My Mom has been one of the strongest and most inspiring people in my life.
Through all of my Dad’s health issues (which I’m sure we’ll talk about at some point), Mom always had a brave face on for my brother, James, and I. I learned a lot about faith, balancing family and work, and loving your spouse even through the hard times from her.
When my Dad passed away in 2002, it shook me very deeply. It was a pretty transitional time in my life anyway, as I’d just graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to college. It took several years for me to really understand how deeply I was affected, but Mom’s strength helped me through in ways that I’m still not sure she really knows about.
When she remarried, I knew immediately that she and my step-dad, Alex, had something very special. The way that they have challenged and encouraged one another has been very inspiring. In many ways, their marriage has been a testament to the concept of “beauty from ashes”.
In her 40s, she decided to go back to school and follow her dream of becoming a chef. Alex stood by her and encouraged her. So they uprooted; sold their house; moved to Portland. Alex got a job with the state to support Mom through school.
Not only did Mom go back to school, but she excelled! She was a 4.0 student, salutatorian, and asked to join the alumni advisory comity for Le Cordon Bleu.
At the time of her graduation, she had plenty of options for places to work all across the United States. Some of them were pretty swanky! Instead of choosing a high paying job in a traditional kitchen, she accepted an offer from Camp Yamhill to cook for church camps. She and Alex put in several years of 12 hour days and seven day weeks cooking for hundreds of people at a time. Along the way, Lorinda and I (along with many other members of our family and our friends) had the opportunity to work alongside them for a few camps. My days in the Yamhill kitchen were some of the most demanding days of work I can remember. Mom and Alex never failed to impress me with the stamina and work ethic they displayed.
A couple of years ago they started talking to our family about a calling they were feeling. They had it on their heart to go and work in China. Through the course of their dialogue with us, we saw their resolution firm up around the idea, and about a year and a half ago they announced that they would be going to China to work teaching English in a university.
For the second time since they had married, Mom and Alex uprooted and moved; this time to the other side of the world! They have excelled in their work there, and their love for their students becomes more and more obvious every time we get to visit with them.
I’ve learned so much from my Mom about following your calling wherever it leads and doing what you do out of love. I’m so blessed to have both her and Alex as an example of a life lived for service.
I’m truely grateful for what a blessing my mom has been.