From Ethiopia to Everyday... Lessons in Motherhood

Let me introduce to you my friend Renee.  I first "met" Renee about a year ago through a homeschooling forum, and have continued to learn from her heart for children (both through birth and through adoption), and from her general wisdom about life. I hope you'll enjoy her perspective on mothering -- in situations that range from the very familiar to the completely unfamiliar to us as American moms:

It was a grey and rainy day as we zoomed along the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We were four days into our trip, and I snuggled our newly adopted Ethiopian baby boy in my arms.

On the schedule for the day was a visit to the orphanage where another of our Ethiopian children had lived before coming home to us a year prior. During my time in Addis I had seen poverty which shocked my mind, and it broke my heart. I was still not prepared for the scenes which were playing out on this day.

I could scarcely hold back my tears as I saw the desperate conditions which seemed to grow bleaker with each passing mile. There were many small children wandering the streets alone. They had no shoes and their clothes were tattered. They were precariously close to the cars, and at times they wandered right into the traffic.

The streets were the home to the sick, the infirmed. The pain and desperation was palpable. I wanted to see and remember each person.....for they were someone's child, someone's mother, someone's father, someone's sister, someone's brother. They were real flesh and blood people, and they mattered. They mattered to God, and I wanted them to matter to me too.

As we made a turn I saw her lying there..a woman who looked to be about my age. She was lying in the mud. She was obviously sick. As our car passed, by she weakly lifted her head and looked our way. It was then that I noticed that she too had a baby in her arms.

I immediately thought to the night before when the rains poured down so heavily. I wondered where these two precious people were then. My heart told me probably in that same spot. While my new baby and I slept in a warm and cozy bed...they slept in the cold rain with mud for their bed.

I tried to imagine what it must be like, and then I thought back to a question that I am sometimes asked, in reference to my Ethiopian children; "How could their mother ever give their children up? I love my children too much," they say. God help me, I have had those thoughts too. How could a mother give her precious child up?

It was at that moment that God taught me what real love is. It is laying down your life. My children's birth mothers laid down their lives for their children so that their children may live. I can clearly look at my children, and tell them that they were loved. They were loved dearly, and desperately. Ethiopians love children dearly. It is evident everywhere you go how precious children are to their culture. They grieve over the poverty, disease, and loss too. Even though death, illness, and poverty touch their lives more often than it does here in America, it doesn't hurt them any less.

One of the greatest lessons God showed me why he said in His word "to judge not lest you be judged." How unfair I am to judge a situation I truly know nothing about.

While I worry whether or not my children are consuming hydrogenated oils, there are mothers in this world who wonder if and when their child will eat.

While I worry about choosing the perfect homeschool curriculum there are mothers who know their children will never get one single day of education.

While I moan about yet another "well baby" check-up there are mothers whose children will never see a Doctor, even if they are desperately ill.

Jesus taught me so much about grace on my trip to Ethiopia. He taught me about sacrifice, and His love, and how He wants me to walk.

He has not put me in a position where I have to lay down my life literally for my children. He has shown me that I do need to lay down my life each day.  I need to lay down my time, my plans, my wants to train up these precious children whom He has entrusted to me.  These children are ultimately His.  I am merely a steward of  them for a short time.

It can be an uphill battle in a culture which seems to breed selfishness. Mothers are told they need to do something more with their lives than stay home and wipe noses and wash laundry. There is little glamour attached to a "Stay at Home Mom". The catch word of our day is "me-time."

Life in America can be a struggle. There are many distractions which draw me away from the call of managing our home and the training up of our children in the way they should go. I have learned over the years that the distractions are not necessarily evil. In fact, many times they can be useful. The problem is that they may not be God's best for our family. I need to seek Jesus daily in His Word for His plans for our home and family, not mine, not our cultures, but His.

I am so thankful for this calling of Motherhood. It is a blessing, and a gift, and one I treasure.


Renee is the wife of Jim and the mom of eleven children, two of whom are waiting to come "home" from Ghana. Some are biologically "hers", and others are "hers" through adoption, but all are dearly loved. She blogs at Steppin' Heavenward, where she writes openly and honestly about the life of a mom of many, the life of a mom of adopted & biological children, the life of a homeschooling family, and the life of a woman striving to be like Christ.

Making Home readers, I would encourage you to add her blog to your favorites, as she has so much to teach all of us.
I pray that this was a blessing to you, as it was to me. Thank you to Renee for sharing a slice of your life with us!

9 comments:

Persuaded said...

There is much here that is dear to my own heart. We can all be encouraged and inspired by women like Renee!
Thanks so much for introducing us to her:-)

Jaime said...

wow.

thank you for this post.

Anna S said...

How inspiring. I'm off to visit this lady's blog now. Thanks for this introduction, Jess!

Melissa said...

Thank you! This was very sobering, yet very encouraging.

Brenda said...

What an inspiration! I will be checking her blog out!

Terry said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it and introducing us to this amazing mom!

Keri said...

Beautiful. And thought provoking.

I had more to say, but I had to set up a google account to comment, and then lost it all. Obviously it wasn't worth much bc I don't remember it all! LOL

Blessings,
Keri

:..Rebekah..: said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am so thankful for women like Renee who can teach me and help to open my eyes and heart.

Jennelle said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post ... it really does make one stop and think, doesn't it?

*Hugs*

Love,

Jennelle