devotional thoughts at a long-awaited baby shower

photo credit: Linda Carreira

photo credit: Linda Carreira

Last Saturday we gathered at the beautiful home of a friend, surrounded by floral arrangements and soft blues and yellows and joy as abundant as the women joining to celebrate her baby boy. All baby showers are reminders of God’s miracle of life, but this one was a particular celebration as we had cried and prayed with her as she waited months that became years. And now – she is weeks away from delivering this miracle baby.

Words were in order. A combination of celebratory thanksgiving and thoughts from a mom four years into the lovely, hard journey of motherhood. And so I wrote a devotional for her, part of which I’ll share with you here:

May you never forget that as long awaited as this son is, even more so is the Son’s birth that gives you and your husband and son life, hope, and salvation.

As joy has come in the morning, let it remind you to wait for morning’s light even after the longest, darkest nights. Not only metaphorically referring to times when parenting feels exhausting, or you’re at a loss of what to do next, or struggles unique to motherhood (or related to it!) arise. But not just metaphoric long nights is it important to remember the surety of sunrise, but especially after sleepless nights of endless crying or feedings or illness! Let each sunrise be a reminder that it will get better and mercies are new every morning.

Motherhood will be wonderful, using all of your gifts in so many ways. And yet … there will be times when even you and your capable husband will feel at your wit’s end. Be quick to ask for help – to remember that Jesus is there, and so are all of us. As much as you’ve been showered with gifts, you are even more so showered with love and with friends who would delight to jump in and help at any point in time. Pick up the phone and call or text or email. Those of us who are moms have been there – guaranteed – and those who aren’t yet might have extra energy to help out (just as you’ve done so many times for me!). And sometimes it may simply be the act of reaching out that will help you to remember you’re not alone. Many days, a phone call with an adult was just what my heart needed to get through a particularly challenging moment.

Finally, use each of the abundant beautiful moments with your son – of peering into his face, making eye contact, catching his first smile, discovering what makes him laugh, snuggling him tight as he drifts to sleep – let all of these moments be a reflection of the love God has for you. James 1:17 says – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights …” I pray you will be closely tuned into the music of motherhood. I’ll close with words from a motherhood memoir I’m currently reading by Lisa-Jo Baker:

On our quietest, least interesting days, I got better at hearing the music of motherhood. Because I know what typically plays in the background is the chaos of squabbles and coats never put away in the right place or muddy boot tracks across the carpet. There are the to-do lists that never get done … In the dark and the tired and the everydayness of those moments, I started to feel it – the weight of glory, the glorious ordinary that is a gift to us who are knee deep in a world where it can sometimes feel like we have lost all the parts of ourselves we used to know like the back of our hands, our favorite jeans, our own names. A gift from God who names every part of who we are and what we do significant. Because “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” There is no part of our everyday, wash-and-repeat routine of kids and laundry and life and fights and worries and playdates and aching budgets and preschool orientations and work and marriage and love and new life and bedtime marathons that Jesus doesn’t look deep into and say, “That is Mine.” In Him all things hold together.

Day 2: view

I peer over the edge to the water spraying up from 50 or more feet below. The Cliffs of Moher in all their grandeur.cliffs of moher It’s breathtaking and I can’t get enough of the ethereal view.


I wake up early to catch a sunrise. Rare for this non-morning-college student, but that summer I am eager to be reminded of fresh mercies and new glory with the rays of sunlight peeking over the ocean’s horizon. So I set my alarm for 5:00am, and it’s like an appointment with my Creator.myrtle beach sunrise

The pinks and purples stretch across the twilight as the golden ball of fire dips beneath the blue-ridged mountains. There it is again: an unforgettable view that is etched in my memory.NC sunset

Like hidden glory, something to recall on the days when all that I see is the view out my suburban windows of a cloudy sky or a sink piled with dishes and a floor littered with legos of all sizes. To know these views exist in the world, and that I have seen them and drunk deeply of this beauty – it stays with me. Keeps me moving, reminds me of the glory inherent in my world. I will see it again, and to think that in a soul, the beauty of this view of God is even more breathtaking? Oh, let me love the people who inhabit my view as I peer into the glory hidden in these little ordinary 4-year-old souls!

a tale of twins: the first year

She leaned over the white porcelain coffee mug and asked me, “So what is it like to have twins?” It’s a question I’ve heard a million times since finding out we were expecting TWO over four years ago. I never know exactly how to answer it. “I’ve never known anything different,” is true but is rarely a satisfactory reply.

