A Tribute to Our Moms: Memories to Laugh About

“I remember one afternoon, when I was still dating my husband Ryan, I was sitting on the couch in my parents’ house while my mom made a business call. My sister stood in the kitchen. Ryan slipped silently into the house, keeping his finger over his lips. I didn’t say a word as he grabbed my sister and screamed bloody-murder, and like a chain reaction, she screamed, and my poor mother, talking with a client, had a screaming conniption and had to explain to them what just happened. We always did like scaring each other in my family…” –Jessica Huber, OTW Contributor

“I remember the time my mother wanted to get back at my older brothers for being so mean to me.  She waited for them to get settled in bed, snuck around to the patio door and scratched on the glass.  It was amazing how fast my brothers jumped off the bunk beds and ran for the safety of mom and dad.  I have never seen my mother laugh so hard as she did that night.” -Vicki Wilkin, Selma, CA

“This is an email that my mom sent to me when I was pregnant with Caleb. It pretty much sums up how funny she can be.

‘Hi, Gina,
I do not see any problem eating kalbi marinated in rice wine. You can eat anything except coffee and a lot of wine or liquor . . . or marijuana, cocaine . . . or other toxic food. I hope you eat as much as you want (for baby, too) whatever you like . . . OKEE?
Love you,

-Gina Chung

“When I was in high school, my mother volunteered to be on the public school line up for talking to teens about sex and abstinence in health class.  I was horrified when I heard her referred to as ‘the sex mom’.  She wore the title proudly and spared no details when presenting in my own classroom.  She gave her testimony of being a virgin when she got married and having a wonderful and satisfying sex life years later with my father!  There I was, a PRODUCT of this very truth?!  Little did I know how much I would look up to her later as the friend everyone feels comfortable talking to about this topic.  Way to go SEX MOM! ” –Noelle Ritter, OTW Contributor

“My 78 year old mother is visiting me in California from Montana this week. She says the funniest things . . . like, ‘It’s a myth that eating cookies before dinner spoils your appetite!’ Here’s a picture of her and me with milk moustaches at Christmas a few years ago.” -Lorrie Bridges (with mother Shirley Marks)


“My mum has always been one to encourage me to spread my wings and soar to adventure. I’ll never forget the day I told her, at 24 years old, I was thinking of traveling from my  home in England to California for a few months. With a twinkle in her eye (as if she had a glimpse of my future) she replied, ‘I think that is a wonderful plan . . . you never know, you may well end up staying, and quite possibly your husband may be waiting there for you.’ And of course, in spectacular mummy fashion, she was indeed completely and utterly correct!” –Rachel Naramore, OTW Contributor

