Thoughts on Motherhood

Motherhood is hard and self-sacrificing. As I look back I remember the fatigue, the laughter and tears, the hard questions and my shortcomings. The years have passed by quickly.

Now I am a grandmother and I realize that God was refining me. I was blessed by the Lord’s guidance, the prayers that were answered. I am thankful for the great joy that my family gives me.

Two recently released books bring attention to the role of mothers. Erica Komisar has written Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. The Wall Street Journal had an article about the author, who is a psychoanalyst, and reviewed her book. Ms. Komisar pursued research into the hormones released during birth and breastfeeding. She discussed the love hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin, Ms. Komisar explains, “is a buffer against stress.” Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children. “The more oxytocin the mother produces, the more she produce in the baby” by communicating via eye contact, touch and gentle talk. 1 //

Oxytocin: Love Hormone

I am currently reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood by Julie Roys. The author looks at the confusion in our culture over sexuality, marriage and gender. Ms. Roys goes back to scripture for direction. One chapter in the book is titled Marginalizing Motherhood. She writes:

Many moms today need to hear that motherhood is worth sacrificing some of their best years. Unfortunately, that’s not what they are hearing—not from society and not from the church.2

Women are struggling with the demands of mothering. But it is a God given role. A few pages later Ms. Roys continues:

God values motherhood because he values children and is critically concerned with transferring the faith from one generation to another.3

Children need mothers, and mothers need God’s help. They need encouragement from friends and family. One of my favorite scenes in the Bible is the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”                  Luke 2: 39-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. Luke 2:56

If you are a young mom, be encouraged. God is faithful to answer prayers. If you are older, like me, you can encourage a young mom. As women of faith we can seek ways to come alongside women that have experienced miscarriage or infertility. There are joys and sorrows in motherhood; we can share them.

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: NEED Visit the Five Minute Friday Community here.

  1. Taranto, James, “The Politicization of Motherhood” The Wall Street Journal, October 28-29, 2017 A11
  2. Roys, Julie, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood, Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2017 p. 148
  3. Ibid. p. 155

A Lifeline for Our Soul

The September heat wave is over. While the temperature soared into the 90s we did not get any rain, and my herbs needed frequent watering. I grow thyme, basil and dill in pots.

The basil was always first to alert me. The leaves would begin to droop and I would get out the watering can. Just an hour after watering the basil was revived.

Lifeline for the Soul
Basil

With all the discord in our culture, my spirit can get dry. When my spirit is dry I am short tempered; my words are not gracious. I may miss an opportunity that God has placed in my path.

I need the refreshment of God’s word and I need time in prayer. I am glad to participate in a weekly Bible study. I am motivated to spend time in the Bible each day, working on the lesson.

The Bible and prayer refresh my spirit—it’s like a drink of water. //

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Psalm 42: 1-2

I was fortunate to see Rep. Scalise’s speech to the House of Representatives when he returned to the House floor. Just happened to turn the TV on. He had been shot at a baseball field where congressmen were playing a baseball game for charity.

He talked about the power of prayer. As he lay wounded on the ground, waiting for the ambulance, he prayed. He prayed for himself and the others that were on the baseball field. During his speech he gave thanks for the way God answered his prayers.

We can bring every situation to the Lord in prayer, remembering to give thanks for God’s faithfulness.

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This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is DEPEND.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

I am also joining Grace & Truth link-up and Lyli’s community of faith, Faith on Fire.

Job’s Prayer is Acceptable

My Bible Lesson for this week focuses on the attributes of God. Scripture references in the book of Job point to God’s omniscience and omnipotence. This book reveals some deep truths.

The book of Job gives clues to the scientific nature of our world. It also shows a relationship between God and man.

After Job loses his children, his home, his cattle and his health, he lays his situation before God.  As he suffers, he poses questions to God.  AND God answers him.

In the last chapter of the book Job acknowledges God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. God honors Job in his struggle for answers. God admonishes the friends who were misguided in their assessment, and He gives Job the opportunity to pray for them.

. . . and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. Job 42:9

Wow! //

When we are going through difficulties we can tell God our struggle. When my son was battling cancer I stood in the shower crying out to God, telling him my anguish. I developed a deeper prayer life.

God did not answer my requests in the way that I expected, but he answered and my faith grew.

Whatever struggle you may have, you can bring it to the Lord in prayer. He accepts us where we are. God desires us to grow in faith.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is ACCEPT.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

New Insights About Health: The Microbiome

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SUPPORT

Yesterday I attended a seminar titled,  Probiotics,  Food & the  Immune  System. I sat next to a pharmacist. A physical therapist from my church was there also. There were about 100 people in attendance.

The lecturer was a petite, thin woman with dark hair and a face that was lit with passion for her topic. She was describing the microbiome to us. Medical scientists are uncovering the numerous and varied bacteria that live in the human gut and on mucous membranes. While some bacteria and fungi are harmful, others are very beneficial—and support health.

Ms. Pawlak explained the amazing network of communication that takes place via enzymes and proteins in our body. Bacteria in the gut are involved in this system.

I was fascinated as she talked about complex sugars, oligosaccharides, in breast milk. The infant does not digest these sugars. Instead the healthy bacteria in the intestine digest the sugars and are involved in insuring that the cells of the intestinal lining are fitting snugly together.

The microbiome supports health. //

She went on to discuss the cells in the immune system. There are many different types of leukocytes, myeloid cells and lymphoid cells. Each type of cell has a specific role in fighting infection.   The  lymphocytes target  infectious cells and set in motion the development of antibodies. T– cells and B–cells are lymphocytes.