It began with two heartbeats blinking on the black and white screen. Two tiny fetal poles, two placentas, and two embryonic sacs. A belly that expanded at twice the rate, causing most to assume that I was months further along than I was. Two lives to nurture, meaning I was twice as hungry and twice as worried. We quickly began to think in two’s. Two cribs, two coming-home-from-the-hospital pink gowns, two deliveries to consider, two of everything (except for the double stroller). The expenses doubled, but so did friends’ and family’s generosity. The gifts piled up and filled up the walls painted pale pink with brown and pink polka-dotted curtains handsewn by Gigi.

As I crossed the threshold into my third trimester at 25 weeks, twin pregnancy expanded to include the dreaded diagnosis of “early preterm labor,” to be treated with “strict bed rest.” One trip daily up and down our stairs; no getting out of the recliner that molded to the shape of my very pregnant body for anything except bathroom trips. The waiting and the waiting and the waiting, anxiously monitoring each movement and cramp and ache and pain. Is this it? Would they wait for another day? Another week? Another 10 weeks? They did. At thirty-five weeks, I pushed for two hours for my firstborn; and seven minutes for my second child. Lucia’s newborn cries were the background and motivation for Alethia’s delivery. A proud Daddy cradling two pink bundles of fresh baby. Surprisingly healthy, they were. Until they weren’t four days later. It was back to the hospital for both of them. When two newborns are being pushed, prodded, poked with needles and screaming in tiny terror, which room do you choose? Which one needs me more? Which one can I handle better? When I’m with one baby, I’m wondering how her sister is doing in the room next door because I can hear her screams and I want to be there but I can’t leave where I am. And then we are both told to wait outside the dual rooms as they do spinal taps, and tears are streaming down my face and the orderlies are bringing me tissues and candy and soda as vending machine offerings. As if anything could possibly help the mom overwhelmed with hormones and questions and emotions and fear. Times two. The undercurrent of feeling inadequate magnified twice over.

We make it; they get to share a room for the next five days as their weight and temperature stabilizes. Alethia is ready to be released before Lucia; but the pediatrician agrees to wait until both can leave together. For how could I possibly split time between hospital and home when both need their mama?

We bring them home (again). Sobered; relieved; and then the real work of parenting twins begins. I nurse Lucia for 45 minutes, and then she gets a bottle of formula to supplement. Nursing feels impossible, and she can’t quite get used to drinking from a bottle – plus there is the question of is she getting enough and how to know? I hand her to a waiting helper, my mom or Seth, and then it’s time to do it again with Alethia. One-and-a-half hours, and they’re both fed, swaddled, and sleeping. In barely an hour, the routine begins again. The days and nights roll on, one big blur of feeding and burping and swaddling and crying and a little bit of sleep between it all. We make it to one month, then two, and before we know it they’re six months old and smiling and cooing at one another and at us. It feels worth it, and it begins to feel easier. A year passes, and it’s a double birthday. One song and cake smash, and then the other one. We breathe a collective sigh of relief: we have brought two babies to their first birthday simultaneously!


Five Minute Friday: “hold”

It’s been a good week, of finally getting a sense of our fall rhythm, of looking ahead to a beach vacation with family, of more quiet moments than rushing-hurry-hurry ones. And so I return to Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung, five minutes of writing unedited each Friday on a given prompt, with the word “hold.”


You were so tiny that my finger dwarfed your arm. Your arm! At 5 lbs 6 oz. and 4 lbs 11 oz., you were small miracles. Miracles that waited through 10 weeks of strict bed rest before entering the world. And to finally hold you! To see the faces I had dreamt of – well, it made all 35 weeks of pregnancy worth it. Button noses, dark blue alert eyes, mouths that smiled as you slept your newborn dreams.

I thought I would never tire of holding you close. And I haven’t (most days). You still want to cuddle close after a bad dream or a skinned knee. There’s a unique way that you each settle in, laying your head on my shoulder with long legs that now stretch to my knees. Usually, it is this holding that is enough to calm you down. 

