Towards Today

On this Tuesday morning, I am moving towards end of summer.  I am thinking about the road trip barely behind us.  Mentally pushing away the road ahead because, the truth is, God has all of that covered.  Reminding me that I have this five minutes to live and breathe and move in Him.

I am thinking about the families that we spent our summer vacation with.  I am thinking about the mothers that are my closest friends.  How proud and humbled I am to call them friends.  To be moms along side them.  My thoughts take me to the uniqueness of the way they each love their children.  The uniqueness is powered by the distinct way God loves each of these women and how He made them.  Their life’s journey with Him constantly sparks the uniqueness of the way they love their children.  He’s leading each of them to powerfully mother the rare, one-of-a-kind gem of a child that was given to her.  Only He could craft a singular journey beginning before time to bless and bless generations over time.

On this Tuesday morning, I am bringing my heart to the small things.  Because these are the things that bring me to warmth and to peace. The small things give me the strength to do the big things.  So, I turn my head towards the road ahead because that is today.  With joy and peace and reliance on His promises, I live and breathe and move in Him, towards today.

Fall in Love Today!

Go to fullsize imageBy Bindu Adai-Mathew

“For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41b

As I read JMathis’s post yesterday, this was the scripture that came to mind. When I read her post, I, too, begin to feel the strong stirrings of conviction. I’ll be the first to confess, that, I, too, have had many dreams of grandeur in terms of my writing ambitions. Yes, I do want to encourage women through my writing. Yes, I do want to inspire them to pursue their passions while also serving God. But secretly, I do confess that I’ve imagined doing all of this from my beautifully furnished home office…the one I spend my days in since resigning from my corporate day job. It has a beautiful view, this office…ocean view on one side…mountain view on the other…modern espresso colored desk and bookcase…a cozy velvet couch, perfect for sipping hot tea from porcelain teacups while trying to battle those pesky writer’s blocks! Oh, wait, I didn’t mention God anywhere, did I? Hmmm…well, it is for His glory anyway, riiiiight?

Yes, JMathis is right…sometimes our dreams take little detours that have nothing to do with our original goal of serving and honoring God.  I want to want what God wants for my life…really, I do! But somewhere in there, very quickly, materialism and hedonism quickly creep in and push God out of the way until there is no room for Him.  Sometimes, to be quite honest, both my spirit and my body are weak. So then what?

Pray. Pray for that desire to want God. Pray for that desire to want to please Him.

Lest we forget, it is the first commandment. All of us know the Thou shall not steal…Thou shall not kill…But how many of us know what Jesus described as the first and greatest commandment?

“Jesus replied. ‘And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all of your Heart, Soul, and Mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’”  Matthew 22:37-38

And ironically, it is often the first one we forget.  Of course, most of us would say, yes, we love God…but can we say we loooooooooooove God? That we are in love with God? Jesus didn’t say just love God with your heart. He said to love him with your heart, soul, and mind. Basically we are told to love Him with every fiber of every aspect of our physical, spiritual, and emotional selves.

Why? Because He said so? Maybe… He is God…He makes the rules…But I think of it this way…remember the early stages of being in love with your significant other…Remember how you thought of them always? How you considered their feelings, sometimes before your own? What you wouldn’t do for them because you were in love with them?

Those of you with kids can think about them…yes, unconditional love at its human finest! What wouldn’t anyone of us do for our children? Sure, they’re helpless and unable to do for themselves, especially when they’re babies. But that’s not what goes through our minds when we look at them or when they cry. Love. Love gets us up in the middle of the night when they’re sick. Love keeps us up at night when they missed curfew. Love keeps us loving them even when they don’t act loving towards us.

Love is a powerful motivator. Imagine what YOU would do for God…not because you had to…not because you were told to…but because you wanted to…because you loved with God with all of your Heart. Soul. And Mind.

Jesus knew the power of love. After all, it was love that motivated Him to come to earth. It was love that caused Him to give up His life so we, too, could have Life. Not just life…but Eternal Life.

So my challenge for you today…tomorrow…and always is to love God. With every fiber of your being. Heart. Mind. Soul.

