Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16, NRSV).
My boys love books. To encourage my older son's curiosity, we have taken to getting new books at the library on whatever subject interests him. Let me tell you, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about every sort of truck and bug. The other day we were reading about the ocean, thanks to his fascination with Disney’s Nemo. I learned a rather haunting fact about the female octopus. Did you know that it lays its eggs and hangs them at the entrance to its dwelling? For six months the mother tirelessly cleans and keeps watch over them. She does this to such an extent that at the end of those six months, she dies of starvation. It was shocking to me to learn that nature would let this happen.
If I am really honest, though, I know that I sometimes I push myself far beyond my own limits. There is so much to do as a mom, and the juggling act can have you tirelessly trying to keep all balls afloat while neglecting the time to care for yourself. I need to be constantly reminded that it is okay to step away, even if it means something small might drop. That time or activity that I choose will allow me to return to my mothering refueled and renewed. Whether it is doing something that relaxes, intellectually engages, or sometimes pampers me, it helps to safeguard my well-being with integrity.
Of course, we as Christians know that God’s word has the power to refuel us through inspiration like nothing else will. I am often reminded how God can speak poignantly to me when I take the time to listen. I make different decisions – better decisions – because of it. And perhaps most importantly, I learn anew about a God who is working tirelessly to grow me and show me his love. He gave his life to do it...On second thought, maybe that story about the octopus isn’t so unnatural after all.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for your sacrificial love in Jesus Christ. Bless me as I sacrifice for my child or children. Help me to balance that sacrifice with integrity in a desire to care for myself, for I recognize that I am your precious child too. Refuel me, care for me, and help me to know your love. In Christ's name and in his grace we pray, Amen.
To learn more about the inspiring sacrifice of the female octopus, click below for an NPR article entitled, "The Hardest-Working Mom On The Planet." Wow.