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Looking Forward to the Real Mother’s Day

Mothering is a ministry to the future. It's a ministry that, in the end, only God fully sees.
By Barbara Rainey

My first memories of Mother’s Day are sitting as a child in church as the minister recognized all the mothers. I remember them standing in recognition of their day. I also remember them all wearing corsages. It was a tradition in that generation, and somehow the men knew it was part of their jobs to provide the corsages for Mother’s Day Sunday.

By the time I became a mother, corsages had vanished, but recognition in church on Sunday morning remained. In my early mom years, I felt funny standing in church, as if that role still belonged only to my mother and not to me. But by the time I had three or four kids, I was firmly established in my new identity. As my daughter Ashley said during her fourth pregnancy, “I don’t know what happened to the old Ashley.  She got lost somewhere along the way.” Mother was indelibly who I was, and the vestiges of the old me were now to be found only in photo albums.

Honestly, Mother’s Day was usually somewhat of a disappointment to me. The inherent promise and expectation of a day set aside to honor mothers was never met. It’s not that my husband didn’t try. He always bought me something; usually it was a rose bush or another plant for the yard, which he knew I liked. And my kids always made me a sweet card or a crayoned picture in Sunday school. They all said, “Happy Mother’s Day,” and gave me kisses and hugs. But then everyone needed lunch and naps, and there were squabbles to resolve and needs to be met …

The kind of honor I longed for and needed in those harried years of selfless, endless labor was not to be found on the second Sunday in May.  It’s not possible for children to really appreciate you for the enormity of your service. What I wanted was a day free from sibling rivalry and a simple, genuine, “Thanks, Mom,” that was unprompted by my husband or the Sunday school teacher. 

In hindsight, I now understand what I longed for is only possible when your children grow up and become parents themselves. Then they begin to “get it”!

You see, mothering is a ministry to the future. It’s a very private, unseen ministry. It’s like a long-term, 20-year investment in which you cannot withdraw any of your money until the 20 years is up. You place your bets and then wait to see the outcome many years ahead. In mothering, there are moments of glory when you see hints that your investment is paying off, but they are not permanent until the end. 

Interestingly, it’s only now that my children are grown that I really appreciate my own mother. And even so, I really have no idea what sacrifices, worries, and suffering she endured for me and my brothers. Only God knows, and He is the One who will give the ultimate honor when He says one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

And that is the real Mother’s Day. May your focus be on the honor to come on that day, and may you raise your children to walk closely with Jesus all their days.

And remember, as I so often forgot in the daily-ness of life, that a mother’s job is laborious not because it is small, but because it is gigantic. Mothering is the most important calling on a woman’s life. Mothers can indeed change the world.

Copyright ©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared on MomLife Today®, FamilyLife's blog for moms. 

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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