My 13th birthday my mom threw a little party for me. We were new in Greenville, SC and I'm pretty sure that most of the girls who came were doing me a favor. Anyway, my mom had this flowery stationary and asked all the girls to write me a little note (which was funny because most of them barely knew me.) My mom also wrote me a note and though I don't have it in front of me, I remember almost exactly what it said.
This stationary reminds me of the work God does in our lives. Isaiah 58:11 says, "And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." Hannah, my prayer for you is that God will give you a teachable spirit. As you learn from Him, He will make you like a "well-watered garden."
I didn't find this letter weird because my mom has always been rattling off Scripture and prayers; though I'll admit at 13 I didn't meditate much on it. But 10 years later, I still remember it almost verbatim. Why? Because my mother truly labored for me in prayer. And it truly has changed my life.
The year later, my father died. I could write a book on all the ways I rebelled in my grief. Classic teenager stuff on steroids. But looking back on my journals, I can see a theme that developed during those years. "God, I really need help. Please change me. Why do I keep doing these things? I need you. Please heal me and teach me to live and think and feel and believe differently."
Basically I screwed up so much that I realized I needed to start admitting it and listen to older, wiser people who would get in my face! And believe me...they did get in my face. It wasn't fun. But it changed my life.
So back to my mom. She loved me enough to listen to God for me. She loved me enough to bruise her knees for me. To get in my face. To go to war (at times against me!) for my sake. She loved me in the least convenient, most uncomfortable, most sacrificial kind of way. Day after day after day. In the aftermath of cancer and the death of a father, when all of us kids were melting down and falling apart, guess who didn't do the same? The one who actually took care of my father for four years- who cleaned his wounds, made his meals, sat at his bedside in countless hospital rooms, washed his hair, and held his hand as he took his last breath- who watched the love of her life die in front of her- was left behind with six children. She probably had the most reason to give up, to stay in bed for weeks at a time and just quit. But I never saw her do that. In fact, I can't think of a morning that I didn't have a hot breakfast before school.
Instead of quitting, she chose to "dress herself with strength and make her arms strong." She chose to fight back against depression, despair, and death. And she not only fought for herself, she fought for her six children. Tirelessly. In the face of unspeakable opposition, she remained steadfast. I remember moments that I (and two or three other of her children) screamed curse words to her face, hating her, taking out all our wrath on her. But she didn't quit, and she didn't give up on me, or any of us. And like I said, it has changed my life.
I apologize if you're not a Lord of the Rings freak like I am, but here's a picture of someone else who fought for others against a dark enemy. Surprisingly, my mom loves being compared to this old wizard with long gray hair. In fact, she nick-named her mini van Gandalf the Grey :)
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; many women have done well, but you surpass them all."
I hope to be like you when I grow up. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!