Mom with her five children. I am the second oldest--
the one to the left of my baby brother,
nestled against Mom's right shoulder.
Later today, I'll be leaving for the coast where my siblings and I and our children, along with other members of the extended family, will gather to celebrate my mother's 75th birthday. I didn't write the following with any intention of posting it here. I simply typed it out as an honest message to put inside my mother's birthday card. But as I read back over it, I knew I wanted to share it here, not because it's a beautiful piece of writing (I wrote it through in one draft, without trying to write well; I simply wanted to communicate to Mom just a glimpse of my heart toward her), but because I have a wonderful, beautiful mother who has not been perfect, but has been faithful. And what more can we do on earth except to remain faithful and loving? My mother has been that, and I thank God for her. She is an example to me, and maybe her example will encourage you.
Pablo Picasso said it takes a long time to grow younger, but you have always had a young spirit. Being an artist, maybe he should have rather said that it takes a time to create a masterpiece. The years have not diminished you, Mom, but have only made you more beautiful. You are a masterpiece of a mother, grandmother, friend, and woman. The experiences, gifts, losses, joys, and struggles of your life are the brushstrokes God has used to make you so lovely. Each one counts. Each one illuminates beautifully a part of the picture of your life and reveals to all of us what God can make of one who is yielded to Him.
Thank you for your example to me of being faithful to God. I know you would say that you’ve been too inconsistent, but all I see is a mother who prayed, a mother who knew where to look (up!) when facing uncertainty or pain, a mother who stayed steadfast, looking to God’s word for direction, comfort, hope, guidance, and strength. (Do you have any idea what it means for a child to find her mother often on her knees, face close to the ground, lifting up her needs, her children, her life to God?)
Your example so often lights my way when I wonder what steps to take or how to respond to a certain struggle in my life: Just keep looking to the Lord! He is faithful, and He is loving and good in all He does. Thanks, Mom, for teaching us to laugh at the wind when it blows hard. Thank you for teaching us to embrace the storm and see its beauty.
Thank you for playing with us outside when we were little kids and for playing sports and games with us as we grew older. Thank you for talking with us long. Thank you for so many heartfelt hugs and for shedding tears when we did. Thank you for backrubs and soothing words at night. Thank you for being there, with Dad, at every single sports event we were part of. Thank you for cookies after school and for decorating the house so cheerily at holidays. Thank you for taking us to the beach and for teaching us to absorb its power and beauty as well as having fun playing in the sand and water. Thank you for making a party out of everything—for Walt Disney and root beer floats, for Ma and Pa Kettle and popcorn. Thank you for the adventure of the Hub sales and for maple candy afterward.
Thank you sending us off to school after sit-down breakfasts with the heater in the kitchen and Bible reading and prayer time. And thank you for reading from Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to prayer before school, too. That book played a part in shaping my faith. I treasure owning it now.
Thank you for creating such a wonderful atmosphere in our home because it made growing up so magical. And thank you for great joy and laughter—so much laughter (!)--even when you could have been worrying and fretting. Even when pain was great. You were, and are, so much fun!
You are a mother who has always loved well. Once we grew up, you bit your tongue heroically and let us all carry on with our foibles and missteps because you knew we would learn through them. You knew God would look after us. But you have always been there with an answer when we’ve asked for help.
Thank you for your strength—for showing us that a gentle spirit, a godly woman, does not mean a wimpy woman. Thank you for making us shoulder our load, for expecting us to work hard, for showing us what it means to be strong and feminine at the same time. Without having learned that from you, Mom, I don’t know how I would have carried on in the past two years.
I pray God will make me half the woman you are, Mom. I love you more than I can possibly express. You are my hero and my friend.
Happy, happy, happy birthday!