Archive for May, 2011

She Swallowed a What?

“Oh, Mom, did Kelly tell you about Hannah swallowing a rock?”   My son Lars is on the phone talking about his just-turned-two-year-old daughter.  “She swallowed a what?” was, of course, my question in reply.

Now, we’ve known for quite some time that, as her parents put it, “Hannah is a piece of work.”  An absolutely adorable, hilarious, full-of-fun piece of work.  Hannah loves life.  She takes it by the tail and swings it around, laughing all the way.  Fortunately, she never does that to their dog, Ruby.  Actually, Hannah is a very loving, gentle child as well.  She’s just busy.  She just doesn’t want to miss anything.

But a rock?  I know every one of you mamas reading this is either hyper-ventilating just at the thought, or nodding your head knowingly, remembering your own similar incident with your child.

Let me assure you that Hannah’s mama, Kelly, my nurse daughter-in-law—who is one wonderful mother—was right on top of this from start to finish.  You can imagine: on the phone with the pediatrician; on duty with fruit and prune juice and all manner of “helps” to get this (fortunately) fairly smooth, small stone eliminated safely; and watchful of every possible symptom of blockage.  You know the drill.  And on her knees (as I was on mine), I’m sure, all at the same time.

Then came last night’s text: “Success! It took an enema and sounded like a champagne cork, but the rock is out!” Praise God!

The things our kids put us through!  Way beyond imagination, really.

As I thought about it (after thanking God profusely that all was A-OK with Hannah), I was suddenly reminded how like Hannah each of us are in God’s sight.  I do believe He sees us as wonderful, lovable, crazy-fun creations of His.  But at the same time we certainly need watching.  And we get ourselves into some pretty scary situations.

How thankful I am that He is as watchful, patient, and loving and care-giving with us as Kelly is with Hannah.  Even more so!  In fact, He loves us enough even to give us some pretty unpleasant-tasting stuff—or to put us through some not-very-fun procedures—to clear out what needs to go from our lives and restore us to health and life In Him.

Thank you, God, for protecting Hannah.  And thank you, God, for doing what needs to be done in our lives so that we might “take hold of the life that is fully life.”  (I Timothy 6:19b)

Hearts at Home

I have a guest post over at Jill Savage’s blog today.  Please visit me there!  Jill Savage is the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages, educates, and equips moms of all ages and stages of motherhood.

The Balancing Act: Being a Mom—and a Person, Too

“Honey, I hope you’ll be able to be a whole person yourself—not lean on me for your total identity.  I want you to always be able to have a life of your own.”  My husband Woody said this to me years ago as he reflected on a particular patient who seemed unable to function independently years after her husband died.   Woody meant well. He really did.  Nevertheless . . .

“I want you always to be able to have a life of your own.”  The words exploded in my brain, and I’ve never forgotten them.  This conversation occurred during the living-at-the-end-of-a-dead-end-street-with-three-children-five-and-under-and-my-husband-never-home era of my life.  Woody was just getting a new medical practice off the ground, and was working day and night.  I could not even imagine having a “life of my own.”  Just when would that occur?  Perhaps between the hours of 3am and 5 am,  when often—but not always—all three kids were asleep and Woody was often—but not always—home to stay with them?  Not the greatest time to go for a run, take a class, or meet a friend for coffee.

All those long-ago feelings came back to me a few weeks ago when a young Texas mom asked me, “Do you think a woman begins to resent her husband and children if her whole life is devoted to them and she has nothing in her life just for her?”  A really good question!  I’m still thinking about it, in fact.

There’s no easy answer.  And there’s no answer any of us moms can give for someone else.  We’re all wired differently, and our life circumstances and family lifestyles vary greatly.  But here are a few reflections from my mama-heart:

  • To be a good mother, you must first be a person yourself.  A whole person.  We repeat this often at Mom to Mom.  Being whole, healthy women of God means we must be nurtured physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually in order to nurture others. It’s a little like breast-feeding, come to think of it.
  • Motherhood is an extremely sacrificial role.  We give up a lot for our kids—and our husband, as well.  But it requires balance.  Someone said it long ago: If we constantly bend over backwards for our families, we tend to lose our balance.
  • Each of us finds ways to maintain our balance, and those ways differ from person to person.  For me, it meant that no matter how hard it was to make it happen, I managed to attend a Bible Study (with childcare at our church), go for a 30-minute run now and then (when I could get an after-school babysitter), and attend a Book Club once a month (Woody had one night off a week and I read the books during nap time or in the occasional evening when I could keep my eyes open).
  • Keeping our balance as moms requires hard, clear thinking about priorities.   I wanted to live without huge regrets.  In my case, this meant that I chose not to return to my career (teaching) because the demands of the position would have negatively impacted my family.  This was a very personal decision, and I realize that many moms do not have choices about working outside the home.  But where it was a choice for me, I wanted to make a choice I would not later regret.
  • There are many seasons in a mom’s life.  Though I walked away from one career opportunity, I was able to say a joyful “yes” later on to another—more teaching in my church, and eventually to the great adventure of beginning Mom to Mom.  It’s important to remember that though your days may feel like “forever” right now, there will be other days ahead, including potentially much more freedom in your choices.

