Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

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Mother’s Day

May 6, 2014

by Senior Minister Patricia de Jong

As Mother’s Day approaches, I walk by the card aisle at the drugstore and contemplate the card I will not buy this year. Since my own mother has been dead for many years, I am tempted to skip this day altogether, but there are many women in this community and in my life who embody the best of what I believe it means to be a mother, sister, daughter and woman and friend. I am thankful for them all.

Mother’s Day has become for me, a time of quiet celebration of what it means to be a good and courageous human being in whatever life circumstance we find ourselves. The original idea for Mother’s Day emerged out of the Civil War, with a group of grieving mothers resolving to work together to abolish war. The idea of a day for mothers was in response to the heavy toll that war had extracted from their lives. Later, as it became more commercial, people lost sight of the desire for peace and justice that originally grounded a day for mothers.

The origins of this day were centered around the need of women to create a better world for their children rather than becoming the focus of attention and adulation. Perhaps we can reclaim an important aspect of the legacy of those brave women who came before us by intentionally lifting up peace and justice this Mother’s Day.

redcarnationI’d rather not give this day away to Hallmark or Flowers.com or even a great place to have brunch. Instead, I’d like to lift up a prayer for the mothers and fathers of those 270 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school three weeks ago. They still don’t know what happened to the girls or if they will see their children again. And not so far from us, in the Ukraine, the madness of war has once again threatened to destroy the lives of children and families and a whole nation. And our own Mother Earth is ravaged by our lack of conscious attention to the ways we have ignored and abused her.

Every time I baptize a baby, child or adult, I say “Mother of us all,” to remind us that we are held by a powerful and gentle God who broods and frets over us like a mother hen. Yet she also calls forth from us the best of what is means to be a child of God—courage, steadiness of commitment to the common good, lovingkindness and a willingness to act for justice and peace.

However you celebrate this day, may the Mother of Us All shine in you and give you courage and strength for your life work.

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Weaving Together Motherhood and Ministry

August 8, 2011

Shelly Dieterle, Minister of Campus Life, recently returned to work at the church from maternity leave after giving birth to twins. She is shown below with Mirabelle, Ethan and Sebastian.

It was exactly one year ago that I received astonishing news of two lives growing within me—news that dramatically changed my life and vision for 2010-11 and beyond, personally and professionally. The immediate plans for campus life were impacted by my impending absence in the Spring Semester. My vision for family life was swept away and spewed back in new form. In short, this last year was full of change, blessing, and new ways of doing things.

Shelly Dieterle with Mirabelle, Ethan and SebastianIn January and February I ministered from my home, and frequently from a hospital bed, as I withstood early labor.  In March, I counted the hours until those two little ones gave out their first yelp.  And for the past four and a half months, I have surrendered to the cycles of new life, new life that knows no daily rhythm, no difference between night and day, no moment but the present, no need except for food, sleep, a clean diaper and love.  I have also readily accepted every helping hand, meal, hug, story and inspirational word…many from the First Church community. There has been little time for thank yous, for catching up, or for giving back. And now, my soul longs to engage with the community that has buoyed me with support throughout this journey. My expectant spirit awaits the curious engagement of students’ hearts, minds and lives.

Still, the demands of motherhood will shift the way I minister – exact impact unknown in this moment. I will be more bound by the needs and demands of family life. And yet I believe my spirit will be more present, fresh, and creative (and more efficient) by what my children teach me each day. I am more aware of the intricate balancing act, not only families work out each day, but students as well, who seem to manage more demands than any mother does!