Glorious Fall!  A Season of New Beginnings

Glorious Fall!  A Season of New Beginnings

“Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” 

I love this line from the classic movie You’ve Got Mail by Nora Ephron. Why? Because I love fall, too! Here in New England, we are experiencing the first few days of cool, crisp air that ushers in the most glorious of seasons. Nora Ephron may think fall in New York is lovely, but it certainly can’t compare to the beauty of the autumn foliage we experience here in New England each year.

Read More

When the Garage Door Goes Down . . .

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.

beautiful woman looking out through venison blinds

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.

Generational Wealth

“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.

Meredith Moms

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.

Four Generations at 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:

plate photo

Generational wealth: Pass it on!

Images courtesy of Susan Brown. Used with permission.


A Hug from God Every Wednesday

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!

Moms, Moms Everywhere

Moms, Moms Everywhere—that’s actually the title of a LifeWay webcast in which I participated recently  (to be aired today at noon (CDT),  Tuesday, September 18 and available at Lifeway Women Live).  But it’s also how I feel this time of year.

OK, so I see moms everywhere all year round.  But recently I’ve been particularly impressed by how much we moms need each other.  As the school year opens, I always hear (and sometimes see) the excitement of moms reconnecting at their Mom to Mom groups—or starting a new one.  This coming weekend I’ll be with hundreds of moms at the wonderful .Mom conference in Birmingham (I think you can still register!)  Then next month I’ll be in Colorado with loads of moms at the Hearts at Home conference in Colorado Springs.  And then in November with many more at Hearts at Home in Rochester, Minnesota.  Moms, Moms everywhere—and I love it!

But it’s not just at big conferences or even in Mom to Mom groups.  I see moms in our neighborhood, at the supermarket, at church, at the mall—really, everywhere I go.  They are old and young, biological moms and adoptive moms and foster moms and blended-family moms, grandmoms raising grandchildren—all kinds of moms.

But there’s a common theme.  I see it in their faces and body language and I hear it in their tone of voice.  Moms need encouragement.  Lots of encouragement.   Last week I spoke at a local Mom to Mom, and a conversation with one mom captured it.  It was this woman’s first time at Mom to Mom.  At the end, she stopped and talked with me.  She wanted to thank me for “doing this.”  She told me about her own mom, her husband and family, and how she was doing as a mom.  “I think I need spiritual mothering,” she said.  She went on to tell me why.  But she ended her conversation with this:  “Thank you. This has been so helpful.  I just feel so encouraged.”

Praise God!  Just want we want to do at Mom to Mom: encourage moms.  Just what the people who plan big mom-conferences want to do: encourage moms.  And just what every one of us can look to do in our own lives: encourage moms.  Whether you’re a new mom or an experienced mom with grown kids or grandkids, whether you are part of a moms’ group or not—wherever you live, whatever you do, there are moms everywhere around you that you can encourage.  With a smile.  With  a word of affirmation.  With a helping hand at the door of Walmart or the public  library.  With a meal to a sick mom.  Or, best of all, some spiritual encouragement: let a mom know you’ll pray for her (and DO it!), invite her into your moms’ group or Bible Study, or watch her kids when they’re sick so she can go to her Bible Study or moms’ group.

A challenge:  Look around you and look for a mom you can encourage—today.  It’s much-needed.  It’s fun.  And it’s Biblical: “So encourage one another daily…”  (Hebrews 3:13)   Do it!

And if any of you have some creative suggestions for encouraging moms, or can share an experience where you were encouraged by another mom—I’d love to hear from you!   Or,  if by chance you’re going to be in Birmingham September 21-22; in Colorado Springs October 12-13; or Rochester, Minnesota, November 9-10, come see me.  We can encourage each other!

