Tag Archive | motherhood

Please, Remember Whose You Are

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Growing up in a day long now past,

A girl’s wise mother used to say,

As she kissed her on the forehead,

Looked her daughter in the eyes,

“Please, remember whose you are.”

She said it every morning,

She said it every day.

As the child became a young teen,

She was certain Mother surely meant

That she was her parent’s daughter

And they wanted her to be good.

Not to build a reputation of bad decisions,

Think carefully before she acted,

Consider the true cost of what she spent.

Steadily though she would grow

Those words were an identification,

She was her parent’s daughter,

And she didn’t long for freedom,

For her parent’s love gave her wings,

The message in her mother’s wisdom

Were the seeds of all she would ever know.

Mother wrote it in the Bible,

In the white clapboard church that day,

When her daughter was baptized,

First step on the pathway to her eternal life,

“Please, remember whose you are,”

Daughter understood she was God’s child,

She’d agreed that she was going to follow His way.

Upon the day of her marriage,

When daughter left her parents home,

It was embroidered as a quotation,

On the picture Mother had carefully sown

“Please, remember whose you are,”

She was a Christian and a Daughter,

Daughter understood she was also a spouse.

Daughter became a mother,

Engaged in many roles in life,

Then one evening in the twilight,

She held her mother’s fading hand,

And she heard from her mother,

“Please, remember whose you are.”

As Mother passed from this earthly strife.

It happens every morning,

On each and every day,

Between the breakfasts and brushing teeth,

A young mother looks in her children’s eyes,

Kisses them on their foreheads,

And they can just hear her say,

“Please, remember whose you are.”



The Child, the Teen, the Mother and the Door


Watching our daughter run from slide, to swing, to bouncy purple dinosaur to the monkey bars I smile remembering other hours at the park.  Smaller hands grasping and smaller legs climbing.  Same short attention span, as if she is trying to cram as many turns in as possible.

Before asking if she could go play she snuck a glance at me and quietly commented, “I love to play at little kids parks like these, but I know I’m to old”.  She pauses then continues, “I like it better being alone, even if it is lonely sometimes.”

I see the child she still is and the young lady she is becoming. I blink. Then I realize that this is what it is like watching her peer cautiously through the open doorway between childhood and adolesence…so beautiful, so frightening.

Now other hands are reaching through the door to grasp our daughter’s, hands that were once flickering shadows are now flesh and bone. Other voices, once faint whispers have now grown louder, more audible and call her name.

In a nanosecond she is poised to leave the coziness of childhood to stand in her newly and wide open to her teenage years, doorway. Tentatively she touches, faintly, briefly but firmly, those outstretched hands. Softy and shyly she answers the beckoning voices of invitation to walk through the door. “I’m coming,” she says!

My breath catches. My heart pumps madly. Never have I regretted my inability to run as I do now. To think I have been grateful to lose my leg after she knew how to look both ways crossing the street, not to dash into the street after a ball or from between parked cars! Oh how I long for it now! As if I might physically restrain her, somehow stop her, freeze time until I know she’s ready…but I long for the impossible.

For long bittersweet minutes, as she remains one foot in childhood and one poised in her teen world I understand an old wisdom saying. The one that says, “A parent must give their child two things, roots and wings.”. I see almost visibly how that notches in with the Proverb so often quoted about childrearing, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”. The life verse we gave claimed for her, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Roots. Have we given her good, healthy roots? We know, for we were not blessed with our child until she was four, that some of her roots started off weak, so we’ve tried our best to strengthen those and help her grow roots in deeper, richer, better soil.

Wings. I see her wings shaking as the breeze ruffles them. She turns back to me and our eyes lock and we cry each others tears. Her hand touches mine and she grasps tightly. She whispers, “Mama”! I hear the first time she called me Mama eight years ago in her voice.

I touch my chest, exactly over my heart and she mirrors my actions. In silence without words we speak what we’ve often said aloud, “Always in here we are connected. The bond cannot be broken. Wherever you are, whatever you do we are together here!”

Wind. Wings need air to fly. Air currents. My actions, reactions, my words…they will set her free…they will lift her in prayer, by praising Our God for our forever family her wings will grow and strengthen beneath His breath.

