Mothers Who Do Everything


I am sending a shout out to those who have been formed in Spirit by mothering, and faithfully pass it on by the way they practice mothering! There may be no more active and steadfast facilitators of resurrection and new life than those who accept the calling of mothering and inhabit it, not only for the sake of those in need of care, but find in the vocation itself, the place where the Holy meets them, loves them, shapes them and empowers them.

I am graced in being a Patheos blogger to be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who are mothers of children of all ages. I am gifted to be a grandmother to children whose mothers are exemplary, talented and fun. I am often in awe of all that these women (and the men who also “mother”) have asked themselves to do in being intentional and competent caregivers and life-sustainers. I am stunned by all the issues with which they need to wrestle, things that were not even on the table for discussion when I first came into motherhood–styles of parenting, medical strategies, dietary cautions, boundaries for social networking, attitudes toward other faiths, races and religions. The mothers I see and hear most often have deep integrity, honesty and tenacity is finding their way for themselves and their offspring.

It was being thrust into full-time motherhood that was the most intense crucible of my adulthood that began the deep formation of my life with God that allowed me to live into that vocation and then the simultaneous vocations that followed–Presbyterian minister and seminary professor and spiritual director. Among the forceful company of faithful that led me into a compelling intentional faith as a woman who followed Jesus was the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, who in their first national gathering offered me a chance to reflect on the issue of “Being a Mother and a Person.” I had never as a Christian been given that opportunity to imagine that the love that Jesus offers was for me, just the way I was, a woman, a mother, struggling to be “all I was meant to be.”  That pondering, praying and conversing changed the way I understood my life–both my trust of the God in whose image I was made, and the width of the open door of opportunity available to me for service to the world that God loves.

With an awakened spirit to the call of God on my life, I remained a stay at home mother until my youngest child went to school, participated in parent councils, drove to field trips, made lunches, kept up with doctors’ appointments, planned trips to the museums and beaches. All of this was fallow ground for the things that would then ensue. Its was in this time that a call emerged in me to go to seminary to prepare for ordination. It was affirmed by a wildly enthusiastic husband, a cheering church body, and a welcoming seminary. However, my first vocations–those of wife and mother–which I understood also to be calls, continued on. While I was studying for a final in Old Testament Prophets, I was also planning Halloween costumes for my kindergartner. Having dropped off the carpool before my first class, I sped across town after my last class to pick it up again. While my younger classmates raced through their three years by taking summer classes, I ferried kids to VBS, summer camp and went on family vacations. Mothering was part of the call.

As I have served  in ordained  ministry, I have found that some of the charisms and skills that had made it possible for me to be a good enough mother were the same ones that made it possible for me to be a good enough pastor: listening deeply and well, speaking clearly and truthfully, setting boundaries for the life we shared together, forgiving again and again, opening my heart over and over to the ones I was given to love. Using those gifts, practicing those ways of Spirit, compelled me to continue to ground myself in God,  over and over. The Psalmist speaks to me, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” (Ps. 131:2) It is from that quiet place with the Holy One that I continue ministering and serving, not being everything to everyone, but being all God calls me to be in the present moment. For my sisters (and brothers) called to this ministry, I salute you and pray God’s energy, imagination, and love fill you on this Mother’s Day!

Notes from the Mainline: A Reflection on the Mainliner’s Guide to the Post-Denominal World
Advent Blue 3: Longing for Joy
Invitations on the Journey: Gratitude
Graceful Virtues: A Reflection on the Grace of Yes by Lisa M. Hendey
About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Karen Berns

    Thanks, dear E. It was a joy and privilege to be there and do that with you! Joyous Mothers’ Day!

  • Erin

    Once again, a beautifully crafted homage to the “mother” in all of us…if we will only embrace all sides of ourselves. Your children and grandchildren are fortunate indeed.


  • Esther Smith

    What a wonderful description of such a unique journey! Thank you!

  • Donna Lee Merz

    Thank you for this. It is so very true–our callings as mothers equip us for the other callings that God places in our lives.

  • Anne Eggebroten

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your wise words on motherhood (“intense crucicle” indeed) and the shout out to EEWC and for alerting me to your blog on Pantheos. I didn’t know about the website.. will try to follow it.

  • Anne Eggebroten

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your wise words on motherhood (“intense crucible” indeed) and the shout out to EEWC and for alerting me to your blog on Pantheos. I didn’t know about the website.. will try to follow it.

  • Mayme

    What St. Issa said about women.

    8. Upon this, an old woman who had approached the group, to better hear Issa, was pushed aside by one of the disguised men, who placed himself before her.

    9. Then said Issa: “It is not good for a son to push away his mother, that he may occupy the place which belongs to her. Whoso doth not respect his mother–the most sacred being after his God–is unworthy of the name of son.

    10. “Hearken to what I say to you: Respect woman; for in her we see the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation is to come through her.

    12. “She is the fount of everything good and beautiful, as she is also the germ of life and death. Upon her man depends in all his existence, for she is his moral and natural support in his labors.

    12. “In pain and suffering she brings you forth; in the sweat of her brow she watches over your growth, and until her death you cause her greatest anxieties. Bless her and adore her, for she is your only friend and support on earth.

    13. “Respect her; defend her. In so doing you will gain for yourself her love; you will find favor before God, and for her sake many sins will be remitted to you.

    14. “Love your wives and respect them, for they will be the mothers of to-morrow and later the grandmothers of a whole nation.

    “Be submissive to the wife; her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the wild beast in him and changes it to a lamb.

    16. “Wife and mother are the priceless treasures which God has given to you. They are the most beautiful ornaments of the universe, and from them will be born all who will inhabit the world.

    17. “Even as the Lord of Hosts separated the light from the darkness, and the dry land from the waters, so does woman possess the divine gift of calling forth out of man’s evil nature all the good that is in him.

    18. “Therefore I say unto you, after God, to woman must belong your best thoughts, for she is the divine temple where you will most easily obtain perfect happiness.

    19. “Draw from this temple your moral force. There you will forget your sorrows, and your failures, and recover the love necessary to aid your fellow-men.

    20. “Suffer her not to be humiliated, for by humiliating her you humiliate yourselves, and lose the sentiment of love, without which nothing can exist here on earth.

    21. “Protect your wife, that she may protect you–you and all your household. All that you do for your mothers, your wives, for a widow, or for any other woman in distress, you will do for your God.”