Being a Titus 2 Leader Is a Blessing

When I was asked to be a Titus 2 mom, I was very humbled and a little surprised.  I guess I didn't want to admit that I had at some point crossed over the point of being a "young" mom to an "old" mom!  I had attended several Hearts at Home conferences years ago, so I was excited that our church might be able to develop a biblically-based learning group for moms.  I prayed about it and said yes. Well what a blessing it has been for me!!  The fellow Titus 2 moms are wonderful mentors to me and I love spending time with the "young" moms again. It brings back the wonderful memories of those early days and again I am humbled to be able to help and encourage them through their journey of being a mom as I know what a blessing it is from God!  But, I never imagined how much I would get from the program.  As you said, God's word never gets old and we need to keep hearing it over and over.

I want to share one of my highlights with you because it means so much to me.  I think (hope) our family life has peaked in terms of business and craziness.  We have two away at college, but one day at the end of January, it was the 17th birthday of our oldest son at home, and I had a Mom to Mom meeting that morning.  I had no present for him because honestly (and sadly) he really did not need anything materially and I just didn't have it in my heart to "buy" a present for the sake of having a present.  So as I am rushing getting ready for our meeting time, I am thinking to myself that I shouldn't be doing this Mom to Mom thing, that I just didn't have time for it.  I always want to make sure I am putting my family first and I just had a incredible amount of mom-guilt that morning.

But I went and listened as Linda Anderson spoke to our group via the DVD.  As crazy as it sounds, I know God was talking to me through her.  It was Heart Talk Session 6: Biblical Building Blocks of Self-Worth.  It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear that morning.  Anyway, as I was listening to Linda and thinking about our son, the idea of the best present came to me.  Why do I have to buy "something" for him?

Instead, I went home and wrote him a long letter telling him how special he was, how thankful we are for him, and how God is always there for him.  With that letter I promised him that once a month for his 17th year either I, his dad, or both of us would take him out for a special dinner. In a large family, that just does not happen!  It has been my most treasured gift that I have given in a long time.  I look forward to being able to do this throughout what is basically his last year at home before he goes off to college.  We have done it three times now and every one has been wonderful.  I am guessing that this may become a new family tradition for us and it is all because of Mom to Mom!!

Beyond “Us”

Have you ever been so focused on yourself that you lose sight of others? Maybe it's all the responsibilities you have in caring for your family. But somehow you just find yourself needing something more. Recently our Mom to Mom group was there! We spent week after week discussing the issues that face us every day.

So we decided to reach out. Our group was presented with a challenge to help a local community agency, Nurses for Newborns. This organization supports at-risks moms and/or babies in the early stages of parenting. Our group decided that we could look beyond our needs and help other moms less fortunate. We decided to make Easter baskets for the agency to deliver to the moms with whom they work. Our moms collected some new and some gently used items for the baskets. We used part of our workshop time to assemble the baskets. By the end of the day we had 50 baskets to present to the agency! Our moms were even surprised by what they were able to join together and do. It was a refreshing time to take our eyes off ourselves and focus on someone else in need.

To some in our group, the idea of giving back to the community is quite common. Others, however, were learning about this blessing for the first time. This was a wonderful way to look outside the stress in our own homes and share a breath of springtime with others!

By Lori Campbell, Titus 2 Leader

Rolling Hills Community Church Mom to Mom

Franklin, TN

Ask a Titus 2 Mom

Today at our Mom to Mom we hosted the very first, "Ask a Titus 2 Mom." Over the past few weeks, the moms have been submitting questions that they wanted us leaders to answer. With the young moms gathered in chairs positioned in a semi circle and the leaders' chairs positioned on the stage, we told the young moms that the chairs onstage were for the experts who had all the answers. Therefore we would not be sitting in those chairs. Then we leaders took seats right in front at the moms' eye level.

We met them as a group of "older" moms who are further along on the journey and willing to share our strengths and weaknesses, things that have worked for us and things that haven't. The only thing we could say definitively and totally agreed on is that God has been and will continue to be faithful, and that He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him. The questions asked and the answers shared were honest, loving, and from the heart.

Both moms and leaders agree it was a good day at Mom to Mom.

—Saundria, in Tennesee

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!

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 Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Choosing Gratitude Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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

One Thousand Gifts
One Thousand Gifts

—Saundria, in Tennessee