motherhood Posts

The Three Powerful Prayers of Motherhood by Stephanie Rische

Tyndale Kids

mom-praying


I am far from having a PhD in motherhood; in fact, this is my first Mother’s Day with a child in my arms. But that’s long enough for me to know this: being a mom comes with all the feelings.

There’s something about being a mom that takes any given emotion and injects it with steroids. Sure, I experienced worry before I became a mom. But now if my baby so much as sneezes, I’m convinced that this is the twenty-first-century version of the bubonic plague. I used to feel pain, too, but that was nothing compared to the vicarious pain I felt on his first trip to the ER. I felt delight before, but nothing could have prepared me for the way my heart would swell the first time he smiled at me (even if was just gas).

baby-smiling-with-motherAs I read Scripture, it occurs to me that this phenomenon of maternal emotion is nothing new. In the story of Hannah, we see a woman who experienced the full gamut of mom-feelings—all within the span of two chapters. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in this swirl of emotion. But even more consoling is that God doesn’t just tolerate our spectrum of feelings; he affirms them.

Maybe you’ve bought into the idea that expects a little, well, decorum when we come to him. We figure that approaching him with our requests is like interviewing for a job or applying for a grant: we need to pull ourselves together first, and we certainly shouldn’t have any mascara running down our cheeks in the process. But Hannah’s story is proof that God welcomes us just as we are, with our full range of emotions.

woman-praying-with-bibleAnd believe it or not, there’s actually a gift that comes with strong emotion: it can drive us to our knees. All the emotion bubbling inside us can drive us to more fervent—and more frequent—prayers than we’d muster up otherwise.

This was certainly the case for Hannah. She prayed three mother-prayers for her child, and all these years later, they are the prayers all of us moms need.


Please.

Hannah’s journey to motherhood was a long and arduous one, having longed for a child for years. At the Tabernacle, she poured out her heart to the Lord, not holding back an ounce of her anguish. She prayed so fervently that the priest assumed she was drunk. “I am a woman who is deeply troubled,” she said. “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief” (1 Samuel 1:15-16).

expectant-mother-hands-on-stomachGod heard the heartfelt “please” of this mom-to-be and answered the desire of her heart. We, too, can come to the Lord with our requests, both for ourselves and for our children, knowing that he hears and that he cares about the things closest to our hearts.


Thank you.

The Lord graciously answered Hannah’s prayers and gave her a son, Samuel, which means “heard by God.” Every time she said his name, it was a reminder of God’s faithfulness. “She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’” (1 Samuel 1:20).

mother-and-daughter-walking-togetherJust as Hannah brought her full grief to the Lord, she also brought her full gratitude to the Lord. In 1 Samuel 2, we read her song of praise, which opens with these joyful words: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong” (1 Samuel 2:1). After God answers our prayers, it’s so easy to move on to the next problem, the next request. We get stuck in “please” mode and forget to say thank you. But Hannah’s example reminds us to bring both the sorrows and the joys of motherhood to the Lord.


They’re yours.

This is perhaps the most difficult prayer for a mother to utter. We’re wired to protect and nurture our children, which is a good, God-given instinct. However, we sometimes forget that these children aren’t really ours. God has entrusted them to us, but ultimately, they belong to him.

willow-tree-mother-and-sonAfter all those years of waiting, it would have been easy for Hannah to cling tightly to her son. He was her miracle-child, after all! But she never forgot that Samuel was first and foremost God’s child, and when he was just a few years old, she brought him to the Tabernacle so he could serve the Lord for the rest of his life. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).


Whatever emotions you are experiencing this Mother’s Day, I invite you to bring them to our gracious God, who welcomes our tears and our joy—and everything in between. Let those feelings be transformed into prayers in his presence.

Please. Thank you. They’re yours.


Stephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today, and Significant Living magazine. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at www.StephanieRische.com.


Don’t miss these books about motherhood from Tyndale Kids!

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Kid Talk Tuesday: Back to School

Today’s Kid Talk Tuesday post is by Linda MacKillop, publishing coordinator. 

Whether your child is stepping on the school bus for the first time with wobbly knees and a brand-new lunch box, or they’re returning like old pros for yet another year of the same academic routine, this is a new beginning. A new grade, new friends, new experiences, new teacher, and new opportunities to grow.