How you teach me! About settling in to my Father’s embrace – returning to him for comfort amidst emotional storms, leaning trustfully into his arms. 



what’s your dream?

photo credit:

photo credit:

Last night I threw out this question to a few friends as we sipped drinks on my front porch in celebration of summer’s end: “What’s your dream?” All of us admitted to the difficulty of answering this question. I had mine on the ready (because it’s what prompted me to ask it), and a few of us had some ideas. But we all discussed why it’s hard to dream. And, I need to add, why it’s hard to dream as adult women. To children it comes easy. Astronaut, president, ballerina-princess-doctor (one of my daughter’s current dreams). “I’ll live in a castle!” “I’ll own half the world!” With gleeful enthusiasm, children freely dream. There are no checks to their dreams. No pause to think of the logical details like how and how much and when and what if. Their dreams tend to be fairly easy come, easy go as well. Yesterday she wanted to be a firefighter; today’s she’s going to be an artist. There’s no conflict in her mind.

What happens to our dreaming capacity as we grow up? I’m wondering if it’s similar to what happens to our creativity. That we begin comparing and analyzing and being “realistic” the older we get. We also go through a fair number of disappointed dreams, and this process starts to tell my heart that it’s emotionally too costly to dream. Then of course, there’s the question of if I dream, then how can I have a chance of contentment in my ordinary here-and-now? I think that’s why dreaming comes especially hard to us as women, many of whom have part of domestic life as our dream and/or our reality. Even if I am living my dream in spending most hours of most days at home with my kiddos, there are other parts to my life about which I have dreams. Motherhood often entails putting my dreams on hold, by choice and/or by force.

As I pursue my dream of writing a book, I am going through all of this (and more). Self-doubt creeps in disguised as “being realistic” and I condemn myself for wanting to write more than cook dinner, clean, or do crafts with my kids. I get impatient because walking towards a dream takes time. It’s slow and uncertain. And there is so much fear lurking just beneath the excitement. Fear that it won’t happen, that I’m not really “good enough,” that I will be horribly disappointed or that it will be too consuming and take away from life and love and relationships (thus=not worth it).

Nevertheless, I am trying to silence all my nay-sayers and live my dream. Have a dream; pursue it; and find out what happens along the way.

One inspiration? My in-laws, who ever since their only grandchildren were born 4 years ago have nurtured a dream of living day-to-day life with their only son and his family. Living in northern New Jersey got in the way, and so over the past year+ they have worked steadily towards realizing their dream and tomorrow will call Virginia “home.” Leaving friends they’ve known all their lives behind, and the only house they’ve called “home” in their 41 years of marriage, they will be traveling down here to be with us. I certainly am humbled to be the recipient of such love, and I am inspired at their courage to live their dream during their sunset years. They’re teaching me that you’re never too old to dream! 

summer’s end (come quickly)

photo credit: huffington post

photo credit: huffington post

Their energy – boundless
My ideas run dry.
We have colored and painted (sort of) and read stories about Thumbelina and the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Attended the $1 summer movies together
Toured the local parks, zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium
Listened to night crickets and caught the elusive
Fireflies. Even put them into a jar
(until one escaped and lit up the nursery, to their horror).
But summer’s energy can’t be bottled –
(oh, how moms everywhere wish it could!)

Will I miss these long, lazy days by the pool
and spontaneous trips to the waves, salt, and sand?
The vacations to friends and visits from the same?
Well, of course.
It’s an exchange.
Of the unscheduled for the routine,
Of the lazy for the diligent,
Of the mom-directed days to the hours in the preschool teacher’s classroom.
And yet we will all be happier (in a different way)
come September.

Oh, summer! How I used to hate to see you go!
And now, it seems, I have tired of you.
Ah, school-days. Return soon.
I’ve missed you – they have missed you.
Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic –
we need you.
To rescue moms everywhere from summer’s long and lingering and endless days.

[disclamor: I do love summer. Honest. And I love my kids dearly. But preschool … dear preschool … it’s been just what all three of us need. See my post here:  “on the eve of preschool” ]


when less is more


photo credit:

“More, more, more!” is the mantra of our American materialistic culture. It’s quite too easy to get sucked into this vortex of spending, consuming, acquiring, building, adding. This message of “more is better” spills into the crevices of my attitudes about time, too. So I find myself over-scheduling our summer days out of fear of boredom; and I find myself researching the next best activities in which to enroll my preschool-age daughters; and then while I’m at it, I might as well think about community classes I want to participate in as well. Plus I should actually be using my gym membership on a regular basis, and the memberships we have to a few local attractions. And before I know it, we are all spinning, spinning, spinning like the hamster in her crystal clear ball who thinks she may be running her way to freedom. Nothing has changed though – she is just as trapped as 15 minutes earlier when her owners placed her there for “exercise.”

