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My birth was the event that launched her into motherhood.

As Mother's Day draws near, I reflect on the one who carried me the womb. I always send a card or gift, but it is with trepidation. My family does not celebrate holidays (except for Thanksgiving) or birthdays, for "most holidays are worldly or materialistic", and the Bible says that the day of death [is better] than the day of one's birth. And yet, I cannot bear to let the day go unacknowledged—and so I continue, hoping that these gestures bring a happy smile to the heart of my mom.

I love my mother. The lines of a hard life are etched on her face, which still bears a youthful glow despite years of laborious toil, which include approximately fifteen pregnancies. After 35 years, she still adores my father. Her admiring eyes are always fixed upon his face, whether he is reading aloud, directing chores, or in the middle of a fierce debate.

She will faithfully pray for anyone, and would drop anything to help the needy, even when it requires her to go without.

When we were sick, without complaining she would lovingly prepare herbal remedies in an effort to relieve our distress. By the time an average cold passed down the ranks, the first one (yours truly) generally was sick again, and thus the cycle continued.

My hair bears more {carefully concealed} gray than her long tresses; even when they appear, she sports them as a badge of honor.

Eschewing the convenience and expense of Pampers, she diapered nearly all 11 of us with soft, cotton cloth which needed to be routinely cleaned by hand. We girls disdained this chore, and I can still see my servant-hearted mother bent in the field, rinsing them out with a hose before placing them in the washer.

When I managed to sprain my ankles repeatedly, she prepared poultices of comfrey to wrap around my swollen, aching joints.

Using a steel mixing bowl, gargantuan enough to bathe small children, my mother taught us how to bake loaves of whole wheat bread in batches of 24. That same bowl cradled the spill of blood which nearly cost her life during childbirth over twenty-five years ago—long before the idea of Quiverfull living was even an inkling in her mind.

Bright-eyed and idealistic, she bundled up my little sisters and I, following my father for a home unknown—miles away from friends and family, to an agrarian life in the country.

Like Abraham.

"Well, it needs to be done," she would say, while we children grimaced as she hunted tomato worms in the garden. Or when she fearlessly tended to putrid wounds on our dogs, who were frequently bitten by snakes as they rummaged through the woods.

I wonder what she would have thought as a young woman, looking forward to the now—to her life. I could not have done all that she has, or continues to do. She remains one of the strongest people I know, and without fail is kept quite close to my heart.

In the blogosphere there is another mother who refreshes me with her grace. Tonia from a Study in Brown is a sanctuary for me. She recently did an interview which I believe that you will find to be a special treat.

For all the mothers and mothers-in-waiting, I pray that your days are blessed.

Edited to add:
This post was unusually difficult for me. It has taken several days to complete, and I ask your grace in overlooking any strangely constructed sentences or anything which lacks clarity.
Thank you.


  1. hillary,

    your words honor your mother...a precious maturity and grace when we find ourselves on the other side of a parent's beliefs. i appreciate the love and work that went into it.

    thank you for your kind words and link for me too. i see the love of Christ in you and it ministers to me.

    may God fill your heart with joy today.

  2. This was beautifully, hauntingly written. Thanks for posting what was so close to your heart and yet so hard to express.

  3. Thank you Hillary! I know that post must have caused you much pain and care and toil. Thank you for reminding us to look for the good!

    May the Lord continue to bless you with healing!

  4. Hillary - thank you for this post. You give voice to what has been in my own heart this weekend. I too am a 30-year-old recovering daughter of patriarchy who has almost no relationship with my mother, and yet wishes every day that things were different. This tribute to your mother could have been written about mine.

    Thank you!

    Jeanette Cole

  5. This post is simply beautiful.. It is like a delicate poppy... vibrant, full of rich color, yet delicate, and fragile to touch... Something that leaves a mark on your very soul, an impression on the landscape of one's memory...
    thank you for sharing it...
    I have read it now half a dozen times...
    I pray you are better soon sister...
    much love to you.


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