To young children, my mother is magical. She is that rarest kind of human being who understands their language and is able to engage their hearts and minds in life, art, books and music. My earliest childhood memories are warm and full of beauty because of my mother. She created a predictable, calm, loving daily schedule. She fed me homemade, healthy food every day and made sure I got plenty of sleep. She fostered a strong imagination by filling my room with plenty of books, paper, colored pencils, markers and pens. In my entire life, my mother never once raised her voice at me or disciplined me in anger.
The gift of my mother is a treasure I have sometimes taken for granted. But if there is one reason why I still have intact faith today, I attribute it to the prayers and gentle, wholesome example of my mother.
It was only when I was outside my mother's loving protection that I experienced the detrimental effects of our unhealthy church. It's a strange paradox and a testament to the strength of my mother's love: that even in an oppressive environment, love still flourished.
When cancer struck my mother in 2003, it was the worst possible timing. Our church had just imploded, my dad had stepped down as a pastor (thus losing his income), I had left the church with my family and our entire extended family had blown apart. It was the darkest year of our lives.
But instead of becoming bitter or angry, my mother's faith grew ever stronger. She bore her sickness with grace and humility. She once told me that she had completely surrendered herself to whatever God wanted from her--no strings attached.
Something changed in my mother and something changed in me. The suffering we experienced softened our hearts and we found a mutual source of new hope: my children, her grandchildren.
In the end, my mother was given a second chance at life. She has been cancer-free for six years, thanks be to God.
And the extra time we've been given together is a priceless gift I will forever cherish.
Thank you, Mom, for your unconditional love.
Happy Mother's Day, Mur! I love you.