Weary

It's Okay to Say No

By Becky Beresford

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Occasionally NO can be my best friend, but most of the time I hate it. I hate when their tears start streaming. I hate when they stomp their feet and slam their doors. I hate being called mean, when my heart beats tenderly for them. I’m their mama and they are my babies, and I never want to do anything that will hurt them. And yet, sometimes I need to say NO. Even if they don’t understand why, it needs to be done because preventing future pain is more important than avoiding negative reactions. But trust me, mama friend. I still hate it.

Truth be told, this has been going on for a long time; long before I was gifted with my boys. I’ve always liked to be liked. A lot. My life has been filled with the desire to please people at all costs in order to earn their love. When others dislike me, I wrestle with that reality until something inside of me breaks. Letting people down and disappointing others makes me feel like I am failing at kindness. I start to think that in order to show my care, I need to satisfy their happiness quota. I need to let them have whatever they want, whatever makes them smile and say thank you. But being a mama doesn’t work that way. Being a parent or friend or woman doesn’t work that way. And being a follower of Jesus doesn’t work that way either.

Why God Withholds

Believe it or not, God doesn’t give us everything we want. I know, it’s a real shocker. But could we just close our eyes for a minute and imagine what our lives would look like if everything we prayed for happened instantaneously?  If everything we desired was delivered to us on a shiny plate from heaven?  How different would our worlds be?  How different would we be?  Because I’m going to say something bold right now…something that will need to be repeated in my own mind over and over, especially when my prayers seem to go unanswered.

There is beauty in the withholding.  

There is purpose and passion behind God’s ways, and it’s not that He is harsh or wants to see us sad or lacking. On the contrary—God only wants abundance for His children. But if withholding something good is the only way to bring about His ultimate BEST, then He will ask us to trust Him through the process. He will ask us to trust Him as He says NO or maybe or not yet.

Jesus Prays for the Cup to Pass

Thankfully, Jesus wasn’t like me in the crowd-pleasing department. He often stepped away when people wanted to praise Him and make Him an earthly king. Instead of being consumed with others’ opinions, He fixed His eyes on the goodness of His Father, trusting in His greater plan. But there was a moment when Jesus wished circumstances could have changed. As the final hours of His life dwindled, He entered the Garden of Gethsemane filled with intense sorrow. From the depths of His heart He pleaded with His Father. Face to the ground, Jesus prayed,

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.
— Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
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Close your eyes again, Dear Reader. Imagine this pivotal scene. Either answer given would change the course of humanity. Jesus is raw and real and brings His request before the Most High, not as a servant but as a son. His ONLY Son. And yet, the Father knew. He saw the dawning victory and coming glory. He saw the powers of darkness biting at the bit, ready to destroy the Light of the world. But knew He had to say NO. Even though it would break both of their hearts, He knew He had to send His own child to the Cross. He had to refuse the request of His Son in order to usher in what was BEST: Forgiveness. Freedom. Restoration. Redemption. It was the ultimate act of love, and it was ushered in by a holy NO. He denied His own child for the sake of relationship. God said NO to Jesus so He could say YES to us. And it was the most beautiful display of devotion this world has ever seen.

A Sacred No

Some NO’s are sacred. Some refusals are needed. They may not be easy, but they have the ability to bring about greater and grander things. 

Remember that mama and make sure you stand tall. If our Creator recognizes the importance of withholding, it’s okay if we do too. We are not being cruel when we choose to say NO. We shouldn’t feel guilty or paint ourselves as unkind. Instead, we are doing what we are called to do. We are nurturing and guiding and discerning and protecting. We are building our children’s trust as we place our faith in the Father.

 He is incredibly good. He is abundant in love. May ALL of our answers lead right back to Him.


