When my husband, Mark, was young and wild and working at Roth’s IGA grocery store in Silverton, Oregon he met a friend named Dave Bass, that he split rent with before Mark and I met. Twenty years later the Salmon family came to worship with us several years where Mark preached in Beaverton, Oregon and their daughter Chrissy became very instrumental in helping to tutor our son when he was getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Around 2009 we met the Fisher family at a wedding, hit it off and enjoyed camping and surfing together every summer for several years and in the process, their daughter Amanda and I became very close. So when Mark met Virgil Trout at the Florida College lectures, and Virgil invited Mark to come visit the congregation near Sedona in Cottonwood, Arizona, where his son Luke Trout preaches, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. We put the congregation on our wish list in February and about three months later, happened to land at this lovely congregation in Cottonwood, Arizona on Mother’s Day.
There were lots of visitors the Sunday we worshipped with the Cottonwood congregation, including a young family that was also traveling in an RV. It was fun to see familiar names in their guestbook of other Christian families we knew who were also living nomadically. After many friendly greetings, we took a seat by a lovely aged woman named Irene, who told us with much delight about the five generations in her family. We joked with her that we too, are the oldest in our line, and thus “up to bat”, so to speak, as the generation closest to “going home”. Every mother in the congregation was gifted a single white rose as a token of appreciation, and as the song leader began to skillfully lead us in beautiful praise music, you could see the roses all about, tucked into the pew book holders in front of all the mothers.
Luke’s wonderful talk was on all the various ways that God has demonstrated and extended His love to us, including the church as well as the scriptures that reveal to us what our purpose is for living, and help prevent us from following through on evil impulses, but instead keep us on the straight and narrow.
I was most touched by the reality that ultimately, as a Heavenly Father, God wants us near Him, and thus puts forth that opportunity for those who choose to follow Him. He has made a place for them in this lost world, as described in Revelation 21:3-4 where the inspired writer, John, proclaims “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Luke made the point that all along the Lord Almighty God's plan was for mankind to be his family, as sons and daughters, and 2 Corinthians, 6:17 tells us what makes that possible when it says, “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.” Many who have sacrificed “touching what is unclean” to become holy in His sight, will tell you --- doing so was the best decision they ever made in their life, because in doing so they experience all the benefits of being spiritually adopted! “... how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” 1st John 3:1
Luke concluded his talk with a reminder that the promise of eternal life springs from God's love as well. Thank God that He not only desires to commune with mankind here in this physical realm, but ultimately, He desires to commune with man for eternity in the next world. What a powerful, powerful thought!
He also pointed out that for many, the love of God surrounds us in the form of our mother and all the others who express to us kindness every day --- a kindness that ultimately extends from one Source.
After worship, Virgil and Phyllis Trout kindly included us in their Mother’s Day lunch and it was great to get to know them as well as the others who joined us. After lunch we hiked around the Tuzigoot ruins - a 2 to 3-story, 900-year-old, 100 room pueblo built atop the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge just east of Clarkdale, Arizona. Having just heard a sermon about how mothers are one of God’s extensions of His own love, that was the thought that stayed with me for the remainder of the day. As I explored the ruins, I imagined what it would be like to mother children in such a hot, dry climate with none of the advantages of modern medicine, electricity, transportation or easy access to resources, and yet how in some ways today’s mothers are also trying to bring up godly offspring in an exceptionally harsh moral environment, with dangers at every turn.
These thoughts circled my heart back to how beautifully God had extended His love to me personally by gifting to me a mother who was attentive, but not so attentive so as to protect me from some difficult experiences that could strengthen me and give me wings early in life. I flew from her cozy nest when I was only 17, with the understanding that by taking the chance of marrying so young, I understood that my husband and I would have to work out our own challenges, because, she said there would be no “running home to mother.” We always shared the same goal --- my spiritual and physical independence, and yet we were both there to support one another on an adult-to-adult level during the worst days of our lives. In fact, I recently read something that an author wrote about her mother that reminded me of my own relationship with my mother: “She's so strong, and I remember one time she came to see me and I was having a very hard time And I have this sense that my mother took her spirit, braided it into my own and gave me her strength so that I could keep going. Over and over again my mother has been that for me.”
You’d think with such a warm and fulfilling relationship with my mother, I’d pine for her over these five years since her death. We all grieve differently, but for me, I attribute the health of our relationship, the lack of any “unfinished business”, and a lifetime of expressed love, for my not pining for her, and I know with certainty that my not pining is exactly what she’d want. She’d want me to have a life too full to pine, lived in the complete acceptance of the reality that she finally has her reward and is in a place where she’d rather be.
Mother’s day is often the most painful day of the year for me, for reasons that love and discretion would forbid me share, but I know I’m not alone. Mother’s Day is difficult for all kinds of women for all kinds of reasons. It’s difficult for women yearning to be mothers, mothers who have buried children, mothers with strained relationships with their children, those with strained relationships with their mothers, and those who have buried their mothers. Motherhood itself is hard. It was hard 900 years ago for the Indians of Arizona and it is hard for mothers today who battle the almost ever-present addictive darkness of this crooked and perverse generation. But to today's mothers I would say take courage, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:3-5). He has given you everything you need to impart life and godliness to your children (1 Peter 1:3) and you truly can do all things through Him who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Ultimately, as Luke pointed out in his talk, we are extensions of God's love for the souls we bring into the world, and in all God's interactions with us, He models how best love our children. For every reader, I am praying that the hearts of your children to be like fertile soil, open to your wise instruction and will bear much fruit to His glory (Matthew 13:23).
Cottonwood church of Christ
806 N Third St
Note: To further support families raising children, I'm providing here a few links to some podcasts I’ve recorded on the topic of parenting: