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Home at Last Deborah Raney

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May 28, 2013

Summer is here, and I love encouraging kids to keep a journal, where they’re free to write whatever’s on their mind. Here’s a story of two girls who did just that. Cousins Isabelle and Isabella, ages 10 and 8, decided to write down a secret notebook of “rules” to help keep their younger siblings in line. Their rules included important things like, “Color on paper, not on people” and “Don’t bite the dentist.”

While visiting Walmart earlier in the year, the journal was accidentally dropped in the parking lot and later picked up by a 20-year-old Walmart employee. Although there was no name inside it, the employee knew he had discovered something important, and he went on a mission to find the owners.

Using social media, his plea found its way to the mother of one of the cousins, who recognized her daughter’s journal and claimed it. Then the story of the Walmart-employee-turned-literary-hero got even bigger, was picked up by news media, and ended up being noticed by an editor from Simon & Schuster publishing house on her morning commute in New York.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. En route to an editorial meeting, she brought the story to the attention of her publisher, who worked quickly to contact the authors and offer them a book contract. The hardcover book, Isabelle and Isabella’s Little Book of Rules, will be due out in October.

Here’s a dreams-come-true publishing story worth sharing with your kids. Who knows? Your child’s summer diary may someday end up in the hands of a New York publisher.

Stranger things have happened!

By: Heather Ivester in: Children's Books,Writing | Permalink | Comments Off on Isabelle and Isabella’s Little Book of Rules



May 13, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Crafty people and things,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting,Travel,Wellness | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 9 – Mother Ship by Melody Murray



May 12, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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!
~

My Final Words to My Mother By Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

The day had come.

My mother lay pressed against her pillow, her skin like baking paper, her limbs disposable chopsticks. She had not moved or spoken for days.
 
In those last days we rarely left her side, my three siblings and I. Between us we had eleven children, the youngest my newborn, whom we had baptized a week ago right here by my mother’s bedside. The children tumbled and danced around the hospice floor, admonished by us to keep quiet, keep quiet! They had already said their good-byes to Nana. Now it was our turn.

The hospice nurses had told us of the final signs. She will cease to wake, even briefly. Her fingers and toes will turn blue. Her breathing will grow shallow and ragged.

Then we heard it. My mother took a breath. That’s all it was—a sip of air. We knew it was time. We rushed around her, my siblings and I, and all together began to sob.

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And this is what I said to my mother before she died: “I’ll be all right, Mommy. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right.”

Not “I love you.” Not “I’ll miss you.” Not “thank you for everything.” Why? I asked myself that night as I cradled my colicky newborn, both of us wailing. Why did I choose that moment to inform my mother of my own well-being? Why did I feel this was the very thing she needed to know as she drew her last breath?
 
It took me years as a parent to understand: As mothers, that is exactly what we want to know. We want to know our children are safe. We need to know they’ll be all right as they journey into the world without us by their sides.

I don’t know if my mother heard me. But if she did, I hope my final words eased her journey just a hair. That she believed and trusted in my well-being, and then let go.

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The Pastors Wives_LisaTakeuchiCullen_cr Matt DineLisa Takeuchi Cullen is the author of Pastors’ Wives, a new novel from Penguin/Plume, and The Ordained, a 2013 CBS drama pilot. Previously, she was a staff writer for Time magazine. Readers can friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @lisacullen, or visit her website at www.lisacullen.com.

By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 8 – My Final Words to My Mother by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen



May 11, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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 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.

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 7 – The Pursuit of Imperfection by Beth Vogt



May 10, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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 I 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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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 6 – History Has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer



May 9, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Faith | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 5 – Daughter Sing Softly by Lesli A. Westfall



May 8, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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!
~

Water Spot Mothering by Cynthia Ruchti

For years, a friend and I met weekly for prayer and Bible study. More than twenty years older, Jackie often prayed for her high school children while I prayed for my toddler children who were supposed to be napping.
 
As any mother will attest, when we get serious about praying for our children, we can find plenty to pray about.

Jackie and I often laid our Bibles in front of us, open on the table. The day I learned the meaning of water spot mothering, Jackie and I had prayed intensely for our children and their wide variety of crises—large and small. We prayed about their uncertain futures and the certainty that God loved them even more than we did. Tears formed, unbidden, as we poured our hearts out to God.

