Thank You, Mother

If you know the basics of anything, you can learn just about everything.

My mom taught me the basics of life—home economics, cooking, cleaning, ironing, prayer, etc—the essentials that enabled me to leave the nest and become a fully functioning, self-sufficient human being. I’m convinced that knowledge of the basics not only equipped me but gave me the desire to learn more; to think and to ask good questions, and to go farther. I wrote my Mother a letter, like this one, years ago before she went Home. But, gosh, I wish I could tell her again how thankful I am for the simplest things she showed me in life. Even when I didn’t always have her encouragement, the time she gave me in teaching me the basics of life gave me a hunger for more.

And, so, Mother… for the things I rarely said “thank you” for, I thank you, again, now:

  • For putting me first. For carrying me in your womb for 9 months… and in your arms and your heart for a whole lot longer after that.
  • For caring for me when I could not care for myself; you did everything for me as an infant, as a child. You cooked for me, fed me, cleaned me up, dressed me up, took me to the doctor, took me to school, sat with me during ballet and piano lessons, showed me how to tie my shoelaces, and taught me how to do all of those things for myself so I could one day show someone else how.
  • For getting up in the middle of the night and holding a mirror up to my nose to make sure I was still breathing. Or when I was sick— holding my head over the toilet while I threw up. I mean…really. How selfless! How brave! Just the sound of my dog throwing up sends me heaving.
  • For teaching me to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and to sing, “Jesus Loves Me” like I meant it… because I now do! And after decades of studying and teaching the Bible those were the only 2 things I could call to mind during a frightening trip through an MRI machine after my breast cancer diagnosis. I sang Jesus loves me this I know…over and over again. For 45 minutes. I’m certain the technician got saved.
  • For giving me an appreciation for the classics! The times you put me to bed with the promise that if there was a good old movie on later, you’d wake me up to watch it. And you did! You gave me a great love for classic movies, theater, and acting. You didn’t know it at the time, but you were stirring up a passion in me to entertain, to speak, to communicate… and to use that for God’s glory.
  • For giving me lessons in how to iron anything (including a man’s shirt), how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet, how to make a bed with perfect hospital corners, how to hand-wash dishes, wash and dry clothes…and how to kill and dispose of a roach (a way of life one must learn when growing up in Florida).
  • For teaching me how to cook—in a cast iron skillet—and insisting that I actually cook dinner for our family of 7 because you had your hands full with the other 4 kids. Thankfully, I can find my way around a kitchen, and I have yet to wind up starved to death or lacking an answer to, “What’s for dinner?” or “Are there any leftovers?” John, is most appreciative!
  • For literally never letting me stray too far from the sidewalk. For tracking me down at a street party across town at 11:30 PM–half an hour past my curfew, without the use of a cell phone, computer, or social media, and having someone’s mom yell for me that you were on the phone and to “GET HOME NOW” or you were coming over! Not only is it utterly miraculous that you accomplished all of that via a landline phone, but I am quite certain your short leash saved my scrawny neck more than twice—and instilled in me a reverent fear of God…and you. Not necessarily in that order.
  • For encouraging me to eat everything on my plate because, “…there are starving children in Africa and other countries who would love that meatloaf!” And you were right. Your command is the very thing that has motivated me to always ask for a “doggie bag” at restaurants, and to support World Vision and Compassion International.
  • For lovingly disciplining me, because I needed to be disciplined. And because it was, and is, Biblical. It was not abusive; it was love. I know that now; and it got my attention; it taught me respect, and that there are consequences to disobedience. Every child should be lovingly disciplined by a loving parent.
  • For giving me the best piece of advice ever: “Don’t break up with John Tolson!!!”
  • For loving me anyway… even when I hurt you, shamed you, and broke your heart. Forgive me for not always living my life in a way that honored you and Daddy or pointed to Jesus; I have regrets in life, and that is certainly one of them. But as angry as my sin made you, you never stopped loving me. And I know that neither did God.
  • For reminding me over the last 10 years of your life—each and every time you’d end a phone call— “Don’t forget: Talk to Jesus; he’s your best friend!” And I do.

Mother, I could go on and on and on…with a list a mile long. But I will close with this, the thing for which I am most grateful:

  • For YOU… and for giving me life that I did come to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and have loved Him for over 50 years.

My Mother and I had come a long, long way before she went Home with our Lord in December 2020. The relationship we ended with was nothing short of a miracle; we loved one another and deeply respected, admired, and appreciated one another. Though there were still scratchy moments from time to time because, well…He who began a good work in us was still working on both of us— nevertheless, it ended on a beautiful high with Mother and me, both in love with Jesus. I am truly and eternally grateful to God for my mother, Diane, who bore me, raised me, and who never stopped being a good, good Mother to me. I am who I am because of her. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now, go call your own mom while you still can, and tell her thank you.

One More Thing

As I said at the start— If you know the basics of anything, you can learn just about everything… and develop a hunger for more.

What do you have a hunger for? Who or what inspired that in you? What did they teach you or show you, and why?

I believe that if we know the basics of how to read and study our Bible, we will grow in depth of intimacy with our Lord and keep desiring—keep hungering—for more of Him. And that’s what I want to give you a hunger for!

The basics are simply: Get a Bible you can read and understand. Select a verse, or short passage, or chapter. Pray, asking the Lord to bless the time you spend with Him and to show you who He is in His Word. Read the passage or verse over and over a few times; read it in other translations; even read it out loud. Most Biblical literacy is developed through repetitive reading. Sit with it… don’t rush. Think about what you’re reading and what’s been said, and what the passage tells you about God and Jesus. If you seek Him, you will find Him right there in the pages of the Scriptures!

I’d like to give you a little something that I hope will encourage you in the basics of Bible study so that you can come to know Jesus better, love him more deeply, and follow him all the days of your life. Print it out, tuck it in your Bible and use it. I hope this helps you to know God, to love Him, to love His written Word (the Bible) and His Living Word—Jesus! Pray for that! Pray to love God and to love His Word. I still pray it nearly every day. Because falling in love with Jesus is the best thing that can ever happen to us!

More next week—until then, don’t forget that you are greatly and dearly loved by The King. And let’s live our beautiful, ordinary lives like it!

I love you!
xo – P❤️