Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mom

You know, when you're little Mom is like God, maybe even better. She heals owies with a kiss, she has all the answers, she comes when you throw up in the night (though she'll tell you that next time you'd better do it in the toilet, not on the floor), and she makes food almost magically appear at all the right times. Then you grow up and you learn that there are some hurts Mom can't heal, that there are other answers out there different than Mom's, and she asks you help get food on the table. You learn more about God too, and suddenly Mom's not quite so perfect.

Now I'm a mommy myself. I have little ones who expect perfection from me. I kiss their owies, I clean up their messes, and I'm not allowed to give "I don't know" for an answer. When they're hungry, they expect to see some food show up. And now I see my own mommy in a whole new light. She doesn't clean up after me anymore, but I highly value her help after I have a baby. She can't make my owies go away, but she sure knows just how to make me feel better! I don't expect her to have all the answers, but she's still the first person I ask. Instead of perfection, I see a woman—a lot like me—who is endeavoring to serve God and her family with each day of her life.

Mom is usually somewhere near the kitchen. She's been cooking and baking and canning as long as she's been able but she is always on a quest for something better. Whether it's a new pan, different potholders, a cookbook, a method, an ingredient, whatever she has most recently discovered is the best yet.

She loves to spread a table with good food (in white dishes) and then surround it with people she loves.

My mom is a woman of action who speaks her mind. When she puts her mind to it, she can accomplish anything from cleaning the windows to buying a house. When she was pregnant with me, she canned a pantry full of peaches (hand-picked by her). She has served rehearsal dinners to 75 people or more and cooked food for my best friend's wedding reception. Her doors are always open and she can always manage to fit one more at the table. If she has an opinion you can bet she'll tell you (even if she keeps it to herself, you'll still be able to read it plain as plain on her face). But she only tells you what she's thinking out of compassion for you. Her capacity to love is as great as her ability to get things done.

Twenty-five years later and her smile is still just as bright. Mom's hospitality, her drive, her enthusiasm, and her love inspire me to live fully, care more and give more freely. Thanks for everything, Mom.

A Praying Mother—Mothers in Literature

It may seem strange to include a mother from the Bible in this series on mothers in literature. We place so much emphasis on studying the Bible and learning God's will for out lives from it that we sometimes forget that, really, the Bible is literature too. Of course the Bible is full of mothers, each one with a special story. I'm going to talk about one mother who doesn't have a very good reputation: the mother of James and John. What I have to say comes from a very powerful baby shower talk that my pastor's wife gave recently.

In Matthew 20, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time and along the way he is preparing his disciples for the tribulation that will soon come. "Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to him, kneeling down and asking something from him. And he said to her, 'What do you wish?' She said to him, 'Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.'" At this point people usually criticize this woman for being selfish and forward. But my pastor's wife pointed out that nowhere in this passage does Jesus condemn her. In fact, her prayer is really the same one that all Christian mothers make. She wants her sons to be close to Jesus.

It's what Jesus says next that should weigh heavily on every mother's heart. He turns to her two sons and says, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Being close to Jesus does not mean sitting on thrones in shiny white robes, at least, not on this earth. James and John appear to understand that when they reply, "We are able."

The other disciples had the same reaction that we usually do when they heard the request of James and John, but it is them that Jesus chided. He gathered everyone around him and explained how thrones and glory work in his Kingdom. In the world, rulers and those in authority lord it over those under them, seeking power and recognition. But those who desire greatness in Christ's kingdom must follow the example of Christ himself who did not come to this world to be served, but to serve, "and to give his life a ransom for many."

When we mothers pray—as the wife of Zebedee did—for our children to be close to Jesus, we should know that we are not requesting an easy life for them. Are we ready to watch as they drink the cup that Christ drank and are baptized with the baptism that Christ was baptized with? We must pray holding fast to God's promise in Romans 8:28:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
God's idea of "good" does not always mean a life of "comfort" and "safety," two things that mothers greatly like to see their children enjoy. But when our children are called to His purpose, it will all work out for a good that is eternally glorious.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Belly Pictures

On Sunday we went to a house dedication party at my best friend's new home. The sun was shining so a bunch of us went for a walk around some of their lovely property. Another friend had forgotten her camera so I let her use mine. So that means I got to be on the other side of the camera and I have some belly pictures to share.

