Archive for July, 2011

Blog Giveaway: We Have Two Winners!

Congratulations to the two names we drew from those who commented on my past two blog posts!  Lauren Barrow of Milton, FL, and Carrie Deering of Brenham, TX, we hope to see you at .MOM in Birmingham in September!

To all the rest of you who commented, thank you so much for your thoughtful insights, suggestions, and words of encouragement for all of us moms.  Keep the comments coming.  We love hearing from you!

Things I Love about Mom to Mom

Since this is my 100th blog post, I decided to celebrate with a very different post than usual.  Though Mom to Mom comes up regularly in my ramblings, I don’t often write just about Mom to Mom.

But these days I’m feeling very reflective.  Believe it or not, Mom to Mom is approaching a big birthday: #20!  That may surprise you, as our curriculum is more recent.  But the first Mom to Mom was actually held at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, on September 19, 1991.  I remember the excitement that first day.   We were ecstatic just to have gotten through the morning—a great morning.  But little could any of us have imagined what God had in store for Mom to Mom!

I often tell people that I came into Mom to Mom kicking and screaming.  My first love had always been teaching Bible studies.  When God began to call me to develop a moms’ ministry, I felt a little like Moses in Exodus 3: “Great idea, God!  I’m sure there is someone who would love to do it.”

What was I thinking?  How could I have possibly missed this wonderful ride!  Any of you who know me know I love Mom to Mom! So, in a celebration of praise and thanks to God, here, in random order, are a few “Things I Love about Mom to Mom”:

  • I love being with moms.  Is there anything better?
  • I love hearing moms breathe a sigh of relief: “It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who . . .”
  • I love watching moms come to know God.  One mom’s words to me were simple but profound: “Just think: Before Mom to Mom I didn’t even know your God.  Now He’s my God, too.”
  • I love hearing how women have learned to love their children better.  One mom told me, “When I first came to Mom to Mom, I was completely overwhelmed with my one baby.  I think I was borderline abusive.  Now, after four years at Mom to Mom, I have three children and just love being a Mom.
  • I love watching women connect. “I just moved into this area.  My family’s far away and I felt so isolated in my mom-job.  My Mom to Mom group has become family to me!”
  • I love seeing eyes opened to the LIFE that is in God’s Word. “I notice there are things in the Bible I want my kids to know. So I think there must be things in the Bible I need to know. I’ve never read the Bible.  But I’m going to get one.  Does your church have classes about the Bible?”
  • I love hearing from husbands about how they appreciate Mom to Mom. One stopped me in the hall at church one Sunday to ask: “Could you possibly do Mom to Mom two days a week?  Mom to Mom days are our best days!”
  • I love the community created at Mom to Mom. One mom told me this week: “My daughter has had four miscarriages in the past 18 months.  It’s her Mom to Mom group that’s gotten her through.  They’re her life-line.”
  • I love how we all grow at Mom to Mom. A Titus 2 leader told me just yesterday: “I’ve never once left Mom to Mom without at least 2 or 3 things I could apply directly in multiple relationships.  My kids love Mom to Mom.  My husband loves Mom to Mom.  My friends love Mom to Mom.”
  • I love seeing lives—and families—changed. One mom admitted to being so angry when she first came to Mom to Mom that she tried to shock her leader with her worst language. Since then she and her husband and children have come to Christ. They’ve been great witnesses for Him through illness, on mission trips, and in their own church and community.
  • I love watching God at work! Mom to Mom is Titus 2 lived out.  When we signed the contract with LifeWay for our new curriculum, one of our board members responded with Psalm 118:23: “This is the Lord’s doing.  It is marvelous in our eyes.”  A perfect verse for Mom to Mom: God is at work.  How eternally grateful I am to be a part of His work!

Or course you know I could go on and on with my list.  But I’d love to hear from you.  What do you love about Mom to Mom?  How has God grown you through Mom to Mom? It could be a word, a sentence, or a brief anecdote.   But don’t forget: We’re going to draw from all those who comment two winners for those tickets to .MOM.  We’d love to see you there!


Life as a Real Mom: How Do You Do It?

A couple of weeks ago my husband Woody and I had the great joy of taking care of our two grandsons, Soren (4 ½) and Nils (14 mos) for a week while their parents were taking kids to Young Life camp.  It was a great refresher course in parenting.  We had a blast.  Really—it was so much fun!

