For years I have watched my mom as she has mothered my siblings and me. When she looks back over those years she probably sees the things she should have done or could have done, or shouldn’t have done. I see the mom who loved to read out loud to us and cried when the stories were sad and laughed when they were happy, and fell asleep in the middle of a sentence because she had been up all night with a baby while the rest of us slept soundly. I see the mom who never failed to put a made-from-scratch meal on the dinner table, all while doing laundry, homeschooling, and chauffeuring us to soccer, baseball and swim practice. Not to mention that half the kids at church considered her a second mom, and that she is known everywhere for her homemade bread made from grain that sits in big buckets in the pantry and is ground just before baking.
Mom, you have taught me how to be kind, and to serve others, even when it’s inconvenient. You have taught me that a panicky fifteen minute clean-up the house before company comes over is more than sufficient because people feel at home because you are there to talk to them and serve whatever you happen to have in the pantry at the time (even if you don’t think so). I’ve learned that slices of carrots and apples make the perfect tea party food if you’re willing to dress up, use an accent and call them cookies while pouring a “spot of tea.” I’ve learned that God meets you in the moments during the day, even if you were interrupted twelve times while you were just trying to read one Psalm, and that if you teach your kids passages of Scripture by saying them out loud over and over, they still remember them twenty years later.
Thank you for pouring yourself out for us. I want to be just like you as I mother L the Brave.
My first taste of motherhood came in Uganda, when Mandie Joy and I took on the care of 4 month old twins, E1 and E2. Our “little family” eventually expanded to include E3, AR, and LJ. As each child was added, and as sleep became more of a rarity, I saw MJ’s God-given mothering gifts come out. She always chose to love, choosing to cuddle rather than stick to a non-existent schedule. Where I played mean mom and taught E2 to not need a bottle in the middle of the night, MJ used those opportunities to give snuggles to a baby who had gone without snuggles for the first three months of life. I watched her as she made the decision to not adopt AR and give her to the family to whom she so obviously belonged. Even when she knew she was not going to keep her, she continue to love her as her own.
And after fostering children in Honduras, and being forced to watch them return to hard situations, and foster babies in Uganda and give them to their adoptive families, she is choosing to foster here in the US, and choosing to love babies who just need to be loved for a short amount of time.
She loves with reckless abandon, without regard to the possibility that her heart might get broken. She chooses to trust her heart to Jesus, knowing that He can fix it, and then she loves the littles God sends her way.
Mandie Joy, when I’m up in the middle of the night with L, who used to sleep through the night, but doesn’t anymore, the temptation to be frustrated is always there, until I am reminded of how many times you chose to snuggle our babies. It’s easier to enjoy those middle of the night moments when I think of how quickly they pass, and how much I would like to go back and snuggle E1 and E2. You choose to love Baby A and Elsie, and others, even knowing that tomorrow, your arms might be empty again. You have shown me that loving without guards is hard but worth it, because the more you are willing to love, the more Jesus equips you to love. You have shown me that making sure L knows he is loved and cherished is way more important than a schedule.
Thank you for showing me how to love recklessly. You have changed the kind of mother I want to be and someday I hope my kids thank you for it. I love you.
These are just two of the moms who have influenced me, but let this be a tribute to those moms who love faithfully and to foster moms who often go unrecognized.
To read more of Mandie Joy’s fostering story, check out her blog: http://www.SeeingJoy.com. Maybe even help her foster by shopping from her Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/echoesofmercy