Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests, Parenting

Mother of Pearl: Mother Ship by Melody Murray

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

Mother Ship by Melody Murray

Mother Ship (N.) – a ship that serves or carries one or more smaller ships.

Raising two boys in India is quite nice, really. We have monkeys, scooters, plenty of dirt, and mountains. The challenges are comical. I found very quickly on that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. It’s been an excellent motto for our three years thus far, one I learned shortly after our arrival here in June of 2010.

We’d been in India for just three days when I had my first major meltdown. Our two boys, ages three and four, were sitting in big plastic buckets in our smelly bathroom, covered with mosquito bites, jetlagged as can be. I was frantically pouring cold water over them, trying to scrub off the India grime that had caked on their scrawny little bodies. I was having to hold them like puppy dogs so they wouldn’t scurry out from underneath the cold water. It was a far cry from the sweet, warm, bubbly, happy bath time we’d experienced together for the past four years in the States! Talk about culture shock. They were in shock. I was in shock. I’m sure the neighbors were in shock, too. I’m not sure my boys have ever seen me scream, cry, and stomp that much. Thank God it is just a memory now.

Somehow, by God’s grace, we’ve figured out life here. It looks much different than I had ever thought it would look, especially as a mother. We don’t go to the library, make elaborate crafts, play T-ball, shop at Target, sing in church choir, or take family bike rides. I have had to redefine my ideal upbringing for my children and have had to let go of many expectations. But I’ve managed to grasp hold of a new set of dreams.

My children are global kids. They have an incredible adventure every day. They see the “majority world” firsthand. I think they are some of the most privileged kids I know. I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself that my kids don’t get to go to ballgames or have a huge tree house or wear cute clothes. Why focus on what I think they’ve lost, only to lose sight of what they’re gaining?

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My attitude shift didn’t come easily. I can be quite stubborn. I clung to what I knew and what I thought was “normal” and “right,” as all of us moms do. I’d cry after phone conversations with friends back home who had their children signed up for karate, soccer, and swim lessons, with loads of choices for good schools, churches, and neighborhoods. I had nothing of the sort available for my kids, and I felt bitter and resentful.

But then I slowly began to change. Slowly, after months of getting over culture shock and cold baths, we began to love this place and the people we were with. We began to know them, understand them, become like them. Our community here became our family. Just this week, I’ve been sick with an awful kidney infection, and my living room has been full of my Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian friends, bringing me food, rubbing my feet, playing with my children, washing my dishes. I’ve never experienced community in this way before. My boys are loved so well by so many. And they are learning how to love back, even when it’s not easy.

My attitude shift didn’t come quickly, but when it happened, it took a 180°. I realized how wrong I’d been. These people I live with—their kids don’t have organized sports, church choirs, or fancy vacations either. Their kids aren’t signed up for after-school activities and aren’t becoming multi-skilled elementary school prodigies. Yet, in spite of this, they are content. Like none I’ve ever seen. They love each other. Like none I’ve ever seen. They have very little, yet they have so very much.

In the western world of comparisons and endless striving, I believe we sometimes lose touch of the things we actually care most about. I know most of us moms actually don’t care whether our children are the best at T-ball or whether their crafts look better than the next kid’s. But I think we all care deeply that our kids are loved, and that they know how to love. We all have a common dream that our kids will grow up to be world-changers, to strive for what is right, to love the unloved, to see the world in a different way. These are the deepest dreams of moms. So let’s not forget that the most important things we can give our kids are not the things we can buy them or sign them up for. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to give them sails, let them explore new things, meet new people, and learn to make lasting change in this world.

So join me this Mother’s Day. Let’s all be “mother ships,” leading our kids to new adventures, new beginnings, new relationships. Let’s serve and carry our little ones to places they can only dream of, whether it be making dinner for a neighbor, smiling at the homeless man in front of the grocery store, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or moving to India. Let’s take them with us and teach them how to sail.

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” —Grace Murray Hopper

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068In June 2010, an opportunity arose to work with a small needy community in the Himalayas, so David and Melody Murray and their two young boys packed their bags and moved to Rajpur, North India. Mel has grown JOYN, fulfilling her passion to connect artisans with western markets. They now have a diverse and growing team of Americans, Australians, Indians, Tibetans and Nepalis working together to create a community that strives to take care of each other and bring opportunity to as many as they can. Visit her website for more information.
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Mother of Pearl: The Pursuit of Imperfection by Beth Vogt

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

The Pursuit of Imperfection by Beth Vogt

In my early mommy-ing years, I was all about perfection. I wasn’t going to be just a good mom—oh, no. I grabbed the virtual performance bar and shoved it way out of my reach.

