My amazing Mom recently turned 50! I am so blessed that she is my Mom, and that I can call her one of my closest friends. To her, turning fifty was just another day - another gift of life, and one more chance to steward all that God has given her. Although she didn't ask for a lot of fanfare, I thought I'd commemorate the occasion by sharing fifty reasons I'm incredibly thankful for her. :) So here they are, in no particular order:
1. She's one of the most generous people I know. She continually goes out of her way to give to others, with both her time, and resources.
2. She knows what true beauty looks like. She isn't consumed by trends, or being stylish, even though she happens to be both of those things!
3. She has a tender heart. She cries for sappy commercials, and she can't even stand the thought of one of God's creatures being in suffering.
4. She loves all things furry. Seriously, I grew up with a Mom who just couldn't say no to feeding all the neighborhood strays, or rescuing various ailing wild animals. I've lost track of how many of those stray cats ended up as pets, or how many of those baby birds we delivered to the local wildlife rehabilitation center. :)
5. She's a good seamstress. I have so many treasured dresses, and other made-with-love items that I saved just in case I had a daughter of my own someday. Christmas/Easter dresses were not just garments, they were major events in our home!
6. She loves people. All people. All shapes and sizes, from all different backgrounds. I am blessed to watch her model the love of Christ on a regular basis!
7. She has a passion for young people. Many of my peers can attest to this one! She was the youth director of my home church for many a year, but even beyond that, she really loves being with, and discipling that sometimes hard to love group of people known as "teenagers". :)
8. She knows what really matters. She has an unwavering trust in the sovereign goodness of God, and she knows that His purposes for her are good, no matter the circumstances.
9. She has a fierce love for her family. I don't need to elaborate on that one.
10. She's intelligent. If she doesn't know the answer, she's not afraid to keep looking until she finds it.
11. She is a rock-solid support for my Dad. You know the saying: "Behind every great man is a great wife" ? They wrote that about my Mom. :)
12. She's intuitive. Mom is one of those people that picks up on the little details, and just takes care of them without being asked. She's also amazingly perceptive about people!
13. She's an awesome DIY-er. She's fearless when it comes to remodeling projects, building props for her photography, and landscaping.
14. She is a faithful friend. Not just a "skin deep" friend, but one who will tell you like it is, keep you accountable, and love you through any storm.
15. She is so much fun to be with!
16. She is a great cook! I was blessed with a Mom who cooked a wide variety of foods growing up, and as a result I love all kinds of different things as an adult! I remember regularly requesting her famous meatloaf for my birthday dinners. :)
17. She is an awesome Grandma (although she goes by the endearment "MaLea"). She spoils her grandchildren - but beyond that, she strives to model Christ for them . . . a priceless gift to this Mama!
18. She is talented. This lady has a gift for photography! She has captured the lives of all (3!) of my children, and I am always amazed by the details that she has frozen in time - their silly smiles, sassy grins, and all of the ways they have changed and grown (even in utero!). I cherish those precious photos!
19. She perseveres. I have seen her face many trials, and she never wavers.
20. She is trustworthy. Growing up, I knew I could confide in her, and while I would sometimes have to face the consequences of bad choices, I knew that she would never hold it over my head, or use it against me.
21. She's not afraid of an adventure. Mom has sometimes been on more adventures than she would like, but she always takes things in stride, makes the best of a bad situation, and moves on. She remembers to tell the (most of the time hilarious) tale later!
22. She is eternity-focused. All of her efforts, in daily living, relationships, and ministry have an eternal perspective. This is definitively a special gift God has given her!
23. She's a good steward. She takes better care of other's things than her own, and makes an effort to use her God given resources in a way that honors him.
24. She is kind. She is always sensitive to the needs of others, and doesn't judge their hearts according to the situation, but genuinely tries to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
25. She is a problem solver! She doesn't give up easily - but keeps looking in new places for a solution.
26. She cares for the suffering. She lovingly stayed by my grandfather's bedside at the end of his life, and did what she could to alleviate his pain, and the grief of my grandmother.
