ALL MY MOTHERS 5-12-19
All My Mothers
May 12, 2019
When you saw the title of my sermon for this morning, did the name of a daytime soap opera that aired for 41 years pop into your head? Although I never watched it, “All My Children” was extremely popular and often dealt with subjects that were controversial, especially at that time. But we will save those for another sermon… Today I would like to honor the mothers in my life, and hopefully help you to honor those in yours as well.
My story starts 60 years ago where I grew up on the north side of Chicago as an only child. I attended a Lutheran grade school and high school. I studied the Bible from a very early age on, as well books like encyclopedias and textbooks, while other kids my age were reading comic books. Yes, I was your classic nerd. I was also an only grandchild on my mother’s side. My mother and her parents had come to America from East Germany in 1927. As a result, I also learned German at a young age. I adored my grandparents, and I was their pride and joy. But I always wondered how it had come to be that I was both an only child and an only grandchild.
As the years passed, I know I disappointed them in many ways. My father had always hoped for a son, but try as I might to show him I was just as smart, capable, and hard-working as any son could be, I still wasn’t what he had longed for.
My mother never doubted me, however, even though I was far from the perfect daughter. No matter how much grief I put her through, she was always there for me, ready to do whatever was needed to ensure the welfare of my body and soul, even if I didn’t appreciate it back then, and viewed her care and concern instead as her being too protective and overbearing. Sounds a lot like my relationship with God back then, too…
Sadly, first my grandmother, and years later my mother, both suffered a series of strokes that led to dementia and eventually their passing from this life. For years I worried that this was in my genetic future as well. But the worst part for me is that I wish I had been more loving, more helpful, more understanding back then. Perhaps that is why I now am so grateful that the Lord has led me into His service at Evenglow, where I can minister to the elderly and those who now suffer as my grandmother and mother once did. Still, it doesn’t make up for my actions of the past. Praise God for Jesus and his forgiveness.
Next week it will be 13 years since my father passed away, and it has been over 10 years since my mother went to be with the Lord. May God rest their souls. But that is where my story gets really interesting.
After my mother passed, I uncovered many clues that led to a very important discovery. First of all, my father had written me completely out of their will, getting a lawyer to override my mother’s wishes by having her declared incompetent because of her dementia. Secondly, I found something buried deep in my mother’s dresser drawer from way back around the time I was still a baby - a letter from an adoption agency saying there were no male infants currently available for adoption. And something else I thought odd was the fact that there was no address for a hospital on my birth certificate. So I did some investigating… Turns out when there is no hospital listed as the place of birth on a birth certificate, it usually means that baby was adopted. Within a few months, with the help of a lawyer, and a church member who is very proficient at tracing ancestry, I not only discovered I was indeed adopted, but I had the name and address of my birth mother!
I nervously wrote a letter explaining to my birth mom who I was and mailed it to her, hoping and praying that she wouldn’t just throw it away, or tell me to leave her alone. She didn’t! Not only did she want to see me, she told me she celebrated my birthday in private every year. She had never forgotten me, and still kept me in her heart and prayers.
Just like Moses’ mother, Jochebed, in our first Scripture reading (Exodus 2:1-10), she had done what she felt was best for me by putting me up for adoption and leaving me in God’s hands. Then my adoptive mother rescued me and raised me, just like Pharoah’s daughter raised Moses as her own. And like Hannah in our second Scripture reading (1 Samuel 10-11,20,24-28) who promised Samuel to the Lord, and left him in the temple with Eli, my mother left me with my adoptive mother, and she raised me in the Lord. And now I am back to having a wonderful relationship with my mother, and my children once again have a grandma who loves them. God is so good! Many times we cannot see how Romans 8:28 actually plays out in our individual lives, and we just have to trust God and put our faith in His Word. Then again, sometimes He does show us and we are completely awestruck and can’t help but praise Him.
But not everyone who loses a mother is given another one - given a second chance to appreciate a mother’s love. So if your mother is alive, or your stepmother, or your grandmother (and yes, your mother-in-law, too) do everything you can now to be good to her, to tell her how much she means to you, to help her when she needs help, and to love and honor her as we are called to do. Please. You’ll deeply regret it if you don’t. Amen.
"A Mother's Prayer" (Celine Dion) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcuMG_-159U
"God Gave Me You" - Dedication to Mom (Blake Shelton) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0b58PSs9s4
Pastor Karen with both of her mothers - Gerda (Kahl) Themer and Barbara (Sebeny) Stutzman