I have been asked to be the MOPS mentor for a group in our area and I want to share with you the encouragement I am striving to impart to these ladies.  I pray it will encourage you where you are.  I know everyone who reads this are not mothers, and I want your encouragement to be, that you have a part in some young mothers' life and encourage and lift them up, or if you aren't a mother yet, and you may be someday, know this is a God-ordained gift.  Be encouraged!

Hello ladies, Moms of Preschoolers, I want you to know what an honor it is to just be considered to be your new mentor, let alone asked to take this position.  My desire is to encourage you in this season of your life.  You have been given a gift, the ultimate and most important job in the entire world and I want to help you see that, and learn to enjoy it, through all the busyness and hustle and bustle this world will offer you, I want you to see the importance of your position at this time.  I pray I will be an encourager and able to lift you up during this exciting adventure you are on.   I am so unworthy of this calling, and the more you get to know me, the more you will see this to be true.  I am a mother just like you, one who has struggled through raising my own children, but I did not have the encouragement (other than great examples from my mother and grandmother) I desire to give you at this time.  I want you to draw from my experiences and know this is a good and perfect work you are doing.  

I was in MOPS when my children were little, and I remember going to meetings, eating, listening, learning about different topics, making a craft, but I really don’t remember leaving with the encouragement to go on, to be told that a mother has the single most honorable position a lady can hold, to be told what I was doing was a “good” thing, to be proud of motherhood, to love my husband, to love my children, and that is what I want to impart to you.  What you are doing now, with those little ones of yours, and even if some of your children are older, I want you to know that this is important, and it will NOT last forever, although right now, I know you think it will.

You have the best job in this world and you are raising children who will one day raise their own children, and you have the opportunity to shape them into respectable, dependable young adults, ladies and gentlemen, and we will be discussing over this next year how to do that and know that it is good.
We will be discussing topics such as, consistency, making brothers and sisters best friends, oh the joys, disciplining with love, but with a firm hand, I promise there is a balance, we will talk about our marriage to our husbands and how that has such a great impact on teaching respect to our children, sarcasm and teasing, and the effects these have on all those around.   Another topic will be taking care of ourselves during this time and how important it is; we will discuss modesty and how it is a matter of the heart and who are we really trying to impress, and what power our clothes hold, hmmmm.  It is good, I promise.  You will also hear about the different seasons of our lives and how none of them last forever, but they are all good, in their own time and place. 

Now, that I have told you what you will be hearing over the coming year, I would like to tell you my experiences and where I am at this point in my life.  So,” let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.”  Not really, that would take way too long. (OK, side note, I had included some phrases to songs within my speech and whoever guessed won a prize, so if you catch a phrase, that is why.)

I am 42 years old, but with some health problems, I feel much, much older, but that is for “another time and another place.”  (You will learn I and my family LOVE music-all, almost all genres)     Ok, for my biography, or part of it… I married the man of my dreams, my childhood sweetheart, the only man I dated, and I was the only girl he had ever dated, when I was 18, and he was 26, eight years older than I.  I graduated high school in May, and had a wedding in June.  Whew!  He was such a man of character that no one ever questioned our age difference.  We had a wonderful, God-centered wedding and began our journey of life together.  We have been married 24 years this past June.  Next year will be our Silver Anniversary!  I do feel old.  Now, this is not to say we haven’t had our struggles, we have, but we have looked to God to help lead us along the journey, and journeys are rough aren’t they, they’re an adventure, and I believe every marriage and family is an adventure, but it is good when our Tour Guide knows the way, we only need to have the right Guide.

Continuing on, I went to our community college for a year, began the second year, but for many different reasons did not finish, college was NOT for me, learning is always good, college wasn’t… for me.  I came home, having moved only three miles down the road after we married, and sometime later began working at the Farmers Co-Op in the office.  It was a good experience.  My dad had worked there yeeeaaarrrs before and living on the farm we already knew practically everyone including the manager, so it was good.  I was still young, and they protected me like I was their little girl, it actually was kind of funny.  It was also a bad time, because, later on Steve and I went through probably the most difficult time of our marriage, but we pressed on, listened to our Guide, and got back on the right path.  I am telling you this because I want you to know that I am NOT perfect, what we have, who we are, who our children are, did NOT just happen, everything has been intentional, learning as we went, but I will say GOD has been our guide, and has led us in ANYTHING we know, or in doing anything we did, and He still leads.  I would not have it any other way, because life just stinks sometimes, and when you don’t have a leader, you just flounder around like a fish out of water, and you know what happens to a fish out of water?  Yes, it dies.  We didn’t want to die, so we listened to our God, and we began on our journey…together…again.  Yes, you can start over, fresh, new, it’s amazing.

