Two words. But a valuable reminder just in time for Mother's Day.
Recently, I had occasion to stay at my son and daughter-in-law's house while I recovered from a painful injury.
They set me up with a wonderful little "apartment" in their basement - recliner, remotes (of course), kitchenette. And like all the babies in our family, a night monitor.
I needed some help in the middle of the night, but I hadn't touched the pager. Suddenly, I hear my daughter-in-law's feet coming down the stairs. In my 3 AM haze, I said, "But how did you know?"
She smiled and gave these two little words: "Mom ears."
And that's something a lot of us have to celebrate this Mother's Day.
Those Mom-ears who heard our silent cries over the years.
Who heard our need when others would only see our deed.
Who heard the heart that our words could not express.
Who listened to our jabberings, our dumb jokes, our endless attention-getting antics.
Who heard the unspoken fears. Unspoken pain. And carried them to the throne of God.
Sadly, mom-ears have also heard mean words they didn't deserve, angry words that left a scar, rebellious words because we didn't want to hear what we now know was wisdom.
But somehow, a Mom heart could reach for some of God's amazing grace, and forgive, though wounded.
As a dad, I learned early how important it was for me to seek and respect what my wife heard in our kids. Those times when I got home and was ready to drop a bomb on a disobedient child - while she intervened, with "actionable intel" of what was going on behind the scenes in their life.
I'm not sure Moms fully know their massive power to define their child's life. For better or worse.
"She speaks with wisdom on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).
"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (Proverbs 14:1).
Sure, I know Moms who've turned their God-given Mom-ears to the seductive song of an "all about me" world. Whose children languish under the awful cloud of "I'm not worth much. Mom doesn't think so."
Deafened moms can't hear themselves nagging, controlling, criticizing, diminishing - hoping to make a "super kid," crushing them in the process.
The Mom-ears that have tended to miss their children's cries are those who stopped listening to the One who gave her these children.
"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him" (Psalm 127:3).
It's so easy to succumb to the selfie drumbeat of "my rights, my pleasure, my flourishing." A sort of deafness can grow. Deaf to those quiet little cries in the night, the intuition to drop everything I love and listen, the Heavenly Father's promptings as He "gently leads those that have young" (Isaiah 40:11).
But thank God many of us were blessed, not with a perfect mom, but a mother whose ears truly heard us.
If you have a mom with those wonderful "ears," tell her how her finely-tuned heart shaped and changed your life. While you can.
If you're a Mom who wants to have better ears for your children, just know there's amazing power to do that. In the Jesus Whose relentless love led Him to die for our sins, the great relationship-wreckers.
There is no greater life-force on earth than a woman whose ears are always open to the voice of God and the voices of those she loves.
And for the one who approaches this Mother's Day with little to celebrate - because their Mom really wasn't one - there is a higher hope. Because God has said: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion for the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget. See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands" (Isaiah 49:15-16).
On the palms of His hands. With nail prints.
His ears listen all day, all night for the deepest cries of your heart.