My mom has lived much of her life like the Energizer Bunny, strengthened not by a battery but by the Holy Spirit, living a Word-filled life that gave her joy for the tasks at hand. I know that my mom must have yelled, I know she must have sinned against us, and I know there were times she probably feared we’d never forget the way her flesh got the best of her (much like I can tend to fear with my own kids). But the truth is, I just can’t remember those times. They must have been covered over, by God’s grace, in all the love she extended and the smiles she gave. There is so much about my mom that I remember in the things that she did.
I remember the extra effort she made to buy a special outfit that she knew I would love…even if she spent her own personal birthday money to do it (and I know she did!). I remember the hours she would spend giving me perms. We couldn’t afford a hair dresser, but she sacrificed her own time so I could have curls like my friends. I remember the tradition of Christmas morning stockings filled to the brim, and now realize the tedious work that’s involved in buying enough fun stuff for six kids. I remember her tears of sadness when one of my parent’s closest friends died of cancer and as she experienced two miscarriages. Most of all, I remember the hope that she had in her great God, even in the midst of great pain.
I remember all the carpool commutes she made through Los Angeles traffic to Grace Community School so we could have a Christian education. I remember the wonderful CD’s that played on continuous loop, filling our hearts and minds with God’s truth: GT and the Halo Express, Joni Erickson Tada’s “I’ve Got Wheels”, Psalty, and Music Machine. I remember the Beatrix Potter wallpaper she painstakingly labored to put up so I could have the room of my dreams. I remember the weeks of camping trips that were FILLED with hours of fun for us kids and FULL of incredible work and exhaustion for my mom (and dad): meal plans, shopping, cooking and cleaning up camp meals, making sure fingers, toes and other body parts went into the sleeping bag with a level of cleanliness at the end of each day, and doing the laundry at a laundromat for hours on end.
She taught me the blessing of children, the value of planning, and the gift of having things in order. She taught me how to manage my days, how to clean a house, and the importance of family dinners each night. She taught me so much about life by the things that she did.
About fifteen years ago my mom contracted Lyme’s disease. It was misdiagnosed for over a decade and she has spent the majority of these years fighting the symptoms of this nasty disease. Symptoms that, even to this day, often leave her unable to do even a fraction of what was her “normal” during my growing up years. Her life has changed in dramatic ways in the last decade and a half and I don’t think there is a day that goes by without her battling pain…it’s more just a matter of how great the pain is and what it will keep her from being able to do on a given day. Her pain has become her “sacrifice of praise” to the Lord.
As I look back, I am realizing that my mom has taught me the most, not by what she did, but by who she is. Proverbs 31: 28-29 says: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all.” Why did this woman surpass them all? Because “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
I can’t help but rise up, bless my mom, and sing her praises not because of the noble deeds she has done (though they are many) but because of her character…because of who she is. She is a woman who fears the Lord and loves Him with every fiber of her being. Years ago she said something I will never forget; she told me that God has given her this suffering and she doesn’t want to waste it. She wants to be faithful in it and bring God glory, and that is exactly what she has done.
She has taught me the daily importance of sitting at the feet of Jesus and clinging to Him through His Word. His character and promises are often on my mom’s lips because she has been fed by His truth and is now able to share the Bread of Life with others. She has taught me what it means to “pray without ceasing” and that the path to the Throne of Grace is the most beautiful one to walk upon and is always open (even when playing a card game!). When she says that she will pray, you can know for certainty that your name is whispered in the courts of the King of kings and done so fervently. She has taught me that’s it’s okay to hate the suffering but love the fruit the suffering produces. After all, God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). She has instilled in me a love for reading good books by Godly saints…a love for being absorbed in truth till it’s deeply embedded in my thoughts and overflows in my words, actions and writing (which, she always proofreads for me with amazing precision!). She has taught me that a life that is hidden in Christ is still worth living though it’s riddled with pain. Her joy in the midst of pain is like a megaphone that rouses a deaf world and calls them to see the glory of God (as C.S. Lewis put it). She has taught me that my identity is not found in what I do but in what Christ has already worked on my behalf. Her life continually reminds me to wait on the Lord and rest in His goodness and timing!
Mom, all you have done and all that you are have one common thread: It is all “to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). You have not wasted your suffering. Your clay pot may have a lot more cracks and dents then most, but it has highlighted, all the more, the extraordinary power of God and His all-sufficient grace, no matter the circumstance or the pain. Many days, your victories may seem small, but whether you know it or not, what the watching world sees is you walking in Christ’s triumphal procession and spreading the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place you go (2 Corinthians 2:14). You do this through texts, in emails, on the phone, or in person…. with your church, family, kids, grandkids and the community He has placed you in.
One day, as you stand clothed in Christ’s righteousness, you will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant…share your master’s joy”, and I know those are the words you most long to hear. But for today, Mother’s Day 2020, I can’t help but echo the Master’s refrain; for you are so precious to us, Mom, and you have served us all so well and so faithfully, filling our hearts with deep joy! You are a sunbeam that has encouraged our hearts to look up to the source, the Son, and we are all eternally grateful!
I love you!
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36