Yesterday, we headed to Birmingham for college quick-see. It’s nice living in Dallas where the airports are close and good options on frequent flier programs reign. Have I mentioned we’re a tiny bit last minute flakey? As in, “Oh, yeah – the college decision is in a couple weeks. Might be good to figure that out.” No need to point out that most of the kids on the college tour were Juniors and Sophomores.
“This is our fifth stop this week” one of the moms said to me. They were certainly being productive on their Spring Break. “We’re hitting two more on our way home. What about you?” she asked.
“Well… this is our first.”
That’s okay, you have over a year to figure this out.”
I didn’t tell her the visit was for our Senior.
I feel for my kids. They sure could have fared better in life with an organized mom. But you get what you get. And I sure do love them.
Jack made me feel a tiny bit better about my haphazard/were-we-supposed-to-have-signed-up-for-that(?!) way of life the other night while brushing his teeth. “If I had another mother – and I met you,” he told me mid-swish, “I’d want you as my mom.”
My heart also got a good dose of encouragement on my plane ride yesterday.
After a bit of musical chairs before take-off. Somehow I mis-read our boarding passes (at least I’m consistent!) so a few rows had to get up and move. Finally, I wiggled into a seat and felt the need to apologize to the man sitting next to me for my confusing everyone. “I thought we were in 15 E & F, but I guess it was 15 B and 16 E&F … I don’t know.” I shrugged and could feel my kids, now sitting in front of me, cringing – still embarrassed since we were the reason the plane CAN’T BACK AWAY FROM THE GATE. (That was the polite-yell from a syrupy stewardess trying to keep us on time.)
“No worries,” the gentleman replied in a lovely Australian accent.
You never know on a plane ride whether or not begin a conversation with your seat-mate. Do they want to talk? Maybe? No? Do I want to talk? Will a chat be laced with awkward? Will there be a smooth transition to silence and productivity? He looked so interesting, though. I couldn’t stop myself.
And sure enough, as soon as our chat began, I knew the almost 2 hour trip wouldn’t be long enough.
He told me his name, Peter, and that he was visiting the U.S. for a little over a week. An Anglican minister, he told me a little about his work here and in Australia. He shared just the perfect amount, so humble, so interesting. We discussed the purpose and meaning behind so many things related to church and life … the people.
Before long, he wanted to know about me. For some reason (I guess I felt safe) I was compelled to share with him some of the more raw aspects of my role as mom. And in the most lovely way, covered in wisdom and that great accent, he told me about a story that deeply encouraged his wife in the parenting of their five kids.
“”Monica’ is the name I want you to remember,” he told me. Then asked, “Are you familiar with St. Augustine and his mother?”
“Not really,” I honestly replied. Mostly because I was thinking about his mother. I actually am familiar with Augustine – not as much as my kids who have studied his writings – but I do know that he is one of the most influential Christian thinkers. In fact I have his Confessions sitting by my bed as I write. But I’ve never heard a word about his mother who’s name was Monica. (Now that I know, I wonder what rock I was living under to not have known.)
“Well,” Peter gently continued, “Augstine was not raised in a Christian home. His mother had a strong faith, but his father had none. By the time Augustine hit his youth, he sowed some wild seeds, lots of licentious behavior that went far beyond boys-will-be-boys. He wanted nothing from his mother’s faith except distance.”
“But,” Peter continued, “she prayed. Often. Diligently. She prayed for her son. At one point, she followed Augustine to Milan when he moved there for something and she befriended a Priest. She shared with him her heart’s sadness over her son – and all the time and tears spent in prayer over and for him.”
“The Priest comforted her. He told her that it would be impossible that a son over whom she had shed so many tears would perish. Eventually, the Priest became friends with Augustine. But it wasn’t that friendship that opened Augustine’s eyes – it was a passage in Romans. Monica’s prayers were answered.”
“So,” Peter looked at me, “I’m telling you, which I know you know, to pray. And remember Monica as you do.”
I loved so much about his story. I loved his kind words of encouragement to me as a mom, remembering what encouraged him and especially his wife. I love the beauty and wonder of prayer.
I don’t know what the answers to my prayers will be, but I know they are heard. Which is really what I think Peter was telling me. And in God’s hearing I find – and will always find – solid and safe ground. For the One who hears is the Creator of life itself – of the ones for whom we pray. And He is trustworthy – above all else. His love is incomprehensibly deep, wide, long and high.
There can never be too many prayers from a mother; but I think there can be too few. Not in a worthy-of-answer sort of way, but in a God’s-got-it reminder kind of way. Prayer is the oxygen mask that helps us to breathe. Something we must first put on ourselves before helping those for whom we so desperately care put it on themselves.
Because, prayer not only covers our children, but it covers our own hearts.
Thank you Peter for sharing! And, thanks for walking the road with me – it’s never one to go alone.