Embrace strength

Embrace Strength

As I celebrate Mother’s Day this year I’m grateful for the privilege of being a mom to my three unique and wonderfully created children. I’m additionally blessed to celebrate my remarkable mom. I realize Mother’s Day isn’t easy for everyone. I know it can be a challenging day where celebrating is the last thing you want to do. Do you have a difficult Mother’s Day memory?

My most difficult Mother’s Day was in 2004. We spent the morning at my sister in-laws with my parents and my husband’s parents. My sister-in-law was pregnant with her second child, my beautiful niece. My wonderful nephew was 9-months-old at the time. I remember offering to cook breakfast, I think I took over her kitchen. After all I was the only one who wasn’t a mom, I might as well serve those that were, right? Can you hear the tension in that statement? I wasn’t serving out of a place of love to bless my family. I was serving to keep busy because I might break down at any minute! I had been seeing an infertility doctor for over a year and had finally gotten pregnant in the summer of 2003. Then we went through a miscarriage. I thought God had finally answered my prayers and when we lost the baby I was angry, sad, broken, and close to despair. This was one of my first experiences being entrenched by grief.

To say this Mother’s Day was tough would be an understatement, it felt gut-wrenching. I made it through breakfast, although those around me probably were walking on egg shells and definitely feeling the tension. I’m a wear your heart on your sleeve kinda gal and don’t do well at hiding my emotions.

beautiful-bloom-blooming-1042578“….You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” Psalm 56:8 
It was at church where I FINALLY broke, something the pastor said gripped me. I can’t remember the words, but I remember the unstoppable ugly crying that took place. And the crushing feeling of loneliness that engulfed me that day. I want to pause here and say; “I’m sorry if this Mother’s Day is a difficult one for you.” Please know, you aren’t alone and God sees every tear you cry.
On the next Mother’s Day, I was celebrating with my one-month-old baby boy. God had a plan, a miraculous and mind-blowing plan! I had been taking hormone shots daily the year before that made me super over-emotional. (My poor husband!) During that time God was planting the seeds of adoption in my husband and me. We were blessed with our second son in 2009, both born without the help of infertility doctors or medicine, truly answered prayers. I know this isn’t the answer everyone receives. I have a beautiful friend who isn’t able to have children. God called her and her husband to adopt; later in life then they would’ve planned. But His plans are good and their life is forever changed for the better. They love their princess and are amazing parents. If you’re in a place of embracing God’s plan for you and your family hang in there. Even if it’s different than you hoped your beautiful unique story is being written moment by moment.
img_6751Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2013, I was celebrating with both my boys and our foster baby girl. She became officially ours through adoption in 2015. It’s a story only God can write and I’m blessed to continue embracing His plans on this journey, the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly comes mostly when I am struggling to embrace the challenging things and even sometimes embracing the good moments. God has been faithfully refining me, especially through being a mom. I’m growing in managing my emotions and am still a work in progress, but gradually improving, step by step.
I’ve not only watched God work and move in my life, but also in my mom’s. My brother went home to be with the Lord in 2010. My mom’s world stopped, our family’s world stopped. Grief entered like a hurricane through shock and loss. My mom wasn’t a stranger to grief at this point; she’s suffered a lot of difficult losses. After her best friend passed away from cancer I saw her embrace strength. She spoke beautifully at her memorial about the wonderful memories they’d shared. I often wondered how she was able to get up and speak that day, until I had to do the same at my brother’s memorial. It’s what you do when you love someone, you embrace strength that is far beyond your own. It’s what we do as women every day in the difficult moments we face. My mom has also been lovingly looking after her friends two grown daughters ever since. Both of whom are wonderful mothers to their boys, they exude strength as they love and care for their families while terribly missing their mom. We are certainly family by choice.

img_0060 My princess, mom-in-love, me and my mom.