A series of whispers from the stairway told me my children had found dozens of ways to bypass their naps. But they’d grown to respect the time I prayed with my friend. Even at their young ages, they waited patiently for the “Amen” before interrupting.

When Jackie left and life pulled me into other things, my Bible remained open on the dining room table. I walked through the room a short time later to find my four-year-old daughter Amy kneeling on a chair, tenderly flipping through the pages of my Bible. I knew she was unable to read more than the simplest words on the page, so I asked, “Amy, what are you doing, honey?”

Her answer resonates now, decades later. She said, “I’m looking for the tears.”


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She knew I’d prayed for her. Finding the water spots, the tear stains, meant something to her young heart. She wanted to see evidence that my prayers for her had moved me to tears.

How triple true that would be through her teen years! We were just getting started on the water spot mothering concept.

I’ve relived that scene many times since that afternoon. My daughter bent over my Bible, her tiny hands turning the pages reverently, her eyes searching for a wrinkle in the page, looking for the assurance that I cared so deeply, prayed so fervently, and wasn’t afraid to let the tears fall on the sustaining resource for parenting and all of life—God’s Word.
 
Water spot mothering. Praying with the Bible open. Letting the tears fall on the pages.

I wear the picture of my daughter kneeling on the chair, bent over my Bible, close to my heart, like a silver locket I click open to remind me of my primary responsibility as her mom…even now.

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Cynthia Ruchti_green_couch

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her fiction, nonfiction, and speaking events for women or for writers. Her recent release—the novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, observes the heart-and-faith journeys of three eras of unwed moms. Her July release—the nonfiction book Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices—touches on life circumstances that send us to tear-hemmed prayer for those we love. Connect with her at www.cynthiaruchti.com, Facebook, Twitter, or other network spots.

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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Family,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 4 – Water Spot Mothering by Cynthia Ruchti



May 7, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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!
~

Mizpah by Margaret McSweeney

On April 14, our family’s precious Pongo passed away. This beloved Chihuahua was with our family for nearly fourteen years. He played with my daughters during their childhood and comforted them during the challenges of adolescence. He rested by my side during breast cancer treatment and worked alongside Dave in his home office.

Yes, Pongo was always a source of surprises. Before he was one, he somehow swallowed a brownie patch attached to a string of beads and a safety pin. That was his first stomach surgery. Then, the following year he bit off the sharp edge of Mr. Potato Head’s ear. That was the second stomach surgery. Throughout the fourteen years, we were in and out of the ER for dogs. He ate a bag of cough drops in the pantry. He jumped on the table and ate the kids’ chewable vitamins. And the list goes on. . . .

House guests would always have to place their purses on a table without chairs. Otherwise, Pongo would rummage through the bags in search of his addiction: chewing gum! But above all, Pongo’s greatest gift and lesson to us was unconditional love. Yes, Pongo brought such joy to the family for so many years. No one could believe that he actually smiled! He knew how loved he was. I think that is why he outlived his life expectancy by three years after being diagnosed with a heart condition. It was his kidneys and stomach cancer that ultimately claimed his precious life. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.

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The day after Pongo died, I read a beautiful Bible verse: Genesis 31:49

And Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

Isn’t that beautiful! Mizpah signifies an emotional bond between people who are separated by death or circumstance.

Perhaps, instead we can say:“Mizpaw” to express this same emotional bond between people and their precious pets.

Pongo, I love you and miss you so very much. Thank you for being a blessing in our home. You have left a “fur-ever” heartprint in our lives. Mizpaw!

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Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in a Chicago suburb. She is the author of Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief, Mother of Pearl, Pearl GirlsA Mother’s Heart Knows  and the co-author of Go Back and Be Happy. She is the founder and collaborator of Pearl Girls. All the proceeds of books sales from Mother of Pearl (2012) and Pearl Girls (2009) go to support the work of two charities, WINGS AND HANDS OF HOPE. Margaret would love to meet you too. Follow her on twitter (@McSweeney) or friend her on facebook. You can also keep up with Margaret at Kitchen Chat, her weekly radio show.Visit her website.
 
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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Dogs,Family | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 3 – Mizpah by Margaret McSweeney



May 6, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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!
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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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By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 2 – The Mom Who Gives Freedom by Christy Fitzwater



May 5, 2013

ImageProxyServletWelcome 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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By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Motherhood,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on DAY 1 – How I Learned to Give Up Control by Sue Edwards