To my mom:

 

Everywhere I go, people come up to me and say “I just love your mom!” “I wish I had an ounce of the patience that she has!” “How does she do it?” People are drawn to your smile. You are real and genuine. You are truly happy. You are a strong woman. I’ve been around you all my life, and I can testify to the truth of this statement! I do not know a better woman than you. You are the most loving, caring and compassionate person I’ve ever known!

 

But I know that you would be the first to say that it’s only by God’s grace that you are who you are. You’ve shared stories of your struggles before you met Jesus, and you’ve shared stories of your journey since meeting Jesus. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, but at that point, God starts a work in your life of conforming you to be like Jesus. It’s a continual work, and it isn’t finished until we reach heaven. You share openly with others that there was a time when you were “without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…” (Eph. 212-14).

 

That is the most amazing thing about you! Jesus shines through you, and that is what is most attractive. Your words are uplifting and kind. His love flows through you to everyone you come into contact with. You are not a perfect person. You mess up like everybody else. But you are humble and are quick to make things right.

 

Coming up with this list of things I'm most thankful for in you was the easiest thing I've ever done! You're a gem. “Your children rise up and call you blessed. Your husband also, and he praises you! Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:28-29).

 

There isn't a specific order here, but as they came to mind, these are some of the top things I love and adore in you as a mom, a woman, a wife and my greatest role model!

 

Thank you so much...

-for giving birth to me (I now understand first-hand what a labor of love childbirth is, and I can not thank you enough!)

-for not stopping at 4 kids (as #5, I can say that I'm so glad to be here!)

-for siblings... All of them!

-for praying with us

-for carrying on joyfully even after nights of minimal sleep, and your display of God's sweet and enduring grace

-for letting us eat leftover pizza for breakfast

-for letting us rearrange the living room for our "forts" and "castles" with a combination of couch cushions, dining room chairs, cardboard boxes and duct tape

-for carrying around your “50lb” purse, which also doubled as our first-aid kit, diaper bag and catch all for sippy cups, sock, toys and everything else!

-for memorizing our likes and dislikes to a "t"

-for memorizing scripture with us from a young age

-for correcting not only our wrong actions, but taking the time to dig deeper and discover the underlying attitudes

-for not allowing tattling, but encouraging us to communicate calmly with siblings and work things out amongst ourselves whenever it was possible

-for setting up as our “super heroes” great women and men of the Christian faith (George Whitfield, Fanny Crosby, Adonirum Judson, Gladys Alyward, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Susannah Wesley, David Brainard)

-for reading us so many stories and biographies from these laymen, missionaries, hymn writers, preachers, evangelist, etc., and giving us a vision of what God can do through us if we live lives yielded to him

-for teaching us deep and meaningful lyrics from hymns of centuries past!

-for being patient and continually leading me in the right direction, though I was quite a handful!

-for telling us stories and teaching us life lessons from your childhood

-for reminding me time and time again to take my burdens to Jesus in prayer

-for showing me that Jesus could forgive me for everything I've ever done wrong, and give me a clean slate to start over again

-for unconditional love

-for teaching us to apologize by saying "I was wrong for __(what I said/did)___. Will you forgive me?"

-for choosing to forgive those who hurt you before (and regardless of if) they ever apologized or took responsibility for their actions

-for warning us that harboring bitterness and resentment in our hearts towards others is like drinking poison and hoping for the other person to suffer

-for blessing your enemies— literally. So many times I've seen people say and do incredibly hurtful things to you, and yet when those same people are in need, you're the first one to come to their aid, and give of your time, money and energy to see them prosper.

