Lessons Learned from Mom

     As Mother’s Day approaches, I paused and thought about what I learned from my mother. Honestly, to answer that question completely would require a book or two, but here are some of my most important lessons. 
      FOLLOW JESUS.  Mom is a Christian and believes that the purpose of parenthood is to point her children to Jesus Christ.  Obviously, the Christian faith must be embraced by each individual, but my mother presented Christ at every opportunity.  She read me Bible stories.  We prayed regularly.  I saw her studying her Bible regularly.  She taught formally and informally, how to apply Biblical truth to life.  She is a wholehearted follower of Jesus Christ; watching that deep conviction up close for decades led to my own faith in Christ.    
      FAMILY MATTERS. Right behind Jesus, mom values family.  Her decisions were driven by what was best for our family.  She was an elementary school teacher who stepped away from her career to raise my sister and I.  She re-entered her career when I was in junior high and then much of her salary was saved so that my sister and I could go to private Christian colleges.  We did not grow up with lots of money but we grew up with a fully present and engaged mother.  I realize not everyone has the opportunity my mother did, or would even want that opportunity, but as the direct beneficiary of her priority for family, I am extremely grateful.  She put great energy into our family life.  Holidays were incredibly special events.   One example, was her December Christmas calendars where each day we uncovered a new holiday activity or experience.  Family meals were masterpieces.  My mom values making memories and I have a head full of them.  She is a fount of unconditional love for me.  To think of my mother is to smile.  My sister and I kid her about her “20 questions” as she always wants to know all about our lives.  I’m not that interesting, but my mom hangs on every word.  She is intensely interested in me, my sister, and now our families.  During my childhood, most of our family vacations were to go and visit extended family.  As a result of her values I have the privilege of experiencing deep, substantial relationships with uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins.  She did not miss milestone moments.  A classic example was when I preached my first sermon at the church I served in graduate school; my parents drove three and half hours to hear it.  Her only suggestion was that I should have preached longer; my 30 minute sermon in practice became six minutes when actually delivered!       
     EMBRACE CURIOSITY.  My mother is a perpetual learner.  She never stops.  When we talk, she often brings up the book she is currently reading or the new insight she has found in an old Bible story.  Her mind is like a sponge.  She encouraged questions and always would help us find the answers if she did not know.  Kids today have Google; I had Jana Dickinson!  I know I received the better end of the deal.  It is not uncommon for one of my articles, blogs or sermons to have a quote that my mom has texted or emailed me.  Her mind is insatiable.  Both my sister and I share this quality that was so consistently modeled for us.  Books were considered valuable friends in the home where I grew up.      
     LOVE IS A COMMITMENT.   I remember asking my parents what the key to marriage was on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  They both said, “commitment.”  I said, ‘anything else?” They added some tips but said commitment is the heart of love.  I am watching my mother walk this out right now.  In this season of life my father is 87 years old, his health is not great, and he struggles with dementia.  This is a challenging season but mom is doing what she has always done, love my father.  Just now it takes the face of caregiving.  
     THE POWER OF A FAITH COMMUNITY.  My mother loves the church.  My parents served the same church for over forty years.  They built deep and lasting friendships.  They worked as partners to advance God’s kingdom.  They waded through painful seasons and hung in there.  They were careful to speak positively, yet truthfully, about the church, so that my sister and I did not walk away from it because of painful moments. They showed us what Christian community can look like over the long haul and it truly is beautiful.  
     There are so many lessons I learned from mom but at this moment these five stand out.  THANK YOU to all the moms in our community doing their best to love and guide their children into a thriving, flourishing adulthood.  Even though I am 51 years old I continue to learn from my mom to this day.

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church