It is that time of year again. The leaves are turning, the morning air is crisp, awakening memories of the fall that changed my life.

27 years ago, on October 27th, I became a mom. I was given the greatest gift and the greatest challenge of my life all in the form of one tiny babe that captured my heart in a new and all-consuming way. It is as if my life took on meaning far beyond anything I could ever have imagined before. I realized I was needed…

Trying to find words to convey my love to her, I would often say, “if I could pick any little girl in the whole world to be mine, I would pick you.” As she grew into an adolescent and into the tumultuous teen years, I would often say in the midst of the struggle, “I would still pick you.”

I hoped she understood. For some things, there really are no words to adequately convey what the heart longs to say.

This past Sunday I heard the message of the prodigal, and again, I saw my own younger self cast as the wandering son in memory, and then in later years God gave me a glimpse of what it was like to be the longing father. I imagine this is true for many of us. As it never fails to do, the message brought tears dropping from my cheeks, wetting my hands as tangible evidence of what I’ve lived and learned.

In recent days, the words from Zephania 3:17 have called to me, reminding me of God’s love, a love so amazing I can only begin to approach an understanding of it by experiences I have had as a mother. We are told that the Lord takes great delight in us, and that He will rejoice over us with singing. Oh yes…when I think of my babies I get a taste of that sweet love, that delight, the rejoicing that gives rise to singing as I cradled them.

Those of us who have raised a child from tiny to adult know the days of holding them physically close passes. They grow up, they become able to live apart from us, but that love, the tie that binds a mother’s heart to her child, never lessens. As I pause to remember and give thanks, I can say in all honesty, I would still pick my Heather. We have memories, both bitter and sweet. She was saddled from the beginning with a teen mom who had no idea what to do, how to be a good mother. All I had was love, prayer, and fragile hope that somehow I would get it right.

What I’ve learned is that love endures and it covers a multitude of sin. As parents we need grace from our children and for our children because we all live in constant need of strength beyond our own. We are equally dependent on The Savior’s redemptive love, love that He willingly gives in abundance as He molds and shapes us, delighting over us with joyful singing. I wouldn’t take anything in exchange for the love I’ve learned through mothering.

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