Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Brick House in the City posted a story on their social media accounts last week that rocked me. It told of how a young St. Therese would call out “Mama!” as she went down each step and would wait for her mother’s reply before going down another step. Each step she would call out, and each step her mother would call tenderly, “Yes, my child.” And so it went as she went down the stairs.

Shoot, guys, I would’ve lost it! Can you imagine the patience it would take to call out “Yes, my child” on Every. Single. Step.  I get so upset when Nora won’t go up a full set of stairs without any recognition. We’re going through a phase where she wants to be carried everywhere- especially up the stairs. So this particular story called directly to my heart. I try to convince my sweet toddler to come up the steps by herself with patience, kindness, and most of the time, I just carry her if she’s really insisting.  But, other times, I yell, or leave her crying because I have to set down the million other things I am carrying up the stairs (including her actually can’t go up the stairs by himself little brother).  In these moments, I know that God is doing His sanctifying work in me.

What Would St. Zelie Do?

I wonder if St. Zelie had this internal struggle with little Therese.  She knew it was best to be patient and encourage her little girl, but maybe sometimes she just wanted to yell “Therese, come on! Just come down the stairs already!” But her response with patience and love is probably part of the reason St. Zelie came to be recognized as a saint- she had the patience of a saint, as they say.  There are other stories of how little St. Therese tested her mother’s patience. I wonder if, really, having her little girl being as testing as she was led St. Zelie to her sanctity. If by offering up her tendencies to impatience or anger, she was able to grow closer to God.   I would bet you that her journey in motherhood made her a saint.

I want to be a saint like St. Zelie too. While this sounds a little high and mighty, a saint is really just someone who has gone to heaven, someone who is fully in the presence of God. We have “canonized” saints in the Catholic church- these are people who have obviously followed God in their time alive and then have had two miracles proven in their name (plus a bunch of other logistical steps). We have a lot of them- a lot of men and women, like St. Zelie, to look to as an example of what it means to follow Jesus.  But, there are (I hope!) so many more saints than the ones that we have canonized, and I hope to be a part of this community someday.  

Motherhood will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood Will Make Me A Saint

I think motherhood is proving to be my quickest path to get there. The day in and day out of toddler tantrums, dirty diapers, and night wakings are doing their work in me. (And we’re not even to the teenage years yet!)  I believe God is using these little moments with my kiddos to draw me closer to Him, though I don’t always see it that way. It’s in the moments we see the face of Jesus in our children that we are being sanctified.

“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me'” Matthew 25:45

I fail at this often.  I don’t always (or ever!) respond with the sweet patience that St. Zelie responded with to her little Therese.  Instead, I get frustrated and yell. I complain to my husband. I stop being present with my kiddos. I don’t treat every little toddler or baby suffering as an act for God. Every little task of motherhood seems so menial and not worth it, everything is always undone.

But, sometimes, I do respond with patience. I give that extra hug and snuggle instead of yelling.  I swallow my complaints and smile through it.  Sometimes, I work a little harder to be more present. Sometimes I remember to “offer it up,” to see Jesus in the face of my children. I embrace the “littleness” of motherhood as my journey to heaven.

And in these moments, I feel God smiling, saying “I see you. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” You see, God doesn’t need us to be perfect.  He simply wants us to be love to those around us- especially to those little beings that he’s entrusted us with. He wants us to try our best every day. Even more importantly, He wants us to call on Him in prayer when we’re not doing so hot. 

Prayer in Motherhood

It’s ironic because I am both drawn away from prayer and to prayer as a mother.  I often feel like I don’t have any pockets of time in my day to give to God. Or I don’t have a moment of silence in my day. I feel like I can’t do more than five minutes, so why even start? Or, like a couple days ago, I close my eyes to pray and immediately fall asleep. 

