*March 12th will mark the one year anniversary of my Mom's death. In an effort to avoid my usual "milestone approaching" behavior of hiding in bed and eating lots of carbs, I'm celebrating the 12 Days of Mom. As a part of my celebration, I will be writing one of my favorite memories about Mom here each day. These are random tidbits of all the awesome that was my Mom. I'll think you'll like reading more about her. If you're new to reading my blog, proceed with caution. You will find lots of casual writing fraught with grammatical errors. I serve as editor-in-chief around here, which would make any of my high school English teachers shudder.
Um, so sorry about my unannounced absence. Big Dan and I spent the weekend with some soul friends doing what the four of us do best-eating, sleeping and being hilarious. It was a beyond welcome hiatus from reality. I took my computer along, but I couldn't risk the ugly cry ruining all the laughing. So, I'll be a few days behind on these posts. It seems appropriate-running behind is the Hamilton way.
Some of you know that I work at a church. Some of you knew me when I worked at another church. Some of you have no idea that I have ever worked at a church. Now you know-I work at a church.
When I was 15 years old, I experienced what was termed "a call to ministry" in the church I grew up in. (Baptist, remember?) I think I would probably still call it that, but in case those terms are not familiar, it has meant to me, that I'm a church person. Only in the last couple of years has some of the fog cleared around this for me. I have realized how much I love, and have always loved, the local church. It's my place. Some of it is a comfort thing. I know how to navigate there. I know what's expected. I know where I fit and what I do well. I also know the things I won't be asked to do-anything music related. One summer at camp I talked my way into the worship band as the "egg shaker". I live in Nashville now. Even the "egg shakers" are professionals.
My love for the church comes straight from one place. Mom.
Mom and I have very different stories of how we came to the church. Mom was in her twenties, with me slung on her hip when she fell madly in love with Jesus. The grace she had been longing for her entire life, well, she found it. And when she did, she wanted to make sure others found it, too.
Some of my earliest memories of Mom are memories at church. I remember being 3 and 4 with her teaching my "Mission Friends" class. She was a hands on teacher-I feel like I remember making banana fritters every year as we studied a certain country. (No idea exactly where we would be studying that required making banana fritters...perhaps the curriculum was stretching it a bit!) We learned what missionaries did and we prayed for them.
Mom was also THE QUEEN of VBS. When I was very young we attended a church that was 20 or so minutes away from our home. So, everyday of VBS, Mom drove a great big blue church van and picked up as many kids as would fit on her way. Many of them were from our own neighborhood. She made crafts and signs and banners. She taught every grade and led every special area. She served cookies. She served red kool-aid. She LOVED kids.
It wasn't long before Mom was employed by a church. It was her first job after being home with us for many years. Church was place where she finally felt she belonged.
My first job after college was working at my home church. My mom was my secretary. Bahahahahaha! We laughed about it then and we laughed about it many times after that. In case you are thinking we had a traditional employer/employee relationship, you can think again.
As with any place filled with people, church was not always easy for Mom. Sometimes when life gets too real, people don't really know what to do. It's hard to know how to help people who have been hit by one of life's tidal waves, it is. But even in her hardest days, her greatest longing was to find a place again. A church where she fit and felt a part. I'm SO grateful that she did. Because in those last weeks her people-her church people-did not shy away from her suffering. They came around her and loved her in ways both tangible and intangible. And so many from her communities before were there.
I know church can be hard. I know for some of you reading this church has not offered what you were hoping for. I try to keep in mind that it's only part of God's plan for my walk with him. But, it is a part. When we bump up against others, it exposes those places in us that need examining. Maybe the point of church is not to make us feel good, but to show us the places we need to grow, and to let go.
My memories of Wednesday night supper, of hymn singing, and youth choir and VBS are all wrapped up by the memory of Mom. I'm thankful she passed along her love of the church to me. I hope I am doing the same for Drew and Emily.