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She Faces the Future and Laughs

Celebrating the grit, courage, self-sacrifice, life-giving hope and restorative power of Mom

“She faces the future and laughs.” (Proverbs 31:25)

Those words sound surreal in the context of today's COVID-19 pandemic, but it is the question of the hour on this Mother's Day: what will it take for women and mothers to "face the future and laugh" in this turbulent spring of 2020? With God's help, we must respond wisely in the present and instill hope for the future in the hearts of those who depend on us, but how? What will that look like in our homes and communities? It could look a lot like the life of Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, the woman whose courage, faith and wisdom inspired the very first Mother's Day celebration.
Ann responded with deep Christian conviction to the enormous social challenges facing rural West Virginia before, during and after the Civil War. She truly personified the wisdom and grit described in Proverbs 31. The impressive biography of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis reads remarkably like a current community health care leader's resume.

Jarvis organized a series of Mothers' (Work) Clubs across West Virginia to improve health and sanitary conditions. Among other services, the clubs raised money for medicine, hired women to work for families in which the mothers suffered from tuberculosis, and inspected bottled milk and food. In 1860, local doctors supported the formation of clubs in other towns. Later, during the Civil War Ann Jarvis urged the Mothers' (Work) Clubs to declare their neutrality and provide relief to both Union and Confederate soldiers. The clubs treated the wounded and regularly fed and clothed soldiers stationed in the area. Jarvis also managed to preserve an element of peace in a community being torn apart by political differences. During the war, she worked tirelessly despite the personal tragedy of losing four of her children to disease. In all, eight of her twelve children died before reaching adulthood.

Facing challenges that ranged from basic poor hygiene to the carnage of war, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis organized and served her community with faith, wisdom and grit that was literally born from her rigorous study of "mothers in the Bible," a topic on which she would frequently lecture. Likewise in modern times, under new pressures, we find that the ancient wisdom in the Bible offers us a timely precedent for navigating our turbulent world, and because children learn to cope with crisis by watching their parents' responses, a mother's (and father's) path to peace is a sacred trust. We must begin with the assertion that God is sovereign, cling to the assurance that He is good and trust that He will act on our behalf in His way and in His time.
Yes, God speaks through His Word, and parents are commanded to bring scripture daily to the forefront of their homes.

Consider the pattern of reassurance, reframing and response that emerges in stories like God's appearance to Hagar as she grieves over her son, Ishmael (Genesis 21:17-19), the angel of the Lord’s; appearance to Zechariah (Luke 1), the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (Luke 2), the risen Jesus' appearance to his disciples in the upper room (Luke 24:36-49) and others. In each encounter, the Lord reassures them that there is nothing to fear. Then He clarifies their understanding of their troubling circumstances by giving them the true situation: "The Lord has heard your prayer," and "You will not die." Finally, He always gives instructions that they are to follow in response to their encounter with Him.

Today, as we face our own challenges and fears, His message is the same.
Fear not. God loves you and He is in charge. Jesus says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Look at your circumstances through our Heavenly Father's eyes; there is more going on than meets the eye. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Don't let what frightens you paralyze you; rather, be inspired to action. Keep in step with the Spirit and He will guide you. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Scriptures are clear; mothers (and fathers) who use trials as opportunities to grow, who look for ways to serve others in distress and to actively trust God for all His promises will earn the respect and affection of the generations who follow. Perhaps Ann's daughter, Miss Anna Jarvis, was responding literally to these verses from Proverbs 31 when she instituted the first Mother's Day observance, in Grafton, West Virginia, in May of 1907, in honor of her own mom:
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

— Proverbs 31:25, 28, 31 (NIV)

Today it is our turn, not only to honor the women who have served us, but to be those noble and wise mothers (biological and adopted) on whom the next generation can rely for godly responses to the challenges of our day.

On this Mother's Day our expressions of appreciation to the women who mothered us will perhaps take on a sweetness and depth that they have not had in a long while. While cabbage roses and lace appropriately highlight the softer side of motherhood, we should also keep in mind the courage, strength and wisdom of the Proverbs 31 women who have been the guardians of hope and reconciliation in a broken world. This Mother's Day we can look both backward and forward, as we honor the sacrifices our own mothers have generously made for us and draw inspiration from them, and other great mothers, as we set our own faces toward an unknown future and, with God's help, laugh.

Below are some easy, fun and effective ways to honor mom (with minimal shopping).

An Unhurried Phone Call and an Invitation to Reminisce
Take time to ask Mom some questions about her life and just listen to her stories. Ask some follow on questions and listen some more. You might be surprised what you learn about her.

Homemade Cards and Breakfast in Bed
What mom does not love her children's original artwork and a lopsided pancake on Mother's Day? Pull out the stops and let the young ones make a little mess. (Just be sure to clean it up yourself before she has to!

Cards: Design your own cards or customize some fun, attractive (free!) printables:

 

 

Simple, customizable line art designs for kids:

 

Elegant full color designs, just print and sign

 

A little of both

 

Pancakes
This copycat IHOP pancake recipe is a huge favorite

 

 

Scripture for Her Heart (and Yours),
The Bible is clear; God is at work in our lives even before we are born. That means that moms are literally His instruments and “holy ground.” Consider these verses about God’s very early activity in our lives:

“Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me.” (Isaiah 49:1)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 English Standard Version)

“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace…” (Galatians 1:15 English Standard Version)

Not only is it fun to do, but God actually commands children to honor their mothers (and fathers): “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ — which is the first commandment with a promise — ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” Ephesians 6:1-3

You can find more great Mother's Day Bible verses here:

 

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God bless you and your family as you celebrate and emulate the mothers in your lives!

 

Library of Congress photo of Mother's Day Shrine sculpture Webpage:

 

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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