The Meaning of Motherhood

If someone asked me what my greatest achievement in life has been, I would have to say it is being a mother. The highest calling in life is to have the privilege of giving someone life and having the opportunity to nurture that life into adulthood. A mother is a child’s first contact with the world, and if that contact is warm, trusting, and nurturing it can make the difference in whether the child reaches their full potential emotionally as well as physically.

I remember when I first realized that raising my children was a calling, and that I would need the grace of God to do it right. I was in church, and the pastor’s wife relayed to me how God had given her wisdom in how to train her children up in the Lord. I went home and looked up every scripture I could find on child training. I then began reading the scriptures to my oldest child at the time. I wanted the children to know that what I was doing had a Biblical base; that I wasn’t just making things up out of my head. The first scripture I recall teaching the children was from the book of Ephesians, “Children obey your parents in the Lord…” I would make a pointed effort to pray where the children could hear me, in addition to praying with them and teaching them to pray on their own.

Motherhood to me meant a responsibility  to help my children reach their God-given potential as well as instilling in them an understanding of who God is. No parent no matter how much they teach and train a child can give them faith; only Jesus Christ can do that. There were many nights I spent singing, reading, and brushing hair before bedtime. There were planet and star stickers that I pasted to the ceiling, and the children and I spent many nights staring at the ceiling trying to count the stars.

There were also the days and nights spent calming a frightened child, breast feeding a newborn, and soothing chicken pox with calamine lotion. The time that Jaynae developed chicken pox I slept with her on the couch in the living room for two weeks. In between all the sickness there were the prayers taped to the bedroom walls to help Ima remember to pray for healing each time she was sick, and help Uyime recite scriptures when she had headaches also. The years of getting physicals for school stand out in my mind, as well as the years of disputing with school officials of my right to refuse vaccinations for my children.

When you give birth to your child, you risk your life, after the child is born your heart is at risk forever. As a mother I was there for each tear they shed in my presence and some of them they shed without my presence. When their hearts broke, my did too, when they were overjoyed, I became ecstatic also. My mind reflects on every dance practice, each dance recital, all the music concerts,(as well as the music practice), and all the violin strings which broke. Oh yes I remember every violin I had to purchase also. By the time the years of teaching them to drive and going to buy prom dresses arrived, I felt that I’d already lived three lifetimes.

I questioned why I was still here after the death of Jaynae, I didn’t want to comprehend my living and her lying in a grave. I was grateful that she’d had a wonderful life. Yet I had difficulty finding the meaning of mundane things in life after her passing. She had taught me so much; even though I was the parent. Even now, when I look at her life, she is still teaching me; she is saying, “Mom keep singing, keep living, keep hoping, I may no longer be with you, but you still have mountains to conquer.”

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The Meaning of Courage

The main characteristic of a leader is courage. Yet, courage isn’t the absence of fear. In the Bible, all the heroes of the faith were confronted with  dilemmas and they didn’t know how they’d be solved. However, they faced conflicts with courage, and let God be their guide, even when they didn’t know the outcome.

The greatest obstacle to being courageous is facing the unknown.Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can man do to me?” Even when we don’t know what people will do, we can be assured in what Jesus will do. Our faith in Christ stands on his word to us; and if our confidence is in God, we don’t have to fear anything that human flesh can release upon us. In other words,” God has our backs.”

The one thing that the heroes of the Bible had in common when it came to exercising courage, was that they faced situations and they didn’t know the outcome. When God told Abraham to leave his relatives and his country, he didn’t even know where he was going; yet he trusted God who assured him that he would lead him to a better country to dwell in. After David was anointed king, he had to wait decades before he could take the throne to rule Israel. While he was waiting his life was threatened many times because King Saul was determined to destroy him before he could become king. When Queen Esther went before King Ahasureus she didn’t know if he would receive her or kill her; yet she was willing to die to obey God and save her people from certain death. And then Mary, the mother of our Lord, was just a teenager and engaged to be married when God’s angel told her that she was going to have a baby, not an ordinary baby, but a baby whose father would be the Holy Spirit. Imagine the courage of that young girl, and the trust that she had in her God that he would take care of her and provide everything that she needed to bring her child safely into the world.

Courage cannot exist without fear; for in order to exercise courage, there has to be something we need extraordinary ability to face. Having courage means thinking outside of the box, and sometimes going against what popular opinions say. Think of all the people who changed things in the world; Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Thomas Edison, The Wright brothers, and the list is endless: none of those people would have changed the world had they been more concerned about staying in their place, and not causing a disturbance. No change has ever taken place without disruption or conflict. The most courageous man who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He came on the world stage and by living out who he was,1379787402609 he split history in half. Here are some characteristics of the courageous:

  1. Courageous people are not conformers.
  2. Courageous people are willing to take chances, even when the odds are against them.
  3. Courageous people speak their opinions when others keep silent.
  4. Courageous people are willing to defend the downtrodden and the helpless.
  5. Courageous people are selfless and greatly sacrifice for others.
  6.  Courageous people are confident of their identity and are not threatened when others challenge them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK, CRIES OF THE RIGHTEOUS

