The ministry of a broken heart, part one

By Kristie Stoddard

Yesterday, my husband sent me a text photo of our 17-month-old baby sitting on a large honey pot. It made me laugh out loud. As I wade through the mentally taxing days of the homeschool convention/training that I’m attending without my family, I keep opening up that picture to refresh myself. And to “refresh” those around me.

Even though I feel a little silly, I can’t help but turn to anyone standing near me and saying, “Do you want to see a picture of my sweet baby?” Of course, everyone humors me. Who wouldn’t? I mean, would you ever consider saying “no” to a slightly homesick momma who keeps whipping out pictures of her kids and with a slightly crazed edge to her voice, requesting your admiration? Of course not!

The thing is, my sweet baby isn’t even mine. She belongs to the state. Tears prick at the back of my eyes just writing that sentence. It’s very hard to think about her not being mine, I feel like she’s mine. But I have to hold her in an open hand. I can’t cling too tight because at any moment, she might have to leave us and go back to the terrible situation she was rescued out of.

Kind of like how we’re supposed to hold onto our children, or not hold onto them. They don’t belong to us. We have to learn to hold them in an open hand because at any moment, they might be called away. Called away to college, called away to ministry, called away for a job. God has a plan for them, just like He does for us, and we must learn to let Him be Lord of their lives.

I know this is hard. Letting go is never easy. We want to be in control, but that’s just an illusion. God is in control, whether we acknowledge it or not. Accepting this Truth, embracing it, resting in it, is the only way to true peace as a mom.

Kristie Soddard is from a missionary and military family. She has learned well the art of organizing and multi-tasking through her years of homeschooling four children, fostering several, directing two home-educators programs, and being the helpmeet of her church-planting-pastor husband, Adam.

Image: Sura Nualpradid /

She was staring at us

By Carrie Ward


Not too long ago my family and I stumbled into the grocery store for another adventure in shopping for food. I sent our oldest son to retrieve a “buggy” while the rest of us stood there getting our bearings. I looked up to see a young woman holding onto a cart with a baby in a car seat perched on the front and a toddler riding in the basket.

She was staring at us.

I wouldn’t have minded her staring but it became kind of awkward because she wouldn’t stop staring. Before long we were staring back. For a few seconds we were all just standing there looking at each other.

She finally snapped out of it and said, “Oh, I’m sorry I was staring.”

Now just for the record, we’ve been stared at before. Wes and I toting our four stair-stepped children have received many a look, especially when our kids were younger. These looks are not always the enthusiastic, admiring kinds of looks. (Maybe I’ll get into that on another blog.)

This young woman, however, was beaming. She had this big smile on and she kept glancing from Wes to me to each of our kids and back again. “I have four very small children,” she explained, “and when I looked at you I saw what life will be like in the future.” And from the look on her face she liked what she saw.

When we parted company, I noticed her husband pull up beside her in one of those carts that has a place for two kids to sit and “drive.” It was like a flashback.

When your kids are infant, toddler and preschool-sized, it can be easy to think, “This is never going to end.” These years are physically intense, there’s no doubt. There seems to always be a little person with a need, looking to you to meet it.

I can remember being reluctant to go anywhere by myself because I was afraid I’d lose somebody. My understanding husband did a lot of grocery shopping for me because I knew there was no way I could keep an eye on everyone by myself and come home with what was on the list (and them!).

I tried attending a Bible study once while pregnant with our fourth child. I had a big belly, one kid in a stroller and two very small people holding onto me as we crossed a street from the parking lot to get into the church. Not only did I have to bring my purse, a diaper bag and the Bible study material, but I had to pack a lunch for each kid. After about three attempts at this juggling act, I gave up. It was too hard.

Yesterday afternoon, standing in my kitchen, I looked up, and thankfully, I paused and observed. My oldest daughter was baking a cake. My son, who’s now taller than me, was passing through the kitchen to get a drink. My younger two were in the living room playing a game. I watched them all and my heart was full.

Now to be sure, our house is not always serene. We have our share of sin to deal with in ourselves and each other. But standing there in the kitchen, God gave me a moment to recognize what a blessing I’ve been given in each of my kids. I watched how they move around the house and the looks on their faces. I listened to their very adult-like conversations.

