Thanks for Your Godly Influence, Mom!

Janet Zook circa 1950 001It’s funny how the older you get, the more you appreciate your parents. Today would have been my mother’s 83rd birthday.  I wish she was still here for me to talk with, and thank, and ask all of those questions about her life that I never thought to ask when she was living.

I Learned a Lot from My Mom

I learned a lot from my mom.  She wasn’t perfect and she would be the first one to tell you that.  But she loved the Lord and tried to serve Him with every fibre of her being.

Mom taught me many practical things:  make your bed before breakfast; turn out the light when you leave a room; close the door when you come in; work hard; recycle; do your chores first; enjoy God’s natural beauty; don’t fight with your sister. (Sorry sis, I did not do very well with this when we were young. Love you!)

My mother was very organized.  Before her marriage she had been secretary to the president of a company.  Dad with his military background teasingly alternated between calling her the General and Sarge.  Mom was thrifty, kept everything clean – loved to do laundry and hang it outside to dry (saves money and smells better) – kept impeccable finances, and was a stickler for punctuality.

“Look It Up!”

Mom would type our papers for us as long as we had the piece word perfect and would dictate the entire thing to her as she typed.  No composing on the fly for us and absolutely no help with spelling.  “Mom, how do you spell ____?”  “Look it up. The dictionary is on the coffee table.”  Now to my childish mind that did not seem logical.  How can I look up how to spell it if I don’t know how to spell it?  Well guess what?  Not only did my spelling improve, so did my vocabulary and skill in using resource materials.

She had a whole stable of these pithy sayings she would throw out when we were trying to wheedle our way out of or into something.  “Mom, can I do (something ridiculous or dangerous)?”  Then I would make the big mistake of saying, “Everybody else is doing it.”  She would shoot back, “If everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too?  Of course not.”  And then to ensure we had something profitable to occupy our time she would add something like, “Now go weed the garden.”

Spiritual Influence

The biggest influence mom had on me was spiritual.  My mother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 29.  It threw her life and marriage into a tizzy. She tried to find herself by studying with a cult but my dad sensed something false in it and forbade her from continuing.

In His providence God placed Christian neighbors on both sides of our house.  One day while chatting over the hedge, our neighbor lady told mom that she needed the Lord.  Mom started going to church with this lady and trusted Christ as her Savior from sin.  She started taking my sister and me to church with her, and one Sunday after church mom lead me to the Lord.

Mom’s illness was severe and though she was very careful and very regimented, it was extremely hard to control.  While her illness limited her at times, it never defined her.  Mom’s practice was to be church for all of the services.  Even as she struggled with the effects of cancer in her last years, Mom was in church until she could no longer go anywhere.

Saved to Serve

During our growing up years my mother served the body of Christ.  She would teach Sunday School, host neighborhood Bible clubs, teach VBS, entertain missionaries, help in ladies groups and serve in the choir.  After my sister and I were grown, Mom began selling Tupperware.  At one time she was number eight in sales for the entire US but always clearly told her co-workers and clients she was doing the job to help support missionaries and would never hold a Tupperware party on Wednesday nights or Sundays so she could be in God’s house.

Small Spaces – Large Devotion

The biggest example my mom left with me was that of devotion to God.  Our house was tiny.  Aside from the living room, kitchen and laundry area there were two little bedrooms, one very small bathroom, no attic, and no basement.  My dad worked shift work and would often be sleeping while the rest of us were awake. Finding a place to be alone with the Lord was a challenge for Mom.  She bought a narrow, short bookcase and placed it in the bathroom.  In it she placed her Bible, devotional books, hymnal and missionary prayer letters.  Mom would rise early, lock herself in the bathroom and meet with the Lord.  Every day.  Without fail.

A godly heritage.  A godly example.  A godly mother. I’m grateful for this blessing.  Much of this was done before my father ever professed Christ.    Thanks for all you taught me mom.  I pray that we can have the same kind of influence on our children. Wish I could tell you face to face……..someday I will!

Memories of a Godly Mother

Mother’s thin hand lay weakly in mine as she drifted in and out of consciousness.  Very soon now her earthly end would usher her into the presence of her beloved Saviour.  What a blessing her life had been to me these past forty plus years!

The week prior to her home going was a time of joyous fellowship for mom and me.  The ravages of both cancer and treatments had left her unable to perform even the simplest task and her damaged body required unnatural amounts of sleep.  During her waking moments Mom recounted her salvation experience and reminisced with me as I recalled kneeling with her one sunny fall afternoon while she lead me to Christ.  As she slept in a hospital bed in my childhood living room, I reflected on her faithfulness in her daily fellowship with God and her concern for the souls of others.

To the very end her weakened voice was full of praises to the Lord for all His kindness and goodness. Until no longer physically able to leave the house, mother made it her main priority to be in the Lord’s house and with God’s people.  In her last days, God’s people came to her.  Former Sunday School, VBS and Bible Club students lined up to thank mom for her influence in their lives.  My heart thrilled as I heard over and over from others how she had encouraged the discouraged, lead sinners to the Lord, supported missionaries, prayed for the lost and ill, wept with the bereaved, and rejoiced with others at God’s blessing in the midst of their trials.

In her final hours Mother’s testimony of joy in the midst of intense suffering remained strong.  Neighbors, business associates, church family and friends phoned or stopped by to say goodbye to her.  Mom was careful to thank each caller or visitor for his concern, then asked how they were doing.  Learning of a special burden or need she would earnestly comment, “Let’s pray about that,” and she immediately would launch into prayer.

My mom, Janet Auhl, finished her earthly course on June 7, 2003, unwavering in her faith to the end.  I praise God for such a godly mother.  I miss you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!