A Mother’s Heart

The night before the kids’ trip to Island Cove, sleep eluded me, as is often the case when my unused, atrophied legs ache and my mind is so active, flitting from one thought to another. No, I wasn’t thinking about problems and worries. My brain just wants to think often even during sleeping time :D. Then added to that was the sadness that hovered over my heart and soul, knowing that I wouldn’t still be traveling with them after heaps of faith and prayers. I spent the sleepless hours praying for their safe travels, not wanting to be disturbed anymore once sleep came. And it did at past 4 AM. When the kids each took turns in kissing me goodbye at 6:30, I didn’t even bother to open my eyes.

A Mother's Heart

I wanted to sleep until noon, that way, I wouldn’t spend too long a time thinking about them going out of town without me and wallowing in loneliness. But at 9:35, I was wide awake. I sat up, hauling my heavy heart. And finally, I gave in to tears.

But I didn’t want to linger in that place too long. Futile. Although, admittedly, my mind wanted to speculate on how it would have been pure delight to hold my children’s hands on either side of me as we walk around the resort, or luxuriate in the cheerful chatter around the table as we investigate the menu, or hear the peals of Tim’s laughter as he enjoys my company in an outing for the very first time. Those are all delicious thoughts but could tear my heart and peace apart. So, I shunned them and went another way. I proceeded with my day and shoved sadness aside.

I was finishing up my watercolor painting of blue Himalayan poppies when I received a text message from my boy using his Dad’s cellphone, “Hi, Mom! I like what you chose for vacation!” He attached an elephant emoji which got me thinking, “Did he really see an elephant there?” But that didn’t really matter for my mother’s heart had soared, shedding off all heaviness!

Tim had another message for me: “I purely had fun out here!”

That was all I needed and my heart was full. The faithful Lord had filled me up once again even in the midst of the desert.

I’ve been ill for 13 years now, some years sicker and weaker, other years, partially recovered and stronger. It’s been a long, arduous journey, but I can’t think of a single time that I had totally relinquished hope and chosen to quit. Even when my soul cried out to be released from all the suffering, my mother’s heart and mind held on and resisted the wave of hopelessness and defeat.

I am a warrior (the tears are coming now). These arms and hands had been engaged in battles long and hard. If Jacob wrestled with God and fought for His blessing overnight that he got a broken thigh in the process, I have been wrestling with God, fighting tooth and nail for my own blessing these past 13 years (crying). Bloodied, many times broken, bruised, beaten, left for dead at times, but still, I stay in the ring with Him.

The mercy that I fight so hard for is the same mercy that would lift me up to my feet every now and then even before the referee has counted to 10.

What holds me down on earth when I could wish to be with the Lord where “God shall wipe away all tears from [my] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…” (Rev. 21:4)? It’s my children. I don’t want them to be motherless. I fight for them. I fight for my life. I fight for length of life. I claim God’s promises (He wants us to!). I believe I’m the best person for the job: mothering my own children. Otherwise, why would God give them to me?

So, I hold onto His mercies, to His compassionate heart. He knows the mother’s heart. He understands how it beats. So everyday, I ask boldly, and everyday, I thank Him that I’m still here with my family.

What drove Jacob to wrestle with God all night? He was to meet his brother Esau after so many years. Years before, he fled Esau’s wrath because he stole their father’s blessings intended for his brother. Now, he was scared for his life and those of his wives and children. He needed God to bless him and preserve him and all of his.

It’s the same thing with a mother fighting for her life and all of hers.

I maybe weak and unable to walk and travel, but by God’s grace, I do my best to be a strong presence in our family. I hold down my role as a mother and manage my dominion (our home) with God’s love, wisdom, and guidance. I plan. I direct. I act. All from my throne room that is our bedroom :). No one assists the kids with schoolwork but me. I discipline them through heart-to-heart talks, conversations, and letters. I have appointed myself as their life coach, guiding and teaching them the lessons I’ve learned in all of my 48 years of life. I tell them stories of my childhood, simple yet rich, my growing up years, the hard, gruelling years of high school and college – all of them contributing to the development of my character, who and what I am now.

I shop for our clothes online. Oh, thank God for the Internet and online shops! My Hannah has the habit of resisting my choices, but I have also appointed myself as her stylist (whether she likes it or not) and my husband’s :) . Hannah has no fashion sense (yet). We are not worldly fashionable people (no more of that since we are Christ followers), but she doesn’t have a clue as to what goes well together. I don’t want her going out looking like young Cosette in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I want that the Lord Jesus is glorified in and through her: A blessed child of God.

I train them to read good books. And now that Hannah is more mature, I advise her to read the Bible everyday and other Christian devotionals. Video games are out. I encourage them in the arts and hone their talents. They both play the piano. I teach them many things, but most of all, together with my husband, we do our best to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

We teach them gratitude. In this selfish, pampered world of instant gratification, I can see that it’s hard for them to grasp the deep meaning of gratefulness. That kind that emanates from the heart and soul. But we fight for their hearts and souls, too, in prayer. Unceasing prayers, like water that flows interminably on stones, polishing them until smooth and shiny, will do its powerful work on our children overtime.

