Today is Mother’s Day. I’ve known it was coming for a while of course. This is the fourth Day that I have had without my Mother. It still is a hard day in many ways, but as I have been “percolating” all week about this particular post, I have tried to look at all the wonderful memories, the knowledge of her leading me, praying for me and with me, holding me in her arms in times of my greatest sorrow, attending me on days of my greatest joy–all of these are so precious. Yes, they bring tears, but I am getting used to them now. I know my Lord has buckets and buckets of tears I have shed in heaven! And in this percolating, I thought to her honor, I would write why I thought she exemplified a Proverbs 31 woman. Rather than write out the whole passage, I will take a principle and address it.
A wife of noble character who can find it? In today’s world that says a lot! Fidelity, Truthfulness, Faithful in spite of every circumstance…the world says impossible. God says all things are possible with Him. In my Mother’s day, although no one likes to talk about it all the same issues we have today, they had then. Human nature has not changed, we have just become completely open about everything. Even me! I would never have thought to share such intimate feelings with the world; but God has shown me that my feelings are not my own-others have the same feelings and if shared can help one another-a better thing than my mother’s generation.
My dad often told the story of the night he asked my mother to marry him. He had driven from Chicago to Atlanta and arrived in the middle of the night. After he parked at her apartment, he noticed a couple “really going at it ” in a car next to him. The woman’s hair was my mom’s color. With a sinking heart, he got back in his car and drove down the road to a drugstore that had a phone booth. He dialed her number. It rang and rang and just as he was going to hang up-knowing she wasn’t there-she breathlessly answered the phone. She apologized for taking so long, she was asleep, she said. He asked if he could come right over-he had an important question to ask her. She agreed. He said he drove like a bat out of h__ and when he got there, the couple was still going at it! Whew! He was relieved. When he went upstairs, my mother met him at the door in her robe, slippers and hair curlers. He always stopped the story there.
The next few verses talk about how industrious the wife is. I barely remember my mom not working as a designer. She was extraordinarily successful as a young designer in Knoxville,Tn, where I was born and then in Texas where she was head of design for Sunniland and lastly went out on her own. When we moved to Atlanta in 1968, she started her business right up again, continuing that until she and my Dad went on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. They moved several times with that organization finally settling in Orlando, Florida. Eventually my Dad retired, but my Mom resurrected her design business! She still had kids in high school and college and Dad’s pension and social security even with hers was not going to be enough for all the expenses.
The verse says she gets up while it is dark and at night the lamp does not go out because she is still working.I have to interject here that there was no appreciation on my part, foolish and stupid as I was then. I know that all of my life, I had nice things to wear; I lived in a nice house; (well decorated too, of course) I went to summer camps, choir trips–all of which cost money. Did I mention I am not an only child? I have 5 brothers and sisters. My growing up years in Houston Texas were with the first 5 of us as the last sister was born after we moved to Atlanta the month after I turned 17. So you can see that she was diligently providing for all of her household.
The passage does mention her clothing so I will add just a fun character note about my mom. In those days, women wore hats to church-always and my mother loved her hats! However you have to remember that she was a designer-sometimes they like things a little av-ant-garde! One day she brought home a black hat that to us looked like a bird’s nest of thin black wires sticking out in all directions. We were appalled! We kids begged her to take it back. I think my dad just shook his head. He never commented on anything any of us wore unless it showed the belly button. (that’s a whole ‘nother story) Of course, she kept that hat and wore it proudly. Lot’s of times over the years. I never understood that attraction and I have no idea what happened to it but one day, it was gone.
Then the passage talks about how she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. I will always remember getting up early and catching my mother on her knees in her quiet time with the Lord. As a child, it was comforting somewhat as she would just say I’m praying for the day and our needs to the Lord. As a teenager, I was NOT impressed. We didn’t get on well those last couple of years at home. I thought she favored my sister in all things, expected too much of me and asked too much of me. I wanted to be gone all the time. She’d say no. Of course I know so much better now. But then, I did not appreciate her at all. And by this time, she was so in love with Jesus that she shared with everybody that she came in contact with. It got to be so embarrassing, especially if we were out shopping together and she got started–I’d start fuming. I’m so glad Jesus has forgiven me of all my sins, because I am sure He was particularly unhappy with me that time of my life.
I got engaged right after Christmas my senior year of high school. Looking back now, I know that must have broken my mother’s heart. I know she had such plans for her first-born child. She had always taught me to be a leader not a follower–that was easy, I had her over the top personality (can’t you tell?) and I was terribly inquisitive-still am-she thought I was smart and she wanted me to experience more than I would if I were engaged or married at college. Of course she was right, but at that age, we want our own way just as the Bible says we do and we have gone astray…so did I. She must have bit her tongue bloody but she planned and gave me the most beautiful wedding I still ever been to except for my 20th wedding vow renewal ceremony. I have been to lots of weddings. All of my siblings-and of course when they read this, they will disagree! That’s okay, we can all have our own opinions.
