Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mom-questions, Imperfections, and Beautiful Music

I just finished doing two things—reading today’s entry in the classic devotional Streams in the Desert and reading a list of 27 profound questions from moms in an Atlanta-area Mom To Mom which I will be visiting later this week. They have asked me to do an informal Q&A time with them and have submitted some questions for me to think about ahead of time.

Wow, do they have good questions! They have given me plenty to think about. I certainly do not have all the answers. It’s humbling even to have them asking me these questions. Asking me—imperfect mother as I was (and am) and “bear of little brain.” (Isn’t that what Winnie the Pooh used to say? Do any of you still read Winnie the Pooh stories to your kids?)

As I was pondering these questions, a quote came to mind: I’m just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” And it struck me that that’s what Mom To Mom is all about. As teachers and leaders and mentors and fellow-moms, all of us try to share as much wisdom as we can. We can share what we have learned from our mistakes as much as our small successes. But most of all we’re one mom telling another mom where to get help and find food.

Which takes me back to today’s entry in my devotional book. The story is told about the great violinist Paganini finding himself on the stage ready to begin a big performance only to discover that his invaluable master violin had been stolen and replaced with the inferior one he held in his hand. Here’s what he said to the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, I will now demonstrate to you that the music is not in the instrument but in the soul.”

Not in the instrument, but “in the soul.”

This story penetrated my heart on two levels. First, with the reminder that mothering is really all about the soul. All of our tools and strategies and great ideas are helpful. But what matters most in a mom, what profoundly impacts our kids, is who we are at soul level.

Then, looking at this story through a slightly different lens, it struck me how God is playing the music; we are merely the instruments. And He, the Master Musician, can play beautiful music even through us, imperfect instruments that we are.

That takes some pressure off us, doesn’t it? It also underscores how important it is that we keep in tune with the Master Musician, the One who orchestrates our lives and the lives of our children. As imperfect as we are, He can make beautiful music through us. Even when we don’t have all the answers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dublin Delivery

No, the baby’s not here yet—Erika actually has a couple of months to go. I’m talking about a different kind of delivery: the one Woody and I made last weekend on a quick trip to Dublin. We flew there with four fully-packed suitcases and flew home with two half-empty ones. And in between, did we have fun!

We had several reasons for this trip—as if any mom and dad need a reason to visit their daughter and son-in-law! Most importantly, we wanted to see our daughter pregnant, as she really didn’t look very pregnant when she was here last June. We also wanted to help her set up a little nursery for the baby. And, we had a bunch of shower presents to deliver—from the shower I told you about last June. If any of you have mailed anything internationally recently, you will understand why we wanted to bring as much with us as we could. Of course the suitcases did have to expand even a bit more after I got back from a “pink-binge” at the mall just before leaving last week. A first granddaughter, after all…

As it turned out, we also got to help Erika and Richie move, since our trip came at just the right time when they were “moving house,” as they say in Ireland, from one apartment to another. I’m sure you’re getting the picture by now—it was a very full weekend!

We actually worked pretty hard, and enjoyed every moment of it. We were able to set up a few things for the baby: a crib (a “cot” in Ireland), a changing table, and even my Nana-obsession—a nursing rocker. (Every new mama needs a rocker.) These furniture items all came “flat-packed.” And I can tell you I am still thanking God that Woody is good at putting things together, as that’s definitely not one of the gifts God gave me.

We were able to finish cleaning out one apartment and begin some of the settling process in another. In between, we even managed to squeeze in a coffee here or there and a few dinners out. And something else I love to do: We got to worship at Erika and Richie’s church, a warm and intimate “Saturday@Five” service held in a stately old Irish Presbyterian church. I always look forward to worshiping with them.

But best of all, as you can imagine, was just seeing Erika and Richie and feeling that baby within. She’s pretty active these days. And though her wildest hours seem to be when Erika’s in bed, we were able to feel a few kicks and somersaults-in-process even in the daytime. Well worth a trip to Ireland and back!

Speaking of the trip back…it’s funny how the trip home always seems so much longer than the trip there. It is actually a bit longer on the clock (wind currents or something like that). But of course the distance is really measured in a mother’s heart.

As I said goodbye to Erika, knowing that the next time I see her she will probably be a mama (we’re still working on how to time my trip over to help her when the baby comes), I was reminded how profound Erika’s blog post was on control versus trust. Somehow it takes extra trust for this mama to entrust my “baby” to the far-away Irish healthcare system to properly deliver her baby. But no matter where she is having the baby, there will be plenty that’s out of my control. Plenty that needs to rest in the hands of God.

