I am so proud of my friend Andrea. I met her through blog land a few years ago and I think she is a fantastic mother and wife to her husband. She moves around a lot (her husband is in the Army), and she always stays so focused and positive in life’s changes and challenges around her, plus she’s an incredible mother to 3 beautiful children. (Check out Sgt and Mrs Hub, here.)

I encouraged her awhile back, so she wrote me a very sweet note:

Thanks so much for loving on me! Seriously. My parents are missionaries and have been in China for the last three months – and I tell you, God has been so faithful to me… He has provided these little “mothering” touches at just the times I need them most. I haven’t been able to talk to my mom except for three times and I miss the love that comes from that relationship. So, your sweet, encouraging words were just what my heart needed to hear.

I immediately felt Andrea’s pain. And reading her email brought me back to 12 years ago TODAY, when my youngest child was born.

Twelve years ago (photo of me and kids taken the first night home), the night I brought Abby home from the hospital (Elliot was 4, Garrett 2), I cried my eyes out because my mom, who was had previously come home with me after every birth, couldn’t be there. She was too sick with cancer.

Miss Abigail had her nights and days mixed up and I was exhausted. I wanted my mom in such a bad way. When my boys were born, she would stay up with the babies at night so I could sleep, and then wake me up when it was time to feed the baby. She’d cook for our family and even clean under my kitchen sink! So this was my first time to ever “need” her in such a way that it made me break down and cry.

Twelve years later I have gotten over the pain. But I still feel a twinge when I read an email like Andrea’s.

I know the value of a mother, the role she plays in a daughter’s life. And when I’m tempted to pick up the phone to call my mom, I’m reminded of all the wonderful women who in the past twelve years have stepped up to the plate, offering me insight and motherly advice.

I am thankful for the years I had with my Mom. And I’m thankful for the older friends in my life who season my life with wisdom and grace.

I’m thankful for the relationship I have with my daughter. A relationship that I pray will continue to be strong and healthy through her mothering years.

Yes, anyone who knows what it’s like to lose a mother knows that the “missing” aspect will never end.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to my sweet Abigail Ellen Rose. Twelve years ago today, our family’s life was changed forever, as you’ve brought such joy and beauty and laughter to it.

How about you – Can you stretch yourself to find a young mother that you could encourage?

It’s a gift without a price tag, for sure!