I love these people. And it hit me that they’re growing up more quickly than I would have ever thought possible. I kinda wanted to go squeeze them all and tell them to stop growing for a little while.

When you’re in the baby years, sometimes it’s hard to envision what the future will be like. This young woman in the grocery store saw my four children walking on their own, one kid even fetching a cart for us, and it gave her hope. And I was thankful that on that day we gave her a good example to witness.

If your head is spinning because you’re sleep deprived, or you wishing you could put the activity on pause just long enough to retreat and take a shower, take a deep breath and remember the physical sacrifices you are making today are for the benefit of some very special people. Hang in there. Ask God for His supernatural strength.

Then go wade through the Cheerios, hug your kids, and whisper a thank you to God for this wonderful crazy moment in your life.

Carrie Ward has been married for nearly twenty years to Wes Ward, Sr. Director of Media at Revive Our Hearts. She’s a stay-at-home mom to their four children, and the author of Together: Growing Appetites for God (April 2012). Check out her fun stuff for everyday moms at

Image: Ambro /

The Proverbs Project

By Carrie Ward

From (02.17.12)

A few years ago a friend of mine, (who shall not remain nameless) Nancy Leigh DeMoss, made a passing suggestion that I couldn’t seem to forget. I even remember where we were when she lobbed out this idea. Continue reading

Teaching the resurrection to tiny hearts and minds

By Erin Davis

From (04.20.11)

(Moms, Beyond Bath Time releases April 1! Keep reading in March and April to find out how you can win BBT prizes.)

Several weeks ago my three-year-old, Eli, came home from church brokenhearted. After several moments of crying we finally pried out what was troubling him. “I want . . .” sob, sob, “Jesus to give me,” sob, sob, “my heart back” he wailed.

It seems that someone at church had asked Eli about giving his heart to Jesus. Our very literal three-year-old was crushed by the thought that Jesus had taken his heart. He didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do with his heart, and he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to function without it. Continue reading

Motherly instinct

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By Jessica Oliver

When turbulent twisters turned parts of Indiana upside down earlier this month, one story of a mother’s plight to protect her young children stood out among many stories of survival. Continue reading

A momma after God’s own heart

By Erin Davis

From (05.07.10)

I distinctly remember listening to Author Janet Parshall speak at the first True Woman Conference. My firstborn, Eli, was barely eight months old and I left him home with his daddy for the very first time in order to attend. Maybe that’s why Janet’s message, rooted in the story of Hannah hit me so hard. Continue reading

From the book: Go build your wall

By Erin Davis

(From the upcoming book, Beyond Bath Time. Look for it April 1! Mom bloggers, is looking for you! Want to review BBT? E-mail Jessica Oliver, web content manager, at

Proverbs 31 is typically our go-to chapter for finding the profile of the righteous woman and mother, but as I turn a few chapters past Proverbs into the book of Nehemiah, I find a story with the power to re-define motherhood. Continue reading


By Jill McDaniel

Get ready for my most cliche of goal for 2012: Yes, I want to lose weight. I want to
transform my lumps into sleek limbs that don’t shy from sundresses and tank tops. I’ve consulted the fitness experts via magazine, and they say many repetitions of lighter weights will create the smooth muscles I’m wanting. Continue reading

Has life stolen your dance?

By Erin Davis

From (04.29.10)

It’s hard to imagine it now but I once weighed little more than five pounds and fit snuggly into the arms of my mom and dad. I don’t remember those baby days, but I do know that soon after that first birthday, I started to dance. Continue reading

Calling all mom bloggers!

Blogger moms, are you interested in reviewing Author Erin Davis’ upcoming book, Beyond Bath Time, for your website? Advance copies will be available soon, and wants to send you a copy. The book releases in April 2012.

Beyond Bath Time is a book created to help moms like you re-think your role. It’s a community of moms connected through this website and committed to re-claiming motherhood as a sacred role. It’s a call to mothers everywhere to live out their God-given design as life-givers with God’s glory in mind.

Please send an e-mail to Jessica Oliver, web content manager, at if you are interested!