My mom will be embarrassed by this post.
But the good kind of embarrassed, I hope. And it’s all well and right to good-embarrass a godly person once in a while.
We just finished studying Romans in BSF this year, and Paul good-embarrassed a boatload of people at the end of Romans 16 – Paul knew how to give praise and affirmation, and how to be thankful.
And that’s what I want to do today, on Mothers’ Day Eve.
When I first became a mother back in 2011, Mothers’ Day quickly had all sorts of significance. I had been cut open and stitched back together to bring my husband’s and my DNA into the world, and so I deserved to be celebrated, dagnabbit! With my three-month-old daughter in tow, on my first official Mothers’ Day, we revisited the arboretum where we got engaged and had pictures taken. My mom was there too, probably taking the pictures, but the day was suddenly about me.
I was twenty-four years old and thought I was the best mom in the world. The doc had diagnosed a serious dairy allergy in my infant and I was totally off dairy to nurse her. She was three months old, and I knew everything.
Here I am now, seven years later, three little girls later, and all I’m thinking is Heeeeeeeelp. I know nothing. I never knew anything. I’m going to fail them. I’m already failing them. How did my Mom do it, and what made her so gloriously wonderful?
But now she lives across the U.S. and I can’t hit the arboretum with her, or stop by on a bad day and cry, or throw myself into her arms and say thank you about two hundred times.
Now, in 2018, this day is all about her to me.
My mom was the golden middle child of five. And I don’t mean she was perfect. I mean she was literally golden. The only blondie in a household of brunettes. The only one that really looked like her own mom.
She was friendly and outgoing, a bit of a follower, and super cute. She wanted to be well-liked, and she tried to please everyone.
One day at the end of high school, she was invited to Young Life, and there she confessed her sins and embraced Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross.
While she got her teaching degree, she worked all over doing numerous fun and temporary jobs during the summers, including a stint at the Von Trapp family lodge in Vermont. She was an evangelist, a people-person, and cheerful. She sparkled and enjoyed life. All of the pictures I’ve ever seen of her show her smiling broadly, happy, purposeful. She’s the perfect picture of a healthy ENFJ.
One time, in Boston, she took a teaching job that involved kids on parole. By the start of the year, numerous teachers had already quit, but my mom hung on. On the outside, she doesn’t look tough – the woman cries at practically every touching movie we watch, and numerous books as well – but she has guts on the inside that people always underestimate about her. And mostly she has a gigantic, whale-sized heart. She loved those difficult kids when no one else would.
Wait, I’m talking about my siblings and me. Did you think I meant the kids on parole? Oh yeah, she loved them too. *wink*
She stuck that class through and won them over that year. She also spent years teaching special needs children and adored them.
After moving to Colorado to live with a dear college friend who had just had a difficult miscarriage, she met my dad who was stationed nearby in the army. They met at Sunday School, because my mom was always at church, rain or shine. She was also planning on heading to Japan for short-term ministry when they met, and she planned her wedding in a short space and time before leaving for overseas.
Six years later, after my dad got out of the army and graduated from Harvard, my mom had me. After that, the rest of us came quickly, four children in five years.
Mom stayed home and became the world’s best housewife. She had a schedule for everything on her multiple whiteboards, and she was as predictable as the sun rising in the mornings. Everything had a place, everything was secure, everything was safe. She made us feel like our world was all right.
Mom got excited about homeschooling pretty early on, and started with me right away in kindergarten. As each younger sibling began school with us, she added to her own workload without a blink of the eye. Every once in a while, she’d beg for her fifteen minute nap in the middle of the day, but that’s only because she got up at five thirty in the morning to meet with God one-on-one for hours. And could she nap! She could go out like a light at a moment’s notice, in a public place even, without pausing a second. I’ll never forget the time the piano teacher found her asleep on a chair in the other room, mouth wide open. Mom is a queen napper. She has no ability to stay up late. She’ll get this fuzzy delirious look and won’t listen to a word you are saying. As a teen, I should’ve asked her for big bad things at that time of night. She wouldn’t have remembered saying yes. *wink*
Faithfully taking us to the very best of Bible studies, to all of our sports, to all of our friends’ houses, and laying down her lives for ours, Mom didn’t have much time for herself outside of her home, her children, and her Lord. But she led Bible studies and neighborhood groups, started get-togethers and women’s meet-and-greets. She could get to know anyone. Meeting new people is her favorite pleasure in life. We used to groan and joke every time someone randomly started telling Mom their life story. She knows the grocery checkers by name, will pray for their children by name, and starts conversations with all the other moms at the sports games and doctors’ offices. No one is off-limits to Mom when it comes to a conversation, and she knows how to slip Jesus in when you aren’t expecting it.
