1) Necessity is the mother of invention
I am quite certain that any creativity that I have, I got from my mother. Growing up, I can not tell you how many things she fixed or built when the need arose. She can make just about anything out of cardboard and tack paper if necessary. Because of her, when I am in the midst of a project and a curve gets thrown at me, I know that I don't have to give up...I just have to get creative. And learning to fix problems creatively is a skill that has served me well in ministry.
2) Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do
If she said this phrase once to me, she said it a million times. There are jobs that we do not enjoy doing or do not want to do, but that does not mean that we don't have to do them. Too many times today I see parents that allow their children to only do what they want and I think that is sad. It is by being made to do the things that we don't want to do that we learn responsibility and character. I am so blessed that my Mom (and my Dad) didn't allow me to decide what chores I would or would not do. By learning to do them all, I am better able to care for myself as an adult.
3) I am not more important than anyone else
My Mom taught me how to be compassionate by letting me watch her care for others. There were many times when Mom was ill or when money was tight that Mom still found a way to do something for someone else. She has always put everyone else ahead of herself. She reminds me that we are here to serve and not to be served.
4) Church is not an option!
Now in all honesty, this is something that both of my parents taught us. NOTHING took priority over time in God's house. Not vacations, not school functions, not family gatherings, not anything. Even illness was not a good excuse unless you would be contagious to others. Being in God's house and having fellowship with God's people was important and my parents knew that if they let me skip for a sporting event, or a weekend away, or even a school event, that I would be much more likely to see church as an option that wasn't really a necessity in my life. Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing magical about a church building, but it is part of learning about priorities. God was made a priority in the life of my family and nothing could budge that priority. Some people probably think that my parents were too strict in that area. But I have seen what happens when parents do not make church a priority in the lives of their children. When they let other things take that place of being at church (even good things) the children and teens start to see what is really important in the lives of their parents. And if being a church can be replaced with being a a ball game, going to a family dinner, a trip to Kings Island, or helping to build a deck at a friends house...you tell me where they will place the priority in their life?
5) Spending time with God is important
Many times growing up, when I would wake up in the morning, I would find my Mom praying in some part of the house. The place would still be quiet. And I would find my Mom on her knees talking to the Father about all manner of things. Her Bible would be beside her where she'd been doing her devotions before her prayer time. Those memories are etched in my mind and I have always wanted to be just like her. I've yet to master the getting up early to pray part, but I do know that I need to spend time with God daily if I want to serve Him the best I can.
6) It's ok to be silly
My Mom is a nut. I love her for that. Playing games with her is always a hoot because you never know what new word or phrase she might come up with to vent her frustration. A current favorite of mine is: "Fiddlely, Diddley, Piddley, Poo!" Not sure how to spell all those words,but since she made them up, I suppose I can decide how to spell them. She has taught me that it is ok to let your hair down and be yourself. No one should be serious all the time.
7) Music is apart of who we are
As long as I can remember, music has been a part of our family life. My family is always breaking out into song at random times. In fact, most anything can trigger just such an outburst. I suppose that might seem strange to others, but it is very much a part of who we are and my Mom is the leader of the pack when it comes to this aspect of our lives. She sings all the time. It's nothing for her to break out into song if one pops into her mind. I am the same way. We all are to some degree. I think it's a neat trait of our family. Others might find it a bit odd, but music seems to permeate our lives in such a way that it simply has to escape sometimes...and it usually escapes in the form of a song fragment that just needed to be sung in the middle of Wal-Mart!
8) She loves me no matter what
I suppose this one should go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway. There is just something special about a mother's love. She has at times been disappointed in me, she has disagreed with me, she has even been concerned about me, but she has never ever stopped loving me.
9) No matter how old I am, I will always be her baby girl
There is something special about always being seen as a child by your parents. I'm not saying that it isn't at times an annoying trait, but there is something calming about knowing that no matter how old we get, our parents will always see us as the little children they raised and because of that they enjoy so much watching us accomplish things in our lives...because they know what it took for us to get to where we are. They remember the struggles and the challenges along the way. Whether it is graduating High School, getting a new job, starting a business, buying a house or whatever the accomplishment might be. We will always be their kids...and they are proud of us.
10) I make her proud
No, I'm not being conceited. I know this because she told me so. Mom made it a point to let me know that she is proud of me. If you are a Mom, do not underestimate the power you have to give your children the strength they need to accomplish the things life brings. My Mom tells me she is proud of me...knowing that thrills me and makes me want to do even better.
So, these are a few of the things my Mom, Mary Jane James, has taught me over the years. I look forward to continuing to learn from her for many more years to come. I love you Mom!!!