This summer, along with being a stay-at-home-mama and watching my two children, I am also watching my nephew Cohen (3 years 8 months) and my niece Raegan (8 years) 3 days a week. Summer vacation officially started two weeks ago and we are working on getting into a daily routine. I decided that it would be a good idea to try to get the children to memorize some scripture this summer and discuss the Bible verses. We started with James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” We went around the table while we were working on crafts and I asked each of them to identify a blessing in their lives or tell me something they were thankful for. Brecken and Cohen both agreed they were thankful for their side-by-side ATV’s and their bicycles :) When it got to Raegan she said “I am thankful that God has given me the strength to dance.” Her response kind of caught me off guard and I just stared at her for a little bit until she went back to putting glitter on her craft because she probably thought I was a weirdo.
I was not surprised that Raegan’s response had something to do with dance. She has been in studio dance since she was 2 years old and it occupies a great portion of her life. I was surprised she thanked God for the STRENGTH to dance. I could have understood if she thanked Him for the pretty costumes or the fun time with her friends. I could have even understood if she thanked him for allowing her to place first numerous times this competition season. But I just felt like thanking God for the strength to dance was a very profound thing for an 8 year old to say.
So I’ve been chewing on that for a couple of weeks now, trying to decide why her response meant so much to me. And I was reminded of a situation that occurred probably about a year ago now. I was attending a Cancer Care support group that a radiation clinic in a community near mine puts on once a month. No I do not have cancer, but I was attending as a sponsor for the company that I worked for. I started out taking cookies and drinks as a part of my job, but I always ended up gaining so much from the groups conversations and speakers. At this particular meeting there was a young lady, probably a little bit older than myself, her husband, and her son who I would say was less than a year old. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and her doctor had put her on a weight restriction, only allowing her to lift a certain amount of weight. Unfortunately, her son surpassed that amount, so she was unable to even hold her baby boy.
At this time in my life I was extremely overwhelmed by being a full-time employee and trying to take care of a 2 year old and a little baby. Seeing this mama and everything she was facing and having to deal with was heartbreaking and encouraging all at the same time. She had a smile on her face. A smile. She was thankful that God allowed her to have her son knowing that he would possibly be an only child due to the type of cancer she had. She was looking forward to her next appointment to see if the weight restriction would be lifted so she would be able to hold him again. She was thankful for her husband and a family friend who was coming home for the summer to help nanny while she went through radiation.
This mama might not have physically had the STRENGTH she needed at that moment to do all of the things that she wanted to do. But she had the emotional and spiritual STRENGTH she needed to praise Him in the storm. I still can’t look back on this life experience and not get teary eyed.
Being a parent is difficult. It can be physically and mentally exhausting at times. I know that over the last 8 months of being a stay-at-home-mom there has been more than one occasion that I have looked for career opportunities and updated my resume because goodness gracious I couldn’t possibly do this another day longer. But God gives us the strength we need to keep going and to love our children and breathe life into them regardless of how weak we may think we are.
Today I want to thank God for the strength to be a mama. I want to pray for other mother’s and father’s out there who may be feeling physically, mentally or spiritually weak. And finally, I want to pray for the children we are working so hard to raise. May they find strength to grow in God’s grace.