For a moment I think of her birth mother. Of her difficult choices, her gift to us. The child she blessed us with is barely recognizable. Oh what she has missed!

Oh, thank you Jesus for what I have not been deprived of! Thank you for every tear, every frustration, the years our daughter hoarded food and things afraid they’d disappear, every therapy session, every broken, bleeding memory she pulled forth, every teacher conference, every worship service, every pillow fight, every dandelion, every rose and every thorn! Thank You Jesus for these, the last minutes of her childhood.

Roots and wings. You, Heavenly Father gave me mine. For my parents just didn’t know how! And You are also giving our daughter her roots and her wings, whether through me or her father they come ultimately from You. You are the vine with deep healthy roots and wings that cover, protect and soar. You are our Rock and our Savior and You have these moments of our lives, our brief existences, in the palm of Your hand.

The child, the teen, the mother and the door…You have us all

Let it be!

Call Your Mother


As the firstborn of our mother’s three children I had the unique experience of having the first and last conversation* with her that she would have with one of us on earth.  Nothing do I recall of that first conversation, andh I imagine it was quite brief. 

I probably asked for a book. I was known to be of a one-track mind back then.

Much I recall about the last conversation though.

We talked about her healing progress.  (She was recovering from surgery on her broken right leg.)

We talked about whether my father was being good to her, taking care of her.

We talked about my still new husband.

Mostly though Mama had called to tell me how engaged she had been in the rough draft of a novel I was writing at the time.  She was anticipating the next chapters and of course, the ending.  I drank in her praise.  My writing was not something I shared with my parents for reasons I won’t go into here and now.  But this had been unique circumstances and share I had and she was not just proud of me, she wanted to know every detail of chapters yet to be written for characters whose fate was yet to be determined.

Had I known a precious few moments after our conversation it was the last we’d share on this side of eternity what would I have changed? What would I have said?

I would have said all the things I found unsaid only minutes later.

I would have asked her how to be a mother.  How to cope with my own health crisis later.  I would have asked her if she had any message for my siblings. 

Mainly though I would have wanted to be assured she knew I loved, respected, admired and respected her.  That I was sorry for the years I ran from God and made her worry.

That there was no lingering resentment in my heart for the years she had to parent me around her own resentment and pain.  I would tell her it didn’t matter. Those years made me stronger and wiser in many ways.

I would not want that conversation to end. 

There were moments left to share.Another grandchild for her to meet.  A thousand and more times I would reach for my phone to call and tell her something.  The same of my siblings.

I would warn her of the bloodclot she would dislodge by moving that broken leg. The clot that went straight to her heart and killed her.

I would have cried with her.

I would have laughed more with her.

I would have cherished every word we said, repeated them so time would not erase them.

I would want to talk about earthly things and relationships and stain removal. I would have fought tooth and nail to not have her pass.

And I would let her go.  For it was not my decision. I did not set the dominos hurling down.

I mourned her passing deeply and still do. But, as much as I miss her today and want her here with me, I know she is just over Jordan, with God. I know that even as those precious last few minutes of her time on earth were ending, the Gates of Heaven were opening.

It is well with both our souls Mama, see you when its time.

Call your mother!


*My sister did make it to my parents home before Mama passed and answered her question, “Where are my babies?” But that was all they exchanged.



The first time I heard our daughter call me Mama she was four-years-old.  We were in a local Mexican restaurant and out of the blue she asked me, “Can I tell you what I want Mama?”

When at first I didn’t acknowledge her request or use of “Mama” she piped up asking me hadn’t I heard what she called me?

At that moment in time she was neither legally my child or foster child.  She was my niece left in our care by my husband’s sister who was away at Army bootcamp.  Yet her heart and mine had been uniquely bonded since we first laid eyes on one another and her choice of Mama by which to call me was tempting to approve.  Still I explained she had a Mommy and we needed to talk it over with her to see if it was okay.  Mommy approved.

Later we’d be asked to adopt this mischievous, darling, dark eyed, curly haired darling nearly five-year-old girl and the answer was yes.  Although we prepared for her biological mother to change her mind she held firm in her decision.  Our daughter made us a forever family when a rather friendly judge legally declared us parents.

Our daughter has called me Mama countless times since that first time, every time echoing back to that Mexican restaurant.  Being her Mama is my sweetest joy and most fearful undertaking.

