Monday, June 2, 2014

"Do As I Do..."

Last week, my mom turned 65.  A couple of years ago, my mom was diagnosed with FTD.  Frontal Temporal Dementia.  My mom has the behavioral variant of FTD which changes your personality, impacts your executive functions, reasoning, sequencing, speech, emotional, social...   It's not the type of dementia that effects your memory.  It's a type of dementia that effects the very things that make you, you.  My mom has lost about 98% of her speech and resembles a very young child.  Most people celebrate their 65th birthday with the hope of retirement, enjoying their empty nester years, planning world travels, spending time with grandbabies...  My mom's birthday was spent with our family sitting at a fancy restaurant that we know my mom used to love, ordering food for her we know she used to really enjoy... while she sat there silent.  We talked and told stories.  She sat and listened.  Most of the time with a blank stare.  A few times she smiled.  Once she even laughed.  (I know how to pick out a funny birthday card, if I do say so myself!) ;)

At my mom's birthday celebration, at the very end of the evening, my sister Cheryl pulled out 3 bags.  She placed one in front of my mom and one each in front of my other sister, Melanie and me.  Inside was a stack of CDs.  A large stack of CDs.  When my mom was my age, at 35-36 years old, she had her own radio show.  It was on KIRV Radio in Fresno, CA and she had a daily radio program.  She would talk about everything from women in ministry, to women at home, to leadership, to marriage...   Well, for my mom's birthday, Cheryl got ahold of all of the tapes from her radio show (reel to reel) and had them transferred onto CDs.  Then she had copies made for each of us.  You can imagine what the presentation of that gift was like.  Yes.  Tears.  

One of the things I think about most these days is, "I wonder what my mom would say about...." and I fill in the blank.  I wonder what my mom would say about how to organize this closet.  I wonder what my mom would say about how to really teach Taylor gratitude.  I wonder what my mom would say about Jon's health.  I wonder.  If my mom could speak into "_______" area of my life, I wonder what she would say.  Oh what I wouldn't give to hear her wisdom right now.  Cheryl's gift is the closest thing I'll ever have to hearing that voice again.  I now have a large stack of CDs and I get to hear my mom, at my exact same age, talk about raising her kids, keeping her home, serving in ministry.  I get to hear her voice.  I get to know her thoughts.  What an incredible gift!

Jon and I were recently in the car together and we decided to listen to one of the CDs.  I was blown away by the message.  This talk was a charge to women - to moms specifically - to live the life you are created to live.  Her bottom line?  She wants to be able to say to her kids (my sisters and me), "Do as I Do."  In an era that commonly said, "Do as I say, not as I do," my mom said there should be something better than that.  Something more.

I look at my mom's life - what she taught as well as what she lived at home - and want so badly to "do as she did." I'm not going to lie.  My mom's life was busy.  Full.  But our home never felt frazzled.  It never felt out of control.  We had family dinners.  Every single night.  We shared the best part of our day and the worst part of our day.  At every dinner.  At the end of dinner we would pick a missionary family and pray for them.  We practiced piano every day.  We were involved in our community and school.  At the same time, my mom was a conference speaker, radio host and author.  This was a big deal.  These days, anyone can be an author.  Much like an Indie Artist (like myself) who can make a CD, the wonderful world wide web has created a platform for any average person to write and and have a blog and consider themselves a "writer."  (read: me) ;)  And anyone can self publish a book.  When my mom was 36, Harvest House Publishing Company came to her because of the incredible woman, wife, and voice she was.  They asked her to write a book and she did.  This was a big deal and honor back then.   The book was called "Insights for Young Mothers."  I remember my mom being flown to appear on TV shows and interviewed for her book.  I also remember my sisters were entering their tween/teen years and my mom decided to put the brakes on it all.  She could have pursued more and more of that type of career, but she knew her kids under her own roof needed her more than other women around the country needed her.  My mom sacrificed much for us.  She still stayed very busy and connected to her passions, but her home base was her highest value.

Tomorrow, I turn 36.  I can't help but compare my 36 years to the 36 year old young mom I am listening to on the CDs.  Her voice sounds so confident.  So secure.  She had a (freaking!) radio show.  And was becoming an author.  She was so organized. And so focused.  She was so excited about God's calling on the lives of women.  She was considered a 'forward thinker' when it came to that stuff back then.  How proud am I of her!   Oh my, I forgot to mention something else - She was a business owner too!  Yes, she and my dad opened 2 clothing stores when they were 35 years old in 2 different malls.  She achieved much by such a young age.  Who was this adventurous, strong, smart, savvy, talented woman?  She was my mom.  She is my inspiration.  She is who I want to be.

I desire to wrap up this post with a final paragraph of eloquent words and a clever little tag line about my mom and her impact.  But I can't.  Every time I try to wrap this post up, my fingers won't let me.  My brain can't tie up the loose ends.  I think it's, because, there's just no end.  No end to her talent and charm and enthusiasm and passion and wit and wisdom and... and.. and...  I don't want to stop typing about her.  I want to gush.  And rave.  And gush some more.  But it's late.  And I must stop.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate my birthday inspired.  Challenged.  Encouraged.  I feel like I won the lottery when it comes to the legacy left for me.  When it comes to age 36, I will listen to the CDs.  I will hear the beauty of age 36 well lived.   I will do as she did:  Love God.  Love people.  Use my gifts to His glory.

No clever tag line.  Just a stack of CDs, a green light and my foot on the gas pedal.


  1. Thank you for reminding me to leave a legacy for my children. The home I have created used to be frazzled but the Holy Spirit has been calming my soul.

    I met your mom a few times and told stories about her in college. She left a lasting impression on me; impacted how I want to be a mom.

    Thanks for sharing your mom.

  2. Wow, Dianna! First of all, what an awesome gift from your sister! I'm so happy for you that you have that fantastic gift of your mom's words and heart! Second of all, thank you for the reminder that ALL of us can take a moment to stop and push the pause button and ask ourselves what kind of life, home, legacy we want to leave. We will leave a legacy....... but what kind? Happy Birthday Blessed Friend!!!