And let’s see what YOU will do for love…

Childless Mothers-Part II

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

To read Part I of Childless Mothers, click here.

So yesterday I encouraged you to find your worth, your value as a woman and as an individual in God, and to remember that you were created for Him above all other roles in your life. All that sounds wonderful, but when you’re struggling and deeply hurt, it all sounds like religious psycho-babble, doesn’t it?  I get it. No, really I do. I waited. No, not for kids, but for marriage…and not just for marriage, but for my first relationship. Growing up in America and not having a boyfriend is an aberration…and believe me, I felt like an aberration. By the time I was in my mid-20s, the same parents who had forbidden me to date throughout high school and college were suddenly burdened by my single status. My dad looked at me like I had an expiration date stamped on my forehead.  He made me feel as if I had failed him as a daughter and my only hope to be in his good graces again would be to be married. And ASAP! Soon enough I began to feel tormented at the sight of couples, who were only a reminder of my failure, both as a daughter and as a normal human being. They seemed to be everywhere. In grocery lines. At the movie theater. At the mall. At Starbucks.  And don’t even get me started when I had to attend weddings with my parents. While my parents acted like they were attending a funeral, I would often feel like someone was pouring hydrogen peroxide onto an open wound I had. Over and over again.

So I get it. I know how it feels when you feel like everyone is passing you by…when you have to deal with the sympathetic, curious looks from not-so-tactful relatives who also have the ability to ask downright obnoxious questions. When you, too, are left with wondering where God is and if He cares, and sometimes in those desperate moments, whether He even really exists.

You’ve prayed. You’ve waited. Now what?

The answer is simple. Wait. I know, I know. You’ve BEEN waiting. But don’t wait with pessimism and whining. When, Lord, when? Why, Lord, why? Why meeeeeeeee, Lord, why meeeeeeeeeeee?

Wait with excitement! Wait with anticipation! The Bible promises that God will keep His promise to you. I can’t guarantee that God’s plan is for you to have a child. But if that is His will for your life, you can be rest assured that it WILL happen.

How do I know? Because Sarah, wife of Abraham, waited. A long time. 

Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18: 11-14

And just as God promised, it did happen:

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

6And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.a All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” Genesis 21: 1-7

I think God waited to give Sarah and Abraham a son so there would be no doubt in either one of their minds that their child was nothing less than a fulfillment of God’s promise. He worked OUTSIDE her own biological timetable to make good on His promise to her. I think He did that to strengthen her faith, but now it also strengthens OUR faith. Because the same God who blessed Sarah is the same God who can bless you. Age is not a problem for our God.

While I am not saying you have to wait until you are 90-something years old to be a mom like Sarah did, don’t we all have those “If it doesn’t happen by X date/time, it’s over” deadlines erected in our heads?  I recall turning 29 and thinking if I hadn’t met someone by now, then I would most likely still be single at 30, which was my personal “now or never” deadline. And sure enough, I turned 30 and remained single as ever. And wouldn’t you know it, three months later, I was introduced to the man who would become my husband.

So don’t give God a deadline. It doesn’t work. In fact, more often than not, it backfires. Badly. And when it doesn’t happen according to our timetable, we only get more discouraged and disappointed, thinking God has forsaken us.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were several women, in addition to Sarah, whom God blessed with children, even after they suffered from years of infertility:

  • Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 25:21 that Isaac pleaded to the Lord for his wife who was barren. It was 20 years after their marriage that the Lord blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Jacob and Esau.
  • Rachel, wife of Jacob. Jacob married sisters Rachel and Leah. Leah had six sons and a daughter, but the the scripture tell us that the Lord had closed Rachel’s womb. Rachel tried everything she could think of to have children. Once in anguish, she cried out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Jacob in anger replied, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” The Lord eventually did open her womb, and she bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
  • Samson’s mother. The Scriptures do not tell us the name of Samson’s mother, but she was childless until an angel appeared to the wife of Manoah promising a male child, a Nazarite, who would judge the children of Israel (Judges 13).
  • Hannah, wife to Elkanah. Elkanah  had two wives. His favorite wife, Hannah, was barren. Peninnah, the other wife, taunted Hannah since she had no children. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, promising to give him back to the Lord’s work. God answered her prayer with the birth of Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. (1 Samuel 1).
  • The Shunammite woman. 2 Kings 4:8-17 relates the account of the Shunammite woman, whom the Bible calls the great woman. She was great in faith, wisdom, and silence. She opened her home to the prophet Elisha and made him his own little private chamber, a favorite place of retreat for him. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality, but she made it clear that she was not seeking honor, recognition, or favors from him. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, told Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. Elisha’s promise that she would have a son when spring came around again was fulfilled.
  • Elisabeth, cousin to Mary, mother of Jesus. The Bible also describes Elisabeth as well-stricken in years and barren. She and her husband Zachariah had long already given up hope of ever bearing a child, when an angel appeared to Zachariah promising a son. That son was John the Baptist, the forerunner and greatest prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (Luke 1).

 God opened up all of the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances, the women were clearly beyond child bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. We may not understand the ways of God, but I want to encourage you to continue believing and hoping. The same God who performed those miracles long ago can also perform miracles in your life today. Believe!

Childless Mothers

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

FemmeFuel has devoted May as a special tribute to mothers and motherhood. Yesterday I addressed just one example of the daily storms we as mothers often have to endure. Albeit, the scenario I described yesterday—a rambunctious toddler in an airport— wasn’t anything close to a true life-defining, life-changing storm. But I often find that if we see God and His truth in the daily, seemingly “normal” yet trying events of our life, we are better equipped for the true faith-challenging storms of life that threaten to overwhelm us.

Today I want to address another “storm” that some mothers have to endure. This one is specifically to childless mothers. Childless mothers, I’ve come to realize, are everywhere. They come in all forms: The woman who is struggling with infertility. The woman who is struggling with carrying out a full-term pregnancy. The woman who has lost a child due to illness or accident. And even the woman who is single and still waiting for Mr. Right but is haunted by the deafening sounds of her biological clock ticking away as she waits. Whatever the background, the one thing that all childless mothers have in common is a deep inner soul desire to nurture a child of their own.

If you are a childless mother, you may feel like an aberration and alone in your struggle. However, I want to remind you that you are NOT alone. Childless mothers have a long history in the Bible. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, the Shunammanite woman, and Elisabeth are all women who struggled with infertility at various stages in their lives. Their struggles have been well documented.

In Bible times and even not too long ago in our own culture, women’s primary purpose and role in life was to marry and reproduce children and raise them. Their identity, their self- worth, their value in society was often based on whether they could produce children…but not just any children…a male child.

Even in today’s modern society, single women and married women without children find that they often feel marginalized because they don’t have the one thing that they have absolutely no control over. Rightly so, our culture celebrates marriage and children…but what about the woman who doesn’t have one…or worse, neither. Where does that leave her?

 While marriage and children are undoubtedly blessings from God, finding your true worth in any role beyond a child of God will lead you to feel incomplete. And why is that? Because He is our true creator. We were created for HIS pleasure. For His glory. He designed us to need Him. Unfortunately, we are often too busy trying to fulfill that emptiness with other things that will never complete us.

 I know several women who looked to marriage to complete them…but we (yes, that includes me) quickly learned that real life is nothing like the movies where lines like “You complete me” lead us to hope and believe that there is someone out there who can do only what God can only do. Once the blissful haze of the “honeymoon” season is over, the warts, freckles, and character flaws emerge like the morning sun piercing the sky. 

If you are struggling with trying to have a baby, I encourage you not to deny your feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and disappointment. They are natural, so if you feel them, you should not feel guilty for them. It’s not a reflection of your lack of faith. But what I encourage you to do is work through them. Fight through the lies of worthlessness , depression, and defeat and press onto victory.

Again, I remind you that before you were a wife…before you were a mother…you were a child of God.  And as a child of God, you are made beautiful and COMPLETE.

If being a mother is your heart’s desire, do not stop believing that God is able to fulfill that dream. It may seem over…you’re too old…you’re still single…the doctors just say that your body just can’t carry a full-term pregnancy. But if God wants to open the doors of motherhood to you, no one can shut it. Can’t He who created you also enable you to bear a child?

