So last week I was asked to speak to some moms at my church. They had a guest speaker series called Trials and Triumphs. Well, those are just my all-time favorite stories to hear. Especially when God is involved. I could listen to those all day long. Every day. 24/7.
So I got up on that stage and spoke about my trials. Oh, I had more than one you know. Cancer being the obvious one. An empty, unfulfilled life being the other. Remember that commercial from years ago with the really handsome guys dressed in those beautiful tuxedos and the song/tag line was, “What a difference a day makes?” Well, what a difference five and a half years make.
So I shared how miserable I was. And then I shared how guilty I was because I had no real obvious reasons for being so miserable. On the outside. The inside? A totally different story.
I then shared how I re-dedicated my life to God over five years ago. Re-prioritized my life. Putting God first, my family second and myself way, way back in the background. A radically new concept for me. “How can this bring me joy?” I thought as I went to bed that first night. Then voila. My life was flooded with joy. And peace. Hmmm. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Probably because I was really self-centered. Thought I knew best. What a complete idiot.
I also shared a few scriptures that I have leaned on through my trials. And I’m proud to say that I have memorized them too. You know, with chemo brain and all, that's a pretty amazing feat. I’m coming clean though -- they’re only 8 and 11 words each. A two year old could do that. But I'm still proud of my chemo brain remembering abilities.
And then I got to the end of my testimony. And this is where I thought it got good.
I shared with that room full of moms that I don’t believe God created us just to be moms. Or even to be happy moms. He created us to glorify Him. To bring others to Him. To live in such a way that others come to know Him because they know us. And then guess what? We become joyful moms.
I then told them that I had asked my kids probably six years ago to list Mommy’s five favorite things on a piece of paper. My seven and five-year-old both agreed on, “chocolate almond ice cream from Baskin Robbins, cats, decorating, flowers and magazines.” They nailed it. If we were on a game show, we would have won the grand prize. But that was not what I wanted them to say.
I now want to hand them another piece of paper and say, “Now what are Mom's favorite things?” The problem is I don’t think I have the courage to do it because I’m not 100% sure of what would make the list and what wouldn’t. Remember, I’m still a work in progress.
But the night before my speech, Jake had interviewed me for a school project. He had to interview someone “of great faith.” And it touched my heart beyond measure that he had chosen me. Years earlier, he would have chosen my sister. Hands down. Because she is the one who had led me to the Lord when I was 10. She is the one who writes him cards sprinkled with scripture for his birthday and Easter. She is the one who wants to be in the hospital rooms of those she knows and those she doesn’t know before they pass away. So she can bring them to Jesus. She's the one not of great faith, but of tremendous faith.
But Jake had asked me. In fact, the cherry on top is that last year one of his best friends had interviewed me for the same project and this year, another one of his best friends had asked to interview me too. This momma was one happy girl! Guaranteed, a few years earlier, my sister would have been fielding all those questions for those boys.
So my life is changing. And my kids are taking notice. Do I still yell at them when they don’t put their stuff away or conveniently forget to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Oh absolutely. Am I a ray of sunshine that blinds them every morning? Oh please. But as Chelsea Cameron says, “new nature vs. old nature.” I try and always remember that. "I'm not what I should be. I'm not what I could be. But I'm not what I used to be." Another famous Chelsea saying that I'm trying to live by.
So imagine my delight when my son handed me his written essay last night. It was his thoughts following our videotaped interview. I read it with tears in my eyes. In fact, I continue to read it this morning. Hands down, it’s thee most special thing I’ve ever received. (With the exception of God’s promises to me.)
The two best sentences of the whole essay are these:
"She wants everybody to know that she is a Christian."
(Yes, it's true -- I do!)
"I plan to work at it as hard as I can to become as close to God as possible."
That's my boy.
Please don’t read this blog post as a vehicle to toot my own horn. That’s so not the intention. I share this with you to let you know that God can change hearts. And I’m talkin’ first off about mine. And He can change yours too. To be a mom whose faith is trickling into my children delights me to no end. My purpose, through this trial, is to deepen my family’s faith. What better legacy can a mom leave? Do I want my kids to remember how clean I tried to keep the house, how large my hydrangeas grew in the backyard or how many magazines I could read during a single sitting? Nope. I want them to remember that Jesus is there to carry them through the trials of their lives that are sure to come their way. There’s just no escaping them. But when they face a trial or two, I pray they will lean on their faith.
Just like their Momma does.