5 Things I learned from my Mom

5 Things I learned from my Mom 
by Joel Howard

I share these with the world as I share them with you - they are that good :) - Love you Mom!

I. Conversation with God is important
II. Smiles and laughter are important
III. Marriage is holy and important
IV. Children are so, so important
V. Serving the Church is important

I. Conversation with God is important : I remember it like yesterday.  My mom brought me back a journal to the bedroom where I was waking up. She had written my name on it, it was a notebook, just like the many I would use at school in my upcoming 12 years of grade school.  I was 7 years old and starting 1st grade.  

She told me to write, 1. What I did during the day, and 2. What I learned from the Bible.  This has been profound to me in the ways I have seen my prayer-life's structure in the 3 decades that have followed.  And I think this model of prayer will probably be mine in use until the day I die!  The bottom line, is my Mom told me to 1. Bring my day - my thoughts, concerns, joys and fears, before God and pour them out to him (Ps. 62 - Pour out your hearts to him!) and 2. Apply scripture - the word of God - to those very fears, hopes, dreams and decisions pending.  In teaching me to journal, my mom taught me that God is important - that I should converse with him daily.  

II. Smiles and laughter are important - I remember my mom always told us as a family the stories of her being a smiling, laughing girl.  Really, not much has changed - and to me that's a good thing.  My mom and dad were always fun. Really fun.  I think this transferred over to me big time - I always loved to be silly - sometimes too silly.  I get that straight from Mom (and Dad).  Now that I am a teacher, worship leader, husband and dad - and homeowner, and all the other majorly serious roles I play, I am drawing back on the importance and value of humor to keep me human, sane and mold-able. Not that I could ever become not-human, but my "serious" side would often want to do so.  Mom (and Dad) taught me, as in a passing-down of values, that silliness is seriously relevant!

III.  Marriage is holy and important - My mom has always loved my dad.  Its challenging to think of a time I never saw that lived out.  I think I am more like my mom than I realize - and my wife of 7 years will tell me that constantly.  But I am never disappointing when my wife compares me with my mom.  I think I actually lift my chin up and strut my shoulders when she does.  And this point is one of the reasons why.  Mom taught me to care about many people, but she taught me that the most important person to be faithful to is my spouse.  Now, I have not been perfect towards my spouse and my imperfections list is sky high.  But the determination I now have to press into a more holy, God-reflecting marriage came supremely from my parents and here specifically, my mom.  Thanks to her, the bar has been set in the heavens (really high) for what a loving spouse can be. 

IV. Children are so, so important - The daily text I never fail to get is from Mom.  In fact, if a day or two go by without a text from her, you know I'm going to place an unannounced call to check in with her life!  Why is that relevant to this point?  Well, because I am my mom's child!  And she taught me that children are so, so crucial to life and caring for children is the elite job!  Yes, she was in children's ministry and exhibited that value there, but long before she ministered to kids by the dozens, she was caring for me.  From birth to adulthood, my mom has never forgotten me.  Isaiah 49 ("Can a woman forget her child? ... and have not compassion on the son of her womb?") makes me tremble as I think about God because to me, based on my mom's life towards me, the answer is: No!  A woman could never do so, Jesus!  

V. Serving the Church is important - Matrimony, parenting, family - those are all themes of this review of my mom's life.  And, well, Paul calls the Church the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5) - a mystery that marriage helps to unpack.  So it is no question then that my mom's love for her spouse, for her children and for others, would translate likewise into love for Jesus' spouse - the Church.  I could not count the overtime hours that my mom poured into the churches we were a part of over the years and throughout the nations.  Ecuador, NYC, Illinois and NJ, now PA.  Even as I speak, I have no doubt in my mind that the Church of Christ is on my mom's mind.  I have learned this value from her. 

I think the song that she taught me that sums up the Christ-exalting and God-fearing values my mom instilled in me is one that I recently recorded and dedicated to her. I share it now here again.  

Thanks mom for teaching me that conversation with Jesus, keeping it real (and really funny!), loving my spouse, caring for kids, and loving the Church are values I should cherish and pass on to others myself.  I will never forget these treasures you have passed on to me - and the sacrifice they took to achieve! 

- JH

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