It didn’t take long for that bar to come crashing down on my head. Perfection was toppled by the harsh reality that, at times, I was an angry mom. I hit my knees and begged God for forgiveness, for patience, for the ability to love my children one day at a time . . . sometimes one hour at a time.

I embraced 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of mistakes, even altering it a bit so that it met my need. My version of 1 Peter 4:8 became: Love covers a multitude of mommy-mistakes. There was no way I could pretend that I was perfect, but I could do everything possible so that my children knew that I loved them, despite my imperfections.

Fast forward through toddlers and teenagers to being the mother of a twenty-something son, two late-teen daughters, and one (surprise!) elementary-school-age daughter.

During lunch one day with Katie Beth and Amy, my two oldest daughters, Katie Beth looked at me and asked, “Do you want to know what the best thing was about you as a mom?”

Did I? How could I say no to an unexpected “her children will rise up and call her blessed” moment? I assured Katie Beth I absolutely wanted to know the best thing about me as a mom. She looked at me and said, “The best thing about you as a mom was that you weren’t perfect.”

Oh. I admit I expected something . . . more. I joked with my daughter, telling her I wished she’d told me this sooner, as I wasted too much time trying to be perfect. We all laughed and the conversation moved on.

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A few weeks later as a prepared a talk on motherhood and perfection for a moms group, I asked Katie Beth, “Can you tell me again why not being perfect was the best thing about me as a mom?”

She emailed me a letter that read: So many kids grow up thinking their parents are up on this pedestal. They think their parents can do no wrong, but then when they fail at something or make a mistake . . . it can tend to devastate those kids. Also, it taught me that being a Christian does not equal perfection. So many people think because they are a Christian they have to be perfect, and I learned from you that, while you are a very loving mother, you are not perfect. It helps me know you don’t expect me to be perfect. 



Our children don’t want perfect moms—but they do want to know we love them. And maybe by admitting we’re not perfect, our kids will avoid the perfectionist trap too.

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Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth has proudly authored two novels, Wish You Were Here and the newly released Catch a Falling Star. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

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Mother of Pearl: History Has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

History has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer

Forty years ago a single, young woman was about to give birth. She didn’t know how she could afford a child without her parents’ help. She hadn’t talked to her former boyfriend in months. She had no idea how to reach him, how to tell him she was having his child.

This young woman attended church some, yet her dialogue with God was stilted. How could God let this happen to her? What would her life be like now? A baby girl was born, and upon holding her child this young lady knew things would be okay. Perhaps this baby was a gift, not a burden as she supposed.

This woman raised her daughter the best she could, and while she wanted to give her child more than she had . . . history has a way of repeating itself. When the daughter became a young woman, she found herself in the same situation—living at home, pregnant and scared.

The daughter knew she could raise this child. After all, her mom had done it. But what would her life be like? How could God let this happen to her?

If you haven’t guessed already. I was the daughter born to a single mom and as a teenager became a single mom myself. At age 17, God gave me a son. My boyfriend was out of the picture, and I faced raising a child alone with little education, no money and, maybe according to the world, little hope for my future.

Now if you take this story at face value, I am nothing more than a statistic. According to government research, most daughters of young mothers will be teen mothers themselves. They face lives of hardship, living on welfare for the most part — becoming a burden rather than an asset to society.

Yet, I am not a statistic. Why? Because God doesn’t do them.

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As a 17-year-old pregnant teenager I prayed a simple prayer, “God, I have messed up my life big time. If you can do anything with it, please do.” I dedicated my life and my heart to him and things changed. I had hope in my heart and I started walking God’s way. God brought an amazing, Christian man into my life. John was a wonderful husband and a father to my son. When had a daughter and another one on the way, God did something else unexpected. He gave me the desire to write books.

This Mother’s Day, my heart is filled with thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my mother who chose life for me. I’m thankful that when I questioned my future, God gave me hope.

History has a way of repeating itself in families, but even more important that our history of mess-ups is God’s history of setting things right. God has a history of seeing something no one else does . . . like seeing a king in a shepherd boy named David, seeing an apostle in a young zealot named Paul, and seeing a mighty warrior in a frightened nobody named Gideon. God’s X-ray eyes see right through any outward characteristics or national statistics. His X-ray eyes scan down to the heart.

