Mother's Day reminds me that everyone's story is different.
Ours started just six months into marriage.
We got pregnant six months into marriage. That was not anywhere near the plan. And that positive pregnancy test wrecked me. I knew I was supposed to be excited, that life is a miracle, that children are a gift from the Lord, that there were others who longed to be in my place. But I was crushed under the weight of uncertainties, the permanence of that change, the loss of foundational time with Spencer, desires and dreams being put on hold, and being constantly crazy sick. That gift of motherhood so early on in marriage did not feel like a good gift from a good Father.
To the mamas giving their bodies and emotions, days and nights to caring for children: You are displaying the gospel to the world as you give yourself for someone else's life, and it is nothing short of a beautiful miracle.
To the dads dedicated to intentionally raising their children: You are showing the world the love of the Father and how sacred life is by the way you provide and protect and love and serve.
To the ones who were crushed by a positive pregnancy test: You do not have to believe the lie that your life is over because another began, because it is actually the unplanned that gives way to something supernatural; and even though the unplanned is scary and daunting you do not face it alone, and in the midst of the hard unplanned something so beautiful blooms.
To the ones who have given their children up for adoption: Few know the weight of the sacrifice you made, but you chose the unbelievably courageous way; and that courage and that sacrifice is one of beauty and hope and remarkable love that reflects the One who is love Himself and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
To the ones who have had an abortion: You are loved by the One that took every ounce of sin and shame you bear on Himself when He died on the cross and with His resurrection from the dead He declared there is no condemnation for those found in Him; and you are welcomed by His Church because we are all saved by grace alone.
To the ones who are in the depths of postpartum depression: When the questions and guilt and darkness floods your mind, and you know the truth but can't seem to find the light or any way to celebrate life, you are not alone; and the One that holds the universe together is holding you and will not let go, and He will break through the darkness with His presence.
To the singles, the foster-parents, the churches, the social workers, the health care workers, and others caring for children and parents in your communities: You are heroes; and you're sacrificial care that is often unseen and under-appreciated and misrepresented is seen by the Lord, and your tear-filled prayers are heard by Him; He is with you on the tiring days and the long nights, and the trials you face in this hard work will be rewarded in the life to come.
To the ones who don't yet understand the gravity of this issue of life: Every single one of us was once like you and dedicated to choosing the lives we wanted, but God is rich in mercy and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and incredibly patient; and He graciously has given us the chance to choose a better way, a way dedicated choosing to follow Jesus who offers a life more abundant than you can imagine, a life filled with hope and joy and peace and freedom.
To the ones who march under the banner of pro-life: May we never lose sight of the souls behind this subject; may we speak words of truth that are saturated with grace and love and hope; may we pray for mercy and forgiveness for us all and for hearts and eyes to be opened; may we grieve the lives lost yesterday and support the ones struggling today; may people be drawn to the gospel because of the way we fight with gentleness and kindness and generosity; may we show that we value every life at every stage of life from every nation on Earth; may we not grow weary in this sacred work and never stop speaking for those that can't speak for themselves; may we show the world that the life that is dependent on another is incredibly valued life; may their be consistency in our message, urgency in our prayers, and compassion in our voices; and may we declare with our words and our actions and our lives that every single life bears the image of God and is radically loved by Him.
The blog looks pretty empty in the recent days. But have no fear! The month of October was dedicated to a series that appeared on a different page of my website. I spent the month writing little letters everyday to my little girls.
I'd love for you to check them out, share any that resonate with you, and let me know what you think. As I wrote, I realized my own heart needed to be reminded of the truths and lessons I so want my daughters to know. I hope you find encouragement in them!
At the end of 2015, I thought about the word I wanted to mark my 2016. I wanted a word for the year to lay claim to throughout and to refer back to on the discouraging days. And although that word was in clearly in front of me as 2016 approached, this is the first time I've announced it.
Uncertainties marched into 2015 with us, so my word for last year was able. I clung to the truths found in Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
We needed provision in every way--a job, a home, a church, friends, a car, furniture, community. All I could do, all we could do, was trust in the God who is able. We didn't know how He would provide, but we knew He would. And He did. In some ways it wasn't what we necessarily prayed for or wanted, but His provision is so good. I'll always look back to that year as a marker of my God who is able.
So as 2016 approached, I wanted to lay claim to it. As we thought about our photography business and my writing career and making friends and building community, the word that kept coming to mind was courage.
This morning my sweet little Katherine looked up at me with big, toddler, tear-filled eyes and my heart melted.
It was seriously the Sweetest. Thing. Ever.
As I was about to head out the door, Spencer told Katherine to tell me bye and love you. And as she looked up at me and said, "Bye-bye. Wuv you" in her precious not-yet-two-year-old voice, her eyes began to fill with tears. Then she tilted her little head down and wiped them away and looked back at me.
And I felt All. The. Emotions.
To the ones who hurt on Mother's Day...
To the ones who long to hold your precious glory babies and see their faces...
To the ones who just want to give your moms a hug but are separated by miles or are on separate sides of glory...
To the ones who feel less than because you don't have the same last name as your children...
To the ones who are struggling through postpartum depression and don't have the strength to keep smiling through the day...
To the ones who feel feel burdened and weary and exhausted especially today...
To the widows and widowers who miss your spouses even more on a day like today...
To the ones who cry for your prodigals to come home...
To the single moms who don't feel celebrated and aren't given a relaxing break today...
To the ones who stay away from social media on a day like today because of the sting it leaves with each post you scroll through...
To the ones who avoided church in fear of it being too painful...
To the ones who hurt on Mother's Day...
I’m sitting here rocking my almost nine month old daughter.
We are both crying.
She’s fighting sleep, as usual. And I’m fighting constant exhaustion.
You have made me a mother. And so on this Mother’s Day, I celebrate you, sweet girl.
You are nearing being 7 months old. And I am constantly amazed at how much you have grown, developed, and learned. You already make us so proud. Katherine Elizabeth Connatser, we are completely in love with you (and your precious baby chunkiness only adds to our love).
Since entering motherhood last year, I’ve already gained a wealth of experience that no books or advice could have prepared me for. And I’ve witnessed how eager the vast majority of people are to quickly share with a new parent their tricks, tips, and woes. Add those words to things discussed in classes and mounds of books on the subjects of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood and one can find herself quite overwhelmed. All the advice, even from the experts, conflicts. I think it’s a bit of what added to those very hard initial weeks for me with my little one.
So, I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve found to actually matter. And it’s what I will stick to next time around. I’m not trying to add to the advice jumble, but more so trying to just encourage you in your own parenthood journey.
Two nights before Katherine was born, I wept. I sat in bed and just cried.
I will always remember the conversation that Spencer and I had. It was the last night just the two of us would spend in our home. The next day family would arrive and the following day we would have a child.
Life would never be the same.
I knew it was coming. I had almost ten months to prepare. But no preparation takes away that top of roller coaster feeling. Preparing doesn’t make that final moment before the leap any easier to handle.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.