I think I'll be 30 weeks on Friday. 10 to 12 weeks left and so much to do! Yeah, this is definitely a fourth pregnancy.

To do:
  • Buy a van of some sort
  • Inventory recipes, organize grocery list, plan freezer cooking
  • Read Dandelion Wine
  • Go to Family Camp (June 13-17)
  • Help Eli run a booth for Exodus at the OCEANetwork Curriculum Fair (June 24-25)
  • Write the name letter
  • Continue taking care of the kids I already have!

The Power of Mama's Smile—Mothers in Literature

The setting is Lower East Side New York prior to World War I. The characters are five endearing girls, members of a Jewish family with little money but lots of love and imagination. In the All-of-a-Kind Family series we read of their enjoyment of each other, many different Jewish holidays and customs, and life in general. These charming books bring a different time and place vividly to life. Unfortunately only the first book is in print but all five are well worth hunting down at the library or used book stores.

While the girls are definitely the focus of the books, their stories would not be complete without their hard-working, jovial papa, the playful little brother who joined them at last, and their patient, wise and understanding mama. Whether she is diligently keeping the home running smoothly, baking mouthwatering traditional Jewish food, or making chores fun, Mama is a beautiful example of the Proverbs 31 woman to each of her five daughters.

But even Mama gets busy and pre-occupied sometimes. One day, while the girls were all still at school, she was busily putting the house in order, baking bread and cake, and cooking a special dinner in preparation for the Sabbath. Little Charlie was constantly underfoot, tugging at her skirt imploring her to play with him. What mother hasn't been there? She'd given him a box of empty spools to play with, but as he got bored of them they were kicked farther and farther across the kitchen. The more Mama stumbled over them, the crosser she became. "Charlie, pick up the spools and put them back into the box!" she commanded.

When Mama was too focused on her tasks to answer his questions and after she scolded him for getting into the rising bread dough with his grubby hands, Charlie had had enough. He didn't know why Mama's face was so scowly, her voice so angry. So, much to Mama's relief, he decided to visit Mr. Basch who kept the store downstairs. Solemnly Charlie shook hands with the cheerful man. "My Mama don't smile on me," he said. Mr. Basch offered a cracker. Refreshed, Charlie decided to see how things fared upstairs.

Mama was sampling soup at the hot stove. All Charlie heard her say was "keep away!" Back down the steps he went. "My Mama don't smile on me," he said again. Quietly the two of them shared some chocolate snaps. Then Mr. Basch suggested, "I tell you what, Charlie. You go upstairs and tell Mama you'll be a good boy and see what happens."

Once again Charlie climbed the stairs. Mama's work was going very well. She was even humming a little tune. Hands on hips, she turned around and studied the small boy. All her babies had been adorable, she thought, but this one, he was such a little love of a man. My goodness, such a serious expression on his sweet face. She smiled.

Charlie rushed back to Mr. Basch and exclaimed, "My Mama smiles on me!" Then he rushed back up again to see if the transformation was real.

Mama found all this coming and going highly amusing. When Charlie planted himself in front of her and gazed questioningly upward, she gave him a great big smile. Once more he had to go tell the shopkeeper, who also felt lighthearted as he watched the joy that now filled the little boy.

When Charlie came back to Mama, she nearly doubled over with laughter. He felt so good as he buried his head in her skirts. Finally he laughed too. He laughed and laughed!

I love how this story shows a busy mama from her little boy's point of view. It's so easy as a mother to get caught up in the demands of the day. When there are tasks to get done and schedules to follow and dinner to get on the table, the children just seem to be in the way. But they don't know about the to do list and the deadlines. All they see is Mama not smiling. As pressing as they may be, chores will come and go but our children are eternal. May we never forget the power of a smile.