For My Mom on Her Birthday

Today is my mother’s birthday. I haven’t written in a while but today I felt impressed to honor my mom here. Something about this year,… Maybe it’s the loss we’ve experienced and watched others experience. Maybe it’s being on the heals of Christmas when we reflect on the greatest Gift ever given. I just want to express how grateful to God I am for my mom.

I have always gotten really choked up when I listen to Taylor Swift’s song Best Day. My secrets out, I do enjoy listening to Taylor from time to time. I was playing it this morning and even though her story and relationship with her mom is different than mine, in this song she encapsulates the mother/daughter bond in a really sweet way. She communicates how much she looks up to her mom, how her mom has always been there for her, and how beautiful and strong her mother is. I would say the same of my mom on all those points. I don’t know if Taylor’s mom knows Jesus but my mom does and that makes each of those points all the more meaningful and beautiful.

Being the only girl and the youngest my mom really doted on me. She might even say too much, but I’ve always felt loved, cherished and adored in healthy proportions. And now as an adult I’m very aware of my mother’s unconditional love for me. This year in particular, in the wake of losing our baby my mom has been there for me in all the ways I’ve needed and at times when no one else could know I was in need. The Holy Spirit works through her to lift my eyes to Him. She’s one of the very few that sees my deep, dark, ugly places and she graciously, tenderly, gets my gaze back on Christ. She doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear, or what will make me feel better. She is honest, she speaks Biblical truth when I need it,….which is all the time. Her love helps me understand Christ’s love.

I look up to my mom more than any other woman in the world. And I know that my even being able to say that is a gift from God; A great testimony of his goodness and graciousness in my life. I could probably write a book on all the ways her life has positively impacted mine but I want to hone in on one thing.

My mom loves Jesus SO much. We all know that there are, actually, a lot of people that say they love Jesus. But very few people love Jesus so much that it changes their whole life. Jesus has changed my mom’s life and she is unashamed to live it for Him and His glory alone. Her love for Christ affects her marriage. My mom has shown me that a deep, lasting, Christ exalting marriage comes from abiding in Christ. It comes from living out truths like 1 Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition….in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” She’s shown me that the best thing we can give to our children is not only the knowledge of Gods great love for us but a life lived in response to God’s great love. My parents are 62 years old. To God be the glory, my dad has a thriving ministry at a local church and my mom recently “retired” from the orthodontics field. They could easily coast through the rest of their life as empty nesters, enjoying the fruit of their early labor. But instead of slowing down in this race they are picking up the pace, running harder. Recently they have responded to the call of caring for orphans and became foster parents. And it’s not duty for them, its delight. Of course it’s hard, but my mom shows me every day that even in the hard, when we obey God’s Word, and live sacrificially for others, we “count it all joy”. My mom’s joy and her example make me want to know and love Jesus even deeper. Oh how I pray my children say the same for me one day.

And this is the thing that makes my mom’s example so powerful, so Christ exalting. She doesn’t just talk about her love for Jesus, she lives it. When she’s encouraging me and speaking the truth of His Word, I don’t just acknowledge it and quickly forget it. I hear it and I want to live it, because she is living it. I see her joy in Christ and her joy in sacrificial love for others and I want to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” with her. My mom gets Hebrews 12….. “fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the CROSS….”  She gets Philippians 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And I am ETERNALLY grateful for this.

Mom, your godly example to me is truly priceless. There is nothing on earth that can measure the value of the spiritual inheritance that you have passed on to me. I love you so much, I still want to be you when I grow up 😉 and wish you the happiest birthday.

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The Scrooge in me….

There are some of us that around Christmas time we feel a bit like a “Scrooge”. I was having a conversation with a friend about how excessive Christmas can seem in light of, not only the abundance we live in but also the real reason we celebrate. We struggle with buying more when everyone we know has enough. Every Christmas I fear we’re missing the point (again) because we are distracted by shopping, spending, wrapping, traveling, cooking, party hopping, gift exchanging, on and on and round and round the crazy Christmas carousel we go. “How do you stop the madness?!”, I wonder. The Scrooge in me wants to cry out “That’s it! No more presents! We don’t need one more item, one more gift card…..” (Quite frankly, I’m tired of storing and cleaning all this STUFF.) Yet the Spirit of God in me says, “Calm down dear daughter. I am the Giver and I delight in giving good gifts. It’s why I sent my Son.”

Here are a couple things the Lord has reminded me about gift giving around this time of year:

1.) Think about who you’re giving to and where they are at in their relationship with Christ. Do they even have relationship with Christ?
2.) Will not giving gifts to others represent Christ well? Will they understand where you are coming from? There is a place for moderating our giving but it may be reserved for those closest to us, in our home, who know our motives and are joined with us in them.
3.) It’s not about you. God may be impressing and revealing things to us that others are not able to see yet. Don’t let legalism creep in and snatch your opportunity to generously love someone closer to Christ.

With all that being said I want to share with you a couple ways that you can give gifts AND be intentional with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider them gifts with a greater purpose.

Christian books are always a great gift, in my book 😉 pun intended. Butter your reader up to their new literature with a 10 dollar Starbucks card. Can’t hurt 🙂 I highly recommend anything by Francis Chan, he spans generations with Crazy Love and Forgotten God and also has one specifically for married couples, You and Me Forever. I’ve read them all and they are solid. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman is good, as is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I am in the middle of reading Radical by David Platt and plan to make it a Christmas gift myself. 🙂 If you are uncertain about a book ask someone who is mature in their faith that you can trust to point you in the right direction. Just because it’s in the Christian section of Barnes and Noble doesn’t mean it’s Christ exalting.

A good study Bible from Christianbook.com would be a most excellent gift for someone new in their faith journey. If in your budget have it imprinted with their name to make it extra special 🙂 I know Bibles can be expensive but honestly,….. can you even put a price on the Word of God? I don’t think so.

Katie Davis Majors is the author of Kisses from Katie and founder of Amazima ministries. You can learn more about her through the website. This *link* will take you to the store where you will find handmade items that benefit and empower women and children in Uganda through the ministry of Amazima. I recently purchased an Alice bracelet. Not only do the proceeds serve a greater purpose but consider the story behind the bracelet when it’s worn and how that in itself can point others to Jesus. Win Win 🙂 Not to mention it’s very cute!

You can find gift items at other places, Lifeway is one suggestion, where the proceeds benefit foreign missions or a specific cause. We just have to be intentional in finding these kinds of gifts.

So for those of us who struggle with the Scrooge complex…… let us overcome it with joyful, godly, prayerful and purposeful giving.