My Other Mother

motherI have had the privilege of having some amazing women influence my life.  One of them I had the privilege to call “mother” because she gave birth to me and raised me.  She introduced me to God and was the first to demonstrate what a strong devotional life should look like.  To read more about her you can click on the following post title and read “God’s Voice Sounds Like My Mother” from this series.  She continues to be an example of a woman who spends time with her Lord daily.

I also had the privilege of calling Von Schreier “mother.”  She was my mother through marriage.  Though she passed away over a decade ago, her life and words continue to form who I am.  To read a piece that I wrote in honor of her for this series click on the following title, “My Barnabas Was a Woman.”  I had learned so much from her and in many ways she was the original “blogger” long before blogging was a thing.  She had a list of over a hundred names that she would email with words of encouragement.  Because she is no longer with us, however, I asked my wife Stacy to write a post last week about something both she and I learned from her mom; you can read that post by clicking “Seeking Stillness.”

Both of these women had and have a tremendous influence on my life.  There is, however, another mother that was a mother to me.  A woman not related to me by blood or marriage — JoAnne Tschetter.

JoAnne was “the pastor’s wife” when I was growing up, and she did that well, but she was SO MUCH MORE!  To me, she was the director of Vacation Bible School, she was the story teller, she was the infectious laugh in the room, she was a source of never ending encouragement, she was a second mother to me.

In Romans 16, Paul has a list of people that he thanks and sends special greetings to in the church of Rome.  This is more than just a list and you can read a post that I wrote about this by clicking “More Than a List” which introduced the series “Celebrating Women.”  In this list Paul names numerous women, and one of them he addresses as “mother.”

“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother,
who has been a mother to me as well.”
Romans 16:13

No one could ever replace my mom, and I cannot imagine having a more encouraging and godly mother-in-law than, Von.  There is something, however, that is amazing about having someone that invests in you like a mother when there is no “blood” or “marriage” responsibility to do so.  For me, that was JoAnne.

JoAnne died from ALS in 2000.  I remember visiting her fairly late in her battle against ALS.  She couldn’t walk and she struggled even with speech.  What I remember about that visit the most, however, is that she still encouraged, she still told stories, she still was the infectious laugh in the room.  She was an amazing woman, and the legacy of her encouragement, storytelling, devotion to God, and so much more lives on in the lives of her own two daughters and others of us to whom she was also mother.

Like Paul, I’ve had the privilege of some amazing women in my life.  And like Paul, I’ve been blessed by a woman “who has been a mother to me as well.”  I’ve asked one of JoAnne’s daughters to write tomorrow’s blog about the idea of “second mothers.”  If you’ve been following this blog, you have met her already she wrote “The Power of Childhood Friends.”  You will be blessed by her post tomorrow as many of you were by her previous post.

I would encourage each of you this weekend to thank the women who have been “mother” to you.  If they are no long living, continue their legacy of care and nurturing by reaching out to some else that needs encouragement.

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March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

God’s Voice Sounds Like My Mother

March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  1) to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me, 2) that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life, and 3) that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life.

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My mom, Sadie, with my daughter, Elizabeth.

“Train up a child in the way he should go.”  Proverbs 22:6

It seems appropriate to start this series, which thanks the women who have influenced me, by saying thank you to my mother, Sadie Bender; after all, I’ve known her my whole life.

She wouldn’t want to write this herself, and to be honest, when one of her friends shows her this, I am going to be in trouble.  She would prefer not to draw attention to herself, but I need to begin this series with the woman who began it all for me.

Mom is an amazing woman.  There is much that I could say about her.  She is unbelievably generous, a model of hospitality, and devoted to her family.  Her care for our father during his “long good-bye” with Alzheimer’s was truly heroic.

But for me her lasting legacy, is that she spoke to, and at least in my case, for God on a regular basis.

Mom read her Bible and prayed daily.  She demonstrated that time with God was not a drudgery to be accomplished but an opportunity, a  privilege, a joy. Because she listened to God, she became, at least for me, the clear voice of God in my youth and continues today.

I still recall the proverbs — some from scripture and others she had heard from preachers or clipped from Christian magazines — she would repeat to me and my brother.   Her voice of correction and encouragement was quick to respond to our transgressions, our disappointments, and our successes.

But where Mother spoke most clearly into my life was her “shrewd management.”

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 16:1-13 of a shrewd manager.  A man who knows his time with his employer is coming to an end shortly, so he goes out and makes ridiculous bargains with others — seemingly against he own best interests at least for the short run.  He does this in order that after his termination he will have a benefit, a dividend, a reward.  And so he does.

It’s a strange parable; one that we can get hung-up asking the wrong questions or trying to get it to say things it doesn’t.  The point, however, is one that my mother understands well, one that she tried to teach, one that continues to speak God’s voice into my own life.

Time is short on this earth — our employment here is quickly coming to a close, so invest wisely — so wisely that it looks ridiculous by the world’s standards.

My mom invested and continues to do so in ridiculous ways.  Through her generosity and hospitality I hear the voice of God reminding me to care for the other, the poor, the less fortunate.

For me, however, the height of her ridiculous investment comes down to a $0.50 wager.  Mom was our Sunday School Superintendent when I was in elementary school.  If you are unfamiliar  with the term Sunday School Superintendent, she was responsible to lineup teachers for all the children’s programming on Sunday morning at our church.  Before, we would break into age appropriate classes, the superintendent would conduct opening ceremonies — we would sing, celebrate birthdays, and take an offering.

As part of opening ceremonies one day, my mother made a wager if you will — anyone who would memorize the books of the Bible would get $0.50 cents.  For me, that was real money!  At Tesky’s Gas Station, that would still get you a bottle of Pepsi and a frozen Snickers bar!  And so began my knowledge and love for the Bible.

A ridiculous investment.

$0.50

A life changing moment!

Thanks, Mom, for that $0.50.  For investing in ridiculous ways.  For being the women that first spoke God’s love into my life and continues to do so to this day.