I cannot count the times that my heart has been wounded by my own people. I had cried in anger, frustration, regret, weariness, disappointment, discouragement, and sheer sadness. But motherhood is a job that you don’t want to quit. And by God’s immense grace, I’m not quitting.

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A Teachable Spirit

Have you a teachable spirit? Are you like an open vessel ready to receive valuable lessons from even the most unexpected sources? Are your heart and mind havens of teachings that can grow you spiritually? Are you receptive to change or do you do your best to resist it fearing to step out of your comfort zone? Does your soul thirst for wisdom like the parched earth thirsts for rain? Do you glean the lessons from life’s storms which have brought you much pain and learn from them? Do you believe that you can find diamonds in the dust of your relationships, yes, in the ugly places of your life, upon which you can flourish thereby?

Do you believe that growth starts with our acknowledgment that we are not perfect? That we are so in need of learning? A humble spirit is a teachable spirit. A prideful heart is a foolish heart.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled. (Mat. 5:6)

I wrote a letter to Hannah in the two pages of a birthday card. She’s turning 13 and I wanted to pour out my heart to my firstborn who has brought me so much joy…and pain. Amongst the words and lines of love, hope, and prayers, I wrote this: For the times that I have hurt your feelings, I’m sorry. I regret them. 

But I couldn’t write and explain why there were times, more than I care to admit, that I had not been the mother I wanted to be or God had intended me to be. The card was just too scant to tell her how it had grieved me to succumb to weakness rather than standing strong in the Lord and exemplifying His teachings. Even, and more so, in the most difficult and perplexing times. How can a mother explain to her daughter that she’s far from perfect and maybe she can learn from her child as well?

I carefully inserted the card into its envelope and sealed it, deep in thought. I believe learning and growth start from acknowledging our mistakes and knowing that we still have a lot to learn. My posture is, I am not a perfect wife and mother and I am ever open to learn. I come before the Lord repenting of my bad choices that have affected my family and praying for wisdom, guidance, and strength. I believe true wisdom is having a humble posture, heart and mind ever receptive to lessons that can change one for the better. I myself cannot gauge my performance as a wife, mother, or a friend. It is only through how I am affecting the people around me that I can truly know how poor or how well I am carrying out my roles. 

Am I a light to them? A guide, an encouragement? If my children are not growing up as they should be, shall I put all the blame on them thinking that they are just plain bad children? Or shall I stop dead in my tracks and examine seriously myself where I am falling short or erring? I believe that the success of my children in life is as much as my responsibility as theirs, most especially in their formative years.

So I learn from my mistakes and from the things that had wrenched my heart painfully and had brought me to my knees, beaten and surrendered. This is the place of blessing.

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Buildings and Arrows

Meditating on Psalm 127.

Psalm 127 looks like a proverb to me divided into two parts. The first is a teaching about God’s will and favor; the second is about children as blessings from Him.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain. (v. 1)

We need to understand that, without God’s blessing (approval), whatever we set out to do will hardly be successful. We will be laboring against all odds. It will seem that no matter how hard we strive, the troubles never end and we only find frustration and weariness. If God is not with us, it will almost be impossible to win our battles. Living outside the will of God will not bring us the results we desire, and even if it will, almost always we encounter difficulties that perplex us and joy is not present.

This is true in building our homes. Without the Lord at the center of them, we encounter all kinds of heartbreaking problems and they persist no matter how much we try to make it work. This is the main reason why homes implode and families break apart. It is the Lord who holds and guides our lives. It is He who holds our homes and families together through thick and thin. The Lord Jesus Christ must be the very foundation of the home for it to stand strong and grow to be a haven for the family and a light to others.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them… (vv. 3-5)

Psalm 127 likens children as arrows in the hand of a warrior. I am blessed to have “two arrows” in my quiver. I realized just these recent years how important is the ministry of motherhood. In the early years of mothering, when I only had Hannah, all I wanted to give were good things in life: beautiful home, pretty clothes, fun toys, good school, wonderful vacations, trips to the shops, making art, and other things that we can enjoy doing together. When I fell ill, it saddened me a lot not to be able to do those things with her.

But there is a more important thing mothers should be doing: teaching their children about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. In this ultra-modern age, it has become crucial to diligently raise our children in the way of the Lord: Praying with them, reading the Bible together and discussing (family devotion), teaching them through life using the Bible as guide, and exemplifying these valuable teachings.

Psalm 127 says that “children are a heritage from the Lord”. Our ministry towards our children is as important as the Lord’s commission to go and make disciples of men. We make disciples of our own children. We must raise strong, healthy, polished “arrows” and prepare them for a life that honors and serves God faithfully and fervently.

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