I grew up in a little United Methodist Church that my Granny attended every Sunday long before I was a thought. My mother, being a good daughter-in-law, joined her. The men-folk really didn’t go to church, especially during ‘deer season.’ My memories of church in those days included early morning Sunday school taught by someone’s mom and sitting in church trying not to get in trouble. One particular service, as I’ve been told, I stood up on the pew and shouted back at the pastor to “hush!” Needless to say, I also have some memories of being drug out to the front steps during service. My mom once told me later that if she wanted to put me in the church’s nursery that she would have to go teach it, then missing church to begin with. After service, the whole family, cousins and parents would go back to Granny’s house for lunch. That’s where the men would be.
My mother was the first strong woman from my memories. She was a single mother of two for a significant part of my childhood. I was around the age of 7 when divorced and she remarried when I was in Jr. High. As a single mom, she worked long hours on her feet as a hair dresser to save up to build us a home. Back then, the system wasn’t really for women. She would pay herself child support every month to prove “additional” income so she could qualify for a home loan. Today, 2018, the electric company still will not let her cash a refund check because the bill was in my late-father’s name. She has even provided proof they were married and living in the same home at the time of utility service. Nevertheless, we were able to move into a newly built home that we still call home today. I remember some late nights, sneaking out of bed to catch her sitting at the kitchen counter organizing and paying bills. She took care of us, she was always tired, but she always did her best.
We attended church on Sundays like you do. I was tortured every summer when my mom signed us up to every single VBS (Vacation Bible School) that the local churches hosted. I later realized that this was my mom’s childcare solution so she could work. When I was old enough to decide between church retreats or nothing… sign me up for a summer of nothing.
Later, my step-father joined us at the same little church and then our newest sibling. Back then, I think church was just cultural for us, at least for me. I knew I loved God and I was trying to have a relationship with him through Jesus, but I also think I was “seed scattered on a rocky path” so to speak (Matthew 13:5-6). I was uneventfully baptized in the church with a sprinkle of holy water. I felt so special, until I had to go home and clean my room.
I grew up, moved out, and went very far away. I moved in with my Jewish-Israeli boyfriend. Then… my mom found Jesus. I’m not joking. She was on fire and in the Spirit. Over the next decade she prayed like crazy for me. She wanted me to have what she had found. I loved Jesus, so I didn’t know what her fuss was all about. I loved him… like a cousin, or an old friend, or someone that was far away. I would never compromise my loyalty to Him. For example, I looked into conversion once and found I had to verbally denounce Jesus. “No way, José” was my thoughts and that conversation was over. I was trying to change my culture without my religion. Even so, I wasn’t interested in a relationship with Jesus or really having him join me in my life. Not until much later…
Dear Heavenly Father,
I want to thank you for my mother and her persistent prayers for me and my brothers. Thank you for her answered prayers of all the blessings (and lessons) we’ve received through her intercession for us. Thank you for snatching her heart up and becoming a central force to our family. Thank you for her example of strength in the face of the challenges. Thank you for using her as an example of what a strong woman can do and accomplish. Thank you for the fight in my heart that I’ve inherited from her.
I pray that you continue to hear and honor her prayers, especially now while she prays for the supernatural healing of her husband, our dad. I pray you surround her with love, support, and encouragement. I pray that when she feels the weakest that you give her rest and joy. Most of all, I pray you protect her heart in this season.
I ask all of this in your precious son’s name, Jesus. Amen.