Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Many Mothers Does It Take?

I have been blessed enough to be called "Momma" for 11 years now and as I sat reflecting on all the years leading up to this one and all the years ahead, it struck me just how many "mothers" of my own I have been blessed with on this crazy-wild journey into motherhood. 

My mom - the one with whom I share my flesh and blood - labored me into this world, and I am so thankful for her love and patience with me over the years, but there are so many other women that have loved and labored over me.  Prayed and pleaded, grieved with me and grown me. Given an ear and a shoulder. Today, I want to honor them as well.

Moms like Roni that never bore her own baby child into this world, but loved me as her own.  Checked in on me, encouraged me, always gave the best hugs and the sweetest smile. Was always ready for a laugh or a good long cry. She has loved me well. She is my mother.

Moms like Laurie, with 3 girls of her own that was always okay with me hanging around. She drove me to soccer practice and track meets and basketball & cheered and whistled LOUD even though I was never any any of it.  She was silly and good hearted and giving and patient and would bring me cough medicine and pray with me in the middle of the night when I wasn't feeling well at her house. She was always full of love and a little bit of mischief. She is a living example of what living your life for Christ looks like.  She has loved me well.  She is my mother.

Moms like Brenda, Verna Lee, Kathy, Sue and Susan who mentored me through the birth of my 2 youngest children.  They gave me confidence and assured me that I could do this mothering thing after such a long break. True Titus 2 women that taught me how to love my husband and children - and reassured me it was okay that those things didn't always come easy or naturally.  They were always ready with a smile and a hug and open arms to hold my sweet babies so I could breathe a minute.  They prayed with me through hard times, encouraged me, reminded me that I was not alone - that they had made it through these crazy mothering years and I would too. These ladies were constant and committed to me.  They have loved me well. They are my mothers.

Moms like Mary, who isn't nearly old enough to be my actual mom but loved me like a daughter. She gave me a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on and always gave sound advice. She was honest with me and taught me to love the hardest of truths.  She counseled and consoled me into adulthood and through some of the hardest years of my life. Through abuse and eating disorders and all sorts of ugly, she has loved me well. She is my mother.

Moms like Ora. Moms who are moms and grandmas and the-last-of-her-generation matriarchs.  She was always sweet and just a bit sassy. My daughter bears her name and some of that same temperament.  I loved that she was never too busy or sick - even when she was. She quilted and sewed and painted and loved and lived every minute of her life until the end.  I miss her and I am so thankful she was a part of my life. She loved me well. She is my mother.

Moms like Bonnie, my gracious, kind and loving mother-in-law.  I am not kidding and only slightly bragging when I say I married into the best family ever.  This woman has raised amazing children and given me the gift of my husband, Eric, as the man he is today. She has intentionally loved and guided each of her children to love and follow hard after God. She has embraced me as her daughter and I am blessed by her in my life and the lives of my children.  She is hard working, smart, funny and hospitable.  She blesses me everyday. She has loved me well. She is my mother.

Moms like Marla and Kim that have adopted me as their own. There is no doubt that they love me. They are kind and encouraging - brave and loyal.  I know they are only a phone call or text away at any time. I know I can entrust them with the burdens of my heart and that they will wage war on my behalf at the gates of Heaven.  They have loved me well. They are my mothers.

As I write down these names, I know I could list many more and I am in awe of all the ways that God has blessed me through the years. Some of these women have moved towns, or onto another phase of life or even passed into Heaven, but they have left a lasting impression on my life and the way I approach being a wife and mother.  I pray that I can be that woman for others as I walk out my days and that my daughter is blessed with many, many amazing mothers in her life as well.

I will never be the same for having you in my life and I am so grateful.  So today, I want you to know that I honor you. I cherish the time spent together and all the lessons learned from you. Thank you for giving your time, prayers, energy and love. I count you as my mother and you are treasured.
You have loved me well. I am your daughter.

