My tribute to my mom this Mother’s Day is to start my blog. Mom loved writing, too. She wrote stories, poetry and letters. Lots of letters. If you were ever a recipient of one of her letters, you got lots of details and were encouraged by her words.
Mom grew up in a horse and buggy Amish family. Her dad died when she was only 16. Her mother had a survivor mentality and often faced incredible odds to keep the family farm going financially. She also stood up for herself in a culture that didn’t give women much recognition. The men in her church often tried to tell her how she should run her life and that of her family. She gained quite a reputation for being an outspoken woman in her community.
I believe that shaped a lot of my mother’s independent thinking and brought her to recognize that ‘the church rules’ (Audnung) weren’t God’s intent for her and she was motivated to search the Bible for herself to understand who God really was and that He was personal and relational. Her understanding that forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus was the only way to salvation and eternal life – not by being baptized into the church or keeping the church rules, brought her to make some dynamic shifts in her belief system. Changes that sparked rejection from family and friends.
My grandma would not attend my mother’s wedding because she had left the Amish church and she was initially shunned. It was a stinging rejection for my mother. Although hurt, the recognition of what she had gained in eternal value was significantly more than the earthly family rejection she faced. Mom laughingly told me years later that once Grandma realized how nice it was to have a daughter who could have a car, she quickly got over the shunning for the sake of transportation without hitching up the horse and buggy!
Mom taught me so much about the difference between religion and an intimate relationship of knowing God. Although she and Dad were charter members of the Mennonite church that was formed when renewal came to their culture and they were still incredibly strict about the church ‘rules and regulations’, Mom never forgot the rejection that religion brought. Her relationship with Jesus was of utmost importance to her and because of His grace, she valued our relationship above the rules. As the church began to change over the years, she and Dad embraced the new worship music and dynamics of outreach with love. Her heart’s desire was always to be more like Jesus.
When I made the decision to leave the Mennonite church, we talked. Mom and I always talked. We talked about everything. She was a great listener and listened with her heart. I knew she loved me and I knew she was concerned for me, but I also knew that I grieved her with my decision. But we never stopped talking – I wanted her to know how much she meant to me despite my decision to choose more, in a way similar to the way she had chosen more when leaving the Amish church. (To be clear, the Amish church she left did not believe in the blood of Jesus as the only way to salvation; you also had to be baptized into the church and follow the Audnung. The Mennonite church I left did believe that salvation through Christ was the only way to eternal life, but their man-made rules were also given great importance to maintaining that “God standard”.)
Leaving the Mennonite church at that time was leaving a culture, a whole way of life. I hated dressing and looking different from everyone else in high school. I was made fun of and my sensitive nature shrunk more and more into a shell of self. But taking a risk into a big, unknown world outside of the ‘church’ meant leaving friends and family behind and I struggled with it.
When I tasted of the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit, I knew I could never turn back. I was excited to share with my church the discovery that healing was still for today and that the gifts of God’s Spirit were truly still powerful and available in our present world. (I think I might have gotten some of my grandmother’s outspokenness, but the empowering of the Holy Spirit also changed me from being a shy lamb!) The leaders shut me down immediately and I was super hurt by their confrontation. (We have since made peace and I hold no animosity towards any of them.) I went straight home and told my mother about it. Although she probably agreed with them more than she did with me, she believed in me as a person, encouraged my heart, wiped my tears and guarded our relationship with a fierceness that deepened my love for her.
Not everyone gets to have a mom with this kind of relationship. She knew her value could be imparted as a blessing. She let many young women ‘adopt’ her when they needed encouragement. She gave freely of herself in ways that mattered.
She was adventurous – a trait I inherited. She was hospitable – also a trait of mine. She was incredibly patient – I probably get credit for her patience training! But it was not a trait that was passed along to me!
Mom’s faith and legacy live on in many ways through me and also in my children. They spent lots of time with my parents on the farm in their growing up years. My son has her compassion and tenacity. My daughter has her listening skills and encouraging ways. Both of them have her courage and kindness. She accepted my hippie boyfriend and she and Dad welcomed him to become my husband! She loved him with a mother’s heart in a way he’d not known before.
Writing with the purpose of encouragement is the gift I give back because of my Mom. My heart’s desire is that this blog would honor her and the love of writing she imparted to me.
Mother’s Day 2015
A big thanks to my daughter, son-in-law and husband for helping me with the technical side of starting my site. I couldn’t have done it without their help and encouragement.
Copyright © 2015 Nadine Patton. All Rights Reserved.