For a while now, I’ve been challenged to consider “less is more.” Hatmaker’s book Seven is the best cultural expose [don’t know how to add an accent there] I’ve read so far – it will jolt you out of comfortable materialism in the best of ways. Slowly I’ve sought to purge our home of the unnecessary “stuff” and certainly to think twice before buying more. My friends Katherine, Mary, and Maria have inspired me to think about what this could mean for our kids, and I’ve done a few toy purges as a result. It turns out when my kids have fewer options to play with, they really are more focused and contented in their play. (Not to mention that there is less mess to clean up!) Simplicity Parenting is on my summer/fall reading shelf because I want to consider this further.

And then there’s time. Yesterday I trimmed a couple activities in favor of a more leisurely start to our day, and we were all happier. We need fallow hours in a day. I need them, and my three-year-old daughters certainly do. Less schedule means more quality time spent together in the ordinary, and less rushing. When I say quality time, this doesn’t usually mean that we are all blissfully enjoying one another’s company. It often means I am refereeing the screaming girls as they fight over the most-popular-toy-of-the-minute – but I am doing so without trying to also rush them out the door, to get dressed, to put on those darn ever-wandering shoes, to eat their breakfast NOW. Quality time with preschoolers looks like floor time doing a puzzle or playing a game. Or sipping my coffee while I enjoy their “show” (usually dancing to Frozen’s ever-popular “Let It Go”). And then some more coaching in how to get along with one another, and how not to have a mean face when you’re not getting what you want, and how to listen respectfully to me, and how to enjoy the slow unscheduled time.

Less is quite certainly more. It’s a trade I hope to continue to learn and practice and discover – that when I trade the “more is better” for “less is more” mantra, we all end up with what I wanted more of in the first place. More joy, more quality of life, more tuning in to the important and tuning out the apparently urgent, more of stepping out of the ever-exhausting cycle of acquiring stress and stuff in favor of learning contentment with what I have and appreciating what I’ve been given.

how to survive your husband’s mission trip (or business trip)

A post I wrote a few weeks ago when my husband was in Peru for a 10-day mission trip. For obvious (security) reasons, I’m just now posting it. I hope it’s helpful. And, hey, I did survive that trip. The two things that were MOST crucial were (1) my mom coming to visit and help out for the second half of his absence (just when I felt like I might pull my hair out, or someone’s hair out) and (2) LOTS of grace extended to me and the girls by Jesus – good sleeping, no illness, presence of mind to take breaks when I/they needed them.


Two years ago, my husband led his first mission trip to India. Our twin daughters were 18-months-old, and they were just rounding the bend of that quite difficult “terrible two’s” stage that lasted for quite too long. Needless to say, the ten days he was across the world serving God in vibrant, spiritually energizing ways, I was pulling my hair out exhausted and worn out from solo-parenting these girls. He returned home, and as he shared stories of seeing God work in incredible ways, I grew increasingly resentful and jealous. I told him in bitter jest that I would not allow him to go on another mission trip until our daughters were in school full-time.

Three days ago he left for Peru for another mission trip. And you know what? This time around it’s been so much better. I have taken a few pages out of the books of my amazing Navy wife friends who are called upon to endure MONTHS of deployments, sometimes at little more than a few weeks’ notice. As I have seen them (you) endure these long days and weeks and months without your husband, I have learned a few tips that I tried to implement this time around. I share them in hopes of encouraging you who may be in the same boat.

  1. Say yes to help. Myriads of people in your community really want to help you. If they offer, take them up on it. Say “yes”! Write their names down; call them when a need arises. We cannot do this alone. Just like it will take an entire team to do the missions work my husband is engaged in, it will take a team (of your “village”) to help sustain you while you await his return.
  2. Plan fun activities. I’ve tried to do things we do not usually do, and to plan one main fun activity each day. Like going swimming; eating ice cream; having a sleepover with friends. This has made the days pass more quickly for them and for me.
  3. Be especially intentional and attentive. It’s not just hard on me – it’s also hard on my kiddos not to have Daddy around to break up their days. So I’m trying to stretch myself and do more spontaneous play than I usually do – and if the dishes don’t get washed by the end of the day, no big deal. There’s always tomorrow … !
  4. Join with them in prayer. I joined with the other wives of team members to pray for our husbands and their team. It was encouraging to lift up this team together and feel like we were a very real part of their missions work. It also helped to build camaraderie among us “left behind.”
  5. Stock up on supplies. Day one (when we had the most energy), we went to the grocery store and loaded our cart with lots of “happy food.” Meaning, ice cream and chocolate syrup and frozen meals and sugary snacks we don’t usually buy. I put a few beverages of choice in the cart, and we went off on our merry way into the week ahead.
  6. Remember that Jesus is my provision as much as he is my husband’s provision. Part of God providing for Seth to go on this mission trip is an implicit promise that he will also provide for me as I’m at home alone with our girls. I also have an opportunity to trust God more fully and to watch him show up in surprising ways for me.

