Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Gift of Motherhood

Tomorrow is a day I look forward to every year--Mother's Day! I didn't always feel this way, though. In fact, there was a season of time when this day was one marked with sadness and disappointment. Mother's Day of 2008 is one that I especially remember in this regard. Shawn and I had been trying unsuccessfully for a couple of years to conceive our first child. I LONGED to have a baby, and Mother's Day was a pointed reminder of my seemingly barren womb. We were currently employed at The Salvation Army, and the night before my husband received a call from his supervisor that they would be leaving first thing in the morning for disaster relief services in a tornado-ravaged town a few hours away. It was a sudden and unexpected departure with no time table for how long he would be away.

After an early morning goodbye, I got myself ready and headed to church on my own, feeling especially lonely and depressed. During the Mother's Day service, they had all of the mothers stand in recognition. My heart ached that I could not stand myself. As if on cue, a young girl in our small congregation blurted out, "Dana, you should stand up. You're Oreo and Gizmo's mom!" (We owned two little Shih tzus at the time). I can definitely laugh at her innocent comment now, but in the moment I was anything but amused!

However, by Mother's Day the next year, our prayers had been answered, and I was blooming with our first child. I received flowers from my husband and from the church, and I rejoiced in the reality that I carried little Benjamin Lee in my womb. We had no idea at that point that he would make an emergency arrival within the next few weeks, nor that our little warrior would be born with an extra chromosome, fighting for his life. Nonetheless, our miracle boy launched me into the wonderful and frightening world of motherhood. I can hardly believe we will be celebrating his 9th birthday in less than two weeks! 

Since then, we have been blessed with our daughter Joelle Malise (2013), our son Josiah Gage (2015), and I am once again in full bloom with child. We will welcome our daughter Ava Rose on May 24 via repeat c-section (though I won't be at all surprised if she chooses to grace us with her presence sooner)! These little treasures light up my life every day, and I feel so privileged to be their Mommy!

Earlier this week I posted a picture on Facebook of my basketball (or perhaps watermelon?) size belly with the statement, "Growing a tiny human being is incredibly rewarding and extremely exhausting!" However,  the truth of this statement is not limited to pregnancy alone; it's true of motherhood in general! Raising a child with special needs only amplifies this reality. The exhaustion can often run deeper, but I believe the rewards are less likely to be taken for granted. In many ways, having a firstborn with special needs has offered an amazing gift of perspective. We have learned to celebrate each little breakthrough because each one truly is a big deal! At the same time, I've been more in awe watching the natural development of my younger children. I so cherish each one!

This morning I was reading in a devotional book called 100 Days of Blessings: Devotions for Wives and Mothers by Nancy Campbell. It seemed fitting that the title of today's reading was "The Nurturing Anointing." Mrs. Campbell writes,

The "nurturing anointing" is not only relegated to mothers with children. It is God's intention for all women. If we were to ask who was the greatest mother of the last century, there would be a unanimous reply. Mother Theresa. Was she married? No. Did she bear her own children? No. But she was a great nurturer. She fed the poor. She loved the unlovely. She poured out her life to the needy. She sacrificed her own goals to bless others.

The world waits to feel the anointing of God's nurturing heart. And it starts with us. It starts in our homes. It starts with pouring out our lives to nurture our own children and then flowing over to meet the needs of the needy around us.

Motherhood is an incredible gift and calling. I am so thankful that God fulfilled my desire to have children, and I do not want to take lightly the important job I've been giving of nurturing them and raising them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. However, I am reminded today that motherhood is not limited to those who have borne natural children. There are many women who give of their hearts and their lives each and every day in loving and serving those around them who may have never had children of their own. They are just as deserving of honor and recognition. As we celebrate Mother's Day tomorrow may we rejoice in our own children and honor those "mothers" in our lives who have given of themselves, enriching our lives in the process!

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