A Letter to My Mom

I've Mastered Education

Dear Mom,

For Mother’s Day this year I decided to take some time to put into words how much I love you.  Words are one of my love languages, so I’m hoping it’s at least somewhat near the top of your list, though I know I’d probably be a better daughter if I were in Blacksburg right now helping renovate the new house. But, I am giving you my microwave so that has to count for something, right?

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The older I get the more I recognize the miracle that is family. For thirty years you have loved, nurtured, taught, disciplined, and exhorted the five of us, pushing us toward faith, love and good deeds.  I don’t need to convince anyone that you were the best mom.  In the past thirty (!) years you and dad have successfully launched five kids into the world. Five college degrees, five careers, five humans who no longer need to live with you. Don’t get me wrong – we all still need you, but your children are all successful independent adults (well, I guess there is still a chance one of the others could screw that up…not me of course).

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Five kids in seven years. You must have been exhausted, but I couldn’t tell.  I can’t remember a single time when I needed you and you didn’t have time for me. I know there were seasons that I drove you crazy, but you never pushed me away.  You sent my friends home when my introversion couldn’t stand to be around people, and I could always trust to you say “No” to something I didn’t want to have to do.  That was the best.  In fact, I recently helped a fellow introvert make a similar plan with her mom.

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It’s actually funny to me how many times I sit with a student and think to myself, “What would mom say right now if she was here?” Most of the time, your proverbs come out of my mouth.

“Just do it and your heart will follow.”

“Don’t argue with an idiot. He’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

and…perhaps the best of all…

“Yeah, that’s just not true.”

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Five kids. Five.

But we all know the reality is that you have countless more.

Mom, Ma Duggar and Mrs. Bates combined don’t have as many children as you.

What’s so crazy to me is that now I realize it wasn’t your children bringing them in, but it was you.

Eddie is the first one I remember.  There you were, taking care of him and helping his mom, living out for me what it meant to “care for the orphans and widows in their distress” before I could even read.

For thirty years. Every day.  Single moms, young families, teenagers who needed a mentor, college students.  As your biological children got older, your other kids did as well.  Their names are running through my mind and I know I haven’t even thought of them all.  Every day of my life you’ve just showed up and loved people by giving them your time, sharing your wealth, giving away your possessions, and by getting dirty and working with them.

And what astounds me most is that you never quit. Even now, when your children are grown and you’ve reached an age where you could gracefully bow out of this kind of service, you show up.  You serve in the nursery every Sunday. You mentor young mothers, but even more wonderfully, you love their children. You invite them in, care for them, give their parents a break.  You see needs and fill them. You notice what needs to be done and do it.  Even this month, you’re moving out of your house so someone else can stay there.

For thirty years I’ve had the honor of watching you die to yourself every day.  For years I came downstairs in the morning to see you sitting on the couch, reading your Bible and praying. Then, you got up and went to work, faithfully living out the gospel.

You are the most faithful, steadfast servant I have ever known. You weren’t a stay at home mom at all – you were a full time teacher and missionary, making disciples by doing other people’s laundry, cleaning other people’s houses, buying other people groceries, loving other people’s kids….in the name of Jesus.

I just pray one day I can be half the woman you are. That I will be faithful, selfless, and willing, as a friend, daughter, sister, wife and mother.

Love,

Allison

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 

Let her works praise her in the gates.

 

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April Thoughts & Finds

I feel like I blinked and April was over.  This month has seemed to go by even faster than normal, I guess because I was so busy.  I’m glad to say I was also productive: this month I wrote two 15+ page papers for my classes, accomplished all of my work goals, lost 8 lbs, and still managed to read 14 books!

I will list the books in a separate post, but for now, here’s what I learned in April.

  1. did not learn how to fold a fitted sheet. It’s pathetic. I cannot do it. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even try anymore and I stuff the sheets inside the matching pillowcase like a sleeping bag. Somebody, help!
  2. I am most successful when I am under pressure. I guess it makes me more disciplined. Honestly, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water this month, but when I look at what I accomplished, I feel proud.
  3. My Fitness Pal works for me. I’ve been struggling to lose weight this year (and I really need to lose a significant amount).  I’ve had a FitBit since September, but it really didn’t help other than to keep me accountable with movement. I started using the My Fitness Pal app this month to track my calorie intake (this is really where my problem lies anyway). What I love most is that MFP syncs with my FitBit and adjusts my calorie allowance based on my level of activity. Also, at the end of each day, it lets me know how well (or how poorly) I did. I love it! And, considering I lost the same amount of weight this month as I did the first three months of the year combined, I’d say it’s working.
  4. This one isn’t something I learned but something I found. I listen to an unmanageable amount of podcasts and yet discovered two more I love this month. What Should I Read Next? has proven to be a very helpful podcast because it’s given me far better book recommendations than what I’ve received from a few other popular book podcasts. It seems the guests on this show have more similar tastes. Many of the books I read this month were recommendations from this show. The other “find” is Timothy Keller’s Redeemer Church sermons podcast. I learn so much from his teachings.

So that’s what I learned in April. I will be back tomorrow with a list of books I read this month.  If you want to see what others have learned this month, hop on over to Emily’s blog and browse through the link-up.

What I Learned: March 2016

It’s so cliche but I really cannot believe we are 1/4 of the way through 2016! I’ve stayed busy with work and classwork and I guess I haven’t paid much attention.

I spent some time this morning looking over my quarterly goals from January to March.  Some were accomplished, but most were not.  As always, I did a better job meeting my external goals than internal ones.

For the second quarter of the year, I plan to focus on these internally centered goals: health and rest.  I listened to a sermon a few weeks ago about the importance of Sabbath rest.  It is a commandment, but I know I don’t heed it the way I do the others.  Intentional rest is an outside sign of trust…trust that the Father will take care of His child.

 

Here are a few other lessons I learned this March.

  1. Taking two classes at once was a big mistake.  By the grace of God, I am getting through it, but May 31 cannot come soon enough.  I finished one class on March 21, but another one start the 28th, so I will finish 3 this semester.
  2. Academic writing is HARD! This is a result of #1.  One of my classes is killing me.  I haven’t had to write in APA format for years.
  3. Fellowship brings life.  I started attending a new small group in February and it has been a joy.  I am so thankful.
  4. I tend to make life decisions out of fear.  This could be its own post but for now, I will just leave it here.  I don’t like this about myself. I think it is a big reason why I have trouble finding rest.

What I Learned in October & a Long-Overdue Reading Update

Another month has come and gone!

Today I am linking up with Emily P. Freeman’s “What We Learned” series.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned in October.

1. I can do anything for a month.

I just finished my first successful “Write 31 Days” challenge. I didn’t write the most beautiful posts, but I set a goal and accomplished it.  I’m hoping this means I can translate it to the next 30 day challenge I’ve set for myself — No SPEND November starts tomorrow!

2. My mom knows me well.

She introduced me to my new favorite game app — Word Bubbles.  She told me I would love it….and I do 🙂

3. Fitbits can be great accountability tools.

In my September post I mentioned I need accountability in order to be successful, especially when it comes to healthy eating and fitness.  I got a Fitbit about 5 weeks ago and it’s really helped me step it up in terms of exercise (pun totally intended).  My favorite feature are the friend challenges – I don’t need to win them, but it helps to have encouragement and a little competition.  We’re all in this together.

And for what I’ve read in the past two months:

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
A Million Little Ways: Uncovering the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
The Heart Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding

Clearly my reading has slowed a bit now that I am in this principal training program, but this still makes 80 books for the year.