But at the same time, Jesus is calling to my heart. He asks me to spend that time- as little or “unproductive” as it may be. He calms my heart and shows me the next steps. Even in those days where all I get out are a morning offering– He blesses my day. He gives me the patience that I need. And even better, when I’m not the mom that I want to be that day, He takes me into His loving arms and reassures me that tomorrow is another day. I get the chance to rest and reset. 

Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood is strengthening me in all of the different virtues, ones I knew I needed help in and others I thought I had covered. I was made to be a mother, and, yet, I am challenged every day. This motherhood thing is pushing me to rely on God so much more than I ever thought I would need to.  As I’ve been praying the St. Therese of Lisieux Novena the past week, this litany of words from it has been convicting me, especially when I apply it in terms of motherhood. I hope that they’ll call on your heart too.  Join me in the journey to being a saint- whether motherhood is making you a saint, or something else, we’re all called to the journey. Pray for me, as I’ll pray for you.

I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!

I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!

I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!

I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!

I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!

I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!

I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!

I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!

I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

 

Read More From Simply Mama Bird:

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World 

7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

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Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38)

These words were spoken by Mary after the angel Gabriel told her that she would soon be the mother of God.  I can’t even imagine being in that situation, much less reacting with the courage that Mary had. She had to have been scared, confused, and unsure. Her only question was how this could even happen, given she had no relations with a man. I would have had so many questions, I would have wanted so many more answers. But Mary was brave and sure in the Lord, and she responded with a resounding yes that allowed the world to be changed.  This yes and all that she did as a mother afterwards is why I look to Mary as the model of motherhood.

Mary inspires me so much. You see, Nora was our surprise honeymoon baby. She came at a time when we had so many other plans for our lives.  When that plus sign showed up, we were unsure and scared, but also filled with wonder and joy. God had a different, and bigger, plan for us than we did. Much like He had for Mary. Now, obviously, Nora is not Jesus, Son of God. My role as mother is not quite as daunting as the role Mary had to take on. Even so, it is overwhelming for me at times to think that God has given me these sweet kiddos to love on and raise up as well as I can. And so, I call on Mary often to help me through motherhood.  I look to her as one of my biggest role models, and I hope to follow her example as I figure out how to mother my own children.

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood | I'm following Mary's fiat as our call to being Christian mothers. May we say yes to God in our motherhood. #ChristianMotherhood #MotherofGod #MaryQueenofPeace

It all starts with a Yes

“May it be done to me according to your word” is such a hard thought to swallow sometimes. I’m sure Mary had her own idea of what she wanted her life to look like- she was about to be married, to start off on her own journey of womanhood and being a wife. And when God presented this different path for her life’s journey, she swallowed any pride she had, any visions of what her life was to be, and just said “May it be done.” 

I often have my own visions of what my life is going to be.  Starting college, I thought I wanted to go into research and become a professor, but God led me a different direction. After college, I was going to go on to be a Physician’s Assistant, and God, again, led me a different direction.  Now, I have all of these ideas of how I’m going to raise my children, where we’re going to live, and how I’m going to live my life. But God tells me to calm down, all I have to do is follow God’s plan, one yes at a time. 

Parenting, and really life, is just a collection of brave yes’s to God. Some of them are really small, like waking up in the morning ready to take on another day with my kids. Others are much bigger, like having kids in the first place! A lot of times I don’t want to say yes to God- the yes looks really hard or scary.  I don’t have all of the details, I don’t know how it will all end up. But in these moments, I can look to Mary and see her bravery. I see that God wants our yes. Our yes to the big things that He is calling us to, our yes to being present to the people he’s put in our lives, our yes to Him. 

