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THE JOURNAL

10 Things My Mother Taught Me

Mom and me at Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. 2018

One of God’s greatest gifts to me is my mom. For some time when someone would compliment me, I would say, “It’s because I had such a great mom.” Value exists in pausing to recognize how you come to develop thoughts and actions. I am grateful to have been raised by the best mom.

While a thorough list would be extensive, I thought of ten of the most meaningful things that I learned from my most amazing mom.

1. Pursue God daily with Bible reading.

Some of my early memories are of my mom reading her Bible, talking to God and singing in her time alone with God before the day picked up speed. She didn’t know I was watching. I was always watching. Aren’t all kids watching? They watch more than they listen. Often it is harder to act instead of speak. While she demonstrated consistency and substance in her personal relationship with God, she also took time to show me as a young girl how to develop my own walk with Him. Yes, it was time consuming for her. It might have even been boring to work with a young child on simple truths and a simple process. I am grateful that she took the time. I am grateful that she regarded me with value in this way. I am grateful that I received her instruction. As an adult and even now, I grow when I hear her enthusiasm for the Word of God and hear what she is learning. She established a pattern of spiritual hunger in me and gave me tools to grow.

2. Pursue God daily in private worship.

Some people are just stunned when I talk with them about the idea of worshiping God when they are alone with Him. I am stunned to think you could practice corporate worship well if you don’t. Worship is a vertical recognition of the holiness of God. Worship is a reverence for His god likeness. Worship is a sincere pouring out of love for a God who choose us first when there was nothing lovely to choose. Once you practice worshiping God when it is just you and Him, your heart will just soar. I can’t explain it. if you haven’t tried it, just play loud worship music when you are alone and sing along very loudly! Let your heart and mind communicate with God directly.

3. Talk to God out loud. 

Think about this. People frequently say that they do not hear God speaking to them. If you read the Bible outloud, you can hear God speaking to you. His Word is available anytime you make yourself available. Think of all the things you offer your attention to in any given day. How we spend our time, what consumes our attention and how we spend our free time speaks to our true love. Another profitable spiritual habit is to talk or pray to God openly. Pray audibly. It is powerful to read His words out loud when I am alone. Try it. God is eager to join you in an ongoing conversation.

4. Pray for people immediately when they ask for prayer.

Don’t just promise to pray and then walk away. Stop. Ask if you could pray for that concern right now. What could be more sincere and caring? Just think, this pattern would mean you really will not forget to pray. Place your hand on their shoulder. Pray with passion. Be prepared for these opportunities. Mom was so intentional in memorizing verses. She often spoke an appropriate verse in her prayers. For nearly two years, I have been working intently on my prayer life. Through specific verses, liturgy books and prayer books, I am growing in the depth of conversation with God. Spiritual growth is an ongoing journey.

5. Love others before myself.

Unselfish choices require action that is opposite of human nature. As I have practiced servant likeness and volunteerism, it has proven true that being the giver is a greater joy than receiving. Our privilege is to be the hands and feet of God. In numerous situations serving with my children, I have communicated that I recognize the risk of being close to those we are serving. When we travel for mission trips or work here domestically, we often press into crowds that most find unsettling. However, God asks us to represent Himself physically. We must reach out physically to demonstrate His love. This means choosing others over self. My mom spent her adult life in rural areas and often physically demanding places where she worked as a missionary. I walked beside her on those dirt paths in the villages and rain forests. Her life story is one of generous, selfless giving.

6. Do any job with excellence. 

Since my work represents God, I must keep to a standard of excellence. This is not be be confused with perfection. Doing my personal best brings the contentment that I have done all I can do. Initially, it requires planning and prayer. For me this means evaluating my motives to ensure they are properly directed. It means preparing ahead along by gathering resources and people to do the anticipated task well. This idea compliments the old adage, “If is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

7. Loyalty

As I have matured and my experiences widened, I have become painfully aware that loyalty is a rare quality. On the first date with my husband, we bonded over stories of our friendships. We discovered that both of us invested heavily in friendships and family. Years later I began to recognize that the quality we admired in that first meeting was loyalty. Loyalty means speaking well of others. Loyalty means knowing the yuck about someone, but always remembering that it is their story to tell, not mine. Loyalty is being the friend that is considered a vault. Loyalty is sharing the best about those you love in front of others even though you could betray them by sharing an unflattering truth. Loyalty is purposefully sharing the strengths of your family and friends when you are in a conversation. Loyalty is speaking up when a conversation is targeted at someone who is not in the room. Loyalty is being present in celebratory times as well as hard times. Loyalty is thinking well of those close. Loyalty is not holding on to relationships with toxic people, but being forever reliable to those God places in our lives to grow us and for us to grow.

Loyalty is building community with kindness and hospitality. Loyalty is work. Loyalty is worth the cost.

8. Invest in people, not things

Each day offers choices. This concept really does not need explanation. Actions identify my heart. Am I spending time taking care of possessions or accumulating stuff? Am I only consuming? Am I devoting time to regular purging of my schedule and possessions leading me to more purposeful living. I often pause and think through how I have used my day. Was the day well spent? Did I ask God what he wants me to do with my day?

Time is a commodity. Time is a gift. Time is an investment.

9. Be a supportive mother-in-law

I love that she really loved my husband. I have learned to love my son-in-law well from my mom. The truth is that my husband, Tim, is easy to love. However, it always made me happy that my mom and husband enjoyed each other’s company. All five of my children were delivered by cesarian section. When my mother would come to help us take care of the new baby, I would often go to bed before Tim would finish talking to my mom. Through so many years of doing life together, they have laughed, shared honest conversation and spoken well of each other. The mutual respect they shared led to a great friendship over the last 30 years.

10. Forgiveness & Hope

My mother is a gentle soul who is generous and loving. She wants me to live as a whole person striving for spiritual maturity and a healthy emotional state. Since I naturally tend toward justice, I struggle to forgive when someone has not asked for forgiveness or does not seem to have any consequences. Recently my mother reminded me that I need to forgive an individual for wronging me even though I had not been asked for forgiveness. I knew she was right. She reminded me to start by saying out loud, “I forgive you, _______.” Then pray for the offender. God teaches us to forgive multiple times. The Biblical principle points to forgiving others to the extent that I have been forgiven. When I study what the Bible says about excusing others in this way, it is also clear that my act of forgiving is just as much for me as it is for the other person. It is in these moments of mother retraining daughter that I am grateful for such interactions. There is hope for me to learn and grow. Hope for the letting go of the feelings inside that trap me and steal my joy. Hope of living life to the fullest. Hope of being like Christ by being free of resentment, grudges and revenge. Hope of a life lived with generous kindness that offers forgiveness even when it is not deserved. Hope of a life lived much like my mom’s life.

I love you, Mom!

Mom at 18. One of my favorite pictures.

comments +

  1. Bronwyn Mattos says:

    Leah, words cannot express how beautiful a portrait you have painted of your wonderful mother and my friend. Thank you for sharing this. Much love and thanks. In Christ…

    Bronwyn

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