- wearing hand-me-down clothes from my sister & older girls at church
- buying a Brownie Girl Scout manual & an unused badge at the thrift store instead of paying the monthly dues to actually BE a Brownie
- collecting shiny rocks from the creek bed or abandoned broken charms found in the dust to hide in a small wooden box - to be gazed upon later with wonder
- being the first to church (unlock doors, turn on lights, fold bulletins)
- sitting on the front row with Mom & sisters in clear view of the Pastor - my father!
- being the last at church (clean up, turn off lights, lock doors)
- eating a Sunday meal mainly consisting of the contents in a bag a parishioner had left on the back porch while we were still cleaning up & closing the church
Birthday & Christmas gifts consisted of new socks or a new book bag or a gently used winter coat and always brought screams of glee. A Warner Sallman nightlight purchased at a church convention when I was 3 kept me company in the nights & followed me to the home where I rocked my two little ones. And, it was several years before I realized that other kids actually got to make a "wish list" for holidays. My mom had been raised the child of a missionary & minister. She knew the value of something being needed & useful.
Mom had a jar on the windowsill by the sink where spare change was saved for missions. I was naive enough to think that my grandparents (career missionaries to Egypt but in Trinidad at the time) got the actual money I put in the jar. Each Christmas we walked down the aisle & laid our gift in the manger with all the other Christ Birthday Offerings.
Mom was completely in love with & supportive of my father who set an alarm and woke in the wee hours of the night to read God's Word to prepare for the coming day... and the coming sermons or classes. He would usually sleep for 30 minutes or so as mom prepared breakfast for our family. Dad taught a "Pastor's Class" each spring for the 5th & 6th graders. As a young child I listened from outside his study window perched on the shed's roof which leaned against the house -- until I was old enough to actually attend. Mom let me ride along with him for revivals during the summers & gave me hand-made notebooks to take notes of what he said.
Mom was no stranger to tragedy. Major sacrifice was the only way for her family to make ends meet as they served God abroad & in the states. A period of time with a "trusted" caregiver ended abruptly and was covered with a cloud of not knowing. It was a different day then & certain things were not faced head on or spoken of. In her teen years, she cared for her mother battling an illness which kept her in bed. Time with friends was replaced by cooking meals, cleaning house, bathing & caring for her mother. The early death of her mother brought much uncertainty for the future.
Mom traveled life with bowed head & on bended knee. It was the only way she could go on. It's really the best way for ANY of us to face life. Her battle to connect with others, after such losses as a young person, was a constant struggle. Yet, she did her best to make our house a home. She modeled a truly broken person who got every ounce of strength from somewhere other than herself. She gave credit to God for every good thing. She sacrificed for the good of others. She covered us in prayer trusting that God would give us what she couldn't.
The "gifts" I received from my mom weren't always recognized as gifts. Many probably wouldn't have been seen as gifts to the world. And, sometimes, they felt like curses. But, in the hands of God, the lessons I learned through my mom have become wonderful life giving gifts to me. I intend to pass many of those gifts on to my children.
"God has given each of (us) a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.
Use them well to serve one another."
Special thanks to Ann Voskamp for getting me to think about the many gifts which God has lovingly placed in my life through the life of my mother!
"Houses may be bought, built, or borrowed.
But homes can only be made.
Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today...