Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Beautiful Soul - Cara Key

In case you haven't noticed...all my posts this week are paying tribute to Mother's Day and feature a different mom each day. I'm loving hearing each of their perspectives and journeys. Today is no different. I have gotten to know Cara over the past few years and she is amazing. She has faced some real hardships in this area of motherhood and has come through as one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met. I'm so thankful she is just as addicted to Facebook as I am...

1. How do you define motherhood?

To me, motherhood is taking a nurturing, discipleship role in someone's life, however that comes about and at whatever age. So far for me, it's come with biological children.

2. What does motherhood look like for you?
I have 5 kids here on earth with me, one with Jesus, and one due at the end of September ( so, I guess I have 6 here with me, already, since that one's definitely with me all the time ;-) . This school year, we're in the States, but for the past 12 years, we've lived in the Middle East, and we're returning there at the end of June. When we're overseas, my daily life consists of homeschooling, training/discipling kiddos, visiting local friends, hanging with ex-pat friends, and getting time with my husband ( hopefully not in that order).

3. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a mother?

I think the loss of our second son at 7 weeks old was an obvious blow. We were living overseas at the time, returned to the US for a service and burial, and I had emergency gall bladder surgery the night after the burial. That, combined with hurrying to return overseas and trying to visit friends and family while we were in the US, effectively cut off our grieving process. Not a good thing. Around two years later, we realized we were in a very bad place emotionally and finally got some counseling and healing. One of my big soap boxes now is taking time to grieve. We still deal with the consequences of those two, numb years.

Also, two of our kids are on the autism spectrum. Our 5 1/2 year old was primarily non-verbal until about 18 months ago, so he requires some extra attention. We have worked hard to hear the Lord as to how to meet his needs, whether overseas or taking time in the US and are seeing miracles with how the Lord has laid things out.

4. What has motherhood taught you?

Probably the biggest lesson has been how imperfect and sinful I am. I had a pretty good facade going before I had kids (just not with anyone who had to live with me; I'm still working on housekeeping). Now, the kids are around 24/7, and I've had to face a lot of my shortcomings. They see everything, and I want to be so much better to be a good example for them. Striving hasn't worked out so well for me, so I'm looking into some more options.

Seriously, I've never needed my time with Jesus more than since I've had kids, especially as they get older. Wisdom, Lord!

Motherhood's also taught me how many different right ways there are to do things, particularly parenting. People truly seek the Lord and get totally opposite answers as to how to raise their kids. And that's okay. Really. As long as we all seek the Lord in the first place.

5. What advice do you have for other moms?

It sounds simple, but the most basic piece of advice I have is, "Don't say no, if you don't mean it." I would say that's somewhere around 50% of parenting. Because, if your child knows you mean it when you say no, that's a huge step to imparting more important lessons to them.

Seek the Lord as to what your child needs. And pray for them daily.

When you read parenting books, seek the Lord as to what applies to your family and chunk the rest. No matter what they say, they are not the whole and complete answer for every family.

Call it when you see it: "Honey, you are trying to manipulate Mommy. That's not the way we get what we want. We honor people. Instead, you can say..." It may sound silly, but it lays the foundation for good relational patterns and builds their vocabulary and understanding of what is appropriate and what is not.

See??? I told you she was a beautiful soul. I got some great take aways and I hope you did too. Thanks for reading! Tomorrow is a day for the boys...raising boys that is...


  1. A wonderful, wise woman. I'm so glad she's in your life, Elizabeth.

  2. Two follow-ups that I realized I didn't clarify (hey, I'm an editor by nature):
    - I didn't directly say how the delayed grieving affected our parenting. Let's just say that numb people don't make for good nurturers, and we did a lot of parenting based on principle, not what the kids needed.
    - The advice to not say no unless you mean it applies hugely to the early years of parenting. As they approach their pre-teen years, if you've held firmer so far, there's much more room for discussion and compromise. With respect. From both parties.

    There. I feel better.

  3. Cara, we told our kids "We'll say yes as often as we can, but if we say no it's because there's a good reason and you need to respect it." We saved the big guns for the big issues.

    Also, we told them we wouldn't necessarily treat them equally but we'd treat them fairly. For instance, if Ethan and Elizabeth were fighting I might send them to their rooms for an hour. For Ethan, our outside child, it was a very long hour. For Elizabeth, who lived half the time in her imagination, it was fine. She just pretended she was...(fill in the blank). Equal. But not fair.

  4. Such wisdom, transparency, and practical advice on mothering/parenting. God bless you all!

  5. So blessed that God has seen fit to put Cara in my life for many years and in many different ways...all of which resulted in me LEARNING FROM HER. She is a beautiful gift God saw fit to give to the world.

  6. Great post, Liz, and I ditto everything about Cara!

  7. Thanks for the post. Definitely found that being careful when you say no and saying it as it is (the manipulation example made me laugh) makes for better relationship. Doesn't mean we won't have stressful times but the foundation is better.

  8. Cara loved seeing your parenting up close and person while you were here. I love how each Mom has their own flavoring, I see your family as very tasty soup!