A Belated Mothers' Day Tribute

She has chosen the good portion, 

which will not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:42

Growing up, I watched older girls who referred to their moms as their best friend, or whose mothers served as matron of honor in their weddings, with a resigned envy. I knew it wouldn't be the same for me and my mom - we were about as opposite as we could get. I craved spontaneity and adventure, wore camouflage cargo pants, stoically suppressed all outward show of emotion, carried a pellet gun and dreamed of joining the military. Mom was soft-spoken, gentle and modest. When my pet rabbit died suddenly, Mom was the one who wept over him. When I sprained my wrist tearing madly around the cauldesac on my bike, busted the side of my face while chasing my brother, cajoled that same brother into running away from home with a plus-sized box of fruit snacks for provisions, and abandoned my younger brothers and sisters on a snowy hill after a full-blown sibling war, Mom was there to soothe, bandage, train and discipline me. When I debated hotly the many reasons why I did not deserve a spanking, Mom would tell me a joke and then swat while I was laughing.

The summer I turned thirteen, Mom decided it was time to educate me in the skills of femininity and womanly living. Armed with her Bible and Elisabeth Elliot, she bribed me with Starbucks and walked me through the Bible's display of what it means to be a woman - from Eve to the Proverbs 31 woman; from Ruth to Titus 2. Quite honestly, I hated the archetypal "Bible woman." My hardened heart scorned her as passive, subdued and sickeningly submissive. I'd take a weapon and the great outdoors over a gentle and quiet spirit any day.

It saddens me to admit that my distaste for the women modeled in the Bible carried over into how I viewed my mom, the most gentle and quiet spirit in all of God's creation. Her shameless displays of affection and emotion made me feel awkward, and I vowed to have a career instead of staying at home and homeschooling kids as she had done. I am so thankful that Mom never gave up on me. I can't imagine how she must have suffered from my countless cold shoulders, but she consistently won me over by catching me at my weakest - when the lights were out and I was drifting in and out of dreamland. Mom would come in and rub my back and I, defenseless, would find myself opening up to her listening ear, unfolding the many layers of my guarded thoughts. Mom would often wake up in the early hours of the morning to find herself still sitting by my bed. I hope she treasures those late-night talks as much as I do today.

When I finally "broke free" of the confines of homeschooling in 9th and 10th grade and took classes with successful women who I truly admired and looked up to, I began to realize that Mom wasn't the only one who took God at His word about how and why He created women. I squirmed through whole classes of realization that being a woman after God's own heart didn't mean becoming prudish, meek and sequestered. Mom often reminded me of my name's origin: Jennifer means "white wave" and Anne means "gracious one." Slowly it dawned on me that God had created me as a woman for a specific purpose. My strong, restless nature was meant to be softened and feminized by graciousness and a tender heart. And as I learned to embrace the characteristics of a godly woman, my appreciation for Mom grew like never before.

My mom and I are still polar opposites, and today there are 1,500 miles between us. Yet daily I am inspired by her strength of conviction, passion for prayer, and unconditional love for and belief in each of her six children. Mom's is, without fail, the first number I dial with good news and bad; for encouragement, advice and support. She rejoices with me and carries my burdens as if they were her own. She devotes a whole day of the week to praying for me. Many women have done noble things, but in my mind Mom truly surpasses them all. She has taught this die-hard Martha the beauty of being a Mary; stepping away from the chaos and demands of life to find rest and fulfillment in Jesus. My mother embodies so many characteristics of the woman I want to be: sharp edges tempered in grace; hard heart broken in love that knows no qualifications.

Mom, thank you for carrying me, raising me, accepting me and never backing down from correcting me. Thank you for holding true to your convictions and valuing God's approval above anyone else's. You have modeled a godly woman, wife and mother to me, and I hope one day my children will esteem me as much as I do you. I love you!

"Her children arise and call her blessed."