reflections on my story

20140617-071914-26354591.jpgTen days ago, I celebrated a milestone birthday. Not one of the big “decades,” but one that felt significant nonetheless. Birthdays are great opportunities for reflection, and every year I enjoy writing a bit about the year prior and anticipating the year ahead. In March of this year, I did a retreat that could be the title for my story: “When Good Girls Get It All Wrong.” This past year has been a year of realizing more and more of the ways I get it wrong when I trust my goodness instead of God’s abundant grace. My story is one of the prototypical “good girl.” I am the oldest of three children with two younger brothers. I attended private Christian school through eighth grade and my worst nickname was “Goody-Goody.” The transition to public high school was terrifying and faith-activating. While experiencing being made fun of for being a Christian, my youth pastor wisely identified this as a form of persecution for my faith. And all of a sudden, God’s Word came alive to me. Passages like this one in 1 Peter 4:12-14 made sense to me for the first time:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

When it was time for college, I ventured out to Wheaton College, hundreds of miles from home. I still am amazed at that courage as an 18-year-old who had never lived anywhere but my small hometown in South Carolina. Those four years were full of long, important conversations that can happen in the context of “all freedom/no responsibility” and halfway through college, grace flooded in for this good girl. I was months away from being a Resident Assistant to a hall of 50 freshmen and sophomore women, and God found me through his grace as I realized how much I needed him. I could not rely on my try-harder goodness to carry me through what had become a crippling bout of anxiety-induced insomnia. The summer between my sophomore and junior year is fondly remembered as “the summer of grace,” when grace flooded into my Christian life – transforming what had been black-and-white into full color. Not unlike when Dorothy in Oz travels from tornado-torn Kansas to the yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City.

I will fast forward a few years to the next major turning point of faith for me: Christmas of 2003 which was bookended by news of both parents’ cancer diagnoses. Yes, you read that right: BOTH. My mom received her diagnosis December 23, and then when we gathered as a family again on December 31, Dad shared that he, too, had been diagnosed with cancer. My parents had always been healthy, and I had taken them for granted. This shook me as a young finding-my-way elementary school teacher who assumed life would continue as it always had. The gift to my faith in the midst of this season of questions and wondering how I would make it through is that I questioned. Really questioned and had to wrestle with a God who did not guarantee “the good, healthy and happy life” to his people. I often felt like I was questioning alone – because so many in my well-meaning Christian community jumped to, “It’s going to be fine!” or wanted to give pat answers that failed to connect with my heart. This journey through questions, doubt, darkness prepared me for the next stage of calling: pursuing a graduate degree in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary outside of Philadelphia.

My parents both survived (and have been cancer-free for over a decade) and my faith deepened; and the gift of counseling has been the gift of walking with others through their questions, their pain, their suffering; their untold stories of tragedy, grief, loss, abuse, dreams imploding. And it has been the gift of witnessing hope emerging, slowly and painfully at times like a butterfly getting used to its new wings as it emerges from its cocoon. My own hope rehabilitation journey in seminary included the unexpected gift of meeting and marrying my pastor-husband, who persevered despite much resistance from this battle-weary woman who had been through a few too many break-ups by that point to easily entrust my heart to another. Being married to him has been good and beautiful and hard and sanctifying all at the same time, often in the same moments.

And then we had twins. I have talked about my journey of motherhood often on this blog, so I’ll leave it to prior posts to fill in those gaps. [suggested: Trusting God When You’re Expecting, Part 3: A New Chapter Called “Bed Rest“;  Tiny Miracles; Twins: The First Month; Confessions of an Angry Mom, part 12, & 3A Prayer for Potty TrainingTears and TransitionsFor the love of poetryIdentity lessons from “Angelina Ballerina”The one voice that matters mostMind the gap]

Needless to say, for two control-freak parents addicted to self-sufficiency and independence, twin daughters has by far been the best and hardest part of our lives as we find our way back to grace over and over and over again.

