My mom is an incredible wife. She has loved my dad so selflessly and with great tenderness for almost 25 years. Many women seek her advice on marriage because she truly portrays being a godly wife. She respects and cares for my dad, while at the same time challenging and encouraging him. Her support for him starting the Hope Center is a beautiful example of selflessness and courage. My family always says she is the most humble person we knows because my mom is so quick to admit her mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
The best thing about my mom is just that: she is a mom. She loves being a mom. And she is my mom. When my siblings and I were growing up, my dad would share stories about their dating years and how she would 'steal' babies out of their strollers because she couldn't help herself. That was one of the things my dad loved most about her: she was made to be a mom. All of my childhood memories are full of her loving me and nurturing me. I feel emotional thinking about all the time she invested in us kids- reading countless books, watching our skits/dances, cooking us dinners, rocking us to sleep singing "Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name." My three siblings and I will forever be grounded and secure because of the unconditional love my mom has provided. To this day, she has a stash of fruit roll-ups hidden in her kitchen to give little kids that stop over. (My family is perfectly comfortable with love through bribery ;)
One of the hardest things about being a full-time mom is that your role changes. I'm told it goes too fast. One minute us kids were playing house and then next minute we are grown up and living house. My parents are about to watch their baby graduate from high school and move away. The role of mothering will look vastly different and I know my mom is grappling with the change of not being needed as much. But that is where she is wrong: Mom, I need you now more than ever. I need you to continue to show me what it means to be an excellent wife. I need your advice about friendships and relationships. Annie, Tyler, and Turner are going to need you to help plan their weddings someday (like you did mine). In the future, I will need you to be available when I have a baby of my own and have a million questions. I need you to be the grandmother of my future children. I need you in a different way: to be my friend, my mentor and my role model. Even though things have changed, you should feel proud- because you did your job so well. I guarantee when you stand before the Lord someday He will comment on the kind of mother you are.
So happy birthday mom. There is no one whose life I would rather celebrate than yours (except for Paul's in a few weeks ;)). You have always been my mother, but you have grown to be my best friend. I respect you and the way to pour your life out for others. You continue to invest time and energy in young people. You are just 'enlarging your tent' and mothering with a greater capacity than before. You now nurture dozens of kids instead of four. The whole family will continue to cheer you on. I love you and can't wait to see what the future holds for you. Happy birthday!