I wish I could tell you more, but I have to be honest here: I had anticipated coming home with a notebook full (or at least a head full) of hilarious comments and antics and incidents with which I could entertain blog readers.  I thought this to be a realistic expectation.  Soren frequently says absolutely hilarious things.  He has a vivid imagination, a memory that is positively scary, and he is very verbal.  Nils is a clown.  He loves to get you laughing, and he mimics everything he sees his big brother do, which leads to some pretty funny entertainment.

But here’s the glitch.  Life moved too fast for me that entire week.  I never got to write anything down.  Not even a list for each day (my usual practice)—and certainly not witty sayings or doings in the small journal I had (how hilarious!) brought.  Both my daytimer and my journal are completely blank for that week.  Most of the time I think my mind was, too!

We did all kinds of fun things: we went to playgrounds; visited a children’s museum;  played pirates in the basement (Woody and Soren did, anyway—I was a little worried about Nils around the pirate sword); went out to lunch one day and out on another day for ice cream; even had a visit from a friend who surprised the boys with a new scooter for Soren and a push-trike for Nils.  And yes—we made a visit or two to the pediatrician.  I told you this was a refresher course on real-life parenting.  How could it not involve middle-of-the-night fevers and unexplained crying?

But here’s the thing: I had expected a break in the action now and then.  A time to reflect a bit.  Take a deep breath.  Write down a few of the wonderful things my grandsons did—and there were many!  But all I did was take a nap when they napped—and collapse on the couch after they went to bed.  Even though we were two-on-two (two adults there full-time, two kids), Woody and I pretty much just sat side by side and stared into space every evening.

So here’s my question for the week.  How do you keep your life balanced during these busy busy years?  Do you find time to do anything—anything at all—beyond the absolute necessities of each day?  If so, what’s your secret?

Don’t get me wrong: What you’re doing each day for and with your kids is huge—the best job in the world.  Feeding, rocking, changing, bathing, and playing with your kids is a huge accomplishment in itself.  In fact, if you wrote it all down on a “To Do” list, you’d be pretty impressed. (As recommended on my friend Jill Savage’s blog post the other day—great idea!)  I loved getting to do all that again.

But I seem to remember that when I had three pre-schoolers, I did manage—at least now and then—to read a book, complete my Bible Study lesson (some weeks), and find a few words left for my husband (on a good day) when he came home late at night.  I’m trying to remember: How did I do it?

Can you remind me?  I know many of your days feel like sheer survival.  But I also know some of you actually do read books, find time for personal devotions, blog, facebook with friends—at least now and then.  I even know some of you who are crafty and actually make things after your kids go to bed (quite beyond me even now, I must admit)!

So I’d love to hear from you.  What tips can you share about how you find time to create balance even in the midst of your mom-life?  Or maybe how you come to peace about not doing that right now!

Don’t forget: We’ll have a giveaway for two tickets to the .MOM conference in September from all of those who comment here by Thursday noon, July 28.  We look forward to hearing from you!

A “Don’t Miss” Conference for Moms—and a giveaway!

I’m excited to invite you all to LifeWay’s first-ever conference just for moms!  It will be held September 23–24, 2011, in Birmingham. Alabama.  Featured keynoters will include women whom some of you may know as favorite Bible Study teachers.  They are also moms: Priscilla Shirer, Vicki Courtney, and Angela Thomas, among others.  There will be tons of breakouts to choose from, lots of laughs guaranteed, and a “Mom Squad” to answer questions you might have.

Mom to Mom will be there, too.  I’ll be doing two of the breakout sessions, and we’ll be exhibiting, so we hope you’ll stop by and see us!

We’re so excited about this that we’re planning to give away two tickets to winners we’ll draw from those who comment on either of my next two blog posts (First Post,  Second Post) by noon (EDT) on Thursday, July 28.  Winners will be announced on Friday, July 29.  Don’t miss this chance!  And for more details on the conference, check out this link.

A Summer Treat: Bittersweet

Here’s a book to pack in your beach bag—or just curl up with at home when your kids are napping.  Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way,  by Shauna Niequist.   It’s a great “snatch book,” as each chapter stands alone (almost like a blog post), so you can savor it bit by bit as you have time.

I loved Shauna’s previous book, Cold Tangerines.   But this one is even better.  Maybe it’s simply because she has lived longer.  Shauna writes out of her life.  And Bittersweet is written out of a season in her life that has been just that.  A time of growth and accomplishment and fulfillment as a woman, a wife, a writer, and now a mother.  But also a time of great change, deep loss, and bitter disappointment.

How do we make sense of such a life?  It’s an important question to ask, because we will all live in such a season—if not now, then sooner or later.  When Shauna writes of finding grace and forgiveness and healing and hope—even joy—amidst hardness and heartache and barrenness, her voice rings true.

