Saturday, April 25, 2009

Heroic Moms: in Ireland, in Wisconsin, and in . . .

When Woody and I were in Ireland this past March, we were surprised to discover that we were there for Mother’s Day! In Ireland, Mother’s Day is March 22. Of course the whole visit felt like “Mother’s Day” for me, as I got to spend one whole week with my daughter and granddaughter. What more could a mother want?

I was particularly captivated by an article that ran in The Irish Times that weekend entitled “Who’d Be a Mother? The Advertising Angle.” the piece explored what advertising executives had said about how they’d advertise motherhood as a job. The consensus seemed to be that you’d need to be honest and tell the truth about what motherhood involves. One consultant recalled the ad that Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton placed in the London Times recruiting men to follow him to the South Pole:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey: small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
(It is said he received thousands of responses.)

The consultant went on to observe that motherhood is a “heroic expedition that, despite their better judgment, people embark on all the time.” Other contributors to the article, some advertising consultants, some moms, observed that, while motherhood tests your limits and requires multitasking described as “150 careers, one mammy,” it offers meaning and rewards that outweigh all the rest. Yet, as one ad writer and mom said, “Motherhood is about having to be a grown-up every day of your life.” Yikes! Every day of your life—that’s not easy!

I thought of this article a couple of weeks ago as I sat at the celebration brunch at our church’s Mom to Mom in Hartland, Wisconsin. As I listened to some of the stories shared by our moms, I thought about what a hazardous expedition motherhood is, and what heros these moms are. And I realized anew how very very important it is for us to support and encourage each other. How thankful I am that God implanted the idea of Mom to Mom so many years ago and it continues to encourage moms in their heroic journeys.

I’ll let a few of these moms speak for themselves about what Mom to Mom has done for them (quotes are approximate, from my notes):

“It makes me feel like I’m doing something right—or at least HE is!”
“Mom to Mom makes me feel normal, despite serious psychological issues!”
“When I leave, I just feel lighter.”
”Thank you for helping us look above the fray.”

“It’s so awesome to know that you really matter cuz sometimes you just feel like you don’t!”
“My leader is so encouraging. She calls me every Monday, and though I work on Mondays, my husband waits for her call and loves talking with her.”
“It’s helped me realize that every moment counts.”

“I see Jesus in the women in my group, and that has helped draw me closer to Him.”
“It’s helped me move my faith from my head to my heart.”
“It reminds me that God is faithful even when I’m not.”

A hazardous journey. Great rewards. Mom heros. A faithful God. Lots of encouragement needed along the way.

I’m so glad that we moms can join hands and look up and encourage each other in this heroic expedition. I’ll bet you have some hero-moms in your Mom to Mom groups. Got any stories to share? I’d love to hear them!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Waiting for Easter

Early tomorrow (Good Friday) morning we’ll be flying to Boston, then heading up to New Hampshire to spend Easter weekend with our son Bjorn and his wife Abby and their 2-year-old son Soren. I can’t wait! Whenever we’re on the way to visit any of our kids and grandkids, I feel the same way: I just can’t wait! There’s a wonderful anticipation because we know what’s coming—we always so love being with our family.

But lately I’ve been thinking about a different kind of waiting. It’s the kind of waiting Jesus’ disciples experienced between Good Friday and Resurrection morning. Those hours—days—must have felt like forever. Because remember, they didn’t know—as we do—how the story would turn out.

In Reliving the Passion (a phenomenal book which, by the way, I read every Lenten season and highly recommend), Walter Wangerin captures in a remarkable way the feelings that must have been in the hearts of those who knew and loved Jesus. He imagines Mary lingering among the tombs on Saturday, that wretched empty day when it seemed He’d left them forever:
“Stone cold. And the stone is closed. Where do I go from here? Nowhere. Back to the city. Which is a nowhere now. The Master isn’t there. The Master is not. Everywhere is nowhere. There’s nowhere to go….Because the whole world is a graveyard….Jesus! Jesus! Without you I am a nothing in a nowhere.” [Wangerin, p. 151]

Can you imagine what that must have felt like? We twenty-first century disciples have a hard time even thinking through such a scenario—one in which on Good Friday and the never-ending Saturday that followed, we don’t know that Jesus will rise from the dead—altering history, our own and the entire world’s—forever.

Because we live on the other side of Easter, where we know how it all turns out, I think we often miss out on that overwhelming sense of whooping joy Mary and the other disciples experienced that glorious Easter morning. “Whooping joy”—that’s what Wangerin calls it.

We today can’t entirely know what that kind of waiting—the long desperate hours between Good Friday and the First Easter—feels like. But we certainly experience many kinds of waiting in our lives. Much of the waiting is hard—very, very hard. We wait for illnesses to be healed. For jobs to be found. For relationships to be restored. For pain to be alleviated. For that glorious reunion one day with our loved ones who’ve gone on before us.

I recently heard a very moving testimony from a father whose beautiful daughter was tragically killed in a freak auto accident one sunny summer morning nearly two years ago. He described with great faith, authenticity, and vulnerability his tortuous journey through grieving, even as a deep Christian. How desperately he and his wife would like to see their daughter again—now. But God’s message to him? “Wait.”

I’m reminded of Wangerin’s words to Mary Magdalene:
“Grief, while you are grieving, lasts forever. But under God, forever is a day. Weeping, darling Magdalene, may last the night. But joy cometh with the sunrise—and then your mourning shall be dancing, and gladness shall be the robe around you, Wait. Wait.” [Wangerin, p. 138]

So, go ahead and prepare for Easter, my dear mom-friends. Clean the house. Hide the eggs. Prepare for Easter dinner. Above all, find some creative ways to share the Easter story with your kids. (See last year’s Easter blog for some funny interpretations my kids got of the story. How do you make the story “come alive” for the kids at your house?)

But as you do all this, may God bless your waiting. Your waiting for Easter and all the other waiting in your lives. Remember, there’s “whooping joy” to come. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What Do Fishing and a Mom's Life Have in Common?

I love it when we have “guest bloggers” from time to time. This piece was written by one of our Mom to Mom Board members, Kay Benson, who also leads a wonderfully creative group of Mom to Mom women. They keep finding more ways to have fun together! We’d love to hear some comments back from any of you who might have tried something like a “Dad To Dad” night. Or, perhaps might have had some mom-fishing stories of your own—bring ‘em on!


At first glance it doesn’t seem like fishing and a mom’s life fit together at all, does it?

Except for perhaps the messy clean ups, and the “dressing” of both fish and kids, and the practice of waiting…waiting…waiting (for teeth to be brushed, the glass of milk to empty, for the children to finally get into bed and give up the day).

I can hear myself internally shouting, “I’ve got one!” as the last child drifts off to sleep each night.

Sunday evening, Dogwood Church Mom to Mom (near Atlanta) hosted a “Dad to Dad” and the theme was “Fishing Stories.” The guys loved the “manly” theme and we moms could relate by thinking how like fishermen (women?) we often feel.

Jesus had a lot to say about fishing as well. Many of his disciples were fishermen. He used fish analogies throughout his time on earth and liked to explain principles for living by making comparisons with the common, everyday stuff we experience in our real lives.

One of my favorite passages is when Jesus invites his disciples to a breakfast he’s prepared on the shore—a man’s fishing breakfast. The story reminds me of the many breakfasts I’ve prepared. Check it out: John 21:1-14

Kay in Atlanta