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#ManyMothers Tribute: Lessons I Learned From Cindy


Note: this week, in honor of Mother's Day, we are commemorating the many different women in our lives who have shaped and molded us. We're calling them our "many mothers," and thanking them for their love. Read more about #ManyMothers, and how you can thank your many moms, here.


I GUESS IT'S TRUE: everything you need to know in life, you can learn in kindergarten. Or, at least you can learn it from a kindergarten teacher.

I had a kindergarten teacher in my life who changed my family forever: Cindy. I was blessed to have her bring life lessons alive right smack in the middle of my family.

Lessons I Learned From Cindy

I learned from Cindy that optimism is a choice. I have never met a more “look-on-the-bright-side-find-a-silver-lining” kind of person. It’s not that Cindy never complained or got cross–she was human. But she never, ever, left a conversation like that on a downward note. Cindy would say things like, “I can’t believe I’m stuck in Florida while my cats are in Texas and there’s a hurricane in the Gulf!!! Well, at least I live on the 3rd floor.” She always ended on the uptake. I need to incorporate that lesson into my life.

I learned from Cindy that cats really are an acceptable pet option. Especially the fat ones. (I probably still won’t get one, though.)

I learned from her how to take pride in my kids. Cindy never missed an opportunity to sing the praises of Brian and Leslie. As well she should–they are accomplished, altogether amazing human beings. And Cindy was the consummate proud mother: pictures everywhere, never a missed opportunity to brag, and always giving them full credit for their accomplishments. They were her heartbeat; her pride and joy.

I learned from Cindy that you never get too old for Webkinz, or Disney movies, or to stretch your comfort zones. She taught me that, contrary to popular belief (even her own belief sometimes), she was a risk taker. She showed me her bravery every time she said yes to some hair-brained youth minister thing I wanted to do. And no one–NO ONE–has ever paid me a higher honor.

I also learned from Cindy that you are never too young to be respected and honored. As a youth pastor, my loves are kids and teenagers. Cindy shared that love and is one of the few adults who really connected with kids. She honored and respected them.

Cindy taught me that it was possible for someone to love my kids as much as I do. With every concert, every birthday, every status update she liked, she reminded me and my boys that someone loved them as much as their mom and I.  She always made my kids feel valued, smart, worthy, and successful. She listened to crazy dreams with real interest and helped them believe in those dreams. She never offered the leftover parts of herself to my kids; they always got her main course. I will forever love her for this lesson.

Cindy taught me that being a mom was more about heart, and less about DNA. My own mom passed away when I was in high school, so I never had a relationship with her as an adult. But my relationship with Cindy was what I always knew my relationship with my mom would be like. She always gave me a listening ear. She cried with me when life was hard, and celebrated when it wasn’t. She always had new markers and coloring books for my boys. She offered to take them when they were younger so Katie and I could go on dates.

I learned from Cindy that Jesus is more than church, more than a father’s legacy, more than a person on some ancient pages. Cindy reminded me that Jesus is an action. Whether she was taking my kids on a gift-buying expedition for Toys for Tots, writing a check for a church fundraiser on her teacher’s salary, or leading her girls’ small group, Jesus was an action word for Cindy. And her legacy shows up in my boys, in the teenagers she invested in, and in my life every day. She made Jesus a verb.

Cindy unexpectedly passed away a few years ago. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t think about her. Most of us have those kinds of moms in our lives–the ones that transcend DNA. This Mother’s Day, as you reflect on all the people who have been a “mom” in your life, remember this:

  • You probably hold that place in the life of someone else.
  • You may not even realize it.
  • Seize every moment to love boldly.
  • Tell your moms what they mean to you.
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