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hugs for MomStories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire
HOWARD PUBLISHING CO.Copyright © 1997 Howard Publishing Co., Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter Onenurturing hearts
Cultivate faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love in your children. For if they are growing in these qualities, they won't be ineffective or unproductive, and they will never stumble.
Your Living God
2 Peter 1:5-11 Jeremiah 10:10
You may not realize it, but you are a gifted gardener. Though you may be incapable of keeping a simple houseplant alive, you are an accomplished gardener nonetheless. The soil you work in is not of this world. No! It is the soil of the human heart.
Your children are your fertile field, and in their hearts you have tenderly planted your seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
At times, you have courageously protected your precious field from destructive and uninvited strangers. When spiritual or physical disease threatened, you worked with bleeding hands to free the roots of life from contaminants. You have nursed the wounds left by the violent storms of life. You have struggled through seasons of drought; you have celebrated at the sight of unhampered growth. You have weeded, watered, plowed, and prayed.
In turn, you should know that your labor of love has not gone unnoticed. You are deeply loved and appreciated - not only by hearts you have tended and cared for, but by the God who made you the mother (and expert gardener) you are.
God bless you, Mom.
There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness ... The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way. -Andrew Jackson
I wanted something more substantial to cut. All of the trees on our place were far too large for me to tackle with my hatchet - all except one.
mother's cherry tree
My mother loved all growing things. We had apple trees, pear trees, a grape arbor, a rose arbor, tulips, lilacs, irises, and an annual garden. The Merdocks, who lived directly west of us, had a large cherry orchard. Although they gave us all the cherries we wanted, my mother was determined to have her own cherry tree. Accordingly, one fall we planted (I say "we" because I dug the hole) a three-foot sapling. Mother fertilized, watered, watched over, pampered, and stroked that tree until it was a wonder it didn't die from too much attention. It was amazing how it grew, and in its second spring it actually blossomed and bore cherries - not enough to make a pie - but my mother was so proud of the accomplishment that she nearly burst. She even carried some of those cherries in her purse to show her friends.
We always shopped at the A & P grocery store in Royal Oak. Fortunately for me, just down the street was Frentz & Sons Hardware. While my mother shopped, I wandered up and down the aisles of Frentz & Sons. It was a fascinating place. Great bins of nails, rows of hinges, racks of shovels, balls of twine, smells of feed, seed, and leather goods, and a hundred other items all combined to make it a whole world in itself. Inevitably, I was led to the fishing equipment, then the gun rack, and finally to the knife display case. It was a wooden cabinet with a glass door. I stood for long minutes gazing in wonder that there could be so many fine things to be had.
At the bottom of the knife case there was one item in particular that attracted me. It was a belt hatchet - just the right size for me. It had a leather case that could be strapped right onto your belt for carrying purposes. I began to pester my mother about it. One day she actually went in to look at it, and I knew that my pleading was getting somewhere. It was a long process, but eventually she bought it for me.
I remember going around the yard whacking on things. It was exceedingly sharp. I whacked on old two-by-fours, I whacked on an old crate that had been sitting behind the chicken coop - but it was all very dissatisfying. I wanted something more substantial to cut. All of the trees on our place were far too large for me to tackle with my hatchet - all except one - the cherry tree. As preposterous as this seems, the idea was probably enhanced by my school teacher telling us about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. Since George was quite a hero, the idea of cutting down our cherry tree was an easy step.
I guess that actually walking up and cutting it down all at once was a little too much for me, so I decided to trim it a little first. The result was that I left not a single limb intact. Our cherry tree was reduced to a forlorn looking, tapering rod protruding from the ground. Around its base lay a pile of limbs with the leaves looking limp and sickly.
When I stepped back to survey my work, my conscience began speaking to me. You know, consciences are often the most useless things. When I needed it was before I started, but it was completely silent - didn't help me a lick. It never said, "John, you'd best think about this," or "Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Now, when it was too late to be of any use whatsoever, here it came - full blast. "Now look what you've done," it cried. Pictures of my mother fertilizing and watering, her proud tones as she displayed those first cherries to all of her friends - all flooded my memory and made me feel terrible.
But what good did it do to feel terrible after the fact?
I put my hatchet in its case and wandered slowly into the kitchen. I had studied some on how best to approach this situation and had decided that it would be to my best advantage to open the subject before it was discovered.
"I know a little boy who cut down a cherry tree," I piped in my most cheerful, winning voice.
My mother, busily occupied, replied, "Oh, I bet I know who it was. It was George Washington." She said it so nice and sweet that I was reassured and plunged ahead.
"No, it wasn't. It was John Smith."
Right off, there was a noticeable change in both the temperature and the atmospheric pressure in the kitchen. My mother turned on me quickly, and her voice didn't have any sweetness in it - or light either, for that matter.
"Did you cut down my cherry tree?" She grabbed me by my left ear (she was right handed so her grip was better on that side), and we marched out to the scene of the crime - with her nearly lifting me off the ground, using my left ear for leverage.
I would have gone anyway.
When she saw the tree, she started to cry; and since she needed both hands to dry her eyes, she turned loose of my ear - which was a great relief. It was a sad-looking sight - standing there like a little flagpole - but I thought things might go a little easier for me since she was so sad and all. They didn't. She whipped me with every last limb I had chopped off that tree - whipped me till the limb was just shreds of bark left in her hand. I was afraid she was going to start on the pear tree limbs, but she finally gave out. You know, a person is mortally strong when they're aroused like that, and they also have an amazing endurance. It cheered me some to think that she was using the limbs on me instead of the hatchet.
