From the Heart of My Mother

My parents with my sister Deanna, me and my brother Mike

If you know my family, you know that we did not come together in the typical fashion. As I give you a brief overview of how we came together, please understand I feel the weight of knowing there are not enough words to honor the love and sacrifice this family is built on. Our family is evidence of God weaving our lives together through the beautiful gift of adoption. My parents first chose to adopt my biological sister Deanna, then me and my younger brother Mike followed. Life had its twists and turns which eventually led them to adopt my two beautiful nieces, Bryanna and Chloe. In their lifetime my parents have adopted five children, fostered children, and as teachers impacted countless others.

Of course there are complexities to our story, but no family is perfect, right? So on this Mother’s Day, I could tell you so many things I love about my mom like her insane ability to find the perfect bargain, how she makes every holiday and birthday feel special, or how she makes the best beef stew and monster cookies I’ve ever tasted. I could tell you about how much she loves chocolate, her home state of North Carolina, and her family. I hold these things near to my heart, but I realize the things that mean the most have come from the heart of her life.

Ir is an honor to share with you some things I’ve learned from the strongest woman I know.

Most of our family on vacation in 2016

Choose to follow God

God showed his love for us by sending his son Jesus to die a painful death on the cross so that we might spend eternity with him (Romans 3:22-24 My mother taught me at a young age that we can choose to put our faith in Him. When I was about eight I had wrestled all day and night over a Sunday sermon (it was a hell fire and brimstone message!) My mother patiently answered my questions, opened her Bible to show me the scriptures and prayed with me to ask Jesus into my heart. I will never forget that day and the way the sun was shining in through our dining room windows. I remember the way my mom looked, where we were standing and the peace that I felt after we prayed. She took the time for me, and it has had a lifelong impact.

Now that I am a mother I have been able to experience all three of our boys professing their faith in Jesus. They will be looking to me as an example in walking it out, just as I have always looked to my mother. She passed on her faith, and it makes me think of 2 Timothy 1:5, “I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced is in you also.” Let me be a mother who continues to pass on sincere faith to my children!

Me, my sister Deanna and brother Mike at Tweetsie Railroad

Advocate for Others

This truth has been one that my mother has fought for in every aspect of her life. In her family she advocated first for her younger brother growing up who had learning disabilities. She has advocated for her five children through adoption and any other areas we needed her. She chose to become a Special Education teacher so that she could help her students who struggled with learning and couldn’t speak up for themselves. She helped them with life lessons as well as academic lessons. She made sure they had adequate living conditions, clothing and food. She spoke up for the students who could not use their own voice and taught us to do the same.

My mother’s message of advocating for others resonated most strongly with me when it came time for me to advocate for my own children. When our son Lucas started showing symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes it was my mother who first noticed it and brought it to my attention. When our son Carter was having trouble with concentration and anxiety at school, it was my mother who very firmly stated, “You have to be his advocate because he can’t do it for himself.” I will never forget those words. They led me to make the phone calls and get the help he needed. Lord, help me to be a mother who advocates for others! Proverbs 31:8-9

My mom with our twins Lucas & Carter and my niece Bryanna

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I am a sensitive person, so many times growing up I ended up coming to my mother in tears. It could have been anything from a boy to a friend to a sibling who was upsetting me. I remember feeling like my mom was so mean when she said, “Oh for heavens sake, Michelle. Don’t worry too much about figuring this out because as soon as you do you will have moved on to the next thing!” She wasn’t being mean she was being honest. She taught me to evaluate the importance of the situation and let the trivial things go.

Fast forward to having my own little boy who could throw a temper tantrum like it was his job. One Saturday afternoon as he was sprawled out on the floor screaming, I called my mom in tears not knowing what to do. Not only did I want the tantrum to stop I wanted to figure out why he was having one! Again she gently reminded me not to get too caught up in a phase. “As soon as you figure this out he will be on to something new.” Boy was she right! Before I knew it he was running around talking about tractors and trying to sit in every tractor he saw! Once again my mom’s message filtered from her heart to mine. Focus only on what is important and learn to let the other stuff go.

I don’t know where you find yourself this Mother’s Day, but I pray some of these truths will resonate with you. Happy Mother’s Day!

Michelle Flaningan
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