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Returning to our Identity as Mothers: We Will Nurture

The kids are up. It’s time to make breakfast. The white jackets and unhappy faces worn by the women in Congress last night haunt me. They stood up and applauded for themselves when the President acknowledged how many women in this nation are working these days – and how many stand in Congress. But they refused to stand up when he said we would protect babies in their mother’s wombs, made in the “holy image of God.”

For this, they didn’t budge. They crossed their hands and frowned, white coats stiff as their cheeks.

Aren’t they mothers, I think?

Weren’t their babies warm on their chests, nestling those tiny hands around pinky fingers, learning to suckle and burp? Didn’t their babies’ initial cries catch air and ring true of the miracle of birth?

We are mothers, created to nurture. 

The first woman’s name was Eve — her name means: Life.

When did we forget?

Women breath life into all we touch — beginning with the plants. Although my green thumb isn’t very strong, I do know to water the living things once a week. I notice when I forget, the leaves turn dark brown, crispy and brittle on the edges.

From the moment of conception, the mother brings Life.

You took me from the womb,

making me secure

while at my mother’s breast.

I was given over to You at birth;

You have been my God

from my mother’s womb.

– Psalm 22:9-10

I am a Mother.

I Nurture.

nurture verb

: to supply with nourishment

care for and nurture a baby

: EDUCATE

nurture kids in clean, colorful rooms with the latest books and learning gadgets.

: to further the development of : FOSTER

nurture his intellectual inclinations.

The word nurture means: to advocate, champion, endorse, support, uphold. Assist, boost, work for, forward, foster. Incubate, nourish, nurse, promote.

Why aren’t they standing? 

When did we step out of our identity as women — as mothers — to protect life, grow it, claim it, and name it?

We keep saying it’s not life, when we were once seeds growing in our mothers’ wombs.

I bemoan all this, head to pillow — to my man.

The Cowboy cuts right to the chase.

“Well, what are you going to do about it?”

I pause. I stutter. I stumble. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but I have to say it out loud:

“I will speak about it. I will write about it.

I will model for the girls what it is to be a woman.

I will make sure they know.”

Sammy’s up, feet shuffling on pale wood.

“Mommy.”

“Mommy.”

“Mommy.”

These are the first three words he says each morning. I leave a cool cup of coffee for this moment. We put on socks and pick out shirts and get ready for school – where he will be fostered, promoted, educated, nurtured.

The Cowboy takes Sam to school; I clean up scraped pans of eggs and leftover pulled-pork, half-eaten tortillas, and cold coffee with cream. Beds made, hair washed, I grab my yoga mat — out the door. It’s a mandate to take care of my body and I’m not missing it today.

At the end of class, in shavasana, a room of women lay flat on our backs and breathe long, drawn inhales and exhales that drain the belly. The yoga teacher says the words I’ve heard hundreds of times, words reverberating in gyms and yoga studios and on screens across America this morning: 

“Turn on your side and lay in the fetal position.”

I cringe. How can we all be laying here knowing that every quarter of a minute, a baby is torn by the limbs from the place we just laid our hands, our mama’s bellies? Is everyone else in this room curled up in peace or does the word “fetal position” bother anyone here or anywhere? I know the answer.

There are tears all over this nation today, from mamas who lost their babies, in one way or another.

The yoga teacher tells us to sit up and she speaks, the same words we’ve heard countless times before: “The divine light in me honors the divine light in you. Namaste.”

Does that mean the divine light in you honors the divine light of a child? 

Or is that just something we say when it’s convenient, when it sounds kind, gentle, and loving.

(Just checking.)

I am a Woman, created to nurture. Designed to bring life. I bring life when I hug a booboo, fluff the pillows, crack the eggs, clean the pan, go to yoga, call “I love you!” as he walks out the door. 

I bring Life. 

That’s Who I Am. 

Dear God, don’t ever let me forget. And when I step outside of who you designed me to be in some of my weakest moments as a mother, as a woman, as a wife — remind me Who I Am:

a nurturer who supplies, cares for, educates, fosters, advocates, 

champions, supports, upholds — 

a nurturer who assists, boosts, works for, forwards, fosters, 

incubates, nourishes, nurses, and promotes — 

When I step out of my identity as a Mother — dear God, bring me back. 

Let me remember:

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About the Author: Jennifer

Jennifer Strickland is a wife, mom, TEDx speaker, and former professional model. She is the author of Girl Perfect, More Beautiful Than You Know, and Beautiful Lies, among other books and Bible studies that teach women their worth in God’s eyes. Since leaving the modeling industry, she founded URMore.org, a non-profit ministry that provides resources to hurting women and girls. Her favorite moments are found working on the family ranch with her husband, who she calls “the Cowboy”; in her kitchen, concocting a new version of her famous spaghetti; or spending time with their three precious children.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.

Barbara Brown

Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA

“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”

Nancy Ortberg

Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church

“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”

Allie Marie Smith

Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made

One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”

Thelma Wells

Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon), President of Woman of God Ministries
As a teacher, participator, and observer of public speaking for most of my life, I’ve come to realize that many speakers make one of two mistakes when interacting with their audience (especially when that audience is mainly teenagers.) They either expect their audience to climb up to their level (which feels unattainable to the crowd) or they step down to the level of their listeners (which feels cheap and pandering.) The best speakers meet their audience where they are and lead them up to where they want them to be. This feels genuine. This is what Jennifer did over the last few days at our school.
Jennifer Strickland is a funny, engaging, dynamic speaker. She shares truth with authority and credibility that comes from both experience (her story is powerful) and an obvious depth of study in the Bible. The ideas she presents about Value, Identity, and Purpose are truths everyone needs to hear.
I heartily recommend her for your conference, school retreat, or any event where you want your people to be encouraged and challenged with deep, impacting truth.

Andrew Doan

Andrew Doan, Concord Christian Academy, Concord, NH
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