My mother is a remarkable woman. She was not born into wealth, nobility or education. However, one would find it difficult to find a more regal, dignified honorable woman. The nature of this honest blog, is not to divulge the private stories of my family. Those we live with. Rather, this about about this amazing woman who refused to lower her head, nor surrender her dignity even in the deepest of life's challenges that were thrown at her. Her story would require another blog to fully account for her journey of faith.
However, her lessons to us were impacting and powerful:
- "Laugh first" - I am sure why she acquired this gift, but she gave it to us. I am not even sure that she connected it to the text which reads: 'The joy of the Lord is my strength', but her commitment to show us how to laugh as a first response to all situations, was a remarkable act of kindness. When the scripture says that: 'In His presence there is fullness of joy', we realize that laughter overwhelms the gloom of defeat. I have invested that into my children. Now we attach that to Jesus and his victory. There is little else that can so readily defeat the devil than the laughter that comes because of an 'empty tomb' - a true Jesus victory.
- "Honor your father" - As your read in my last blog, you will know that I have a deep love and admiration about my pops. However there were periods of his life, and therefore ours as a family, that were extremely hard. The weight of life's challenges resulted in stuff that went down that was very difficult. However, no matter what was done or said, my mother simply would not let us speak of nor act in a way that was dishonoring of my father. Here she did quote the scripture - "honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you." You don't have to agree with your parent; they do not even have to be good parents, but we were to honor them in simple bible obedience.
- "Face your failings" - I must have been about 8 years old, when I left my cardigan at the bank where my mum had gone to attend to business. We got home when I realized the error and promptly told 'Oums'. She got me back in the car and off to the bank we went. Upon arrival, she told me to get out and go in an ask for it. I was distraught. No amount of tears or 'I can't' would convince her to feel sorry for me. I had erred and I had to face up to my mistake. Oh am I grateful for this lesson. Not blame others. Simply acknowledge the mistake, take it on the chin, and fix it.
- "Get on the stage and sing" - Music was very important to my mother. She used to sing over us babies. She used to sing with us at home and in the car. Later worship filled our world because music was such a natural traveling companion. I loved that. The love for music was a very generous gift. However the related gift that my mum gave me, was that I was not to pander to my moods, emotions, or doing only what I felt like. From an early age she got us onto the stage... whether it was singing in a choir, then singing in solo competitions, she simply would not let us surrender to fragile feelings. We were taught to be confident to get on the stage, to sing because had given us the gift and find the courage to take on challenges even if we were tempted to back away. " No" was simply not an option.
- "Forgiveness" - There were several key moments in 'Oumie's' life that were painful and damaging. To a lesser woman, these moments, seasons and encounters would have been very destructive. But 'Oumie' forgave. Somehow she found the grace to forgive. I am sure in her humanity, it was not always easy, but most times she valued freedom more important than vengeance, contempt or anger. During some of my ministry years, I have found deep grace and encouragement by her story. How could I who have experienced such little pain, carry unforgiveness, when she who carried much had found her true gospel component?
These are key cornerstone of my life - and for that I am very grateful.