There are a lot of words and phrases I could use to describe my mother--"cheerfully industrious," "thankful," "fun," "warmly hospitable," and "creatively inventive" are just a few. But I think the one phrase that captures her essence is this: "devoted to the Lord." Above all else, my mother loves Jesus Christ and thoroughly enjoys serving Him in all that she does. Because of this, my mother is a living example of Proverbs 31 who continues to inspire me by her daily life and lifelong achievements.
From my earliest childhood, I have memories of my mother with something in her hands--sewing a seam, painting a picture, setting a table, kneading bread, and, most importantly of all, hugging children. Here is a picture of my mother with a friend's baby:
This is the face I always think of when my mother comes to mind. Mom takes great delight in children of all ages and loves to hug and cuddle her grandchildren--or anyone's children! She is never too busy to stop and examine a grandson's latest Lego creation or to admire a new drawing. She takes the time to praise the handwriting, to notice the colors and shapes, and to encourage further handiwork. From day one, Mom has loved and enjoyed children. My childhood memories of her are full of smiles, laughter, encouragement, and joy.
Here is my mother with my firstborn son when he was barely two days old:
What a wonderful day that was! And how utterly scared to death I was! There is nothing quite so exhilarating and utterly terrifying as becoming a mother for the first time. I was so glad to have Mom's wise counsel and her shoulder to cry on. She helped me through six weeks of a colicky baby and encouraged me when I wondered if my son was eating enough. What a blessing to have the help and wisdom of an older, godly mother close at hand!
My mother is the queen of inventive design. She has never once thought that something couldn't be done just because it hadn't been done before! She spent several years designing a passive solar house, studying the rotation of the earth and position of the sun, coming up with creative ways to capture and repel heat (depending on the season), and modifying her plans as she learned new things. The end result was that we built her house in 1984 from graph paper plans and a 3-D model she made out of cardboard, foam, and markers! That was a family adventure I will never forget. We put a house together out of recycled windows, cast-off doors, and lots of hands to help.
Mom's creativity extends into all areas of her life. She has figured out ways to fit more people into her home than anyone else I know. She taught a stubborn daughter (that would be me) how to sew, even when she insisted the sewing machine was out to get her! She upholstered furniture, making the most out of every square inch of fabric. And she taught me how to do it and helped me when I needed an extra pair of hands. Here I am with my mother and one of my sons, standing next to a hand-me-down couch that needed some TLC:
And here is that wonderful smile I love to see:
Mom's enthusiasm for everything my father did was contagious. She was truly "an help meet for him"--perfectly suited to complement him in every way. Mom and Dad always worked as a team, and our entire family got to share in their adventures, as Dad's work took us all over the world together. We loved helping my father, because my mother so obviously loved doing it, too. They showed us how to work together for the glory of God and really have a fantastic time doing it--even when there wasn't much money or when projects fell through. My mother always had a "can-do" attitude, and it was contagious.
What a delight to have such a mother! All that I know how to do, I owe to her. All that I love in life, I owe to her unbridled enthusiasm for every project that came into her hands and all the ways she demonstrated love to her husband, her children, and every visitor who ever came through her doorway. I grew up seeing life as a great adventure, complete with people to meet, projects to attempt, places to see with people we loved, and--always--a song of praise and joy on the lips.
What is the secret of my mother's happy, fulfilled life? It's just this: dying to self. Long ago, my mother taught me that marriage is 100-0, not 50-50. By word and deed, my mother has taught me that, if we would live, we must die. If we would be served, we must serve. And not with a long face and bitterness of spirit, but with joyful abandon. This is the secret of a beautiful life. Stop putting yourself in the center of everything. Stop acting like it's all about you. Just die to self. Imitate Christ by washing feet and laying down your life. This is my mother's legacy, and what a beautiful one it is. Because the truth of the matter is, when you take the lowest seat at the table, the King will call you up higher (Luke 14:7-11). It's paradoxical, but it's true.
Thank you, Mom, for all the selfless love, the hard work, the laughter, the tears, the encouragement, the exhortation, the correction, the hugs, and the fun. Because of you, I love being a homemaker and find it the greatest, most wonderful adventure. Because of you, I enjoy each new day, even when the kitchen floor is tracked with mud (again), the baby is teething, and the big boys leave "projects" lying in pieces all over the living room. It's all about life! And life is good when you live it in the joy of the Lord.
Thank you, God, for my wonderful mother!
"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." ~ Proverbs 31:25 (KJV)