03 June 2023

In Honor of Mother's Day 2023

Every year we get to honor the women that birthed us or fed us, changed our diapers, nurtured and loved us – or those who functioned in that role. While no mother is perfect, these women helped us get to this stage of life.  My Mom, Chris, has been enjoying heaven for nearly six years.  

This is my favorite picture of us, and it sits on my shelf in my office.  Every day, I am reminded of how much she invested in me – not just physically and emotionally but spiritually.  

Right after I was ordained at Valley Christian Church back in ’97, she told me she always knew I’d become a pastor.  She’d prayed for it!  Even when, in my late teens, I’d rebelled against everything religious and wandered far from God, she remained hopeful.  That desire to see me grow in Christ was backed up by living a life that demonstrated His goodness.  

At Mom’s celebration of life, I got to emphasize a few lessons she taught me about growing spiritually.  To begin with, she taught me patience.  I don’t know if it’s just a guy thing, but we men generally lack this quality.  Mom had a very long fuse that she kept hidden.  It took a lot to get her to explode.  However...!

My sister & I have a great relationship, but with 2 young kids on her small salary, we had to share a room, which led to tension!  “Mom, she started it!”  “No, he hit me first!”  And yet she could solve our problems, and we’d go back to playing.  

But, when we crossed the line, and there was one, we knew it!  She would raise her hands up in the air, shake them, and say at the top of her voice: “One of you just hurry up and kill the other one so I can have some peace and quiet!”  Yeah, that made us stop in a hurry!  Later on, we all laughed at it.  She said it was her tactic for us to get along.  

Mom couldn’t understand our quarreling slash loving relationship because she was an only child.  So, she taught us to love each other because we were all the siblings we’d get.  We needed that lesson because we endured many painful years of abuse from our stepfather and stepsiblings.  But Mom was our rock to see us through it, with God’s strength, teaching us to love without reservation when others in our lives didn’t do that for us.  

She didn’t know how God would intervene, but she knew He would.  Mom demonstrated a tough endurance that persevered!  She taught us what complete reliance upon the Lord looked like!  

But she was also humble.  When we were involved in a major auto accident, Mom never physically recovered from her injuries but never let others know the pain she endured.  Why?  Because to Mom, you were the most important person in the room, not her!  She had a selfless quality that I know Jesus honors.  She exemplified how to be an amazing mother, balancing work and caring for my aging grandmother.

Two days before she died, I asked her what she wanted people to remember about her.  She simply said: “That I once was Saul, but now I’m Paul.”  And I thought, wow, she’s teaching us even as she leaves this earth!  Her regrets of running from Jesus in her younger years had now been radically transformed into a witness of God’s grace to grow a person spiritually. 

And now, she is experiencing what Paul did.  2nd Timothy 4:6-8 says, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

May we keep learning the spiritual lessons Mom taught - over and over again, until we, too, receive that crown as we meet Jesus face to face!

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