 Psalm 113:9 “He maketh the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”

Sex, Lies, and Motherhood Part II

To read Part I of this blog, please click here.

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

This was it. This was why they had been created. So contrary to what Playboy magazine may try to convince us, women’s breasts were more than just merely decorative. They actually had a purpose (although I had to admit, I could have given Pamela Anderson some competition). So once I came to the accept the fact that my breasts had a true functional role in life other than just to fill out a blouse or create lustful thoughts in my husband, I had to also accept that for the next one year, my breasts were not my own. I was a cow. A cow in its truest, rawest functional sense. One that could produce disease-fighting, health-promoting, immunity-boosting benefits for my newly born spawn. I could be depressed about it or I could try to see myself empowered. I am a woman. I had created this little life. Or more accurately, God had created life through me. I looked at myself in the mirror, placed my hands squarely on my childbearing hips, stuck out my sore breasts in pride, sucked in my stomach (or as far in as it would go in) and repeated as confidently as I could…

I am woman. Hear me moo.

But nursing, or in my case, trying to nurse was not my only motherhood challenge.

Motherhood, I found, was also the end of life as I knew it. And I think for me that was the hardest part. I enjoyed my life. It wasn’t an exciting life. I wasn’t out at nightclubs or at the beach. I wasn’t at parties or bars. Granted, I probably wasted much of my time doing absolutely nothing useful or productive for mankind. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably spent most of my pre-motherhood time languidly lounging on the couch (in a flowing white gauzy robe nonetheless) while staring mindlessly for hours at the television, watching whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  But it was my time. Mine to decide what I wanted to do and mine to do decide when I wanted to do it. Now “my time” is confined to the four walls of my bathroom, the one place where I can close the doors, have some privacy, have some quality quiet time and find solace.  For 10 minutes.

Motherhood was also the end of another favorite pastime of mine. Sleep. Good old fashioned “put your head on the pillow and don’t open your eyes till morning” sleep. I’m talking the real decadent kind of sleep. The sleep ‘til really, really late in the morning. At least until 9:30am! Now my beauty sleep gets constantly interrupted with my daughter waking up for milk periodically through the night. And by periodically, I mean, at the minimum, three to four times.

Oh, wait, you wonder. How old is your daughter? A year and a half. And she’s still waking up for milk in the night? I thought that stopped at 3 months. Yeah, I reply with a tight-lipped grimace. So did I. Apparently I got the one child out of a 100 that can’t seem to stop wanting milk at night.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, you murmur to me with a shaking of you head. You must stop that bad habit right away. You should just let her cry through the night. Yeah, I reply with a tight-lipped grimace. I should. But apparently I married the one husband out of a 100 who values sleep less than letting his sweet baby girl cry for more than 5 seconds at any given time.

Yes, motherhood was definitely the end of many things for me. Some of which (mindless tv…reading…sleeping…sigh) I really miss. And I’m still reading the same book I bought just days before I went into labor. I’m proud to admit that I am making progress. I have now hit chapter three. At this rate, it looks like I’m at a good pace to finish it up just as we drive Ava off to college.

So why do we do it? Or more importantly, why did I do it?  After all, I knew, didn’t I? I knew. Or at least I thought I did.  The twelve years younger sister aka Little Sis—the very person who was the major reason I was so reluctant to take motherhood on so quickly after marriage. In reality, as much work as I remember my baby sister being, it’s nothing compared to being the actual parent…but today she remains the very reason I know that no matter how much work, how exhausted I feel, how frustrated I feel, how much I have to give up (albeit even unwillingly)…in the end, motherhood is all worth it.

I know that just like that little sibling I so desperately wanted who also came so many years later than I wanted…I now cannot imagine my life without my little sister, just as I now cannot imagine my life without my daughter. Both are blood. Through thick and thin. Through stupid fights and misunderstandings, we have ties that bind us. And although Little Sis is 12 years younger, there are some advantages to that, I’ve come to realize. We have a deal. I changed her diapers, and one day she’ll change mine.

I figure between her and Ava, I’m covered. For life.