Thursday, October 8, 2009

BEEdazzling Mamas: My Mom - Part 2

"My prayers were simple. I've never been a big fancy prayer. It has mainly been, 'God, I'm not able to do this. I don't know how to do this. God, I need your help.' I think it's just pouring out your heart honestly . . . and when you get to a place when you truly mean what you pray, God hears you every time. He always does. That type of prayer He will answer."

~Deb Murray on her prayers as a parent~

I recently had the great privilege of interviewing my mom. This is something I have never done before, and I found it to be such an enriching experience. My mom and I have always been close, and over the years she has shared many personal stories and her thoughts with me. And yet, I learned so much more about my mom from this interview. I would highly recommend all daughters interview their moms. You may be surprised what you discover about your own mom.

I hope you enjoy this article and are blessed by it! :-)

As a veteran mom, Deb Murray understands the joys and challenges of raising children. She's experienced the thrills and celebrations at the high peaks of motherhood and the fears and disappointments in its trenches. And yet, after 35 years of being a mom, she still loves this important role God gave her.

At the age of 18, Deb discovered she was pregnant with her first child. She was excited about becoming a mom. "I've always loved kids," she said. During her childhood, she babysat for many of the families in her neighborhood and soon developed a love and passion for kids. "I think I was probably more ready to be a mom than I was to be a wife," she said.

But the early years of being a mom were challenging in many ways, she recalled. Her marriage was rocky during those years, and she often contemplated divorce. "That took away some of the joy," she said about how the marriage issues affected her as a mom.

A life-changing event occurred shortly after she became a mom. "Having a child was the thing that kind of made me think about God again," she said. About a year after the birth of her first child, her father-in-law invited her to attend his church, and on Palm Sunday in 1975, she became a Christian.

She soon developed a close relationship with the pastor of the church and his wife. Bernie and Essie Lovely, whom she affectionately calls "Brother and Sister Lovely," encouraged her in many ways in the early years of being a mom and a Christian. She laughed as she shared a story about Brother Lovely's kind and forgiving heart that happened on one of her many visits to the Lovelys' house. On this particular visit, she accidentally spilled coffee over Brother Lovely's Bible. "He wasn't upset at all," she recalled. "He didn't hate me. As a Christian, that is one of your most precious things and to have someone spill coffee all over it . . . He still loved me."

In late 1978, she moved with her husband and two children from Ohio to Colorado. During the first couple of years in Colorado, she struggled to keep her marriage intact. She soon met two young moms in her church, and the three of them met often to pray together. "It was definitely a group of people who were very innocent, who were young in Christ, and yet God amazingly answered prayer after prayer," she said. One of the prayers answered was her husband, Jack, became a Christian. "The marriage began to get better, and God started to do some really neat things."

As her children grew and her marriage began to flourish, she enjoyed being a mother more and more. She said she centered her life around her two kids, Julie and Luke. She soon landed a job as a teacher's aide at a local school. "There could not have been a more perfect job than that," she said. Being in the school, she was able to keep tabs on what was happening with her kids. During this time, she and her husband also became more involved with their church and volunteered to serve as the church's youth group leaders.

She said she learned many lessons during the elementary and pre-teen ages of her children. "When you have kids," she said, "you realize you need to be an example to them. If you want them to serve God and you want them to do what is right, then you too have to do the right thing. Probably in my younger days, I would have called in sick [for work] and not really been sick. I stopped doing things like that. I tried to be really honest."

During this phase of parenting, she also learned "you have to recognize your kids are human. No matter how good they are, they are going to do things that are wrong . . . You have to make your kids responsible for their actions." And in partnership with her husband, this meant immediately addressing behavioral issues with their kids. But she also learned that she had to find a balance and not be so strict that she pushed her kids into rebellion.

When her kids reached the teenage years, she said there were times she felt she was failing as a parent. "I think the teenage years are really tough," she said, "because kids are starting to get their wings and starting to want to be on their own and they get to the place where they think their parents are really stupid and don't know anything. I think that's normal."

She laughed as she shared a valuable lesson she learned during this phase of parenting. "Pray harder!" On a more serious note, she said, "I think the whole key is that you just need to go to God that much more . . . The key to [my kids] turning out was not me. It was God. It was because I honestly humbled myself before God and said, 'God, I can't do this. I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a parent.' I don't thing any of us really do. But God knows how. And I asked Him to help me and show me how to be a parent to my kids."

Now, as a parent of two adult children, she said being a mom during this stage can sometimes be the most difficult time because "you have no control. You have to let them go. It's never too late to pray. And really that's all you can do."

But she also shared the many joys of being a mom to adult children. Because parenting is more relaxed now, she can develop closer friendships with her adult children. Her fondest memories during these years have been the births of her six grandchildren. She said being a grandparent is much easier than being a parent. "As a grandparent, you only correct when the kids are at risk or some big issue. You realize you only tackle the big things. You're more relaxed, more calm."

Her greatest desire for her children and grandchildren is for them to "serve God with all their hearts and all their souls." She said that this is more important to her than the careers and aspirations they may pursue in their lives. "If they can keep their focus for the most part on God . . . they're going to be fine."

When asked about advice she would give to moms in supporting their husbands in their parenting roles, she said, "You always want to encourage. You don't want to really disagree, unless it's something really serious, in front of the kids." She also advised about being careful to not be jealous of the other parent. "Don't worry if the kids love one more than the other, because they do. They go through different stages where they like Dad more than they like Mom and Mom more than they like Dad, but you need to not become jealous of that."

When asked about the advice she would give to moms with children of any age, she say, "The biggest advice is pray. Humble yourself. Realize that the season will pass. But the only thing you can do is pray. It's really in the hands of God."

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