Desperate was the word that captured my feelings as a young mom of three under five years old.

Becoming a mom at 31, I did absolutely adore my precious children, but I was exhausted every day, never quite on top of the messes, sleep deprived and often short tempered. For a few years, I gingerly held life together, but seemed to become more weary and exhausted each passing day.

When my third child, Nathan, was born, he appeared perfect. An easy delivery, he slept through the night immediately and I thought, “This is going to be an easy-going baby!”

That lasted for three days.

From that moment on, he was absolutely unpredictable. He did not sleep through the night until he was 4 ½. When I would try to put him to sleep at nights, even as an infant, he would arch his back and scream and yell for thirty minutes.

From time to time, he was that child in a restaurant who would throw a chicken leg across the room, lay on the floor and kick and scream.

No!” was his favorite word when Nathan was five years old. As the third child and second boy, it seemed he had to do something every day to get attention to be sure he was not overlooked.

What am I supposed to do with a child like this?” I prayed every day.

I felt torn between loving my children and feeling inadequate and frustrated most days.

One day, I sat down in total defeat, a sense of darkness hovering over my soul, and wondering what I was doing wrong, I opened my Bible and read…

“Children are a blessing from God, the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Slowly over the next days, as this verse began to capture my imagination, I began to ask God to show me my children from his eyes and to help me to know just how I was supposed to mother them.

Little by little, I fell in love with each child, and began to understand their unique personalities. Working diligently on patience, gentleness and giving them encouragement through thoughtful words, I began to see that I was changing and growing in my ability to manage and give grace to my children. But they were also changing, too. Slowly, they became more delightful, and more responsive.

God lives in my home, but sometimes I ignore Him and don’t hear the music He is playing just for me. This journey of mothering is a challenging marathon of moments, hours, days, months, years, and decades. And yet, in each moment, God has sprinkled across our paths beauty, love, and joy. We have only to cultivate eyes in our hearts to observe this Artist’s work of life.

Recently, as my new book Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe came out, I received a surprise email from my son, Nathan, who had first challenged my life so very much. It read:

Hey, sweet Mom,

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you from the bottom of my heart for living the kind of life you led. I realize now I really did have the best mom in the world.

I never knew how much it would mean, that in the mornings as we spent time reading the Bible together,  how much those words would guide me as an adult. You always believed in me and gave me a vision for living my life to the fullest. Spending time being my friend when I know you had a zillion things to do meant more than you will ever know. 

It was the feasts–every night, no matter what we ate, candle light and music and talking and talking.

Saturday night pizza and movie nights.

Bedtime rituals every night with back scratches and stories and one mama song

Washing dishes to Christian rock music to make it easier

Taking me into your room with hot chocolate and mama Nathan times to tell me how special I was.

More things than I can count, but, Mama, I always thought our home was the best in all the world place to be and you made it that way be being an artist of life.  

As I am here in Hollywood, I see so many prodigals, searching, lost and hurting, because most of them have little support or love from home. I can’t tell you how honored I am to call you my mom. The work of moms really makes a difference!

But honestly the most amazing thing to me is the 30+ years you have given your life to serving God, by taking the time to serve all of us. I am so blessed to have you, and the work of your hands will pay off forever in HUGE ways. 

Thanks for choosing the hard path of raising me, and putting up with all my “things”, and loving us enough to give up your whole life.

Love you, mama, you are the best!


Being an intentional mom has stretched me and challenged me more than I ever imagined, but the deep rewards of seeing my adult children become my best friends and watching them flourish, has been more fulfilling than I could possibly have ever known.

By Sally Clarkson

You can get a copy of Desperate at DaySpring, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    “I began to ask God to show me my children from his eyes and to help me to know just how I was supposed to mother them.” – Love this. . . this will be my new prayer from now on. Thank you for sharing!

  • Christie

    Thank you for sharing this story! It is encouraging me deeply this morning. I’m also the mother of four, and my third is the second-born son. Like your Nathan, he seems to act out of a constant need for attention. And it is exhausting.
    Thank you for reminding me of God’s perspective.

  • Kim Hyland

    Yes, yes, yes! I’ve been the blessed recipient of emails like that from my own adult children, and they really DO make it all worth it. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) Thank you for your message, Sally, and for continuing to encourage women on the path behind you. You encourage me to do the same!

