In case you're struggling to figure out which of these is my mother and not my sister, she's the second from the left. I remember someone asking her once why she looks like she's our sister instead of our mother and she jokingly replied, "I started having them when I was 12."
... Fairly close. Mom was 18 when she got married and had my older sister, Stephanie. (The brunette between Mom and me) The reason I tell you that is because it highlights an important thing about my mom: she's spent more of her life being a mom than not. And she's only 42! Whew, Trish. Good job.
As soon as she grew up and left home, she started her own family. Being a Mom is all she's ever known, really. And she's really good at it. My mom is the epitome of "the mother hen." I wouldn't call her an overbearing mother — that term has a really negative connotation. She's just a good mom. Though I did think about jokingly writing about how my mom, like God, is omnipresent — thanks to facebook. Haha just kidding, mom. :)
My mom loves to have us all together at once, which seems to happen less and less as we get older. The reason I chose the picture above is because the moment this picture is capturing is a perfect example of how much my mom loves us, and loves having us all together. Mom always gives us matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. So this one year, I want to say this was two Christmases ago now, she gave us our pajamas and made us all put them on to take the ritual "matching PJ photo in front of the tree." As Dad's about to take a picture of us, Mom has disappeared into the back of the house... and then she comes out, cracking up laughing and fist pumping better than The Situation himself, because she's bought the same ones for herself this year. She had gone into her room to put on her matching pajamas... she was so proud, and it was awesome. We still laugh about it. I'm actually laughing writing about it right now.
The point is that my mom just loves having us home... it turns her into the joyful goofball that buys matching pajamas. And I love it! She hates that we are no longer all in the same place. For the last 3 years, my parents have been in Houston, where they still are now. My older sister has been in Knoxville and I've been in Jonesboro. So Stephanie and I haven't spent a whole lot of time at home since they moved back to Texas. That drives my mom crazy. She just doesn't like missing out on our lives, only seeing us once or twice a semester and at Christmas. And who can blame her? We're pretty cool. (Right, Steph?)
Stephanie has recently moved home though, so I'm now the lone faraway kid in the family. And my mom is constantly dropping hints (that are really more like atomic bombs) about all the pros of me moving back to Texas after I graduate in May. If she could have it her way, we'd all live in the same place again. Which sounds great... I keep telling her if God calls me home I'll be there in a heartbeat. It's safe to say she's praying often for that to happen. And to be honest, though I've been coined "the independent one that's always just passing through," I'd love to go home. I love to be home.
When I was sixteen, I ran away. That is a story for a different time, but I did run away... for an afternoon. I was probably gone 2 or 3 hours at the most. Most sixteen year olds probably get angry and leave in their car... I decided to go old fashioned, and run on foot. Over the river and through the woods, literally. All I took with me was my phone, which my parents were calling constantly, each time leaving a more emotional voicemail. I think my dad threatened to call the police a few times. I'll never forget what my mom looked like when I finally came home. She was laying in her bed, sobbing. I walked in the door and she wasn't angry, she just looked at me, and through her tears and sobs she told me to never do that to her again... and she hugged me, and told me she loved me. I felt awful. I felt selfish. But I felt loved... and even though I knew there was a serious grounding coming, I felt forgiven.
I think we do the same thing to God. We run away, and we come home expecting punishment. And sure, because God is a just God, we get what's due to us. But more than anything, what He sees as due to us is grace. We get grace when we come home... because I really believe that just like my mom, God just wants us home. And He hates that we don't get it... He hates that we only show up once or twice a semester, and on Christmas. He doesn't want to miss out on our lives.
I wish I could be home more often, because I know the joy and fullness my mom's heart feels when we're all under the same roof. But what being away has taught me is that just like my mom longs for me to come home and be with her, my God longs for me to be with Him. And the best part about a God that's omnipresent is that I have the option of being at home with him every single day.