Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.

I have so many reasons to be thankful for this day. As I was reflecting on my mom’s birthday it occurred to me how my thanksgiving is largely self-centered. The most obvious starting place is my own life. I am breathing, have a beautiful wife, enjoy three amazing children, and experience joy everyday in Christ because my mom brought me into this world. Without March 13 there is no February 11.

I am thankful that mom was (is) always watching. One of my favorite old photos is from the time we lived in Marion, IL. I was only 1 or 2 years old and we were taking a church photo on the steps of a newly acquired church building – the First Church of God. So, here is the entire congregation, including my family, standing on the steps leading up to the doors of the church to capture a classic, special moment in time. Everyone is looking straight at the camera, smiling for the momentous occasion – except one person…mom. She is looking behind her, down and to the left. You can just make out that one of the little church goers, whose initials might have been PM, decided this photo thing wasn’t too interesting. So, I made a run for it. And there is mom, keeping her eye on me just to make sure I’m safe. That’s been happening for 38 years.

I am thankful that mom took me to church. I don’t need to elaborate on this too much, do I? The mornings and evenings at Temple Baptist Church in Kingsport, TN had an impact on me that I could never have understood at the time. My mom knew from the beginning and I had a hunch while at Temple that my life would become very familiar with the four walls of a church building. And here I am.

I am thankful that mom adored her husband. I never remember witnessing a true “fight” between my mother and father. There was hardly even a disagreement in front of the kids. Apart from Christ, the strength of their marriage was the strength of our home and it is a legacy I strive to continue with three children of my own. My children have never heard me raise my voice to Andi or Andi’s voice raised to me. And they won’t. Not because we wait until they go to sleep before raising our voices, but because we simply do not raise them at all. That was modeled for me by mom.

I am thankful that mom understood and embraced sacrifice. Her life was not her own – it belonged to Christ and her family. Whether it was traveling all summer for tennis tournaments or making sure I was eating healthy meals or allowing me to cover her family room with Bob Ross paint, mom always put herself behind the rest of us. And she did it with no expectation of reward.

Here is one that is not so self-centered…

I am thankful that many other people are thankful for mom’s birthday. You see, mom has impacted so many people’s lives outside of her own family. It is the endless number of children she worked with year after year in children’s church. It is the large number of co-workers who were impacted by her attitude and work ethic. It is the untold number of folks who are affected by her generosity and servant’s heart. The greatest single piece of advice my mom ever gave me is one I saw her live everyday:  “At the end of your life, the most important thing will be what you have done for others.”

Mom, I’m trying my best to keep your advice.

Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I might live for Thee

I love you – Happy Birthday.

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