  • Katie Christian

    Sally, thank you for writing this. Such an encouragement to my heart this morning. Very inspiring :)

  • Penny

    What a beautiful letter of gratitude from your son.It shows through his words what an amazing Mother you have been .

    It is inspiring to hear the journey that you went through to get to this point.

    Thank-you ……

  • Bev Duncan@ Walking Well With God

    Sally, I loved the letter from your son and the encouragement that it brings that even our most challenging children may rise up one day and call us blessed. Not, to our glory, but to God’s glory! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Deb Weakly

    I love this Sally! I am so glad that God gave you a sweet Nathan. What a blessing he is!
    What a blessing you are!

  • Julia Nichole

    This was such a blessing to me. Thank you.

  • Evi Wusk

    Oh, this almost 30-year-old new momma needed to hear this today. I am getting a vision in my head of some momma/Charli time coming up. Thanks for your words.

  • http://(in)courage Debi

    I just loved your letter from your son. I too had my children late. Thirty five with my son and 40 with my daughter. I gave up everything to stay home with my children. I could not leave them. But I do know some how some mothers have to work. It must be so hard. I was a stay at home mom and it was hard. I honor moms who work out side their home. I do not know how they do it. My children are now 24 and 20. God Loves them so sweetly. And He watches over them and has plans for them. As Mothers Day nears. I would like to say Thank You for sharing such a precious Love letter from you son. What a fine young man. You must be so very proud.

  • Lisa

    Oh, Sally, this is so beautiful. That letter from Nathan brought tears to my eyes. Every mother should hope to one day receive such a sweet letter. It truly is a blessing.

  • Sarah

    This blessed my heart so much. This is what I dream of, when my children are older. This mom with young kids loved hearing this today. Thank you :)))

  • Misty Krasawski

    So grateful for encouragement. It’s a wonderful son you have there, sweet friend. ;-) Thank you for sharing this!

  • Anonymous

    I, too, am an empty-nester, and can add a loud “AMEN!” to your last statement, Sally: “Being an intentional mom has stretched me and challenged me more than I ever imagined, but the deep rewards of seeing my adult children become my best friends and watching them flourish, has been more fulfilling than I could possibly have ever known.” Parenthood is the epitome of delayed gratification, waiting many years to see the hard work come to fruition, to hear your children’s appreciation for what you did for them. But when it comes, the reward is monumental!

  • Julie Sunne

    What an encouraging post! Just what I needed to hear 18 years ago and still need to hear today as I continue to guide my nearly grown children. Blessings.

  • Anonymous

    Your writings are “Word aptly spoken” in my life! Thanks:)

  • Donna

    Your honest, simple prayer from Scripture blessed me. I love my nieces and nephews and i may not be as close as a mom or as invested as a mom but i have the privilege of praying. They’re all adults now. But the touch that prayer makes never ends. So i’m going to find a verse and pray it in love.

  • Lina

    I am forwarding your post to my best friend as she too is desperate with an acting out teenager and I want her to see there is hope at the end of the line.


  • Rachel

    Hi, I was blessed to receive this devotion/blog today. I am a current foster mother of 3 children (2,5 & 8) that we have had in our home for a month. Oh Man has it been a struggle. I haven’t wanted anything more in life than to be a mother. In our marriage we we blessed to get pregnant once, which ended in a miscarriage. We then decided to go through the process of becoming foster parents. Not fully realizing at the time what all comes with this. We have had 5 children come and go into our home. Now with these 3 new lives dangling in our hearts and hands, I am feeling completely inadequate to care for them and be the Mother they need me to be. I have been a complete mess and unlovable really from the start of the kids coming into our home. This devotion: Patience on the Journey of Motherhood Holds Great Rewards! has really opened my eyes to what God has planned for me and how I need to work on changing my thoughts and actions. We serve such a Might & Awesome God and grateful I have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into your journey! It is refreshing to see and know we are not alone in our struggles. Thank you for sharing!

  • Shawn Beatty

    Your post echoed my desire to know and understand my son. To really connect with him and see him through the Lord’s eyes. I feel lost in the “to do’s” sometimes. Thank you for your encouragement to make relationship, and even fun, more of a priority.

