Mothers’ Memory Boxes

Today, or Sunday if you are reading this early, we celebrate the woman who birthed us and gave us life. Most of us have or had Mothers who raised us and taught us to be moral, honest, wise, loving, and nurturing. Some were not as lucky and those we hold in our hearts.


I remember when my daughter or my son would bring me a special gift. It may have been a twisted piece of yarn from my crocheting days, or a piece of construction paper carefully cut out with kindergarten scissors (I would be told it was an angel or a car or something) that had no true identity at all. Do you remember when your child brought home a picture of his/her hand trace on a piece of construction paper and decorated as a turkey. Ahh – memories. I cherished each and saved these little tokens (even the rocks) for years.


Just a few months ago, my grandson gave me a yellow cut up piece of paper that said “love you.” He said it was an angel. It so reminded me of his mother’s gifts to me. (I think it said love you but he is in kindergarten and he had cut through a part of it – so who knows). I have it in my drawer and will keep it forever. Whatever the gift, we mothers cherish them so much, and it brings tears to our eyes to receive from our children and our grandchildren any and all types of gifts because it tells us that they truly do love us.


And as they grew, the gifts became more elaborate – a piece of wood with holes drilled in it or a piece of cloth with long ties sewn to it that was to be an apron. And we all received a dandelion flower each spring. I loved to hold it up to my child’s chin and show him how he also turned yellow. “This means you love butter” was the Pennsylvania way it was done. I know this because my mother and grandmother did that to me when I was so little.


These gifts are made with pure joy, pure selflessness, and with no thought of return. These are made and given just for the sake of giving. Maybe that is why they are so valuable to us and a while ago to our own mothers and maybe your mother still enjoys that. Maybe your mother kept a box. Maybe your mother kept a drawer. When you opened this box, or this drawer, you found it was full of her priceless treasures. And my father did the same, I must say.


So what I am getting at here is that as we celebrate Mother’s Day we remember our Mother and all she did for us, never thinking about herself – just keeping us in her heart and safe. There seems to be nothing as precious or as sacred as the gift from a small child. It is especially so on Mother’s Day.


Here is a story from a man that touches my heart. “A sound came from across the hall. It came from a very small child. The first sound he heard was the child crying. This child cried and cried and cried. Then he heard some adults talking outside of the room. It was quiet for a few moments, and then he heard the mother talking to the child. Then came the precious gift – the baby started laughing. Do you remember the laughter of a baby? There is no sound in this universe like it.


That sound touched his very soul. At that moment, he knew everything was all right in God’s world. Have you ever been in that situation when you just know that everything is all right with the world? He knew, in that instant, that everything was all right. He felt such joy in his heart. Remembering your own mother when she tried to make you laugh is a precious gift.


He could not help but think about the mother and how wonderful the mother must have felt to hear the baby laugh that night.


Motherhood is such a wonderful experience! Motherhood can and should be wonderful.


But we also recognize how difficult motherhood can be.


How difficult it must have been to be a Biblical mother. Let me give a couple of examples–one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.


Think about Sarah in the Old Testament. One day, Sarah was sitting in a side room while God’s spokesperson and Abraham were talking. Sarah was listening to the conversation when God said to Abraham: “Your wife, Sarah, is going to have a baby.”


Here is Sarah, well beyond childbearing age. She started laughing. She thought this was the funniest thing she had ever heard. She thought this was impossible.


Imagine, if you can, that you are mature, and at the age of 60 or 70 or 80 or 90, you discover that you are pregnant. Wouldn’t that get your attention?


She is the wife of Abraham. Sarah has been told that she is going to be the mother of a great nation. They describe Sarah as being an elderly lady, well beyond childbearing age. She is going to be the mother of a great nation?


She figures God knows what God is doing, so she sends her servant to Abraham (her husband) and tells him to have children with the servant. He does that, but that was not what God had in mind.


Genesis 16:1-3 (NIV) 16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.


It could not have been easy to be Sarah. She had many trials in her woman and motherhood times.


Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. Consider the difficult time Mary had to have had. First you had the young unwed teenage girl. It is a small town and it is a virgin birth. What would she tell Joseph, an older man – would he believe her? And then she had to go with him, pregnant, all the way to Bethlehem to pay his tax. And to make it even more difficult, her baby was born in a stable.


It could not have been easy being a mother in Biblical times. It is not easy being a mother today. Maybe we, as parents, have not always done the kinds of things that we wanted to do.


When people talk about their children they say, “Oh, I would do things so differently now. It would be so different, now, if I could just raise them again. I made a lot of mistakes when my kids were growing up.” I do not know if you have ever made that statement, but I have said it and thought it many times.


