Raising children is not an easy task! There are many articles, friends, mom tips, and overwhelming support from mom groups that make our jobs a lot easier. From the first day I found out I was going to be a mom back in 2010, I knew that I had support. Whatever question or concern I had, all I had to do was ask my mom or google and there it was: an instant answer! But in early 2020 this reality changed for me and many parents across the world. A devastating pandemic reared its ugly head and completely shut the world down without warning.
In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, my husband and I received news that we would be expecting our third child. I remember the excitement we felt at first!We would have the opportunity to love, mold, and nurture another gift from God. Shortly thereafter, an overwhelming sense of panic and worry crept over me. I was frightened. I had no idea what to do. I do not believe anyone knew what to do as they faced the reality of a pandemic. I could not turn to my mother, articles, or blogs for advice on how to proceed or respond and receive the same knowledge or wisdom as I had before.
At the same time my children as well as many others across the world were being sent home from school and away from their friends and community. They were told to socially distance when we had no clue how to define what that meant. During this abrupt transition parents were being held to an even higher level of expectation. We had to continue on with our lives and keep it together as if the world was not in turmoil right before our eyes. I often asked myself how could I protect my children from something I knew nothing about? How could I protect them when thousands of people were losing their lives on a daily basis? Reports were circulating about pregnant women who were infected with a mysterious virus who were being denied their birthing rights. Some even had to experience giving birth alone. Reality hit home for us when I was instructed to attend my first prenatal exam alone and was told that would be the norm for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Like many others I could have given up, but I knew the first step in figuring out how to proceed within the unknown was to pray and be encouraged by the Word of God. My husband and I had to learn to lean on the Lord in a different way to lead and guide us in raising our family as well as being aware of our own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs throughout the pandemic.
Proverbs 3:5-6 to tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
This scripture took on a new meaning for my family. As a wife and mother, I had to be intentional with every decision I made moving forward even when the circumstances presented to me did not make sense. I learned to trust that God has our steps ordered and regardless of what was happening in the natural, God has and will always provide all of our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. I had to learn to ask for wisdom in a different way every morning before I started my day. I learned how to increase my ability to listen to my children and be ok with not having all the answers.I learned more than ever to just be present with them.
There are many accounts in the Bible of those who were faced with numerous challenges and the unknown. What kept many of the people in scripture anchored was God’s faithfulness and their ability to trust Him even in the unknown. Many mothers like Sarah, Rachel, Mary and Elizabeth did as they were instructed, although they had no idea what lay ahead on the journey before them. They did not have books, articles, or even written history to reflect back on to determine what they could and could not do. All they had was God’s faithfulness and promises that He had given to them. They all had the choice to accept or reject the promises the Lord had for them, but they did not. They could not foresee what the future held for them and their families, but they trusted that the Lord’s will would be done through their obedience. These examples from scripture encouraged me in to trust God throughout this pandemic. Because of God’s faithfulness, I have truly seen the Lord’s hand on my family members’ lives. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, our two older children are thriving in school, I am able to be present and responsive for my husband, and our home has been filled with the pure joy only the Lord could give.
To all the mothers, I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!You are strong, resilient, appreciated and loved. I want to encourage you all to not lose hope. Keep praying, seeking, and trusting God even in the unknown. He has proven himself faithful and will continue to be faithful for generations to come!
When I was a child growing up and playing house with my dolls, I always dreamed of the day when I would one day be a mother. I had it all planned out. I would get married, and have two children; a boy would be the oldest and the girl would be the youngest. I would live happily ever after. As fate would have it, that day never came. Well, not in the way I had expected it to happen. I am not a biological mother, but I have mothered so many children throughout my life. My life has not played out the way I planned it, but it has worked out exactly as God has planned it.
I am happy that God has placed some awesome women in my life who exemplify a true gift from God. Some have played major roles in my life throughout my upbringing and adulthood and others are great friends who I have had the pleasure of witnessing in their motherhood role. I wanted to be a mother like my mother was to me. My mother was a gift from God – and so are many mothers.
Think about it. Mothers carried you for nine long months, lost their figure, and some were sick during their entire pregnancy. Not to mention, with children come sleepless nights, temper tantrums, potty training, teething, measles, mumps, chicken pox and everything else. Mothers mostly were the taxi cab drivers to school, numerous athletic practices, and games. They are our biggest cheerleaders with and experts in home economics, counseling, doctoring, teaching, and whatever else is needed. Your mother made sure you were college prepared and, if college wasn’t your thing, then she supported you as you followed your dreams. Mothers are small business owners and can fix most things. Mothers are intelligent, loving, compassionate, patient, and supportive. Mothers have so much wisdom.