Where have you felt you’ve fallen short of God’s perfect plan? Trust that God’s dream is to turn a mess-up into a miracle. He’s a BIG God with BIG dreams. A God who has made an agreement with us that is eternal, final, and sealed. A God who is strong in our weakness. A God who sees the future, sees the past and has a perfect plan for me . . . and for you. It’s something we can all be thankful for.

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Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.comTheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
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Mother of Pearl: Daughter Sing Softly by Lesli A. Westfall

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

Daughter Sing Softly By Lesli A. Westfall

RedBirdAlong with the visit of winter comes the wet, dull, silent days and gray landscape, even in Southeast Texas. On the other hand, there is always a turn between the seasons. The brightness of spring is just around the corner. And God, in His unique, loving way, proves to us a sign through the things we love and when we need it the most.

I love birds, truly, any kind of bird! However, one of my favorites is the cardinal. It’s indigenous to some parts of North and South America. An attractive bird to say the least! Bright red feathers, black bill, a metallic chirp with a sweet, crystal clear melodic song . . . and my most favorite feature, for the most part, the male and female are always together.

For the last two weeks, right outside our bedroom at daybreak there has been a cardinal singing, loudly, wakening me morning after morning. In the deepest sleep, I would hear the bird’s song, and smile, knowing God is near. The daily morning concerts continued. Then, one particular day for my daily devotion, I opened my Bible and my eyes fell upon this scripture:

“. . . one arises to the sound of the bird, and the daughters of song sing softly.”  Ecclesiastes 12:4

Wow!  How personal God truly is to you and me. He knows how much I love birds. The little feathered beings always reminded me of the Creator. He placed it in a strategic place to sing, then He led me to His Word and gave instruction for the moment: while waiting for the desire of my heart to become a mother; daughter, sing softly. In our waiting the Creator of life desires for us to worship Him.

In doing a word search about the cardinal, I found some interesting characteristics. The word “cardinal” originates from the Latin word “hinge.” A hinge helps a door or gate to turn. Could this sweet bird be a sign there is a turn in the change of seasons of our lives? Could the waiting to become a mother or answer to a long awaited prayer be a turn from winter’s silent, dull barren landscape to spring?

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I believe He is saying to us, “As the season turns, Daughter . . . sing softly!”

Scripture for reflection: 

“Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” Psalm 86:17

A prayer for the day:
 “Heavenly Father, I ask that you show me a sign of your goodness! I need it Lord. I thank you for your faithfulness to me, even in the littlest things. Comfort and help me as I wait upon you for the desires of my heart!” 
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(All scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1991.)
 
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Westfall - author photo smLesli Westfall, author of Dancing Upon Barren Land, enjoys her moments in life by teaching cooking and etiquette to children, finds pleasure in spending time with family and friends, traveling and eating dark chocolate!  Most of all, she enjoys sharing God’s love and teaching His Word to women. She is happily married to her man of faith, live-in comedian and best friend, Larry, of twenty years. Visit her website.
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Mother of Pearl: The Mom Who Gives Freedom by Christy Fitzwater

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

The Mom Who Gives Freedom by Christy Fitzwater

My mom is a reserved, quiet homebody who has lived in the same house for forty years. She has no ambitious career goals or desire for adventure.

She gave birth to me, an outgoing adventure-lover who has lived to take risks and put myself out into the world, in ways my mother would never dream of doing herself.

Yet my mother has always given me the great gift of freedom. She has never cast onto me her own fears of limelight or reservations about risk but has only encouraged me to do the outrageous things I have attempted to do.

When I received an award in high school that required me to fly, for the first time and by myself, from Wyoming to Atlanta, Georgia (only having talked once by telephone to the person who would pick me up), she sent me off with enthusiasm. (But her heart must have trembled to allow me to get on that plane.)

When that award landed me a full scholarship to a school in Texas I had never heard of (the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor), she rejoiced with me and did not hesitate to allow me to accept the scholarship. She then drove away from me in Texas, leaving me at a school where I knew no one, and only years later told me that was the hardest thing she had ever done.

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When I called from Texas, at the end of my freshman year, and excitedly announced I had gotten a job and would be staying in Texas for the summer, she said it was wonderful and gave her approval.

Mom never filled me with doubt about what I could do. She never cast guilt on me for going on adventures that took me far away from her. She never poured her anxiety on my head but spoke only happiness and cheerleader words for me.

But now that I’m a mom, I know.

I know my risk-taking journey has always cost her something. I know every wild ride I chose required her to choose—either to build me up or to press me down. My mom handed me the scissors and, with a smile, allowed me to cut the apron strings and go far beyond what was comfortable for her.