27. She forgives. Even when it hurts. Even when there doesn't seem to be any justice in it. She does it, because she knows that she herself has been Forgiven.
28. She is thoughtful. Planting flowers for elderly friends. Sending notes, or texts. Shoveling other's driveways. Running errands, doing favors, the list goes on . . .
29. She has a special place in her heart for the broken and downtrodden. She is a voice for those who have no voice.
30. She blooms where she is planted. She is a warm weather loving, sink her feet into the sand, beach babe, California girl through and through, and yet she has been content to stay and thrive in cold, flat Illinois. ;)
31. She has a way with little kids. Maybe it's her gift - or because she loves babies, or because she was a daycare provider for twenty something years . . . but she knows children! She can figure out their outs and ins, and all without even a degree in child-rearing-awesomeness!
32. She was, and is, the best Mom. I aspire to be like her, daily. My sister and I are deeply indebted to her, and filled with gratitude for the part she played in shaping us into women.
33. She is realistic. I am somewhat of a dreamer, and sometimes I get big ideas that aren't very practical. She is good at bringing me back to earth. ;)
34. She is also an encourager. There have been moments where I would have given up if not for her steady stream of encouragement!
35. She is a scholar. My Mom is so smart! She has a love of learning that was contagious growing up. I once took a night class with her in college - I squeaked by with a C, and Mom Aced the class! That was also the last class I took with her. *ahem* haha
36. She is wise. Knowledge and wisdom are two different things, and my Mom is one of the few who possesses both, about a lot of things.
37. She is so good at planning surprises! And keeping them a surprise. ;) She knew about Nate's plans to propose weeks in advance, and even collaborated with him, all while keeping it from me! It wasn't the first time, nor the last, since she's planned (or helped to plan) something special out of love for me.
38. She is a faithful, loving wife. This has been such a blessing to me and my family. No matter how easy or difficult her marriage has been (she will tell you she's one of the fortunate ones who has always been incredibly blessed by her husband), she has remained steadfast.
39. She is a woman of prayer.
40. Her identity is in Christ. She knows that she is no more, and no less, than a daughter of the King. It shows in the way she lives her life.
41. She loves being with her family, but has given us the gift of "space". Being together is priceless to her, but she understands that my sister and I are part of two worlds now, and she doesn't expect it, or make us feel guilty for being absent.
42. She is patient.
43. She is diligent in her work. She taught me that doing something halfway is not worth doing at all.
44. She is a good teacher. She seeks out unconventional ways to explain things that might not otherwise make sense, and she teaches by example.
45. She has a servant's heart. She is never above any task, no matter how big. She is always willing to go the extra mile!
46. She loves God's Word.
47. She is a good sport. Shortly after we were married (I think it was an April Fool's prank) we called her to tell her we were pregnant (we weren't). Initially she was upset that we would play such a mean trick on her emotions, but she quickly forgave us (see #27!). haha
48. She prepared me well for my life as a wife and mother. While it hurt for her to let go, she has done well at giving me my wings and helping me to fly. Even when that meant being the mother of a young bride (and later a Mommy) that lived three and a half hours away!
49. "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." - Proverbs 31:25
Even now, while living in a time of such uncertainty (where, and when, and if my Dad will find work, what will happen with her business, etc.) she is fearless about the future, because she knows that her security comes from her Maker.
50. She loves Jesus. Always. With every fiber of her being. It's contagious!
I could actually write an even longer list, because my Mom is just that amazing. Not that I'm trying to paint a picture of a perfect woman - (they don't exist), but I think you would agree that I am incredibly blessed to have this one as my Mom. The people that know her love her for being these things, and not a superficial, "love-you-for-as-long-as-it-benefits-me" kind of person.
If I said these things out loud, in front of her, she would probably be begging me to stop out of embarrassment before I even got halfway through the list. She's not the kind of person to seek accolades. Her fiftieth was the same way! No big parties, no big gifts. Just being thankful to be alive, for yet another morning. And seeking to glorify God with her life, for another day.
I am so thankful to learn from you, Mom, and to be fortunate enough to be called your daughter. I love you so much! Happy FIFTIETH Birthday!! <3 <3 <3