Where would we be without mothers? Biologically, of course, we wouldn’t—be, that is. But mothers have contributed a lot more to the world than just the fruits of their loins. No doubt we’ve all learned a lot from, and been blessed by, the various mothers in our lives. I know I have.
In addition to my real mother (more on that sweet thang later) I’ve had heaps of surrogate mothers in my life. (Turns out, I needed a lot of nurturing and guidance growing up.) They fed me and did my laundry while I was off at college; convinced me that opening car doors for their daughters was a sure-fire way to receive a to-go box of homemade baklava; patiently explained why we can’t wear the red stoles with our choir robes at Christmas—a liturgical calendar no-no, even though it seemed like a festive idea to me, a Baptist, who had no idea there was a liturgical calendar; and taught me to read music, use the correct fingering when playing the piano, and eat the English peas in a TV dinner without gagging.
It took a village.
Besides those who helped raise me, there have been heaps of “peer” moms—former girlfriends, classmates, kinswomen, friends from church—who’ve had a big influence on me. No names given, but here are just a few of their accomplishments…
Peer Mom #1 has shown me what it means to be a Christian single mother, taking it upon herself to teach her children to honor the Lord, forgoing romantic relationships to be sure the kids came first. She believes and lives this verse:
Children are a heritage from the Lord… Psalm 127:3 ESV
She also lives out her faith in every aspect of her life, whether at home or at work. On a side-note, we frequently swap books on the end times and have long conversations over the nearness of, and our excitement about, the Lord’s soon return. A rapture-watching, pre-trib mama who’s raising Christian kids: yes, yes, and yes.
P.M. #2 is another faithful follower of Jesus, but one who has struggled through some domestic ills and challenges with prodigal children. We both love to eat but, unlike me who moans and groans through a measly one-day fast, she’s fasted for a Jesus-in-the-wilderness amount of time, all the while petitioning God for salvation for one of those prodigals. That took amazing strength and dependence on the Lord. It’s part of her spiritual walk, though, because…
She is clothed with strength and dignity. Proverbs 31:25 NIV
…and she can do all things through Him who gives her strength (Philippians 4:13). It’s one of the coolest things ever to see how the Lord has interceded and guided her through those tough times.
P.M. #3 is raising talented, sweet, and beautiful children (along with her hubby, who would definitely be on the list if this was a Father’s Day post) and never hesitates to make the tough choices, a rarity these days, when it comes to protecting them from the growing darkness in the world. She’s also taught me to truly understand God’s grace. I told her once that, although I wanted to “tell all” on this blog when it comes to my life before salvation so that everyone would know the full extent of God’s mercy and forgiveness, the Lord kept putting the kibosh on that and I couldn’t understand why. She replied, beautifully and simply, “Because if you did that you would be making it all about your sin instead of God’s grace.”
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 NIV
She does—and it is. She also introduced me to the funniest book I’ve ever read by a Christian author and taught me that sometimes women can be better brothers-in-Christ than men. (Chew on that for a while.)
Even though these and other mothers have to deal with challenges unique to this modern age, I doubt mothers have actually changed all that much over the centuries. Eve, the first mother, probably used some of the same mom-talk with her kids I heard growing up: “If any of ya’ll get anywhere near that garden, there’ll be no apple pie for dessert. Now I mean it.”
It had to be weird being the first mother. She never felt the joy of looking at someone else’s kids and saying, “At least mine don’t act like that.”
Interestingly, there aren’t a whole lot of verses in the Bible specifically about motherhood. Maybe it’s because God thought the mothers He set up as examples spoke volumes in and of themselves.
- Jochebed saved baby Moses’ life by floating him right into the arms of the daughter of the very king who wanted to kill him…AND she volunteered to nurse him…AND she got paid for it. (Exodus 2:1-10) Jochebed: the Bible’s first female entrepreneur.
- Hannah was so grateful when God finally gave her little prophet-to-be Samuel that she gave me right back, dedicating him to serve in the temple. (1 Samuel 1:20-28)
- Unlike her husband, Elizabeth never doubted that God could—and would—do as He said and allow her to give birth to John the Baptist in her old age. (Luke 1:5-25)
- Salome wanted to make sure Jesus knew that her boys (His apostles), James and John, would be ideal right- and left-hand men when He established His kingdom. (Matthew 20:20-21) Like everyone else, Salome didn’t get the whole kingdom plan—but props to her for trying to cut a deal with the Messiah.
