My mother never sugar-coated Christianity. She lived it raw, and hard, and glorious, and miraculous, and painful, and in such brutal honesty that I reached womanhood with a burning desire to know this scandalous beautiful Savior.
Her faith stills me quiet.
Her passionate existence stirs me to move and live and fight.
As a small child, I watched her move from New York and all her family to the towering mountains and strangers of Alaska. I saw her tears of loneliness and her sharp clinging to the true Comforter.
By the time I was nine years old, I had watched her face cancer with brilliant fearlessness, even while “what if’s” made her shake.
I remember her prayers– for anyone, everyone. The phone calls that ended with, “Can I pray with you?” Her feet pacing the kitchen as she called down the heavenly hosts to transform situations and lives.
She wasn’t perfect. That same passion that caused her to laugh and play silly games and adopt outrageous accents to make everyone else fall into stitches, also caused her to holler in frustration and anger when her four children tag-teamed to push her buttons. (She always joked that we must have secret meetings at night to sign up for what hour we were going to pester her. Just when one kid would get settled and attitudes dealt with, the next would start up.)
But I remember being 19 and having a woman look me right in the eye and say, “You honor your Mama,” she wiped tears and said with a shaking voice, “I would have aborted my son, my precious son, if your mother hadn’t intervened.” This woman spoke the story and I stood quiet, hearing the testimony of my mother’s passionate pursuit of Christ, even to the point of being the last thing standing between a friend and an abortion clinic. I watched the woman’s son play with trucks on the floor at my feet and reveled in the legacy I had been handed.
I was in my twenties when I stood in that church beside her and a woman walked up to us, holding a dancing toddler by the hand. “I don’t know if you remember me,” the woman said to Mama, “but a couple years ago you visited and came to our Sunday School class. I was pregnant but I wasn’t doing very well emotionally and you shared about God and hope and joy and… well, I want you to meet someone.” She turned to the little pixie-faced child and said softly, “This is my daughter, Cheri. I named her after you.”
And then there was Haiti. The time when I stood, translating the woman’s dire circumstances… the breach baby, the lack of hospitals or midwives, the complications… and my mother stepping up and laying hands on the 9 month pregnant belly and requesting a miracle from the God of the Universe. And the next morning, translating the woman’s awestruck words, “I think the baby moved.” I called Mama right after she arrived home to the U.S. to tell her I was holding a healthy baby boy, no surgery necessary.
I remember Mama hurting. So many tears… And I remember her face of peace after months of heartache. “Forgiveness is always best, Tashi-girl,” she told me. I heard the words down deep. Etching truth where lies attempt to embed themselves.
Then this past year. Oh, this past year. Me, married and gone, still learning so much from her quiet strength and wisdom. It was cancer again. A different kind.
I stood in the hallway of the hospital, looking down at her wedding rings, nestled with mine on my left hand. You can’t wear any jewelry into surgery, so she slipped them on my finger and I watched her face until she disappeared through the doors, then stared at the rings until my gaze blinded with tears.
I was blessed enough to give them back to her, and we were all blessed when the scans came back with no sign of anymore cancer. But even if they hadn’t, even if she had left me, the legacy I carry is bright and strong and brilliant.
I want to have faith like my mother. The kind that sings the praises of God through fear, heartache, cancer, loss, emptiness, fullness, joy, pain, or sadness. To be a true woman after God’s own heart.
Tell me your story. Maybe it wasn’t your mother, maybe it was a relative or friend or neighbor. Tell me about the woman whose faith spurs you forward.