-for teaching us character lessons, and showing us that only Jesus in us can give us the power to do what we should when our own natural inclination would lead us to do or say something we shouldn’t

-for centering homeschool lessons around God's Word

-for speaking with soft words even when you feel like yelling, and teaching us kids by example that "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

-for believing in the work that Christ is doing in our hearts and holding us to a higher standard

-for knowing when to give advice, and when to simply give a listening ear, a hug, and a shoulder to cry on

-for the bold early tween/teen talks about how God designed our bodies and His purpose for sexual purity

-for the "I remember what it was like to be your age" talks, and helping me realize that I wasn't weird but completely normal

-for comforting me when I was emotional and praying me through a tough day

-for modeling hospitality by having people into our home regularly for meals and spiritual encouragement

-for not being a perfectionist, and for seeing the beauty in the toddler fingerprints on a newly cleaned window

-for always letting us make a pallet on your floor or sleep in your bed when we had a scary dream or were awakened by a thunderstorm

-for all the hundreds of outfits, wet sheets and pjs you patiently and endearingly washed for the potty-trainers over the past 20 years

-for all the times you let us "help" you with projects such as making meals, even when it took 2x as long and sometimes made more of a mess than if you’d done it on your own

-for the one-on-one outings to run errands with you, and the anticipation of knowing you'd always give us $1 so we could pick out a special treat

-for engaging me in deep and meaningful conversations and showing me that you cared about my opinion and input

-for listening while I talked

-for family meetings

-for letting us climb to the very top of the trees in our backyard, though the thought of my own kids doing this makes me so nervous!

-for being ministry-minded, even when we were all young, and thinking of creative ways for us to catch a vision for serving others (raking leaves/stacking firewood for the elderly, baking cookies for neighbors, singing in nursing homes)

-for pulling out the rolling pins and cookie cutters and letting us make sugar cookies on a rainy day

-for praising us publicly, but always speaking words of correction in private

-for not gossiping or saying embarrassing things about us kids to others, but building up and speaking words of life instead (though in sure you have a boatload of hilarious stories you could share)

-for being an example of a godly marriage, and giving us confidence in your love for one another! (Even when we’d pretend to be grossed out by your kissing, we were grateful to know that mom and dad loved each other, and that nothing could ever come between that!)

-for your love for bargain hunting (clearance racks, thrift shops), and teaching us to us be good stewards of the money God gives us

-for teaching me the value of diligence and following through with what I started

-for being there for me during my labor and delivery, and staying with me for a week afterwards to help with baby, meals, house cleaning

-for the individual jars of pickles at Christmas

-for dealing with stomach bugs and flus, even in the middle of the night, and hugging and kissing the sick ones knowing that increased your chance of coming down with it yourself

-for staying up in the night with crying babies, rocking, cuddling and singing lullabies

-for keeping a mile-long med chart when we all came down with the flu or stomach bug

-for turning on a sprinkler in the backyard on summer days, and then mopping up water after us when we had to come inside for a potty break

-for the example of how you've reached out and invested into the lives of others, from the beginning of your marriage and still continuing till this day (opening your home to homeless, church bus ministry, personally bring people to church, leading bible studies, hospitality, love, giving financially, spiritual encouragement)

-for walking the walk you desired for us walk

-for your real and genuine relationship with Jesus, and for sharing with us regularly things you were learning from the Bible

-for not allowing teasing or hurtful words to be spoken

-for telling us to “Put yourself in that person’s shoes and ask yourself ‘Is that how I would like to be treated?’”

-for making a regular habit of asking us “How are you doing?”— and knowing if “Fine” simply meant fine, or if we needed you dig deeper with “How are you really doing?”

-for being a safe place to share our heart

-for letting us older kids pile on your bed after the littles had gone to sleep, and staying up with us till two and three in the morning just talking about life, dreams, and plans for the future

-for meals together around the family table

-for chipped beef gravy on toast

-for your hearty beef stew that had all us kids eating our vegetables and loving them!

-for holiday feasting on pumpkin pies and your delicious, buttery dinner rolls— and the balls of dough you would always set aside so we could pull up a stool and try to make our own miniature versions of whatever you were baking!

-for making the switch from white bread to wheat bread easy with lots of butter ??????

-for your homemade wheat pancakes that were so yummy we would (and still do) eat them plain!

-for buying our family a Champion juicer and teaching us a love for carrot juice, and also for the discovery of how it makes an awesome fruit sorbet (I remember some kids choosing that to be served at their birthday party over ice cream—it’s that yummy!).

-for saving every lost tooth in a Ziplock bag, and Sharpie-ing all the important data on it for us: age, date & time

-for our individual keepsake boxes where we could store our treasured items!