Now eleven, life is speeding to the teen years no braking and both feet on the gas!  Mama has a new tone in it and the first time our daughter remarked that our silliness was embarrassing her my husband and I looked at each other and he said, “Aww Honey we must be doing our job right!”. Which earned us the first official eye-roll.

I had prayed for a child.  There had been three miscarriages and my heart ached with longing.  My prayers were sweetly and generously answered by a very young woman who bravely realized she couldn’t provide what her daughter needed and when she might be was very questionable. 

Somewhere out there she is the mother to two half-siblings to our daughter and lives with our child’s decision to cut ties with her.  Some day we pray that will change but it really is about what is best for our daughter.

I love being a mother.  Regardless of how motherhood descended upon me.

What’s your motherhood story?


Our Adoption Story – Part 2

Having secured Alicia* willingness to have her parental rights severed we had to focus on the biological father’s parental rights.   Finding him was impossible.  We would no sooner find him at one address than he’d move.  Letters to him in care of his mother never came back but received no response either.  Court ordered to pay child support he had the habit of working at one job until the Department of Children’s Services caught up with him and would garnish his wages for child support and then he’d quit, find another job or go without work.  Once we were able to find out where he was working and planned to drive up and meet him at his job but on the morning of our planned trip I called the company only to learn that Tim* had quit.  We were never able to find him again.  When the child support stopped we learned that after six months of no child support we could notify Tim of our intention to adopt his daughter by publishing an ad in the local paper in his hometown.

Six months passed, the ad was placed and neither he nor anyone in his family responded to it.  The court severed his parental rights.  Kiana was five by this time and in kindergarten.  Tim had never seen her, not once, not even when she was first-born and a paternity test was ordered to prove who her biological father was.  No one in his family had ever seen her.  Alicia had sent his mother a picture at Kiana’s first Christmas which was returned torn into multiple pieces.  His wife, who was unable to have children too, and he had once told the court they wanted custody of Kiana when Helen* still had custody.

However, upon arriving for court the first time and the judge not allowing Tim’s wife to speak for her husband, the second time they did not show up.  That was the end of any of Tim’s family even acknowledging Kiana’s existence or relationship to her biological father.  I believe the challenge was retaliation for Alicia having seen Tim, told him of her plans to enlist and telling him he “better not try to mess it up” for her during a visit back to Tennessee before boot camp, his wife’s anger that her husband (they weren’t married then) having a child with another woman and Alicia pushing for child support when Tim would quit a job.  Nonetheless that was the last any of us heard from Tim or his family.

At last on November 25, 2007 we were allowed to adopt Kiana and the two-year battle was over.  In the seven years she has been with us and since that one heart breaking visit to Dollywood, Kiana has refused to see Alicia or Helen.  Kiana has seen therapists during these years to help her cope with abandonment issues, her anger at Alicia and the emotional damage she’d suffered with Alicia and Helen.

Initially Kiana was so underweight when I gave her a bath or helped her change clothes I could count her ribs and she looked like she was only skin and bones.  She ate little and it wasn’t until during a play therapy session she told her therapist and me that we didn’t understand.  If she ate all the food on her plate then Alicia and Helen would go hungry.  Kiana had learned to starve herself believing that they would starve if she didn’t.  It wasn’t true.  Neither of them were anywhere near a weight nor suffering any health issues suggesting they went hungry.  In fact, one of Alicia’s obstacles to enlistment was her weight being too high and that was why she joined the Army, who would take her as she was, instead of the Air Force where she wanted to go.  Several heart wrenching truths came out during Kiana’s play therapy appointments, she had been left alone in an empty apartment, exposed to adult situations and led to believe she alone was responsible for Alicia or Helen’s happiness.  It was difficult to hear Kiana talk about these things during her therapy sessions but it was more difficult to know how she had suffered.

Kiana still wrestles with some issues around being adopted.  She still refuses to talk to Alicia or Helen nor will she barely acknowledge her half siblings (one boy, one girl).  She is treated for depression and anxiety, is far more comfortable with adults or young children than children of her own age.

Paul* and Alicia did marry but are now separated and filing for a divorce, after having two children together.  Helen spends her time between her apartment in Tennessee and with Alicia and her two grandchildren in Washington.

