The Playground in Spring

(Some of my mom friends on the playground last spring)

Moving to this northern Russian city where the winter is so long and dark makes the coming of spring with it’s warmth quite thrilling. And it is not only the sun that brings this warmth, but the fact that the people who have lived all winter long closed in their cold communist cement block apartments begin emerging to stroll leisurely down the streets once more. Smiles and conversation begin blossoming in place of cold and brisk sidewalk passings.

Not only does the winter here starve us of sunlight, but it starves us of day-to-day community in many ways. As the ground and interactions warm, I am excited about the relational possibilities that spring will bring with it.

Once spring arrives, we resume our daily walks to the playground along with the many moms and little kids who live in our giant apartment complex. I see women and their children who have been living just yards up, down, or sideways from us, for the first time in months. New babies have been born, children have grown and moms have grown eager to relate to one another once again.

As I look forward to long mornings outside with my kids at the playground, I am also looking forward to the opportunity for relationship that is coming. Part of this eagerness is for my own desires for community and friendship, but another part is the great opportunity that this brings as I look to reach out to the women around me with the gospel and love of Christ. No matter where you go in the world, moms with little ones are eager to relate about the joys and challenges of motherhood. I have yet to meet a mom who feels like she has it all figured out. What a natural and great opportunity to share about the guidance, love, and wisdom that God provides to those who look to Him. Mothering little ones takes every single one of us to the end of ourselves. The question is when we reach that end, where do we look next? This stage of life, no matter where we are in the world, is such a unique time for ministry!

A good friend and leader here in our ministry recently was sharing with me how as her kids have gotten older it has become a bit harder to forge friendships and relationships with other moms in the community. People grow busier, kids start going out to play on their own while moms stay at home, and perhaps women even become a bit more set in their parenting ways and look less often for guidance. Hearing her share some such things made me all the more eager to take hold of this time with little ones and to pray that God will both allow me to make use of this time when it is natural to interact with so many moms on a daily basis, but also to pray that He will begin friendships and opportunities for influence that will last into those years when we no longer meet each morning around the sandbox.

Perhaps the contrast of literal seasons is a bit more profound where I am than where you are, but I am thrilled about this new time of friendship and ministry opportunity and wanted to encourage you moms of little ones as well to purposefully take hold of this unique season of life for the glory of God. Many times it can feel like this is such a difficult time to do any sort of “real” ministry, but I think in many ways we can structure our lives with our children in ways that will give us perhaps a greater influence than many other seasons. Young moms, let’s pray and be intentional with this season that we are blessed to find ourselves in!

Where do the moms in your community gather with their little ones? Are there any daily life routines in your host culture (or home culture if you’re in the US) that you might be able to take part in for the sake of growing relationships with the women in your community? Do you have any exciting or encouraging stories on this topic that you’d have a moment to share with us?

(Post by: Ashley)


3 Responses to “The Playground in Spring”

  1. 1 jolenesloan April 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I absolutely LOVED this post, Ashley, and saved it in my inbox so that I can read it again! 🙂

  2. 2 Ashley L April 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you so much for the encouragement, Jolene! I know that the moms in your community are truly blessed to know you and your lovely family!

  3. 3 Phyllis April 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

    This was one of my favorite posts of yours, even though I didn’t comment when I first read it. (Nothing to add!) We just spent another morning out on the playground chatting. Although, the people I talk with now are grandparents, not young moms. It’s taken me a while to get used to that at this building.

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