Posts Tagged ‘Titus 2’
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!
“We will tell the next generation . . .” Our pastor alluded to it last Sunday. I re-read it this week in Psalm 78. And I saw it in action recently in a Mom to Mom group where I spoke.
You could call it “generational wealth.” I’ve heard the term used in the context of legacy giving and non-profit donations: inherited wealth passed on generation to generation. Churches and charities love it.
But the generational wealth I’m talking about is far richer than the largest donation, the greatest bequest. The Psalmist expands on it in Psalm 78:3-7:
“. . . what we have heard and known,
what our fathers [and mothers] have told us
We will not hide them from our children
We will tell the next generation
The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord
His powers and the wonders He has done . . .
So the next generation would know them,
Even the children yet to be born,
And they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God. . . .”
It’s the Titus 2 principle, on which Mom to Mom was founded, fleshed out. And I saw a wonderful example of it in a precious Mom to Mom group in Meredith, NH. Four generations in Mom to Mom: Titus 2 leaders Mini and her daughter Mary, Mom to Mom member Carrie (Mary’s daughter) with her daughter Rose. It was a first, for me, to meet four generations of one family in Mom to Mom.
In that same morning there were many memorable interactions with women about “real mom” life: particularly challenging children; grown kids in crisis; marriages that died—some brought back to life again by our resurrecting Lord, some still dead but with daily strength supplied by that same Lord. And then there was the mom who wrote this in a note to me: [Mom to Mom] has inspired me to trust in the hope of Christ for those in my family who are still unsaved. I also have faith that God will redeem the years that the locust has eaten—from all the mistakes I have made in raising my children.” Can’t we all say “Amen” to that?!
A precious gift given to me summed up the morning. One mom had painted on a beautiful plate a verse I had alluded to in their last session (Session 16 of Growing Together). This same mom had several years ago painted Mom to Mom sayings on her bathroom walls—the only place she got to sit down in those days! No, she didn’t present me with a piece of the wall. But the verse on the plate captures it:
Generational wealth: Pass it on!
Images courtesy of Susan Brown. Used with permission.
I’ve just returned from Mom to Mom Ministry Board meetings out in the Boston area. What a great time we had working together, praying together, laughing together—even sharing a few tears from time to time, as we shared our hearts as well as our work.
But the dominant visual memory we will all have from our time together is this: S’Mores! Yes, S’Mores—those wonderful, gooey, gloriously caloric treats many of us remember from Girl Scouts or Christian camps or family vacations.
Why S’Mores? Well, because our chaplain, whom we affectionately call Pastor Kay, began our time together with a brief devotional in which she shared verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in The Message about how much stronger we are as we work together: “A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Much less a 7-stranded one! Kay told us,
“We, board sisters, are much like s’mores. Some of us tend to be like graham crackers: brittle at times, but ultimately sweet. Others of us are more like marshmallows: soft with passion and heart-felt emotion. Still others are more like dark chocolate: quiet, deep, yet so ‘just right’ at the moment needed.
But even though each board member offers individual treasures, when God put us together and added the ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit, we became so much more than we would have ever been separately—we became s’mores.”
Kay’s devotional made me reflect back over the years since Mom to Mom began. It’s always been a team effort. From the three young moms who originally saw the need of such a ministry to the “Five Mommies” who first comprised the Mom to Mom Board to the “Seven Sisters” our board has grown to include, we’ve always shared the work.
And as we’ve shared the work, we’ve become, as Kay reminded us, so much more than any one of us could ever be by ourselves. Even as we worked together and prayed together—and yes, played together (oh yes, we do know how to have a good time between all those meetings!) S’Mores became a sort of theme for our last three days together.
But the S’mores theme actually extends way beyond our little board. I think it’s a picture of Mom to Mom groups throughout the country. On the leadership level, we Titus 2 leaders are so much more as we join hands around our circles and work together and pray together and love and encourage moms together. And our moms becomes so much more to their families as they share the joys and challenges of their work among their small groups.
Aren’t you glad God gave us each other? Of course ultimately HE is the One who makes us so much more. I’m reminded of Ephesians 4:16: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (NIV)
In case you’re wondering, yes, we did actually have S’Mores to eat—even though, for some of us working down to the wire before leaving for the airport, we had to take them “to go” in the car so it did get a little messy!
