Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The God Who Sees Me

In my posting last week, I found this post - written and ready to publish - sitting as a draft on my dashboard. I wrote it the week after Mother's Day and forgot to post it. Can't let a post go to waste, and even though Mother's Day was a month ago, the beauty of the moment hasn't faded. So here it is.

It's no secret that motherhood is hard. From the first days home, new moms find out they really didn't know the extent of the responsibility, hard work, or absolute love. And even though the workload of motherhood is not a secret, we live as if it is.

The Saturday before Mother's Day 2017, my great day ended a little bit in the dumps. At the end of a long week and dealing with the unique stress of parenting teenagers, with thoughts of what Mother's Day is all about swirling in my head, I felt unnoticed and unappreciated as a mother. Not guilty over what I do and don't do - simply unnoticed for what I do. It is perhaps the biggest sacrifice of motherhood, to continue on whether or not anyone seems to notice or appreciate your efforts. 

In an effort to ease these feelings, my husband posted a sweet picture of us and our great day together that Saturday to social media. Honestly though, by then my long week and stress were joined by the comparison trap - myself to others. Knowing this kind of thinking takes me nowhere but down has never stopped me from following the spiral previously, but somewhere in a corner of my mind I paused to whisper a five second prayer, "God show me I'm noticed." Because in a world where we are all aching to be noticed in some way, Truth says there is One who always notices, whether we feel it in the moment or not. 

By Sunday morning quite a few posts had popped up on social media feeds, some people I barely know, detailing acknowledgement of mothers for everything they do and everything they are. Of course, we love to see such women acknowledged, but mixed with our admiration, we need to be aware of feeding the comparison trap as well. The best way to combat something so strong is to make the choice to step out in front of it, put your foot down, and say, "This will proceed no further." Already a step ahead of myself in taking the thought and feeling captive, wanting my loved ones to know I appreciate all they do as moms, I had filled out cards, mailed personalized notes, and sent messages a few days before Mother's Day. As God has aptly shown me in the past year, and to paraphrase Ann Voskamp, to live in your brokenness - given out to others - is to allow God to turn your brokenness to good, to perhaps even heal your own brokenness.

Getting ready to attend my sister's church for her son's baby dedication the morning of Mother's Day, I received a text from my 15-year-old daughter to make sure I come into the house when I pick them up at grandma's (where they had spent the night). I told her daddy was coming, I was still getting ready, and why did she need me to come anyway? Her reply: It's for Mother's Day.

I showed up to my daughter and a beautiful, body length blanket she had stayed up until 4am - working six hours - to make for me for Mother's Day. I had gone to bed at 3am after my husband and I spent 12 hours away, driving our oldest home from a prom she attended an hour and a half away, quite mindful of that crazy bedtime hour with so much going on the next day. And here, my younger daughter had stayed up even later than that, sacrificing for me in the moment I was sacrificing for someone else?! The absolute feeling of being loved washed over me. The fabric is a heavy, ultra soft fleece - combining my love of warm blankets and dachshunds all at once. Plus, my mother-in-law had not only taken her to the store, but also purchased the materials needed for it to happen. Double the love.

And it hit me while singing "I surrender all..." in church half an hour later, God had heard my five second prayer the night before. I had sent it up in a quick moment, with barely the faith of a mustard seed and little thought of it afterward, and it came back to me in complete blessing. My child noticed me. My husband gave me a beautiful card - he had noticed me.

At lunch that afternoon I received a card from my sister, a new mother celebrating her first Mother's Day. It began with the words, "You might feel like no one notices..." and had a hand written note inside praising me and stating admiration that just blew me away. I struggled not to cry in my seat as I read it. I gave her a hug, told her the card was perfect, and spent a good meal with my family, loving on my nephew.

Back home after lunch, my youngest and only son approached me with a hand made and perfectly worded (all by himself!) Mother's Day card...complete with a stuffed dachshund (notice a pattern here?). The stuffed animal had been hidden in his closet for a month, waiting for today. Grandma helped him plan it.

Dinner was spent at a local Hibachi place with my in-laws, their treat. What a great meal, filled with laughter, and some of the precious little time we are all together at once. Complete with a beautiful card claiming things about me that I don't always believe about myself from my niece and nephew. A friend of mine, who didn't know of my specific feelings as a mother at the moment, but knew the challenges the weekend presented with my kids, schedule, and other conflicts, checked in with me a couple times to see how the days and events had gone. To top if off, my oldest daughter and I made it through a whole weekend of events we would potentially fight about without fighting! Even when I messed up her graduation invitations by forgetting to put the date and had to affix the date to each invite with an obviously added-on label made by a label-maker.

By the end of the day, so much unexpected love and appreciation had been poured upon me from my family; but, I'm unsure some of them realize exactly what they did for me. What I do know is today was more than the usual Mother's Day. Mother's Day up until now had been like any other day for me. I've received cards and gifts on past Mother's Days, so how was this one so different?

In my heart, I knew I was noticed. By the end of the day, it was more than just my family who noticed, it was God. I didn't try to find or manipulate anything or anyone for attention, I handed over the negative feeling, and I asked for Him to show me I was noticed and He made it abundantly clear that He had seen me all along. So clear that all the public posts in the world boasting praise of my motherhood couldn't compare. What else matters when you know in your heart God sees you? When you know the very people who make you a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and best friend see you.

"She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" Genesis 16:13

My nephew Maximus


  1. Oh Jennine, you got me at dachshund. We have a mini-D. Always big dog people, this little guy is the canine love of our lives.

    I just have to add, your words made me cry. Being acknowledged for what we do is precious. If we are not, it is almost as if we live, and do, and exist in a vacuum. You are special my dear and it is heartening to know your family gets it.
    Teenage years can be hard but the kids (especially the female ones) which push back (hard) end up as strong women. In the world of today women have to be strong. But you already know that.
    Bless you my friend.

    1. LOVE our mini weenies! And we'd rather the push back and end up with strong women! Thanks!

  2. Good Lord Jennine, and I mean that in the most respectful way. I haven't been around in a long, long time so I backtracked your posts, a PHD. Egads woman, you are amazing.
    I haven't read your entire journey (yet) but here's some wisdom from a wise old broad whose teenagers have turned out to be awesome teachers, amazing wives and wonderful mothers.
    The journey you are on now, though difficult at times, is an illustration to your children of what is available in life through hard work. I have always told my daughters, you can have it all, you just can't have it all at the same time.
    Ha, you're going to be Dr. My Life in Books, love it.

    1. Lead by example...funny, I hadn't thought of that. I've just been doing what I knew I should do. Thank you for the insight. (And I haven't been around any blogs either - barely my own! The PhD program knows how to take over a life!)

  3. So good. Thanks fkr sharing thoughts & transparency.