This last week my son got his driver’s license, and now it is my turn to choose. Worry or a hearty smile—which will I give to him?

Let us stand in ovation to the mothers who give their children the ability to live freely.

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christyfitzwaterChristy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana. She is also the mother of a daughter in college and a son in high school. She has an English degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Visit her at http://www.christyfitzwater.com.

 

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Mother of Pearl: How I Learned to Give Up Control by Sue Edwards

Pearl Girls McSweeneyWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

How I Learned to Give Up Control by Sue Edwards

I’m one of those mothers who would like to control everything in my children’s lives. You may be too, all out of the best intentions. I tried frantically to do that for many years until God grabbed my attention and wrestled my control issues from my clenched fists. It happened this way.

My youngest daughter attended a large university where campus housing was at a premium. Her second year she was accepted into one of the nicest dorms on campus, but the rule was that you could either choose the room or the roommate of your choice but not both. Well, I had heard horror stories of what happened when you roomed with some girls–like men in the room, and I turned into mother bear. I was not going to allow my child to take pot luck in roommates, nor were we willing to give up that choice room.

I had heard that if your child had a learning disability they would ditch the rule. So I decided to make my case with the administrator who could fix this unfair situation. All week, I was on the phone long distance climbing my way up the ladder to the gentleman who could give my daughter the room and roommate she deserved.

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And finally, I was on the phone with him. We talked for a few minutes, and then he asked me, “Does your daughter have a learning disability?” I answered rather indignantly, “Well, I prefer not to label people.” That did it. He bought it. I had done the impossible. I called my daughter, she turned cart wheels on the other end of the phone, and we rejoiced together.

Only the roommate she had chosen, the dear Christian girl from her church, did not turn out to be the roommate she expected. In fact, she did have men in the room, a lot. And she went home at Christmas under suspicious circumstances. All fall I had to endure calls from my daughter who was trying to figure out how to navigate this awkward situation. And it was my fault. Some of us are stubborn and God needs a two by four to get our attention, and break us of our control issues. This was that time for me, and for my daughter. Now, when we are tempted to take control instead of trusting God, we look at each other, remember, smile, and let go.

God knows what he is doing in your life, my life, and the lives of our children. And he loves our children more than we do, as impossible as that may sound. So trust him, follow him. Two by fours are rather painful. You won’t regret trusting your Sovereign Father who has your, and your children’s, best interest at heart.

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sueedwardsDr. Sue Edwards has over thirty-five years experience as a Bible teacher, overseer of ministries to women, and author. Now, as a full-time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, she equip men and women for future ministry all over the world. And women everywhere enjoy learning the Scriptures in face to face groups as well as an online community using her Bible studies, the Discover Together Series. To join the online Bible study community or to converse with Sue, go to Facebook.com/discovertogetherseries. She is currently working on a book with Barbara Neumann on mentoring millennials. Married for forty years, she and David are the parents of two married daughters and the grandparents of five.

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Mother of Pearl: “She’s My Everything” AND Giveaway!


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series – a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND … do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother’s Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

She’s…My Everything by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A mother is one who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.

–Cardinal Mermillod

Just a few more months. My mother was hoping Dad would hang on long enough so they could celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary in April. But on January 1st, as the sun rose on the new year, my dad’s worn out heart beat its last. Dad had battled Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. As many of you know, AD is a long, hard journey. Hard on the one afflicted with the disease, hard on the caregivers.

But not without its blessings.

Four years ago, as I began researching stories for Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, my path crossed with a handful of Plain families who were coping with Alzheimer’s. It was just about the point when Dad’s illness was shifting from early to mid stages AD and the timing was a divine accident. I learned so much as I observed the calm acceptance of these families. Rather than waste time shaking a fist at God for allowing this disease to take their loved one, they put their energy into trusting God’s sovereignty. They didn’t deny the difficulties and complications and sadness of Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t dwell on them. “God has a plan,” one woman told me. “He always has a plan.”

Something else I noticed was how privileged my Amish friends felt about caring for their loved one. Caring for the elderly, they believe, is the time to give back to them.

Those encounters shaped my perspective of Dad’s illness. I started to pay attention to how God provided answers to new wrinkles created by Alzheimer’s, just in time. God may be slow, but He is never late.

I started to cherish special moments or good days with Dad—just as he was at each point in his illness. Not mourning the past, not dreading the future.