  • Mimi

    Thank you so much for your sharing. I just had a hard time with my daughter who is almost 2. Your message came to me at the right time while i was calming my anger down. I do hope i can be like you to change slowly and see my kid through the eyes of God. Thank you so much.

  • Paula McLane Jennings

    wonderful post and such a blessing you received in that letter from Nathan.

  • stephanie@mommytheteacher

    This is BEAUTIFUL! I’ve read a lot of beautiful articles on line this week but this may very well be at the top of the list and this is not flattery. This is such a blessing to me and probably to every mother still raising her children.

    Motherhood can be filled with so many questions, what-ifs, and self doubt. This is just a jewel of an article for moms. Thank you for sharing it. I recently did an article called Are Your Children Arrows in Your Quiver. I would love for you to tell me what you think of it.


  • Emily

    Sally! Thank you so much for writing this! It’s just what I needed to read tonight as I prepare for my life to go through a crazy motherhood transition. I’m going to look back over some of the things Nathan mentioned in his letter and figure out which ones i can make a regular routine between me and my precious children.
    Thank you. You are so inspiring!

  • Tina

    Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement. I often times have felt in your shoes raising our three children. You have given me hope that I am on the correct path when I sometimes whisper/sometimes cry out in desparation to God for help in raising these beautiful blessings He has bestowed on my life! Many thank you’s!!!

  • Brandee Knowles

    Thank you so much Sally for walking the path before so many of us with integrity. It is not easy, but children are a blessing and we need to remember that! I am going to go hug on my kids now! xoxo

  • Robyn

    Sally, you’ve mentored me through books, blogs, conferences for years now.. I knew before your children became adults that what you taught was Truth, because all of it had Jesus written all over it. As I’ve received your training, I’ve not only reaped the joy that following His Ways ALWAYS brings, but I’ve also continued to know Him more. I am not at all shocked by the lives of your children…they are simply taking their places in a Kingdom that has been a way of life for them… Keep speaking Sally Mama, my soul delights in the riches of your wisdom, and your encouragement to keep pressing into my inheritance as a child of the King:) love, hugs, and blessings on your weekend.

  • Rebekah Lyon

    Oh, Sally, what a gift! Thank you for sharing that precious letter to encourage us on our path of motherhood! I remember working with you when Nathan was but a young lad :) So very grateful for God’s generosity in your life & your obedience to & love for Him. Bless you!

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  • Keren Threlfall

    Thank you for sharing this, Sally, and for sharing Nathan’s letter. (And thank you, Nathan!) I think this is particularly encouraging to those of us who are still mothering little ones (especially those of us with no older ones in the mix yet). And I’d also venture to say that all of us desire our sons or daughters to be able to write a letter like Nathan’s 15 or 20 years from now.

    Although we practice gentle discipline with our children, I think this was a timely reminder that I need to just take one of my girls aside and remind her of how special she is. :) Thanks again.

  • Jessica

    Oh, Sally, thank you for sharing those beautiful words with us. It was exactly what my soul needed to hear. Mother’s Day is fast approaching and, as a motherless mother, it is always bitter sweet. My mother wasn’t around when I was growing up. I know now, as an adult, that she just couldn’t be. However, it still leaves me full of doubt as I parent my own children if what I’m doing is enough. I try to be intentional to give more than I was given and love more than I was loved. Some days that is hard to do and the weary sets in. Your post encouraged me and the Lord has spoken to my heart through you. Thank you so much for that! :-)

  • Sarah Dittmer

    I am in “that place”: 3 children under 5. The oldest is a good boy; the second is the son that tries my patience; the third is a sweet baby girl who would rather sleep with me at night than in her crib. I love my children, but have been searching for the “blessing” part a lot lately! Thank you for this post. =)

  • Anastasia @ eco-babyz

    Thank you for sharing this and for sharing your son’s letter. As a mom of a 4 and 1 year old, I needed this reminder today :)

  • Mel

    Oh, Sally, I needed to read this. I was cleaning out my email and saw this unread post. I read it and there were tears. I am there, in that season, in the tough stuff barely holding things together. I have 2 sons (3 years old and 18 months) who run circles around me. I am working on slowing down and getting down deep into this mothering business. It’s messy work. Thanks for sharing your story.