It’s okay to screw up sometimes

We don’t get a lot of stories from Jesus’ childhood in the Bible. In fact, one of the only stories we get is probably one of Mary’s worst moments.  When the Holy Family was traveling back from Jerusalem after the Passover, Mary and Joseph assumed that their twelve year old son was among their friends and relatives in the caravan. A day later, they realized Jesus was not with them, and they returned to Jerusalem to find him. Three days after that, they finally found him sitting in the temple among the teachers. Mary, as any mother would ask, said “‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.'” (Luke 2:41-52)

I probably would not have been as calm as Mary was upon finding my child after missing him for four days. She listened to him, not understanding what he was saying, and then brought him back home, keeping “all of these things in her heart.”  She had to be so scared for that time- she was in charge of the Son of God, and she had lost him! While I don’t recommend losing your kid, I think it’s so reassuring to know that even Mary, the mother of God screwed up once- and did it big!

This story helps me see that I don’t have to be the perfect mom to be the best mother for my kids. I am the mother that God chose for my particular children. This brings me back to the quote “When God put a calling on your life, He already factored in your stupidity.” God knows that we’ll make mistakes, He knows that some of them might be really big. But just like Mary, we can go back, we can figuratively (or literally) find our children, and start on the journey again. 

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood | I'm following Mary's fiat as our call to being Christian mothers. May we say yes to God in our motherhood. #ChristianMotherhood #MotherofGod #MaryQueenofPeace

Plant seeds for our children

Mary prompted the start of Jesus’ miracles and teachings at the Wedding at Cana. He said it was not yet his time, but Mary, as all good mothers do, knew better. She didn’t push him to do anything or tell him exactly what to do, she just told the servers to “Do whatever he tells you.” And then Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).  Without Mary being there and giving him that little push to do what He was called to do, who knows when Jesus would have started his ministries. It definitely could have been that same day, or it could have happened much later. As mothers, our job is to plant the seeds so that one day our children may bloom in their own journey.

As Nora is getting older, I understand the temptation to plan out every moment of my kids’ lives, to want to tell them how to do every last thing.  I’m sure Mary felt this same way, knowing that her son was to go on to do really big things. But, just like Mary, I believe it is good, instead, to prompt, to open doors, to plant seeds.  This is so important in these little years that I am currently in, and probably even more so as kiddos grow up into adolescents and then adults. In the baby/toddler years, I can open their doors to learning, to kindness, and to love. I can’t make them do anything, not even sleep or eat! But I can lead them on their little life missions, planting the seeds for when they grow.

Just Be There Through it All

Mary had to go through one of the absolute worst things a mother could go through, standing at the foot of the Cross, watching her own child be tortured and crucified.  We can guess that Mary was in and out with Jesus throughout much of his ministry.  We know that she was praying for him every step of the way. He loved her dearly, and took time to address her as he was dying, telling one of his disciples to take her into his house (John 19:26-27).  One of the most convicting religious art pieces that I have ever seen is the Pieta by Michelangelo. It is the image of Mary holding Jesus after he was taken down from the cross. She was truly there from His very beginning up until His ending.

Pieta
Image by Jacques Savoye from Pixabay

While I truly hope that I will never have to suffer through one of my child’s deaths, it is our role as mothers to be there through every moment, high and low, in our children’s lives. Our jobs are never done, we must be always supporting them and, at the very least, always praying for them. We must keep saying yes to them and to God in His plan for us as their parent.  Mistakes may happen along the way, we may stumble in our path as parents, but, just like Mary, we can turn it around and start again. We must plant seeds, and prompt our children in their callings. Our journey as mothers may have twists and turns along the way, and we may feel like we have no idea what we are doing. In these moments, we can turn to Mary as our model of motherhood, knowing that she paved the way and is praying for us every step of the way. 

Keep Reading: Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World

If you’re looking to get to know Mary a little bit better check out one of the following books! 

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John the Baptist- He Must Increase; I Must Decrease

John the Baptist- He Must Increase; I Must Decrease

Today is John the Baptist’s second feast day- the celebration of his death/martyrdom.  When I was planning this post, I was going to write about how we can “prepare the way of the Lord” just as John the Baptist did. But it wasn’t flowing. Part of this could be because I kept getting interrupted by a baby who insisted on waking up every 45 minutes until I finally realized he had a poopy diaper.  But, I think it was really because we don’t need to prepare the way anymore- Jesus has already come! He’s done His work, is doing His work.  Instead, we need to be in relationship. We need to put Jesus at the center of our lives and allow Him to do work within us so that we may find our calling. Then, we need to introduce him to others, so that they may find that relationship and calling too.

