Thursday, June 28, 2018

Celebrating A Life Of Strong Women

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. - Eleanor Roosevelt.

My college roommate shared this quote with me as a gift during our time at Mizzou, and it's always been so true for me.

On our Grace-Filled Journey, I'm blessed that people stop to tell me how strong they think I am in a tough circumstance. And while I'm always humbled by such comments, I truly feel like I just do what needs to be done to take care of my family. First and foremost, I'm a wife and a mom, who has everyday struggles like everyone else, and I try to do my best for Kyle, Grace and Charlotte.  I don't feel like that makes me strong or courageous. I just do what needs to be done, just like most moms.
But if I do have an inner strength that guides me, I can tell you it most certainly comes from a long line of strong women in my family. In celebration of Mother's Day in May, this month I wanted to write about some women who have always been an inspiration in my life.

Celebrating Mother's Day with all my favorite girls!
And not unlike many people, I think my biggest inspiration is my mom.  She's seen me at my best, but also at my worst, and she manages to always love me anyway. She has shown me what it means to persevere and most importantly, to be kind to everyone.

I always think of that Ray Boltz song, "Thank You" when I think of my mom. I just know that when she gets to heaven someday (hopefully a LONG time from now), there will be people lined up to greet her and thank her for all the ways she has touched their lives.

She's just always there when you need her. Need a ride to the grocery store? She's there. In fact, she helps me with the girls nearly every week at the store, walking Grace around while I get the supplies for the week.

Need a dessert for a bake sale or an event at church? It's guaranteed she will make something delicious, and always save some cookie dough for me.  I bet Charley can't wait to be big enough to get the cookie dough!

Baking is always one of our favorite together times!
 She's been at every single important event for me and my brother over the years, even flying halfway around the world to visit me when I lived in London. And she doesn't even really like to fly!
She's been a Sunday School teacher, on every committee there is, and someone we will never, ever be able to replace at the paper for all the things she does. I'm supposed to be learning how to do what she does this summer, and I'm pretty sure those are some big shoes to fill.

But most of all, my mom is there when I need someone to talk to. When the times are hard, when I need to cry, when I don't know what to do, she's only ever a phone call away.

And my mom is a problem solver. When I'm just mad at the world, I call my dad. He lets me blow off steam (and say words I don't usually say in front of my mom) and doesn't judge. Dad just lets me be angry. Mom, not so much. Mom is always ready for a solution to every problem there is, or is ready to talk about steps we can take to remedy a situation. Which can be frustrating when you are just indeed mad at the world, but inevitably, it's always better to work on the problem than to just complain about it.

So, who was the first person I called when we learned that Grace had a terminal illness, my mom. She and I had lunch in the back room at the Ariston and I just cried and cried. And even though we may not have found a cure for INAD, we certainly found some great solutions to make this an amazing Grace-Filled Journey. On the days I'm not sure I can get out of bed and face another INAD-filled day, my mom reminds me of all the great things in my life, every single time.

But my mom isn't the only one who gives me strength. I have been blessed with two pretty amazing grandmothers too, women that have shown me unconditional love, and that the best job in the world is truly that of a grandma.

My Grandma Hutson (my mom's mom), died when I was only in junior high, so I don't have a lot of memories with her, but I know she made our childhood special. She helped to make Halloween costumes. She babysat for us on paper nights. Even though she only lived in Vandalia, she wrote me letters all the time because she knew how much I loved to get mail.  I think I still have them all somewhere. My Grandma Hutson had more than 20 grandchildren, but she always made me feel very special.

I was blessed to have many more years with my Grandma Nancy (my dad's mom), and she taught me to do everything with a smile. My Grandma Nancy could truly find a silver lining in every moment. One of my favorite stories is when she was in a hospital recovery room after my Grandpa Phil had surgery, and she told him that all his lines on the machines he was hooked up to looked really straight. I wasn't there, but other family members explained to her that "flatlining" was not really a good thing, and we still giggle about it to this day. She just always found something positive in every situation.

She was also quite the baker and shared her famous treats with new people who moved into town, were ill or just needed a little pick-me-up.

My grandma was also a fierce supporter of community journalism, and one of the reasons I can still write for The Journal-News. She understood fully what it meant to be part of a community, and we are proud to carry on her lessons today. It's one of the reasons I'm so proud to be the fourth generation in my family to be part of the newspaper family.

I'm definitely stronger for these women who have come before me. But I would be remiss without mentioning a few other strong women in my family, who came on board when I married Kyle. I'm so grateful to have his mom and both of his grandmas in my life. Their faith and dedication to family continues to inspire me each and every day.

I still can't say that I feel like I'm a strong person, or that I do anything any differently than anyone else in my situation, but I do know that some amazing women in my life have set a wonderful example for me on how to be a good wife and a good mother. And I hope someday that Grace and Charlotte find some of those same values inside them.


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