Watching God at Work ... Happy Mother's Day!

Watching God at Work ... Happy Mother's Day!

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.

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Happy Mother's Day -- No Matter What!

Mother and Child

Mother’s Day always launches me on a roller coaster of emotions.  Memories sweep over me like wind in my face—and there’s lots of speed and power in that little roller coaster car.

There were the many painful Mother’s Days of infertility. Then—eventually—the ecstatic joy of celebrating Mother’s Day holding a new (or relatively new) baby in my arms. The babies grew up and “helped” Woody serve me breakfast in bed.  A great diet plan, as they were mostly interested in eating whatever was on my tray. The helpful eaters grew into teens, and then, just when they were becoming truly wonderful, went off to college and beyond that into their own lives. Poignant years of missing having them at home became celebrations of joy for the Godly mothers my daughter and daughter-in-laws were becoming.  Mother’s Day = A day of joy and gratitude.

Another burst of wind in my face: memories of my mother.  She was, next to my husband, my best friend. When she died  7 ½ years ago, she left a huge hole in my heart that no one else can fill.  I had the great blessing of having her for far more years than many of my friends have had their mothers.  And I had the privilege of having her—one very special, Godly, praying mother—as my mother.  I am grateful.  But I still wish I could send her a note.  Or better yet, give her a call.  Or, best of all, a quick visit.

But this Mother’s Day I’m feeling extra emotions on behalf of many mothers I know.  Mothers who have recently buried children.  Is there anything more heart-wrenching?  Mothers with new babies or “too many toddlers—or teens!” or life circumstances that leave them so depleted they barely know it’s Mother’s Day.  Isn’t every day Mother’s Day?  That is, “Mothers on Duty 24/7” Day?  Women who long to be mothers, for whom Mother’s Day can be excruciating.  Women who mourn the loss of their mothers—or even of the mother they never had but always wished for.

The roller coaster.  The swirling wind in my face.  That’s why I’m so glad we have assurance from God that we can celebrate mothers no matter what.  No matter what mother you had—or didn’t.  No matter what mother you are—or aren’t.  God promises to be like a Mother to us. We’re all familiar with the many wonderful references to God loving us with a perfect Fatherly love.  But in a few cases He also compares His love to that of mothers.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  (Isaiah 49:15)

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . . (Isaiah 66:13)

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. (Psalm 131:2)

 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings . . .”   (Jesus weeping over His people and longing to gather them with maternal love and protection—Matthew 23:37)

God assures us that, whatever else we may not have, we have HIM.  Because of this powerful, sustaining love of our God, I feel confident in wishing you a joyful Mother’s Day—no matter what!

Mother’s Day—and Hannah Thoughts

Mother’s Day is coming up soon.  That means I am thinking about Hannah a lot.  No, not necessarily my granddaughter Hannah (though I do think about her a lot—see last week’s post).  It’s Hannah my longtime soul mate from Scripture I’m thinking about just now.

Mother’s Day always stirs up in me a turbulent pot of emotions.  Often there are baby dedications that day.  I love baby dedications.  They always make me cry.

In fact, I cry a lot on Mother’s Day.  First, I cry for joy as I see parents bring their new little ones before the church to dedicate them to God—and to dedicate their parent hearts to raising these precious ones in Godly ways.   Whether or not our church has baby dedications, I cry for joy as I thank God for the beautiful children and grandchildren He has so graciously given us.

But I also cry on Mother’s Day for other reasons.  I cry because I remember many Mother’s Days in my past that were some of the hardest days of my life.  There were the days when I wondered if I would ever be a mother.  And the Mother’s Day after my miscarriage.  I remember these days well.  And I look around church on Mother’s Day and wonder how many women are crying inside as I did for so many years.

I also look around and think about the multiple ambivalences Mother’s Day generates in many hearts.  Those who have recently buried a mother (oh, yes — definitely another reason I cry on Mother’s Day).  Those who have difficult relationships with their mothers—or their kids.  Those who struggle with “mama guilt” about their own mothering—or the child they aborted long ago.  You can be sure there’s plenty of emotion to go around on Mother’s Day, no matter how well hidden it may be behind smiling faces.

All of this makes me think of Hannah.  She and I have been soul mates for a long time.  We have gone through many seasons together.  In my infertility, I often turned to 1 Samuel 1 and read about Hannah’s “year after year” prayers.  Then when a 14-week pregnancy terminated in a devastating miscarriage, I pondered Hannah’s plight all the more.

When Woody and I were finally blessed with children, I couldn’t get Hannah off my mind.  How, I wondered, was she able to give that precious, long-awaited child back to God? When our children were young, I wondered how Hannah was ever able to leave Samuel at the tabernacle.  OK, full disclosure:  There were days when the thought of leaving a toddler at the church to be raised by the staff sounded like a pretty great idea!  But you all know what I mean.

As our children grew older, my Hannah-question changed slightly.  Not only “How could she leave him?” but “How could she leave him there?”  At the tabernacle, which was apparently so full of corruption.  And with Eli, who had not done so well with his own two sons.

