Five and Five on Mother’s Day

First, I was born.

She knew she couldn’t keep me, but she carried me and gave me the gift of life. I cannot fathom a greater act of selfless love. I didn’t know until I had my own babies – the tole pregnancy and birth take on mind, body, and heart. And then to let me go, trusting my life would be better for it… All I can say is, Thank You. Impossible choices in impossible circumstances and my heart beats today because she gave me the opportunity to be.

(And for the family I am just beginning to know… Overwhelming love I never knew existed, and I’m blown away grateful speechless in awe… I can’t wait for all God has in store for us.)

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Then, I was raised,

She asked the Lord for four kids. He gave her one to carry in her body and then another to carry in her heart. I was equivalent to at least four kids, so she got her answer there. She smiles now as she watches me stand dumbfounded in the face of that familiar fiery-eyed will. It’s ok, Mom. I know, I deserve it.

She still comes when I call her. No matter how old we get, sometimes we just need a mama. She still cares, still prays, still gives her time and resources and heart to me and my family. Somehow, she’s never given up loving me – not from the moment her eyes met mine. For better and worse and everything in between, she’s mine and I’m hers.

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Married,

One of the first times I met her, we played a rowdy card game around the kitchen table. I screamed at her for stealing one of my piles and was convinced she would forbid her son to see me after that. She didn’t. (At least that I know of.) Even before Kurt and I were married, she gave me a little felt stocking at Christmas time. I have never felt excluded in her home.

After we married, she hand-stitched the most beautiful Christmas stocking for me. She even made it hang the same direction as my husband’s.  It might seem like a small thing, but that stocking represents her heart for me. Hours and hours of care and thoughtfulness, generosity and sacrifice and unconditional love. She raised some incredible children and cultivated a love-filled home, and I enjoy the benefits every day of my life.

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Raised some more,

I walked into her office for a summer’s worth of sessions. Almost twenty years later, she has saved my life in the most literal ways more times than I can count. I’m not confused about the nature of our relationship, but if motherhood means sacrificial, unconditional love, this qualifies. It takes a specific type of love to journey with a person into the darkest places. And it takes a step even further still to walk a person out of that darkness.

She has spoken truth and life into rooms of my heart barricaded, sealed, and guarded. She has waged war on my behalf and held faith for me when I had nothing left to hold and has never made me feel like an appointment in her schedule. I am who I am largely due to her guidance and care, and I’m forever grateful.

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And Mentored.

God told me to email her. I did it with hands trembling, because who am I to ask such a thing from such a person? Her graciousness and arms-wide-open response took my breath from me. Four years later she still opens the door to her home on a weekly basis and pours out her heart to the refreshment of mine.

She has said before she doesn’t ever want us to feel obligated to attend. Obligated? Obligated to a cozy kitchen and hot coffee, warm hugs and sweet words, tears and truth and fervent faith-filled prayer? Obligated to spontaneous (amazingly delicious) meals dropped off when I needed them most and books delivered to my home and encouraging winks from across the room because neither of us are very comfortable with large social gatherings? I have never felt obligated a day in my life. Grateful, humbled, overwhelmed by love, yes. But never, ever obligated.

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Five and five….

Five women (and countless others) who have changed the course of my life through selfless love. Five women who have molded me into the person I am today – this mother of five – trying hard to honor this legacy and model the same for my kids.

Sometimes, in all of the mess of humanity, I can become jaded – feel like I’m forging a path all my own. And sometimes God gently turns my head to see the phenomenal, beautiful, priceless women He has strategically placed in my path and encourages me to put down the pity party confetti and just say Thank You.

Happy Mothers Day to all who have loved without limits. Because that’s what moms do.

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