For who you are
And all you do,
I forever am
in awe of you!
Mom said she spent a few days before her 70th birthday... contemplating. Well, I did some reflecting, too, thanks to a middle-of-the-night rainstorm waking me for plenty of "quiet" contemplation of her impact on me. Several words among many crept into my thoughts: joy, contentment, resourcefulness. After my guys read this post, they should have an "aha!" moment that will explain a lot about me :>)
The following memories are of Mom's life lessons - in no particular order. First though, I'm grabbing my cup of tea... (a habit passed from my mom). And I'm rummaging for some chocolate, too... (no explanation for that - totally my own vice).
~ If you're in a hurry, skim the highlights, then read the bottom paragraph. ~
My earliest memory of my mom and me together is way back as a toddler. At least, I assume this fleeting thought is from toddlerhood, because I was wearing, well, big-girl pants. Mom invited (?) me to work beside her, and in this case, I remember standing on a little red chair helping to bake cookies. That is, until I had an accident - of the wet sort - to interrupt our bakery adventure, which she just took in stride. I'm sure she did mountains of uninterrupted work after we kids were in bed, but she had the patience to let us "assist" her in all she did. We were helpful, we were important, and we were loved! We weren't an aggravation, getting in her way. (Well, in the "helpful hands" kind of way. I'm sure we were aggravating at times!)
Mom is always ahead of her time. In this instance, she was Pinterest before it ever became a word. Her decorating advice to me: Keep my favorite magazine clips in a folder. After I've collected quite a few, then analyze them. Spread them out, and discover what is similar about them; think about what attracts me to each clipping. I admit, it was pretty easy to determine what captured my eye after doing this! And this whole analyze thing crept into other areas of my thinking, helping me to organize my thoughts, ideas, projects. Learning to analyze problematic situations resulted as well: look at the facts, write them out - what is working, what is not, come up with solutions.
♥The love of reading comes from Mom. She and Dad always read. Everything. Newspapers, magazines, fiction, nonfiction. There was the Book-of-the Month Club for them, and best of all, a book-of-the-Month for early readers like me. I can rattle off those beloved titles! She still has her bookgroup friends back from the old neighborhood. Being a one-car family (very normal back then), we would wait for the Bookmobile to come at school if we couldn't get to the town library. She made going through school book orders fun and something to look forward to. And, boy, could she narrate stories - short ones or a chapter at time - using voice inflections and accents! (She makes a really scary big bad wolf.)
♥I never remember Mom complaining about housework and other tasks. She has a satisfaction in work done well and knows that it benefits others. Instead of dreading work, make it a challenge or into a game. For instance, that pile of laundry is a taunting tiger that needs to be tamed. Attack and conquer! (Hmmm. Maybe I just fell for that ploy, but it changed my attitude.) I still have a "game" I play each morning. The tea kettle gets put on the stove to heat, and the game is on for a winner: the tea kettle whistling when done vs. me cleaning up the breakfast dishes. (True story.) Taking care of a home is taking care of a family. Even switching around bedroom furniture for a fresh perspective is an act of love.
♥Paul, a Christ-follower from the Bible, says he has learned to be content in whatever state he was in. He knew what is was to have much, and knew what it was to have little. God provides! I never thought about our family at times having leaner years. We were always happy. Mom is incredibly resourceful and can "clone" most anything from what she has - or from a good garage sale. Looking back now, it must have been a leaner Christmas, but she made each of us a quilt - salvaged from bits of our own clothes, making it rather personal and unique. Not only did we have our own quilts... but they also were terrific tumbling mats! and excellent fort-building material! I thought it the best present ever. (Confession: I absolutely love Pottery Barn - just not the pricing. I analyze how they decorate their rooms, and find ways to clone the look to fit the budget. Not to say I haven't ever purchased from them, though ;)
Education is so important! She always wanted to hear about the school day. She volunteered as room mom, "picture lady" - art mom (even though I found out later she was rather nervous but did it anyway), looked through our school books to see what we were - and weren't - learning. She and Dad were involved on the school board. If there was an opportunity to learn - then learn it! She helped me read before I even went to school. She loved to hear how I would approach a school project and do it well. She made sure we spoke well (it makes it SO much easier to write well!), got our homework done well, and made sure we didn't give our teachers any grief - be respectful. Thou shalt not be sassy. World Book Encyclopedias were a must in our prehistoric pre-computer days. Any interest of any kind, and we would look it up.
My mom introduced our family to Jesus as our Savior who died for our sins, and as our Lord that we love and follow every day. She has a love for God and a desire to hear from Him every day in His Word. She taught me the value of memorizing Scripture, writing them down on index cards to keep handy. I still have index cards placed on my kitchen window sill right by my sink so I can see the verses during the day. She had helpful advice on reading AND understanding the Bible; tips such as thinking the opposite of what a word means. For example, if love is "kind", how would the opposite of kind act? And better yet, how am I doing with that? She will have to guest blog soon to pass on what she has learned about His Word and how sweet it is!
We didn't discuss boys much. Not that I didn't like them; it's just that being younger I couldn't date. It kept down the boy craze and unnecessary broken hearts. Sort of :>) But every now and then there was short and sweet advice about boys... like, "Karen, really. You need to let guys win sometimes." I was a bit competitive and from my perspective, just rather competent.
Handmade gifts, handmade designs for our home, anything sewn, painted, reconstructed, artwork - you name it -are so appreciated and thoughtful. And what I remember so much is her lesson about finishing a project that I thought had no hope of turning out. She demonstrated flexibility by showing how to turn glaring mishaps into something salvageable and often a cool feature.
Actually, I'll combine two thoughts here, since they are related. Moms has a knack for cooking and a flair for hospitality. Living at home, Mom and I made a great team when entertaining guests. (Sure missed that party-partnership after I was married!) We had quite a system down pat for menus, themes, cleaning, prepping, table setting (my favorite), baking and serving. People have been blessed with open home, loving hospitality! I have this inbred need to be sure people are fed! Come on over!
When I was a young lady and would lament over my appearance - my feet are too big, my nose is too round... - my mom would cut off all complaints by saying, "Well, it hasn't hurt your love life any." It really is about my heart. My feet nor nose certainly didn't get in the way of Roger pursuing me :>)
Hmm. Just two more quick thoughts. Mom enjoys music and played records (they are larger round discs with a groove that a needle fits into....) of all type of music: classical, jazz, ballroom, choirs, some pop - but not rock. She brought me to a ballet and I loved it! (Poor Roger... I made him endure one once. And only once.) Music flows from Dad's side, too, and between the two, my life is immersed in music.
♥Mom celebrates holidays... with food and seasonal decorations, with Scriptural devotions, with gala. It amazes me what fun there is in planning, remembering, and anticipating life events. Life is interesting, exciting, and is so much more than the world revolving around me.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥Whether you read through this or skipped down to this last paragraph, moms should know that their loving work is never in vain. My mom has helped shape me into who I am, and I am so grateful! And that work is flowing over into my kids now. So don't grow weary in doing well. It is so worth it... it may take a while for some kids to see it, but it is a necessary and awesome labor of love.