Posts Tagged ‘Mom to Mom’
A Mom to Mom leader recently asked the question: “Our group will be doing the lesson on ‘Beginning at the End: Legacy Living from Day One.’ (Session One from Inside Out Parenting curriculum) It’s been a few years since you filmed that. Anything to add from ‘on up the road apiece?’ ”
Great question! Good enough even to make me do the unthinkable: sit down and watch my own DVD teaching. Tough. If you don’t think so, just imagine watching a 30-minute video of yourself!
It was worth it, though. It reminded me how absolutely crucial these mom-questions are: What do you want your kids to remember? Who (not what, as in a career choice) do you want them to be? Whom do you want them to serve? What legacy to you want to leave? What legacy do you want to live?
Such heady questions, these. I hear you younger moms: “You’ve got to be kidding! All I hope and pray for is day-by-day (or hour-by-hour) survival! And you ask me to consider my legacy?! Right . . .” And I hear you moms and grandmoms whose children grew up so fast (in retrospect, yes—but not in those long-ago endless days and sleepless nights) and are now off and running: “Oh, yes. Yes! Yes! Yes! Ask these questions now, right from the beginning. They really do matter.” Yes indeed! That’s my answer, too.
So here are a few “big picture” observations for Legacy Living 2016:
- Psalm 78:3-7 rings truer than ever. The more things change in our world, the more crucial the message becomes: “We will tell the next generation . . . the praiseworthy deeds and the wonders of the Lord . . . so the next generation would know . . . even the children yet to be born . . . and they in turn would tell their children . . . then they would put their trust in God.” Our church has a pastor of “NextGen Ministries,” and I am grateful. But it all starts with you, moms, in the long sometimes lonely days and too-short (the sleeping part, that is) nights as you do what my daughter recently referred to as the “divine invisible work of mothering.”
- It might seem a bit early to bring up such things in the early years of parenting. Is all this an intolerable burden to put on a young mom? This summer I had an “up close and personal” look at what parenting 4 children (ages 7, 4, 2, and 11 months) is like, as our daughter, Erika, who lives in Ireland, visited us here for nearly 4 weeks. For this Nana, it was heaven. But for the mama? Relentless. Absolutely relentless. The question haunts me: Why on earth would we even talk about “legacy living” and “crucial questions” and “intentional parenting” to a mother caught up in a whirlwind?
- Why? First, because it really does matter—and you will be glad one day that someone brought these questions up with you before your kids seem to have inexplicably disappeared before your eyes. Second, because the same God who gave you these children will give you the grace and strength you need to raise them. Sound familiar, Mom to Mom moms? I hope so! And HE is the one ultimately in charge of your kids. Another familiar reminder: He loves them more than you do! In the midst of the chaos of your life, He is there when you can’t be. He covers your mistakes—even your desperate “I feel like a failure” mom-attacks. He knows your heart (which is both scary and encouraging). It really does help to be asking the right questions and building on the right foundation, even in your wild crazy mom-life.
- Finally, this all makes me more thankful than ever that we have Mom to Mom. In our groups, Titus 2 leaders can encourage you. Not with their flawless parenting or picture-perfect families. But with their ringing reminders: Parenting is a marathon. God is not finished with them—or you—yet. His Word is the eternal rock on which we stand (or even cling to desperately in the storms). His love and His presence is a no-matter-what promise. He will never leave you or forsake you. Never.
And don’t you forget that!
C.S. Lewis said it best: “We may ignore, but we nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” (from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, p. 75)
Yes, He often walks incognito through our world. But now and then we get glimpses. I’ve had more than a few “God glimpses” recently—and most of them seem in some way to involve mothers.
First, there is the flurry of activity among mama birds in our neighborhood. We walked by a picturesque little robin’s nest a couple of days ago. We also have a mama bird (I think it’s an Eastern Phoebe) building a nest in our front entrance. It’s really quite a mess (not at all picturesque like the robin’s). But I have learned that warm and cozy and safe homes don’t need to look Pinterest-worthy. They just need a mama. (I don’t dare try to take a picture of this one, BTW, because mama bird is very skittish and protective, and I don’t want to jeopardize our relationship.)
