It would be impossible to overstate the profound impact my mother has had on my life. She is an incredible human being in her own right, apart from who and how she is as a daughter, mother, widowed wife, grandmother, godmother, treasured friend. She grew me in her body, kept me alive, and introduced me to Jesus. And those are just the highlights of how she has helped me be a person alive in the world. I love my Momma. So much.
She would also be the first person to tell you that she didn’t do it alone. And she wouldn’t just be talking about Dad. When it comes to raising babies, you need all the help you can get. And I was raised by a four-square gospel choir of women.
My mother, my grandmother, my great aunt Lu, and my godmother were the four evangelists of the good news of being a girl in our family. And they had their hands full in raising me. Each of them had their own way of relating to me–and each of them showed me how to love things about myself and our family that were often hidden in plain sight.
It would have been easy to insist I stay in the playroom with my godmother’s boys and my own brother, and I did that much of the time, usually by my own choice. But there were magic days in their kitchens while things were being sliced and diced and made ready to share, magic days in the sewing room or Aunt Candy’s Crown Vic, or Aunt Lu’s kitchen, or around the dinner table after everyone was full and happy and the men had retired to the television–and if I was quiet, I heard stories no one else knew. That usually happened at Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Easter.
But my favorite nights to listen were those long and lazy summer nights in my grandparents’ backyard. Surrounded by the honeysuckle, and serenaded by the bug zapper, they would talk on and on into the long gloaming of Central Texas summer. Sitting there, in my swimsuit or cut-offs or a silly slogan or concert t-shirt, I heard them preach the gospels of their own lives–about miracles from Jesus, resurrections of relationships, Good Fridays, Easters, first dates, burying babies and husbands, dances in barns and back pastures and lakesides, Elvis and Jack Kennedy and the Beatles and John the Revelator, and how to get to the old family cemetery where so-and-so is buried. They extended me such grace by letting me stay there, tucked up in my mother’s lap, or at her knee.
Mommas and godmommas, grandmothers and great-aunts, you teach us so much with your stories–and the way you love nourishes us in our bodies and souls. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep your train of thought when your precious ones are excited and want to interrupt and ask questions.
Thank you for not kicking us off the porch, or sending us back to the pool.
Thank you for teaching us with your own love how to preach the gospel in the story of our families.
Whose overheard stories of faith shaped your life?