Just Write: I Never Stop Being a Mama

It’s the strongest, loudest piece of me, this mama thing. I was surprised by motherhood when it suddenly showed up. There we were, thousands of miles away from home, totally green about all but the basics of married life. 

And then she was born, and the entire world shifted on its axis. And then her sister and then her brother, and then, oh my! three littles in less than four years. And tired? Unbelievably so.


But here they were and there I was, a mom. Not a particularly great mom, truth be told. Impatient, overbearing, insecure, torn by wondering if I should be doing something ‘more’ with my life than wiping bottoms and breaking up bickering.

But I chose to be there, at home, doing exactly that. And I have never regretted it, not even when my eldest questioned that choice when she was about twelve, wondering why I didn’t have a real job like all her friends’ moms.

The most wondrous thing is this: that as they began to grow up, they each showed signs of independence and quick intelligence and wonderful humor and insight. And I became their student, in so many rich and wonderful ways.


My children have taught me so much. About humility, first and foremost. About laughter and anger, about love and disdain, about temperament and truth. Each one of them, wildly different from one another, beginning with that first flutter-in-the-womb. And yet so closely woven together. So close.

Yes, indeed, they were mean to one another, on occasion. I’ve learned more about their childhood meannesses since they’ve grown up! But underneath all of that there has always been a fierce loyalty and love, a deep desire for the best in one another, a willingness to come alongside in the tough times and to joyfully celebrate the great times.

I now have a grandson the same age I was when my first child was born: 23. LORD, have mercy! How is this possible? I truly don’t know how time can sprint by in a blink. I can call up elementary school orchestra concerts (on, my ears!), youth group scavenger hunts, early dating experiences, and long courtships for each of them.

And then suddenly — here we are! Three thriving families, eight grandchildren, every one making real contributions to their community, their church, their friends. 


So I am still learning from them. Every day. And I am still mama at heart, at base, at center. One of them is facing into back surgery; a little grandgirl has a chronic disease; one has been widowed and remarried; two grandkids are searching for ultimate answers, the prayers of us all undergirding their journey. 

No matter what else I have done or will do, no matter how many people I interact with, love, preach to, partner with or direct — these ones, these children, children-in-love/law, grandchildren, along with my husband — these are the community of first commitment and most essential ministry. 

How did I get so lucky?

I haven’t done this in ages, but I so love it when I do. Joining with Heather at EO for her Just Write this week. JUST WRITE whatever comes, then join the community and see where everyone else landed. It’s fun, I promise.

Mother Letters: The Stuff of Heroes

a blurry snapshot of a professional photo taken by Rich Austen of Austen’s Photography, Arroyo Grande CA. His work is excellent, mine not-so-much.

Dear Mother, My First-Born and Mama-to-Our-First-Grandchild,

Have I ever told you that you’re my hero(ine)? The first child born to us, teaching us the depths of love by your very presence, filling us with delight and providing endless hours of entertainment! 

That first child teaches his or her parents so, so much – as you discovered, at exactly the same age I was when you were born. How I admired your parenting instincts, right from the get-go. I remembered my own early fumbling and worrying and over-protective hovering with chagrin as I watched you let that boy of yours climb anything and everything, no matter how high. He was fearless! And how you delighted in that, how you celebrated it. 

Such a gift to give a child! 

Two more boys followed that first one, all three of them miracles of grace and goodness and fun. Because their dad had been so very sick early in his life, each of those healthy baby boys was a true miracle, the result of God’s grace and your love for one another and for each of them. You took trips and had adventures, tried scouting and read books by the basketful, taught them to love well, to create art and music and to grow friendships that went deep. 

And then things got pretty tough for several years. The after-effects of treatment received many years before brought suffering and eventually such loss. And you walked through every second of that with courage and commitment, with honesty and hard work and frayed nerves and sleepless nights and so.much.love. 

And your boys walked right with you, learning lessons we all hoped and prayed they’d never have to learn. Together you and their dad decided to be a family until the end, no matter how hard it got. And the two of you set such an example of courage for your small circle of five and for our extended families on both sides and for all the people who loved you. Yes, you are my hero, dear one. Every inch of you brave beyond belief. 

And now, nearly four years later, there is grace and there is laughter, buoyed by strong memories of the past and strong hopes for the future. God sent love again, a good man to be your companion and an encourager for your sons. 

One of those has flown the nest, another will soon follow. And your own courage and steady commitment over these 21 years has given them beautiful, resilient wings – wings that will take them safely to the next stage of life. I know this because I know about redemption. I know about grace. I know about commitment. I know about courage. 

And I know these truths most deeply because God gave me you. Because God allowed me the great privilege of being your mom. Because you and your sister and your brother are living proof that the age of miracles is not past. Somehow, you survived all the mistakes I made and thrived! Thanks be to God. 

I love you, 


The final installment for Amber Haines’ collection of Mother Letters at her site, as she and Seth launch their exquisite eBook of the same title. You can find the latest letters at this link: http://motherletters.com/my-mother-letter-link-up-party/

Mother Letters: Just Like You

a blurry snapshot of a professional photo taken by Rich Austen of Austen’s Photography, Arroyo Grande CA. His work is excellent, mine not-so-much.

