't look at the clock...that will just make you more anxious. Just trust that God will give you the rest you need."
Those women were my lifeline during that season on new motherhood where I desperately just needed love and encouragement. That group of women? Well, they encompassed everything: they had bottle fed babies, breastfed babies, Babywise babies, co sleeping families, easy going babies, more high maintenance babies...all of it. They didn't judge me when I "only made it" to 10 months of breastfeeding. They didn't judge me when I said "Y'all...I just had to bring Ella to bed with me last night" or "Y'all Ella slept in her bouncy seat all night...it was the only way I could get her to go back to sleep." They would just laugh and promised me that eventually my little girl would indeed sleep all night. (By the way, by 6 months, that little girl was wonderful and still is AMAZING!)
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
What do mother's want? We want to feel encouraged and loved. We want someone to listen and love us when we are weary and tired, yet always pointing us back to the Lord. We want older and wiser moms to know that us younger moms are still learning and growing. We don't want to feel judged on those grey areas of life. It's so important to remember God is still working on us all. Whether it is how we choose to school our children or how we celebrate different holidays, God is doing the same work in us all, yet our journey's will all look different. He is slowly chiseling away at all of us to make us more into His image.
And now I am in a different season of life. I no longer have "babies" anymore. Now my stresses are how to school my children and whether it is OK for us to celebrate Halloween or pretend the whole Santa Clause thing with our little ones...OK, I'm mostly laughing at that last part. I really like Santa. Jesus is the reason for the season, but Santa is a lot of fun...just being honest! I digress...
Once again, the Lord has placed women in my life with similar life challenges. All of us have different paths and roads that the Lord is leading us on. Some public school, some home school, others private school...but, all of us are united in raising warriors for Christ. We respect and know that God has a different journey for each of our families. We don't judge...we just love and encourage each other along our own paths.
(Editors Note: And likewise, let us not be so sensitive to those who advice us even if we don't agree. Although some moms are very dogmatic about things, most of us know that we are all just doing the best we can with the tools we've been given. It's good to remember that most people only give advice because they want to help...they aren't trying to make you feel worse. I frequently have to get my "sensitivity meter" back in check...looking at the persons heart and not their words.)
So today, and every day, I am thankful for the friends and Titus 2 women that the Lord puts in my life. The ones who love and encourage me in motherhood. The ones who know when I just need a listening ear...the ones who point me back to Christ...and the ones who make me laugh at the small stuff. I am thankful for the mothers who know and understand that we all fall short in everything in life. How desperately we need fellowship with other Believers. Thank you Lord for sending these women into my life, even if only for a season.