My mother turned 61 on the 17th … a St. Patty’s baby. Raised on a Kansas farm, an educator by trade, a Mother to three and a Nana to six, she’s taught me a thing or two about living well and loving without reserve. And while she’s been intentional in many areas of my life, it’s the little lessons I’ve learned when she didn’t even know she was teaching that have probably impacted me the most. These are lessons learned that I’ve accumulated not from her focused teaching, but simply from being in relationship with my mom. These are observations about the small things that really matter; this is an attitude that I hope to pass onto my children as well.
Truth be told, these are insights she may not even realize she’s inspired. So in honor of her birthday, here are ten life lessons I’ve learned from my mom when she didn’t realize she was teaching.
1) You will make mistakes; life is full of them. Learn from those mistakes and seek God’s grace when you fall short. Forgiveness flows from the foot of the cross in overwhelming abundance, and you are never too far gone to be out of His reach.
2) You will be tempted to hide your mistakes from your children. And while it’s prudent to protect them from some things, don’t hide behind a mask of perfection. Your children don’t want a perfect mom, they want a forgiving, grace-giving, second-chance mom.
3) Live authentically. Perfection is an illusion, and the efforts to achieve it only result in bondage. Take the mask off, and invite people into your mess; this transparency gives others the freedom to lay their masks aside as well.
4) Immerse yourself in the Word, and let your kids see. I vividly remember coming out to the living room early one morning to find my mom reading the Word. That quiet scene spoke volumes to my little heart. Give your kids the gift of seeing you revere the Word of God.
5) Whether the day is rough and the demands are hard, or the cares are light and the going is easy … smile. A smile deflates hardship, and it may be just the simple encouragement someone else needs. As for those smile lines that etch into your skin, don’t despise them; they tell stories of laughter and life well lived.
6) When emotions are too thick for words, when you are moved in a way that defies description, cry. And don’t feel ashamed by your tears. For as Washington Irving said: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”
7) Hospitality is more about the heart than the home. You don’t need a perfectly appointed house, a gourmet meal, a well-dressed table. True hospitality is the simple act of inviting someone in and making them feel welcome. A cup of coffee and ears to listen are some of the best tools of hospitality.
8) Never underestimate the power of storytelling. Your own life experiences are stories that could impact and inspire others. Tell stories; tell them to others and relay them to your kids before they fall asleep. For their is magic and wonder in the simple act of storytelling.
9) Dig in the dirt. Plant flowers, garden, pull weeds; it’s not so much about the what as it is about the why. Because sometimes the simple act of getting your hands in the soil is just the catharsis your heart needs.
10) Pick wild flowers. Sometimes when a little hand tugs at yours because sunflowers are growing in a field, you just need to stop and pick the flowers.
Thank you doesn’t say enough, Mom. I love you!
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