The only memory I have of my father that is my own was of a conversation he had with me and my older sister, Irma. Irma had a Hershey candy bar and I badly wanted a piece of it. I went to Dad and asked him to make her give me a piece. He said, “Irma, give your sister some candy, always share with your sister.” I was almost four years old when Dad passed away and as a grown woman I wondered why this is the only vivid memory that I have of him. Of the countless words he spoke to me, why did I only remember these words. It occurred to me that anything you vividly remember as a young child has great significance. It was from this memory that I’ve clung to all my life that revealed to me my father’s character, his role in my life and the role he played in the lives of my siblings. This memory showed me that he was a protector, and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that he was there to watch my back. This memory showed me that he was there to provide for me what I couldn’t provide for myself; and that he encouraged harmony in a large family that needed tons of love, of which he had so much to provide. This memory was also important because I was able to look back and understand that God’s love is similar to the love of a caring father for his child. It would have been harder to recognize and accept the love of God had I not been acquainted with the love my father had for me and my siblings.

I vaguely remember leaning from a bench in church and looking into a casket at the face of a man who appeared to be my father. I recall the emptiness and the desertion that I felt after he was no longer there. Yet this crushing event in my life reminds me of the scripture which says “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

My spirit was crushed after my father’s death. As a child when I went to church I would run to the cemetery and stare at my father’s grave. I would think as I stood there, “why did you leave me?” “Please come back.” But of course he never did. I also frequently had dreams in which Dad would come to the house and talk to me, but I could never touch him. Just when I would almost touch him the dream would end. I felt that it was so unfair that my father had died because he seemed to be the only one who loved and understood me.

My father was in the hospital a long time before he finally passed away from diabetes. He had the disease for years and didn’t know it. By the time he found out his body had already been damaged by kidney failure. Yet while he was in the hospital Mother told me he said to her, “Arlevia, please keep the children in church.” He must have known he was dying because he told this to my mother repeatedly. He also had her read a passage of scripture from the book of Psalms chapter 37. The scripture refers to the blessedness of the righteous man over the wicked. The verse shows that it may seem the wicked are winning, but in the end the righteous man is the one who inherits the land. Psalm 37: 28, 29 states “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved forever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” My father’s death stripped us of the protection we so badly needed from the vicious attacks of Satan. The devil and his demons just moved into our house after my father’s death to try and destroy this righteous man’s children.

The sickness and poverty increased after Dad’s passing. My mother was left with eight children to raise alone; the oldest Margaret was sixteen, the youngest, Patrick, was five months. Patrick almost died as an infant due to various skin infections and asthma. The doctor told Mama that she could let him die in the hospital or take him home to die. My mother of course chose to bring my brother home and she took him to church to have the pastor pray for him. Pastor Ingram prayed for Patrick and said, “ Lord it’s not expected that this baby live, please for his mother’s sake, she’s already lost her husband, please Lord spare this little boy’s life, Amen.”   I often helped Mama bathe Patrick by bringing her towels to dry his skin. It took a long time for his body to heal, but he lived.

Luther, another brother, developed pneumonia and came close to dying. Jerry, my next to oldest brother, suffered from nosebleeds and was perpetually accident prone. My mother cried a lot during this time, and she’d sometimes say while she cried, “The Lord took my husband, it seems Jasper could have done a better job taking care of the children instead.” Spiritually, we needed a lot of direction, but all of Mama’s energy was used up just trying to feed us and keep a roof over our heads.

I believe that because children are innocent, they see things that other people are unable to see; especially things of spiritual significance. As a child, I would see small, black creatures throughout our house; they would always be under a bed or in a closet. I didn’t know what they were and I didn’t know how to tell anyone what I saw. I now realize these were demonic spirits; they were the ones of sickness, confusion, and strife that were so prevalent in our home after Dad’s passing.

The spiritual battle for my father’s children was only beginning. The presence of a Godly father in the home can’t be underestimated; and his absence can have devastating effects on all who dwell there. This is not to say that a God-fearing and praying mother is not able to raise her family in the fear of the Lord, but God has commanded fathers to instruct their household in the fear of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 states, “And ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but rather bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” I am convinced that if a father is unable or unwilling to minister to his household, that God honors the efforts and prayers of a mother or whoever stands as a caregiver in that household.

I was always asking my siblings what my father was like because I had such a limited memory of him. Margaret, my older sister said, “Daddy was something else, I don’t believe he had a child that was like him.” She said that he had the kind of personality that just drew people to him, and that he had a concern for people that few others had. She said he was funny, (had a sense of humor), and he loved singing and being a deacon in the church. She said my father embraced other people and served them, and he did it selflessly.

My mother’s personality was the opposite of my father’s; while my father was accepting and willing to help anyone, my mother was more introverted and seemed to have little trust for anyone. They were both strong individuals, but in characteristically different ways. Both my parents were the product of the culture and era they lived in; and fifty years ago in the South segregation was the law of the land. Women were also expected to be subservient to their husbands rather than equal partners.