The Danger of DIY Motherhood

By Lindsay Dryer

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Pinterest Fail

Oh, Pinterest. It’s amazing how I can both love and loathe something all at the same time. Pinterest always comes through for me when I’m looking for a quick and easy recipe, nail color inspiration before my next mani, or ideas on how to style my new shirt. Usually somewhere along my search, I see something cute that catches my eye — some kind of DIY project that looks so easy my kids could do it — and I think, “Oh wow! I’m totally going to try that!” *Clicks “Pin It” button. (Insert audience laughter here.)

But looking at Pinterest usually has a way of reminding me how creative I am NOT and how I’ll probably never get around to trying all of those DIY projects I’ve pinned (and if, by some miracle, I do try one out…it will probably be a #pinterestfail).

DIY Motherhood

I was reminded of a similar reality recently as I was reading through Romans 7. Check it out with me. (Hint: I find it easiest to understand this passage when I read it outloud. But read slowly. It’s a bit of a tongue twister!)

 

For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
— ROMANS 7:19-24 (CSB)

In other words…I have big plans of doing good and great things, but I can’t seem to do them! Instead, I keep doing wrong or bad things.

Can anyone else relate to this passage of Scripture? Especially in the realm of motherhood?

This feels like a description of my daily battles. Every day I set out to love well and lead well in my home. I plan to speak with a kind and gentle voice, to demonstrate patience and long-suffering towards my kids, and to parent selflessly, putting their needs above my own. 

And every day…I fail. When I want to do the right things, sin is always close by. As Trillia J. Newbell puts it in her study, If God is For Us, “Paul [the author of Romans] rightly describes this battle as a war between the truth we know in our hearts and minds and the desires of our flesh. These two aspects of our being are waging war against one another."

It’s a really good thing this passage in Romans doesn’t stand alone because it’s painful to read! I don’t know about you, but it leaves me feeling a little drained of hope.

We must keep reading, friends. The good news is next in verse 25,“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Who will rescue me from this ongoing battle? JESUS!

And we can’t stop there! As we move into Romans 8, we see the most beautiful explanation in the Bible of how the truth of the gospel is worked out in our hearts. And… spoiler alert: it’s not a DIY project! (Can I get an AMEN?!)

Read Romans 8:5-6 with me. I love the way it’s paraphrased in The Message version:

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

WOW. Did you catch that?

When we think we can do this life on our own—what I’m calling “DIY motherhood”—we begin obsessing over ourselves and become so inwardly focused that we can’t see God at work in our day-to-day, moment-by-moment lives!

Upward Focused

Instead, we should:

  • have our minds set on the Spirit (vv. 5-6),

  • recognize the work that God has already done on the cross (through His Son) and is continuing to do in our hearts (through His Spirit).

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
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I don’t know the details of your story or what’s on your planner for tomorrow, but I’m certain that you have things to do and places to go. You have babies to raise, hearts to shepherd, dreams to accomplish, and more! And the best way to do it all? Don’t do it yourself.

Look upward, not inward. That’s where the real, lasting hope lies.

Apply It:

Take some time this week to read, study, and meditate on the truths packed in Romans 7-8. When you find yourself measuring your “moral muscle” or becoming discouraged by the battle described in Romans 7, stop and remember that God never called you to DIY motherhood. He called you to life IN HIM.


In My Weakness: The Truth About (im)Perfection

By Gabi Kelley

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Hey moms, you don’t have to be perfect. No, really. There’s no need to be spending your time and sanity trying to do everything right...stressing about things like, “Has my kid done enough creative things today? Is she getting too much screen time? Should I feed him a different snack? Am I spending enough time sitting on the floor playing with them? What if they’re not getting enough brain stimulation? Am I reading the right books, disciplining them properly, letting them get away with too much?”

Seriously, we can’t do this to ourselves anymore. Because here’s the deal—what your kids want and need is a happy mommy who loves them. And listen, I know you LOVE your kids, but are you happy? Or are you so bogged down by doing everything right (in parenting and life) that parenting has become a heavy weight you wish you could escape?

