That's my beautiful Mom. She's a very special woman. And today is her special day.
It's her birthday of course. Or as she likes to say, her birthday weekend. Mom always taught us to stretch our birthdays out. While most people want to get it over with, Mom taught us to savor the moment.
She also taught us what a truly special birthday meal is: Lobster, lobster and more lobster.
I have such vivid memories as a kid going with Dad to Smith's to pick out live lobsters for Mom's birthday. I thought lobster was the greatest thing. Not because I loved to eat it.
No, it wasn't until later in life that I developed that kind of love for them. It was because I loved watching them in the tank. They were so gross and creepy looking and yet so fascinating!
Lobster was always followed by Mom's Buttermilk Chocolate Cake. Mmmmmm. So moist, so delicious, so amazing.
Mom also taught us that on your birthday, calories don't count. It's one of the most important lessons she has ever taught me and one I will most certainly pass on to my kiddos.
My Mom taught us a lot growing up. She taught us to be responsible. To clean our rooms. To not put things off. To get our work done first rather than put things off, then relax with the satisfaction of a job well done.
She always tried to make the work seem fun though. She would call us together for "Family Gardening Parties" which was code for "pulling weeds." And while pulling weeds was not, nor will it ever be a fun activity, somehow knowing it was a "Family Gardening Party" made the work seem just a little less awful.
She taught us to give our best in everything. She never expected us to be perfect, and never put us down for making a mistake, but she demanded that we give our best in everything we do. It wasn't enough to just get by. Cutting corners got us in trouble. And while, as a kid, I thought Mom was just being mean, as an adult, I now see what a gift she gave us through her instruction and guidance.
I loved how Mom always made things feel special. Like when she and Dad told me I was going to be a big sister.
Or how she always managed to make Christmas magical no matter how busy or stressful life got. Mom loves Christmas and she knows how to do it up right!
My favorite part of Christmas was Advent. Every year she took the time to write out clues for fun activities or gifts each day leading up to Christmas. There was always a passage of Scripture included that we had to read first before we could get to the "fun" stuff.
As a kid of course I did not appreciate the significance of this, but as an adult, I reflect on it with such gratitude that amidst the traditions and holiday cheer, Mom made sure we never lost sight of why we celebrate Christmas: for the gift of our Savior.
When we went to college, she knew her babies weren't ready to give this tradition up, so she mailed advent to us. That's just one example of her generous spirit.
Giving is her love language and she is the perfect example of what it means to develop and use the gifts and strengths God sets into our nature.
She loves giving. If she could, she would be a philanthropist and just give money away. It's her life dream.
But her giving goes beyond just Advent , money and gifts. She gives of herself. She gives of herself for my Dad, for my sister and I, for the church, for people in need of wise counsel, an encouraging word, or just a good friend with a listening ear.
After a long day of work, she'd take the time to read me a book, and when we got older, to help with our homework, watch us play ball, take us to swim practice.
And when Ms. Riss was dying to ride the carousel and her bratty older sister probably said "No, that's for babies" (sorry Riss Riss!) there was Mom making sure her baby got her wish.
Mom was always there to support us, encourage us, love us.
She has made a lot of sacrifices for my sister and me, including working full time so that we could attend private school, participate in extracurricular activities and so that we could finish college debt free.
Let me just say, though, that while my parents may have been broke when I graduated, they are going to have to move to a shack when my sister is all said and done. My education was significantly less expensive than the one my sister is earning on her oceanside campus (haha love you Riss).
My Mom is a lot of things, more things than I could ever put to paper, or I guess, blog about. But the thing I love best about her is the way she teaches without even realizing it. She teaches me by her example. She lives her life in such a way that makes me admire her more and more the older I get and gives me a model for what it means to be a Godly woman.
She and my Dad taught us to love Jesus. They took us to church, they read us the Bible. But the way that I learned to love Jesus, was seeing how they loved Him.
How they took steps of faith, trusting that the Lord would always provide. How they cared for others, even when it wasn't easy. How they loved each other. How they loved unconditionally and how they extended us grace when we behaved less than perfect.
I appreciate that no matter how young my Mom gets, she is always growing, always learning, always teaching us to do the same.
Yep, she is one special woman. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!