And each year is a new beginning for the parents as well. As my own children made that September journey, I always knew those steps led up the stairs and farther down the aisle to a seat on the bus – but then a little farther down the road from me and from their childhood. So during this season, to help you treasure each moment with your child while also having some respite to recharge your mother motor, Tyndale is privileged to provide you with resources to enrich this transient parenting journey!

For your own pleasure and R & R, Tyndale has published several Mommy bloggers who write beautifully and entertainingly – with a few laughs thrown in – about their parenting experience. With a quiet cup of tea when the house is empty, we suggest picking up a copy of Lisa Jo Baker’s book, Surprised by Motherhood and savor how becoming a mom changed Lisa Jo’s life forever.

For a little laughter and levity, both Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle write with quirky humor about their families. We highly recommend A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet (Sophie) and Sparkly Green Earrings (Melanie), if you’re not already well aware of them through their wildly popular blogs. Not only will you enjoy a good laugh, these writers help you feel a little less lonely on the journey of parenthood.

After the kids return at the end of the day and finish homework, all ready to unwind, consider introducing them to a few fun novels written just for them. Dandi Daley MacKall’s Backyard Horse series and Starlight Animal Rescue series will help your young ones forget the math and history for a moment and enjoy a well-written tale about animals. They might even learn a few things without knowing it! T.J. and the Time Stumblers travel through the years and stumble into lessons about love, honesty and patience. Learning spiritual truths has never been so fun – or funny!

Tyndale also offers great devotions to read together around the dinner table, or as the kids head to bed. Heroes of the Bible is a great read, depicting a Bible character’s super hero qualities. What child wouldn’t want a few super hero qualities to manage their school day?! Ask them which super hero traits rate high on their list.

For daughters, consider the devotional For Girls Only! to assist them as they put Biblical principles into practice. Complete with devotions, self-quizzes, and tips about how to live out (or live through!) the real life issues, this a must-read for all our daughters.  And let’s not forget the boys! No Girls Allowed is the companion devotion to the popular For Girls Only! Devotions and follows the same format, offering a story related to a scripture theme, an activity, quotes and Scripture that reinforces the theme.

For many young people, their warmest childhood memories include being in the heart of their home with an open book. We encourage you to flood their lives with delightful memories, books, and spiritual truths. Tyndale counts it a privilege to help you complete this task. Welcome to the start of a new year!

Happy Mother’s Day! – A Note from Author Susan May Warren

As you take time to celebrate motherhood this weekend, dear readers, here are some thoughts about motherly love from acclaimed author Susan May Warren.

~*~

As I write this, my eldest son is on his way home from college, having finished his last classes, preparing for finals . . . and then graduation.

It seems like yesterday that I was holding him in my arms, hoping and praying so much for him, longing that he never make my mistakes, that he have an amazing, love-filled life. But it never works out quite that way, does it? Because on the way to adulthood, children make mistakes, break our hearts, and the challenge is when to reach out to catch them and when to let them fall. Being a parent is dangerously wonderful, breathtaking and terrifying.

As I wrote Take a Chance on Me, and as I’m working on the rest of the collection, I realized the thread that weaves through these stories is the hope Ingrid Christiansen has for each of her children. Her hope—and belief—in her children is written in a letter at the beginning of each book. It’s a prayer, really. The words she longs to speak to her son, even though he can’t hear her.

~*~

My dearest Darek,

Even as I write this letter, I know I’ll tuck it away; the words on it are more of a prayer, meant for the Lord more than you. Or maybe, in the scribbling upon this journal page, the words might somehow find your heart, a cry that extends across the bond of mother and child.

The firstborn child is always the one who solves the mystery of parenthood. Before I had you, I watched other mothers and wondered at the bond between a child and a parent, the strength of it, the power to mold a woman, making her put all hopes and wishes into this tiny bundle of life that she had the responsibility to raise.

It’s an awe-filled, wonderful, terrifying act to have a child, for you suddenly wear your heart on the outside of your body. You risk a little more each day as he wanders from your arms into the world. You, Darek, were no protector of my heart. You were born with a willfulness, a courage, and a bent toward adventure that would bring me to the edge of my faith and keep me on my knees. The day I first saw you swinging from that too-enticing oak tree into the lake should have told me that I would be tested.

Your brothers shortened your name to Dare, and you took it to heart. I was never so terrified as the day you came home from Montana, fresh from your first year as a hotshot, feeling your own strength. I knew your future would take you far from Evergreen Lake. I feared it would take you far, also, from your legacy of faith.