So today I’m thanking God for our Mom to Mom Ministry Board, for all of you doing Mom to Mom throughout the country—and for S’mores!
Recently I have talked with a number of Mom to Mom leaders who are experiencing their annual summer challenge: How will God supply the new Titus 2 women we need to have by September in order to start (or re-start) Mom to Mom in the Fall?
This becomes an annual dilemma for Mom to Mom groups because, despite the amazingly high rate of return in Titus 2 leaders (most find it very hard to leave Mom to Mom once they have tasted the joys of mentoring moms; a frequent refrain from these women is “I couldn’t live without Mom to Mom myself!”), we are always looking for new leaders. One reason for this is simply the changing seasons of life and shifts in responsibilities which necessarily pull some Titus 2 leaders away. But the best reason for our annual need is that Mom to Mom groups tend to grow. We’re always needing to form new groups. And no one wants to put moms on a waiting list because we can’t find enough Titus 2 leaders.
This is, for me, the season when I begin to pray more intensely than ever for God to stir the hearts of potential Titus 2 women throughout the churches of our country to hear and recognize—and follow!—God’s call in this area.
So you can imagine my delight in coming across an article posted online by Susan Hunt entitled “Wanted: More Older Women Discipling Younger Women.” While Hunt is coming from a slightly different perspective (she is focusing specifically on discipleship of believers and is addressing the broader need to disciple all women, while Mom to Mom focuses on moms and reaches out to include seekers), I was encouraged by her ringing call to churches to live up to the Titus 2 mandate.
For it is a mandate—not just a nice suggestion. I well remember the three young moms who first came to me to ask if I would work with them in forming a ministry to moms. “Don’t you think God meant what He said when He said in Titus 2:3-5 that older women are to teach and encourage younger women?” they asked. Indeed!
The Titus 2 mandate is a generational responsibility. As Hunt puts it: “Older [men and] women have the generational responsibility to share their gifts and graces with younger [men and] women. They are to tell the stories of their victories as well as their failures and show how their stories are part of God’s grand story of redemption.”
This is a relational responsibility. It is life-on-life ministry. It is, in a sense, as we say at Mom to Mom and Hunt says as well, a mothering ministry. The kind of ministry which Paul depicts in I Thessalonians 2:7-8, a favorite passage in Mom to Mom training which is also cited by Hunt:
“But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (NIV)
Like mothering, however, this Biblical imperative, this calling, is not only a responsibility. It is a great privilege, an almost indescribable joy. In fact, one of the best ways to “recruit” future Titus 2 leaders is to invite them to visit Mom to Mom. Most often, once they have the opportunity to see the thirst these moms have for Titus 2 women in their lives, and the joy it is to be a part of God’s great plan in this way, they are “hooked”!
As it is now mid-summer and many Mom to Mom groups are not currently meeting, the second best way to introduce potential leaders to Mom to Mom is to give them an opportunity to talk with other Titus 2 leaders and hear for themselves what a joy mentoring moms can be. They can do this one-on-one or by joining your leadership group for a mid-summer connection or pre-season planning session.
Of course we all know that the very best thing about Mom to Mom is watching God at work. Look for any way(s) we can find to give women a glimpse of the life-change that so often occurs in these moms. Watching our powerful God at work in the lives of women and families—and getting to be a small part of His big plan. Does it get any better?!
I know that as I write about the joyful Biblical mandate of Titus 2, I am in a sense “preaching to the choir” on this blog. Many of you are already Mom to Mom leaders and know the joy of loving on moms. Some of you are desperately searching for more leaders and saying, “Yea and Amen to what you’re writing—why can’t more women in my church (or even my church leadership) see the urgency of this calling?”
I just want to encourage you. Don’t give up! What you are doing is worth it! It is worth it because God tells us to do it. It is worth it because following God’s plan truly meets the needs of moms. It is worth it because, as the old song says, “there is joy in serving Jesus”!
You may be encouraged by reading Susan Hunt’s article. You may even want to share it with your pastor or Women’s Ministry leader. Or at least feel inspired by the reminder that older women coming alongside younger women was God’s plan all along.
We at Mom to Mom are praying with you and for you as you pray and plan toward September. God will supply all your needs. (Philippians 4:19) In His time . . .