A family tradition we have for birthdays is for everyone to go around the table and share something heartfelt and personal that they love about the birthday boy or girl. It is a time to be genuine and (in our family’s case), verbose! This year, I thought I would write a blog about what makes my mother an amazing woman. I am so thankful for her wisdom and godly attitude that raised 5 children, and a growing number of grandchildren, to walk with the Lord.
My mother is a first generation Christian. From my perspective as a child, she did not approach motherhood with the false idea that she knew exactly what she was doing. As a new believer, she approached motherhood by seeking God for guidance and direction. Mom was humble.
I believe I must have frustrated my perfectionistic mother incredibly. She was always neat and tidy. She loved everything in its place. Me not so much. My head was always in a cloud, and I was always moving forward onto the next great thing (or toy). I never took the time to look back and pick up the last mess I made. But, she never made me feel rejected in my differences. I think she may have just wondered how to teach this tornado how to be a peaceful breeze.
So, she sought the Lord. In my mother’s striving to be the parent that God wanted her to be, she sought him constantly through prayer. Some of her prayers went something like this:
“God, how do I parent this child? What does this child need from me?”
“God what am I missing here? Show me what I need to know.”
“God, I really don’t have a good attitude about this. Please change my heart.”
“Father, in Jesus’ name, deliver this child from fear.”
“Lord, teach me to love. My heart feels empty.”
“God, I feel like Old Mother Hubbard. My cupboard is bare. I have nothing to give my grandchildren emotionally. Fill my cupboard. You know how to be a grandmother and I do not. Fill me and teach me, in Jesus’ name.”
“God, be strong in my weaknesses.”
“Lord, change this person’s heart. I know my nagging won’t do a thing.”
My mother prayed with me so many times, that I felt prayer was a natural extension of life, like breathing. She prayed with me when I was sick, when I was afraid, and in the car driving to the mall. She did spiritual warfare with me. She prayed in the Spirit over me. She made all things spiritual clear and easy. It was all about our relationship with Jesus.
Her servant attitude is greater than anyone’s I know. Truly. She will out-serve anyone. She doesn’t hold things over our heads, like, “You know I did this for you, so you owe me.” or “Think about all that I suffered for you!” But, she gladly and eagerly loves us with her hands, with her babysitting, with sewing bridesmaid dresses (better quality than if you bought it at a store.) She loves our spouses, and welcomes all the new members of the family with grace and acceptance.
One of the number one rules in our house growing up was that mom and dad didn’t play favorites. Everyone knew they were loved. It was never even a joke.
Whenever I would complain about a way that I felt disappointed or let down by a perceived parental failing, Mom would say, “Well, Briana, God knows I’m not perfect. All I can do is trust him and ask him to make up for all of my shortcomings.” If she ACTUALLY needed to apologize, she always would, as would Dad. They walked with humility, knowing they were weak, but also knowing that God was strengthening and growing them as parents.
My mother’s impact on my life was something I didn’t always see when I was younger. I relied on her. She typed all my freshman papers in high school from my hand-written chicken scratch. After that year, she exerted some motherhood muscle and forced me to sign up for a typing class. This would benefit me for the rest of my life. I had no idea I would someday be an author. But, at that time, she stood her ground for what would be the best thing for me short-term, and eventually in the long run.
My mother was always singing in the house. From my bedroom, in high school, I could hear her singing about Jesus to my baby brother Ethan, as she rocked him to sleep. Mom always was speaking the name of Jesus. She gently and authentically spoke and lived out the gospel to us every day.
I remember the verse in the window above the kitchen sink. It said, “Rejoice in your sufferings.” I asked her if we really had to rejoice in our sufferings. Did God really mean that? Yes, she said. Sometimes it is difficult to understand, but we know that God wants our attitudes to be full of thankfulness and worship, even in suffering.
So, here is my happy birthday blog with random fond memories written to my mother, Jeanne Dean! She is a wonderful mother. She would be the first to admit she’s not perfect, but she definitely is the perfect mother for me! I love you, Mom!