All parents regret some period of time. I am sure you regret some things you have done with your children. It is not easy to be a parent.


If you have some regrets, you might just check with your kids and see what their memories are of that thing you regret. It could be one of the most special times in their lives. Maybe you do not even have cause to have regrets. But if they are there, maybe it is time we do some healing work with God’s gentle help.


I have always regretted that as a single mother I often worked three jobs and had little at home time. I once mentioned this to my now grown children and they saw a whole different view. They saw me as the best soccer cheerleader in the stands. They saw me at every soccer practice and game and at every gymnastics event. They saw me making their favorite dinner and making them eat their spinach. They saw me clean up their illness events and scrub the room. They saw me cry when they graduated from kindergarten, 6th grade, and high school, and even college. They knew that even when they got in trouble, I was always there – even if I had to do the “tough love” act. Even if my heart was breaking at the time, I knew what I had to do. And years later, my son once told me that I saved his life by not bailing him out of trouble and sending him away to rehab. How I cried over that.

Or the time I brought my daughter home from a bad situation she could not get out of. She also looks back on that and realizes how I risked so much totally out of love.  Motherhood is not always jelly beans and roses.


Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV) 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


My point is that our children see things totally different than we do. Where we see regret, they see total love and joy. They knew even then. So, today, let’s all put a smile on our faces and enjoy the memories, the gifts, the love.


The older I get, the more aware I am that there is nothing as precious as family. It is the most precious thing you have in life.


“CNN reported a study that showed that experiences more than possessions bring lasting happiness.”


Watching daytime television reality talk shows can be revealing. This one program was about “mothers and daughters and how the mothers wanted to kick their daughters out of the house, and some had already done so.


Most of these mother and daughter discussions showed that all they really wanted was to get back together, again. There were a lot of regrets there, and they just wanted forgiveness and to bring the family unit back together. Maybe it was time to bring about some forgiveness and some love in that situation.”


Let’s get back to the joy. Let’s get back to that box of memories or drawer of memories, or whatever you have with all those special memories in it—the pieces of this and that, the construction paper with the hand on it, the paper doily heart, even your kids’ report cards.


Isaiah 60:4-6 (NIV) 4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.   5 Then you will look and be radiant,  your heart will throb and swell with joy;…..


Do you remember going through your mother’s memory drawer as a child, do you remember saying, “Mom, what are you saving all that stuff for?” You just knew your mother would bring it out and show it to others at the most embarrassing moment.


What kinds of things do you have in your memory box? Remember the sacredness of the construction paper, the doily, the wood, and the yarn? Remember the sacredness of the children?


So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to acknowledge all the mothers out there. I want to wish you the greatest day in all the world. I hope today is a special, wonderful day for you.


Those of you with children, especially very small children, I want you to do something today. Give thanks for the simple joys of the experiences of life. All too soon, they will be grown up, doing their own things with their own families. Memories are God’s gifts; they can be some of our most valuable possessions So hold on to them, dearly, today.


Mothers know the truth about their children. Those are sacred, sacred people. Remember what Jesus said about them: “To such belongs the kingdom of God.”


So let’s say this prayer for every mother on this Mother’s Day


Let Us look up to God and realize these wishes as we pray:


Today, I wish you small hands made out of construction paper. And today, I wish you hearts made out of doilies. Today, I wish you a child’s picture glued to the back of a wooden block. And today, I wish you flowers made of tissue paper. But most of all, today, I wish you the laughter of a child when you are hurting the most.


If there are any regrets in your life, today, I wish you a love and a compassion and a forgiveness that can only come from the grace of God.


For you mothers, I wish you special God’s blessings on this day. Always, God is there to help you. You have but to turn to God, in thought and prayer, to feel God’s loving, reassuring presence.


As you love with an everlasting love, realize that you are loved with an everlasting love, direct from God. Always, God says to you, “You are my beloved. I am here. I care about you.”


Always, we pray that God’s power is with you and within you; we pray that God’s help is at hand. We pray that you turn to God in prayer and feel an upsurge of faith, and that you realize again that you are not alone; you know that with God, you can do all things.


We pray that you know you are never alone.


“Ever, always, night and day, you are enfolded in the love of God. Ever, always, night and day, you are surrounded by the light of God. Ever, always, night and day, you have your breath and being in the life of God.”


As it says in Psalms 139:7, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”


May all Mothers feel His Spirit upon them today and always.


In Jesus Christ’s name. . . Amen


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