I really miss my dad. I miss his scratchy whiskers and the way his eyebrows would wiggle at us, even as words failed him. Yet I have such peace in my heart that he was well loved and well cared for, right to the very end. And as hard as Dad’s end of life has been, it isn’t the end. We will meet again. As the saying goes, “Some may see a hopeless end, but as believers we rejoice in an endless hope.”

There’s a beautiful story that illustrates my parents’ 59-year marriage. This event happened about a year or two ago. My sister had accompanied our mother to the doctor appointment for Dad at the Stanford Memory Clinic.

Dad had declined quite a bit that month. He was weak and lethargic, even to the point of whispering, as if it took too much energy to project his voice. During the doctor’s appointment, the doctor told my mother and sister that Dad was now in late stages of Alzheimer’s. Dad didn’t have much vocabulary left, but when the doctor asked him who mom was, he whispered something back. The doctor looked at Mom and asked, “Did you hear what he just said?”

Mom shook her head.

“When I asked him who you were, he whispered, ‘She’s…my everything.'”

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Suzanne Woods Fisher is a writer of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program on toginet.com, and writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post. Suzanne can be found on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
Re-printed with permission by Cooking & Such, www.sherrygorebooks.com.

Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Posted in Blog Hops/Walks, Contests, Parenting

Mother of Pearl – “Priceless Treasure” AND Giveaway!

I am so happy to be able to host this wonderful blog series once again for the week leading up to Mother’s Day.  I hope you enjoy the guest bloggers, and feel free to enter the giveaway for a beautiful pearl necklace, too. ~ Kimberly

Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series – a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND … do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother’s Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

Priceless Treasure by Cindy K. Stiverson

We’ve heard it said and often find it true:
You don’t know the value of a treasure until you’re without it.

We take for granted the things in life that seem so readily available.
A paperclip or rubber band, to hold things together.
A tissue or napkin, to wipe our nose to clean our face, to absorb our tears.
A Bible to speak words of wisdom and instruction and life and love.
And a Mother, who is all these things and more.
She is readily available.
She holds things together.
She wipes our nose, cleans our face (and our fingers, and, well…everything else!)
She absorbs our tears and calms our fears.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26)
She loves.

Within hours after my mother passed into the gates of our heavenly home, I was missing her. Her quick wit…humor…charm. Her warm smile and melodious laughter, which served her well to the very end, as did our Lord Jesus Christ, who so graciously allowed her to slip quietly and peacefully into His arms.

She simply stopped breathing.

As I stood at her bedside in those priceless moments after her passing, I wanted to touch her skin as much as possible while there was still warmth in her body; to nuzzle my nose against her head and breathe in the scent of her hair while she was still there. Priceless treasures I was guilty of taking for granted, clouded by unmet needs. I was so consumed with what she was not, that I never fully appreciated who she was. It’s like I was blind, but now I see!

I see her strength, her commitment. Her perseverance…sacrifice…her unspoken love. I see how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her.

She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.
“Her children stand and bless her… a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (vs. 31).”

This last verse of the poem serves as an epitaph for the woman of virtue. It speaks of the legacy she leaves in her passing. It spurred me to write a personal epitaph for my mother, which I read at her funeral.

We publicly declare your praise today,
and in the days to come,
for you deserve to be praised and blessed,
“We honor you, Mom, for all you have done!”
In my earliest of memories,
You worked so hard, striving for the rest.
You persevered through great trials
and did your very best.
I know you are being rewarded
in ways far beyond our reach.
We honor you now by practicing what you’ve taught,
and even what you preached!
You’ve stood for us for all these years,
Today, we stand for you!
I pray that our applause on earth
will reach your heavenly ears.

With the reading of this poem, I asked everyone to stand. We clapped our hands in celebration and praise of the life of my mother, Margaret Alice Stiltner.

Imagine our surprise to discover that she had left a poetic epitaph for us! She had clipped it from an old magazine and framed it. I found it when I was cleaning her home, on a nightstand by her bed. My mother was never versed at expressing emotion. This was her sweet way of kissing us good-bye: a priceless treasure to remember her by.

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Cynthia (Cindy) Stiverson is a speaker, writer, and artist.  In 1998, she founded Woven: Women of Virtue Network, a spiritual formation and friendship ministry. She pastors the women at Newark Church of the Nazarene in Ohio. She is currently working on her fourth Woven Workbook, and also a book for mothers and daughters on the subject of sexual abuse. Cindy considers raising her daughter, speaker/author Nicole Braddock Bromley, to be her greatest achievement. She loves the men in her life, hubby Mark, grandbabes Jude and Isaac, and son-in-law Matthew. You can find more of Cindy at www.WovenWomen.blogspot.com and www.CynthiaStiverson.com

 

Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Posted in Contests, Parenting

Mother’s Day Blog Series Finale & Winner of the Necklace!