You know, my mother went right back to work on that cherry tree. She kept right on watering and fertilizing and caring for it. Anyone else would have given up. She willed that tree to live, and it did. It grew and became a fine tree with only a few scars on its trunk - to remind me of my folly.
Isn't it amazing how things will grow if they get the right kind of attention? I strongly suspect that there's a lot of folks around right now who were at one time near to death - like mother's cherry tree - because some thoughtless rascal started cutting on them, but now they're healthy and growing because somebody kept watering and fertilizing and loving them - and they lived.
In fact, I strongly suspect that's what happened to me. Today, I am healthy and strong, with only a few scars to remind me of my folly and some folks' attempts to trim me. And I stand here knowing Christ, because both he and my mother wouldn't quit on me.
She willed me to live. And I live as a result of her love and determination.
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Chapter Twoshaping minds
Your teachings have great importance! What you teach guides your children when they walk and watches over them while they sleep. Your instructions are lights for their lives and speak to them even when you aren't there.
Your God of Wisdom
You may not have a professional degree, but you are a world-class teacher all the same. And you practice your profession on a daily basis - not on a college campus or behind a podium in a marble-floored classroom - but right there in the warmth of your carefully kept home.
While you've gone about the rigorous routines of motherhood, little eyes have watched and little minds and hearts have been shaped for eternity. Your young pupils have learned of sacrificial love as they've seen you take the last and least so others can have more. They've learned to distinguish right from wrong as they've observed your life of honesty and integrity. They've learned about faith as they've heard you pray to an unseen God - sometimes in tears, sometimes with thanksgiving, always with a firm belief that God is real, that he hears your prayers, and that he responds faithfully. They've learned that failure is not final as they've seen you confess your own faults and offer generous forgiveness to others. Above all, they've learned what real love means - it means sharing hurts, hopes, joys, and homecomings; it means staying when it would be easier to leave, defending when others accuse, holding on when you're tempted to let go, and letting go when you desperately want to hold on.
The same lips that have countless times formed the word "Mom," will say, "Thanks, Mom, for your precious teachings. You're the best."
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her. -George Washington
The more I learned, the more fascinated I became with my mother's voice and her moving finger.
learning to read
My mother taught me to read. She didn't mean to - I mean she wasn't trying to - but she did. I do not know when she began the practice, but I do know that, from my earliest remembrances, she read to me every day before my nap - except Saturday and Sunday. On weekdays, my father was at work and my sister at school, so we would crawl into my parents' bed and prop the pillows up against the iron posts of the bedstead - after fluffing them of course. What a shame that modern children don't even know the word fluffing. They don't know it because they don't fluff - you can't fluff polyester and foam rubber. We've added microchip to our vocabulary and deleted fluffing. It was a sorry exchange, and our language is the more barren for it. Anyway, we would fluff the pillows, nestle back into them, huddle very close to each other, and she would read.
What did she read? The Bible of course - what else? It was the only book in our house. She read stories from the Bible.
She was a finger reader.
When I first read at school, I read the same way; but my teacher, Miss Smoky, absolutely forbade it. I told her my mother read that way, and she said it was okay for my mother but not for me. Miss Smoky was very nice - and she meant well - but I'm really glad that my mother's teacher didn't forbid her to read with her finger because if she had, you see, I wouldn't have learned nearly so soon or so well, and I might not have loved it so.
Oh, you may not know what finger reading is. It's like fluffing, I guess. Finger reading is following the words with your finger so you won't lose your place or jump to the wrong line. It makes perfectly good sense if you think about it. In schools, nowadays, we're very concerned with how fast people read. If you can read a thousand words a minute that is absolutely fantastic - and it really doesn't matter if you understand the words or enjoy them or take the time to think about them. You must learn to read them very quickly - because there are so many of them - and if you don't read them quickly - my goodness - you may never read all of them. And reading all of them is terribly important, even though most of them aren't worth much.
My mother was a finger reader. Every day as she read, I would hear her voice and watch her finger as it went back and forth across the page. Of course it happened very slowly - and I didn't know I was learning to read. I honestly didn't even mean to learn - it was quite an accident. I began to associate what my mother was saying with the word above her finger. There were lots of ands, thats, and buts, and I guess I learned those first. It was easy for an uncluttered mind to grasp that it took a long time to say Belshazzar and that it also took a lot of letters. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became with my mother's voice and her moving finger.
One day I corrected her. She either mispronounced or skipped a word - I don't remember which - and I corrected her. She was incredulous. "How did you know that?" she asked. I didn't know how I knew. I just knew that the word she said wasn't the word that was above her finger. I did not know the alphabet - that would come much later in school. I didn't know phonics - I still don't - but I could tell a telephone pole from a fire hydrant, and I could tell the difference between Jehu and Jerusalem. My mother asked me to read, and I did it gladly - slowly, haltingly - finger under the words. With her coaching, I read. Then I read with no coaching, and we took turns. Mom read one day - I read the next.
Excerpted from hugs for Mom Copyright © 1997 by Howard Publishing Co., Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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