13 August 2012

My Best Friend(s): Mumsy

Mumsy by our pool in Raymore
Yes, I really do call her Mumsy. Or, occasionally, Momma. Mumsy can be abbreviated Mmz, but if your phone (or other tech gadget) has the feature where it announces who is calling, or a voice recognition feature, it will NOT, I repeat NOT recognize MMZ as "Mumsy," just in case you were wondering. A few phones back, I had the caller announcement feature turned on, and it always said, "Incoming call from M. M. Z." She calls me "Tootsie" which gets abbreviated as 2tz. Aren't we cute?

{Random sidenote: a few weeks ago, I had my phone on the car dock while driving and somehow it decided it was going to read incoming text messages to me. My husband responded to my most recent message (sent before driving, by the way) with "Kk" and it sounded like it was clearing its throat. It was hilarious! "Message from Husband: (gagging sound). Say 'repeat' to repeat." Of COURSE I repeated it. Half a dozen times. "(gagging sound)" "Repeat!" "(gagging sound)" "Repeat!"...}

I just got off the phone with her and was thinking about how I needed to write this post. Part of the trouble I've had is deciding where to begin on the posts about each of my parents. There's just so much to say, and it's so personal, and important, and heart-felt. How do you begin to say all that a parent really means? Where do I start? Childhood? Now? Parenting? Friendship? What aspect do I feature first, and how do I begin to cover all that I mean to say?

All that, and a snappy dress-er, too!
Last night I finished a book (shocker) called "Managers of Their Homes" by Steven and Teri Maxwell. I was telling my Mumsy about it, and after we hung up, I started getting a little teary-eyed. You see, she has always been the very best example of what godly womanhood looks like. I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak badly of her, or even neutrally of her, for that matter. She is a woman of honor and grace, kindness and gentility, an embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit, if ever I've met one. I've never known a person, male or female, who was as caring and considerate as my mother. If I've ever needed an example, a word of encouragement, good advice, or listening ear, she's the one who could provide each of those things best.

I may have mentioned previously that when I got married last year, I had high expectations of myself. Part of the reason for that is due to the fact that this beautiful lady has shown me all my life that it's possible to have an organized, clean home, deliberate relationships, be calm, cool, and collected, yet warm, open, and inviting, and look good doing it. Let's just say that I found out that takes practice. Lots, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of practice. I'm getting there, little by little, and she's my own personal cheerleading squad, encouraging from the sidelines, handing out compliments, encouragement, and even the occasional (much-needed, usually) kick in the pants. *Smile*

Momma visiting me for my birthday,
my semester in Europe.
Zurich, CH airport.
My mom was amazing when I was a kid. She managed our home with aplomb, baking homemade bread on a weekly basis, keeping up with countless correspondents, volunteering in the church, and creating such a welcoming environment that we seldom went to friends' houses. They all wanted to come to ours! She taught me songs like "Ferdinand the Bull" and "Summertime" (from Porgy & Bess), Bible verses and lessons, and poems that taught me more about who she was and how I want to be than she might ever know.

"I have wept through the night
For the shortness of  sight
That to somebody's need made me blind,
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind."
No wonder no one has anything bad to say about her! What mean thing can you say about someone whose whole mission in life is always to be a little kinder to everyone around them?
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32, NKJV~
There was this one time that she was trying to get us to read this book ("Enthusiasm Makes the Difference," by Norman Vincent Peale) together as a family. I don't remember where she got it, or why she wanted to read it to us, but it, for whatever reason, wasn't something we wanted to read. I still remember the little cheerleading cheer she used to do around the house, trying to get us excited to read this book. I also still remember some of the places we used to hide that book from her. :) When I called her to ask if that was the right book, she said, "Yes, why? Would you like me to send it to you?"

Mumsy, my sister, and I were
bridesmaids in my sister's wedding.
August 2005
Back to the Managers of Their Homes book... This book was written for homeschooling families, to help them develop a livable, functional schedule when there are many people doing many things in what is sometimes a very small space. It is an EXCELLENT book. I actually bought two, one for me, and one for a gift for someone else. It's going on my favorites list.

So I was telling Mumsy about this book that I had just finished, and how excellent I thought it was. I sat there and read her a few of the parts I had underlined, over the phone, and then told her how well I felt it fit in with how she had taught me to order my homemaking to-do items.

I'll probably write a whole post on this later, but when I was in elementary school, Mumsy taught me to keep track of the things I need to get done, using an index card file. I'm naturally a "creative" type individual. (Yes, in quotation marks.) In other words, I don't naturally fall on the organized-and-squared-away side of things. That doesn't mean that I don't have order around me, just that my version of "order" may not appear orderly to any outside observer.

I, like my father, tend to live in piles. They drive me bonkers, but that's my tendency. My mother, on the other hand, lives by lists. She's a very squared away individual, but she's so warm that it's not a condescending form of order. (My mind goes to Martha Stewart, here.) When I got married, she (Mumsy, not Martha) spent a whole day with me helping me prepare and organize a new index card file, because I asked her to. I knew that if she could do it so well for so many years, that she could help me do it, too. She did.

Correspondent Extraordinaire!
This is the woman who remembers to send greeting cards for all occasions to most of the people she's met in her life. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Condolences, Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Tuesdays-- all are worthy of cards. Anytime she travels anywhere, the kids and grandkids get postcards. She travels often, though not usually very far.

I have no idea how much she spends on postage and cards each year, but I'm betting it's its own line item in my parents' budget. She taught me her secrets to that, too. Now, my husband's side of the family are surprised to have begun receiving mementos and cards as times and seasons pass. It's something he says I do well. I know better. It's something I wouldn't think to do at all, but my Mumsy taught me to make others in my life a priority.

So, the woman who has told me regularly for the last however many years that I'm her hero, is really mine. If the subject has ever come up in conversation, you've probably heard me say, "I hope that someday I can be half the woman that my mom is." And it's true. She's the truest of friends, the noblest of mothers, the most honorable of women, the most steadfast of prayer warriors, and the humblest of Christ-followers. When I look at her, I see all I want to be, the goodness, the honesty, the love, the kindness, the faithfulness, the (yes) enthusiasm, the organization, the intentionality, the awareness, the loyalty, the humor, the delight, the dignity, the hilarity, the joy... The list goes on and on. This is the woman I am blessed, beyond belief, to call my Mumsy. My Best Friend.

Much love,
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. 
~Philippians 4:8-9, NKJV, Mumsy's favorite passage~

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