I was recently asked what my favorite Bible verse was and a story about my mom poured out of my heart to back it up. Before I tell that story, I’ll share my favorite verse in Hebrews 13:6: “So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
I love that verse for so many reasons, but it truly reflects my mom’s wisdom. She’s always said, “What can anyone do to you that you let them do?” That’s wisdom that I need to thank the Lord for today and every day, but especially today on Mother’s Day.
You see, I was Momma’s helper my whole life. I didn’t know any better; she had my brother when I was a week shy of my first birthday. I also don’t know what’s it’s like to live alone. I never have and don’t really care to.
Momma didn’t either. She was a helper from a young age. She had elderly grandparents living in her home. She had a father who was perpetually sick with a heart condition. She’s always taken care of people. And I think that’s what God planned for her – to be a helper. He gave her a big enough heart.
I said that when I was asked about my favorite verse. She has the heart of a thousand moms.
Many people know that she’s the mother of 10 children. But what a lot of people don’t know is that she’s lost five children – her sixth child at 16 months and four others to miscarriage. She has a heart big enough to love them all and then some.
I spent my childhood in apprenticeship to this lady who loves in ways I didn’t respect until I was a mom myself. Here are a few things I learned from my momma:
There’s never a reason to give up. Momma has not had the easiest of lives, but she taught me that life goes on each day. You still have to love your family and care for them, despite your circumstances. You also have to take care of yourself. How can you take care of everyone else when you don’t show yourself a little love?
Our job is to love people where they are. I don’t think people who encounter my momma know how much she cares about their circumstances, hearts and lives. She’s always thinking about someone else and how they can be helped where they are, despite who the world says is a lost cause. It’s not uncommon to see her buying a gift card or taking candy to someone who is going through a hard time.
You can handle much more than you think you can. I’ve seen my mom in some dark days and some dark places, but something I’ve always seen in her is a fighter’s attitude. Even when she says she’s not capable of handling another blow, her actions beseech her. She’s still standing at the end of the day.
Don’t worry about bucking social norms. When I tell people that I’m the oldest of 10 kids, it’s astounding to most of them. One of the most common reactions is, “You don’t see that too often these days.” Something else you don’t see too often is a spunky lady walking into a very nice hotel (The Alluvian in Greenwood, Miss.) with her family’s clothing and toiletries in garbage bags and laundry baskets. I got so embarrassed when my mom showed up like this. She didn’t blink an eye when I approached her about it. I love that she’s cool with being a misfit. It fits her and it’s something we should all try on occasion.
Don’t let anyone else’s opinion define who you are. I really didn’t respect this wisdom until I was an adult. As a kid and teenager, I often came home in tears from school over something someone said or did. My momma cut through those tears and showed the truth. She said, “Are you the things those people said?” And the answer was always, “No.”
The words we moms share with our kids sink deep. I overheard a conversation between my daughter and her best friend last week. Reagan Leigh told her, “It doesn’t matter if you’re pretty on the outside. God loves that you’re pretty on the inside.” When asked who told her that, my sweet girl said, “My mommy says that.” That was enough authority for 5-year-old Marleigh. What we say to our kids matters very, very much. My mom taught me that by telling me that same truth almost every day of my life.
Give yourself grace because life is messy. When I was going through a challenging time with my spirited little boy recently, I asked Momma how she did those days when you don’t think you can stand one more minute of crying. She told me that you can’t forget to give yourself grace. No day with kids is going to go as planned. It’s ok that the dishes don’t get done and the kids are still in their PJs. There’s always tomorrow to get things in order.
There’s peace in a clean floor. Anyone who spends any amount of time in my home knows that I spend a lot of time keeping my floors clean. It’s often the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before bed. Some would call it OCD, but I call it a peace offering to my family. It helps me clear my head and to refocus my energy. I wondered why Momma swept and vacuumed all the time. Now, I know. It’s an escape from controlled chaos.
These are just a few of the truths I’ve learned from my amazing mom. She’s definitely my best friend, and I’m so glad God made me her helper. But what I realize now is that she’s my biggest helper. I love you, Momma. Happy Mother’s Day!