Still talking about speaking wisdom and faithful instruction, my mom encouraged me in staying involved in church, a Bible study, anything that she thought would help me deal with my life. My health issues had started within 6 months of our marriage. I came down with pneumonia. It was my first time being so very sick. I missed taking my birth control pills for a couple of days when I was at the worst of it, but really thought nothing of it when I started them back up as soon as I remembered. Of course you know what happened! When I told my mom, she cried. I was really upset because I was happy-all I had ever really wanted was to be married and have a family to care for-now I was. She could see the handwriting on the wall. I’d quit school and college was really important to her as she had not gone and was self-taught and God imbued with her talent. This isn’t about me, but I can’t write about what she did for me if I don’t say what happened.
I lost that child. I lost 2 more. She comforted me and reminded me that she too had lost a child but had gone on to have others. I knew she was trying hard, but this was a woman who had 6 children…how could she understand my pain? Still, she and my dad were instrumental in getting me to a seminar. I was so desperate for peace and understanding by then, I thought I’d try anything. This was a Mon-Thurs 7-9pm and all day Fri and Sat thing. Very intense, incredible information. In fact, for the first time in my life, I could understand that God had/has a plan for my life-for each of our lives. He doesn’t make a mistake with choosing whoever your parents are. He doesn’t make mistakes with the trials and tribulations of your life either.
First everything is designed to bring you to Him who is calling you. And then secondly it is designed to refine you and render you holy and perfect to be His Righteousness in that DAY. But I didn’t get all that then. Just the part where I knew I had never said yes, You come in and be in charge of my life.
Oh, I had joined the church and been baptized at age 9. I had re-dedicated my life so many times when I was overcome emotionally by some sermon or talk I heard. but I had never asked Jesus to come into my heart and be the Lord of my Life, in other words tell me what to do!! because up until that day, I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do-that included my Father, my Mother, my husband-I tolerated it from my boss. Jesus says in Rev 3:20 You have to ask him to come in or He is not there! This is a vital last step in the salvation process that many people do not know of, nor do they take. Or they are like me and are in too much rebellion to give up the rulership of their life. And so on that day June 13, 1970, my twentieth birthday, I celebrated my first spiritual birthday. I know my mom was thrilled because another of her prayers had been answered; another child in the fold.
There are so many other things my mother did for me. I had to stay in bed the last two months before my first child (yes, thank you Lord) was born. She had taken me to the doctor when I had told her about my stomach getting hard and then going soft. Dummy me didn’t know that was any kind of contraction. The doctor examined me and then gently said, Cindy, you have to go to bed and stay there if you want this baby to survive. It’s too early for you to deliver, but your cervix has thinned out so the only thing I know to do right now is to put you to bed. I was 5 and 1/2 months pregnant. It was a miracle that I was pregnant; miracle I had gotten through the first trimester with heavy spotting which required bed rest; and now I had to stay in bed for 3 1/2 months! I was in shock. My mom just took over. She said you are coming home with me. You and your husband may have the downstairs suite-he can move whatever you need over to the house when he can along with his things. I kept saying I can’t do that-but what was I thinking? There wasn’t any choice.
So we lived there until our daughter was born. I got up to eat and potty or see the doctor-my mother always took me. She kept me entertained too. She had a TV moved down to the room, bought me bibs and baby things to embroider–I already did that kind of craft. She brought me books and tapes and fed me things that I liked all the while feeding and caring for my husband’s needs-laundry, food. It occurs to me even now as I write this that I don’t think they asked nor did we offer to help with the extra expenses. If we did, it certainly escapes my memory, but we were extraordinarily narcissistic in those days. (should have been a clue to me)
Other things my mother did for me? She introduced me to in-depth Bible Study. My first exposure was to Kay Arthur who is now a world-renowned author and teacher of the Word. She was also a dear friend of my mom’s. Later in life when I promised the Lord I would indeed get serious about the study of His Word, I started with Precept Ministries. When I went through my breast cancer surgery and recovery and reconstruction and more recovery, she was always there. I stayed with my parents throughout those days as by then, we lived in Tampa, Fl. I had come back up to have everything taken care of by a doctor I trusted at Emery University Clinic & Hospital.
I know that she was pleased and proud of me, because she wrote me a letter which I cherish. But I have to say that it was not always the case. I had to work at having a good relationship with both my parents when we first moved to Tampa in 1984. I was determined to have one. To have a friend, you have to be a friend. Maybe to be a good parent you have to be a parent, but even more so an in-law. You can see so many things so much clearer then!
There are so many, many other stories that I could have included, maybe should have included. but these were the ones that the Lord put on my heart that so show her faith and diligence in caring for, praying for, teaching, and finally being an example for us to follow. Was she perfect? NO. I could list her sins and imperfections, but then I would have to list mine, and it’s even longer. She was the example where it counted. All of her children and her grandchildren that are old enough to make a decision to ask Jesus into their hearts have done so and even one great-grandchild. That is quite a legacy! And again, because of her, we the sibs, are all close and loving and care about one another. Perfectly? Again, NO, but there is no disconnect, no not speaking, not seeing or whatever it is that I hear about these dysfunctional families.Guess what? They are made up of dysfunctional people who will never be perfect until that Day when Jesus redeems them. So now arrows here.
The passage ends with “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
I hope I have praised my mother well tonight.I have tried not to be maudlin or heavy-handed or sad. I wish I had more time to write more of her. You truly would not have believed my mother and her “divine appointments” as she called them. If indeed the Mantle has moved to me, I am only honored and hope to do her memory and my Living Lord justice in my words and deeds.