the best thing my mom gave me

she taught me how to love people.

in my elementary years, i watched up close because i had no choice.

i had to go with her to church and got to see her teach and lead and serve.

i had to be in the car when she picked up some girls and their yard smelled of pigs because that was their family livelihood. and they needed a ride.

i had to sit around the table and listen to the missionaries who were living dangerously in hard places around the world.

i had to practice my piano at the nursing home because mom said the residents needed a song.

i had to say hello when i was spoken to because people matter.

in my childhood years, i was just always with her and she was always doing this. it's who she was.

i thought it was because she was a pastor's wife, but i met other pastor's wives and they weren't like mom.

i thought it was because she was trying to earn cool points in my small town. that wasn't it. you had to be born and raised there to get those points. and she wasn't.

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in my middle school and high school years, she didn't change. i changed. i didn't need rides anymore. i was more involved at school and my church activities weren't always her church activities. those rare moments when i was paying attention, she was still loving people.

in my college years and young twenties, i thought back to the simple life my mom lived while me and my sisters were home. i thought it was too small. i didn't see it as far-reaching. i knew she wasn't afraid to go over and care for those who lived on the other side of the tracks. i knew she was a powerful prayer warrior for people all over the world. i knew she had traveled globally and was involved in an international organization that was sending Christians out all over the world to teach the Gospel. but i still thought it simple. i still thought it containable.

then i got a job.

then i found myself needing love.

then i was living in another state and was looking for someone who was loving people like mom.

then i had kids of my own.

then i started paying attention.

then i remembered.

i remembered the best gift my mom had given me.

she has become everything God wanted her to be: a lover of people.

she was living her dream. she wasn't make any money doing so. she was okay with dad being the breadwinner and not having that extra cash for exotic vacations or a brand new car. she wasn't thinking small at all. her capacity to think and love and care and nurture and give and provide and serve were without boundaries. her love was uncontainable.

she was the happiest person on earth. i was waking up to this beautiful reality.

and with my now "grown up" mind, i replay those moments with her in my childhood.

she was doing such messy work. mom substituted for teachers who needed a break. she treasured moments with people double her age because they made each other laugh. mom took forever to walk around the block because she had to check on every neighbor who was outside. she knew every office receptionist by name because she cared. people who spent time with her would unload their life story because mom listened really well. she was loving such hard-to-love people. she wasn't expecting anything in return. she knew and still knows now that her reward can't be found on planet earth. she rarely got pats on the back. she seldom got back the money that she let someone borrow. she cared deeply for the people of our hometown. she would carry their burdens and stay on her knees in prayer for their needs. she kept giving rides and filling up the car with gas. she did all of this without complaining to us about it.

and she never, not once, neglected the four closest people to love. that was a non-negotiable.

and it's a gift that keeps on giving. she learned some from her mother, but then mom took it to a whole 'nother level!

if you could see what she's probably doing today, she hasn't changed. she's loving people.

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happy mother's day, mom.
we'll never know how far-reaching your love is. and you're not trying to measure it. 
but just know from my perspective, it would take more than a football stadium to hold the individuals you have loved. 
keep doing your thing. this world is better for it. 

what is the best thing your mom gave you? next post: how i'm using what mom taught me.