Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Erin: Happy Mother's Day!

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:25-30

Dear Erin,

Today is the fourth year our family will celebrate you on Mother's Day. As cliche as it may sound, you have deserved to be thanked and praised each year more than the last! And this year is certainly no exception. This is your first Mother's Day since being diagnosed with breast cancer and I have never been more eager to thank you and praise you for who you are as a mother than I am today!

Because of your chemotherapy treatment a few days ago, you went to bed exhausted last night and will probably wake up feeling even more exhausted this morning. But here's where Proverbs 31:25 will kick in: you will get out of bed with strength, dignity, and even a laugh. Why? Because you are looking forward to temper tantrums, dirty diapers, and a husband who doesn't hear you half the time? No. You will get up with strength, dignity, and a laugh because you love your family more than you love yourself. In my selfish materialism, I could easily give you a list of ten things I'd love to get for Father's Day. But when I asked you what you wanted for Mother's Day, you said, "Some new backyard toys for the kids!" But that's just you. You would never put your own needs or desires ahead of your family's - even when your body is fighting the effects of chemotherapy.

And idleness (Proverbs 25:27)? Forget about it. Not once - even in the past six months - have I ever heard you say, "I just need some time for myself." Not once - even in the past six months - have I ever heard you say, "I deserve a break." Sure, your cancer has slowed you down. You haven't been able to do all that you normally would. There have been days when you have had no choice but to be idle. And why were those days so hard for you? Because you felt sick? No. Because you couldn't enjoy a good meal? No. Those days of "mandatory idleness" were so hard for you because you couldn't care for your children. Your love for them and desire to care for them is so great that not even cancer could shift your mind from thinking about them to thinking about yourself.

There are countless reasons your children could "rise up and call you blessed" and I could praise you (Proverbs 31:28). I could make a long list of the ways you have surpassed all of the other excellent women of this world (Proverbs 31:29), but as you know, I am a skilled rambler and people would probably stop reading my list eventually. So I'll cut to the chase. The number one reason you should be praised is not your charm (though I find you quite charming) or your beauty (though I find you incredibly beautiful - I've always loved the bald look!), but the fact that you fear the LORD (Proverbs 31:30). Ultimately, I believe it is not your love for me or our children that makes you such a wonderfully selfless and steadfast mother, but your love for God. It is your desire to honor Him above all others, your desire to bring Him glory and not yourself, and your desire to reflect His love that you love us so very well.

So today, on this Mother's Day, know that your husband and your children want to shout your praises loud and clear - not just to you, but to everyone! We want your name to be known, honored, and praised at the city gates because of you are a woman marked by strength, dignity, laughter, industry, and love for the LORD. You have been that kind of woman all the years I have known you, and you have continued to be that kind of woman in these past six months - even on the hardest days. We love you and - with tears of joy - we thank God for you.

Happy Mother's Day, Erin!

Matt, Lydia, Hudson, and Samuel