Then there are other mamas through whom I have seen God lately. Mamas who embrace their children with God’s love even when they are lonely (Dad’s gone again for work?) or chronically sleep-deprived (Whaat? This 7-month-old baby still isn’t sleeping through the night?) or even comforting their children (“It’s going to be all right, honey”) when their own heart is shattered by grief into a million pieces (All right? How can it be all right when the love of my life, the father of these children, is snatched away from me in one tiny terrible moment?) Through these mamas—and so very many others, I see God. He’s the only explanation.
Last Thursday I had the joy of hearing moms at a local Mom to Mom share their hearts about this past year. These are just snatches of what I heard (composite paraphrase):
- I’ve recently come to see how different parenting with God is from parenting without Him. Also how different parenting alone is versus sharing the journey with other moms.
- This is the church being the church. It is my primary source of spiritual nourishment.
- Mom to Mom has ignited a fire within me that has been simmering for a long time.
- Here I can be completely myself. I am listened to without judgment. I am reminded that I am not alone. Both my Titus 2 leader and the very practical biblical teaching help me release my burden of perfectionism and trust God with my kids.
- Moms suffer from a kind of occupational irony. We spend our lives continually caring for others. Who cares for us? This is the one place in my week where I don’t have to prepare anything: coffee, goodies, or childcare. Here I am not only cared for but also given dignity and confidence in my role as a mom. A rare gift in our culture.
- In this past year, not much has changed in my circumstances. But a lot has changed in my heart.
Two recurring themes in what I heard: We are cared for. We are loved and accepted—even welcomed—here, just as we are. No matter what. Really. No matter what. And our hearts are changed.
Hmmm. Sounds a lot like grace. Sounds a lot like God. “Surely the Lord is in this place . . .” (Genesis 28:16a) Because the deep deep love of Jesus flows through the “Titus 2 Moms” who have themselves received that love, these moms feel loved. And they can pass that love along to their children.
One reason, I would guess, why “the world is crowded with Him.”
So, as Mother’s Day 2016 approaches, a shout out to all of you who love your children, another mom, or even a would-be mom (I have not forgotten) with His love. Through you we see glimpses of God.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I’ve got a lot of mushrooms lately. I’d like to say it’s all Sarah Young’s fault. But since her beloved devotional Jesus Calling is written so thoroughly from Scripture, I need to rethink that. She always seems to have been hiding behind my couch (or more accurately, in the recesses of my foggy brain), knowing exactly what I’m thinking about and what I need to hear from God.
I know I quoted from Jesus Calling in my last entry, but October 17 was another direct hit:
“Anxiety is the result of envisioning the future without Me. . . . Do not linger in the future, because anxieties spring up like mushrooms when you wander there.”
Anxieties springing up like mushrooms . . . Hmmm. I really should find a good recipe for cream of mushroom soup!
Do any of you find yourselves wandering along the same path? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “mom mushrooms.” You know, the kinds of anxieties all moms have about their kids. How they eat, how they sleep, how they relate to other kids, how they do in school, how athletic (or not) or artistic (or not) or musical (or not) they are . . .
How quickly these thoughts run to the future. What college will they go to? Who will they marry? What career will they have? Where will they live (please, not too far away)? Will they spend most of their adult life in therapy working through issues with their moms?!
You all know the drill. All the normal hopes and dreams and prayers for our children, which all-too-quickly lead us off the path into the mushrooms. And, of course, when one of our kids has special needs or is going through a particularly difficult time, it’s all the more challenging not to just sit down and fill our buckets with anxiety mushrooms.
Normal mom-thinking? Yes. But also dangerous. Dangerous for many reasons, but here’s one for starters: We may miss the moments right in front of us because we’re catastrophizing our way into the future.
In preparation for writing a new Mom to Mom talk, I’ve been asking a number of moms what their biggest struggles are. A frequent answer: ” Being present with my kids in the moment. Not being so distracted by to-do lists or technology or thinking ahead that I miss the moment in front of me.” This topic is far bigger than one little blog post. But certainly anxieties have something to do with it.
In the end, it all comes down to the first sentence in the earlier quote: “Anxiety is the result of envisioning the future without Me.” There’s a reason why Scripture reminds us again and again (no, I don’t have a verse count) that God is always with us, and that He will never ever leave us (or our kids) alone. Never. Ever.
