During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.
Would it be an overstatement to say thank you for teaching me everything? Maybe a bit of one, but not much. I could write a book of thank-you letters to you and Dad, but since this is a blog and not a book, I'll just stick to some of the high points that come to mind.
Thank you for being a mom who listens. You taught me that my feelings and thoughts were important, because you made listening to them a priority. You have spent countless hours listening to the four of us pour out our concerns, anxieties, frustrations, delights, and mundane stories. I'm surprised your ears still work. For the past three decades I have also witnessed the way you listen to other people, and the way that people with stories to tell are drawn to you. I tend to be far too hurried to listen as well as you do, but I hope the Lord will slow me down so I am able to show the same care that you do.
Thank you for being a mom who asks questions. Seriously, you are the best question-asker I know. You focus so intently on whomever you are talking to that you are able to ask deep and penetrating questions. I remember you giving me friendship building advice when I was younger, and advising me to ask lots of questions. You have certainly modeled that. You are so skilled both at getting to the heart of a matter through your questions and at showing people you care by wanting to know more. I hope I become a better question-asker.
Thank you for asking and listening, but also for helping me to understand that even though my feelings and thoughts are important, they are not of utmost importance. You were willing to attend my pity-parties, but you never left them without urging me to leave them, as well. After you heard all of the surface-y stuff that I had to say, you would ask questions (or in more dire circumstances, write down questions/Scriptures for me to think about) that exposed the heart of the matter (ie; lack of trust, refusal to choose joy in the Lord, discontent, etc.) and then leave me to sort it out with Jesus. Sometimes this made me so annoyed, because I just wanted you to commiserate with me; but I doubt that your commiseration would have brought me any long-term benefit. Teaching me to choose Truth and Life, however, benefits me everyday.
Thank you for teaching me submission and contentment. I remember plenty of times during my growing up years when you were completely at your wit's end from the exhaustion of being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four kids. I remember times when you wanted to do something different, rearrange the way our family worked, but dad had firm convictions about keeping things as they were. It spoke a lot to me that you were willing to follow his lead even though it was costly to you. You put your hand to the plow and modeled for your daughters what it means to be a strong and godly helpmeet.
Thank you for teaching me to read and to think. I am so glad that you helped steer me toward books and ideas that stretched or deepened my mind, instead of encouraging me to fill up on fluff. Thank you for teaching me to cook, clean, and iron. I don't think becoming a wife and mother is ever easy, but it has benefited me that I had plenty of practice in these mundane chores so they didn't seem quite as daunting. Thank you for watching musicals and old movies with me - it's hard to imagine childhood without Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Singin' in the Rain, and the King and I. Thank you for teaching me to be a bargain shopper. Since I am married to a children's pastor, it is certainly beneficial that it nearly causes me physical pain to pay full price for anything and that I don't find my value in the labels on my clothes. Thank you for modeling hospitality and how to make people feel special. This is an area I really want to grow in - being more thoughtful with gifts and special meals. Thank you for loving the unlovable and forgotten ones. You do that really well and I pray my heart becomes more like yours and Jesus' in that way.
I love you, Mom!