Unfortunately, some people have not had the experience of knowing and loving the previously described mothers above. That is so unfortunate. I won’t bash anyone who has not had the love of a mother. However, I pray that at some point in your life you are able to experience the love of a mother figure. Everyone that births a child is not always the best mother figure. But then there are those like me, who have never birthed a child but love children and love being around them. I hope that at some point in my life, I have been able to share my love with someone who hasn’t had the best experience with a mother.
God has made us share the love of a mother with unloved children. No child should ever feel as if they have not had the love of a mother in their life. There are so many places that childless women can go and be a mother figure to young children. Help them to have the kind of love that your mother gave you. We want them to know that Mothers are a gift from God, whether it is their biological mother or someone who just has a lot of love to give. “A child doesn’t have to be biologically yours for you to love them like your own.”
Always know, God can and will be your mother. He has been for me since my mother passed. He comforts me. He is patient with me. He is all knowing. He is compassionate. God is love.
My mother has been gone for 19 years, and I still grieve her especially during the holidays. But God has been with me through it all. Throughout scripture, you can see where God can and is seen as a mother figure.
Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV) “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.”
Hosea 11:3-4(NIV) “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”
Luke 13:34(NIV) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Psalm 91:4 (NIV) “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Isaiah 42:14(NIV) “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.”
Isaiah 49:15(NIV) “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Let God comfort you and protect you. He will be the mother you never had or the mother that is no longer with you. God can be whatever you need God to be.
Pray About It: God, you are so awesome in all that you do. Thank you for the wonderful gift of mothers. We are grateful for your love, comfort, and protection for the motherless. God, you are a gift that fulfills needs for the motherless. Thank you for nurturing us and holding us close through all circumstances. Thank you, God. Amen.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
About the Author
TONIA WILLIAMS: Tonia lives in North Augusta, SC where she grew up. She received her BA degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina (USC), Columbia, SC and her MBA degree from Brenau College in Gainesville, GA. She is actively involved with her church, Old Macedonia Baptist Church, where she sings on the choir, is Director of Vacation Bible School, and teaches the Women’s Sunday School class
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is one of best selling children’s book series of the past few decades. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura and his daughter Zyan sat down with the author Jeff Kinney to get his perspective on great ways to engage our children, how faith plays a role in his writing, and what’s next for Diary of A Wimpy Kid.
Cece Winans is one of the most celebrated Gospel music artists of all time. She has won fifteen Grammys in addition to Dove Awards, Stellar Awards, and many others. As she surpasses the achievements of some of the great artists and exemplars of the faith she looks up to such as Andre Crouch and continues to push her contemporaries and fellow Detroit natives the Clark Sisters, you would think her most important legacy would be music. However for CeCe Winans, the greatest legacy any believer can have is passing on their faith to the next generation. CeCe Winans explores her journey of lifelong faith and her pursuit pass it on to the next generation in her new book Believe For It.
CeCe Winans had an upbringing that most people could not imagine. She was raised in a home with ten siblings who formed multiple musical groups with faith in Jesus Christ at the center of their lives. She was raised in the Church of God in Christ, and like many of her contemporaries brought up in a strict but loving Christian home. She highlights that it was a very intentional decision by her parents to create a home filled with love and faith after neither of them had grown up that way. CeCe contends that it is the intentionality alongside the handwork of raising children to be strong believers that can make a difference for young believers today.
In her book she does not simply tell stories of singing and success. She provides practical principles that she is applying in her own home and church today to ensure her faith in Christ is passed down. Each chapter is broken into easily digestible principles and interlaced with testimonies and stories from Winans’ life. True to her Sunday School roots she ties everything back to scripture as she talks about the importance of starting with faith in the home that translates into the world.
What is fascinating about CeCe Winans sharing this testimony now is that she is the co-pastor of Nashville Life Church that her and her husband started in her living room that is filled with young adults. Churches across the country are struggling today with how to pass on faith to the next generation, how to do multigenerational ministry, and how to preserve the traditions that have preserved us for generations while remaining relevant. And through this book CeCe Winans gives simple and practical keys on how her and her family are doing it. She regularly engages in these topics on her YouTube show Generations, but through the book we get the depth, structure, and narrative that helps us apply the lessons to our lives.
One of the most important keys is relationships. CeCe Winans was shaped by her relationships with her family, church family, and community as a child. Her relationship with Jesus was profoundly shaped by her relationships with other believers. As we embrace new technologies, strategies, and demographics we cannot forget the value of relationships in helping us grow and persevere in faith. I love this book of wisdom. Wisdom is gained from experience and discernment, and as I read it I was able to do both as I consider the impact I have on my own children’s faith. Her legacy for music is also a legacy of sharing faith in God. There are many more keys CeCe shares and her voice through this book is wisdom the Church needs today as we share our faith with the next generation. You can find the book everywhere books are sold this week and check out her latest award winning music video below!