Kiana is very well bonded with her dad and me.  We have our family traditions which Kiana counts on.  She is not fond of being away from her home or us.  She no longer gets up in the night to check to be sure I am still here as she did the first few years.  Nor is rough housing her way of showing affection as it was when she first came to live with her permanently.

Kiana chose to call me Mama a couple months before Alicia left for the Army.  She had already asked me if I would take care of her for the rest of her life.  During one of the court sessions about her custody the judge asked me if I was willing to risk having my heart ripped out if Alicia or Tim should come forth and want Kiana.  There was no hesitation on my part as I answered, “Yes, I am.”  I knew this child needed me and there was no way I was going to not fulfill that need for her as long as it was up to me.  I knew the risks.  I accepted them.

God choose to fulfill my husband and my desire for children through a family adoption.  An unexpected but wonderful thing and a blessing I cannot begin to explain.  Kiana is our daughter and I hate it when people feel the need to stipulate that she is our adopted daughter.

I do wish Chris and I had understood adoption better before delving into adopting Kiana in that knowing the laws and more of the how to do this and that would have been valuable information.  That is one reason I advocate for adoption now.  There are so many children who need families.  Some of them may already be part of your extended family, as Kiana was for us.  Some of them may live next door or down the street.  Some of them in your city, county or state and some of them in another country, but they all have the same need regardless of where they are or where you are located, a safe and loving home.

Options for adopt are many.  Which will you choose to take to heart?

*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Our Adoption Story – Part 1

My husband and I had been married ten years when we finally accepted the fact that God did not intend to give us children the “natural” way.  We had suffered through our third miscarriage and the heartache for me was heavy and suffocating.  On top of this I had been through other health issues that made even trying to have another child ill-advised.

I had become one of those women who looked longingly at new-born babies in their parent’s arms and felt as if I was being stabbed in the heart by the site.  Toddlers who wobbled their way down the church aisle or said “Hi” to everyone they saw when they were encased in shopping carts being pushed along sometimes brought tears to my eyes.  I would mentally compare the ages of the children I saw with the children I never saw, the ones who died inside of me.  It was a process but I did reach a point of acceptance.

My husband and I did discuss adoption but we also did so with a lot of bad information in our minds.  We failed to actually look at adoption or contact an adoption agency or child protective services about fostering in hopes of adopting.  From the stories we’d heard about adoption people were going through agencies who arranged adoptions from countries overseas and the costs involved prevented us from trying.  So although we know better now, we didn’t then and we failed to educate ourselves properly.  However, God was working where we were not.

Christmas time 2005 and I agreed to sing one solo with our church choir.  It was a song I’d heard Whitney Houston sing in the movie, “The Preacher’s Wife”.  The morning of the performance as I stood to sing, the words enveloped me to the point it felt as if they were a physical thing.  “Mommies and Daddy’s, always believe, that their little angel is special indeed.  But of all of the wonderful things they could be, who would imagine a king?”  Of course the song refers to Mary and Joseph with Jesus but the miracle of Jesus birth was renewed in my heart.  As I sang, my hand rested on my stomach, right where a baby would grow, and I prayed from the innermost depths of my heart one more time that God would open my womb and allow me to have a child, allow me to be a mother.

That same Christmas my husband’s sister, her four-year old daughter and his mother moved in with us for the third time.  Our 16×80’ pre-manufactured home was full of people, but Alicia* my sister-in-law had enlisted in the Army and with my mother-in-law, Helen*, aging and beginning to experience more serious medical issues it made sense that she and Kiana would move in with us until Alicia got her orders and settled in one place following boot camp.  It took a little longer for Alicia to get all the pre-enlistment things in order than she’d planned.  One thing that slowed down her process was the custody issue of her daughter, a matter still unsettled when Alicia left for boot camp in April.

Kiana’s custody turned out to be a legal maze of red tape, greatly hampered by Alicia’s absence in court, her presence in boot camp and her not responding to court sent communications.  Another obstacle was the inability we had, or our attorney had, in being able to reach Kiana’s biological father.  A third was the lack of cooperation with the Department of Children’s Protective Services in Tennessee, who even refused to talk with the judge in our case.  Meanwhile we had undergone a home study through our Department of Human Resources in Alabama and were granted foster parent eligibility status.  This would have allowed us not only to have legal custody of Kiana but enroll her in Medicaid and receive other services from the state and DHR.  We elected not to apply for nor receive any of these services.  Kiana was our responsibility and we would provide for her.

