Sunday, August 23, 2009

Want a Strong Daughter? Healthy Son? Read This!

I just love it when a new parenting book comes to my attention that I feel I can whole-heartedly recommend. So I am really excited about two I have just finished reading.

Both are by the same author: Meg Meeker, M.D. One is called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. The other is titled Boys Should Be Boys. I like them both so much that I went out and bought the appropriate copies for each of our kids—the fathers especially. Richie got the “daughter book,” Bjorn will get the “boys book,” and Lars (who has both a son and a daughter now) gets copies of both.

Why fathers especially? Well, because Dr. Meeker puts great emphasis on the all-important role of a dad in the lives of both girls and boys growing up. Through both research findings and clinical observation (as well as her all-important personal experience as a daughter), she writes convincingly of the crucial role dads play in raising daughters. “You Are the Most Important Man in Her Life” is one chapter heading; another is “Be the Man You Want Her To Marry.” Similarly, she urges fathers to picture the kind of man they’d like their sons to become. Then, she urges dads, be that man!

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is, as the title states, addressed specifically to fathers. The subtitle is “10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.” Boys Should Be Boys (with the subtitle “7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons”) is addressed to both fathers and mothers. Both, however, are important reading for fathers and mothers alike. In fact, they would make for great discussion between you.

Meeker is very realistic in her depiction of the culture in which we are raising kids today. Many of the statistics, as well as the stories she shares, are sobering. They could be depressing.
But they’re not. They’re hope-filled rather than despairing because Dr. Meeker repeatedly affirms what we say often at Mom to Mom: “You can—and do—make a difference.” They’re also hope-filled because they are full of practical tips and ideas as to how you can make that difference. And finally, they are hope-filled because they point parents in a gentle but firm way toward the real Source of our hope—the God who gave us these children.

And they encourage parents to point their children in that direction as well. There is a great chapter in the daughter book entitled, “Teach Her Who God Is.” And, in the chapter in the boys book on “The God Factor,” Meeker points out again and again (with lots of evidence) that “God is good for kids.”

Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician who writes as a scientist and clinician, but more importantly as a mother. Her heart shows through. Nowhere is that more apparent than in her chapter called “A Mother’s Son.” It made me cry. I won’t tell you why. I want you to find out for yourself.

So if you’re looking for some good reading this August—or maybe a good book to share with your husband, I highly recommend these two. I hope you’ll notice a lot of principles that sound familiar from Mom to Mom. I found myself saying again and again, “Right on!”

But I also hope you will be encouraged. I suspect you will read a great deal that resonates with what you are already doing. And you will be reminded that with God’s help you can make—and are making—a huge difference in the life of your son or daughter.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bubbles, Bubble Gum, and Beautiful Hands

Doesn’t everybody love bubbles? The kids—and mommies—at KidsFest in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin sure do! Last Tuesday we had a blast giving out bubbles, bubble gum (with parental permission, of course!) and Mom to Mom brochures at a big park on a beautiful day in Oconomowoc (Don’t you just love saying that name? But try typing it!). We had a fun craft for the kids: they could do a handprint in a heart for their moms. It was a big hit! And such beautiful little hands…

We also had great conversations with many mommies about a new Mom to Mom group which will be starting at the Oconomowoc YMCA in September. We are very excited about this. The YMCA seems to be excited as well. As far as we know, this will be a “first”—to have a YMCA sponsoring a Mom to Mom group. We have a wonderful group of Titus 2 Leaders who are praying and being trained this summer (some of them are pictured at our booth at KidsFest), and we can’t wait to see the moms God will bring.

Why am I sharing this with you? Two reasons. First, it was a great way to get the word out about Mom to Mom. And I am wondering if any of you out there in Mom to Mom groups around the country might find an opportunity to have a Mom to Mom booth at a local festival or community gathering. It could help us reach out to moms who may not be in our churches, which has been one of the goals of Mom to Mom all along.

Also, we are very excited about the YMCA sponsoring Mom to Mom. And we can’t help but wonder if there might be any other YMCAs that would be interested in doing so. Just a thought. You might keep your eyes open if you belong to a local YMCA.

