I could tell you how I know what love looks like. How it’s his hands in soapy dishwater when the cracks on my dry hands just can’t do that again. How it’s rocking the baby boy we never dreamed we’d have back to sleep at 5:30 a.m. so I can write one more paragraph on the novel that he really believes I’ll finish. How it’s planning a garden to grow tomatoes and peppers so I can make tomato sauce for Friday night pizzas and it’s tending that garden with the same care he tends our marriage–even when things are a little wilty and the rains are just too much.
But this isn’t a love story about us today. It’s a love story about how he smiled when I told him I’d given my skinny jean money to fund clean laundry in Africa, and how he nodded when I said I want to help them build a garden. It’s about how he’s letting me fall in love with halfway around the world because I’ve discovered that really, deep down, all moms look the same.
I lead MOPS every other Friday so how fitting that today is Valentine’s Friday and I’m talking about loving moms. We meet in the spacious, well-lit, fully equipped fellowship hall of my church, and we share breakfast and potty training and sleep deprivation in the way that only mothers of young children can. We learn from and love on each other with fierce passion for our kids, our homes, our Jesus and so many moms tell me later it’s the best part of their week–this building of community with other mothers.
No comparison, just community. It’s been a mantra of mine for months now, whether I’m welcoming new moms or writing for Five Minute Friday. Because if we really want to get down to the nitty gritty, our comparisons amongst ourselves will only tear us down and diminish all the worth we could be putting into building community.
So today, I’d like to invite you to be a part of just that–this physical building of community for moms in Maubane, South Africa. Moms who are just like the mothers who fill that hall with me on Fridays; moms who are raising their own toddlers and maybe someone else’s; moms who scrub their laundry with clean water now because we believed that’s every mother’s right; moms who would love to tend a garden, cook in a kitchen, fellowship with other moms, send their children to a school, and have playdates on an actual playground.
Moms who deserve to be shown more love than any Valentine’s Day card could ever contain. Moms who by Mother’s Day, God willing, will know that love is more than a date on a calendar and every mom matters. I serve in MOPS because I believe better moms make a better world; I write here because I believe every mom needs to hear that motherhood is hard but grace is unlimited; I read Lisa Jo because she believes motherhood should come with a superhero cape and an open invitation to sit at the table of Christ.
And Christ’s table is long and wide and full of that good measure that’s been pressed down, shaken together, and poured out on us to give to others. It looks like vegetables ripened by the African sun, like clean water pouring out a new faucet, like slides and swings, and sharpened pencils in new classrooms.
It looks like love.
In October, my community of writing mamas funded the clean water project for this community by raising $5000 in less than twelve hours because there’s no limits on the love of Jesus and should be no limits on access to clean water.
Today I’m asking my community of readers, you moms and grandmothers and aunts and friends, you husbands and fathers and supporters of moms, to come alongside us and help raise thirty times that amount by Mother’s Day: $150,000 to build a community center for the families of Maubane, South Africa.
It’s a crazy big amount, but we have a crazy big God who loves with crazy big love and we get to be a part of that love by sharing it with others.
So, for Valentine’s Day 2014, instead of giving heart shaped candy, let’s grow tomatoes the size of our hearts in a garden for a world that’s really just next door.