I have recently been digging through decades of family memorabilia and came across several of my old journals. And since I wasn’t in any particular rush, I started perusing their pages.
As I skimmed emotional entries (from what seems like a lifetime ago), I gave thanks to God once again and worshipped Him for mercies I have long since tucked away in my memory. (Which is one reason why I did it.)
It was May 2003 when, in desperate need, I started entering daily thanks into a makeshift journal.
My husband and I were separated, speeding head-on to a certain and ugly divorce, and I was adjusting (or should I say struggling) to becoming a single mom.
We were in dire straits (to say the least). I won’t bore you with all the messy details. But I will say we were broke, without income, and nothing but a pile of bills. However, I saw the goodness of God providing and caring for us through a lot of people. And I wanted to be sure to acknowledge God’s grace and give Him thanks.
So I grabbed one of the kids’ empty school binders and titled it The Stephens Family Altar of Praise and Thanksgiving. (Altar, because over those pages, and unto God, I poured out worship.) The Lord was my lifeline, my companion, my salvation, and I desperately needed that time with Him daily. I felt my faith needed to be intentional about looking for His lovingkindness. I wanted a record of His goodness, so when times got tough and I felt weak, I could look back and remember His faithfulness. I also wanted something faith-building to share with my kids—so they too could see the hand of God at work in our family.
I remember how frantic those early prayers were. I remember the immense concern, worry, fear, and anxiety over all that we needed. As I saw Him, time and again, answering those prayers I wanted to be sure to give Him thanks. To bless Him for His bountiful blessings.
Coming from a broken home myself, that was always the last thing I ever wanted for my children. So I worried about how it would affect them, their future, their opportunities, their relationships . . . But God provided—above and beyond. And they turned out tremendously better than I could have ever imagined.
They are both married now. My first grand was welcomed with great joy a few short weeks ago and another is on the way. (Which is why I have been rummaging through stored childhood treasures.)
Single parenthood is not the ideal or by God’s design. But that doesn’t mean He abandons them. Though single, when it came to motherhood, I never felt alone. Another great gift of God’s grace I have to emphasize in those journals is thanks for all the women He put in my life. Motherhood is hard enough in the best of circumstances, but God surrounded me with a fantastically supportive church community that helped raise and disciple those kids. He provided so many precious women who beautifully ministered to me with the very heart of Christ.
God wants to partner with you. He wants to bless you to do far more than deliver a baby and change their diapers. He wants more for you than just feeding them and managing chaos. He wants you to teach and train . . . and enjoy them.
If you’re staggering under the weight of raising a family, know that your mothering matters to God. Lean into Him through prayer. He will hold you up and give you strength and wisdom to carry on. Not sure where to begin? When I was exhausted or overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to pray for my children. I found resources to help prime those prayers. (I ended up with quite a stack, I must say!)
If you are heading into Mother’s Day feeling worried, weary, worn, and weighed down, turn to the Lord and surrender your burdens into His compassionate and capable hands.
Triumph over worry comes by trusting God. He showed time after time, trial after trial, that He could be trusted.
You will yet praise Him. For a mighty God makes for mighty faith.
I can say, with courageous confidence, those journals are not merely accounts of what we experienced and endured. They are records of grace. They are proof of God’s love, faithfulness, and active presence. Listen: If God was willing to do that for me, a flawed and broken sinner, He is more than willing to do it for you, mom.
At the day’s end, sit with Him. Let Him love on you. And look for reasons to give Him thanks. Worship flows from acknowledging His daily mercies and grace. And, when He has delivered you to the next phase of mothering, you will look back with fresh thanksgiving.
Warm-up your praise with these lyrics from David Crowder…
Good God Almighty
I hope You'll find me
Praising Your name no matter what comes
'Cause I know where I'd be
Without Your mercy
So I keep praising Your name at the top of my lungs