Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Mother's Strength

No, it’s not Mother’s Day. Not for a few more months, anyway! 
(For those of you whose hearts are racing thinking you missed something.)

And, yes, I know Easter is coming soon. It’s that exact reason I’m writing this.

My mother, Carolyn, has many stories to tell. In fact, it’s her stories that she loves to remember and connect to us as our stories – our history.

As a child, I loved to dust off her flowered orange, mustard yellow and olive green photo albums. I’d creak them open and peer into her life as a single woman – head thrown back, long hair blowing in the wind. She didn’t get married until she was 30 so she had lots of time to rack up stories to tell her daughters.

She grew up the oldest of 4 girls – one of whom is waiting for her in Heaven. Her other sisters are fun-loving creative people whom I love dearly! She was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. When she got older, her family moved to Moline, IL and it was there that she met her lifelong friend Linda. It was through her that she began to grow strong in Christ and what it means to stand strong in Him. She couldn’t possibly know it then, but that relationship with her Father God would be the only thing that could sustain her through years of hardship later.

Her single years saw her traveling and working. She worked for several orphanages – one of them being in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. I saw pictures of a little shack she camped in one time with her friends and a close up of bear scratches in the wood of their door as a bear was trying to get friendly. She told me of dog sled races and ice fishing as well as wearing Mukluks – tall rabbit fur lined moose skin moccasins. She still has a pair.

While in Whitehorse, she was in charge of the little boys ward. She would take care of them, tell them stories and tuck them in bed at night – essentially being Mommy to them. This was the 70’s! She was single – many of her friends were either shacking up or hitching up and here she was loving the orphan, more specifically, the unruly boy orphan.

She later worked at another orphanage in Chicago caring for Junior High girls. How in the world she stayed sane trying to teach and love some very difficult and hormonal girls is more than I’ll ever know! I think maybe God was giving her some heads-up experiences to draw from for her future daughters and building relationships with them.

It was very important to her that my sister and I both learn the mechanics of working a sewing machine. I’m certain it has nothing to do with the “woman being domestic in her home” or some such thing, but rather a skill that she herself found extremely handy numerous times.

She told me of the men and women in college that couldn’t iron their collars properly or mend their clothes. She had an instant business. They came to her for a job that was a necessity with those large 70’s collars and they paid her well!

Then in 1975 she met her husband, my father. They have been married almost 37 years and each one has been difficult. She has lived through moving across country four times, homeschooling her four children while being a pastor’s wife and leading Children’s Sunday School AND running a daycare during the week, she has also dealt with her husband’s workaholicism, resigning from two churches as pastor, massive heart attack, emotional abuse, and… AND somehow, my mother can still look at me whispering through her tears that her God, her relationship with her Father and Friend has been the only thing that kept her going.  

It is because of Easter that my Mother can celebrate Mother’s Day.

Without her Savior, Father, and Friend, she would have nothing worth celebrating. She is my encourager and friend. I know that there is truly nothing… Not. One. Thing. that is too hard or too deep for Him to bring you through.

I love you, Mom. I know you’ve had it hard, but thank you for showing me how to cling to Christ and hold on for dear life. I will never forget.

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