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By Nancy Vandre

“She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children who ate with eagerness. ‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
“‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
‘“No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’”
-Victor Hugo

I woke up in agony. I couldn’t walk without doubling over in pain. Just the day before I had taken a two hour walk without a second thought.  Now my leg screamed for relief and I couldn’t give it any.  I went to the doctor three times over the next week. Each time she told me it was “normal pinched nerves” and that the pain would go away after birth; I was 35 weeks pregnant.

Eating, sleeping, moving, breathing, living–everything caused a deep, throbbing, searing ache that would not go away; I honestly thought death would be preferable and could not believe that people would keep having children if this constituted “normal.”

My blessed husband found a wheelchair and forced me back to the doctor one more time, 12 days after the pain started. Thankfully a young nurse practitioner took me at my word and ordered an ultrasound of my leg. They found an 18 inch blood clot in my left thigh and rushed me to the Emergency Room. From a severe blood clot, to a collapsed lung, to a surprise blood issue found in my uterus after delivery, I spent the first 10 weeks of my son’s life in and out of the hospital–mostly in. Once home, I continued to have medical issues. For two years I suffered from debilitating back pain without an obvious cause–hundreds of hours of doctor visits, hospital stays, physical therapy and stretching finally brought me to a place where I could live my basic day-to-day life. My son thrived under the loving care of his father but my introduction to motherhood was far from what I expected. It was harrowing, scary, painful, discouraging and totally worth it.

Since then I have regained almost the full use of my back and have even started rock climbing. My son Truman has grown to be almost 6 years old (or rather 5 ¾ according to him) and climbs with me.

I’ve since had another son–Wesley, who is almost 3 and wishes he could climb with us. Before I had him, I wondered if  I could possibly love him as much as Truman, and then I experienced that amazing growth of love that occurs when another child arrives. Gazing at Wesley, I felt overwhelmed with all the love and hopes I had for this tiny person I just met. In that moment, I felt I understood in a small way how God must feel about me.

“No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.” -Jeffrey R Holland

Life with these two boys overflows with chaos, noise, frustration, potty words, and heart-bursting love. Each day as I make meals and snacks and wipe bums and clean messes and play pretend and zombie tag and break up fights and discipline and drop exhausted to the ground I remember that moment when Wesley was born and I take strength in the perfect and omniscient love offered from my creator, my Father in Heaven, my God Almighty.  I am His child and He loves me, perfectly, and that is something.

As I mother, I grow closer to my Savior and to my Father in Heaven because at times I catch a glimpse of how they must look at me.


Wesley is very particular about the milk-to-cereal ratio at breakfast. There have been many disagreements on whether or not there is enough milk in his bowl. One especially fraught morning he insisted that there was not enough milk in his already full bowl. He would NOT believe that if I put in more milk it would overflow. Nothing I said could convince him. So, I acquiesced and poured more milk in his bowl. Cereal and milk flowed out the sides of the bowl and the table was covered. Wesley was aghast and looked at me in horror as he burst into tears. I held him while he cried and then we started over with a new bowl, a discussion on what he had learned, and less milk. I thought about God and how He has given me His word that if I trust Him I will be filled with joy and be protected.

Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
-Psalm 91:14-15

He has warned me about the bowl overflowing but do I often keep pushing until he allows something to happen in order for me to learn a lesson? Just as I allow my children to make their own decisions with natural consequences, God will allow me to make choices, he will warn and help but he will never force me to do anything.


Truman came to me one day crying, he could hardly speak. With love and coaching he finally confessed that he had drawn on the wall with a crayon. I tried not to laugh as I pulled him in to hug and comfort him and thank him for telling me. Together, we cleaned the crayon the best we could and we talked about how he could always come and tell me anything and how nothing would ever change the way I felt about him.

As I held his small sobbing body I felt God’s love fill me to overflowing and I understood that God felt this way about me. He wants so badly for me to come to him, no matter what it is. He will never turn me away or cast me off. He will always love and comfort me and help me deal with the consequences, big or small. I know the day will come when my son will have something much more complicated and serious than crayon on the wall and I can only hope I can help him turn to God for succor and forgiveness.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, what whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


I had to do sleep training with my youngest and I hated the idea, but he was really struggling to sleep; ergo so was I, and it couldn’t continue. I picked a night and we began. He cried for what felt like an eternity. I could only imagine how alone and abandoned he felt–he didn’t know I was watching him on the monitor, praying for him and ready to run to him the moment something happened he couldn’t handle. If he was in any real danger I would have been there in an instant. He was never truly alone even though he didn’t know otherwise.

Again in this moment I thought of my loving Heavenly Father. He is always watching over me, even when I feel totally alone and forgotten, in fact especially in those moments.


After Wesley’s birth, I suffered from postpartum depression. It manifested most clearly in my relationship with and my commitments to God. I wanted to turn my back on God because it seemed easier. I fought with this desire in my heart for months, but I could never commit to abandoning God because I would look at my children and remember what I wanted for them and I refused to let them down. During this time of “going through the motions” for my children, I understood God’s love for me as His daughter and I understood why the family organization mattered so much. Because of these precious children, I finally sought medical and professional help and continue to do so and continue to push forward to be a better version of myself and a better mother.  

“She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children who ate with eagerness. ‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
“‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
‘“No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’”
-Victor Hugo


I love rock climbing and so does Truman. It is a form of therapy for both of us–a place where we can push ourselves to our limit and also achieve great success. It is physically and mentally exhausting. There are times when a route beats me and I fall, but the rope always catches me. I trust the the person holding the rope and because of that trust I push myself further than I would otherwise.

At first Truman was resistant and did not want to try because he was scared of falling. I kept assuring him he was safe and told him how amazing he would feel if he just tried his best. He trusted me and started going up just a little higher each time.

As Truman trusted me I felt a nudge from my Father in Heaven letting me know that I could trust Him too. He will never let me fall too far, I only have to believe and act. Truman’s childlike faith in me was humbling. I’ll never forget the first time he reached the top and the joy and pride he felt, because I felt it too. God and Christ are my ultimate cheerleaders and they rejoice in all of my successes. As we climbed in that gym, I felt a witness that because of God’s love and support I could go further than I would have thought possible and He will be there every step of the way.


Motherhood has truly helped me understand the Grand Creator.  Being a mother has been the most rewarding and demanding adventure of my life. I love that the Almighty God, the creator of the Universe with all of his titles, has asked us to call Him Father.  

As I mother I come to know my Father.


  1. Beautifully written, Nancy. I feel so blessed to have you as a daughter-in-law! I have learned a lot from you and love you and Paul and the kids so much.

    • Jane, you’re the best mother in law I could ask for. Thank you for being such a great example of faith and motherhood for me ❤️

  2. This is beautiful and such a great reminder that as we see our children through loving eyes, so does our Father see us and is always there for us. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story of faith. I have been touched by your story sweet Nancy. Love you, Jana

  3. My sweet friend Nancy. I live this story. You amaze me with your strength!

  4. I love this so much. I am so proud of you, Nancy. I am so grateful to know such a strong and tenacious soul.
    ….And the photos are totally awesome. I love everything about this post.

  5. I am so glad to have this story told. You did such a beautiful job of telling it, Nancy. Your strength and courage are astounding, as is your capacity to love. I love you so.

    I love everything about this piece it was so very well done, the narrative, the pictures, everything.

  6. I love learning from your mothering. I too feel closest to a god through mothering and you capture it so well here. Also, you’re so studly and gorgeous 😉

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