Let me tell you this: I will never judge you as a parent. I have been walking through enough hiccups and surprises with things our kids are going through, things our family has had to carry, that my sympathy/empathy/no-judgment level is through the roof. If your kids are angelic and clean and polite, then I celebrate you because you are doing awesome. You’ve been consistent and patient and kind, and you’ve had to work through plenty of things to have this good day with these good kids. And if your kids are having massive meltdowns and screaming their heads off in the middle of a grocery store, and they have chocolate stains all over their shirts, and you give them the iPad to play with just to calm them down, I celebrate you because you’re doing awesome. You’re there and you didn’t run out the door and I’m sure the things you and your kids are facing at home or elsewhere are more challenging than anyone in your life can understand. Regardless, those kids are all gonna grow up remembering that their mommy was with them. On the good days and the bad days, the thing that will stick with them is that you were there. They won’t care if they had salmon or pizza for dinner, they will care if you were present and engaged while they were eating it.

There are enough things in life to cause us stress, let’s not make parenting competition and comparison one of them. Your kids are YOUR kids, and God gave them to YOU—you with your quirks and your temperament and your skills and your sense of humor—and He knew the challenges you would have in your life (both parenting and non-parenting related). He knew the specific special needs your kids would deal with and decided that you (yes, YOU) were the one who would be able to handle them. He knew YOU would be mom to YOUR KIDS.

 I’m not saying we shouldn’t follow good advice or throw training our kids out the window. We have to train them, and it will be hard. But doing specific things just because you’re worried about being perfect or not messing up is not the right motivation. Press into Jesus. Trust the grace He has for you today. Believe that He catches all the things that fall through the cracks and rest in the fact that the strength He has given you today is enough for what you and your kids need. So if you don’t get everything done you “needed” to get done, or if your kids watch an extra movie because you just can’t do anymore, it’s ok. You’re ok mama. And you know what? You’re doing awesome and you were made for this.

In fact, one of the very greatest promises in the Bible is this:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
— 1 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

I know you’ve heard this verse a million times, that it’s one you can likely recite from memory, but let’s not take it for granted. Go back and read it one more time, slowly, and take it all in.

Seriously, if we can wrap our minds around this verse as moms, the heavy burdens of self-condemnation, competition, and guilt could be greatly lifted off of our shoulders. Because guess what? We have something that super-moms don’t have – God’s power.

Whoa whoa whoa—hold on, slow down. Does this perhaps mean that on those days when you really JUST CAN’T, the days when you KNOW there was a whole list of you completely messed up on or skipped or missed or just threw out the window—the days when your WEAKNESS is prevalent—that God gets to show up in the most special way?!

I think YES. Because those are the days (and the hours and minutes) when you get to fall directly into the outstretched grace arms of Christ and let Him do His thing.

We hang on to control so tightly, we work so hard, we strive and strive to be perfect, to be everything to everyone, but these, in fact, could be the very things holding us (and our kids) back from truly experiencing the power of God.

(Dang girl, this is good stuff!)

If you’re not sold yet, let’s take a look at this same Scripture in The Passion Translation together:

My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.

My power finds its full expression through your weakness.

Wow, I don’t know about you, but this brings tears to my eyes and kind of makes me want to fall on my knees and say, “Thank you, Jesus.” This is a beautiful, incredible promise we’ve been given! This is who our Jesus is. The same One whose most painful, most broken moment resulted in the most magnificent glory will do the same in us.

Maybe your apology to your kid after you lost your temper is more powerful and healing for his heart than if you hadn’t lost it at all.

Maybe it’s during those mornings when you turn on cartoons and roll over to go back to sleep that God is healing your soul.

Maybe it’s on the days when you all eat Pop Tarts for dinner because you forgot to go grocery shopping that will make your children feel deeply, intimately loved, because instead of cooking and cleaning, you laughed about the meal and you talked and played and looked each other in the eye, all enjoying the unique togetherness of the “OOPS.”

Maybe it’s those moments with your special-needs child when you are completely at a loss about what to do that God gets to step in to parent your child’s spirit because you’ve had to surrender.

