Hey Momma. This is my first birthday without you here on the earth. I am deeply moved by how hard this day has been for me.
This is the first year that I have not been able to hug your neck, tell you I love you, and say, “Thanks for being my momma.”
When you were only seventeen years old, you found out you were pregnant with me. “I had to quit the drill team when I got pregnant with you,” is what you always told me.
As a young girl, I never gave it a thought what you were saying when you shared with me what you gave up as a teenager––to be my mom.
I remember how I felt the first time you shared with me how, unbeknownst to my teenaged father, your own mother had pressed you to have an abortion but you refused. But, it never occurred to me what courage it would have taken for you to stand up to your mom––to decide to become a teenaged mother.
I remember you told me about the day I was born. You said you were alone in your hospital room holding me because my father had to go back to work. He was also very young, so the job hanging garage doors that he’d recently landed was the blessing he had been hoping for to help him take care of his little family. However it also meant he had to return to work immediately after my birth. How hard that must have been for him–and you. As I was crying unconsolably, so were you. How overwhelmed and alone you felt.
My favorite part of that story is when you shared with me how at that very moment, a woman you had never met happened by your room.
Whoever this kind woman was, she stopped, entered your room, and began to speak kind and encouraging words to you. And then, as the story goes, you said the woman took me in her arms, and began to pray for me––and for you.
You couldn’t remember what the woman had prayed, only that her kindness and prayers brought you peace. Oh how I wish I could thank this woman for being the arms and words of Jesus to you––at such a vulnerable time. And for praying for me as well.
You and I grew up together, mom. You fought with your kids more like a sibling than a parent. You pretended to be a grown up––when I looked to you for answers.
As an adolescent, I remember thinking, “She should have it all together, after all she’s a mom.” Never considering the reality that you had recently been an adolescent yourself.
You never read books about parenting. You never went to parenting classes, or sought out godly mentors. You just worked really hard to be the mom you wanted to be. And, when you messed up you didn’t give up–on yourself, or on me.
Only after I became a mother did it dawn on me how young you had been when you became a mom. And only then did I realize how much you sacrificed to raise me––and my siblings.
With fresh new eyes––a mother’s eyes, I found a new respect for you and the price you paid to become my mom. After that realization, I made it a point every year on my birthday to thank you for having me––and for raising me.
Four short months ago I sat at your bedside––for the last time. I thanked you for being my momma––for the last time.
And in your final hours I was incredibly moved to hear each of my children tell you how much they love you, and thank you for having me––their mom.
It was then that it occurred to me; none of my precious kids would exist had you not determined to have me, so many years ago. I almost felt like I was watching a clip from the movie, It’s a Wonderful LIfe.
As I tearfully watched you grasp the reality that you would soon breathe your last breath, I joyfully watched my son (over FaceTime) pull out his guitar and sing to you:
“All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give… I surrender all… I surrender all.. .All to thee my blessed Savior… I surrender all.”
And then, before Brandon said his final farewell to you, he said, “I love you Mamo… Thank you for having my momma. And thank you for teaching her about Jesus.”
Yes, Momma… Thank you for having me, and thank you for teaching me about Jesus. Thank you for taking me to church and exposing me to Truth. I learned about Jesus from the Bible stories you read to me.
I decided to follow Jesus at one of the summer camps you had to make personal financial sacrifices to provide a way for me to attend. (Funny how as a child it never occurred to me what you had to give up so I could enjoy so many of these things I then took for granted.)
Six months before you breathed your final breath, God allowed me the privilege of watching you genuinely surrender your heart to Jesus. As I sat by your bedside, you tearfully realized that the religion you had trusted in for so many years, did not have the power to change your heart––or to cleanse you from your sins.
I wept with you, as you cried out to God in repentance, I can still hear your sweet little voice “Father, forgive me. I want to be your child.”
Oh momma, how could we have known that in only six short months from that day you surrendered to Jesus, you would be standing in His very presence worshiping around the Throne?
Oh how glorious it must be to look into the eyes of our gentle Savior and sing “All to Jesus I surrender” for all eternity. How I long to stand next to you one day and join in that chorus.
But for now, I will remember the price that was paid by our Savior so your eternity with Him is secure. And, I will remember how God chose you––a mere teenaged girl, to be my momma so many years ago.
And when I remember, I will thank God for the courage He gave you––to forsake your carefree teenaged years, to be my mom.
And I when I meet a teenaged mom, I will hug, pray for her and her baby, and tell her how grateful I am for your selfless courage. And encourage her that one day, her child will come to realize all that she gave up to answer the most glorious calling of all time––the ministry of motherhood. And she will have no regrets.
Momma, “Thank you” doesn’t express fully my gratitude. But, I know you know. And, one day soon… when I see you again, I’ll hug your neck and take your hand and follow you all around the streets of gold so you can show me all the glories of heaven.
I love you Momma, see you soon.
Rhonda Stoppe is a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author. As the NO REGRETS WOMAN, Rhonda has more than 20 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets. Through humor, and honest communication, she helps women build NO REGRETS LIVES by applying sound teaching from Scripture. Rhonda appears on radio programs, speaks at women’s events, MOPs, and homeschool conventions throughout the nation. Rhonda Stoppe’s book Moms Raising Sons to be Men is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy: And Other Myths Wives Believe is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages.
Publication date: May 23, 2016