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Just Like Mom

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I don’t know when I discovered I had become my mother.

It may have occurred to me while I was mopping the kitchen tiles three at a time—always three—or pondering my unnatural abhorrence to crafts. It may have been when I cooked up a fiesta’s worth of tacos for my friends with all the little extras in bowls on the side. Or maybe it hit me when I was digging through my purse for a full minute, looking for my car keys, only to discover they were in my coat pocket.

There’s no doubt about it; I’ve become my mother.

She and I have always been similar—relational, analytical night owls. Even in high school I remember staying up until after midnight hashing out every detail of my adolescent life: boys, friend drama, God. We talked about everything.

In his play The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde quipped, “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” It’s funny because the quote captures a long running joke about mothers and daughters: Whether they want to or not, women become their mothers—or at least a lot like them.

Even ancient writers acknowledged this truth. “Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter'” (Ezekiel 16:44). I only recently discovered that gem originated in Scripture.

And while genes may have something to do with it, becoming like your mother isn’t necessarily reliant on blood connection. You may remember the scene in Anne of Green Gables where John Blythe tells his former sweetheart Marilla Cuthbert, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” after her adopted daughter, Anne, slights his son, Gilbert.

It seems becoming your mother is inevitable. The thing is, I’m glad.

The Things Mothers Teach Us

My mom became a Christian in college. During a secular philosophy class she heard about the beliefs of Apostle Paul. They made sense to her and she began reading the New Testament. When she got to Matthew 7:13, she decided she wanted to enter through the narrow gate.

The summer my mom became a Christian, she took a job at the gift shop in Rocky Mountain National Park, where she met my dad. He played guitar for the college kids’ Bible study. Mom assumed he was a Christian and they started spending time together. Mom talked incessantly about her new faith.

A few weeks after they began hanging out, Dad said, “I accepted Christ into my life last night.”

Mom was shocked. She was also glad, and she married my father the following summer.

I had the distinct pleasure of being the daughter of first-generation Christians. Faith was never an old-hat to my parents. Instead it was something to be discovered and celebrated and held in a certain wonder.

Perhaps it was because of this that I witnessed a strong drive in my mom to know the Lord. As a kid I would come upstairs to find my mom sitting on the recliner in a fuzzy robe and slippers, reading her Bible. She unashamedly brought up Jesus with people who came to our house, such as the plumber and the guy who fixed our vacuum. And people liked to tell her their problems.

I’ve always wished I were a bolder evangelist. However, my mom’s example has given me compassion for people who don’t know God. People like to talk to me about their problems, too. And I hope I point them to God as faithfully as my mom does.

My mom is also a very persuasive person. She has a knack for encouraging people to do things they don’t want to do—for the benefit of others. She pulls the best out of people.

In my teen years, I had already absorbed this trait. I would seek out the kids with talents in my youth group and urge them to use their abilities in ministry. “Joe, you’re such a good guitar player. Would you be willing to head up the band for VBS?” Sometimes they resisted, but often they just needed to be asked. Today I utilize this skill when I work with authors and help them discover how and where to use their writing talents.

Another thing that has stuck with me is my mom’s compassion for the loner. In any group, she would see the outsider and draw him in. Whether it meant inviting the single mom to stop by for coffee any time or striking up a conversation with the person standing alone at church or inviting a single to Easter dinner, Mom demonstrated extraordinary sensitivity to the disconnected.

Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families,” and my mom embodied this as she invited the lonely into our family. I know that I notice lonely people because of my mom’s example. In fact, I believe it is what gave me the courage to take a teenage girl into my home several years ago.

Mother Not-So-Dearest

No mother is perfect. And just as we learn wonderful, beautiful traits from our mothers, we also inherit some that are not so pretty. This is the “tragedy” that Wilde is referring to — a passing on of negative characteristics from mother to daughter.

I’m prone to answer questions (with great confidence) that I don’t actually know the answer to. I’ve been guilty of offering detailed advice without truly listening to the person I’m trying to help. And sometimes I make others feel guilty when things don’t go my way. In some of my weaknesses, I am also reminded that I am my mother’s daughter.

Recently, my youngest sister told me how I had hurt her with my words. “You think of what to say too quickly,” she said. “I feel stumped and embarrassed when we get into an argument.” Verbal agility and a sharp tongue are two things I’ve definitely inherited from my mom. The sin nature, however, I come upon all on my own. These “fleshly” traits must be worked on and given over to the Holy Spirit.

Some women have had better role models than others when it comes to moms. And I imagine this is where the joke, “Help, I’m becoming my mother!” comes from. Because of their position of (sometimes unwanted) authority in our lives, our moms can become targets of blame. But despite their shortcomings, moms teach us things — at the very least, how to be better mothers.

But perhaps one of their greatest legacies is the unique ways in which they show us God. In Isaiah, God describes Himself as a mother: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (49:15). It is a mother who is the human example of God’s unflagging devotion to His people.

Her comfort reflects the tenderness of God. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem” (66:13).

Because of these God-given attributes, mothers are worthy of honor. Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Our mothers, more than most people in our lives, have shaped us into the women we have become.

And that is no tragedy. It’s not even a coincidence. In many ways I’ve become my mother—it’s true. But in my opinion, that’s a very good thing.

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Focus on the Family, Zondervan and David C. Cook. She enjoys coffee, good conversation and spending time with her husband, Kevin, and 1-year-old, Josiah.

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Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular contributor to Thriving Family magazine and Boundless.org and writes children’s resources for several publishers. After having three children in fewer than five years of marriage, Suzanne and her husband, Kevin, who is a children’s pastor, consider themselves on the family fast-track — a blessing they wouldn’t trade for anything. Gosselin is the author of the newly released, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Just Like Mom

by Suzanne Gosselin time to read: 5 min
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