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.
“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.
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.