Besides passing down her love for Jesus, I count it as the most valuable gift she gave me.
When I was in second grade, our teacher asked us to write an essay. She told us the best one would get an award. I’ll never forget the day that I walked home with the prize — a strawberry-shaped notebook with a miniature pencil.
It might as well have been a Pulitizer. My mother was that proud.
I always loved to write. She was the first voice that said, “You’re good at it.”
In middle school, my mother would stay up late with me and help me edit and type my English papers. These were the days before computers, mamas — and even before White Out.
She would sit hunched over her old Smith-Corona typewriter using little white sheets of correction paper to painstakingly correct each and every error so my writing could shine through.
When I started high school, my mom went to the newspaper advisor and told him that I was very talented and that I really needed to be on his newspaper. She did the same thing when I started college.
You didn’t argue with my mother. Or, at least you didn’t win.
My mom and I had a complicated relationship. She loved me deeply, but her untreated mental illness caused her to withhold some things from her children that we really wanted and needed from her.
Since her death from cancer nine years ago, God has helped me let go of the hurtful stuff and see her through eyes of grace. This has enabled me to appreciate the many good things she gave me, despite her limitations.
As Kathy and I were preparing for the She Speaks conference this week, my mind kept going to my mother. To the seeds of confidence and encouragement she planted in me and watered along the way.
I was humbled and encouraged to hear, “You’re good at this,” from different people this week at the conference.
But you were the first, Mom. And I wouldn’t have come this far without you.
When I get that Pulitzer, I’m dedicating it to you.