Thanksgiving Dissonance: Going Deeper

Thanksgiving Dissonance: Going Deeper

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4 KJV)

I keep hearing this plaintive cry of the Israelites from the pain-laced Psalm 137. Though I’m not living in exiIe as they were, I am living in a strange land of my own. It is strange for many reasons, some sharable and some not. As I near completion of radiation for breast cancer, I am also struggling with glaucoma issues that cause me to live my life between the radiation clinic and the ophthalmology office—and the couch. And November is always my month of special thanks-giving.

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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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Heart Talk on Hurting Hearts

Heart Talk on Hurting Hearts


It’s February. So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m thinking about hearts. But my thoughts at the moment are not the stuff of Hallmark cards or romantic gifts or candlelight dinners—though I actually do love all those things.

This year my thoughts are overtaken by other kinds of hearts. Broken hearts. Anxious hearts. Losing heart. Or more accurately, not losing heart.

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A Firm Grip

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.  I’ve been with lots of moms—in Ireland, in Illinois, in Texas, and closer to home in Wisconsin.   As always, I come home seeing many mom-faces before me, hearing many mom-stories playing in the back of my head.  And as always, I’m both praising God and praying more because of all the moms I’ve met.

You moms are incredible!  I am continually amazed at the strength, the patience, the perseverance, and the fierce love you have for your children.  It’s a love that continues to love even when loving comes hard.  It’s a love that loves kids through their toughest ages and stages.  It’s a love that persists—and maybe even grows stronger—when you’re a single adoptive mom of two special needs kids, or a mom who’s had to file a restraining order against your children’s father, or a mom who’s parenting alone because Daddy is incarcerated.  And maybe hardest of all, it’s an everyday love that perseveres 24/7/365, day after ordinary day.  I hear your stories, I see your faces, and I honor you as heroes.

But I also know that what you are doing is hard.  Very hard.  And you cannot do it alone.  Which is why one particular picture persists in my mind.  I keep seeing this picture not only because it is a picture of my daughter and granddaughter walking along the Irish Sea.  Of course that helps—but I actually have much better pictures of these two special people.  The reason the picture is ever before me is because it reminds me of you.  It reminds me of what you are doing every day with and for your kids.

But it also reminds me of God.  It reminds me of God and what He does every day for you and me because we cannot walk this walk alone.  Whether you are currently single or married or “feeling single” even while married, you do not have to walk this “mama-walk” alone.  Hear what God says to you:

“Don’t panic.  I’m with you.  There’s no need to fear because I’m your God.  I’ll give you strength.  I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. . . That’s right.  Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.  I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’”   (from Isaiah 41:10,13 in The Message)

In the NIV we read that God will “uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10) and “takes hold of your right hand.” (Isaiah 41:13).  Just like the picture!  But I do like the “firm grip” Eugene Peterson describes.  And these are just two of many verses in the Bible that talk about God holding us.

No matter what you’re going through today, no matter how mundane or ordinary or overwhelming your day, He’s got a firm grip on you.  Can you feel it?

Faithfulness, Fruit, and “Calling Back”

Wedding photo

“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. Mom to Mom child care workers receiving recognition and thanks.

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."

Gift baskets for childcare workers

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.

Call Back

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.”