By the time we’d finally settled the custody issue and my husband and I were her legal guardians the entire case changed.  Alicia called shortly after she’d completed boot camp from school in Texas and asked me if we’d adopt Kiana.  When I got home Helen asked me if Alicia had called and I told her yes, hesitating to tell her she’d asked us to adopt.  Helen hesitated to tell me her news too but we finally just said what needing saying and between us we had a better picture of what was going on.

Alicia was pregnant and the father was a fellow recruit from boot camp who was also with her at school.  They planned on getting married when school was over.  What I suspected to be part of the picture we were not seeing was that her fiancé’ wasn’t thrilled with the idea of raising Kiana.  It would be a few years before Alicia admitted that to me.

Meanwhile, Alicia’s second pregnancy was difficult, especially during the first trimester and the Army discharged her on a medical discharge.  She moved back to her hometown, living with different friends and planning a wedding as soon as Paul* was out of school and on leave.  Finally Helen moved back too and they moved in with Helen’s mother.  Paul joined them around Thanksgiving.

We went to visit and to secure Alicia’s signature on her giving up her parental rights so we could go ahead with adoption.  The whole visit was awkward.  Kiana sensed Paul didn’t like her and she wasn’t thrilled to see that a new baby was growing in her Mommy’s tummy.  During our trip to Dollywood Paul’s mood was dark and Alicia cried.   We split into two groups, Alicia going with Paul to the arcade where he wanted to go and the rest of us to do the rides and things in the Pigeon Forge located theme park.

At the end of the day, when dark had fallen, we prepared to leave and Kiana’s heart was broken.  She was really unhappy leaving her Mommy with Paul since Paul had made her cry, she was tired from being active all day, and she was torn between the Mommy she loved and the Mama and Daddy she also loved.  Even at four she recognized she felt safer with us, but Mommy was who she’d known her whole life and who seemed so unhappy without her.  None of us knew that this visit would be the last time we’d see Alicia and Helen for a very long time.

*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Another Woman’s Child-Part 4

(From AWC-Part 3)  “Across town another group of people were praying too.  They were praying about how to help Kevin and Sarah.”

Just after the New Year rolled around the small group leader of the Bible study group Kevin and Sarah attended regularly called and asked to come over for a few minutes after they had finished their Saturday morning breakfast.  An hour later as they sat across from one another at their kitchen table with cups of coffee Cliff got right to the point quickly.

“Guys,” Cliff began, “about a week before Christmas our group had a meeting.”

Sarah and Kevin shot each other glances.  Had they forgotten something?  Their small group was like extended family to them and they never missed an opportunity for fellowship with them.

Cliff laughed and held up his hand, “It’s okay, you didn’t stand us up or anything.  We planned this little get together so we could, well, frankly, talk about you.”

“Talk about us how?” Sarah asked.

“How we could best help you adopt.”

Kevin sighed and shook his head, “Cliff we appreciate that but really, what can you all do but just what you have been doing?  Praying.”

“Kevin, Sarah we’re going to add onto your house.  Four more bedrooms, two more baths and bump out the kitchen.  Ted is a general contractor, Reagan is an architect and she’s going to draw up the plans, the Mill’s brothers are homebuilders, contractors, Keith’s a plumber, Tommy’s a licensed electrician and all the rest of us have enough experience that with such qualified supervisors we can do this.”  Cliff sat back and let the news soak into the couple’s minds for a few minutes and then before either could bring it up, he added, “Oh, and we’ve collected enough in a special love offering at the church to cover to cost of the addition.   So, sure hope you guys are ready to get started for Reagan will be here to take some measurements and look at your current house plans in about ten minutes and we plan to start construction next Friday evening.”

Sarah stammered, “W-W-Why in such a hurry?”

Cliff grinned, “Because there are six children waiting on us.”

Kevin and Sarah drew deep breaths and started to cry.

True to Cliff’s word the following Friday a swarm of people arrived at Sarah and Kevin’s and had things ready to lay the new foundation for the next morning.  Work processed regularly and steadily.  Many weekends Kevin and Sarah weren’t even home.  They spent as many weekends as possible getting to know six children.