Watching your son leave your arms has no comparison to watching him leave God’s. You never seemed to question the beliefs your father and I taught you. Perhaps that is what unsettled me the most, because without questioning, I wondered how there could be true understanding. I held my breath against the day when it would happen—life would shatter you and leave your faith bereft.

And then it did.

It brought you home, in presence if not soul. If it hadn’t been for your son, I might have done the unthinkable—stand in our gravel driveway and bar you from returning, from hiding.

Because, my courageous, bold oldest son, that is what you are doing. Hiding. Bitter and dark, you have let guilt and regret destroy your foundation, imprison you, and steal your joy. You may believe you are building a future for your son, but without faith, you have nothing to build it on. Evergreen Resort is not just a place. It’s a legacy. A foundation. A belief.

It’s the best of what I have to give you. That, and my unending prayers that somehow God will destroy those walls you’ve constructed around your heart.

Darek, you have become a mystery to me again. I don’t know how to help free you. Or to restore all you’ve lost. But I believe that if you give God a chance, He will heal your heart. He will give you a future. He will truly lead you home.

Lovingly,

Your mother

~*~

As I wrote Ingrid’s letter to Darek in Take a Chance on Me, I thought about the times I couldn’t hear God, and I wondered what God’s letter to me might look like. And then I knew. In fact, I have an entire book of God’s letters to me.

This is one of my favorites:

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)

It’s the cry of a parent, reaching out, not giving up. Willing to let me fall but standing near enough for me to reach out to him, near enough to help me up.

I pray this Mother’s Day you feel the love of God in your life, the kind that reaches out even when we can’t hear, the kind of love that is just within arm’s reach.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Susie May Warren

 

You Have to Let Them Drive Away – Author Susan May Warren on Family & Motherhood

Today we welcome author Susan May Warren back to the blog. As a mother herself, Susan explains how her experiences with motherhood have shaped her thinking for her new six-book series featuring the Christiansen family.

~*~

I admit I wasn’t quite ready for my daughter to leave the nest. It wasn’t like she gave me much warning—two days after graduation, she packed up her car and drove away to summer camp. I stood in the dirt driveway at 6 a.m., my cheeks wet, and thought, Wait . . . there’s still more I have to teach you. I’m not ready.

And was she? Had I built into her the character, the values, the decision-making skills she’d need in this next—so important—phase of life? Was she ready to say no to the wrong boy, yes to the right one? Was she ready to embrace the right opportunities and learn from her mistakes?

I hoped so. I prayed so. And, over the last two years, I’ve realized the answers. Yes to some, no to others, and most of all . . .

Just because she drove away didn’t mean my parenting was over.

My beautiful family!

As I embarked on this new series for Tyndale, I realized I wanted to build stories about a family facing the same struggles that I was facing, that my reader friends were facing. Some of my readers, yes, are falling in love, finding their footing in a new season of life. But others are in the season of letting go and trying to figure out how to parent adults wisely, sparingly . . . prayerfully. I crafted the Christiansen family to resemble my own—children who were raised with faith but now have to test it with life. And yes, sometimes they will get it wrong. They’ll make mistakes, behave badly, and even get into trouble.

And like real parents, my main characters, John and Ingrid, have to figure out how to best help their children grow up.

Every book starts with a letter from Ingrid to one of her adult children. It’s the cry of the heart of all mothers—hoping they’ve instilled the tenets of faith but knowing that their children must walk that path alone, must make their faith choices for themselves. We can’t drag our children to heaven, nor can we will them to make right decisions.

We have to let them drive away.

I hope you’ll join me as we follow the Christiansens through faith, family, and real life.

Thanks for sharing your story (and photo of your beautiful family!) with us on the blog today, Susan.

For more on Susan and her new novel, Take a Chance on Me, she can be found online:

At her website:

http://www.susanmaywarren.com/

At her blog:

http://www.susanmaywarren.com/scribbles-blog/

On Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/SusanMayWarrenFiction

Or follow her on Twitter @SusanMayWarren

~*~

QUESTIONS FOR READERS:

As a reader, what makes a fictional family “real” to you? What can the author do to engage you with the struggles and trials of their fictional world? And to save the best for last, who’s your favorite fictional family in literature and why?

Happy reading, all! Visit us on Twitter @Crazy4Fiction to chat!