In our small group discussion last week, the question was posed, "Who has left the best legacy of faith in your life?"
I answered immediately, heart bursting with pride, "My mom."
Variants of that question have been posed to me a few times lately, and my answer seems to surprise people. They don't look at me and nod as if I've given the easy answer. They look curious. I've come to learn that most women around my age (and I can think of a few exceptions to this generalization right off the bat) don't really get along that well with their mothers. Most are on speaking terms with their mothers, but they put up with them, and they do not feel emotionally safe around them.
Which brings me to #1 and #2 on my list of things to thank you for this Mother's Day.
#1 Thank you for being a safe place for me emotionally. I am not easy to live with, and I have observed that it is difficult for most people to maintain close relationship with me for an extended period of time. Instead of putting walls up between us, you are helping me figure out how to cope with the PMDD that I think is at the back of my inability to keep friends. Because you have never left me and never forsaken me, you have shown me the unconditional love of God. I believe He loves me unconditionally because I know you do.
#2 Thank you for leaving the best legacy of faith in my life. I'll never forget standing in the hallway on Fourth Street while you taught me a little song you'd written as a teaching tool for my older siblings. You sang to me, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good." Remember? It was a very 70's-praise-chorus-type tune. Romans 12:9 set to music.
And speaking of Romans 12, when I think of the legacy of faith you've left me, I think of that passage. You have always presented yourself as a living sacrifice to God... for your husband, for your family, and now for your own sweet mama. You have always lived a life of service, and you serve cheerfully.
When you get good news or you're really excited about something, you pump your fist in the air and shout, "Yes!" I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Paul meant by "rejoicing in hope."
When it comes to persevering in tribulation, I have never seen someone grieve so graciously. I know you say you are just surviving it and holding on for dear life, but that's exactly my point. You are holding on for dear life to Christ. In so doing, you are showing me how to do the same.
You don't pay back evil for evil to anyone. You are not haughty in mind. You willingly and joyfully associate with the lowly, giving preference to them in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, serving the Lord. You rejoice with those who rejoice, and you weep with those who weep. So far as it depends on you, you live peaceably with everyone. You are not overcome by evil, but you overcome evil with good.
You taught me at a young age, "Freely you have received, freely give." I have watched you practice that all my life as you have contributed to the needs of the saints, practiced hospitality, ministered to the poor and needy of your local community, reached out and gathered teen moms under your wing, and cared for widows and orphans in their distress.
It is this passion of yours to care for those in need that inspired me to write you this post. You know how sometimes people say, "In lieu of getting you a gift, I made a donation in your name to blah-blah-blah..." And you know how usually, the "recipient" secretly wishes the person had just actually given them a gift? Well, I know that will not be your response to what I'm about to say:
This post is part of a 1,000 Moms project hosted by Ann Voskamp, who wrote that book I lent you about gratitude. (Have you started it yet? The first chapter is gripping!) If 1,000 people post or facebook or tweet about something they're thankful for about their moms, the powers-that-be behind the project will sponsor a maternity/child survival home in Haiti for a year.
I knew you'd think so. I know you want to pack your bags and go work at the home they will sponsor. I can see you there now, spreading your joyful smile around and showing others, like you've shown me, God's unconditional love.
#3 Thank you for carrying me in your womb, pacing the halls at the hospital in Red Deer, taking that warm bath that might induce me to make my entrance into the world, giving birth to me, and carrying me always close to your heart.
#4 Thank you for getting up in the middle of the night with me when we lived in Joseph because of Crazy Insomnia Becky. Also, see that giant piece of orange yarn pinned to my clothes? Thanks for that, too. A lot.
#5 Thank you for driving a wicked cool red van. (I remember learning The William Tell Overture on its 8-track player. Thanks for that, too.) And thanks ever so much for making me wear a tent. That rocks.
#6 Thank you for having, like, a LOT of kids. Are they all yours? Thanks for filling my life up with enough brothers to educate me a little about raising sons and give me a love for Legos and G.I.Joe's and video games. And thank you for pouring yourself into each one of your children in such a way that I never felt lost in the shuffle, and thank you for being the Family Glue. You're sticky. Also thanks for letting me wear a random blue ribbon pinned to the front of my black turtleneck. I'm a winner.
#7 Thank you for showing me that there's more than one way to skin a cat. And by "skin a cat" I mean go hiking. Thank you for not being driven to be a Mountain Conqueror. Thank you for being left in the dust with me and making a game out of holding down the fort while the rest of the super achievers in our family scaled the heights.
#8 Thank you for teaching me how to laugh and filling my life with laughter.
#9 Thank you for showing me the importance of family and acquainting me with my family heritage. (That's Aunt Clara, by the way.)
#10 Thank you...
...for showing me how...
... to stay...
#11 Thank you for not being suicidal. Thank you that all in this picture, and countless others not pictured here, still have you.
#12 Thank you for never giving up on your family.
#13 Thank you for showing me how to make weird faces at sporting events. And for showing me the importance of showing up and cheering my lungs out at every single one.
#14 Thank you for loving my children.
#15 And finally, thank you for color coordinating with me at family gatherings...
...and being my forever friend.
"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you." ~Philippians 1:3