By the time the adoption was final the kids had already decorated their new rooms and settled into new schools.   Kevin and Sarah were adjusting too but throughout the days and nights, long after they stood before the probate judge and the adoptions were finalized their homes walls echoed with laughter and prayer.

That Christmas after the last child was upstairs pretending to be going to sleep their new parents sat in front of their not as perfectly decorated Christmas tree waiting to fill six stocking hung from their mantle the dad began to chuckle as the mom slipped to her knees to rearrange the packages beneath one more time wanting them to be in six sections without looking like six separate sections.

“What’s so funny?”  Sarah asked, looking up at him.  “Did you put something in my hot chocolate?”

“No I did not.  But I am remembering a conversation we had right here last year when you were afraid you’d never be able to love another woman’s child.  I’d say you’ve overcome that obstacle quite well.”  Kevin said, kneeling down to kiss his wife.

Sarah returned his kiss and smiled.  “I guess I have some of my Father’s heart for another woman’s child after all.”

Another Woman’s Child-Part 3

(From AWC-Part 2)  “However it came to be, they wouldn’t be seeking a solution in a doctor’s office this they both knew for sure.”

It had been spring when Sarah and Kevin received the news that infertility treatments were not an option for them when it came to having a child.  Sarah had held to a promise she was sure God had given her that she and Kevin would be parents, but not biologically.  They logically turned to the idea of adoption and had spent the summer and fall months researching adoption.  Before anything had become concrete in their minds though the Christmas holidays were fast approaching.

Sarah found it to be particularly difficult to sing the hymns and Christmas songs about a baby Jesus and His mother Mary.  In her heart she’d believed that this particular Christmas she would be carrying their child.  It hurt to put up the decorations when she’d had visions of doing so around a rounded tummy.  She tried to cling to the promise she had felt God had given her and she tried to not let Kevin know how dark her thoughts were becoming.  Doing so meant she spent a great deal of time praying.

She prayed as she shopped, as she decorated, as she wrapped gifts, as she cooked meals, laid awake at night, woke each morning and even as she showered.  “Please Lord; please help me keep the faith.”

Kevin too was praying.  He knew, though Sarah tried hard to hide it, how hard the holiday was for her.  It was hard for him too.

Both had been surprised at the number of adoption agencies, for-profit and not-for-profit ones.  Both had been stunned at the number of children in the United States who were waiting to be adopted.  Sarah and Kevin’s hearts wept for many of the children they read about on websites.  Sarah was repeatedly drawn to a sibling group of six whose parents had died in a house fire caused from their manufacturing crack cocaine in their homes’ basement.  The children ranged in age from 4 to 14 and as Sarah studied their photograph she saw the weariness in their eyes.

The oldest, a girl who was dressed much like a boy, had a defiant look on her face that chilled Sarah to the bone and made her wonder what that 14 year old was feeling.  As much as this sibling group called to them Sarah knew taking on six children at one time with such an age range and in a house that didn’t have room was not God’s will.  There was no point in getting the children’s hopes up knowing the local Department of Children’s Services would not approve them for six children.

Christmas was a week away and Kevin asked Sarah to sit with him by their tree one night after dinner.  He’d turned the tree lights on and lit the candles she’d placed around the room, turning off the overhead lights.  They sat on their sofa enjoying the quiet of the moment.  Kevin spoke first.

“I’ve really been praying a lot more about God leading us to the right child in the right way to adopt Sarah and I know you have too.”

She sighed, “Yes, but mostly I’ve been praying He’d help me keep my faith in Him and the promise He made me.”  She paused then continued, “And I have to admit there is one issue I can’t get beyond Kevin.”

“What?”  He was surprised.

“What if I can’t love another woman’s child Kevin?  No matter which child God brings into our lives?” Sarah confessed her fear.

“Sarah honey, you have a mother’s heart already.  Of course you can love another person’s child!  Where did this come from all of a sudden?”

“I was looking at that website with that sibling group of six on it and remembering what their caseworker said about how their parents died.  Kevin, their parents were dopers.  They used drugs and they made drugs to sell.  They endangered the lives of their children by starting that fire that killed them.  Why do you think the oldest has that hard look on her face?  What do you think those kids have seen?  Experienced?  It won’t be easy to love kids like that.”  The look on Sarah’s face was one of panic.

