Learning to be a Selfless mama and basking in the reward (Desperate--Chapter 7)


Everyone home for Thanksgiving and celebrating life together with Christmas around the corner.

Desperate, Chapter 7, Sacrifice in the mundane--on selfishness!

"Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15: 13

"You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you."

John 13: 13-15

Everyone was expected home any time. Seven of us at every meal plus the 4-10 others of the kids' friends who would just drop in and want something "wondy" to eat, after all, they said, "This is our holiday--our time off!"

Funny how mamas don't get time off on holidays! But, putting one foot in front of the other, willing my tired self,  was familiar and a habit that had served me well. (I had company over the weekend, a dinner for 10 women, and written to a deadline until midnight the night before everyone was due home--not to mention all the cooking and baking.)  The joy set before me--my beloveds, my dearest friends, my children, were all here to celebrate in the love we had created over the years--and this gave me the impetus to keep going a little longer, but with a light  and expectant heart.

Finally the hustle and bustle of everyone arriving home. Eating, movie, desert, dishes, messes, staying up late and talking, followed by the Thanksgiving meal, 17 in the house, cooking and cleaning up again, and finally I fell into bed almost asleep before I hit the pillow at midnight, after having cleaned up the messes again.

Two hours later, I felt a tapping, tapping, tapping on my arm. "Mama, wake up. Please wake up."

I was so deeply asleep, I had trouble figuring out where I was! I opened my thick eyelids, still groggy, and there was Joy's sweet face, eyebrows furrowed and looking intently.

"Mama, would you please get up with me. I hate to wake you up but I need you."

My mind told my body to get out of bed, that this is what I was supposed to do.

By the time I got followed her to her bedroom, I was finally waking up.

"I threw up because I can't breathe very well. I think I just have asthma from a respiratory infection, and if I was at school, I would have just sweat it out, but since I am home, I wanted my "mama" to be with me and comfort me."

And so, for the next two hours, I pampered her as best as possible. Bubbly drink, with straw, puffed up pillows, soft blanket on the couch, soft music, fire in the fireplace, asthma treatment, and endless times of rubbing her head, stroking her brow as when she was a little child.

"Mama, I wasn't so sick that I couldn't have handled it, but I have missed you so much and I just wanted you. Do you mind?


I realized when I was away at college that I always had an expectation that if I needed you in any way, you would always come. And I didn't just need you to take care of me tonight, I wanted to talk to you and just be with you to tell you everything that has been on my hear the last few months. Thanks for letting me know deep inside that I could ask you and know you would comfort me and that you would be willing to be with me--even in the middle of the night. I love you, mama!"

And finally, as the sun was peaking through our windows in soft pinks and purples, her breathing eased, her voice stopped the chatter of a heart shared, and my sweet one, now a young adult, once again fell asleep on my lap, and this time, I relished every minute.


One of my biggest adjustments to motherhood was the constant giving, giving, giving. I had been the only girl in my family, and the youngest and truly had never been trained or prepared to be a mama. I did not even know I was selfish because I had lived my life pretty selfishly all of my life and had never really been accountable to anyone. But then when I had my children and they were always always always there, I did not have anything in me that knew how to handle the burdens.

When they were very young, I sort of blamed them and became frustrated with them and sometimes felt deep anger--as though it was somehow their faults for being children and needing me. Or even just that they were alive and needy seemed too much. I had never faced my own selfishness until I had children.

Now as an adult, I can see that my children have been my training grounds for building godly character in my own life. Jesus wanted me to learn to be like Him so He gave me children.

When I was so very helpless and overwhelmed and wanted answers, I turned to Him and to the Bible. How did He influence His disciples? How did he lead them in such a way that they all gave their lives to His cause?

Oh, how I wish the answer had been an easier one--Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.

And then, He, the God of the universe, knelt down on the dirty floor and washed 120 dirty toes of men feet, the night He was going to sacrifice His life for these very same men!

Oh, Jesus, I never knew this is what it would take to be a true Christian--a believer with integrity. But, if giving up your life is what you did--as you said, for an example for me to follow, then it must become my own standard-the way to reach my own children--to lay down my life....

My time

My body

My energy

My emotions

My things

My dreams

Myself--greater love has no one than this

But, as I look back now, many years and many mistakes later,

Yet many moments of practicing what I knew was right

no sleep, washing one more dish, making one more meal, laughing at jokes, correcting attitudes, hugging, giving words of life, playing, and doing it all over again,

I now have my very own disciples who have given up their lives for His cause.

But now, they are my dearest and best friends and favorite people.

Selflessness, not a popular or contemporary value--Yet, it is what He is like. He only requires from us what He has first given--all of ourselves.

Fellowship with Him through this journey of motherhood, the deep places where our lives finally begin to understand what it took Him to redeem our own lives--the giving up, totally offering up His rights and time for ourselves, His very own children.


"When I finished reading this book, I immediately told Aileen that she would find it rich and encouraging. I want her to read it, because I know it will bless her...I very much enjoyed reading Desperate and am convinced that it will bless and encourage any mother who reads it." -From a review by Tim Challies, Challies.com

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 Past Book Study Posts:

Tantrums in Barnes & Noble, The Motherhood Nod, and Being Rocked (Desperate Book Club – Introduction)

Desperate Online Book study, Chapter 1: Ideals and Going Under

Chapter 2: Not a Loner!

Chapter 3: Will We Live By Formula or Faith?

Chapter 4: Light a Candle, Don’t Curse the Darkness (Battling Depression)

Chapter 5: We See the Holes but God Sees the Holy

Chapter 6: Oxen, "Five-sies", and a Foundation of Love