Memories (For My Mother’s 75th Birthday)

Mom, your grandson Paul went down in our family history for the prayer he prayed one night after going to your house in Moore: “God, I thank you that I got to go to Grandma’s house today, and that I got to eat ice cream, and smash bugs on Grandma’s porch!”

Well, I have my own favorite memories of you, Mom:

— One of my very favorites of you is one of the first that I can ever recall: that of you reading Bible stories to me in our house in New Mexico. I can’t really remember a time when I had not heard Bible stories from you. It reminds me of how Paul could write to Timothy and say that he was “mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” and that “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 1:5, 3:15)

— Perhaps one of the most important memories I have comes from just a little bit later, when we were attending a church in New Mexico. One Sunday it came time for the invitation, and I saw a number of my friends going forward to respond, so I started to go forward too. You stopped me and asked me why I wanted to go down front. I said that I wanted to go because some of my friends were. You said, “Shawn, you don’t go forward because other people do; you go when God is really speaking to your heart, and there is something that you want to do.” So I did NOT go forward to make a premature “decision” that day, but I was saved later when the Lord was working in my life. I have shared that testimony many times as an example to parents of how important it is for them to be involved in the spiritual lives of their children.

— A favorite memory of how you helped me in school was when we lived in the Ferguson house on 29th Street and I had to write a poem. You did not do the work for me, like a lot of parents would, because it is easier to just do it for the child, but instead I remember you helping to give me some guidelines and ideas, and then letting me struggle and work through the arduous creative process that ended up as this poem — I don’t know if you remember it, but I can still quote the first part of it to this day: “In days of old, when knights were bold, young Arthur was the king. And Arthur’s dear was Guinevere, a table she did bring. ‘Twas round and oak, and round it spoke a-hundred-forty knights.”

— You gave me what I consider to be one of the great pieces of advice ever when I told you as a young teenager that I thought I was being called into the ministry. You asked me how I envisioned myself in the ministry, and I said I saw myself up on a stage, preaching to people. You said that ministry was not being up on a platform preaching in the spotlight, like an actor on the stage, but that it consisted in caring for PEOPLE. That was a word that I have always benefitted from, and I think that many others who are thinking about going into the ministry would benefit from that perspective as well.

— We often think of “big” pieces of advice like that as some of our greatest memories, but sometimes it is just a “little” thing that sticks out: like the time I was a poor college student, and you took Peter Brown and I out to the “all you can eat” Mexican restaurant, and we chowed down. You didn’t have a whole lot of money yourself at that time, but we were really grateful for that big meal after several weeks of eating cheap boxes of macaroni!
Your generosity towards us will always be remembered — whether it was for a meal like that, or helping the kids with college, or even your recent offer to help when I was stepping down from the church in Moss Bluff. I am grateful that God is providing for us (and hopefully I won’t ever have to take you up on it! 🙂 but the fact that you offered to help is something that I will continue to treasure as a memory of your kindness and love to me, and which has typified your life for the past 75 years.

As others of your children and grandchildren share their own memories of you during your special day, I hope that one day — perhaps as you look back from your 100th birthday?! — that you will consider this your 75th birthday to have been one of YOUR favorite memories!

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About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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