This morning, I’m delighted to introduce you to Rhonda Ellis, a friend who writes at Cultivating a Home. Rhonda is generous with her time and heart, loves to laugh and has opened her home for years to teach women how to create a calm and loving home life. She and her husband have six children and her home is full of life and laughter. You can see Rhonda’s beautiful family at the end of the post. Today, Rhonda honors her mother as she shares about remembering and overcoming a painful past.
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The Bible commands us time and time again to “remember” and “not forget” His faithfulness throughout our lives.
What about when your past is painful?
In Deuteronomy 8, Israel is told to “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way.” There had been many difficulties, trials, sufferings and humbling times. As God taught and tested, He reminded them not to forget how He had led them.
This week my 25-year-old nephew asked the family to get together to “remember.” He wanted to hear stories and begin a deeper level of communication. He had several questions prepared ahead of time. We met. We shared. We laughed. We cried. I highly recommend that families gather together to remember God’s faithfulness through the trials and humbling situations as well as rejoicing in the seasons of plenty.
As we remembered, children and grandchildren learned of painful pasts that grandparents had overcome.
With pauses through tears, my mom shared a few stories that, still at age 74, revealed deep wounds from a verbally abusive past and a home full of anger, turmoil and void of any signs of love.
As a young child her mother had told her, “You don’t have to ever worry about being kidnapped because you’re so ugly.” Home for her was neither nurturing nor safe. She preferred school or being with animals because at least it was peaceful there.
The question was asked, “When did you first hear of Jesus?” My mom said when she was 12, a vacation Bible school teacher called her by name as she was exiting the room. She said that was unusual for someone to actually speak her name. A name is important and for her to remember such a small detail relayed a life of feeling unloved and unnoticed. With vivid description, she recited her teacher’s gentle and caring words: “Neida, Jesus loves you.”
My mom says that as she walked the two-mile path home that day, she tried to picture what love looked like. She envisioned a box of love being given to her, but over and over when she opened it, it was empty. She just could not comprehend what love was.
But God got the glory as she remembered and recounted His faithfulness.
Shortly after marriage, my mom became a Christian. She began to lay down a foundation of deeply etched priorities that she would have as a mom to her own children as she overcame her painful past.
“It was important to me that you all be raised in a home that was peaceful and calm. Even though I didn’t know what love was, I wanted you to never doubt that you were loved. I wanted you to know Jesus loves you and my greatest desire was that each of you love the Lord with all your heart.”
Today, I am moved to tears as I proclaim evidence of how God took the wounds and heartaches of a painfully shy, insecure little girl and grew her into a beautiful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is a prayer warrior and a compassionate woman of quiet strength who empathizes and invests into children.
At church, you can spy my mother being a counselor to young children. God is using her past to be able to identify with children, to communicate on a heart level and sometimes simply cry with them.
My mom’s past determination to break the cycle of a loveless home has shaped my family and my ministry, Cultivating a Home. My heart’s desire is to teach women how to have a calm and peaceful home centered on Christ. Only God could help my mom overcome such a painful past and transform her family legacy.
Tomorrow is my mother’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday to a wonderful woman of God who sought with her whole heart to raise children in a calm, peaceful, loving home in which His name was honored and praised. Your children will rise and call you blessed. I’m doing that today. Thank you for remembering so that we do not forget the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in our lives.
You can find free videos of Rhonda’s teaching on creating a calm and loving home here at Cultivating a Home. Also, Rhonda’s mom wrote a follow-up post here with 7 things she did to create peaceful and loving home for her own family. It’s a great read!