Does It Really? Change Everything?

Does It Really? Change Everything?

“The biggest thing I’ve learned at Mom to Mom is that God loves me. Really loves me. Even me. Others have tried to tell me. But somehow I couldn’t believe it. You know, the way I am. But this year through Mom to Mom, I have truly felt God’s love. And you know, Linda, when you know God loves you, really loves you, it changes everything.”

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Can Prayers Be Only Tears?

Can Prayers Be Only Tears?

A sweet mom from across the country posts the question on Facebook: “Can prayers be only tears?Cuz that’s all I’ve got now.” Yes, my friend. Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.

I know from experience. My own—past, present, and most likely, future. I also know from the shared tears of many friends. Turns out we’re in good company.Job’s eyes poured out tears to God (Job 16:20). God told King Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayers and seen your tears.” (2 Kings 20:5) The Psalmist said God even kept track of his tossings and tears: “You have kept my tears in your bottle.” (Psalm 56:8 ESV) Sometimes tears are all you have. 

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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.

 

Desperate

Desperate

The word "desperate" comes to mind often these days. There are a number of reasons.

This winter’s weather, for many of you. It seems there’s a new storm on the way every few days. Every plan made feels subject to cancellation, and I see a lot of moms in supermarkets with that desperate look in their eyes.

Then there are the conversations with my daughter, whose two-year-old is being very two. And it’s wearing his mother down. Yep. Desperate. That would describe many a day with that charming little whirlwind of a boy. And his two sisters.

In the midst of this long winter for weary moms, I’m preparing to speak at a local Mom to Mom. They haven’t met for a month now. Three “snow days” bled into school vacation week, and I suspect there are more than a few moms feeling desperate.

All of this—and much more—is why I’m so glad Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae Hoover wrote Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.

Sarah Mae is a young mom with three small children and Sally is an older (or should I say more experienced?) mom with four grown children. Each chapter begins with an exchange of notes in which Sarah is looking for help on a particular issue or with a particular stage of her parenting. Sally is able to provide hope from “on up the road apiece.” I like the dual perspective.

If you are a young mom—or an older mom—or if you know a young mom or an older mom, you really should get this book. Here’s why:

  • It’s real. Sarah’s descriptions of mom-feelings, beginning with the introductory “I can’t be a mother today, Lord. I’m just too tired,” are honest, authentic, and written from the heat of the battle. They help moms sigh with relief: “Phew! I’m not the only mom who feels this way.”
  • It recognizes the depths to which being a mom can sometimes send us. Sarah has struggled with depression, and she writes about it with raw authenticity. And Sally responds with heartfelt encouragement both practical and Scriptural.
  • It reminds us how much we moms need each other. We were not meant to do this mom-job alone. God knew what He was doing when He provided the Titus 2:3-5 model of older women teaching and encouraging the young women. It is the heart of our small groups at Mom to Mom, and I love the one-on-one example of this which Sally and Sarah provide.
  • It points us Godward. Rather than providing parenting formulas or models of mothering perfection, Sally gently and wisely steers Sarah away from perfectionistic mom-models back to our Perfect and All-Powerful God. She encourages Sarah to trust her own God-given instincts about herself and her family, relying on His Word and His power and help and strength rather than searching for the perfect parenting formula.

One caveat: I am so grateful for the transparency with which the very real problem of depression is addressed. And Sally’s responses to Sarah are full of empathy as well as practical and Scriptural encouragement. But I wish they had been clearer about the need for professional help in some cases. Moms need to draw on a wide range of resources for this very prevalent problem, and I wouldn’t want moms who need this kind of help to miss it.

Bottom line: This book lives up to its subtitle: “Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe.” Read it. And breathe.

Waiting, Preparing, and Lighting Candles Wherever You Are

Waiting, Preparing, and Lighting Candles Wherever You Are

“Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.”

These words were written from a small cell in a Nazi prison camp by Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest who would shortly thereafter be hanged as a traitor for his opposition to Hitler. I recently came across this quote in a book of Advent readings and I asked myself: If Alfred Delp could write about “The Shaking Reality of Advent” in such a time from such a place, what about us, this December 2009, here in America?

I feel very pensive about Advent this year. I think it is partially because Advent is a season of waiting, of preparation, and of lighting of candles. It is a time when we prepare to celebrate The Arrival. The Arrival of a baby whose birth changed everything. Absolutely everything. Everywhere. Forever. Even in a Nazi prison cell. Or in Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Or an economic downturn in the USA. A Very Big Arrival.

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