I have a sign on my mantle that reads: ”Fear not the future. God is already there.” Some of my kids gave it to me for my study (that tells you something—yes?), but I figured I really need it front and center in my living space. I highly recommend it to you. Just in case you’ve got mushrooms, too.
It’s that time of year again. Everyone is busy, busy, busy. Schools have started. Churches have launched “Vision Sunday.” Fall programs are beginning. Calendars are filling up. And everyone—especially moms—seems to be on the run.
Lives look full to overflowing. We’re connected all over the place. Not just through our smartphones, but right here in our communities—through the classroom, the gym, the coffee shop, the carpool. Or are we?
When the garage door goes down . . . well, maybe not so much. I suspect—in fact, I’m quite convinced—there’s a lot of loneliness amidst all this busyness. A lot of emptiness on the other side of that garage door. Oh, I know, I know, folks are connected all over the world via the internet: texting, tweeting, emailing, posting statuses, checking Instagram. We’re overconnected, if anything.
But are we, really? Who knows when you’re hurting via Facebook? Who brings a meal when your kids are sick and you just had a miscarriage? Who sees—across the internet—the tears that lie just below the surface when you talk about missing your family? Who hears the pause in your voice when you’re asked how your kids are adjusting to school this year?
It can be pretty quiet on the other side of that garage door. A couple of statistics our pastor quoted Sunday back up my suspicions: one in four Americans say they have no one to talk to about their joys and sorrows. One in four! One in two say that, outside of family, they have no one to turn to in time of need. Yes, that’s half.
So . . . why do we need Mom to Mom? Why do the leaders need it just as much as the member moms? Why do we need to be on the lookout in our neighborhoods, on our playgrounds, and in our churches for people who, though they look busy busy busy, are feeling lonely on the inside—and maybe a little scared?
It reminds me of a church we visited when we had just moved to a new part of the country. There was a shelf labeled “For lost and lonely Bibles.” How about lost and lonely people, I wondered? Or how about folks just needing a listening ear, a shared laugh, a word of encouragement, a helping hand, or just someone to walk alongside? Where do they go?
To Mom to Mom, I hope. At least some of them. If they get invited.
So this Fall, instead of just assuming all those busy busy people around you have all the community and support they need, take a chance. Invite them to come along with you to Mom to Mom. Or tell them about the group at your church. Or invite your neighbors in for coffee. Or a book club. Or a Bible Study. Extend a hand through that garage door. Then stand back and watch what God will do.
This week I got to do one of my favorite things. I went to an end-of-year Celebration Brunch at a nearby church and listened as moms shared about their year in Mom to Mom.
It’s that time of year—and I love it! Many Mom to Mom groups use their last meeting of the year to hear from women in the group about how God has met them in this year. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to hear from these moms face-to-face. Sometimes I get emails from moms in groups around the country. But all the time there is a common theme: “God met me here.”
Yesterday I listened as one woman told of how God had changed her this year through Mom to Mom. Changed her marriage. Changed her perspective on what it means to build a Christian home. Helped her prepare for the birth of their first baby. (Yes, she came to Mom to Mom while pregnant with her first child in order to prepare to be a mom!)
Another mom told of how her group kept a prayer journal together. How it had gotten her through this year to keep in touch with prayer requests by email even when she had sick kids and couldn’t make it to Mom to Mom. Another told an amazing story of God’s healing in the life of her precious newborn as she was surrounded by the care and prayers of her group. The baby’s doctor said: “You know I am an atheist. But I have to say this is a miracle.”
Another told of how hard it had been to learn of her child’s multiple food allergies; but God had “arranged” her group so that there were others with similar challenges that could walk alongside her. Yet another told how she had modified her career plans and arranged her schedule to be at Mom to Mom. “Tell your friends ‘You need to arrange your life to be here. It’s that important.’”
There was a common theme summed up by one mom who said, “I’ve come to think of Mom to Mom as ‘the sisterhood of motherhood.’” She was followed by a mom who shared a heart-wrenching story of her miscarriage at 19 weeks. It happened on a Tuesday. And she was at Mom to Mom the next day to be loved and prayed for by women who understood—not only in that day, but through the days and weeks that followed. “It was like a hug from God every Wednesday.”