The book is also—trust me—a fun read.  The cover alone will get you.  Check it out and you’ll see what I mean.  When I gave the book to my daughter, her two year-old went for it immediately, exclaiming, “Mmmmm!  Chocolate!”  (A girl after my own heart, that child!)  You foodies will love how Shauna describes her journey in terms of memorable meals.  She loves to cook as much as she loves to write, and this is a delicious read.

But the book is more than that.  All mothers will identify with Shauna’s reflections on motherhood.  There’s such joy when she writes about her son, Henry.  And such wisdom in her call for community with other moms, rather than comparison and competition.  And her pleas for older, wiser experienced moms in her life. Of course, you know what I was thinking: “That’s just why we have Mom to Mom!”

On a personal level, I was deeply moved by the chapters dealing with miscarriage and infertility and loss: “Heartbeat,” What Might Have Been,” and “On Crying in the Bathroom.”  Having personally experienced the same kind of miscarriage Shauna had, it was “déjà vu” for me.  But it is important reading for all mothers—not only for those who have experienced loss, but also for those who want to walk well alongside another on this journey.

On a very practical level, the chapter “Things I Don’t Do” is worth the price of the book.  Shauna’s cure for the “Do Everything Better” syndrome is must-reading for every one of us recovering-perfectionist moms!

Ultimately, Bittersweet points readers to God.  As Shauna puts it:”My life is a story about God and what He does in a human heart.” (p. 240)   It’s a story worth reading!

Memo from Monitor Land

Recently I had the gift of taking care of Gabriella, my 2 ½-year-old granddaughter, for four wonderful days.  “Gigi” (her nickname) and her mommy (our daughter Erika) were visiting us from Ireland for several weeks, and Erika had gone off to enjoy a girlfriend weekend with college friends.

Gigi and I had a ball.  We put puzzles together, built with blocks, played “taking care of baby brother”  (due to arrive in her house late summer), danced in crazy hats to silly kids’ songs, had teddy bear tea parties, went to the library and the beach and the playground—and savored ice cream treats.  It was “Nana heaven.”

It was a fresh look at  “life in monitor land.”  Believe it or not, our own kids were raised without monitors.  They just weren’t much in use at the time.  But in this Nana-season of my life, I have to say I love monitors!

Admittedly they have a downside.  I don’t sleep as well with a monitor on my dresser. There may actually be times when moms on duty 24/7 with young children would do well to turn them off.  When a child is settling into naptime, Mom might need a quiet break more then she needs to listen to every bit of jabbering and singing that goes on before sleep comes.

But it’s different with nanas.  Nanas love “listening in.”  It’s amazing how much you can learn about what goes on in a two-year-old’s mind.  Here are a few random things I learned from listening to the monitor:

  • Kids often review their day as they go to sleep—or even in the middle of the night!  “Go in car with Nana….Run run run in water….Play in sand at beach….Have tea party with Teddy Bear.”  Then at 4 am, a brief reprise: “Chips [what they call french fries in Ireland] . . . choo choo . . . come home with NanaFarfar” [her word for her grandfather is the Swedish “farfar,” and Gigi runs our names together—kind of a nice reminder of two-become-one].  And then at 5 am: “Gigi taking good long nap!”

  • Kids love to interact with stuffed animal friends: “Hi-ya, dolphin!”  Hi-ya, Penguin!  Hi-ya, Teddy!”  She even “read” several complete books to her bed-buddies.
  • Kids work out issues as they talk them through.  “I take good nap . . . Bye bye, people . . . Mommy right back.”   Another time: “Mommy Daddy gone . . . Gigi play with NanaFarfar.”

  • Kids cement their learning through review.  I remember hearing (via the monitor) our grandson Bengt practicing his counting.  Gigi would sing through her ABC song.  And one night I heard her reviewing—in rhythmic chant—the main characters in a book about the Lion King: “Simba, Nala, Scar, Zazu, Mufasa . . .” She especially loved the sound of that last one!
  • Kids memorize easily and even internalize what you sing to them.  Several times I heard Gigi singing through the words of a song Erika often sings to her as she puts her to bed.  It’s a song I used to sing to Erika: “Peace” from The Music Machine.  I love the refrain: “Peace, peace, I think I understand/Peace, peace is holding Jesus’ hand.”  Not a bad way to drift off to sleep—for children or adults!

If you ever wonder what your kids are taking in during the day, try listening in to the monitor.  They may be absorbing a lot more than you think!

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