I knew her from an early age. A very early age.
The earliest wisps of my memory contain laughter and her love. At four, I vaguely remember her cradling my head on yet another ER trip to stitch a chair surfing wound. At seven, she cried when the doctors proved her right and me half deaf. Now, I still hear her love over the phone and in-person through each of life’s new adventures
Chronicling stories of mom would take pages. While she certainly warrants a book someday, time constraints me on sharing less.
Five things I learned from my mother, Susan Bryan
Mom taught me to love God’s word
If you explore the home office/TV room at their house, you’ll discover a line of old Bibles. Open one up, and you will find a tattered kaleidoscope of highlighters, notes, and drawings. She fills her Bibles as she studies them.
My mother’s health has always demanded she take plenty of time to rest. Headaches and piercing back pains have and continue to mark her life. While she rested, she regularly read the Bible.
While I followed my dad’s path through seminary to work in ministry, I followed my mother’s passion for God’s word.
Mom taught me to love reading
Growing up, mom read multiple books to the three of us each night. Then, a few years later, mom and dad read epic chapter books such as the Lord of the Rings, or the Dragon King Trilogy. Night after night, we explored the world in our books.
When we learned to read, mom started a book club in our family. She ordered boxes of Christian fiction books. As we read through our library books and earned points, she would reward us monthly with new books.
She rewarded us reading books with more fascinating books.
Today I consume learning through books. Mom opened up the world to me through love for books/reading.
Mom gave me a worldview with God in it.
I aged into school while we lived in North Dakota. I remember attending kindergarten and first grade. Then, mom and dad decided to homeschool us. They believe homeschooling offered the best way for us to understand God’s world. They wanted to show us God in his world from math to science, to English, and more.
Homeschooling didn’t happen out of academic arrogance but parental conviction. Mom and Dad owned their responsibility for raising us to know God.
I studied with mom as my teacher from second grade to my junior year in high school. Using an incredible curriculum, I got a front-row view of how God affected every aspect of life. I loved watching my faith woven through all of life. This perspective still shapes me today.
Mom taught me the value of listening
I have countless memories growing up just talking with mom. She has a gift for questions and listening. I love sharing my life and stories with her.
I also have countless memories of mom getting people to open up and share with her. People very quickly know that she cares and her capacity to listen to solves problems.
So, if I ever do a great job listening to you, I’m judging imitating her.
Mom taught me to create beautiful experiences for my children
Every road trip she packed fun grab bags for each child. Our homeschool days always had breaks for chocolate Pop-tarts and book reading times. School easily got pushed to the weekend if too much snow called for our fort building attention on Friday. Mom loved to architect joyful experiences for us.
Honestly, Ashley (my wife) does this far more than I do. She marvelously creates terrific experiences for my two. Yep, every day, I still remember all the fun I had with my mom and try a little harder to create joy for my girls.
These words don’t do justice to the mom I have. I feel like the French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi who cast around for years to find the perfect model for the Statue of Liberty. He finally realized his mother alone symbolized all the grand ideas he wanted to show. And so he sculpted this woman for hundreds of millions to admire, his mother.
I probably won’t sculpt any statues in my life. But if I live out just these five principles, she taught me I would make something grand. And when I do, I’ll see my mom and all she taught me.