“Mom, I think you’re shrinking.”
My firstborn stands beside me, the tip of his blonde head occupying the space above mine. He casts me one of his infectious grins as he puffs out his chest and holds his shoulders tall to prove the truth of his declaration.
I stretch myself up on tiptoe so I can look my sixteen-year-old in the eye.
Then, I return his goading with a playful punch and remind him that “sometimes the best things come in small packages…”
But what I really want to say to that growing boy of mine is that it’s his fault. ‘Cause I’ve been shrinking ever since the day that tiny pink cross on a pregnancy stick declared his existence.
Before I willed him from my womb with pushes and prayers, before I held all slippery seven-pounds of him in my arms, before I knew his name or the sound of his flurrying feet racing across the floor, I began to shrink.
Pregnancy may grow a stomach large, but it’s just the beginning of growing a mama small.
I read and re-read every page of What to Expect When You’re Expecting before I’d even heard my baby’s heartbeat through the whoosh and static of my doctor’s miraculous Doppler. I underlined diet plans and plotted out exercise regimens; practiced kegels and bid farewell to my firm abs, my bladder of steel, and life without heartburn.
I learned how big my stomach should be measuring each week and how much sleep I should be getting every night. I scanned lists of what to pack in my hospital bag and what to purchase for the nursery. But there was no mention of how the me that had always been me would begin to shrink.
No one told me that, day by day, pieces of the woman I’d been would quietly disappear, as if that bump growing just beneath my heart was elbowing her out, making space for another life that would forever change mine.
I didn’t know it then, but I was learning the timeless dance of motherhood, a selfless sway that moves with the heartbeat of Heaven.
And, in time, I’d discover that this dance isn’t an ephemeral boogie or an occasional bop. It’s more like a perpetual game of limbo, an arduous blend of bending low and stooping steady.
So, I grew and I shrunk all at the same time, my stomach stretching thin and taut while the woman I once was waned and changed.
I dreamed new dreams.
And learned to pray.
I worried and wished and wondered.
My waistline disappeared and so did my stride. And as I waddled into that ninth month of pregnancy, even the very air I breathed seemed to be shrinking as an unseen tangle of legs and life pressed hard against my ribcage.
My water burst for the first time right there on our ugly plaid couch in the little apartment we called home, and the contractions swept me away on waves of hot pain and cold sweat. I gasped for breath and prayed for strength and wondered how one small life could consume every ounce of me.
I didn’t understand as I panted and pushed that I was giving birth to far more than my first baby. I was giving birth to his mother as well.
And when the doctor placed that warm bundle of wet wrinkles and soft cries in my arms, I assumed that I’d already survived the toughest part of motherhood. After all, I’d lived through labor.
But after bearing five children and clocking five thousand sleepless nights, after wiping bottoms and blotting tears, kissing skinned knees and praying over bruised hearts; after surviving potty-training and driver’s training and all the commonplace moments in between; I realize I was wrong.
The past sixteen years of motherhood has taught me what countless generations of mothers have always known–a mother’s labor never ends.
Oh, we can leave the delivery ward and those babies can grow six-feet tall, but mothers spend a lifetime birthing hope and delivering dreams, bearing down in prayer and pushing forth in faith.
It’s painful. And messy, this life of dying to self and being emptied of entitlement, this life of loving without limits and serving without recognition.
Motherhood is a daily invitation to contract in smallness so Jesus can grow bigger within us.
It’s a dance that demands grace and second-chances, patience and prayer.
Motherhood is not the only way God refines us, but it is one of the surest ways…if we are willing to learn this dwindling dance.
Just moments after my firstborn declares I am shrinking, he casts me a sheepish grin and asks if I could please pack a lunch for him. ‘Cause he’s running late, and he still needs to cram for that physics test and find his track shoes and brush his teeth before he leaves for school.
I really just want to sit down for a moment and take a sip of that coffee I’d brewed at 5 A.M., but I remember the words I read in my Bible at dawn, the ones that had reminded me that my Savior understands what it means to shrink.
“When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:7).
I reach for the bread and begin to pack my firstborn’s lunch, and that’s when I realize it with fresh awe–Growing up into smallness is a giant challenge, but we’re not left ot shrink alone.
We have a Savior who understands every step of this diminishing dance, a Savior who has lived the ultimate limbo.
My daughter hollers from her bedroom. She needs her running tights, the ones I tossed in the washing machine at midnight before I collapsed into bed. And my first-grader needs his mud boots. He’s tearing up the garage trying to find them.
My kindergartner is crying upstairs because her purple toothbrush has disappeared. Again. And the clock screams that it’s time to hurry out the door so nobody is late for school.
For a fleeting moment, I wonder if my sanity is hiding somewhere with that purple toothbrush, but those words from the second chapter of Philippians echo through my mind, and I bite my tongue and race to the second floor to solve the mystery.
I find the toothbrush hiding in the drawer with the pony tail holders, pluck stray hairs out of its bristles and persuade my daughter to brush quickly.
My littlest girl scrubs her pearly whites, and I squat on the sticky bathroom floor in search of the toothpaste lid that has rolled off the splattered counter-top.
I put my knee in a glob of run-away hair-gel that has sat puddled on the linoleum for who knows how long, and suddenly, I picture my Savior bending low to join me in the mess. I can’t hear anything above my daughter’s off-key humming and the whirr of the running water, but I know if I could just tune my ear to Heaven, I’d hear Jesus cheering for me as I twirl across this ordinary dance floor called motherhood.