This group of moms has organized themselves to stay in touch over the summer. They have a Facebook group of 77 families who try to stay connected. They know they need each other. One mom from another MTM group told of a time she was out pushing her twins on a desperation walk at the witching hour against a whipping wind. Another mom drove by, rolled down her window and said, “It will get better.” A message we all need to hear.
So I write this today as a salute to all the moms who come to Mom to Mom, and to all the amazing Titus 2 leaders who faithfully love and serve these moms. We need each other! But we need God even more. A verse keeps coming to me from the Psalmist: “Where can I go to meet with God?” Many places, of course. But thank God that Mom to Mom is one of the best!
I love learning from kids—and their moms. Yesterday I heard and saw a “mom-talk” in action. And I just can’t get the picture out of my mind.
Recently when I spoke at a local Mom to Mom group, I mentioned that we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our daughter Erika and her family (including her husband, Richie, and their children, 3-year-old Gabriella and 9-month-old Judah). They will soon be flying here from Dublin, Ireland, and spending over 6 weeks with us this summer. YAY!!! We can’t wait!!!
I also mentioned that I was looking to buy or borrow a few things for their use while they are here: things like a small bike with training wheels or a wagon or other outdoor/indoor toys. One sweet mom came up to me afterwards and said she might have some things for us. She followed up via email with a very generous offer.
So yesterday, Woody and I went over to her house. There we had the privilege of meeting her three charming children: Taylor, 8; Max, 6; and Samuel, 5 months. We began to discuss some of the things she had put aside to offer us. Such generosity! She had all kind of “indoor toys” as well as a couple of small bikes to choose from, and a great wagon. These were all available for loan, she explained, because of the age gap between her 6-year-old and her baby.
Every mom knows how hard it is for kids to part with treasured toys—often even those they’ve grown beyond. One of the kids—naturally the in-between one who had most recently used some of these things—began to protest mildly. Some of these things had been his favorites. Even though he wasn’t currently using them, obviously he had good memories and wondered if they’d be returned for his brother—and be well taken care of.
Then came the moment of not only mama grace and mama-modeling, but also of mama-teaching. Gently this mom reminded her kids of all they had and of how great it is to give and to share. And I remembered the email she had sent me. She had written of how God had been teaching her lessons in gratitude, and in giving, and how He had been working in her life to encourage her to be more giving and less grasping of blessings she was able to provide for her kids that many kids don’t have.
And so as I stood in her yard watching this mom teach her kids lessons of grace and gratitude, I saw her attitude become contagious. Isn’t that how it often works?
It made my heart grateful—not only for the generous loans, but even more for the picture I saw before me: As He teaches us, the lessons overflow to our children.
Thank you, Heather—and Taylor and Max and Samuel. And thank you, God!
What lessons is God currently teaching you that you can pass along to your kids?
I’ve just returned from a fabulous weekend with over 6200 moms. What could be better? I was a speaker at the Hearts at Home National Conference in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. It was a wonderful two days, full of laughter and tears, great ideas and Godly encouragement, and heart-to-heart conversations with moms at all ages and stages of parenting. It was especially fun to connect with the Mom to Mom women who attended. The above photo is of a wonderful group of women who have been doing Mom to Mom in Northern Vermont for years—love these girls!
Now that I’m home and have some time to reflect, I’m realizing what God’s major message to me out of this weekend is. It’s the power of prayer. The absolutely astounding, takes-your-breath-away power of prayer.
I saw it in so many ways. First, in myself. I am easily traumatized by technology, and the prospect of doing five workshops in two days in various large lecture halls at a state university with varying technological hookups for my PowerPoint slides was enough to send me over the top on the worry scale. But I had many people praying. God brought along wonderful folks to help. And in the end, it all worked out just fine. Not only did the presentations work fine (despite many last-minute, down-to-the-wire glitches), but amazingly, my techno-trauma did not get in the way of the message. When I stood up there and looked in the eyes of the precious moms in each audience, it was just me and them—and above all, God. Truly an answer to prayer.
