Letters to the Three Moms in my life: I can’t thank you enough

In honor of mother’s day, I wanted to write some notes to each of the three moms in my life.  Of course, none of them were or are, perfect.  But I’m fortunate, in that each of them are easy to honor.   My mother-in-law is equally wonderful, but this blog’s already too long to add a fourth mom, so I’ll just say thanks here.

  In the comments feel free to share how your mom has been a gift to you.

To my mom by adoption:  Happy Mothers day to the one who was, in nearly every sense of the word, my mother.  I arrived in your home at nearly six months old, and who knows how my soul was shaped in the trauma and challenges of those first six months.  But from then on, I had a home – and though I didn’t choose it, I couldn’t have chosen better, because you sowed the seeds of love, faithfully in the soil of my heart, and I’m still enjoying the fruit of your work to this day.

You sowed a love for Christ, and though my love for that One has surely had its ups downs across the decades, I’m still a believer that real life, joyful life, abundant life, is found in him.  You taught 2nd grade Sunday, and forced church meetings upon me when I didn’t want to go.  I don’t know if that was wise as I grew into my teens, and you didn’t know either, so my love of music took precedence over churchy things and you let that happen.  Most significant, though, were the trips to Mt. Hermon, the camp where dad’s mom worked as a cook.  Only recently have I come to realize how holy that ground was in my life – the beauty of the redwoods, the safety and laughter and smells of grandma’s house, especially the smell of cinnamon rolls.  Of course, that’s also where I snuck off one night to buy some beef jerky up at the adult conference snack shop.  Instead, I ended up listening to John Hunter, from Capernwray Hall, as he spoke of Limiting God.  It was the first sermon I cared about (I was 12), and so I bought his book instead of beef jerky. Listening to him changed my life, inwardly and outwardly, forever.  He was why I got involved with the Torchbearer family 20 years later.

This summer life comes full circle mom, because I will be speaking to the leaders of all the Torchbearer Bible Schools this summer, in England at Capernwray Hall (where John Hunter taught), and then coming home from there to speak at Mt. Hermon, where I’m hoping some kid will sneak off to buy some beef jerky and hear me instead!  Both engagements are testimony to the love for Christ you and dad poured into me.  I can’t thank you enough.

To the mother of my children:  This coming October, we’ll celebrate 29 years of parenting together.  You, of course, are the only mother I chose, and to say I chose wisely would be the understatement of the century!  I could write a long list of reasons why I’m honored and grateful that you’re the mother of my children, but a short list will need to suffice:

1. You built memories for our children that they still talk about – from the kitchen, to Disneyland, to forest camping, to homeschooling.

2. You managed to be both mom and wife, without either children or husband feeling neglected.  Thanks for taking both roles seriously.

3. You did single parenting during those many, many teaching and speaking trips I’ve taken.  Thanks for letting me go, and affirming my calling, even though it cost you.

4. You make all of us laugh.

5. It’s been evident from the beginning, that your gift of servanthood is woven into your parenting.  All of us know that you’d lay down your life for our well being and success, and that you enjoy helping us succeed more than anything else in the world.  That such a person is the mother of my children is perhaps the most priceless gift of all.  That you treat me the same way is… beyond words.

And now, with a new daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law coming this winter, the journey continues.  Know that from my chair, you’re still doing all five of this things – even better than when we started, and you seemed almost masterful right from the start.

To my biological mom:

I wish I knew you, but the laws make connecting hard, and time consuming, and expensive.  Still, though it’s not likely you’ll ever read this, it’s good, for me at least, to put words on paper -

When I found out that I was adopted, (sometime a few years before my teens), it didn’t mean much to me.  But as I moved into high school and college, there were parts of my bubbling to the surface that were utterly other than the adoptive family in which I was raised.  They gave me baseball, the INDY 500, boxing on TV.  Why then, did I love classical music?  Why did they not care about Bach?  They weren’t readers.  When then, is a night reading Tolstoy or CS Lewis or Wendell Berry, the best possible night?  They weren’t creators.  Why then did I start writing music in high school, and become a composition major in college?  Why did I love creating space and studying architecture?  Why do I love words, and write books that are published and well received? (scroll down to the third book on the list)

I know enough of your story to know that all this makes sense – to know that I have creativity, and a love of music, and a love of teaching, in my genes.  It would bring me great joy to let you know that who you are is expressed in me nearly every day of my life, as I’m so deeply involved in creating, and words, and sounds, and teaching.

And of course, perhaps most important of all, I want to thank you for the gift of life.   I don’t know all the circumstances, but I know that they weren’t easy – know that even back then, though there were laws (for which I’m grateful), there were also options.  You chose life!  And that, for me at least, made all the difference.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.