My mother, Linda Carter Hall, is big part of who I am and what I’ve become as an adult. The really wonderful thing about her presence in my life is that she would tell you that she takes very little credit for how I turned out, but that is hardly the truth. I’m sharing this story as a “Faith It Forward” post because she was one of the first people to teach me how to “faith it forward” even though I didn’t call her particular influence by that title until this past year. I am writing this to “honor my mother” as God wrote in the Ten Commandments. (See Exodus 20:12)
My parents were married in 1960 and I came along on April 24, 1962. My birth was difficult for her because I was two weeks late AND breach (butt first, and for those of you who know me well, this might be the explanation of why I have had to learn some things the hard way). In 1962, a C-section was only done in dire circumstances and perhaps if she’d had a different doctor, it would have been done at my birth. The fact that I even have a younger brother after my labor-intensive arrival is a testament to her fortitude!
I was raised (and for you grammar hounds, I know the word should be reared but I’m from the South, therefore I was raised ) in a Christian home with warm, encouraging, loving parents. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was nine. I was pretty oblivious to the some of unusual circumstances of my childhood. In fact, I did not realize until I moved back home after my failed marriage just what kinds of lessons my mother had been teaching all along.
When my mother was around sixteen, she started losing her eyesight. She was diagnosed with familial macular degeneration. (This is a disease that affects her center vision. When she looks at the world, there is a blackness in the central region of what she sees.) Imagine seeing the world ONLY by the edges of your sight. She is legally blind. I didn’t know the extent of this problem until I was an adult. I was able to participate in extracurricular activities because she and my Granny Mae (her mother) could always pick me up. I assumed all grandmothers did this. I felt so important when I finally got my own driver’s license because I was able to drive Mama anywhere she wanted to go. It is still a privilege for me to drive her where she needs to go and it always will be. My mother’s eyesight was never a real hindrance to raising her family and serving the Lord. It seems God has always made a way.
My mother is musically gifted. She’s been the pianist at Judson Baptist Church for nearly fifty-four years. She’s amazing to watch! I don’t know how many times she’s played for me to sing. Sometimes, I’ll say “That’s a little too high for me.” She can immediately transpose the song into a lower key. If you play the piano or know anything about music, you recognize what a spectacular gift this is! She also has this smooth alto voice. She’d never sung in public much before, but after Kelly and I were married, the three of us formed a trio and have been singing ever since. She and I have also branched out and sing duets. We will never make it on American Idol or America’s Got Talent, but God has blessed us both with the ability to find and sing harmony without written music. I feel closest to her when we’re singing God’s praises. I learned to play the piano because I wanted to be like her. I’m not a bad pianist, but my mother is truly talented.
Several years ago, Kelly and I were able to purchase the home where I grew up. My mother lives next door. Truth be told, I’ve never lived more than three houses away from Mama and Daddy. I love the fact that my children have been able to walk next door and visit with my parents. They love their grandparents and have a close relationship with them. My mother, who is really is Grandmother Extraordinaire, keeps special treats just for them at her house. In the past, Claire has said, “I’m going to grandma’s house. SHE has _______.” (Fill in that blank with “honeybuns,” “YooHoo,” “donut sticks,” or whatever snack Mama knows they like. She is the Snack Queen and I don’t even try to compete!)
My mother has taught me some important lessons about life, love, and God. I consider her my first and biggest influence, although my Daddy is right there with her. (I will tell you about him on another day.) When I think of her, I think of the last verses of Proverbs 31.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. Proverbs 31:25-31 NLT
Yes, she taught me about quiet strength and dignity. When she sets a goal for herself, she is tenacious. I’ve never seen her give up on what she desires to do or learn. When I was in college, she was my study buddy. She would grill me on questions from my study guides and encourage me when the going got tough. I feel like that Bachelor of Science degree I earned in education should be shared with her. She was just that involved in my learning process. When I became disabled due to chronic pain twenty years ago and found out that I could not go back to teaching, she told me that God had other plans for me; that I should open my eyes and my heart to that I could see and anticipate what God”s blessings. When we found out about our infertility, she would not let me wallow in self-pity. She propped me up when all I felt like doing was melting into a puddle of tears. She was the first to ask, “Do you want to be pregnant or do you want to be a Mommy?” Of course, I just wanted to be a mommy!
Yes, she has taught me wisdom. I have apologized to her many times because she has given me wise advice and I have ignored it. Now that I’m reaching the “half-century” mark in my life, I believe I am wiser because she laid the foundation of her motherly wisdom in my heart, and that means that she taught me to go to the Word and the Lord.
Yes, she taught me to love deeply and unconditionally. She, herself, is kind and I want to emulate that in my life. She and my father have been married fifty-three years. They are the epitome of true love and my own marriage succeeds because I’ve watched her be the kind of wife and mother that I need to be myself. She’s my ultimate role model in all things “family.”
Yes, she prepared me for living life in the world. I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life, but Mama taught me that forgiveness goes hand-in-hand with that unconditional love. She taught me that forgiveness is not necessarily for the other person — it’s mainly for person doing the forgiving. She taught me that God forgives completely and that I should do the same.
Yes, she raised my brother, Raymond, and me to be hard-working, respectful, and courteous. There were firm rules in our household. Although I didn’t always understand why those rules were in place, I can look back and see that they were for my own good. She was protecting me from a vicious, cruel world until I found the strength of the Lord to go out and do battle myself. I am so grateful that she demanded respect from me. It’s how I learned to make friends and get along with other people. (So, if you’re glad to be my friend, thank my mother!)
Mostly, I am grateful to her because she taught me that Jesus is the Savior of the world; that He died on a cross for me and rose on the third day; and that one day, He’s coming to take me home to Heaven because I am His child. She read me Bible stories and taught me hymns of praise and thanksgiving. She took me to church every Sunday. She encourages me to use my voice for the glory of God. She encourages me to write and be creative. There are many capable and worthy women in my life, but she surpasses them all.
Her reward? She deserves so much. With everything I do, I want to please her and make her proud. She is so much more than my mother — she’s my best friend and I cherish her in every way. I cannot find enough words to say how blessed I am to have her as my mother. I am told frequently that I look just like her and that is a boost to my ego because she’s beautiful. But every now and then, I’m also told that I act her and that is the greatest compliment I could ever receive because she is a Godly woman — beautiful inside and out. I love her so very much and thank God for her every day.
If you love your Mama like I love mine, thank God for her. If she’s with you, give her a hug and tell her what she means to you. If she’s gone to be with the Lord, say a prayer of thanksgiving, and tell someone what she meant to you and why. Remember to make EVERY day Mother’s Day.
“Like My Mother Does” (Lauren Alaina) http://youtu.be/8IzbX2qDtJY