One of my talks, “Top Ten Messages You Want Your Kids To Get,” highlighted the crucial role of moms in praying for their kids. I shared with the women Woody’s way of signing each note and card and email to the kids with these three things: “We love you. We’re proud of you. We’re praying for you.” I told them that one day their prayers for their kids would come back to them as their kids would pray for them. And words from my daughter’s last phone call from Ireland ran through my mind: “Mom, I just called back because I forgot something in our last conversation. I wanted you to know how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how I will be praying for you at the conference this weekend. I’m praying for you, Mom.”
And now that I’ve been home a few days, I find conversations I had with moms replaying through my mind. I remember a mom who needed to be released from guilt over something her kids and God have already forgiven. I think of the intense mama-love I heard in the voice of a mom wondering if her autistic son is getting the message of her unconditional love for him. And I see the tears in the eyes of so many moms in the audience as I reminded them that “There’s no place your kids can go that’s so far God’s love can’t find them.” And then I assured them by way of a story that God will carry us when we feel we can’t go one step farther in this mom-marathon.
I find myself praying for these moms—and for all the moms who attended the conference. I pray that God will call to mind just the encouragement they need at the moment they need it. I pray that they will remember they are prayed for. Not only by me. But—far more—by Jesus at the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:25) and by the Holy Spirit in “groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26 KJV).
I find myself praying for every one of you reading this post, whether you were at the conference or not. Prayer is the power which makes this mom-marathon possible. Not only possible, but joyful. “I’m praying for you, mom.”
This is a story you’re not going to believe.
In Mom to Mom, I frequently encourage young moms to focus on the things that matter most and to give up “Supermom” expectations. I admit that one of the things I gave up was fanatical super-clean housekeeping. Order and organization—yes. But obsessive cleaning in every nook and cranny—no.
Recently, however, our house has been looking better than usual because we are getting ready to put it on the market. As part of that process, I had a cleaning team come in this week to help me out. And you’ll never guess what they found.
Here’s how it went:
“Uh, Mrs. Anderson, do you have a bag or something where I could throw this away?” One of the cleaners is standing before me with a strange look on his face, clutching what look like two white towels or dust rags in his hands.
“Oh, sure—just throw those rags here in my kitchen trash. “
“Um, um, Mrs. Anderson, do you have any stuffed chipmunks in your house?”
My mind scans the assortment of stuffed animals throughout our home. A chipmunk? I don’t think so. But, well, maybe…
Before I can answer, one of the other cleaners approaches: “That ain’t no stuffed chipmunk!! It’s got bones and everything.”
“Yikes! You’ve got a live chipmunk in those towels?!!”
“Oh, no,” the girl responds: “He’s not alive. He be dead. Very dead. Stiff, actually.”
This is the truth, I swear. The cleaning team found a dead chipmunk in my house. And what’s worse, guess where they found it? Under my bed!!Yes that’s right—under my bed! It was wedged between the headboard and the wall in one of those impossible-to-get-to places that had not been cleaned, I can assure you, for a very long time. Obviously.
How did this unfortunate little creature manage to get into our house and all the way upstairs to the master bedroom? Here’s my theory: months ago (too many to admit!) we left for a trip just after our granddaughter, Gabriella, then 2 ½, had been visiting with us for several weeks. There had been plenty of coming and going through our patio sliders, and I’m not sure they had always been kept closed. Then, while we were gone, our burglar alarm was set off by a motion detector. When we came home, we found a few mysterious droppings in odd parts of the house—including our bedroom and the tub in the adjoining bathroom. At the time we thought it must have been a mouse, inspiring regular visits from the exterminator ever since. Now I’m thinking it was another kind of visitor…
The moral of this story? I don’t know. Maybe “Don’t ever have a cleaning team come to your house. You never know what they might find!”
It’s very humbling to share this story. But it’s just too funny not to. At least it attests to my authenticity when I tell you I’m not a fanatical housekeeper.
I also think there’s more here. How ironic that lately Woody and I have been complimenting ourselves on how great our house looks, given recent touch-ups and “staging” efforts as part of getting ready to list it. We’ve been especially admiring of our bedroom. Honestly—it looks really great! On the outside, that is.
But what was it Jesus said about “whited sepulchers” and “dead men’s bones”? I think there’s a deeper lesson here somewhere. But that’s for another time.
For now, just laugh with me. And take comfort in your own housekeeping struggles. Surely none of you have dead chipmunks under your bed!