Healthy T-cell. Image from NIH

Ms. Pawlak was so happy to share a slide that showed a T– cell releasing proteins that were directed at a B– cell. The slide had been developed from an electron microscope. It looked like the round T- cell was releasing tiny crumbs that were floating towards the B- cell. The proteins contained the information needed to develop antibodies.

Our instructor shared her sense of wonder with us. The human body is amazing. We are constantly learning more.

We can say with the Psalmist: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Amazing Microbiome

A Good Work

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: WORK

Over the years I have held many different jobs. I worked my way through college. As a nurse I have worked in a number of different hospitals and nursing units. I have worked at home as a mom.

As I look back I can see my imperfections—things that I could have done better. I see the times that I needed to say that I was sorry.

But I can also see the ways that God has guided me. I see the prayers that were faithfully answered. I remember the times that I stood outside of my children’s bedrooms,  praying for God to be at work,  despite  my    human failings. God answered those prayers.

The words in the Bible are true. //

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

This is great encouragement for believers in Jesus. As we journey through life, we are being refined by the work of God!

A Good Neighbor

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: NEIGHBOR

Like so many I have been watching the photos and videos of Hurricane Harvey. The floodwaters and misery are overwhelming—but so is the kindness of people as they help strangers. The Cajun Navy has volunteered their time and their boats to rescue thousands of people.

My favorite story is about a midwife. As floodwaters rose on her street she was unable to leave her house with her supplies. A neighbor helped her onto an inflatable swan and pushed her to dry ground. She was able to attend the birth of a client.

Natural disasters create situations where the needs of people become obvious. A community spirit develops. It would be wonderful if this spirit became a constant.//

When we were traveling in Finland I was impressed by the kind attention offered to us. So many times a bystander noticed that we were studying a map or looking at street signs, and then offered assistance.

Attentiveness is part of being a good neighbor.

The Gospel of Luke records a question that was posed to Jesus.  Who is my neighbor? Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who saw the wounded Samaritan and acted with mercy was a neighbor.

We are called to pay attention to the needs of others. Perhaps it involves asking good questions or being available. And then stepping up to help. I can improve in this area.

Speaking Up on Hot Topics

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SPEAK

Through my experiences as a nurse, mother and grandmother I have come to believe that minimizing medications is a good thing. Beginning with fertility and childbirth. It is good to be educated about hormonal birth control—benefits and risks. It is good to go into labor naturally unless there is a medical problem. It is good to ask questions about proposed treatments.

I participate with a group called Women Speak for Themselves. This group encourages education about fertility and natural family planning. I am still learning how to raise discussions with women. I need grace and a good listening ear.

In the midst of the loud voices of our culture we can become timid or brash. But there is another way. We need grace and kindness as we speak up and share our point of view.

This verse in 1 Peter gives guidance for sharing our faith, and can apply to discussion of controversial topics.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

The Church in Turku

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: PLACE

While we were in Finland we visited Turku, a beautiful old city. It was the “capitol” of Finland when Finland was under Swedish rule.

Rising above the town is the tower and cross of the Lutheran Church. We walked from our hotel to this landmark.

The Church in Turku

The church is kept open for visitors. People were ascending the stairs as we approached.

The doors were ornate.

The Church in Turku

I took a deep breath as we entered this place. The architecture is magnificent.

I was most drawn to the painting behind the altar,  with the focus  on    Jesus, resurrected and ascending to heaven.

The Church in Turku

// Since we have returned home I have thought a lot about the church in Finland. Every city has a cathedral-like church. The Lutheran Church is the state church. Weddings and funerals are conducted there. But I did not get a sense of the people of the church. When I talked with my Finnish relatives, the concept of a community of believers was outside of their experience. The magnificent churches demonstrate the heritage of faith. And so I am led to pray for revival and a fresh experience of faith in Finland.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday Link-up

Trying, Persisting and Communicating

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: TRY

During the past two weeks I had the wonderful experience of attending a family reunion in Finland. My maternal grandmother had come to the United States when she was nineteen years old. Two of her brothers were already here, but the remaining ten siblings stayed in Finland. She was never able to go back.

During the two weeks in Finland I had time with a number of our second cousins, third cousins, cousins once or twice removed. Some were fluent in English, some were not. But we found ways to communicate. I tried out the words that I knew in Finnish and then resorted to the app on my i-pad. My relatives tried out words in English and used the Finnish/English dictionary.

We were persistent in our efforts to communicate. I learned about my grandmother’s life in Finland and felt the kinship with my Finnish relatives. . . .

My thoughts have moved on to think about God’s persistent efforts to communicate with us. He has given us the Bible and his Son. In the gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word.   Through Jesus we have  been  given the ability to be in communication with God. Jesus instructed the disciples (and us) to pray, addressing God as our Father.   Our  prayers,   uttered in faith, are heard.

Come visit Five Minute Friday and share your perspective on TRY.

FMF try

Finding Encouragement and Rest

This past Sunday a portion of scripture from Hebrews was read during our worship time. We sang of God’s goodness, and I was filled with joy. During times of fatigue and discouragement we can hold onto the message in these verses from the fourth chapter of Hebrews.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in every time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus hears our prayers and intercedes for us. This is a wonderful truth!

Thank-you for visiting. I am taking a summer break from blogging and plan to be back in August.