Who is John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was a somewhat strange figure in the Bible- he wandered the desert sharing his teachings, clothed himself in camel’s hair, and lived by eating locusts and honey.  He was bold with his words, calling out tax collectors for taking more than their share, soldiers for practicing extortion, and even the king for marrying his brother’s wife. Yet, despite his brusque attitude and wild demeanor, he gathered quite a following. He baptized these followers with water as a sign of their repentance and their turn to God. He then baptized Jesus, though he felt unworthy to even “loosen the thongs of his sandals” (Luke 3:16). 

Often we feel unworthy to do the work that God has called us to do, too. Who are we to bring people to Jesus, to make change in the world, or even to parent little humans? Nobody trained us for this.  But nobody trained John the Baptist either- he heard his call and followed it, setting the stage for the Savior of the World to come. This saying has been bringing me peace lately, “When God put a calling on your life, he already factored in your stupidity.”  God knows who we are intimately, and still calls us to do the things we are meant to do. John the Baptist- He Must Increase; I Must Decrease - what John the Baptist has to teach us about finding our purpose and living the life we're meant to live #Christianmotherhood #johnthebaptist #findyourcalling

Prayer Comes First

Since we aren’t trained for the calling, it helps to be in relationship with Jesus.  I find that when I’ve put aside my prayer time or fallen out of taking time for God, everything else also goes by the wayside. I become more overwhelmed in my everyday tasks. I don’t feel any clear directions as to what we should do next. There’s no peace. But after writing about my Martha heart and starting to put some of those practices into place, I’ve had so much more peace. I’ve been able to solo parent this week with little stress (other than the now incoming hurricane!). I’ve been able to be a better mom. I’ve felt more of where Jesus is calling us next. There’s been no clear signs or written down instructions by any means, but I’ve re-centered my life on Jesus and all of these things just seemed to follow.

John the Baptist- He Must Increase; I Must Decrease - what John the Baptist has to teach us about finding our purpose and living the life we're meant to live #Christianmotherhood #johnthebaptist #findyourcalling

He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

When asked how he felt about Jesus also doing baptisms, John the Baptist said “he must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).  He knew that Jesus’ baptism was greater than the one that he offered. He knew that his preparations for the Lord were now complete and it was now time to turn hearts to the man who mattered the most. His actions were to point to Jesus. But, he wanted to be sure this was the right man, as most of us wonder at some time or another too. He sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah or if they should keep looking. Jesus answered by healing them, taking away their demons, curing their diseases, and said “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard” (Luke 7:23a).  He let his actions speak for themselves.

We’re called to let our actions speak for themselves, or rather for Jesus, too. We must act as Christ acted, because He acted. This looks different for each of us. For me, I think a part of it is starting this blog and sharing my own journey so that others may come along. I think an even bigger portion of my calling includes being the best mother that I can be, bringing my children to Jesus and allowing Him to work in their lives. By centering my life on Jesus, I’m drawn into action. I need to become the best version of myself because that’s who I’m made to be. I, then, have the privilege of helping my children become the best versions of themselves. I also have this privilege with my husband and with all of the others that God has brought into my life. 

Let Jesus Work Through You

What I need to remember, though, is it is not my duty to change hearts as it was for John the Baptist. I can only lead by example, spread kindness and truth, and be the best that I can be. Because Jesus has come, I only need to introduce Him and let Him do the work in other’s lives- He must increase, I must decrease.  It is never my doing, but God working through me, fulfilling the purpose he has for me. This is a little disheartening, but also completely freeing. While I may not get all of the credit, I also don’t have to know exactly what I’m doing every second of the day.  Instead, I can ask Jesus to work his magic through me, and He will.

