I have a novel floating around in my head about this picture. Two best friends, the summer of their high school graduation, going to the movies to see “I’ll be seeing you”, a very popular movie of that time. What a different world it must have been then. Slower and simpler perhaps. Harder in some ways, easier in others. I wonder what happened to these two women. Did they stay good friends? What choices did they make that influenced their life? Or what trials came their way, and how did they weather them?
I am left to my imagination with the woman on the right, Ina Lee, but I am very well acquainted with the woman on the left. She is my dear mother-in-law, Kathleen.
Kathleen worked as a secretary for a while after high school, then met a handsome young airman named George. Within a short while they were married. They settled in a small town in southern Oklahoma, and began having children. They were blessed with 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls.
Kathleen may think she didn’t have choices. She would say she was just doing what any mom of that generation did; stay home and raise kids. But her six kids would disagree. She did so much more. She chose every day to put their needs first. She taught them so much, by simply living a quiet, Godly life of service to her family. That is not to say they were doted on, that every whim or desire of theirs was met. No, those kids learned to work hard, to respect authority and by example learned how to serve. They learned joy in simple things because they observed it in their mother. Kathleen’s joy came from being their selfless mother. She learned contentment in the small things of life. Her needs were few, she didn’t need to get away from her kids to rest. Sitting on the back porch sipping tea and fanning herself while watching her kids play was her rest. Her house was not immaculate, but it was always inviting. Her food was simple, delicious and always enough to feed the neighbor kids too. Perfection was not a word in her vocabulary, but gracious service was.
Ah yes, but it is a different world today. A world where women are encouraged to “lean in and lead’ at the workplace, a world in which one might brag about only needing 2 weeks off for maternity leave, a world in which we are consumed with perfection, a world in which we qualify decisions or choices with “What’s in this for me?”. In an ‘all about me’ world, not much room is left for gracious selfless service to our families.
I am a firm believer in the Biblical principle, “You reap what you sow”. Kathleen, along with her husband George, sowed seeds among their children; seeds of kindness, laughter, joy, hard work, integrity and selfless love. Her reward is in the lives of those six children. Those 6 children all became Christians. They all worked to put themselves through college. They are all God fearing, responsible, productive citizens of this world and His kingdom. Those 6 children love each other and love to be around each other, laughter spilling out whenever they are together. Those 6 children, their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren ADORE her. Kathleen, by the life she lived, left a legacy to her children. A legacy not of money or perishable things. She gave herself, completely. She is reflected in their lives. That legacy is imperishable. That legacy was wrought with tireless, selfless love.
Kathleen, I’ll be seeing you, long after you have left this world. I’ll be seeing you in everyone of your children, grandchildren and those precious great grandchildren.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28a
To all you young moms out there who tend to beat yourselves up and wonder ,” Am I a good mother?” To Megan, Stacy, Elaine, Sam, Tonya, Melissa,Becky, Rebecca, Becca,Vickie, Miranda, Michelle, Lisa, Megan K, Keena(you are not so young!), DeeDee, Jessica, Chelsea, Heather, Julie, Kristen, Alison, Katherine, Karen, Lindsay, and to those who will read this that I don’t know; the answer is YES! You are praying for your kids, you are teaching them about God everyday by what you do and who you are. You are bringing them to church showing them how to worship God. You are giving of yourself. You are gonna make mistakes, forgive yourself! And just stay the course! You are doing great!!! (And so are you dads, aunts and uncles!)