My mom is an incredible mother to me and my husband and an even more remarkable Grammy! My mom has started sharing her story and it’s been a blessing for me to have a front row seat. I was privileged to interview her recently at our church’s Women’s Ministry spring picnic where she shared how God challenges her to trust in Him, even when she doesn’t understand His plans. She’s been meditating on this verse and I’ve seen her walking it out in her own life – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Thanks mom! 

img_6825I am grateful for the many strong women in my life. My resilient mother in law has fought for her boys on her knees through prayer. She is a prayer warrior for her family and grandkids today. I have friends who are moms that have battled cancer themselves, who home school, work full-time, serve at church, encourage their husbands in their jobs, and raise respectful teenagers in this day and age. I have friends who desire restored relationships with their mom or children and still keep fighting and trusting in the Lord.  I have friends in parenting seasons ahead of me that I learn from. The list could go on and on of women in my life and their uniquely glorious stories of strength. Don’t forget you have your own unique story God is writing as you embrace more and more of the plans He has for your life.

One of my closest friends and fellow pastor’s wife is a wonderful mama to her three wonderful kids. We met each other when she was pregnant with her third child and I had just given birth to my second baby boy. We became fast friends and although we are wired differently we “get” each other most of the time. One of our first adventures was driving over an hour to a pumpkin patch with my 5-year-old, her 3-year-old, my 11-month-old, and her 3-month-old. It seemed like the busiest day ever just to visit a pumpkin patch. Yeah, we can be crazy like that and our friendship has been an adventure ever since. We’ve walked each other through some extremely difficult times. I met her about 6 months after my brother passed away and she has been there for me ever since. Little did we know about a year later she’d be walking her own grief journey. She found out her youngest son has cerebral palsy. Her and her family have been embracing strength and navigating God’s plan and for them ever since. She has recently joined the blogging community and you can check out her blog by clicking the link at the bottom.

img_4628I’d describe her as my breezy Bahamian friend. Sometimes I wish I could be more lighthearted and cheerful like her. I’m still embracing the way God made me and accepting how I’m wired, even in my 40’s! I often feel like the serious one of the group, sometimes even the Debbie Downer, but she loves me anyway. One of the things we have in common is we don’t get to enjoy a quiet morning on Mother’s Day.  We usually lightheartedly and sarcastically remind each other that some moms are enjoying breakfast in bed and being pampered on Mother’s Day. Not us!!!

This relaxing morning we dream about is not for us in this season.

Instead we are fulfilling our normal Sunday routine – juggling to get the kids out the door and make it to church with everyone dressed and fed! All the while knowing our husbands, who left much earlier, will come home completely exhausted like most Sundays. But we have each other; we laugh and we cry and will do it all again next Sunday. Shout out to the ministry wives who make it to church on Sundays, especially on Mother’s Day! And shout out to all the mamas, sisters, aunts, grandmas, mentors, friends and women who are inspiring those around them!

Embrace your season, your weaknesses, and your insecurities.

Embrace the days when you feel like you’re not enough and the ones you feel like you’re too much!

The secret ingredient we all have to being strong women is – drumroll please – it’s NOT our strength!
imagesI couldn’t make it through my days if it weren’t for Jesus. I’m embracing His strength as a I continue to navigate working full-time, parenting our three children in their
unique seasons, and serving with my husband whenever I can.
My oldest son’s favorite verse, Philippians 4:13, rings true in my life every day. And I’m forever grateful for it!

Happy Mother’s Day.– Gretchen

Meet my friend Shona here: https://www.weare17.com/blog/we-are-seventeen

4 thoughts on “Embrace strength”

  1. Gretchen, what a great read. You have a way of making your life stories relatable to others. It’s so encouraging to know that we are all in this together. Thank you for being so candid. No matter what we are going through, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus ❤ Happy Mother’s Day!


  2. Well done friend!! Love it and love you! I’ll be calling you later crying. Lol 😂 and thank you for sharing my blog. You are a huge encouragement and blesssing to me 💗 #happynormalsunday


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