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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

The honesty that Jennifer uses to tell her story drew our young women in and captured their hearts. She provided them with practical tips that the women use daily to transform their lives. These decisions have caused them to do things differently. We loved her so much, we are having her back!

Chrissie Dunham

Chrissie Dunham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX

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

Jennifer has the ability to make you laugh, cry, and see yourself as one of God’s glorious creations — and that is just her warm up! Once Jennifer starts speaking, all you want to do is listen, learn, laugh, and love her. She takes you outside of yourself while helping you see inside of yourself, and does it in such a way that you feel safe, empowered, and capable to embrace all that the Lord is waiting to give you. She opens your eyes and your heart to hear from God in ways you never have. She connects you with others who share similar life experiences — and shines a bright light on the pathway to forgiveness, love, and blessings. Jennifer is also an amazing mother, compassionate, loving wife, and loyal, dedicated friend. Any opportunity women of any age have to hear from her is a gift and one that will produce fruit in their lives.

Lori Kennedy

Lori Kennedy, Outreach Event Coordinator, Riverview Evangelical Church, Bonsall, CA

I just picked up my girls from school today and they both talked all the way home about Jennifer’s presenation. It was a BIG HIT with Middle School and High School kids (both boys and girls). My high school daughter mentioned that she was glad that for once, a speaker focused on girl’s topics instead of sports or boy topics. She said that Jennifer engaged with the boys and made them answer questions too. My middle school daughter said that everyone in the middle school was paying attention too, and that all her friends were very tuned into what Jen was saying. Both girls said that they thought it was fine that the boys were with the girls during the presentation because the boys “needed to hear this stuff too.” 

Mother of two student attendees

Mother of two student attendees of Jennifer's U R MORE school program for boys and girls

If you think Jennifer gets the attention of adults, just see how the teenagers respond! My teenage grandchildren said they wanted to hear more from her and that her book was the only one they’ve ever really enjoyed reading! If teenagers are informed, inspired, and desire more, does anything else need to be said? Jennifer is an unusual voice of truth, integrity, and dignity. She needs to tell the world about her experiences and her victory. She encouraged me, a 70-year-old great grandmother. So, from teens to grans she has something everyone can benefit from.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D.

Dr. Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon.), Speaker / Author / Founder of the Ready to Win Conferences

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