Being a mama is all about trust, isn’t it? Let’s keep praying for each other, girls!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mississippi “Happy”

What a great weekend I had in Madison, Mississippi, with the Mom To Mom women at Broadmoor Baptist Church. They are one great group of women, let me tell you—and beautiful besides, as you can see from the pictures.

They welcomed me with such warm and elegant Southern hospitality that at one or two points I half expected Rhett or Scarlett to walk through the door. I loved listening to them. That beautiful soft speech makes everything somehow sound a little easier, doesn’t it? And I even learned a new word or two.

One of those words was a new definition for “happy.” One of the leaders was telling me how she liked to bring the moms in her group a “little happy” whenever she could. It sounded like a noun—a “happy.” So of course I had to ask about it. For you girls north of the Mason-Dixon line (or maybe just outside Mississippi), a “happy” is a little treat or surprise . . . some small gift that will brighten their day—or week—or month.

I was picturing M&M’s—of course!

I was actually given a “happy” by one of the groups I spoke to—a package of Mississippi Cheese Straws. And let me tell you, they make you happy!

But what made me happiest of all was to see these moms reaching out to one another with the love of Jesus. As I travel around and visit with moms, I am always struck at how similar our needs, worries, challenges, and opportunities are as moms no matter what part of the country we live in or even what age our kids are. We all need encouragement. We all need energizing. We all need help in this most challenging job of raising the next generation—and influencing generations to come! Especially, we all need prayer—and the power of God in our lives.

That’s why a rather obscure verse came to my mind this morning as I prayed for Mom To Mom groups all over the country— the group in Madison, but also and especially some “Wednesday MTM’s” in Texas and North Carolina and New Jersey and Illinois and Wisconsin. (BTW, if you want to be on my prayer list, please write in to and let us know where you are and when you meet!)

I thought of Psalm 68:11. In the KJV it reads: “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of people that published it.” But apparently the word for “people” here is feminine. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates the last part of this verse: “a great company of women brought the good news.”

A great company of women brought the good news. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Isn’t that what we’re doing through Mom To Mom? That’s why praying for Mom To Mom women all over the country makes me very, very happy!

And now I’m off to finish packing my bags for Ireland—a quick trip to help Erika get the nursery set up for that little lady due in November. A suitcase full of pink stuff . . . Talk about happy!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reunion Thanks

Have you ever had a time when all you could say is “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus”? And you just couldn’t stop saying it?

Last weekend was like that for me. We got to see Lars again! Lars’ inlaws, Kelly’s wonderful parents Connie and Rob Lawrence, graciously hosted a wonderful mini-reunion at their lovely home in Kiawah, South Carolina. Though not all family members could be there (we sure missed Erika and Richie, but were so glad Bjorn and Abby and Soren could come), we had a fabulous time together.

We walked the beach, watched Bengt do “super-Bengts” in the pool and model his goggles, had a grand time watching cousins Bengt and Soren play together, and hung out in the kitchen or on the porch in rocking chairs and talked.

It was great to see Lars looking so good and fit and well and happy. It was wonderful to see him back with his family. It was great (well, most of the time—some of the stories were a little scary, at least for a mom) to hear Lars talk more about what everyday life for him at Al Asad in Iraq was like.

But most of all, it was just so good to be able to hug him again. He always was a good hugger. And even being a Marine hasn’t changed that.

And it was good to have a time to praise God together, read some Psalms together, and thank God for Lars’ safe return. And now that so many of you have prayed with me for Lars, please join me in my “thank you thank you thank you Jesus!” And don’t forget to keep praying for all our troops, home or deployed.

Switching subjects… Wasn’t Erika’s blog great? Far more profound than she actually knows now. That control/ trust issue is a lifelong challenge for a mom, isn’t it? Thanks to those of you who wrote comments to encourage her. I still hope you’ll write some more so she’ll be spurred on to future blogs.

And now I must run and pack my bag for Madison, Mississippi. I’m so excited because I’m going to be down there at Broadmoor Baptist this weekend with a whole bunch of moms at their Mom to Mom groups. Which reminds me . . . I’d love to come speak with your group. If you’re interested in finding out more about my speaking, check out, where my publicist Candace Keck will tell you much more. She’s a really fun person and keeps the blog a fun place to visit!

Off to Mississippi—maybe I can get some pictures to share with you when I get back.

Happy weekend!

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