Kevin nodded slowly and interjected, “We haven’t even discussed adopting that sibling group seriously Sarah.  And they can’t help who their parents were or what their parents did, kids like them and others need forever families in more ways than we can begin to name.”

“Yes, I know,” Sarah said, tears rolling down her cheeks, “but Kevin there won’t be a bit of either of us in a child we adopt.  Not a bit of our blood or a bit of our flesh.  Biologically no child we adopt will ever be ours.”

“You’re right but we know a bunch of people who have been adopted and it makes no difference to their Father.”  Kevin smiled.

“Yes, but I’m not God…I’m not sure I can do this Kevin but I don’t see any other way we can become parents.”

“Let’s pray now Sarah, together.  God is going to open this door.  I just know it.” Kevin said, reaching for her hand.  Together they bowed their heads to pray.

Across town another group of people were praying too.  They were praying about how to help Kevin and Sarah.

Ch 3 – Is it Possible to Escape the Good Mom/Bad Mom Trap?

The TerKeurst household has a reputation as NOT being a friendly home for hamsters.  After two hamsters met with an untimely demise even the school felt it wiser for their daughter NOT to take her turn in rodent sitting the kindergarten guinea pig.  Yes, this note came home from the school principal:

“It might be best if Moo didn’t go home with Brooke this weekend.  The children would be devastated if something happened to him, and accidents can definitely happen.  I hope you understand what I mean, and I am not being judgmental, just realistic.”

It was one of those “bad mom” moments – you know one of those times you feel like the message the world, or your kids, or your family, or your friends or even your church is like they are holding up a sign reading “BAD MOM” with an arrow pointed straight at you?

And then we get it “right” – we pack a healthy lunch, we remember to take a healthy snack for before/after practice so we don’t hit McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, we sign the permission slip, remember to send the field trip money or smoothly sail through homework time like you are an extraordinary math scholar.  The GOOD MOM signs and arrows are flying!

Seems like most days we go through a number of these BAD MOM/GOOD MOM moments.  They are tough on the mom self-esteem.  The author of “Am I Messing up My Kids”, Lysa TerKeurst writes that as she is relaying a story to her friend she says, “…I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent some time with Jesus, and He made things better.”

Her friend, Renee came back with, “Well, isn’t that where most of us live?”

Renee wasn’t saying we are all living on the edge of a breakdown but we are all living in that place of absolute reliance upon God to get through whatever life is throwing at us that day.

Here, according to the author, is the key to stop ping-ponging between the BAD MOM/GOOD MOM paddles – turning it over to God.  Having total dependence on God.  Time spent with God.  For with God we aren’t “BAD MOMS” we’re good moms with bad moments and His grace is there to cover us.

I find this message not new but reaffirming.  In every area of my life if I am depending on God and not upon myself His grace has me covered.  So math homework again takes two hours, neither my child nor I are bad, our brains are just not wired for math as it is being taught today.  By depending on God to be by our side while we do math homework we do the best we can to accomplish the task; and even manage a laugh at ourselves in the process.    When I depend on myself I grow frustrated quickly, my child picks up on that and we are more likely to need a time out or dissolve into tears.

The message that a relationship with God is a personal one that requires communication and time being invested into it is certainly not new.  But now we have one more reason to be sure that communication happens – no more bouncing between the BAD MOM/GOOD MOM signs – we learn instead to trust in God where we aren’t bad moms we’re good moms having any number of bad moments.

If a daily quiet time is lacking in your life, please consider making the decision to make it happen.  Always remember God entrusted your children to YOU to raise and He doesn’t make mistakes.

And if your child’s principal suggests your home is hazardous to the classroom rodent is that REALLY such a bad thing?  Personally, I’m all for rodent free homes whether the rodent is in a cage or not!


“Read and pray through Psalm 73:26 and Psalm 51:10-12.

“Sometimes I feel like a Ping-Pong ball, bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad.  Can you relate to this?  Explain.

Do you ever struggle with being defined by your mistakes rather than by the truth of God?  In what areas specifically?

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22  The word righteous means someone who is morally upright and virtuous.  A person who makes right choices that honor God daily.

