Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Legacy

My mom and I in Caesarea of Phillipi May 2010
We recently celebrated Mother's Day in the USA and this year I spent a length of time reflecting on the many blessings that my mom has passed down to me.  It's so easy to focus on what one didn't have but if you are a functioning and healthy individual then there's a lot for you to be aware of and be thankful for.  Find time to focus on at least one good thing about your life,  specifically your childhood, and discover how to look at life with new and appreciative eyes.
From my earliest memory mom always got up and cooked my brother and I breakfast.  And I mean always!  This wasn't just something to put in our stomachs, this was a well-balanced and healthy meal consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates,  accompanied by fresh-squeezed juice or a half a fresh grapefruit; and of course our daily vitamins!   Since studying food and becoming a nutritionist several years back  (imagine why!)  I have asked her how she knew what to feed us and how she figured out things such as,   butter is better than margarine, whole wheat is better than white bread,  a bit of protein is essential at every meal as is something raw (fruit, veggies, or anything providing live enzymes)  Of course we had to eat everything on the plate too "because there were starving children in other parts of the world"... As a result, one value she passed on to me was to never be wasteful.    We didn't struggle with weight issues because the food was nutrient dense and once we finished our chores (my main one was ironing...yuck!)   we "played"outside instead of watching television, using computers, cell phones,  or any other electronic devices that may have caused us to be lazy.  Laziness was never tolerated!  We weren't allowed soft drinks except on rare occasion during family pizza nights.  We also had to ask if we wanted to snack in between meals.  She also knew that we needed at least 8 hours of sleep and she firmly enforced a bedtime for more years than I want to tell you about!  We weren't allowed to watch more than a few hours of t.v. a week,  while sitting at least five feet from the television so as not to wreck our eyes and our overall health  (how did she know about electro-magnetic fields back then?!)  And, believe it or not, my mom put out which clothes we were allowed to wear to school until I was in the 6th grade.  One time when mom was working out of town  I convinced my Grandma that it was okay for me to wear my new, fringed, white leather moccasins to school.  This was not at all true because Mom did not consider those to be appropriate school clothing.  I thought I would get away with the trickery until it rained that day and I ruined my moccasins.  Of course mom found out and not only did I lose them to damage but I also was grounded for a week as a result of disobeying her.
All of these family guidelines and rituals were intentional and I've implemented plenty of them while raising my own children but there's another type of legacy that was passed on to me.  This includes values and habits that mom really didn't talk about but instead modeled.  Intrinsic, non-negotiable core values and a deep sense of commitment that I rely on even today when times in life get tough and I feel like running away!
My mom was a single mom through most of my teenage years.  My dad was killed in a car accident when I was just thirteen and my brother only ten.  After that tragic event I watched her expand her skills, roll up her sleeves, and get to work in whatever ways necessary in order to keep meals on the table, our mortgage paid, and good clothes on our backs.  She never rested and she certainly didn't ever feel sorry for herself.  I now appreciate that it was a very difficult time for such a young woman whose children had lost their Dad but she showed us daily how very much we had left.
From sun up to sundown, her work ethic was second to none.  Her strength of character in speaking the truth in love was not always appreciated but as I get older I know that mom has never been one to talk behind someones back, instead she will always tell it to their face!   She sewed the most beautiful and stylish dresses for almost every one of my high school dances and she often hosted the pre-dance dinner party in our home, setting the tables with her best china and spending hours preparing and serving the food.  I will never forget her "cherries jubilee" desert that she so lovingly prepared one year.
All of this work ethic and true grit as such a young mom too.  She was only sixteen when she married my dad and just eighteen when I was born.   At thirty-one she was left alone to raise two young children who would soon turn into mischevious teenagers.  The trials we put her through must have been really difficult to face alone.  I know I had a full-time husband around when I was raising my children and even then it was never easy.
I watched mom persevere and never quit.  She worked full-time and did whatever she could to support us and she never did anything less than excellent.   She read Christian self-help books and taught us  about being positive and always looking for the best in people.  She strove for greatness, as she does to this day.
  I'm sure she spent many painful nights suffering alone or questioning God in the quietness of her room, but she never burdened us with her sadness.  Instead she put on an "I can conquer anything" attitude, and she did!   She gave selflessly to my brother and I and we always new we were loved.   Through it all, every day, bright and early, exhausted from work or not,  she faithfully cooked our great breakfast,  squeezed and poured our juice and made sure we took our vitamins.
What a legacy...what a mom!  Thank you God.
He is blessing you!   Donna


  1. We had Mother's Day too. - I grew up similair to you Donna. But this strict rools made a rebel out of me. I begun to refuse everything my mum wanted from me. - Healthy food I eat also. But with a few exceptions. Stubbornness makes mentally ill! -I did not celebrate my mum at this special day. I can do it everyday. My mum is still convinced, I mean “food” what she is preparing is the best. But... - As a child I thought healthy food she is cooking. I did not know it better. Donna, computer did not exist as we have been children. We have had to go outdoor or playing indoor and keep ourseves busy with something. – Blessings Rose

  2. Philippians 4:8-9 "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

    Great to hear from you Rose! I wrote this blog entry for two reasons: 1) to honor and thank my mom 2) to encourage others to think about excellent things in their childhood and be thankful.
    My life was not all fun and games. Some of it was very difficult. I already shared that my dad was killed when I was just 13. As I get older I realize that much adversity has made me a stronger person. Watching the way my mother held herself together and was responsible, even through her pain, gives me strength of character when I feel like quiting! I had a good role model. She wasn't perfect, nor am I a perfect parent. The idea here is to concentrate on what was good in childhood, not what was bad or painful. It was good to hear from you.
    God is blessing you, Donna

  3. What was good in my childhood, I can tell you Donna. It was when my parents sent me for one year to the French part of Switzerland in a school to learn French. The building looked like a castel. I enjoied my stay the most of the time and I had difficulties to leave at the end. Other children cried because of being affraid the parents would not come to get them. I cried because it ment going home and everything wonderful was over and that at age 17. If you can read between the lines it tells a lot/a whole story out of my soul! – My blessings, Swiss Rose

  4. Dear Rose,
    Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart.
    God is blessing you, Donna

  5. Thanks for the wonderful story you wrote of your mother, Donna!

    Sometimes we hear people speak of "How best to pass on the Faith". Clearly your Mom has lived the Faith and that was how she passed it on at least in part! By examples of goodness discipline and love!...Jan-Michael

  6. Certainly a well told story of your Mom, Donna.

    Sometimes I hear people asking how shall we pass on our Faith?

    I would say your Mom working hard daily, setting examples in discipline and love were ways she passed her beliefs onwards in part.

    Passing a religion on is often less well received than passing on expressions of right ways, I believe.


  7. My mother was an amazing woman. She sacrificed a lot when my sisters and I were growing up. She bought us nice clothes and enrolled us in piano lessons. We did not have a lot of money,since my father was a minister. My mother stayed home with us when we were young. She also raised us alone when my father was in the mission field. She was a caring mom and we miss her.


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