Happy Mother's Day, Momma! These past two years, I've gotten a taste of just how challenging this mothering thing can be. I pray often for even a small portion of your patience to be granted to me! I'm blown away by God's grace in your life as you went about this journey. So many things stand out to me about the way you lovingly raised us, and I can't help but write down a few...

When I was stubborn or unruly, you'd choose to whisper words of gentle correction instead of shouting at or scolding me-- and that brought down angry emotions and modeled to me self-control, even in stressful times. 

Though I often deserved to be looked upon with suspicion, I'd instead catch you looking at me with a loving smile on your face, and hear "I love you, Jessa!" from your lips-- and that unconditional love carried with it power that could squelch even the most mischievous plans from my mind.

Arts and craft projects you'd prepare for us that made as much mess as they did fun-- and yet you rejoiced in these moments of our childhood instead of fretting about the forthcoming cleanup. 

When we were underfoot in the kitchen and mealtime was fast approaching, you'd pull up a stool and let us be "Mommy's big helper"-- even if that meant that dinner was a little late, and we "mixed" the bowl if ingredients so well that we scattered flour dust all over the place. 

I recollect vividly the time I tried to carry a glass dish of pasta across the kitchen on roller skates, and it didn't turn out so well. You'd think less of the fragile things that were accidentally broken and think more of our youthful emotions... feeling dumb, clumsy or embarrassed. "Don't worry about it. Let me help you pick that up! I remember a time when I did such-and-such..." (P.S. I did start to notice that you'd buy stainless steel or other "non-breakable" replacements ??). 

You've been faithful to pray with us and to pray for us. Your primary petition has been that each one of us would come to see that we are great sinners, but that Christ is a great Savior. You were faithful to communicate that His love and favor could never be earned through our good deeds outweigh our bad, but that he gives His Grace to us freely when we repent of our sins and believe in Him. Thank you for leading me to Jesus, and for the appeal of the gospel made through your life. 

I know that you'd be the first to say that your strength and stamina, your constancy and ability to cope, your hope and happiness through it all, stemmed not from yourself. You didn't "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" or just "make it happen". Your patience and virtue are not based on your "laid-back personality" or "natural tendencies", because even the gentlest of persons can be stirred to anger through the stress of parenting. And there have been times when you've blown it. Thank you for being real and genuine in your apologies to us kids when you messed up. 

But time after time, no matter the stress, no matter the intensity of the situation, no matter what the frustrations in the moment might lead you to do or say, I've witnessed you choose to receive and then exude Christ's Spirit of grace, forgiveness, and love. I want to love Jesus and others the way you do. 

Thank you for being my greatest support in this journey of mothering. Thanks for reminding me that God's grace is sufficient for the trials we face. Thank you for all the late-night talks and words of encouragement. Thanks for being my Baby Encyclopedia and 24/7 help-hotline. You're the best. 

I know I've said it before, but it's worth saying again-- You're my greatest role model and my hero. I thank God for giving me the blessing of calling you "Mama."