“I thought you’d like to see a picture of the kids you helped me raise." The picture on the Christmas card was of a beautiful young couple’s wedding. The words came from a proud mama, a Mom to Mom “alum,” who was overflowing with joy at the ways in which God has grown and led her three young adult children.
But her words took me back many years—nearly two decades—to when I first met this woman. How different things were in her family then! Beth (not her real name) was struggling mightily in her role as mom, grappling with family dysfunction and anger and not wanting to be at Mom to Mom despite a friend’s insistence that she come. In fact, she was so angry and overwhelmed that she told me years later that she saved up all her bad language to use on Mom to Mom days because “if my leader knew who I really was, she wouldn’t keep on loving me like she does.”
But her leader did keep on loving her. Mightily and stubbornly, with the never-failing love of our God. Eventually Beth came to know not only her leader’s love, but the love of her leader’s God. I remember a note Beth wrote me one summer after a couple of years at Mom to Mom. “Just think,” she said,” Before Mom to Mom, I didn’t even know your God. Now He’s my God, too.”
Not only did Beth come to know God—but her whole family did as well. They joined our church, put the kids in a Christian school, eventually got involved in Bible studies and went on mission trips and testified mightily to the grace of God during times of grave illness. One of those now grown-up kids was the groom in the picture, marrying the young woman he met at his Christian college.
The fruit of faithfulness. Especially—and above all—the faithfulness of our God as He works in lives as He draws them to Himself. But he also uses our faithfulness. Faithfulness of dedicated Titus 2 leaders. Faithfulness of the administrators who make a ministry like Mom to Mom happen. Faithfulness of childcare workers who lovingly care for the children of moms who need to be at Mom to Mom.
Recently I had a vivid reminder of the mighty work of Mom to Mom childcare teams. I visited a new (first year) Mom to Mom in Maine where I was amazed and delighted to learn that their whole childcare team is made up of volunteers. Heroes, I’d call them—the men and women who care for kids so that their moms can grow as Christian moms.
The day I was there, the moms were honoring and thanking these wonderful childcare workers by each bringing something for a Christmas basket for each worker. Some moms had baked cookies, others made a small ornament or wrote a note or bought a small treat to add to each basket. The baskets were overflowing. And so was my heart—to see both God’s faithfulness in this wonderful team and the gratitude of these moms. And I thought of the investment being made which will bear fruit for years to come. “If only,” I thought. “If only the women who have worked so hard as leaders and administrators and childcare workers could see into the future to see the fruit of such faithfulness."
Back to that picture on the Christmas card. It also made me think of my Mom, who for years prayed faithfully for this Beth and her family. I believe Mom was at one time Beth’s Titus 2 leader—I’m not sure. But she knew about her and her family and tried to encourage them in every way she could. I wished that Mom could see this picture and read Beth’s note. Maybe she does.
This week—December 19, to be exact—is the third anniversary of my mom’s death. But her prayers live on, as I mentioned in a long-ago blog (“Deathless Prayers”). The reading for December 19 in an old-favorite devotional Mom often read, Streams in the Desert, includes a poem by an unknown author which always reminds me of Mom, of Mom to Mom, and of God’s faithfulness when we are faithful to “call back” about His faithfulness and provision to those coming along the road behind us in mothering. I share it with you as an encouragement to all of you who ”call back” to other moms—whether through leading a small group at Mom to Mom, sending a note (or an email, a text, a tweet) of encouragement, caring for kids so moms can grow in Jesus. Or praying “deathless prayers” over the moms and families Jesus so loves.
If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back— It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track; And if, perhaps, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low. Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.
Call back, and tell me He went with you into the storm; Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn; That when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill, He bore you up and held you where the lofty air was still.
O friend, call back and tell me for I cannot see your face; They say it glows with triumph, and your feet sprint in the race; But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim, And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.
But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry, And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky— If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back— It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.
This Advent season, I hope you’ll keep “calling back” about the One whose birth we celebrate. He is faithful. He calls us to be faithful. There’s a picture ahead of you somewhere of the “kids you’re helping raise.”