Dear Mother-in-the-Middle of my three favorite moms, 

Do you remember when you found out you were pregnant for the very first time? How you slid to the floor in a puddle and worried out loud that you might have a baby who was “just like me?” And I followed you right down to the floor and said, “Then you will thank God with everything that is in you for such an indescribable gift?” 

Well, I really, really meant that. You were and are one of God’s best gifts to me and to your dad. As I have watched you mothering those three boys of yours for nearly 14 years now, I have been amazed. Amazed and grateful and thunderstruck. Because you are so very good at this gig, my girl. SO good. 

It’s not an easy job, is it? Losing sleep, feeling confused at times, wondering how you are going to make it through one more round of snotty noses and strep throat and allergy season. It’s tough to juggle all that is required as you do this work. I know that part all too well. 

But I didn’t manage to do even half of what you’ve accomplished. I stayed home with you and your younger brother and older sister. I chose to do so and I was blessed to be able to do so because your dad was ‘the breadwinner’ in those long ago days. 

Things have changed, haven’t they? 

You trained for a specialized job, working with blind students, and you’ve always worked at it – part time until boy #3 was three, full time the last few years. I truly do not know how you manage to keep all the plates twirling so magnificently. 

Well, I do know some of it: you’ve got a husband who jumps into all of it with both feet, offering encouragement, hands-on support and many layers of capability. And the two of you together chose this life you live – both of you in special ed with flexible schedules and summers off (mostly!)

Still…you are the beating heart of that wonderful home you keep. I watch you when we stay with you. Always quietly moving through the rooms, picking up, straightening, checking on homework, planning lunches. 

Also, entertaining guests almost every weekend – quite often 30 at a time!, maintaining deep friendships, serving as an elder at your church. You never do anything by halves – and you never have. 

Your children adore you – such fine young men they are becoming! Loving and kind, hard-working, smart, fun and funny. You are doing a great job, Mom-of-my-heart. Yes, you are. 

And, in truth, I do see you in each of those three boys. I can’t even tell you how deeply glad I am about that. Because you are a woman of valor – of deep, real beauty, both inside and out. You have the best laugh in the world and such a tender heart. You willingly admit your own doubts and questions, you seek honest answers to the tough stuff, you use your natural insights into human nature so very well. These are the things I see reflected in your children, good gifts that will serve them well as they move out into the world. 

After all, they are a lot like their mother. 

I love you, 


This one is being added to Amber Haines’ Link-up celebrating the release of Mother Letters:Sharing the Mess and the Glory. Have you seen this wonderful e-Book Amber and Seth have assembled from over 500 moms? I am an affiliate for this work of art – because I believe in the encouragement this project has provided to so many who are doing the hard/wonderful work of mothering. Check it out at: http://motherletters.com/my-mother-letter-link-up-party/

Dear Mother: Inviting Strength in the MIddle of the Scary Stuff

a blurry snapshot of a professional photo taken by Rich Austen of Austen’s Photography, Arroyo Grande CA. His work is excellent, mine not-so-much.

Dear Mother,

I watch you making room for courage in your little one, your toddler-sized daughter, and inside, I stand up and cheer. Yes! That girl you’ve got has spunk – that indefinable core stuff that looks at life as a challenge to be met head-on.

She knows her own mind, that 2-year-old of yours. She wants what she wants when she wants it and you are so wise as you deal with that willfulness. You hold onto it and treasure it, you recognize it for what it truly is: a gift that will serve her well as she grows into womanhood.

Yet you help her know that there are boundaries to be kept and you invite her to learn what they are, to grow increasingly comfortable with where they are and to honor them, especially as she is learning to navigate social and family relationships.

I listen as you offer clear, firm, yet gentle correction when the ‘NOs” become too frequent or too boisterous. I watch as you always sweeten your intervention with hugs, kisses, and the wise offering of an alternate choice that will both keep the peace and maintain her personal sense of justice.

Just in the last month or so, our girl has found some things in this world that are scary – loud noises most especially: vacuum cleaners, mixers, power mowers. Always, she has been fearless – climbing anything, reaching for life with all the enthusiasm her small bones can carry. Now she is beginning to see that some things in this life are bigger and louder than she is – and she shrinks back, momentarily overwhelmed. 

Thank you for acknowledging and validating her fears and then inviting her to move right on past them. Thank you for holding her close when she feels off-balance and uncertain. But thank you, too, for all your gentle encouragement to keep a firm grip on life even when it gets scary. Thank you for inviting her to be brave – not reckless, but truly brave. 

I believe in this girl. And I believe in you. You are fully up to the challenge of raising a strong-willed child – so gracious, patient and welcoming to all of who she is. May God grant you peace and confidence as you continue to mother her (and her bigger sister) so beautifully and well. You provide a safe haven from which she will continue to fly into life, even when it gets scary. She is a gift. And so are you.

Much love,


Adding this to Amber Haines’ MotherLetters collection, designed to celebrate moms and to encourage them in this oh-so-important life journey. You can add your own words of hope and promise by checking out this link: http://motherletters.com/my-mother-letter-link-up-party/