Happy Mother's Day!
Love, Ashley

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Mess

So, I have been reading Lisa Jo's blog for a while now and love her. LOVE her! I cling to her honesty and "realness" daily and know that she speaks His truth into my life. She is a big reason I have decided to write again. My real life friend Tresta at Sharp Paynes is the other. She is a beautiful, talented, gracious, real woman of God and I treasure her sweet words hand delivered to my inbox in a way she'll never truly know.  So, I have decided a good way to "get my feet wet" so to speak is to jump on the FMF (Five Minute Friday) bandwagon.  Every Friday, Lisa gives us a word prompt and 5 minutes to write freely and unedited. This could be dangerous - or hilarious. I like it :)


Mess seems to be the buzz word right now.  At MOPS we are learning to embrace our Beautiful Mess, my new book from Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus is all about saying yes in my mess, the in(RL) webcast is encouraging us to use our mess to bless others and really all I want to do is hide this mess.

I have long struggled to see the beauty that I should know Christ has given me. I don't mean physical beauty. I mean the beauty that comes from a life lived for Him - a life lived for others. Somehow, I still can't see the value I bring into this crazy world of ours. I try and clean and tidy and organize and shine away every scuff mark of life to compensate for my mess that I perceive to be too great to be useful.  I can't see past the mess of my own life or mistakes or choices - and sometimes circumstances - to believe there is anything good I can offer.

And maybe I can't... I know I can't. All I can offer is the real-life true story of a broken and redeemed mess, and for today that is good enough.

Five Minute Friday

For When You've Been Looked Over

Tonight was hard. I know you had expectations that your greatness would be recognized and I could see your heart sink as you realized that tonight was not your night. I am not a big fan of "participation awards" and "everybody wins" because everyone does NOT win. At least, not all the time.  But let me tell you something - you did deserve to be recognized for 1,000,000 reasons. You deserved to have your name called out, the walk to the front, the applause - you deserved it all.  I am not saying that the wrong kids were picked - only that you ARE great. I see you for all that you are and I. Am. Proud.  You are the kid with the brains, the good looks, the humor, and the stable family (Well, most of the time :p) and it doesn't occur to people that you might need a little encouragement.  It doesn't occur to ME enough.

I think you are amazing and it is unfair that I just assume you know that. As your Mom, it is my job to encourage you and cheer for you and not wait for someone else to do it.  So please know that I am proud to be your Momma and proud of the man you are growing to be, so here's your recognition. Your blue-ribbon. Your room of applause. Your hootin'-hollerin'-fist-pump-in-the-air-atta-boy... 

Max, You made me a Momma. You! Did you know your name means "Great One" or "The Greatest"? It is a very fitting name, I think. I am so grateful for you.  You made my dreams come true.  All I ever wanted to be was a Mom. I was so young and it is crazy to think that you are growing so fast. I have learned so much from you and I know I joke about it, but you really are my guinea pig. Thanks for being such a gracious one :) I have been blessed by you from the very beginning through  all the hard things and tough choices, YOU have given me hope in a future that I didn't dare dream of.  You are a daily reminder to me of God's faithfulness, Grace and Providence.  God could not have blessed me with a better first born.

You are the BEST big brother - smart and kind - and so much help to me! I know I can count on you to be a good example to your siblings and be a leader at school.  You bring joy to the lives of everyone around you and are adored by so many. You are polite, loyal, thoughtful and caring - a great friend to everyone. You are strong as an ox and as gentle as the lamb you have been tending to day & night for the past 6 weeks. I love that you don't play favorites and you don't leave people out.  You are artistic and imaginative, a talented athlete and incredible student. I love that you love books just like me and have such a hunger for knowledge.  You are adventurous and brave and noble and funny - and I love you.

I know you want to be the best at everything you do, but don't give up or count yourself out because you are afraid you'll fail or look silly. There are so many things worse than looking silly.  You can be amazing at absolutely anything you want. God has gifted you in so many ways that I am daily blown away by you and the abilities you have.  This is only the beginning - God has a plan for your life and I can't wait to see all the ways you bless people through Him in the future. 

So, take risks - try new things. Stay humble, and know that you are capable of ANYTHING & I will be here cheering for you through EVERYTHING. 

You are a great son, and I am one blessed Momma.