By: Becky Shaffer of Saving Grace Inc.
Psalm 27:10, Message
My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.
I remember hearing my Sunday school teacher read this passage many years ago. I got it…from the moment I heard it, I understood what it meant and that it was indisputable truth. I knew God was my father….my daddy, and that my future would be different than my present. My biological father was not home about 99% of my childhood…he came home when he was lonely, thus Mama gave birth to my baby brother…one more mouth to feed, one more reason for her to scream. She was a violent woman and she gave no warning, at least the little girl I was could never predict when she was going to “blow”. (You can read more about my childhood at here.)
I was eventually taken away from my mother….only because of my trouble with the police from the age of eleven to twelve. They had no idea the violence I was enduring at home and how I found myself in a “family” of crank/meth users and dealers. I was taken to a children’s home where I thrived. I was behind in school and out of the kindness of their hearts (because I was so “big” for my age) the school administration only placed me one year behind where I should have been. I was tall and clumsy, with no social graces…had no idea what personal hygiene was, much less how to read and spell. I am certain I read at an early elementary level. I began to thrive in school….can I just say I was smart? It was one of the best feelings in the world…I’d felt dumb my entire life. If I were to be honest, I still struggle with feeling dumb.
I spent time with a young mom while at the children’s home—she had a house full of little ones. It was through watching her that I learned to be a mom. Her babies were always happy, her house was always messy, her husband loved her and she loved him….I knew I wanted this for my life, and for the children I had yet to give birth to. The problem was I had no idea how to get it. The “discipline” I knew at the cruel hands of my mother was so far different than the love and care this young couple gave to their children….always loving them…hugging, kissing… after correction…even after a spanking (which wasn’t that often), love. Times spent with them were light hearted and fun. They had no idea how I watched them, learning from their every move.
It was time for me to graduate from high school. I chose a Christian College too far away from the love and care of the staff at the children’s home I’d learned to love and trust. I was terrified when I got to school, so scared and alone…back to not belonging. I met a boy and not long after meeting him, became pregnant…then married, in that order. We gave birth to our first daughter and I knew without a doubt I was going to breast feed her….just like the young mother I spent so much time with in my childhood. My “real” family thought I was crazy for doing such a thing… “Why would you do that, it’s just nasty?” When I think about that now it makes me laugh! Really, it does! This coming from people who live in the filthiest conditions, men in and out of their home, drugs and alcohol laying around in reach of their children…and I’m “nasty”. That’s just funny to me! Ok…feeling just a little sarcastic here people! Well, I didn’t listen to their rejection….I took memories of my time with the young mother and tried to mimic all she did…messy house and all! Christin got a bath daily, she was breast fed…which is one of my most treasured memories with my babies….and oh my goodness, did I have so much more to learn! My feelings of sorrow over my own childhood caused so much guilt and brought about negative thoughts…like, “How can I be a good mom after my mother’s example?” I spent time and money trying to make up for where I felt like I was failing my baby girl.
It wasn’t until I began to get into the Word that I realized so many things….Here are some scripture that helped grow me into the mom God wanted me to be.
He took my simple and backward ways and grew me into a wise mama!
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
He reminded me that it was His strength that I needed to rely on, not my own…and when I’m weak, then I’m strong!
II Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
In more recent years, He reminded me that He knit my children together in my womb and that their salvation was between them and Him….not me, them and Him!
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
My children belong to Him…He created them and He worked out their salvation…they can’t get to heaven through me. I know most of us know this, but do we live it? I remember when my oldest was in high school and she took Russian as her choice of foreign language. In total, she took it from 6th grade all the way through her senior year of high school. She wanted to go to Russia and teach English and spread the gospel. I began to pray and ask God to not allow it…Russia was so far away and so dangerous for a young girl. She didn’t go. When she went to college, she got involved with a boy who convinced her that her parents were crazy and you don’t have to go to church to be “saved”…she walked away from everything she had been raised to believe. She was well grounded in the Truth. During that first year she was away from home and had nothing to do with her family, God began to reveal to me that there are much farther and more dangerous places one can travel than Russia. He showed me that my children are His and they are only on this planet for a moment….then on to eternity.
Our oldest is still working out things that are between her and God….and it is my job (as hard as it is to keep quiet) to pray for her and fight on my knees. I have two more girls at home…one going into her senior year of high school this fall and one going into the third grade.
We read “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young on the way to school each morning…I want so badly to write God’s word on their hearts until the time comes that I can’t do it anymore…that time does come girls…we only have their sweet hearts but for a moment. I still cry out to God that He would protect their hearts, eyes, and ears….from evil. I pray for all of my girls in this way. I ask that He would bring godly men into their lives….but I also pray this; “Lord, if You don’t mean for them to marry, but to serve You…I’m good with that. Please let their hearts be sold out to serving You and Lord if that means, no son-in-law for me, no grandbabies…I am good with that too.” Girls, we are only on this planet but for a few precious moments…then it’s on to eternity. I want my girls to know God in such a way that it is the lover of their souls they pursue…nothing more, nothing less.
This past Mother’s Day proved to be a time of reflection for me…a year ago I read a book “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp. May 13th’s Joy Dare, 3 gifts found in your mother…. I couldn’t think of three gifts for quite some time. I ignored the question all day and read other post from women who came from a long line of godly girls. That wasn’t my story and I knew it, so I ignored. My sweet family got up and went to church, laughing and cutting up all the way…dreaming about our vacation coming up in June, still I ignored. I sat and worshiped with my husband at my side, still I ignored. We came home and I sat with my feet up and read cards, smelled pink roses, while my husband and girls cooked…we ate together and played “guesstures” and laughed hysterically until we cried and still I ignored. “My mother gave me no gifts”, I spoke quietly to my heart all day.
Later Sunday evening, after getting everyone tucked into bed I began to allow myself to reflect…3 gifts found in my mother.
- God, my heavenly father, Daddy, Abba.
- God, His word.
- My mother allowed other women to come in and fill the gap where she fell so short…for she came from a long line of bitter, abusive women…not godly girls. She really had nothing to glean from as a mother.
It is my hope and prayer that I leave my girls with these three gifts.
- God is your heavenly father, Daddy, Abba….they are His princess. Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)
- God’s word written on their hearts! —because when they are old they will not depart from it! (Proverbs 22:6) All that they do, every decision will be filtered through the word of God I spoke to them and over them!
- Delight in the Lord…He will give you the desires of your heart…the Bible says so. (Psalm 37:4) —Find your joy in Him!
The next time your path crosses with a young mama who obviously has no clue…you know the ones that really aggravate you? She’s got a baby on the way and the one in the Walmart buggy has a bottle with soda or tea…just to shut ‘em up…all while talking loud and a mile a minute on her cell phone about the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard since you were in junior high. What if you invested in that one girl? I mean really invested….time, energy, prayer and coming along her side…the not so lovable and teach her a different way. Willing yourself not to judge or be critical, but with the most tender love and care….mentor her. I can’t imagine if I had not been taught a different way than the way I was raised….live would have been so drastically different for my precious girls.
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody,
I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. ~Mother Teresa
Focus on Foster Care Week:
Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.
Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.
Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.