This morning I lit our second Advent Candle for Faith…last Sunday was Hope.
Since we hadn’t started the countdown, I saved this ornament for today.
So here we go…
The story behind this ornament started many years before at a baby shower for our first grandchild. Since the gender was not known til his birth, the shower was held after he was born.
The host home for the shower was the incredibly beautiful and welcoming home of the amazing doctor who delivered Graham and the next three of our babies. His legacy of faith and love and care for us personally and so many women through the years would be a book in itself.
And since the clock is ticking and I have not showered, we will focus on the ornament and its story.
The cupcakes at the shower were magnificent and I learned they were made by one of the single moms at the church both our daughter’s family and this doctor and his family attended. Dr. Nord and his wife supported a wonderful single mom’s ministry there and it piqued something in me.
I wondered if there was a need in our church for some kind of ministry for single moms. Thus began a few years of prayer and then steps that were given to me as I listened to what God’s heart might be.
Pastor’s were approached, more prayer was applied, other women in the church were invited to a brainstorming meeting and out of that rose a few women like me who felt called to help in some way.
I partnered with one of our single moms and thus was born the ministry we called “Moms mentoring Moms”.
We had only met a few times when our first December meeting was on the calendar. Our tender hearted “Ma Lamb”…wife of our lead pastor and lover of all the flock under his watch, was our speaker.
Tables were decorated, kind words were spoken over the meal we prepared for them and I had a basket filled with these simple ornaments.
While my plan had been to make something Pinterest worthy, in the time and talent I was given, it ended up being a marker and my slightly grade-schoolish penmanship that fashioned the words….
We had slips of paper and some Scriptures and some honest conversation and then each wrote what Hope looked like that Christmas on a piece of paper and slipped it in the ornament before tying a ribbon on it.
The ministry lasted several years and had its own bumps and hiccups, but as in all things with ministry…I got far more than I gave.
I learned that these precious women often felt a stigma when they walked into group settings at church. While I could reassure them that no one was looking at them and their children as if they didn’t belong, they shared that what they see are couples and complete families and it was hard to engage.
They struggled with child care to attend events, they had holidays and weekends that inevitably meant sharing children that left them all alone.
They opened my eyes to the fact that while a father may share the expenses of child care, they are still responsible for their homes, the other half of the care and any expenses that dad didn’t think were necessary.
Many worked long hours and the challenges they faced, the hurt that was buried deep…was humbling.
I had nothing to give except a listening ear and hugs and snacks and the realization that all of these women started out their young lives just like I had.
Only by God’s grace, I was still married to my best friend and they were not.
It was incredibly humbling and I never left our meetings patting myself on the back for getting it “right”. I crawled out of the meetings on my knees, thanking God for giving me what I didn’t deserve.
These beautiful women remain in my heart. The ornament on our tree is a reminder each Christmas of all that they taught me. I see their faces gathered around the table and I think of some wonderful women who had been through divorces and were able to mentor them as I sat helplessly around that table.
Some of our moms have remarried and I pray for those marriages and celebrate when I see their joy. But I also remember they still share children and families and there are still hurts and fears and so I pray for them as women.
I hold them as some of the bravest soldiers in the Kingdom and love them dearly.
It is not only moms who are hurting and I am aware of many fathers who ache for what they thought their marriage would look like.
Prayer covering them and a willing heart to reach out to them is so important for all of us to remember, at Christmas and throughout every day of the year.
I wonder what HOPE looks like to you this year?
To be honest, I can not even remember what is on the slip of paper I put in my ornament and sometimes I can’t even voice in words what HOPE means to me. But what I hope for is inconsequential. It is where my hope has been placed that matters <3