Thanks, Mom! (Reprise)

Her children rise up and call her blessed.
Proverbs 31:28a

My dear little mom was born on November 24, 1931. Every few years, the anniversary of her birth falls on Thanksgiving. I think it’s so appropriate when it does since Mom’s life blessed me and many others. Thus, in grateful appreciation to God for the gift of a godly mother and in recognition of what would have been her 91st birthday on Thanksgiving this year, I offer this lightly-edited version of the initial post.[1]

Mom’s Mottos

Following are some nuggets of wisdom Mom shared with me throughout my life. I referred to them as “Mom’s mottos” in her eulogy.[2] They’ve become ingrained in my psyche, and I’ve passed them on to my daughters and am now sharing them with my grandchildren.

People will let you down, but God never will. Mom and I endured numerous trials together in the 62 years between my birth and her passing. Lies, disappointments, job loss, broken relationships, health crises, and deaths. Through it all, Mom taught me to depend on the One who says He’ll never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), faithfully keeps His promises (Hebrews 10:23), and speaks only truth (Hebrews 6:18). We will have troubles in this world, but Jesus has overcome the world. We can find peace in Him. (John 16:33)

When faced with a list of tasks, do whatever’s bothering you the most first and get it behind you. When I felt overwhelmed, which was more often than I liked to admit, Mom encouraged me with this time-tested advice bestowed upon her by one of her grade-school teachers. Though it may not have been inspired by Scripture originally, there’s undoubtedly a Biblical tie-in. Usually, when my to-do list becomes overloaded, it’s filled with chores associated with temporal concerns. Cooking, cleaning, weeding, mulching, paying bills and the like are necessary. But Jesus makes it clear we’re to seek eternal things first, trusting Him to provide all we need (Matthew 6:25-33) and spending time at His feet to learn of Him (Luke 10:38-42).

We can’t change anyone else, much as we’d like to sometimes. We can only give an account of ourselves. My reply when Mom would tell me this? “You’re right. I have a hard enough time keeping myself in line!” Once again, there’s Biblical truth in Mom’s statement. As part of His magnificent Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned against judging others, especially since we have sin in our own lives to deal with (Matthew 7:1-5). Praise God for giving us His Spirit, which is at work in us to bring about the transformation we’re incapable of accomplishing on our own (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Furthermore, we’re called to pray for others, because only He can soften hardened hearts (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

We can’t give up. We’ve got to hold on to our faith and keep going. Throughout her life, Mom faced challenges that may have led some to quit or become bitter. In the last decade of her life alone, she:

  • shattered the bones in her right shoulder, an injury that required surgery to install a plate and multiple screws, and left her with a limited range of motion in that arm.
  • suffered a heart attack that led to the discovery of three severely-blocked arteries resulting in emergency open-heart surgery.
  •  fractured a vertebra in her back and had a procedure known as kyphoplasty to repair it.

Mom endured daily pain due to the ravages of arthritis that led to enlarged joints in her fingers and cartilage deterioration resulting in a bone-on-bone right knee. Yet she rarely mentioned her constant aches. Instead, she clung to God’s mercies which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24), and encouraged those in her inner circle to do the same. Not surprisingly, her life verse was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It appears on her grave marker.

There’s an end to everything and everybody sometime sooner or later. Mom usually used this phrase when a situation called for consolation, such as when a cherished object wore out, broke, or was lost. But her most poignant use of the saying came several days after she broke her hip. During one of her lucid moments, she recited it to me, followed by, “I guess this is the end of me.” As much as it hurt to hear her acknowledge what was becoming increasingly likely, I could comfort her with the assurance of complete healing that awaited. As we live under the curse where death and brokenness are certainties, we have the promise of Christ’s return when all will be made new, and death will be no more (Revelation 21:1-4).

There’s nothing so bad it couldn’t be worse. Similar to the motto above, Mom used this one to offer comfort. It also reminds me to be thankful even in trying circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). For believers, even death isn’t the worst possible scenario. Instead, it ushers us into the presence of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

That’s a Gulf song. Granted, this statement isn’t advice, but I include it because it alludes to my heritage of faith. Mom grew up in the tiny town of Gulf, NC, where she attended a small Presbyterian church established in the 1800s. When the strains of a familiar hymn from her childhood would begin to play at our current church, Mom’s face would brighten, and one of us would usually lean toward the other and whisper, “That’s a Gulf song.” On a recent Sunday morning, I whispered the same to my 8-year-old granddaughter, explaining the connection after the service. I don’t know how many generations my heritage of faith encompasses, but I know there are at least two behind me and two in front. I pray that legacy of faith will be passed continually from generation to generation until Christ returns (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Mom’s Enduring Love

Oh, how I miss Mom! Though petite, she had a big, beautiful smile and an even bigger heart. She was my main cheerleader and most dependable defender. We all need someone who’s unconditionally, unreservedly in our corner. I’m so thankful Mom was in mine. She was my rock because she consistently pointed me to the Rock and reminded me that His everlasting arms are securely holding all who belong to Him in an eternal embrace (Deuteronomy 33:26-27a). And since Mom’s love was grounded in God’s great love, it will be with me until we meet again.

O LORD, thank You for the priceless blessing of a godly mother and the assurance that I will see her again! Please help me to recount Your goodness and faithfulness to coming generations as she did.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done (Psalm 78:1-4).


[1] Please see “Thanks, Mom!”, Archives, November 2018.

[2] Please see “Eulogy for a Godly Mother”, Archives, May 2021.

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