As we emerge from the global lockdown of the pandemic many institutions, organizations, and individuals are having to rethink what it means to connect and communicate. The Church is faced more than ever with how to reach across generational lines to survive and thrive in the new world. Dr. Darrell Hall has been in ministry for decades and now has quantitative and qualitative research to help churches reach multigenerational communities. UrbanFaith sat down with Darrell Hall to discuss his new book Speaking Across Generations.
(RNS) — Sunday school and other Christian education programs have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with half of congregations surveyed saying their programs were disrupted.
A March 2022 survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found that larger churches with more than 100 people were more successful in maintaining their educational programming for children and youth, often using in-person or hybrid options. Smaller churches, especially those with 50 or fewer attendees, were least likely to say they continued religious education without disruption.
Scott Thumma, principal investigator of the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations project, said the findings echoed concerns about general education of schoolchildren, where researchers have seen declines in learning over the last two years.
“My sense is that people knew what good robust Sunday school was or what a successful vacation Bible school was,” said Thumma, drawing in part on open-ended comments in the survey. “And they couldn’t parallel that using Zoom or using livestreaming or using take-home boxes of activities. It just wasn’t the same thing. And so when they evaluated it, it just didn’t measure up to what they previously knew as the standard of a good quality religious education program.”
The findings are the third installment in the five-year project, a collaboration with 13 denominations from the Faith Communities Today cooperative partnership and institute staffers.
The new report, “Religious Education During the Pandemic: A Tale of Challenge and Creativity,” is based on responses from 615 congregations across 31 denominations.
Comparing data from 2019, churches surveyed in March 2022 reported that the attendance of their religious education programs had decreased an average of 30% among children younger than 13 and 40% among youth, ages 13-17.
“Analysis showed that those who closed their programs had the greatest decline in involvement even after they restarted,” the new report states. “Likewise, churches that moved religious education online lost a higher percentage of participants than churches who modified their efforts with safety protocols but continued meeting in person either outdoors or in small groups.”
The report notes that it’s not surprising the smallest churches experienced the most disruption in their religious education, given the decline in volunteer numbers and additional stresses on clergy during the pandemic.
“In the smallest churches (1-50 attendees) pastors were most likely in charge of the religious education programs, while for those between 51 and 100 worshippers, volunteers bore the bulk of leadership responsibilities,” according to the report.
Overall, evangelical churches reported experiencing the least disruption to their educational programs, while mainline churches reported the most, followed by Catholic and Orthodox congregations.
Vacation Bible school, long a staple of congregational outreach to local communities, has also been shaken by COVID-19. More than a third (36%) of churches offered such programs prior to the pandemic. That number decreased to 17% in 2020 and jumped back to 36% in the summer of 2021. Slightly less than a third (31%) reported VBS plans for 2022.
While children’s programming was greatly affected by congregational change during the pandemic, adult religious programs saw the smallest decreases compared with pre-pandemic levels, with a quarter growing since 2019 and an almost equal percentage (23%) remaining even.
But, as with children’s programs, churches with 50 or fewer worshippers saw the greatest loss in adult religious education, while those with more than 250 in worship attendance increased their adult programs by an average of 19%.
Some congregations reported moving Sunday school activities to weeknights or vacation Bible schools from weekday mornings to later hours, with mixed results.
“One said they ‘went from a typical 200+ kids to about 35,’” the report notes, and they “’shortened the number of days and moved VBS to the afternoon.’”
Thumma said innovations including intergenerational and kid-friendly programming helped sustain programs for people of all ages in some congregations. These included revamping of the children’s message time during worship to be more inclusive or older members greeting children who run by during Zoom sessions. Some churches called their all-ages activities “messy church” or “Sunday Funday” as they used interactive educational events.
“It becomes, out of necessity, intergenerational because that allows you to have robust energy and lots of people there,” he said. “But it really is directed at the kids being involved in the life of the congregation in a way that isn’t, like, ‘OK, you go to your class’ and ‘you go to your classes,’ and the classes don’t ever mingle.”
Whether creative steps such as new intergenerational activity will continue remains to be seen, Thumma added.
“I think it should because that’s a valuable strategy,” he said. “One of the things that we’ve seen in lots of our research is the more intergenerational the congregation is, the more it has a diversity of any degree, the more likely they are to be vital and thriving.”
The findings in the new report of the project, which is funded by the Lilly Endowment, have an estimated overall margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.