I think women see me on the cover of magazines and think I never have a pimple or bags under my eyes. You have to realize that that’s after two hours of hair and makeup, plus retouching. Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. ~ Cindy Crawford

"Mommy, what are those silvery lines on your hips?” Brooke was inquiring about the stretch marks that are plentiful on my body since birthing three of my five kids. She was studying them with an intense curiosity mixed with great concern as to what kind of horrible animal could have scratched and scarred me so greatly. As I informed her about the beauty of what the stretch marks represented to me, she couldn’t get past how unsightly they were to her.

Good thing those marks aren’t on your feet where everyone would be able to see them,” she quipped back. Again, I stressed the fact that the stretch marks were a beautiful reminder that my body was used in a sacrificial way to make her birth and the birth of her two sisters possible. It’s the mark of the ultimate servant who gives their life to make new life possible for others. Not that I actually died in the process, but the way my body looked before I had children, smooth and unblemished, died during the rigors of pregnancy. Impressed with my own answer, I replied back to her, “Now don’t you think they are beautiful?”

She wasn’t in tune with my spiritual correlations and clever metaphors. “Mom,” she started slowly, “you are beautiful, but those marks…not so beautiful.” Oh, the honesty of a six-year-old! Really, she’s right in one sense. The marks themselves are not so beautiful. They are jagged, uneven, and discolored signs that my skin was stretched almost beyond what it could bear. It was stretched so thin that it will never quite be the same.

I stood before the mirror and continued to examine the stark evidence of my past pregnancies. A strange sense of pride welled up in my heart as I realized these scars made me like Jesus in a way. I gave of my life to make new life possible. I carried this new person and took on their weight. I was stretched almost beyond what I could bear. My experience left me scarred and forever marked. But the product of these scars is a joy I could not have any other way.

It still moves me to tears to think about Jesus’ scars.  Amazing that the God of the universe would care so much for me that He would allow His Son to give up His life for me. While I have not  been called upon to physically die for my children, I have been called to die to the selfishness that characterized my life before kids. Life was about me back then. My schedule, my needs, my wants, my time, my money, my desires, my dreams, and my plans dictated how I spent my life. But that is not what God wanted for me. He wanted my life to be about Him and His plans for me.  So in march not one, not two, not three, not four, but five little beings to make sure I am reminded on a daily basis that acts of service to others is what the pathway to joy is paved with.  Little stones of service that, when carefully laid beside each other, lead to great places.

Braiding this one’s hair. Tying this one’s shoes. Fixing this one his favorite cookies. Changing this one’s diaper. Taking this one out for coffee. Cheering this one at her sport’s events.  Praying this one through a hard time. Washing this one’s clothes.  Dusting this one’s room. Cleaning up this one’s spilled drink.  Teaching this one to roller skate. Planning this one’s birthday party. Helping this one catch a frog. Putting a bandaid on this one’s scraped knee.

And that’s just one day in the life of a mom.

I am convinced there is no greater way to model for our kids the heart of God than to serve our families with a happy heart.  Not that we are to become our children’s slaves. That would teach them laziness and disrespect. But to model for them the joy that can be found in giving our lives in service to our Lord and others.  When we model this for our kids, we set the standard for what we expect from them. I expect my kids to have a good attitude when serving family members and others. I want for them what I have discovered—when you serve, you look at lot like Jesus.

We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the heart—love, kindness, joy, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness.

We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the minds—ideas, dreams, purposes, ideals, principles, plans, inventions, projects, poetry.