Actually, I guess I have a third reason for telling you about this. It was just so much fun! What could be better than a beautiful summer day in a park filled with kids and mommies? And a chance to chat with one mom after another about how she might be encouraged by being in Mom to Mom.

I hope you have some bubbles, bubble gum, and beautiful hands in your life this summer. I’ll bet you do! And if any of you have some fun ideas to share about how you are getting the word out about Mom to Mom, we’d love to hear from you!

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Hi, Mommy. I’m just relaxing."

These are the words of my 2½-year-old grandson, Soren, just a couple of days ago to his mom as he lay completely still on their living room floor. Wait a minute, you say. A 2½-year-old lying still and just relaxing?!! You’ve got to be kidding. How does that happen?

Two words: spica cast.

For those of you who, like me up until a week ago today, had never heard of a spica cast, a word of explanation. A spica cast is basically a body cast designed to immobilize the trunk and one or more legs. In Soren’s case, the cast extends from his chest to the toes of his right leg and to just above the knee of his left leg.

Why the spica cast? Because just a week ago today Soren tripped over a friend’s legs and simply fell the wrong way, probably twisting as he turned, breaking his femur, the large thigh bone so important to how our bodies work.

We had just retuned from a wonderful week’s vacation as a family (all except Lars, of course—who is in Afghanistan) on Cape Cod. Soren and his “big cousin,” 3½-year-old Bengt, had had a blast together, running all over house and yard and having a grand time. Many times I prayed for their safety as I watched those little legs run themselves crazy with fun.

And then a fluke accident in his own living room. Talk about a life-changing moment! At least life-changing for the next two months.

So now Soren—and his parents Bjorn and Abby—are adjusting to a very different August than they had planned. Instead of both being at camp this week with their Young Life kids, Bjorn is at camp and Abby is at home taking care of Soren, with the help of Abby’s wonderful mom.

What in the world do you do with an immobilized 2½ year old for two months? That was one of my first questions. Well, time will tell. It’s only been a week. But already Bjorn and Abby have learned a lot about a world they never knew.

And we all, I must say, are learning a lot from Soren. His life right now is hard—very hard. And so, as you can imagine, is his parents’. There are moments of deep sadness. Times when he wakes up, looks down at his cast, and just sobs inconsolably. Times when his response to his mom’s invitation to take him out in a special stroller to see the neighbor kids is, amidst tears: “But Mommy, I can’t play. I have a cast.”

But there are other times as well. Times like the surprising joy of his first stroller ride down his street. Times when he greets little friends with delight. Times when he can lose himself in a book or story, in the delight of the words he so loves. Even times when he can smile as he looks at Abby and says, “Hi, Mommy. I’m just relaxing.”

We’re learning a lot about the body of Christ as well. Friends near and far have surrounded this little family, helping and giving and praying and loving them through this hard time in every way imaginable.

Why am I sharing this? Well, first of all, because I want to ask you to pray for Soren and Bjorn and Abby. They will need daily strength and grace beyond anything they could have imagined a week ago. I keep thinking of the widow in the Old Testament whose jar of oil and bin of flour were replenished daily—just enough for one day at a time. And of Paul, who learned that God’s grace and strength are truly sufficient in our weakness. And of course I would ask for your prayers for complete and uncomplicated healing of that little boy’s big bone.

But I am also reminded—we all are—that Soren is facing this great obstacle temporarily, while for many parents and children the challenges they face on a daily basis are much longer-term. A time like this gets our attention. For me, it is a reminder of all of you Mom to Mom mothers out there who are facing big, ongoing special challenges with your children—some potentially life-long. I find myself praying for all of you when I pray for Bjorn and Abby and Soren.
And then, too, I find myself thinking of the times in our own lives when we struggle with feeling constricted. When we wake up to a new day realizing things haven’t changed—the “cast,” whatever it may be in our own lives, is still there. But so is our Father, our heavenly parent, who loves and cares for us all the more through these struggles. Just as Abby lies on the living room floor alongside Soren for many an hour, our Heavenly Parent is there for us in our toughest moments.

If only we could, now and then, trust Him enough to say along with Soren, “Hi God. I’m just relaxing….”

And BTW, if any of you have some great ideas of what to do with a 2½-year-old in a spica cast, we’d love to hear from you!