Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV) – Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Both of my parents are celebrating birthdays this week. I have
few zero math skills in my wheelhouse so I had to ask my husband how old they are this year. 63! It’s hard for me to believe my parents are in their sixties. Partly because it reminds me that I’m getting older too and 40 is knocking on my door and partly because I see others who are their age and already retired and my parents never seem to be slowing down no matter what age they are.
Even as an adult I take my parents for granted and as a child there’s no question that I had no idea how lucky I was to grow up in such a stable, Christian environment. I HATED my upbringing way back when and was pretty vocal about it. I spent
several way too many years being the rebellious wild child making sure they both knew I was never going to live in the country, never going to marry a farmer and never going to be like them. I caused them fits of worries and despair, constant headaches and stomach ulcers, and many opportunities to want to throw up their hands and shake their heads. As an adult who has been blessed with two children of her own my perspective has changed immensely over the years. I am forever grateful for them and so proud to know God gave me to them and them to me and I’m thankful for the way they chose to raise us and for the country type of lifestyle and upbringing I was given.
I was blessed to grow up in a household that was never affected by divorce. I honestly don’t have any memories of my parents ever fighting. Maybe they had disagreements, and I’m sure there were times they drove each other mad just as in any marriage but there were never any screaming matches between the adults, never a worry that one parent had left and was never returning, never a childlike fear that our parents were no longer in love. Atleast that’s how I remember it from my point of view.
We grew up enjoying annual summer family vacations on the Lake of the Ozarks and trips to the State Fair and church camps. We went swimming, camping, fishing, boating, bike riding and sledding. We mowed yards, walked beans, picked a harvest of foods from the garden, read books, and sang songs as a family unit. We spent hours on road trips to Yellowstone, Disney World, Mount Rushmore, and the Wisconsin Dells. We had huge family dinners during the holidays and numerous family reunions we attended regularly. We ate dinner around the table as a family, watched movies and decorated for the holidays together.
Our lives were filled with so many activities and I am amazed my mom kept every day life running so smoothly with four of us kids on different schedules. We took piano, tap, ballet, jazz and gymnastic lessons. We were all enrolled in swimming sessions, summer reading programs, and every sporting event our little hearts desired. We lived so far out of town that the family van was loaded with snacks, books and games to keep us entertained for hours after school as she carted us around from one activity to another every evening while running errands, helping us with homework, breaking up our sibling arguments, and planning Sunday School lessons, church programs and meals all from the confines of the vehicle. My mom has made a multitude of homemade clothes, Halloween costumes, and matching Sunday attire for the whole family from scratch. She has made alterations to prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and a whole gaggle of other things whenever we needed help in that department.
We were also involved in every church activity they had to offer and spent a huge chunk of time in that building. It was our playground for games of basketball in the gym, hide and seek in the dark and swinging from the old Willow tree out back. We enjoyed Vacation Bible School, Fall festivals, games of softball, and Christmas caroling around the town. She taught us about tithing for the church and attempted to help us save our earnings from various small jobs. She has studied for hours into the night four times for the US Constitution test as well as many subjects, helped choreograph cheerleading routines, spent countless hours rooting us on from school bleachers and lawn chairs, and many sleepless nights taking care of sick kids from various childhood ailments and broken hearts from relationships. She taught us how to cook, clean, do laundry and other domestic chores while also instructing us on how to be responsible for our animals, our material things and our actions.
Growing up she was our caregiver, prayer warrior, nurse, maid, cook, chauffeur, referee, seamstress, party planner, professional vacation packer, and banker. She was the good cop and bad cop when we were in trouble. She always had this amazing “mother’s intuition” when we were most likely doing things we absolutely knew would get us in trouble. I never could understand how this worked until I became a parent myself. She was the person who held our hands and wiped our tears when we believed everything was crashing down around us during the adolescent and teenage years, always promising it wasn’t really the end of the world as we believed.
She is the woman whose make-up I used to steal and use as my own. The person whose bed I practiced flip flops on A LOT when she was outside hanging laundry on the clothesline. She is the person who introduced me to old movies like White Christmas and Holiday Inn and people like Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Fred Astaire. She let us build huge forts in the house, dress up the cats in baby clothes, and listened to us whine and cry for hours when we had to pick up the “toy room” after we destroyed it on a weekly basis.
She is so many things that I am not, nor will probably ever be. She is extremely organized, a planner and never a procrastinator. She is creative and crafty. She can quilt, sew, and make magical creations from any type of fabric and materials. She is a night owl that requires very few hours of sleep and can run at full speed for days on end. I don’t believe she forgets anything either (in a good way)! She always remembers to send out birthday and anniversary cards as well as thank you notes. She is a survivor of lymphoma. She is a beautiful alto singer and knows how to play the accordion. She is a Sunday School teacher, a past children’s choir director, and a great public speaker. Her earnest, heartfelt prayers at family dinners can bring tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat in a heartbeat. She is a mother who has prayed for daily safety for her only son while he was fighting for our country’s freedoms during three separate tours overseas. She is a selfless serving, submissive wife who works full time on the farm, hand in hand with my dad. Some of my favorite memories are riding in the back of the tractor with her for hours while she worked farm ground and getting to tag along to the elevator with her in the grain truck each year. She has helped take care of her elderly parents and spent days on end making visits to them in their home and then the nursing home before they both left this earth. She is still doing this call of servant hood to this day with her mother-in-law.
