We've started a new tradition of celebrating birthdays by the season so we joined our birthdays with the country's and just celebrated all weekend. As part of this new tradition we pray for each birthday person so each night we prayed for a couple people at a time around the campfire. That left just my Mom who hadn't yet been prayed for. Another new tradition is that we all go in on one gift and we all sign one sheet of paper that my sister decorates as our card for each person. So on Saturday we sang "Happy Birthday" five times and gave a gift and a card to each person saving Mom for last.
Being the oldest child I had the privilege of opening in prayer then my Dad closed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I listened while my siblings thanked God for our mom. I thought of all the things she has given to us and what a treasure they are. We've never had lots of money but somehow as kids we didn't know it. She gave us love unconditionally and she believed in us even when we couldn't believe in our selves because she knew the power of the God that she diligently sought on our behalf. She showed us patience and consistency. She knew us and encouraged us to pursue what we loved. She let us know when we did wrong and set us back on the right path. She was never too busy for us when we needed her and somehow the necessary things still got done. She taught us responsibility with chores. She taught us to do our best and never give up. I could go on but you get the idea. :)
I was struck with inspiration as her children-in-law gave thanks for her and I realized just how much she welcomed them into the family like one of her own. In fact, it felt funny to write in-laws because we just don't think of each other that way. I hear so many jokes and stories about bad in-laws but Mom has modeled for us what a good in-law looks like.
As her grandchild prayed for her I was awed by the legacy this simple woman is leaving. Sitting in that room were 23 people brought together by this one couple and that isn't even all of us, we were missing my sister in California and my brother in Michigan. All together, because of my parents there is a family of 30 who love the Lord and each other. I remember the stories she would tell us of being a teen and spotting my really cute dad. They have such an interesting story that I hope to someday write a book about it called "Little Sleeping Bag on the Highway". I got my name from hippies. :)
I wonder when she traded seashells on the beach with my dad if she had any idea that her everyday simple choices would someday contribute to the Kingdom of God. When her baby faith kept her from seeking fulfillment in the drugs my dad tried did she know she was protecting many lives. When she prayed for my dad's salvation and even for him to have a bad trip could she have guessed what an incredibly strong faith that man would one day posses. When she carried me in her arms along the highway or when she was awakened from her sleep by a voice calling my name to stop before I ran into the highway, could she have any guess that one day those tiny little arms would carry 7 little ones who would call her Grandma. As each of her children were born and she poured her life into each one, did she imagine that one day they would rise up and call her blessed?
When our teen hearts were broken and she prayed for our spouses- to- be did she imagine each one of them as the perfect match that they are. Did she love them even then? When we were upset with our spouse and we called her to vent she didn't take sides but offered her quiet enduring example and prayed. Did she know she was protecting marriages and strengthening them? Did she realize the little eyes of grandchildren who were watching and counting on her to help keep their parents strong?
If you ask her she would say she is just a wife or just a mom or just a grandma but look what she has done with that! It was a very tangible reminder of how every little choice we make, every little time we choose to keep God first we affect not just our future but the future of generations. Let this be a reminder to us all that every moment matters. But let me also remind you that God is redemptive and His love covers over a multitude of sins. Mom wasn't perfect and she didn't always get it right but somehow we forget those times when we see the consistency of her life seeking her Lord. God is a God of grace and he loves to pour it out on those whose hearts are seeking Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. Hang in there and don't give up. Others are watching you and gaining strength.
One last thought for those of you who have prodigal children - as long as they are breathing they cannot escape your prayers. It would take too long to tell of each of my & my siblings stories but all of us would say, "Mom prayed us through some dark times." Do not let shame grip your heart and pray boldly for the children or spouse you love so much. Know that Jesus loves them even more. Remember the first children were perfect. They had a perfect father and everything they could ever desire but they still chose sin. Their father didn't give up on them, don't you give up either.
I pray for all who read this blog that they would be encouraged by the simple faith and life of my very quiet mother. I pray that you would strengthen the hearts of the weary parents who feel as if they are losing the battle. Bring people into their path who would encourage them in just they way they need to hang on. Remind discouraged "just moms" or "just dads" how very important they are to You and give them joy for the journey. Bring the hearts of the children to a relationship with You. Your servants grow weary in this war torn land, Lord, let Your joy be their strength and wisdom be their path.
In Jesus name,