It’s a wild ride being a mom, isn’t it?  A wild, wonderful ride!  And a precarious balancing act.  Keeping my balance kept me on my knees.  As with everything else,  attitude is everything and prayer is the main event.

How do you keep your balance?  Please share your thoughts—we’d love to hear from you.

Choosing a Theme

Though it is not necessary, you might want to prayerfully consider choosing an over-arching theme for your Mom to Mom each year. This year we chose “Gratitude,” weaving the topic into our devotional times, Chew ‘n Chats, guest speaker topics, “quote of the day,” and closing celebration brunch.

Focal Scripture

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).

Guest Speaker Topics

  • “Is Gratitude Conditional?”
  • “Thanksgivin’ Livin’: A Hands-on Prayer Experience”
  • “Hand in Hand: Hospitality and Gratitude”

Suggested Reading

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Note: Each Titus 2 Leader was given a copy. We discussed select chapters throughout the year at our Chew ‘n Chats.

Selected Quotes of the Day (from Choosing Gratitude)

  • “Choosing gratitude means choosing joy.”
  • “Gratitude is a life-style.”
  • “Let’s allow the Spirit to make gratitude the new default setting of our hearts.”
  • “Thanksgiving puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way to His presence.”

Closing Brunch

Closing song: “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart” by Henry Smith

Suggested Summer Reading

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

—Saundria, in Tennessee

Rest for the Weary

Now that the Mom to Mom year is drawing to a close, it’s time to kick back and take a much deserved rest.  Here’s my formula for perfect summer rest:

Pick a restful spot. I’m an Atlanta girl. My restful spot is the porch.

Choose a comfy chair. Mine is in the shade on my side porch.

Pour a cool drink. Remember, I’m an Atlanta girl. My drink of choice is sweet iced tea with lemon.

Choose a good book. I have three recommendations for summer reading: The first is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp—a book that leads you into radical gratitude with poetic words and graceful imagery. The second is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy—an accurate history of what happened in Germany during World War II and of the man God chose to lead a generation of believers through the mire of history (a perfect read for current times). The third recommendation is A New Kind of Normal by Carol Kent. Kent writes authentically about what happens when life doesn’t turn out as you expect.

Now, put your feet up and REST.

From the Atlanta Girl

A Gift for Mother’s Day—and Every Day

One Thousannd GIfts book cover image

It’s my gift to my daughters this Mother’s Day: My new favorite book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  And, in case you don’t yet know about it, I’d like it to be my gift to each of you.

A lover of many books, I rarely read a book twice.  There are so many still waiting to be read!  But this one—this one I just finished reading the second time.  And not the last, I suspect.  This one—this one is life-changing.

The title and subtitle name the theme: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Where You Are.  A friend challenges Ann to list a thousand things she loves.  So begins the list, a list which launches the author—and us—on a wild and wonderful journey.  A journey which throws open the door of hope to receive wondrous winds of grace.

We come to understand the Greek word eucharisteo in a new way.  Eucharisteo.  When Jesus took the bread, in the original language the word is eucharisteo: “He gave thanks.”   The root word is charis: “grace.” As we begin to list the everyday gifts of grace in our lives, it changes everything.  It opens our blind eyes to a new way of seeing.

But this book is far more than a list, far more than one more reminder to “count your blessings.”  It takes us deep.  Deep into the dark, cold world of unthinkable tragedy and unspeakable loss.  It begins at the beginning for the author: ”The day when blood pooled and my sister died and I, all of us, snapped shut to grace . . . the moment when the cosmos shifted, shattering my cupping of hands” (p. 10). No wonder, then, that she begins one chapter: “God and I, we’ve long had trust issues” (p. 141). How can wounded hearts and clenched fists ever learn to open to grace?

And how to live out eucharisteo in a very real mom-life?  A world of laundry overflowing and kids fighting and appointments looming and exhaustion eternal (or so it seems)?  Ann Voskamp writes from a real-life mom perspective.  Very real.  Homeschooling mother of six, Ann and her husband are hog farmers in southwestern Ontario.  The book jacket tells us they are “raising a half dozen kids, crops of corn, and the roof in praise.”

Amidst all this, Ann is a poet.  Her words sing.  From the first pages, they take your breath away.  And leave you gasping for air throughout this wild, wonderful ride.  I made the mistake of picking up the book for the first time early one morning when deadlines loomed.  I was so captivated that I literally had to walk it out to my car and lock it there until my work was done and I could go back to it.

Best of all, Ann is a God-pointer.  Her words are powerful not only because she is so extraordinarily  gifted,  but because they are grounded in the Words of God.  “Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps” (p. 91).  This book will help remove your spiritual cataracts so you can see both Him and the world around you—yes, the dishes and diapers, the runny noses and nonstop neediness, the meals and messes and real kids and real husband—with new eyes.  Not just Ann Voskamp’s.  His.

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