I may never master this limbo or perfect every sway and twirl, but because the One who stooped from Heaven to earth lives in me, I can keep learning to labor and dance one shaky step at a time.
Someone hollers from the kitchen, “Mom! We’ve got to go!’
So I toss the toothpaste lid on the counter and head downstairs to gather my children. I grab the mini-van keys and the Barbie backpack that’s still lying on the floor, and my firstborn pauses with his lunchbox before we head out the door.
“Thanks for helping me this morning, Mom,” he says, as he throws one arm around my shoulder in a hurried hug.
And standing there next to this child who called me Mommy first, I feel small. Gloriously small.
What about you? Have you been able to embrace your smallness?
Today you have the opportunity to teach your children that Memorial Day isn’t about cookouts, the beach and fishing.
Today, you can teach them what it means to reflect on the sacrifice others have made so they can be free.
“Thank you” seems so small – so trivial in light of the sacrifice! But there really are no words.
Only a sincere, profound, unexplainable heart of gratitude that pauses and reflects on the cost, on the sacrifice, on the benefits that are ours because others have given their lives.
This is a day to remember.
So today, we honor those who gave their lives for our freedom – the greatest hero of all is Jesus and today, we pause to thank Christ for the ultimate gift that is ours because of the ultimate sacrifice!
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends” John 15:13
To the soldiers who have given their lives and the families who have paid the ultimate price when they lost them, we say THANK YOU!
Wonder What a Titus 2 Vision Might Look Like? Here’s Ours – AND an Easy Way Your Church Can Host a BETTER TOGETHER Conference!
Ever wonder what a Titus 2 vision might look like? Here’s ours!
And don’t miss how YOUR CHURCH can HOST a BETTER TOGETHER Conference! Click THIS LINK and find out how!
As an in-reach and outreach ministry, The MOM Initiative equips and mobilizes local churches, ministries and organizations to effectively mentor moms, not only within the four walls of the church, but also in urban areas, in prisons, juvenile shelters, low income neighborhoods, crisis pregnancy centers, schools, doctor’s offices, as a faith-based social service alternative, in communities here in the United States and across the globe, to impact this world with the love, grace and gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our vision is to impact a million moms for Christ and if only three women in half of the evangelical churches of the United States would mentor just three other moms, we could very quickly reach a million moms, and as a result, we will not only impact a million moms with the love of Christ, but also 2.5 children.
- If we want to reach the at risk children, we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to help the children being raised in under-privileged living conditions, we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to help children living in fatherless homes, we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to prevent a multitude of young children from winding up in prison, we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to see the cycle of poverty broken and children becoming all God created them to be, we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to see children discover the joy of knowing Jesus and living a holy life and becoming people of purpose and passion who live lives of integrity, then we must minister to their moms.
- If we want to change the world, then we must do it one mom at a time.
That’s why The M.O.M. Initiative exists. Ministering to a million moms and reaching 2.5 million children is our goal.
Now is the time to rise up and take Titus 2 to the streets and minister to these precious moms through mentoring them in their mom journey and letting them know they are not alone.
Now is the time to love like Jesus, to serve like Jesus, to impact our communities and this culture with the love of Jesus… and the best way to give the children of the next generation hope is to reach their moms.
Does your church have a Titus 2 ministry? Is it missional? Would you like help tailoring a MOM Group for your church and your community?
Moms, it’s time to surrender! Yes, I’m talking to you.
Are you the woman who makes her own decisions, is self-assured, knows what you want and tells everyone including your husband about it? If that’s you…I get it.
I’ve been that woman for years. But, I had an excuse or at least I thought I did.
I was a single mom who thought she had to do it all by herself…until one wonderful and life-changing day, the day I heard God speak straight to my heart, my life began to change for the better; I began to really listen to God.
One of the first things I found out from God is that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to need love from Him and from others. I also found out that I could trust God to protect me and to let Him lead my life.
When I was a single mother, I was content with always doing what I wanted. But I found myself often feeling lonely, unhappy and disgruntled even though I seemingly was doing what I said I wanted to do. And there’s nothing wrong with having great self-confidence and self-assuredness as long as you take that self-love and apply it to how God wants to use it in your life.
And since I’ve been married, God has shown me even more than ever that He is the leader of my life. Guess what? God has also shown me through scripture that I should let my husband lead me too. No, I can’t tell a lie…that part has NOT been easy for me. But, what I’ve realized is that if I don’t let my husband lead in our marriage, I’m not letting God lead me either.
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV).
I have realized that if I refuse to respect my husband, then really I have chosen to disrespect God. I am blessed to have a husband who knows, follows and serves God on a daily basis. I understand that this may not work so smoothly in a marriage that is not centered on God’s principles and truth.
I’ve had to find ways to help me surrender to God’s plan lived out through my marriage. I think of my husband and me playing basketball together, and we are on the same team. If I can remember that WE are Team Dillaberry, that really helps me let go of my controlling habits. I let my husband call the plays and make the dunk shots. Sometimes, he throws up a brick that bounces hard off of the backboard, and sometimes he shoots an air ball and misses all together.
But that’s when grace, forgiveness and patience comes in. And yes…I’m still working on all of these myself.
If it’s tough for you to follow and NOT lead, try and remember that God is the true leader not man. And no matter what, keep your eyes on Jesus.
Are you struggling to surrender to God’s plan for your life? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section!