I realize it’s been a LONG time since I’ve made a “real” post on the blog. Between work, family, coaching baseball, moving, grad school, and writing my daily Bible reading thoughts, I have very little time to write “recreationally” anymore. But some of those commitments will be off my plate in the next few weeks, so hopefully I can post these kinds of posts on a more regular basis.
Lately God has been leading me to a greater awareness of my blessings. This weekend, in light of Mother’s Day, I’m reflecting on the women of faith He has placed in my life.
I’m thankful for the women in the churches I’ve been a part of — women like Miss Frances Austin, a sweet lady who took an interest in me when I was just a young boy. My earliest memories of church include Miss Frances and the Dum-Dum suckers she would pass me at the end of service if I was able to sit quietly. Her warm hugs made church feel less sterile, more homey. For that, I’m thankful. (As an aside, for an incisive look at how most women in church feel about Mother’s Day, read this article.)
I’m giving thanks for my grandmothers, Hilda Bybee and Neale Armstrong, strong women who raised strong families. My Grandmother Armstrong continues to be a source of strength for our family, an example of simplicity and faithfulness honed by years of living in light of the Lord’s provision. There’s a certain smell at Grandmother Armstrong’s house — the smell of warm bread in the oven, seasoned with laughter and conversation, the smell of family. My Grandmother Bybee was full of passion; years later, I can still remember the strength of her kiss against my check when we would arrive at her house. When I was a child, she bequeathed to me a birthright — “We root for the Tennessee Volunteers,” she told me. Yes, ma’am. These women of faith were the matriarchial pillars of my childhood.
I’m thankful also for my mother-in-law, Stephanie Shates. I know she is a great woman, because I live with the daughter she raised. She always puts others before herself, whether its her husband, her children, her grandchildren, or even me. I’ve never known a more conscientious person than Stephanie, or “Nana” as we call her at our house. Even now, as a difficult season has come upon her, she stands strong, ready to weather life’s adversity as she always has: faithfully. This is her legacy to her family, and it’s a proud one indeed.
I have to give thanks for my sister, Tara, for she is also a great mother. I think it’s a little hard to be a Dad when your own father is gone. You just wish he was around to help “show the way”, you know? Well, I’m sure the same is true of mothering, and my sister has been without her mother now for 18 years. But she has an inner reserve of hope that she draws upon that is evident to those who know her. She, too, puts others before herself. She’s a “filler” — she finds joy in a full house, filling our bellies with fine food, filling our hearts with laughter. She preserves the recipes, preserves the stories, preserves the identity of our family as she passes it on to her own children. And this is what mothers have been doing for thousands of years.
Of course, I’m thankful for my own mother, who I miss so much. I’ve written about her several times on this blog (see here, here, here, and here.) The older I get, the more I miss her. She was a special lady, the first person I want to see in heaven after Jesus. I can’t say enough to adequately convey the love I have for this woman. But someday…we live for that day of reunion. Until then, I’m thanking God for the gift of my mother.
And finally, I am most thankful for my wife, Sunny, the mother to my children. I’ve written about her here and here and here and lots of other places on this blog (see the 100+ blog entries tagged “Sunny” in the right hand sidebar). At a certain point, it’s like what I said about my mother — I don’t have the right words to say what she has meant to me. I think of the words to my favorite Avett Brothers song, “Always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.” That’s how I feel about Sunny; just thankful that we share a love that lets us share our name, share these children, share in the blessings of life. I love you, Sunny and I am so thankful that you’re in my life. I hope you have a Happy Mother’s Day.