I won't be home for Mother's Day this year. Sam and I will be sharing at Wayside Community Church in Mercer, PA that morning. But I wanted to say a few words about my mother.
My mother, born Ruth Ann Nemoga, was raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Without going into detail, much of her early life was sad and somewhat difficult. But mom had a big heart and a desire to do what was right. A wonderful family in the community were faithful to take her to church and, at a young age, my mom gave her life to Jesus Christ.
When it came time for college, mom decided to attend God's Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the start of her senior year, she met my dad--an Alabama boy from a large, loud family who loved Jesus and seemed to enjoy life one day at a time. My mom craved this kind of warmth and belonging. It didn't take her long to fall in love with my dad...and his family.
My parents married and planned to start a family. But it was nine years before my older sister Sonja was born. My mom had dreamed of a large family, but only had the two of us.
Mom and Sonja... way back!
My mom was fiercely intentional about raising kids who honored God. I have shortcomings and regrets in life, but my mother's constant love was one of the things that kept bringing me back, giving me the desire to be a man of character and do what was right. She and my dad had (and have) very different personalities, but they worked together like a team in showing us the love and attention we craved as well as implementing the discipline we often needed. They were strong. They had guts. They provided structure. They built boundaries. They had expectations. And we thrived as young children.
Transitioning to an adult was not easy for me. Discovering who I was as a person... out from under the umbrella of protection that my family seemed to provide... was rough. Some friends thought my parents were overprotective, and perhaps extreme, in some of the guidelines and expectations they set forth. My parents were not perfect at all, but they always balanced their high expectations with love, affection, and loads of affirmation. I never doubted that my mom was proud of me. These days? Well, you just can't shut her up about her kids...
I'm sure some think I'm a mama's boy. And maybe I am a bit. I certainly have dreams of my own, a life of my own, and a distinct M.O. (as we all have, I suppose). But the fierce love and big-hearted compassion of my mother is something I will never, ever get away from. And I don't want to. Her love for Jesus is obvious. Her love for people is obvious. And I simply can't imagine what my life would have been without her.
Happy Mother's Day, Mumma!
"Hey mumma... Whur dem biscuit?" #insidejoke