Maybe it’s that season of grief and loss and pain that you’ve had to walk through, making it hard to be engaged as a mom, when the grace and power of Christ are at work in your spirit and the spirits of your kids, making faith roots go down deep. Roots that will sustain each of you in the future, displaying the glory of God in your lives.

Maybe it’s exactly when you DON’T have it all together, when you’re NOT super-mom, when you actually can’t do all the things you’re “supposed” to do for your kids that you get to learn true humility and genuinely experience the incredible, grace-filled power of God flowing in and through your life and onto your kids.

Except I don’t think God would say MAYBE.

I think He’d say DEFINITELY.

He’s a good God; a God of rest, and the true Father of us and our children. So lay down your burdens, reveal to Him your weaknesses, jump into His grace, and watch Him do miracles in your family’s life over the years that you never could have dreamed.


Mama Bear in Warfare

 By Brittany Rust

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I’ve never been under spiritual warfare when it comes to health. Let alone, that on top of a mountain of battles. And boy, when the body is weak time and again, it seems the spirit can become weak as well if not diligent.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to share this weekend because I’ve felt so beat down. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to give. But then, why not speak from my battlefield. Spiritual warfare is so very real for all of us so let’s go there. And honestly, looking at the last several posts I can’t help but see God is wanting to speak intimately to some weary moms out there. 

I’m going through one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever been through. It started about fifteen months ago and about a month ago, I thought it would get easier. Instead, it got harder. WAY harder. The kind of hard that beats down with one thing after another. The kind that attacks all areas of your life and family. The kind that hits so hard you want to tap out. 

Right now, I’m sitting in bed, barely getting this out, alone. I’ve moved states but my husband is still back in Colorado for the time being. I’m without my partner and best friend, working full time and taking care of our little guy. All the things I assumed would come so easy because “God is in this” aren’t coming so easy and I’m doubting. We’ve been in urgent care two out of our three weekends here because with Roman it’s been one thing after another. Then I got sick this week. Like, so sick I haven’t been this sick maybe ever. And then tonight, as if our health wasn’t being attacked enough, Roman got pink eye...again. 

As a mom, I see my little man suffer and mama bear comes out. I want to fiercely protect him—to make him better. But I can’t. All I can do is help him along the best I can. 

Here’s how I’ve been feeling this week: I can take a long, spiritual battle. I’ve done it before. But my kid—not so easy. My perseverance is limited and my patience thin. Mama bear doesn’t like waiting for the storm to pass for her little guy who can’t kick sickness and misses his dad like crazy. I feel helpless. I feel guilty.

I’ve been pretty upset with Him this week. I’ve questioned and doubted. I told my friend this week, “I assumed it would be an easy transition because I thought God was in it. But it’s been so hard and now I’m questioning everything. Does this mean God isn’t in it?” 

She encouraged me so well (thank goodness for sisterhood, right?!). She said,

”Because it isn’t going easy does not mean God isn’t in it. It means things like that are just hard. Peace does not always come in the journey because journeys are a struggle with ups and downs. Peace will come later. Kinda when you go on a hike and it’s hard but when you are done it’s that moment you take a breath.”

She’s right—the right path isn’t always going to be easy; life is just hard sometimes. And then I was reminded, also this week, that God uses hard times to call out our perseverance. It’s something I’m struggling to have as a mom but that doesn’t mean I get a “get out of jail free” card because my kid is involved. Perseverance just needs to go to a whole other level! 

What I’m trying to say is this: Spiritual warfare will happen. And when it effects your kids, it will poke the mama bear within and perhaps cause you to fight or flight. But what if God just wants you to stick close and keep going? One foot in front of the other, wearily trudging ahead. 

Stand firm and keep fighting the battle, mama. Don’t lose hope. Keep the faith. Choose to endure. 

Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
— Hebrews 6:18-19

How do you and I keep our head above water until relief comes? Flee towards Jesus. Have confidence in Him, not the surroundings. Trust the anchor to hold until the storm passes. We aren’t guaranteed an easy, breezy life. But we are promised a steady Savior in the midst of our chaos and uncertainty. Are you anchored by Him? Tethered to his unwavering love and care for you? He won’t leave you alone in the storm. His door of hope is just ahead. Don’t give up, friend. This too shall pass.


For the Days You Just Can't

By Becky Beresford

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Hey there, Momma.  

Could you do me a favor? From the depths of your sleep deprived soul, could you tell me how you are doing? No really. How are you? No sugar coating. No fake smiles or half-laughs. I really need to know because it’s been one of those weeks, and I feel myself starting to believe it. I’m starting to think Jesus should have given my littles to another put-together momma. Someone who resembles Mary Poppins and cooks like Rachel Ray. I look around at these flawless moms tackling life and think, “if they only knew.” If they only knew that my hot mess exterior mirrors the messier thoughts inside. And so, dear friend, please be honest. Because my mind knows I’m not alone, but today my heart needs to hear it. Today I need my sisters to tell me they get it. To stand in solidarity, with hands lifted high—coffee in one hand and the Word of truth in the next. I don’t want to pretend things are okay. I want to be real because this need for authentic community outweighs the risk of the unveiling. So, this is my invitation. This is my unmasking. I want you to see my genuine home, a place where the beauty and the broken are combined. A place I welcome you to now.

I’m a momma to three young boys, one of whom has Autism. He is a total joy and gift like the rest of our little men, but so many days I feel like I’m orchestrating a sea of chaos while drowning in self-doubt. I want to communicate with my sweet boy, but sometimes I don’t know how. I want to give him what he needs, but I’m not sure what. I often look at the circumstances in our family and wonder if it’s me. Am I the reason things aren’t more put together? Am I doing it all wrong? My husband was recently diagnosed with Autism as well, so now I am trying to navigate two different, but similar waters simultaneously. Most days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. I try to accommodate the needs of everyone while maintaining my sanity, although this is not guaranteed. Throw in health issues, financial struggles and career moves, and it creates an immaculate storm of overwhelm. These are my ‘just-survive’ days. These are the days that I just can’t even.

When the meltdowns are fierce, and my children are falling apart, it takes everything in me to not plop on the floor next to them and cry collective tears. I feel the weight of the world. Every momma does. We feel the weight of raising children to be functioning adults who can thrive and succeed and love others like Jesus loves us. It is the heaviest and most heavenly honor anyone can have, and sometimes we feel like we’re messing it up completely. When the demands and deadlines and schedules pile up, we can look at ourselves and begin to believe we are not enough for our babies. We feel so less than. We’ve missed the Pinterest perfection mark by a mile and a half. We are undone and outdone. And that is when it happens. In that precious, imperfect moment, our gentle Savior kneels down and joins us on the floor. He meets us in the insecurity and pain. On our hardest days, He knows we can’t see ourselves for who we really are. But HE CAN. And He longs for God’s Daughters to get a sacred glimpse from the throne room above.

  • When we can’t see past our sins, He sees our sainthood.

  • When we can’t carry the load, He carries our hearts.

  • When we can’t heal the pain, He binds all wounds.

  • When we can’t stop the chaos, He gives us peace.

  • When we can’t hold it together, He holds our whole world.

  • When we can’t find the strength, He makes us resilient.

  • When we can’t do it alone, He reminds us He lives within.     

Ladies, we have a calling that is not for the faint of heart. Being a mom requires everything we have and more, and sometimes we feel like we just don’t have anything left to give. But our faithful Father does not leave us to weather the storm alone. He anchors our reality in who He is, not in our “cans” or “cannots”. Our worth has never been based on what we can accomplish, but instead, it is rooted in what He has already done. It’s hard for mommas because we’ve been trained to DO! But when we embrace God’s capacity to cover every detail of our lives in grace, it relieves us from our duty to perform. We don’t have to earn God’s goodness when it’s been given freely. The Bible says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9


If that’s the case, then our weaknesses actually lead us into the deepest kind of strength. Our barely-surviving days can do what they are meant to do: highlight God’s unmatched ability, not our inability. Here, the power of shame is taken away and is miraculously exchanged for the power of Jesus…a power that is about His provision, not our perfection.