Mom can disarm anyone. I’ve never met a single person who doesn’t like her. People walk away warmed from the inside out because she’s the least intimidating, most caring person you’ll ever come across. And when she says she’ll pray for you, she means it, in her numerous organized prayer journals, and on down on her well-used knees.
Mom used to randomly say, “I love you, Rachael Lynn,” using our full names, just because she felt gushy inside.
The only conflict I can really remember us having is when I would blitz through my chores like a madwoman, wanting to get to my entertainment and play, and Mom would go back over the dust with her finger, calling out my lack of thoroughness. Or the times I’d get far too creative and not really do the work she wanted me to do. Or the time she’d use her razor sharp discernment and call me out on something spiritually that I’d delusionally insist wasn’t true. Or the times she’d try to correct my early writing and I was too arrogant to submit to it. Sometimes we’d call her Scrooge, which she hated, because she suggested doing away with Christmas presents and just focusing on Christ. *wink*
She is in my top two favorite people to be around, including my husband.
And then I got to my late teens and early twenties, and I wanted my friends, wanted to my freedom, wanted my husband. And I was moving too fast and being too foolish and getting too obsessed. And Mom was frightened about the technology and “Inter-web” and “intelligent phones” and things that might take me away from the Lord and their home. I kept silent, expecting her to handle things badly, lying to her and being rebellious deep in my heart. But when my sin came out, she was nothing but forgiving and gracious, adapting in ways I had not thought possible, embracing the future God had for me, counseling and guiding me, and I slowly began to repent and grow.
No matter what interests take my fancy, Mom is interested too. Mom listens, researches, studies, and embraces. No matter how weird. No matter how odd.
She insisted on doing all of the gardening and mowing herself, and taught us how to run a home independently by age twelve. She took us on hikes and sang us the bear song and the skinny-dipping song. She gave us St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunts and folding-laundry-movie nights. She took us on all-expenses-paid vacations with her inheritance money and put little gifts on our car dashboards. She held hour of prayer days and taught us hymns. She let us sleep in her bed when Dad was away on business trips, even when we kicked her in the middle of the night. She taught us about the human skeletal system, even when it made her feel like passing out and she had to sit with her head between her knees. We made meals for church members, hosted strangers, and prayed for persecuted nations. She taught us to see outside ourselves.
She does everything well. She would insist I’m lying when I say that, so I have to admit she’s never had a great relationship with technology. She’d gush and gush about how patiently I taught her how to use a computer, but to me, she was easy. I’m pretty sure I first realized that I loved teaching from all of the pleasant hours spent showing her how to minimize a window. *wink*
Mom reads every single one of my novels as I write it, giving few critiques, but all excitement, loving and rooting on my characters, lecturing me for writing something that keeps her up too late at night unable to put it down.
When I got married and moved away, Mom still visits and simply cleans my house, attending my children’s sports and activities, even grocery shopping together. When she visits, we do life together, and she’s like my second set of hands. We work together, talking until my throat hurts, best friends sharing our souls. We can talk Christ for days on end. I never tire of being in her presence.
I, as her child, rise up and call her blessed. Many women have done virtuously, but she excels them all. I truly strain in my head to find faults with my mom. They simply don’t exist. She walks more humbly and closely with God than another human being I’ve ever met – and I would know! She loves Jesus with a realness and dearness that I long to emulate, and she loves people in complete purity. She is gracious, giving, non-judgmental, flexible, loyal, and pleasant. She laughs easily, she serves continually, and she is wise. She is over and beyond humble, and she has suffered long. Her faith does not waver.
If I could be half of who my mom is, I would be satisfied. Thank You, Lord, for putting a spiritual giant so closely in my life as my very best friend.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mothers’ Day.