Remembering Mom

5 comments Written on May 12th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Catherine Gilliard is co-senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and is a DMin candidate of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) with an expected graduation date of May 2015.

top (1)I remember how hard it was for me the first year that I didn’t find myself in the store in front of the Hallmark cards display reading through the poetic verses written on Mother’s Day cards. I remember reading card after card until I found the one that expressed my thanks to my mother for the sacrifices she made for me. I could never have imagined the depth of these feelings the first time I stood, in this aisle, before these cards, knowing that I would never need to buy another one, ever. That was in 2008. If I had known the card I purchased in May of that year would be my last, I would have wanted it to be about the ways my Mom’s faith has influenced mine.

This year, I have walked with many of my friends and colleagues who have joined me in this circle of remembering our Mom. I started once again to think about how God used my Mom to strengthen my faith as a guide and model for me of how to be a witness and a vessel of God’s mercy and grace.

I thank my Mom for the ways in which she modeled her dependence upon the Holy Spirit. As a young child, I never knew the details of the problems she faced but I always knew Mom was going through something when I heard her singing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” from the kitchen. And now in my times of personal crisis I find myself singing these words in the kitchen and finding new hope in God’s promises.

As a teenager, I remember times when the choir would sing, “How Great Thou Art” and Mom would cry, almost weep sometimes as she sang along. I never understood why this song brought people to tears. Now, when I sing this song during worship I have a much deeper understanding of what their tears were actually about and I find that I too can no longer sing this song without tears flowing.

Whenever I watched my Mom pray, she came before the Lord, transparent in her conversation and confident that once she left her concerns there, they were being handled. She had faith that God would take care of it. As I kneel in prayer, or walk out a prayer, or lay on the floor crying out to God, I am reminded of the faith of my Mom and also the faithfulness of God. I too rise up from years of answered prayer with a confidence that God is able to take care of everything that I bring, every confession I make and every crisis I face.

I don’t remember a Saturday morning when Mom wasn’t at the food pantry, or tutoring students, leading Girl Scout cookie sells or being a Boy Scout troop leader. I can’t remember a Spring Break when she wasn’t on a bus taking students on college tours and developing relationships with admission and financial directors at colleges across the country. She was investing in the dreams of the next generation. As a child I often didn’t understand why I had to share my Mom with so many other people. And yet I can’t remember a time when my Mom wasn’t there for the important things in my life. She was not there for everything, but for the ‘firsts’ and the meaningful events, she was always there. At her home-going service, I remember the testimonies of hundreds of people who gave thanks to God for the ways in which she altered their family’s future and I was so thankful for her commitment to her call.

As a parent and pastor, who often needed to be away from my children when they were younger because of ministry and call, I am now blessed by their testimonies now that they are all adults. They often talk about the ways they’ve had to share me with others and now they understand why. I learned the art of living a sacrificial life through the model and witness of my Mom. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, is there a memory that you can share about how your Mom has strengthened your faith and witness in surprising ways? Join me in remembering the faith lessons of their lives and celebrating the ways their example have influenced you.

These women were gifts to us from our loving Father in heaven. even though the time was much shorter than I ever expected I am so thankful for the years we had together. Their legacy lives on in each one of us who juggles family and call. The years go by much too quickly and your children will soon rise up and call you blessed. Happy Mother’s Day!

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5 comments “Remembering Mom”

This is lovely Catherine. Thank you. My own mom still lives, almost 94, in a dementia unit nearby at The Samarkand here in Santa Barbara. She was my spiritual model/mentor/guide during those formative years . . . and beyond. Still, from the shadows that remain, she sings hymns. This Mother’s Day, we sang the 1st verse and chorus of “Trust and Obey.”

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Diana – It is beautiful to know the power of God’s Word to give way to song from our spirits in seasons when the mind struggles. Such a beautiful gift to us from God. Catherine

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Thank you Catherine… thank you.
My mom is beautiful and good and strong… and I love her very much.
And I would like to share about my Nanna… who modeled the very strength of God to me…
My Nanna prayed for me everyday of my life until I was 40years old and she passed into the arms of the Lord.  She carried Calla Lillies at her wedding, I carried Calla Lillies, she saw the world from 40,000 feet, seeing the whole of the extended family, seeing the whole of communities, seeing the whole of people’s lives, seeing the whole of our humanness.  Nanna taught me that I am less than no one, and better than no one, and in this I am beautiful… In this we are all beloved by God regardless of any human brokenness. She was physically disabled by a neurological disorder and served as a nanny to many children including her great grands well into her eighties.  I was crushed by a horse, her example kept me moving through 8 years of excruciating pain and 8 more years of continued very difficult recovery. I weep as I write this… in remembering her beauty came form Daily, LONG time with God that enabled her to then live Long days with people… beautifully… Peace to your memory Nan… I love you

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So beautiful Mary! Thanks so much for sharing. Catherine

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I so resonate with your experience at the card display. I had that experience 42 years ago when my Mom died. She was 46 and I was a very young 23. When my Dad remarried I was back at the card display – but looking for a different kind of card. By then my life had taken some very dramatic turns; I wonder where life would have taken me, how God would have called me, how I would have responded, had my mother lived. My mother taught my siblings and me to pray. She converted to Catholicism after marrying my Dad and played a key role in making sure we had 12 years of Catholic education. It was by her teaching that I knew, at a very young age, that Jesus died for my sins. She taught us to pray and demonstrated serving the church and giving to God. She provided a foundation; God built on that.

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