Make a written list of your cares/concerns and bring them before the Lord.  Trust in His goodness for each one.  Refer back to your list often, praying for those that remain as a care/concern for you and writing out how God answers your needs as He does for each item you list.

Read James 1:5-6.  In what areas of your motherhood are you seeking wisdom?  How do these verses encourage you if you struggle with the good mom/bad mom feeling?

“Suddenly it occurred to me.  With God I’m never a bad mom.  I might be having a bad moment…or two…or seventeen, but a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom.”  What does this quote from the chapter mean to you?

Do you wrestle with these thoughts often?

What encouragement did you gleam from this chapter?

Spend some time today asking God to give you His loving perspective on how He sees you.  Rest in His lavish love.  If you need to ask for forgiveness for some of your actions, do that and then let these things go.”

“Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lysa TerKeurst

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

Every mother alive who loves her children has at one point or another asked herself, “Am I messing up my kids?”  Motherhood is tough.  It isn’t for the weak hearted.  It can fill you with love and pride in one moment and panic and uncertainty the next.

In Chapter One of the book written by Lysa TerKeurst above she relates how she has taken her 14-month old daughter to a local store for a little shopping.  Mom is prepared.  Bottles.  Snacks.  Toys.  What she didn’t plan on and couldn’t foresee is her daughter’s fascination with manuals behind the cash register that could not be shaken.  Mom ended up leaving the store and later crying in a bathtub.  “I am so completely spent.  I have nothing left to give.  What’s wrong with me?  I am so afraid I am going to be a complete failure as a mother.  Lord, am I going to mess up my kids?”

Two things stood out for me here.  One, sometimes no matter how well prepared we are our kids are going to be focused on anything but what we have as plan A, B, C or Z.   Part of being a child is the inability to yet control their emotions, their wants, and their will power.  That’s why they need parents, to teach them these things.  Two, we’ve all had that “Am I messing up my kids?” moment.

Our now eleven then four year old daughter (who we adopted) came to live with us full time just after her fourth birthday.  My first “Am I messing up my child” meltdown occurred following another frustrating and fruitless custody hearing.  By then the biological mother had moved out of our home.  The biological father could not be located.  Who held legal custody of Kiana was unclear as no one had complete paperwork and the Tennessee courts and Department of Human Services were not cooperative.  We had been unsuccessful in enrolling Kiana in Medicaid or AllKids and without legal custody couldn’t add her to our health insurance coverage at work.  As my husband and I were petitioning the court here for custody the red tape, legal hoops and what often seemed ridiculous demands upon us were frustrating.  We left the court that day no further along than what we had been when we went in.  Kiana was tired and hungry and she was whiny.  “Mama,” she asked from her car seat properly installed in our car, “I thought you were going to take care of me!”

Only a few weeks after Kiana had moved in she’d climbed into my lap and asked me if I would promise to always take care of her.  I’d promised to always do my best to.   Her four year old heart heard, “Yes I will.”  That day’s court appearance didn’t make it seem to be something I could do.  So as we pulled through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Happy Meal with chocolate milk tears were streaming down my face.  Was I going to be a failure as a mother?  Were we going to mess up this precious child’s life even more than it already was?

The author recovered from her doubt ridden moment.  I recovered from mine.  Though both events were radically different in their reasons for occurring they held one thing in common.  Both the author and I turned to God with our fears and learned to keep our Bibles handy and our hearts open.

Kiana’s adoption has been settled since 2006 and as a woefully incomplete and totally imperfect Mom I love motherhood nonetheless.  Like the author, I do consider motherhood a calling and I do recognize that decisions Kiana’s dad and I are making now will shape her morally, ethically, emotionally and physically long past Kiana to her great-great-grandchildren.

Refresh Your Soul:

On pages 14-15 are devotional activities and commentary based on Psalm 23:3 and I Peter 1:5-7.  As you complete these open your heart to what God is encouraging you to obtain from this Bible study.  Share with the group as you feel lead.

And anyone wishing to share their “am I messing up my kid” meltdown story please feel free to do so knowing WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE!

Music to help enrich you suggestion:  “Generations” by Sara Groves from her CD Conversations released in 2001.  “Remind me of this with every decision generations will reap what I sow I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I may never know…”