Where am I now? Full of anticipation for the next years or decades of life left before I go Home. I want to write. I want to write of hope amidst imploded dreams and war-torn hearts. I want to give voice to suffering and permission to speak of tragedy and to ask the hard questions we too often paste over with faith platitudes. I want to connect with you, my faithful readers, friends, family. I want to hear and share stories yet untold and unheard. To celebrate grace and life and beauty in all its forms, and to beg for redemption and healing for all the pain that creeps in uninvited. I want to laugh, to create art, and to unleash creativity in a million little ways. Join me? I’d be so honored.



the God who sees (moms who feel invisible)

It was a shocking story to hear. Of a woman who slept with her boss, and then became pregnant. Upon discovery, her boss’ wife asked that she be thrown out (for, you see, this woman was working in their home – a maid, of sorts). Oh, the irony! For the plan had been formulated by her boss’ wife, and this maid was only doing what had been asked of her. Her boss’ wife arranged for their maid to sleep with her husband, out of hopes that the maid would get pregnant and that the child could carry on their family name. When that very thing happened, conflict and contempt erupted between the two women. The boss? He didn’t defend the maid, but told his wife to do whatever she thought was best. And so this maid was abused and then thrown out, utterly destitute and expecting to die. While pregnant with child.

You would think this is the end of that very awful story. But it’s actually just the beginning. For this woman was found by one who cared – she was met in such a way that gave her courage to return to this home … !! (for that home was her only hope of survival for her and her soon-to-be born son) What made the difference?

An encounter with the God who sees. He gave her yet-unborn son a name – “the God who hears” – and she, in turn, gave her God a name – “you are the God who sees.” She was heard; she felt seen. And her story was recorded to give exponential hope for untold women and moms and destitute and abandoned who wonder if there is a God who hears and a God who sees. Her name? Hagar. Her son’s name? Ishmael. The boss and boss’ wife? Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 16:13 records it here –

“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ “

mother's dayAs we approach Mother’s Day tomorrow, I want to remind you and me and all of us moms that it’s not about how much recognition we get. You have already been seen; your invisible and secret and overlooked work is validated by the God who sees. He sees the invisible and untold sacrifice of sleep, sanity, bathroom breaks to yourself, time alone, friendships, meaningful conversation, money to spend on what you want v. what your kids need, dreams, career, mental capacity. He sees all that you may not even be able to name, and HE looks after you. He commends you. He meets you in the don’t-have-enough-they’ve-taken-it-all moments when you really want to lay down and bury your head in your pillow and disappear from the whines and demands and incessant asking, asking, asking, and never-having-enough’ing. He saw you when instead of disappearing and locking yourself in your room, you gave a hug; invited your child into your lap for a snuggle; fed the crying baby (again) at 3:42am; warmed up the mac & cheese for dinner; poured the Cheerios into the bowl; swept up the mess made by the Cheerios spilling out of the bowl; cleaned the markers from the wall; folded laundry for the only quiet 30 minutes of your day; mopped up the potty-training accident for the 12th time; put the fighting siblings in time-out for the 22nd time; woke up before you wanted to; went to bed hours after your strength gave out.

He saw you show up instead of run away. He saw you enter in to the emotional distress of your adolescent daughter as she felt hurt and left out and alone. He sees you when you don’t let your teenage son run away – and you pursue him with hard questions and consequences and he screams at you in anger for messing with his life (while inside he knows you love him). He saw you carry the load alone of parenting when your husband walked out the door with another woman. He sees you in the months of single parenting you endure because your husband serves our country in military service that requires foreign deployments when you can’t regularly communicate with him about the ups and the downs of your days without him. He saw you when you wept in losing your weeks-old child to miscarriage. He sees you who are secret moms – moms who lost a pregnancy, or gave up a child to adoption, and no one else knows.

There is one who knows. Who sees. Who celebrates you, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. He rejoices over you, and He will give you strength for the journey ahead. Ask him? Call out to him – be found by him, as Hagar was. And, yes, be celebrated this Mother’s Day … I do hope for you and me that we receive heartfelt cards and sweet handmade gifts that will be small reminders and reflections of the God who sees. But let’s not put our only hope there. There is a bigger hope to be had, and a grander validation and commendation in which to rest. You are seen by the God of seeing. Rest, rejoice, be comforted, find strength there, fellow mom!