Here is a note from Amy at Pearl Girls.  Congrats to the winner of the necklace!  I hope it was one of my readers 🙂

Thank you all so much for following along with the Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series. I pray you laughed, cried and were touched by the translucent stories of real life written by new moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, adoptive moms, and moms without moms. Iridescent reality. And how poignant that the translucent nacre which coats the sand stuck inside an oyster’s shell is called Mother of Pearl. Mothers surround children with their love and with God’s love so they can grow in grace. I hope you’ll join us this December for the third annual 12 Pearls of Christmas series.

AND … thanks too, to all of you who entered to win the beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. I’m thrilled to announce that the winner is …

Jennifer (heavensent1)!

Jennifer, please email amy@pearlgirls.info with your mailing address.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. The purpose of Pearl Girls is to connect women so that together, we can make a difference in the world.  All proceeds of the Pearl Girls book go in full to two charities: Wings (women in need growing stronger) to help fund a safe house in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products to help support Pearl Girls.

Please stop by the Pearl Girls blog and connect with us there.

Posted in Contests, Parenting

Happy Mother’s Day! Blog Series & Necklace Giveaway: May 8

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND … do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother’s Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother’s Day!


Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1.3 (NIV)

Moms, God wants you to know that He has given you everything you need for life — your unique life. He does not plan to give you what you might need to live the life of your best friend, or your neighbor, or even your favorite mother-model. No, God has called you to the life that He planned. I suspect that for most of us, it didn’t turn out to be the life we thought it might be… so long ago when we were young and dreaming of ‘growing up.’

On Mother’s Day I often recall my own dreams to one day be a mother. I grew up playing with dolls and looking to my own Mama as a model for that particular role in life. However, by the time I reached my thirties I was still not a mother! God did, however, have a plan. It just wasn’t what I imagined.

My own unique life would find me becoming a mother through the adoption of my first three children who were ages 9, 7 and 4; and then much later giving birth to our fourth child. Of course I was shocked when God revealed this to me, but I was ecstatic as well. It’s as though I could hear Him saying, “Well, you’re not getting any younger so I’m just going to just give you a jump start with three at one time!”

A huge blessing! A huge adjustment! A joy and a struggle. Change is often like that, isn’t it? We finally get what we want then we have to deal with it. May I just offer a bit of advice if you just got a great answer to prayer, but perhaps not in the way or form you imagined? Just receive it. Embrace it. And be willing to move forward into a new paradigm for your life. So what if you’re not like all the other mothers you know? So what if you’re not like your own mother? So what if your family unit is different? I guarantee God has a plan.

Not only did he want me to embrace my own story, but He called me as a mother to do perhaps one of the most important tasks of all — to nurture my children to live their own unique lives. Not for me to try and squeeze them into what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Not for me to try and live my life through them. But to recognize how God made them, gifted them, and called them to their own special place.

All of my 4 kids are different from one another. Let’s take sports, for instance: I have one child who wins gold medals in international tennis competition, one who is a born equestrian, another who competes nationally in obstacle course shooting matches, and yet another who manages to dance onstage in 3 inch heels, do cartwheels and splits while singing at the same time. Now, honestly, I do none of these things. And yet they do.

I don’t remember placing my order with God for these things.  But I do remember when that tennis player turned 9 years old and I enrolled him in Special Olympics for the first time and how it changed his life… and ours. I remember getting a counselor job at an exclusive summer camp so that my daughter could take English riding classes. I remember being a Cub Scout leader (even though I knew nothing about boys) so that son could one day become an Eagle scout and pursue his love of the great outdoors. And yes, I remember enrolling my preschooler in dance lessons. Later when all the little girls were scared to go on stage for the recital, she exclaimed that she had endured a whole year of lessons just so she could go on stage.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. And don’t live vicariously through your favorite reality show star. Live your own story. And Moms, raise your kids to embrace the unique life God has for them.
Remember, He has given us everything we need for life!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is the author of 10 books including “Role of a Lifetime,” “Amazed by Grace,” “Spa for the Soul” and the new Bible Study “Fit and Healthy Summer.” She is an international conference speaker and enjoys being a Pearl Girl from “Sunnyside” – her home in a New England village. Visit Cindy at www.EncouragingWords.net