Last year my mom turned 50, and pretty much the whole year leading up to that, she made it clear that she wanted no sort of party, especially not a surprise party. One of the things I love about my mom is her deep humility—she never wants to be the center of attention. But no milestone birthday is complete without a little love from all the people who matter most to you, so I threw her an introvert’s surprise party and asked her dearest friends and family member to write her letters sharing what they loved most about her and how they’ve seen her grow over the course of her life.
This year as my sweet momma turns 51, I’m sharing that letter with a few updates and revisions. I hope it gives you a better picture of who I am because of her and that you can see little bits of your own momma’s love right here too.
Looking back over the years, I have so many memories—more memories than you have photos, if that’s possible. When I think back on these special moments, which knit together have become our family’s life, I’m struck by your presence most of all. I know you didn’t like having your picture taken (even though you’re so beautiful), but even when you’re not in the frame, you are always there in the memories.
My mom who fell in love with her first baby and couldn’t bear to go back to work.
My mom who loved every school break and made sure her kids knew it, who didn’t understand why some moms complained about having their kids home for summer and couldn’t wait for school to start again.
My mom who played pretend games with me, when you wanted to and when you didn’t want to (but I heard you in the hallway and you were caught).
My mom who kissed every skinned knee and dried every tear, who still prays over my every wound and holds my heart in her gentle hands when it breaks.
Here are just a few of these reasons I’m so thankful for you and a handful of the many lessons I’ve learned from you.
You are the most committed mom and faithful woman I know. You attended every recital, play, football game, and cheerleading competition. You cried with pride at every graduation. You celebrated every accomplishment like it was the greatest thing I’d ever done, which did wonders for my feeble sense of confidence as I found my way in the world. You remained committed to your marriage because of your deeper commitment to Christ, even in the rockiest of seasons. I am constantly in awe of your faithfulness.
You didn’t show faithfulness and do all those mom things because you had to. Everything, everything you’ve done for me, and for Colin and Maddie, has all been in love. You’ve always made it clear that you take joy in us, that you delight in us, that you love to just be near us simply because we’re your children. And in doing so, even before we were Christians, you demonstrated for me the tender heart and the parental love of God the Father. My understanding of the all-consuming love of a parent, the kind of love God has for us, I have because of you. I know I’ll truly understand this kind of love when my baby girl is born this fall, and I know that any reflection of this that I show to her is stemming from a legacy that you passed to me. And, if you loved your kids well, I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with a grandbaby. She’s going to be the most treasured grandchild in the history of grandchildren.
My life has been full of so much joy, but I also had a fair share of troubling times. You let me fail, and I’m so grateful for that. Because every time I failed, you taught me to get back up. Not right away, and not pretending that it didn’t hurt. But in my own time, you helped me stand up, brush off, and decide whether or not I would try again. You never pushed me to be anyone I wasn’t nor forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do (after I had given it a fair chance).
You’ve had more than your share of troubles and trials in life, and you’ve showed me what it means to not be so firm that you crack in half under pressure, nor so feeble that the storm washes you away. You’re that rare blend of gracious strength that bends and withstands the fierce winds and lightning strikes. Your roots are so deep in Christ that even when shaken, you can’t be moved. I will never stop being impressed that you have let these trials grow you into a oak tree, a pillar of faith. I wonder what kind of fruit the same trials would produce in me, and I have to admit I wonder if that fruit would be rotten. You show me a better way every day.
Development and Learning
You have always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to seek out my passions. You bought me books upon books upon books (how big was that library in our playroom?) for every holiday and birthday. I learned to love reading because you taught me to. I remember the hours laying in bed, reading American Girl Doll stories over and over again. I remember one night, before I knew how to read, trying to follow you and mumble along, pretending I was reading the words too. I remember how you celebrated every piece of writing I brought home and believing I was a great writer because you told me I was. I’m so thankful for the time I spent teaching, because it made me feel even closer to your heart and your passions; I felt connected to you through education. But now, I’m so thankful to be pursuing a second career path that connects me to you as well, because I’m using the gifts you have always seen and encouraged in me.
Mom, you are a joy. My life has been so rich and beautiful, and I have been so loved and treasured, because you are my mom. I look forward to the future with pure joy and anticipation, for my kids and your grandbabies to learn from you, a whole new generation of little ones for you to love and influence and take delight in. I wish there was a better phrase in English to express the kind of love I have for you, but I love you, so dearly. Happy birthday.To a mom who faithfully kissed every skinned knee & celebrated love in each moment. Click To Tweet