John the Baptist’s purpose was to prepare the way of the Lord. That’s literally what the angels told his father when he was put into his mother’s womb. He fulfilled his purpose, the way was made, Jesus has come. Now it’s our turn. Let’s build up our relationship with Jesus so that we may also discover our purpose. Let’s let Jesus do his work inside of us. Let’s introduce people to Jesus by our words and by our actions. Most importantly, we need to remember John the Baptist’s words, “He must increase; I must decrease.” 

If you’re looking to get to know Mary a little bit better check out one of the following books! 

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For All the Martha’s in the Back

For All the Martha’s in the Back

Monday was St. Martha’s feast day. As some of those who knew me in college know, I am a big Martha fan girl, and I could talk all day about her (maybe I’ll have to write a book someday 😉 ). I even led a Bible study based on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and the subsequent, Having a Mary Spirit, both by Joanna Weaver. For those who don’t know the reference, check out Luke 10:40-42

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

And, man, I am such a Martha- getting distracted with all of the extraneous details of life and motherhood, making sure everything is in order before I take a moment to sit down, breathe, and remember what the point of it all is. The only reason I even knew it was St. Martha’s feast day was, ironically, because it was listed in my new planner that I’m using to keep all of my to do lists and basically my life pulled together. For the last couple nights, I spent all night checking off my to do list and left my prayer time to the very end of it. Then Charlie woke up one night and Nora the next, so there my quiet time, and thus my prayer time, went out the window.  I was angry, distracted, and tired, and there was nothing anyone could do to bring me out of that mood. But then, I remembered St. Martha and Jesus’ words to her that I had even written into my planner- Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary.

What does that even look like, though?  Is it bad to want order and to always have a plan and to want others to help you follow through with that plan to a T (okay, maybe not to the T!).  I don’t think so.  It’s good to have the servant’s heart that Martha has.  It’s even good to want things to be beautiful and perfect for those around you. Indeed, I think having aspects of Martha in my personality helps me to be a good mother, to be a good wife, and to do what I need to do to keep moving forward every day. The problem comes in when I’m doing all of the ordering, planning, and following through without taking the time to invite Jesus in, taking the time to sit with Him away from it all, and centering what may seem like chaos sometimes around Him.

There’s a later passage in John 11 where Martha is featured shortly again. This time she runs to Jesus and trusts him with her chaos. It’s time for me to hand over my chaos too.

So, being a Martha, I’m planning out what that looks like.

1) I want to start my day with the Morning Offering.

I put a reminder in my phone every morning at 8am with the words of the Morning Offering so that I’ll automatically do this before I can do anything else on my phone. It’s probably good to get off to a good start, right?

2) I want to find a time earlier in my day than 10pm to carve out just 15 quiet minutes to spend in prayer.

This is getting really hard lately. I’m finding that I really need that quiet time, and I’m just not getting it in my day between Nora not napping all of a sudden and Charlie not wanting to go to bed at a reasonable time. This’ll probably last a month and then go back to some semblance of normality, but in the meantime, I need to find some quiet time scattered throughout my day.

3) I want to invite Jesus into my chaos and throw up that “Jesus, I trust in you” a little more.

I tried this more today, and it did make such a difference to bring Jesus along through the potty accidents, the long nursing sessions, and the tantrums. It allowed me to have a little more patience and a lot more love to give to my kiddos. Plus, I was, admittedly, a much nicer person to Tony tonight than I have been in the last week. (It probably helps that he was able to get Charlie asleep by himself tonight!)

These are just little steps on my journey in this stage of life, as I pick up mess after mess, cook meal after meal, and kiss booboo after booboo.  I’m not going to make it through if I don’t have Jesus along, and I thank St. Martha for that reminder this week. It’s time to recenter, refocus, and remember the big picture <3

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Martha Pin