Today is Mother’s Day. Many moms will today receive greeting cards and flowers. Others may enjoy a nice lunch at Olive Garden. Still others may enjoy a reprieve from dish duty for a whole day. Kids everywhere – with the help of well-intentioned dads – creatively honor their moms. I’m still someone’s kid, with three of my own…and I’m glad to take part in some of that honoring today.
There are lessons that moms teach best. I speak as a man who has had a mother my whole life, a couple of wonderful grandmothers, and who lives with a fantastic mother of three. Currently, there are two mothers in my life: my own mom and Sonja, the mother of my children. And I’m thankful for what my mom has taught me, and I’m thankful for what Sonja is teaching our kids. Let me share a few of these lessons with you.
What My Mother Taught Me
- Family Matters…a LOT. When I was growing up, my mom believed most important people in life are family. She still does. Family formed the center of her life, time, decisions and attention. Our family spent a lot of time together. Evenings, weekends, and – importantly – dinners at the table. We let the answering machine take our phone calls during dinners, and made memories on vacations. One time this mama bear even ripped into my brother’s principal for falsely accusing him of some shenanigans. She may have been out of line (though he was innocent), but her actions and words sent a strong message, and I imagine the principal was a bit more careful with his accusations after that.
- Love is Potent. Affectionate devotion to your family provides tremendous security. Related to the first bullet, Mom loved and cared for her boys. In some ways, we were mama’s boys growing up, but in other ways we were allowed to become men. That’s perhaps a story for another time, but one thing that was normal in our home was affection. There was plenty of sin, but there was also plenty of hearty laughter around the dinner table, playing Yahtzee or singing. And though we were far, far from a perfect family, we were secure.
- Music is Powerful. Music is near to the hearts of God and men. My mom was the driving force behind my love for music. She has a beautiful voice, tremendous musical talent, and loves music herself, so our home was always filled with music. I saw virtually every musical known to man and sang bass lines in church before my voice started to change. Today, I value music more than ever, but there’s no question that I owe much of my appreciation of music, love for it and even skill to the musical culture Mom labored to create in our home.
- Generosity is Worth It. Generous people have far more than the sum of their possessions. My parents have never been wealthy, but they’ve always been generous. They’ve been taken advantage of because they can’t tell anyone “no,” and can’t keep from doing everything they can to help others. My mom would give away her last penny to help someone in need, then deal with the fallout afterward. She lives simply and finds real delight in simple pleasures and joys: the laughter of grandkids and a glass of iced tea bring her more happiness than a winning lottery ticket ever could. She’s given away more than she’s kept, and I know that when her sojourning in this world is through, she’ll be remembered for having given so much of herself and her possessions to others. I want to be like that when I grow up.
What Sonja is Teaching Our Kids
- Music is Cool. I’ve never seen anyone experience music like Sonja does, and she has done a great job teaching our kids that music is cool. Like my mom did as I was growing up, Sonja cultivates a musical atmosphere in our home. As a music teacher, Sonja is exacting, discerning, easy to please and hard to impress. She encourages often but is judicious with her compliments; she does not hand them out cheaply. When it comes to our kids, she has managed to strike a fantastic balance between pushing our kids musically without making music odious. She pushes them, then they make beautiful music and love it. She’s teaching them to love music. Just like their mom, my daughters clamor for the harmony parts when we sing as a family. (Joshua sticks to the melody.) Since God values music as He does, I’m thankful that Sonja is passing that along to our kids.
- Forgiveness is Essential for Fellowship. When we sin we damage fellowship. That is true in horizontal and vertical relationships. And wherever humans are involved, sin is bound to creep in. While anyone can say, “Sorry,” Christians need to be able to say, “Please forgive me.” Christians have been forgiven, and because of the work of Christ, we can have fellowship with God and right fellowship with each other. Christ died for the sins that my kids commit against Sonja; if God has granted forgiveness for their sins, then so can Sonja. And she is training them to ask the right way. She is faithful and consistent with that message, tiring though it may be. And I really appreciate that.
- It’s Important to Finish What You Start. Sonja wants our kids to be familiar with the sweet rewards of diligence. She wants them to work hard and be responsible, and is training them to do just that. She sets a good example for them in this, too: When you’re overwhelmed, put your head down and get started…then finish what you start. It’s part of the Sarr family soundtrack.
- Feel Free to Try It All. If Christ is Lord over the whole of human existence, then Christians’ obedient, enthusiastic involvement in all corners and walks of life makes sense! And Sonja encourages our kids to this end. Want to learn to crochet? Go for it! Then teach me! Want to write a jazz arrangement of “Mary Had a Little Lamb?” Go for it, and let me know if you need help with any of the chords. Want to fry delicious dairy-free pancakes? Let me show you how. Want to play soccer and do gymnastics and hit a baseball? I’ll come cheer. And while you’re at it, have as much fun as possible learning how to learn at school, since you’ll be doing it the rest of your life!
Sonja doesn’t always know it, but she is teaching our kids a potent Christian worldview and turning them into effective people. It is my prayer that by God’s grace – and due in no small part to her investment and influence – our kids will become powerful instruments of great use to God…singing, forgiving, hard-working, robust-living instruments for His use.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day, Sonja. And Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of you. Cherish and honor your moms today and always.
Go here to read about Confessions of a Selfish Daughter, Cancer, and a Mother’s Day Charge.
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