Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Mom, My Hero

In light of Mother’s Day, I want to honor my Mom because I think she’s the greatest. And she is one of my lifelong heroes.

2010
From the very beginning of my life, my Mom has been high capacity. I did not learn How to Be a Lazy Mom from her :) From my perspective, she was a Mom who could do it all! She and my Dad were both full-time graduate students in West Virginia when I was born. When I was 7 months old, they adopted my brother Monty who was 5 months old. And when we were 16 and 18 months old, our sister Windy was born. I am amazed when I think of all the balls my Mom was able to juggle during that very full season of life.

1973
When the three of us were 6 and 7, my parents adopted my brother Paul from Brazil (who is 1 month older than Windy). We were living in Arkansas at that time and my Mom's job was working with mentally and physically challenged children and adults.

1979
When the four of us were 9 and 10, our family moved to NC, and my Mom started working as a resource room teacher in an elementary school, helping kids with learning disabilities. She continued in that role for 30 years, in two more states, until she retired 3 years ago. I can not imagine a better job fit for my Mom than Special Education. She always believed in her students, who faced many challenges in their lives, and she helped them to believe in themselves. She was hugely supportive, patient and encouraging as she helped them with their math, reading and writing skills and as she taught them strategies to overcome their unique learning struggles. I know that she made a tremendous difference in all of her students’ lives.

About 6 years ago, my Mom was invited by a friend of ours to give an all-day training seminar on Learning Disabilities for teachers and parents at a private school in Beijing. I was so proud of her and the way God used her expertise to meet a very real need, as she brought insight and teaching methods into an area that is not well developed in China’s education system. As an observer that day, I could tell that her training session was a significant breakthrough for many who came; as they learned how to better understand and how to help their struggling students reach success in school and in life.

As I’ve watched my Mom over the years give her life to others, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to love unconditionally, without expecting anything back. My Mom has done an incredible job of giving herself away: in school, at home, in the neighborhood, at church, and among her friends and extended family. We have all been blessed beyond measure by my Mom’s self-giving love, as she seeks to live the way Jesus did. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45) is a verse that my Mom embodies every day through her loving servant hood, as she strives to be a blessing to all those God puts into her life.

Whether it’s baking cookies for her and my Dad to give to all the neighbors in their new neighborhood as a way of introducing themselves. Or serving as CJ’s personal secretary with all of his college application materials that needed to be sent to a state-side address. Going all over town to find special craft materials for Jordan and sending them to her. Cheering Joshua on when he broke his first board in Tae Kwon Do. Putting a box of Girl Scout shortbread cookies in a care package for us because she knows they’re my favorite. Fixing Charly’s favorite meal when we are there for a visit. Or serving in the soup kitchen and getting to know the homeless there.

1992

2012
Another valuable lesson I’ve learned from my Mom is the importance of a having a sense of humor. At all times. And especially in the midst of stressful situations. We have had many funny moments; some highlights have been on my Mom and Dad’s trips to China to visit us.
1996
 It’s funny to sing karaoke with my Mom at the top of the TV Tower in Tianjin. We must have been singing “Country Roads” because it was one of our family favorites growing up and it’s a good English karaoke choice in China.

1996
 It’s funny to ride bikes with my Mom for her very first time on the busy streets of Tianjin, where traffic laws are just not the same as in America. I can still hear her screaming when we biked through an especially crazy intersection and she thought a bus was getting too close. And how we laughed about it afterward.

2008
It’s funny to be on an over packed bus with my Mom on our way from one train station to another in Beijing with a crazy bus driver who took the turns so sharply that it was impossible for us to keep our balance. And my Mom ended up in someone’s lap, at the same time that we noticed the English song playing over the speakers was “We Will Rock You.”

2009
It’s funny to be on a masses-of-people-filling-the aisle-because-there’s-no-place-to-sit train with my Mom in the dripping heat of summer. When there was no air conditioning and all the windows are down and the overhead fans were doing the best they could. When someone yelled, “Fire!” and we stood up along with all the other-people-fortunate-to-have-seats and wondered with them what could be done. When all the people in the aisle moved aside to make room for the capable train attendant who meandered along with a simple rag in his hand and unscrewed the overhead fan that had caught on fire. And the problem was solved. Just like that. And my Mom and I were so tickled we could not stop laughing.
 
2008
2010
I most admire my Mom for how courageously she faced her diagnosis of a brain tumor five years ago. She had complete peace and trust in God as she went into surgery, and was truly thankful that out of all the possible complications, she only lost hearing in her right ear after the delicate removal of her acoustic neuroma. On the day of surgery, she was more concerned that my Dad, aunt, uncle, sister and I would get bored in the waiting room than she was worried about herself. So she prepared goodie bags with special snacks, reading material and games for each of us to help the time go by faster.

She had difficult hurdles to overcome post-surgery and she was physically the weakest I’ve ever seen her. But she was motivated to work hard on physical therapy because the neurotic patient she shared a room with the first night imagined that my Mom was smoking and kept yelling, “Put out that cigarette!” It wasn’t easy, but my Mom was eventually able to laugh about that annoying roommate and how much better she would be able to rest if she could get back home to her own bed. Where my Dad took very good care of her. And so many of their friends brought meals that their freezer was stuffed to overflowing.

In these recent years I have seen my Mom aging gracefully. She doesn’t look any older, and her spirit is still young as she plays with her grandkids, grandniece and grandnephew (it is a definite challenge for any of them to beat her in ping pong!) But inwardly I can tell that she is continuing to grow in deep maturity, in wisdom and in surrendering her life to the Lord. That’s the way I want to be. That’s why my Mom is my hero. I’m so thankful that God has given me such an incredible Mom. I want to be like her when I grow up.

2008
2011


2011
2012



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