All of this drives me back to 1 Samuel 1-2, to Hannah and her story.  There’s a lifetime of learning there for me.   I challenge you to read it as we approach Mother’s Day.  Because the bottom line of it all points to the source of Hannah’s mom-power. The power to wait for a child, to train a child (Samuel in his earliest years and other siblings who came along later), to give up a child, and to impact a child to become a mighty man of God like Samuel.  That power came from God.  And from her relationship with God.  It was prayer-power.

The very intimacy she gained through her deep honesty with God in her barren times was the fuel that powered her ability to do all the rest.  In other words, Hannah knew God well enough to trust Him with what mattered most to her—her child.

It’s the question that lingers the longest for me, as a woman, as a wife, as a mom:  Do I know God well enough to trust Him—truly trust Him—with my children?  Do you?

Babies, Birds’ Nests—and Mamas Forever?

“Honey, you never stop being a mom.”   That’s what my mom always used to tell me.  She’d say that when I was worrying about something in the life of one of my kids—or when she was worried about me!  I’ve been thinking about her words a lot lately.

I think it all started with the birds’ nest we found in a tree in our front yard.  We didn’t even know it as there until one afternoon when we were examining a very sad-looking spruce tree which had been so damaged by the past two winters that it looks like a comma.  That’s what my neighbor calls it: the comma tree.  We were wondering if there was any way to save it—or if it would have to come down.

Suddenly there it was.  Buried deep in the branches was a beautifully built nest with three perfect eggs. The eggs are that spectacular color we call “robin’s egg blue” but which I never thought could be that brilliant in real life. Ever since our discovery, I’ve been monitoring the nest daily—well, more like several times a day.  Most of the time the mama-bird is sitting on it.  As she sits all puffed out on that nest, she looks just like I felt when I was pregnant—fierce and fat.   And very protective.  Very, very protective.   Her expression says it all: “Don’t you even think about messing with my babies!”  (BTW, if you don’t think robins have facial expressions, you really need to meet this one.) Kind of like us human mamas, don’t you think?  But here’s a big difference.  I’ve been wondering how long till those babies will hatch (I’m afraid I will miss them when I’m out of town), so I asked my brother, who knows a lot about birds, what the timetable might be for these babies.  He tells me that once the eggs hatch, the babies will probably only be in the nest 14-18 days.

14-18 days??!!  Quite different from our mom-job, girls.  More like 18 years for us.  At least that’s what I used to think.  Now I know much better.  Each year when Mother’s Day rolls around, I realize even more the truth of my mom’s words.  You never do stop being a mom.  Oh, the job description changes.   Those of you with children over the age of, say, 6 months, know how the job description for a mom changes constantly as our kids need different things from us.

The good thing is that, as they grow, we grow, too.  (I hope that sounds familiar to those of you who’ve done our Mom to Mom curriculum Growing Together)  It’s a very stretching experience, indeed, to be a mom—and I’m not just talking about pregnancy stretch marks!  I remember thinking, when I was a young mom, that I always felt just a little behind my kids.  It seemed I had just gotten the knack of being, for example, a pre-school mom, when suddenly they were in elementary school.   And just as I got comfortable with my role as mother of elementary school kids, they were charging into adolescence.  To say nothing of all the adjustments and new roles as mother of a college student, then mother-in-law—and now, glorious but amazing, a Nana!  All these things I never thought I’d be old enough to be!

No, you never stop being a mom.  Sure, the job description changes.  But here’s what doesn’t: the mama-heart.  I’m reminded of what my friend Mary told me just before Bjorn, our first child, was born.  “Linda,” she said, “being a mom is the best thing ever.  I love being a mom.  But you need to know that, once that baby is born, your life will never be the same again.”  No, not the same.  Once you are a mom, you will forever think differently, sleep differently, pray differently.  For life—and, I suspect, on into eternity.

What was it someone said—“To be a mom is to walk around the rest of your life with your heart outside your body”?  I’m not sure who said it, but it rings true.

Recently we attended a wedding where the bride and groom, both now in their 50’s but once high school sweethearts, have rediscovered each other—and, it seems, their faith, after many twists and turns in the plot of their lives.  They both looked so happy—so very happy.  But the best part of the wedding was watching the groom’s mother beam with joy.  She has prayed many years for this son.  And here he was standing before God and a wonderful Godly pastor, entering into a very Christian marriage.  The mother of the groom is over 80 years old.

No, we never stop being moms.  That’s why I wanted to take time out this week from our “great questions from moms” topic  (we’ll get back to it soon!) to salute every mom reading this blog—and even those who don’t!  Whether you are an expectant mom, a brand-new mom, an exhausted toilet-training mom, an exasperated teen-mom, or the mom of a much-loved young adult who seems to be taking the long way around to God … I salute you!  You are doing a phenomenally important job.  Whether you are changing diapers or living in your van between soccer matches or wearing out your knee pads praying a prodigal home, you are doing something no one else can do.

You are loving your children as only a mom can.  And you are, I trust, praying for them as only a mom can.   As Winston Churchill famously said, “Never never never never never never give up!”   Even when—and there are so many days like this in our mom-lives—you feel like it.  God hasn’t given up on them—or you.  Just keep changing those knee-pads.

Happy Mothers' Day!