Background Passage: Proverbs 31:1-31
I think someone is trying to tell me something. Every Mother’s Day at my church, each mother is given a beautiful rose or some other lovely gift and a sermon extolling that Proverbs 31 woman we love and cherish. On Father’s Day, it seems, we get a self-help book on fatherhood and hear a sermon on how to be a more Godly man. Maybe we get what we deserve.
Each Mother’s Day brings to me a sense of rejoicing, remembrance and loss. My mother, Earline Lewis, passed away in 1998. Cancer claimed her but not before she shared a full life as a wonderful wife to my Dad, an amazing mother to her three children and a quiet influence to a new generation of women.
As a young woman in the 1940s, Mom studied to become an Registered Nurse. Upon graduation, she enlisted to serve as a nurse during World War II. The war ended about the same time and she was never shipped out, but she looked awfully good in her uniform. She lived a farmer’s life as a farmer’s wife, a stay-at-home mother and, for a brief time, a school nurse in our community. She ended her career as a medical director in a retirement community in Lubbock, Texas. I was always quite proud of her.
I have thought of her often over the last 18 years. If you’ll allow me a blog of personal privilege, I’d like to tell you about her on this Mother’s Day.
Mom was a woman of practical and personal faith. She experienced worship less on bended knee and more with helping hands. She lived an applied faith. Each day she demonstrated God’s love through her service to the hurting and the sick. To those whose minds outlived their bodies and whose bodies outlived their minds. She had a listening ear and a sensitive touch. Her worship often took her away from church on Sundays as she tended to the biblical “ox in the ditch.” I know God felt her worship every day.
Her faith was as personal as it was practical. She was God’s hand and heart to her elderly patients that were sometimes alone and abandoned. They were not just patients in bed three or four, they were beautiful faces, recognizable names, persons to be cared for and loved. She taught me that God calls us to care for the “least of his children.” Because he loves the least, we must also love and act in meaningful ways.
Mom was a woman of private heart. “Private,” not “remote.” When Mom loved you and engaged you, it felt like you were the only two people in the world. She was not overly demonstrative. Not one to gush. Yet, there was never a time in my life as a child or adult when I questioned her love for my Dad, her children or her grandchildren. You saw love glistening in her eyes. Felt it glowing in her smile. With a word and a touch she could connect her heart to yours.
My Grandma Mills, my mom’s mother, died in a car accident when I was young. We all felt such grief at an unexpected loss. I sat on the steps in Grandma’s house trying to play with a few toys and take my mind off of everything happening around me. I was having a hard time holding it together. Mom sat down and played with me for a time without saying a word. I cried. She cried. I hugged her. She hugged me. There were no platitudes of false comfort that I had heard from other well-meaning souls…“God just needed your Grandmas in heaven more than he needed her here.” She simply allowed me to look deeply into her hurting heart as she reached out to mine.
Mom was a woman of deep tenderness. She stood with my wife, Robin, and I in the tiny bathroom of our home the day we brought our first son home from the hospital. He was so little. Looked so fragile. So breakable. Clueless about everything, we asked her to give him his first bath while we watched. She handled a squirming and screaming sack of potatoes with such ease. She touched him, offering soothing words of comfort. She never stopped smiling and cooing at him no matter how loud he cried. Tenderness and patience.
Mom was a woman of constant love. Her relationship with her four grandchildren was nothing short of mesmerizing. The perfect grandmother. Whether it was sitting on the floor playing with dolls or trucks or joining in their conspiracy by teaching them to play poker, she was fully devoted to them. She gave them her full attention…every minute they were together. There were countless hours of intimate dialogue about dinosaurs, donuts, dolls, dreams. Shared secrets about school, sports, sororities and scholarships. Every conversation laced with a perfect blend of humor, intelligence and love. She never talked down to them. The priceless value of those encounters came less from the topic being discussed and more from the time she spent with them. Her love never wavered.
Those vignettes do not reveal everything about my Mom, but it gives you a little insight into a fabulous woman who made a difference in my life. I adored her laugh, her sense of humor, her common sense and her insight. She could cook a mean roast, suture a wound, drive a tractor, haul cotton to the gin and discuss Pauline theology. She could have done anything…been anything she wanted to be…but she was content to be my Mom. These are but a few of the things that defined her, a few of the imprints she left on my soul. She was an extraordinary influence in the lives of my brother, my sister and me. I will love her always.
I also do not think her influence stopped with us. They say that men often marry their mothers. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I married Robin 40 years ago. Though different in many ways, my Mom and Robin share identical hearts. Robin’s love for God flows through to her love for our boys. When they were children she always looked for new experiences and new opportunities for our boys to explore, sharing their interests and encouraging their curiosity. Making time for them whenever needed. Her love for them remains sacrificial and ever present. She was and is a great mother to them, helping to mold them into the amazing, Godly men they have become. I am blessed to call her my wife and the mother of our children.
Adam and Andrew, in turn, married two incredible women, Jordan and Melissa, respectively, both of whom remind me of my Mom in all the ways that matter most. I celebrate their similarities, their uniqueness, but rejoice in the mothers they have become. I admire their abiding faith and the way it governs their lives.
It may be more difficult to be a good mother in today’s world. Society tells parents to back away and let the kids find their way without undue parental influence. What a joy it is to watch Jordan with Eli and Josiah; Melissa with Lena. As mothers, these two young women are models of love, patience, discipline and devotion. I know this to be true because I’ve never seen three happier children. My grandchildren will never live a second without feeling their mothers’ love. What a gift that will be in the years to come!
I hope each of you takes the time this Mother’s Day to remember and thank that special woman who gave you life. Whether she is physically present or eternally remembered makes little difference. Her impact on your life has been immeasurable.
Happy Mother’s Day, Robin. Happy Mother’s Day, Jordan and Melissa.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. This verse is for you.
“Her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband also and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29.
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