And then there’s Mary…
Whether you’re a mother or not, there’s not a woman alive who can imagine what it was like being the mother of the Son of God. About all we know of Mary is that she was a virgin and that she had to figure out what to do with a bunch of frankincense and myrrh. However, there is one verse I love that shows Mary in all her motherhood:
When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.” John 2:1-3 MSG
Jesus, Mary, and Jesus’ disciples were all at this wedding when the libations ran out”a travesty in 1st century Jewish culture. Mary knew her son could easily fix that—and she would have been all proud to have Him do so.
Even though He protested, I can just hear her telling Him, “You’re the one who brought all those other boys with you to this wedding. And that Peter drank a lot. I’m just saying…”
Then she turned to the cater-waiters and told them to do whatever Jesus told them to do. “My son’ll fix this.” And He did—the start of a long line of miracles that finally led to the miracle nonpareil: His resurrection from death.
Mothers love to see their sons shine. Mine certainly does. Like Mary, she’s always ready to see me perform. (Not if it means making wine, though.) When I was younger, if there was ever a piano anywhere nearby you could bet I was going to be playing it for everyone before the evening was over. (“Play that part from ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ I like for Joanne.”)
She was at one of my choir concerts once with my dad when a woman sitting behind them leaned over and said, “That Dusty is so talented.” My mother turned around, smiled and, with total honesty and a lack of humility, said, “We think so, too.”
When I was born, she had daddy buy a rocking chair they didn’t really have the money for so she could rock me in it. It squeaked when it rocked, but that squeak had a gentle rhythm of unconditional love to it.
To be as loving and nurturing as she is, though, she did kick me once. When I was about 12 or 13 I decided to continue lying in the middle of the floor watching TV instead of doing what she told me to do, so she planted a toe in my side. (Not to worry—after years of eating my Granny’s biscuits and our go-to meal of Swanson’s TV dinners, I had plenty of padding.) To this day, my daddy still gleefully reminds her of her momentary foray into child abuse…
Although she didn’t love to cook (she had rather read an Agatha Christie mystery or a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book), we were definitely well- and lovingly-fed. She could throw down on some fried squash, chicken and rice, and hushpuppies. And not a week went by that there wasn’t a big pot of pinto beans with ham hock cooking on the stove (to eat with our hushpuppies and Swanson’s fried chicken).
I love her like I‘ve never loved anyone else—and not just for her hushpuppies. (Although her pecan pie can certainly give love a run for its money.) She’s one of the finest Christian women I know.
One of her favorite verses is from Philippians (If I’m remembering this incorrectly, mama, just go with it—it’s a lovely verse and fits in really nicely here…):
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12 NIV
That’s her—always pressing on, always wanting to be sure she’s living out God’s will for her life, always giving, serving, encouraging, and demonstrating the many gifts the Lord has blessed her with.
I see lots of older Christians (and some not so old) succumbing to the temptation to coast until their time here is through, but not my mother. She reads and studies her Bible, always hungry for more, never once viewing God’s grace as a license to sit around and do nothing. We’re a lot alike in that way. We both have our favorite parts of the Bible. (We love the book of Daniel.) She loves Beth Moore’s teaching and cries when she reads my blog posts. (She’s probably crying right now.) She tells me I inspire her and takes to heart the words the Lord has given me to communicate.
She and my daddy were the first people I called the morning I became a Christian. She shouted a little (pretty non-standard behavior for a Baptist). It’s kind of cool to hear your mama shout, especially when she does so for joy instead of like she does when she finds out you put the cat in her clothes dryer.
Since then, she’s been the greatest encouragement in my new walk with the Lord. When we talk on the phone, it always turns to spiritual matters, especially the work the Lord has done in my life since He saved me five years ago. Although I’ve never told her the details of the muck and mire I wallowed in before that time, that isn’t important—I’m pretty sure all she wants to know is that now Jesus is Lord of my life. If the creator of the universe can forgive my sin and act as though my past never happened, so can she.
And if I ever forget to thank Him for that forgiveness and for saving my soul, I know Mama will be taking up the slack. I can hear that prayer now, as it would start with the same five words every prayer I’ve ever heard her pray starts with: “Our most gracious Heavenly Father…” Then, at some point, she would start thanking Him—for His many blessings, for His constant care and provision, for His gift of grace and mercy…
…But at some point she would undoubtedly thank Him for one more thing: for sending His son in order to save her son.
No one is worthy of a mother that amazing. Somebody had to receive that blessing, though.
I just thank God it was me.
I love you, Mama—happy Mother’s Day.
(Now dry your eyes…)