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MOTHER!!

In this humble attempt at describing my Mother, I will be unashamedly subjective and clearly biased. I cannot but be otherwise because no one in my growing years nurtured and encouraged me more. Nor has there been anyone who affirmed me in my early adult years like Mom. What I owe her is incalculable. I know about some of her faults and weaknesses, but they seem minuscule to me because her positive influence on my life and direction for my life overshadows any of those.

Influence. Is it because of her direct input, verbally, that guided my life? No question, there was impact from that source. When I entered puberty, it was Mom I would go to, to have questions answered that I dared not ask anyone else. In the last years of high school in the evenings, because Dad got up early and worked hard and therefore got to bed by 9:00 p.m., Mom and I spent many of those evenings talking. I got to hear her heart and discover some of her persistent interests. She commented about my hair at one time, saying that she thought I had good looking hair. I recall, after I attended Bible College and university, that she bought me a little wooden rectangle that had the word “BRAIN” painted on it. I was a little embarrassed by this gift but on the other hand it told me that Mom saw potential in me. She believed in me.

More influence. Is it because I am genetically a part of Mom that I have some of the same interests and tendencies? Observation can leave a powerful impression on a child, too. In this case I believe that her interests in music, art and reading likely were passed on by genes. It is hard to explain my inward drive any other way. What I know of her music ability is that she loved good music. She had a reputation from her teen years as having a rich alto voice which she used in choirs and as a soloist. All of us children had some musical ability. Her artistic bent probably found expression mostly in crafts. She especially loved pottery, I remember. Her strongest drive in the arts was her love for literature. What seems amazing is that she would read anything, classical literature and popular magazines, always having several things going: magazines on the living room table, a book on the sewing machine or on the dining room table, or a pamphlet at her bedside. Almost all of it was fiction. Where she got a hold of Dickens and Dostoevski I don’t know, but those names were quite familiar to her.

I theorize that Mom was driven to all that fiction reading to be able to keep her very active mind alive and stimulated when her surroundings and daily activities were no challenge to a spirit that loved to do some soaring.

Her life is an example of one who found avenues for pursuits and personal growth when circumstances dictated otherwise. She, inwardly, must have had a very different approach to life than Dad. The hardworking, pioneering spirit of that generation of Mennonites required everybody in the household to contribute with much energy and time just to make a living. So, too, for Mother. Raising seven children, washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, keeping the children clothed, at times even stuking in the fields, or milking cows, did not leave much energy or time for personal projects. This is what amazes me. Mom found time to read. That interest never left her. Dad, I believe, was pretty much consumed with the practicalities of life. He threw himself into those with gusto. Mom, on the other hand, took a few minutes here and there to nurture the inner spirit. Life, for her, had more in it than food, shelter and warmth. She lived out the Bible passage about being content with such things as you have. Competing for the visible to impress others was not her thing. She may even have had a touch of the artist personality, which traditionally implies living in a dream world and forgetting about the nitty-gritty of life. She did what had to be done. I never noticed great concern that everything in the house had to be spotless or exactly coordinated. Life was busy enough and complex enough without such perfectionist, time-consuming goals.

I need to say a few more things about Mom’s nature. Aunt Helen, her sister said about Mom that she was always up-beat and happy. And aunt Helen probably would have noticed that, since she tended to be the opposite. “Still waters flow deep,” and I would add, “serenely,” as well. Mom’s struggles, whatever they were, seldom became public knowledge; inner struggles, I mean. She appeared to be at peace with herself, with the world and with the Lord. She felt badly about being overweight, but other than that Mom presented herself as self-confident. Her faith had depth, was real, vital, but had no element of brazenness or pushiness. It became evident especially in how she treated people. There was no bias toward anyone, neither in age or race, as far as I could determine. Care and love was her natural response to needs. She loved to visit with people. Communication came naturally to her. She made everyone feel at ease. And further, I see myself as very fortunate to have had a Mother who knew how to live by the cherished values of the past (biblical) but who was not in bondage to traditions which so often cloud the truth of the scriptures. That might explain, also, why she was non-judgmental. She respected people for who they were. Her personal transparency contributed to many women being comfortable with her.

Although Mom’s inner life was seldom evident, her health problems were all too obvious. She suffered much pain and discomfort. Exactly the order in which the disabling conditions came on her I don’t know. In Rosemary, she began to have an expanding neck. This, of course, was a goiter problem. There were numerous trips to Bossano to see the doctor. To me, it seemed like a long time before the right medication was prescribed after which she recovered quickly. Then there was her excruciating encounter with arthritis. The pain she endured could not be hidden. Her fingers and wrists were partially disfigured. She took many aspirins a day to relieve her pain. Then, which came first I also can’t recall, diabetes or kidney problems? Her kidneys began to fail because of the large number of pills she ingested each day. She eventually had to have one kidney removed. Then diabetes had its effects, too. In the end her heart began to fail as well. This slowed her down a lot. And that was not good for her weight problem. Many things worked against each other. She was a sick lady.

I conclude, though, by remembering her as someone who portrayed a mild sophistication. She was in control of how she related to and responded to her circumstances. Never was she crude or off-handed. There was both a gentleness and regalness in her spirit. There were things important to her beyond the essentials of everyday. She managed to deal with practical matters but regardless of how demanding they were, she held her composure and retained her interests. She modeled to us that we are not shaped by our circumstances. We are known by how we respond to our environment. She remained true to her faith, herself and yet gave to the significant others in her life what they needed. What a fortunate person I am to have had a mother such as her. Thank You, Lord!

Don’s mother influenced him and her other six children to also follow God and allow Him to direct their lives. Through her influence in her children’s lives, passed on to her grandchildren and grandchildren and grandchildren, countless poor people and orphans have been helped and thousands of people around the world have been brought to a personal relationship with God. She loved God and was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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If you also want to be empowered by God, the Holy Spirit and multiply your influence for good, I encourage you to prayer the following prayer by faith:

“Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”

If you prayed this prayer, we at Thoughts about God would love to hear about it! We could send you information to help you discover more about the Spirit led life. To contact us, fill out the form below.

By Don Krause

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