-for helping us cope with loss of pets, and the burial plot in our backyard for our favorite dog, Dixie

-for enduring years and years of squeaky violin and noisy piano practice, and cheering us on every step of the way

-for fun “music practice challenges” that required us to practice 5x a week for 6 weeks straight, the reward being that you took all the winners got to go out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants!

-for taking beginner music lessons and being taught right along with us in order to understand what we're learning and help us as new students

-for patiently tutoring us in our school subjects, and never discouraging us if we were having a hard time grasping a new concept. (I remember a period of time where you took a little group of us to Burger King from 6-8am for weeks in a row for extra-focused tutoring on some subjects! You’d buy a couple orders of tater tots, and then we’d get busy tackling our homework. We thought that was just the greatest! You always made learning so creative and fun.)

-for teaching us how to cut hair (we must’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years!)

-for getting your real estate license, insurance license & dealing cars, but embracing your career as “Mom” above all else!

-for realizing that as parents, you and daddy were responsible for every influence you allowed into our young and impressionable lives-- and guiding us to make good choices with the things we viewed with our eyes, the music we listened to and the friendships we formed

-for giving us the joy of getting to pick out outfits for the new baby (though things didn’t always match) and letting us try to feed the toddler his baby food (even though it would’ve been faster and less messy if you’d done it yourself)! We were on top of the world, and who needed pretend dolls when we got to love on, kiss and cuddle with the real deal!

-for the experience of grocery shopping in a 15-passenger van (often taking out a bench seat or two so everything would fit), and buying enough for a small restaurant!

-for hundreds of noses wiped, faces kissed, hands washed, hairs fixed, diapers changed, boo boo's bandaged and baths given

-for hundreds of loads of laundry washed and folded, long before any of us were old enough to lend a hand

-for unending dishes upon dishes, and the genius of eventually labeling everyone their own cup & plate to wash themselves after every meal!

-for the frugality of homemade laundry soap & baby wipes (we should really add up these savings!)

-for the inspiration you are to us all, getting up at 6am to workout-- and listening to awesome sermons on your OnePlace app to power you through!

-for sticking to your "one sweet treat a week" (for the most part ;-) and encouraging us all to eat better!

-for filling the kitchen with healthy snacks of cucumbers, tomatoes, apples and bananas, instead of chips and sodas, etc.

-for figuring out a hundred different ways to eat beans and rice, and feed a big group on a budget!

-for the creativity of keeping toddlers entertained with boxes of special puzzles and toys while you nursed a new baby! (I'm definitely keeping this in mind for future days!)

-for not comparing us to other siblings, but encouraging each of us to be the best that we can be with personalities, gifts and talents God has given us!

-for being a Titus 2 woman, and reaching out to younger moms with support, encouragement, and prayer

-for doing the "good manners chart" from time to time— giving us marks for "please," "thank you," "yes ma'am," and "yes sir," and a special prize when the goal number was reached

-for setting the clocks around the house to run 10 min fast in hopes that it would help us to get out the door on time and be more punctual!

-for filling our home with melodious Christian music, which even in the midst of chaos, would help bring about a peaceful environment

-for not using movies as a babysitter, but doing crafts with us, taking us to the park, organizing ministry projects, and thinking of new and creative ways to have fun together as a family

-for your selfless example of caring for your father when he moved in with us after his car accident

-for not saying "because I'm the mom and I said so!" but instead, leading us to search out the Bible for ourselves and encouraging us to form personal convictions based on God’s Word

-for praying us through tough times

 

 

…and the list could go on and on!

But thank you most of all for leading us to Jesus Christ!

 

Thank you for teaching us that Salvation is a free gift, not something we can work for, earn, or ever deserve. Thank you for showing us that it is by turning from our sins and to Jesus that we obtain this gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

 

Thank you for showing us that, while we fall short every day, we can come to Jesus for forgiveness, He will pick us up and we can move forward. His grace is sufficient for every trial we are facing, and He will never leave or forsake His children.

 

Thank you for showing us the unconditional love of a Mother, and in this way, representing the unending, unfailing love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

We are forever grateful for your investment into our lives!

Thank you!

-Jessa