Breathe it in, beautiful one. Take in His kindness and let go of the guilt.  Because perfect moms don’t exist, but perfect Love does. And out of all the women in the world He chose YOU to be your baby’s first love. Not Miss Poppins, not Rachel. You. Just as you are. Hand-picked from heaven to hold your child’s heart.

We are covered, Mommas. Our whole lives through. Especially on the days when we just can’t even.


The Bone-Dried Mama

By Shannon Toller (Guest Mom Blogger)

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I feel God calling me to talk to you about mommin' today. After all, I am a mommy blogger. I should be talkin' about mommin' on a regular basis. But, here I am, trying to spread the Gospel through my writing and my little mommy blog, and I am forgetting about the most important ministry in my life: the one I created myself.

Today, I need to remind myself that I am doing God's work. Because at this very moment, I'm juggling two crying (one colicky, one teething) babies. Derryn is at my grandma's for the day, because some days, juggling three kids makes me feel like the mad elephant in the circus. I get angry, and I yell. I turn Hulk-green and this Proverbs 31 mama turns into Tupac real quick. Motherhood has tested me and stretched me, in more ways than one. It has brought me some of my deepest and truest joys but has also dealt me some horrible awful along with it. I had PPD (Post-Partum Depression) with all of my ladies, and every time got worse and worse. Some days, I find myself asking God (sometimes cursing God), "why did You think I could do this? Why did You give me three girls who are carbon copies of me, and not all of those copies are good? Shouldn't you have fixed me before You made me a mama?"

The answer to that last question is where we are going to camp. NO, God didn't need to "fix me" prior to becoming a mama. And God didn't need to "fix you" before you became a mama. Fix is a relative term, anyway. Fix implies that something is broken. Fix implies that you need to make whatever it is that is broken, better. Maybe sometimes to "fix something" is to replace something; get a brand spankin' new version of something that is still working and still kicking. But, let what I am about to tell you sink in: apart from God, ALL OF US are broken, yet completely irreplaceable, in His eyes.

We will stumble and fall in this life. Jesus promises us this. But, we will stumble and fall a lot less with Jesus by our side. He will be there to carry us when we can't take another step. He will come alongside us and be our strength. He will shield us from the enemy and keep us safe in His arms. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, y'all. Absolutely nothing. But with Him, oh! Think of what we can do with Him. Think of all of the things He yearns to do with you!

Jesus longs to help you with the dishes. He wants us to sing songs of praise to Him while giving the kids bubble baths. He craves the laughter that we draw out when we get on the floor and play with our kiddos. He loves us and rejoices in what we rejoice in. And He created each of us, completely different from one another, yet alike in so many ways. I'm sure I'm not the only mama who hides in her bathroom. (Can I get an amen?!) I'm sure I'm not the only one who wonders if I'm doing a "good enough" job. I'm entirely sure that I am not the only mama in the world who goes for weeks on empty, while the rest of the household coasts on full. We pour into our husbands, into our babies, into our homes. Sometimes, most times for me, we are pouring from a bone-dry cup. How convenient that our Savior is Living Water. Are you thirsty? Come and drink and never thirst again, He says. Free refills from our Fearless Leader: can't beat that.

Mama, I see you. I see you in your struggle. I see you raising up little arrows in your quiver. I honor you and pray for you daily. Think back to that life-changing day when you locked eyes with your sweet babe for the first time. Think of how your heart grew exponentially in that moment. Give God the glory for your babies, and praise Him with your babies too. Help them to know Whose they are, and more importantly, let them see where you get your strength from. Fill their cups with the Living Water that overflows from your cup. Your work is not done in vain; Jesus sees you and He loves you.

I do, too.