On this day, I awoke with a heart of gratitude for mothers. I am grateful today for my wife, the great mother of and to my children, my 3 sisters who are raising their children, my “other” mothers who have helped raise me and to this day love and embrace me as a son…you know who you are, and I love you. I am also mindful this morning and thankful for my biological mother and the role she played in my life’s journey. My mother in-law holds a special place of love, honor and thanksgiving in my life and mind today and everyday. I am also thankful to God for my Aunts who have showered me with love and support throughout my life. To these women and many more, I say “Thank God for you” and Happy Mother’s Day.
There is one special woman who has defined mother for me, Mrs. Bonnie Jean Terrentine. My mom is is a picture of what the Bible calls “good and faithful service.” Her Strength, Courage and Love are main ingredients in what makes me who I am today. I have learned so much from my mom in my lifetime, and I am certain that more learning is to come. Much of what I value and know about life came to my attention at the dining room table with my mom. As I celebrate this day with her, i’d like ot share with you a few of life’s lessons presented at the dining room table from my mom and her always open Bible.
1. Respect yourself and EVERYONE else!
I grew up in a home where respect for others was not a choice nor a consideration, it was a mandate from heaven! “Yes mom…yes dad” were absolutes in my home of origin. Not because of some napoleon complex my mom struggled with, but because of the foundational belief that EVERY person is God’s child, and therefore deserves respect and dignity…PERIOD. My mother lead by example and required that we look a person in the eye and speak out of respect. She mandated (unapologetically), that we respect our teachers, elders, family members and ourselves. In full disclosure, there were times when I did not adhere to this dining room table lesson. Well, in true Muskegon Heights fashion, my mother found a way (consistently and quickly) help me find the error of my ways through either the “right hand or left foot of fellowship!” For all of you who do not believe in spankings, God Bless, but I am thankful for my mothers commitment to discipline; i wasn’t the kind of kid that was hard-wired for ‘time-outs.’ At the time, the hard head, soft behind approach was not enjoyable, but it helped me to KNOW what was important in life, and I am thankful. Today, I have no issue with being respectful, even when every ounce of my being ‘feels’ like adopting the “eye for an eye” approach, my mother’s dedication to respect has helped me be the man I am today, and I am thankful.
2. Only What You Do For Christ Will Last
My mother believes in God…Period. The lessons at the table were usually taught with an open Bible. MY mother worked very hard to set an example of faith and service to others. Her faith was contagious. No food was eaten at the table with out prayer and a Bible verse (Some of you all know what i’m talkin’ about). No week would pass without multiple visits to 622 W. Kalamazoo Avenue for Bible Study, Prayer Meeting, Sunbeam choir practice, Junior Choir Practice, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, AWANA (ask me later), Tract Distribution…I’ll stop there, i’m having flashbacks! Today I fully acknowledge that going to church activities was not the goal. The goal was for us to get a clear understanding that God matters and God loves in ways that I still don’t fully understand. And because HE matters and loves, so do and so should I. I was taught that sometimes the way I treat people is the full manifestation of God on earth. I learned to be kind and serve others because God may be using me to answer their prayer for help. We were taught that helping and serving humanity was the most important thing we could do with the lives God gave us. For that I am thankful and trying!
3. Family is more than Blood.
Many of you know that I am adopted. One of the most powerful gifts my mother (and father) gave me was the gift of adoption. My network of “family” is large and enriched because I understood at a very early age that familial bloodlines do not have exclusive rights to LOVE. Love is more than a feeling or a DNA test; love is a choice. It’s a choice we make daily. And my mother helped me, through her (and God’s) love to heal my broken heart, and fill in the gaps with a family larger than my imagination could fathom. I am thankful for this lesson. This lesson is not only core to my understanding of who I am, it gives me a capacity to love people…period. I have more “play cousins” than I can handle, but the LOVE is real. Family is more than blood, and I’m glad I know it.
Thanks Mom…for everything. For Faith, For Family and For life…I honor you.
Peace and Blessings,