But she is so much more than all these things above.
She is the woman who wasn’t raised in a Christian home but CHOSE to become a Christian. She is the woman who awoke each morning choosing to dedicate a portion of her day to her own Bible study learning and development so she could better equip her offspring with the tools they would need to face the battles of a sinful world that raged war outside the confines of the safety and security of our home. She is the woman who decided to take the words from the Bible to heart and put them into practice while raising up her brood of kids. She spent time every single night going from bedroom to bedroom, with a stack of note cards in hand guiding us through the Bible and memorizing scripture alongside us. She taught us how to pray and prayed with us and for us. I can’t imagine the pain staking commitment it took for her to do this night after night, year after year, and kid after kid, especially during the teenage years when we were less than pleasant to deal with. I know as a teenager I spent more nights praying she would be too busy or would get distracted by my siblings and wouldn’t have the time to show up at my room for these nightly sessions of alone time with her. But low and behold my teenage temperaments, mood swings, silent treatments and less than thrilling attitudes could never keep her away. She was committed whether we liked it or not, whether we sat in silence or not, whether we were actually listening or not. She never gave up on any of us.
My mom was there when I wanted to leave the country on several occasions for missions trips during my high school years and encouraged me to share my faith and the love of God with others. She is the one who planned my baby shower and taught me about life with babies when I came back home pregnant at 19. She is the one who held my hand when the pain of childbirth seemed almost more than I could handle as a teenager. She is the one who took my children in when I was septic and hospitalized for a kidney infection. She is the one who had a front row seat to the fallout when I became the prodigal child who swore she had life figured out all on her own. She is the one who kept the faith and never gave up on me when I stopped going to church for years. She is the one who helped care for my two small children when I went through a scary, horrendous divorce in my twenties. My mom is the one whose feelings I hurt when I eloped in Vegas. She was the one who understood my frustrations with others and their comments after I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom instead of having a “real job”.
She has sat in the hospital offering comforting words that I needed to hear to keep my sanity after my daughter attempted suicide. She is the one who has shown up for every activity my own kids have been involved in come sun, rain, sleet or snow and does the same for all her other grandchildren. My mom sat across from me a couple years back as I cried at her kitchen table in complete despair and anguish after learning the painful truth that my best friend of seven years was a fraud and I wasn’t handling it all very well. She is the one who sent me encouraging emails after my daughter was arrested, reminding me that we all make mistakes whether they are public or private. She knew even as I stood stoic for my kids in their time of need that my own heart was broken when my son’s best friend blindsided everyone and committed suicide last year. She is the one who tells me to breathe and take my time when I call her and can’t find the words to say over the tears that are rendering me unable to speak. She is the one who still reminds me it doesn’t matter what others think concerning decisions we have made during this crucially painful season of the prodigal child with my own first born. She is the mother and grandmother who I witnessed cry tears of joy while holding her newest grandson for the first time this past summer.
Even though we are different people we are similar in many ways. We both share an enormous love of books and reading and have our own personal libraries in our homes. We both ♥ chocolate, music and wearing jewelry. We are both now married to farmers. Neither of us really like talking on the phone. We both take the harvest provided by our gardens and share in the daunting process every year of cutting, canning, and freezing the homegrown bounty for meals for our families. We both love nostalgic sentimental things related to our family’s history. We both have our own “system” to how we do things and like things done around the house. We both prefer writing to express how we feel. We also share a couple expressions that many men in our family get to see on a regular basis when they are being…….well you know how men can be.
She has witnessed her first born rise and fall numerous times but has never turned her back on me. She doesn’t always agree with me and we view things from different angles and perspectives depending on the day and circumstance but she is still in my corner. We are not the same person but I am my mother’s daughter. God knew exactly the type of mom I would need before I was even a twinkle in her eye and some days the thorn in her side. There are many days I wish I was more like her when she seems to always have it together and I feel like I’m falling apart on a routine basis. But I know my mom embraces my different personality, my talents and even my shortcomings. She is my inspiration!
My mom IS the reason I have scripture branded on my heart and in my mind forever to help guide me through life and it’s sometimes treacherous obstacles. I still carry the worn out, tattered Bible that she bought me the summer before heading off to college. It has seen better days, with its broken binding and worn and tattered pages, but it contains so many treasures that I hold dearly and I’m not ready to set it aside and start marking up a new one. It’s highlighted passages and scribbles of handwritten notes down the ledgers are because of her and her commitment to share her faith with her children. I am forever grateful I am able to saturate my soul with God’s wisdom and His words which she took the time to share with me from the very beginning of my life here on earth.
Happy Birthday Mom ~ ♥ Mand