Four years after our marriage we began our family.  We had four children within the next three and a half years.  Sarah was our first and what a joy!  She made ME a mother, a MOM, WOW! That was new.  She was great, and the only easy, normal pregnancy, slept all night, simply perfect.  When Sarah was nine months old I found out I was pregnant with twins.  Wow! Never, never expected that one coming, it had never entered our minds that twins were even a possibility, but what excitement it brought to all our family and friends.  Although, knowing Sarah would only be 16 months old when they were born didn’t mean much to us, we really had NO idea what was coming.  I was in the hospital for an entire month before the twins were born, on bed rest, just sleeping and eating.  (I’m sure God was giving me rest He knew I would need soon).  Sarah stayed between my parents and home with Steve when he wasn’t with me, and then they would bring her to UT to visit off and on; that was hard, probably harder on her than we knew, but she was great.  The twins were born four weeks early, but that was normal.  Jenny and Julia stayed in NICU for a week, which was the hardest week I had ever had.  I could not breastfeed them, oh I tried, every single time we drove to see them, I tried, but they had given them bottles, so I just cried at every visit.  I pumped, but it wasn’t the same.  I knew if we could just get them home we would be fine, and you know what, we were.  They were great, took to nursing like they never had a bottle.  Joy!  Now, sleep, well, that was another story.  It took us one entire hour to feed, burp, change, feed, burp, change, feed the other side, burp, and change, feed the other side, burp, change, and they only slept an hour and were up again.  To be honest I’m not sure how long that went on, but surely just a week or so, I have no idea.  My dear hubby did everything while I fed them, so I know with work he was even more tired than me, but he has always been the most generous helper, yes, I know, so lucky and fortunate.  God knew who I needed.

Two and a half years later in the 7th month of my last pregnancy I contracted viral meningitis, which was scary, to say the least, because our hospital had never had a pregnant woman with meningitis, that was comforting, so I was quarantined for a week, undergoing spinal taps.  After Jamin was born, he had to be taken to children’s hospital and stayed there for a week before we could take him home.  I was still at Parkwest; another devastating blow.  I couldn’t even hold my new baby, our only son.  We made trips to Knoxville again, until we finally had all four children home, safe and sound, and then real life began.  Wow!   

Through this entire process we trusted God and leaned on Him.  Each of our children was perfect in every way, and they still are.  They are such a blessing to us, I cannot describe how much I love each of my young adults, which they are now, and enjoy watching and listening to them on a daily basis. They are 20, 18, 18, and 16.  We home educated them for most of their lives and the girls have all graduated, and now are taking the avenue of staying home, preparing to be a help meet some day.  They have begun a knitting business selling their homemade items. (They have an Etsy shop you can look at) As the Proverbs 31 woman says, “she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.”   They are artists, and musicians, and call their group “Undivided,” and have sung at different churches.  They can farm, mechanic, help wire houses, cook, clean, care for a home, study, and help their younger brother as he finishes his senior year.  The girls are encouraging to their brother, truly wonderful.   It is such a joy; I only wish I had people that truly desired to teach me from an older woman to a younger woman, or someone who had been there before and had a desire to tell me that what I had was virtuous, and that the pressures and the “good” things of this world and our culture are NOT what matters.  I believe it would have made my years in depression and hardship and heartache something different.  I know it is what God had me go through to get me where I am now and so I can tell you from experience that it is hard.  It is hard.  But, it is good and it is God’s plan where you are right now.  

Don’t listen to those around that want to have you do this or do that, be busy here, or busy there, please, take this wonderful, God given gift as something joyful and make your mothering your priority, your number one thing, and embrace it, love your children, laugh with them, hold them, sit with them, read with them.  Forget what our world says is important and make your children your focus, because believe me they will be grown before you can turn around.  I know, and I am so very proud of my family, but it makes me so sad to see what I missed, what I wasn’t told, oh if I could go back and really enjoy my children when they were little.  We had good times, but deep down I dealt with some very difficult issues and I will have to wait and see if God allows me to tell you things that has not been said before that I have overcome, but  oh if I could go back.  Smile at them, with them, pull them in your laps and don’t stop hugging on them. 

Since our first child was born God has been working on my heart, especially as a mother, drawing me to His will and to the highest calling He can bestow upon a woman.  I accepted it early on, and even though there have been struggles, I have tried to listen and obey His will for me and my family's life.  I will discuss some of these struggles and expand on where God has been leading and is still leading me in my daily walk with Him.  I really cannot separate where I’ve been and where I’m going from God and His will because He is why I do or have done anything.  If it wasn’t for Him, I really would not have the desire for my children to grow up as they have, and I am so thankful He has spoken to me through the years and is still leading me to a place of quiet rest.  It is a wonderful place to be, and even though I fail Him often, I strive to obey His commands and His will for me, to have that relationship with the Holy God, the One who saves, and the One who commands obedience to His Word.

Our desire as a family has been to glorify God, live for Him, obey what He asks of us and I will say, His blessings have overflowed in every area of our lives.  God's grace, as we were willing to listen and obey, has carried us into a relationship with Him and with each other, we never would have had otherwise.

In closing, my prayer is to lift you up before my Father, to encourage you in this most precious time of your life.  You have been given a most honorable task, and I ask that you accept what you have been given, embrace it, cherish it, and in my most humbling undertaking I pray that in some small way I will be able to offer you something I only saw from a few, and that is a compassion and a devotion to your family.  We may need to re-evaluate our lives to give of our best to God and to our family, but let’s do it.  There are lots of "good" things we may do, but let us give God and our family the "best."  There will be other seasons in our lives to do the "good" things, and then at that time, it may be the "best".  I am looking forward to this journey together.  I hope you are.

Now, take a little time, wherever that may be, with a little one on your lap, in the bathroom, or during naptime and, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalms 37:7a

What are you doing to enjoy and love on your family?  I'd love to hear!

Always Experiencing Him,

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