For many years, I’ve observed that being married has provided me freedoms I’d never previously known:

freedom to be myself, without reserve,
and to live in the belief that our union was solid and firm.

This allowed me to relax and live in the arms of grace and acceptance, and broke down walls I’d sometimes secured in relationships, including the drive to say the most witty or brilliant things, even when exhausted or needing to be alone.

Being married since 2001 has provided an intensely close relationship with my loving (yet imperfect) husband, to accompany me through life, and for me to accompany his journey; to return home at the end of a terrible or wonderful day and know that we have an opportunity to encourage each other and share our burdens.

When I became a mother, however, the entire paradigm shifted into a family narrative.

Life as a mother offered me an entirely new manner of vision, beginning in May 2004 when I became mother, and again in October 2006, when my second and third children were born. Giving birth and taking care of our children has been a marvelous and rewarding task; it’s an incredible honor, and has provided some of the best and most trying days in my four decades of life.

When our eldest daughter was newly born, I realized how much I could cherish those everyday tasks of feeding her, taking her for a walk in her stroller, or combing her soft, fuzzy hair. Reading together, observing the changing flowers in our garden, and exploring the world all became new and vibrant occurrences, moments of connection.

I also realized that mothers are awarded instincts and ideas, insight, and wisdom in the midst of trying situations.

While those freedoms I enjoyed the first three years of marriage transformed, especially after our daughters grew into independence, I have newfound liberty in my role as wife and mother; a role which is constantly being redefined. The responsibility of parenting is growing as they develop; and we, too, mature each day a little more.

My mothering story began with a birth, and carries beyond the first moments into parenting – the rigors and delights – into another visceral birth. Even when my girls were toddlers, the joyous delicious feelings within my being, when I heard my girls calling for their “Mommy.”

These darling daughters call to me in my dreams and while awake, my entire energy and adoration with concentration surrounded in who they are, and – with God’s help and guidance – shaping them into women. Our marriage has been tested and refined, and continues to find shaping as well, with the challenges of ministry jobs, moving, navigating family pain, and death, while also becoming parents three times in two years.

Toddlerhood meant navigating parks with squiggly slides and smooth swings, playing games, running, dancing to zesty jazz, and continually experiencing grace.

Our girls abound in newness and the fresh realities of life being discovered in these teenage years.  They are excited by opportunities in their near future: where shall they attend university, and which course of career should they pursue?

Still, parenting them involves going to the mountains for adventurous hikes, camping under thick trees, staring at the stars on a cloudless night, and walking along the shore to find treasures.

Through these busy, demanding years, which stretch my abilities, I lean into the Lord. I appreciate how God’s unconditional love and freedom weaves into everything. I have discovered that only God’s love is perfect and complete. We are a mere shadow of his love, and his bright light to the world which represents his grace.

In him we find identity and purpose, and true, lasting freedom.