“My mom is a very bright person, so when she does something that’s not particularly bright, it’s especially hilarious. When my sisters and I were very young, our parents took us to Disneyland. My mom had one of my sisters, who was a baby at the time, in her lap on the Dumbo ride. The ride started and, while all the other Dumbos were soaring up and down, my mom’s was staying stationary near the ground. She was very disgruntled and asked to go again at the end because hers was apparently ‘broken’. The ride operator kindly pointed out to her that the joystick in front of her on her seat was what made the ride go up and down. She hadn’t even tried it! We were dying laughing, including her. Now that story is a funny family favorite. =) ” –Lyndsay Wilkin, OTW Contributor
“My mom and I liked to watch this short-lived show called Ambush Makeover where a fashion expert finds someone frumpy on the street and takes them in for a head-to-toe makeover. Well, my creative mother decided to turn my 18th birthday into an ambush-makeover birthday edition! My friend, Laura Meyers pretended to be the fashion expert as she took me to get my hair done and to pick out a new wardrobe. Thanks Mom, that was such a great day!” -Krysta Tawlks
“When I was young, my dad owned a lawn service business in addition to his ministry responsibilities. From time to time, he would hire random people to help him . . . including a young boy who fell in love with my sister! Well, it was Valentines Day and he handed my sister a gift – a small, glass Christmas tree that had been discounted to about $4 . . . for Valentine’s DAY! My mom and I could not contain our laughter, so we went up into her bedroom, closed the door, then went into her walk-in closet, closed that door. We laughed and screamed and cried (in a fetal position on the floor) for at least 10 minutes. Just as we thought we had contained ourselves, we started laughing again. This happened at least 3 or 4 times. I’m pretty sure they could still hear us.” –Stephanie Krier, OTW Editor & Contributor
“The idea of a ‘hilarious, funny’ story involving my mother was hard; my mom is selfless, nurturing, and faithful, but ‘hilarious’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Except that I know something about her that most people probably don’t: When she laughs, REALLY laughs hard, she snorts — and then we all laugh harder. So I thank my mom for, among so much else, teaching me that it’s right to laugh and be silly, even at the expense of looking good.” –Faith Gong, OTW Contributor
“Moms get tired and weary at times, but can and should be some of the most giving and loving people in the world! I know this from watching my mom be the most generous person I know. I also saw, at a young age, my dad fall in love with her over and over while watching her live this way. She can also be silly and likes to just make people smile. I remember when I was about 12 years old, she would giggle and tell me about her plan for my dad’s lunch that day. She used to sell Tupperware. It was all the rage at the time. She would make my dad’s lunch in one and then make ‘dessert’ for him in another. The dessert Tupperware was a piece of lingerie sprayed with her perfume with a little love note. I loved, and still do, having a mom so free and giving, around us kids whether serious, fun, or just plain silly. It is a movie reel in my mind that keeps playing today. If you know her, you will see that it is almost impossible for her not to go over the top to make someone smile. I love you mom! Happy Mother’s Day!” -Jenelle Mears
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Pyrotechnics & Matzah Ball Soup

I don’t really remember much about my first Passover Seder. In fact, I am pretty sure I could recall what the back of my eyelids looked like more than what happened during the actual ceremony. I remember my mom and me reading a book when I was little about a young Jewish girl. There was something about preparing lots of food and something else about the Four Questions – whatever those were.  Fast forward several years and Passover has become one of my favorite holidays and something with a significance that can’t quite easily be formed into words.

I have another memory from childhood. It was one that evoked a bit more excitement and enthusiasm, leaving a more precise imprint in my mind than some vague memory of dozing at a table during an ancient Jewish tradition. I was at a youth conference (though I was a bit younger than the church “youth” age). The stadium was packed with goofy teenagers sporting their matching neon youth group T-shirts, loud music, passionate speakers, and pyrotechnics scaring me out of my wits as they randomly erupted at the front of the stage. I always remember leaving that event (which I attended annually for years, and ultimately ended up helping to produce when I got older) with a feeling of elation, inspiration and vigor. This is what real Christianity is all about, I thought. It is not some dry, lame religion, but something full of life, excitement – something worth being a part of. It was there that I remember first learning the phrase “a relationship with God.” I felt like I was somehow part of some cool Christianity that everyone else was missing out on.

You see, my generation (I am 20 if that gives you a reference point) has always focused evangelism on depicting Christianity opposite the conservative swing of the pendulum. Leaders seemed to typically want to indicate that being a Christian is not just about sitting in pews or fulfilling a list of right and wrong. It is not a stuffy environment trying to produce perfect people . . . sort of like how the world depicts the 1950’s. I clung to this idea. I wanted my friends to know that there was something more, something that would change their lives. And I still cling to this idea, but age and time and a splash of wisdom has colored what real Christianity looks like, differently.

For as long as I can remember, Passover has been a part of my growing up. Year after year we pull out the Haggadah, invite our friends over, recite the same verses as my dad blurs over the Hebrew words with nonsensical gibberish, and most importantly, eat matzah ball soup. And somewhere along the line, the sacredness and historical richness of this ceremony changed what I found important in a Christian life. I had previously been so concerned about making my faith seem fresh and new and real, that somewhere along the way, I had missed that whole part about it being deeply rooted in something that transcends the “now.” Passover taught me that. My eyes were opened to the beauty of the fact that I was participating in something millions of Jews partake in all over the globe, that Jesus did a couple thousand years ago, and his ancestors did for hundreds of years before him.

I saw the value of tradition.

I don’t come from a very ethnically distinct family. We are a conglomeration of European backgrounds with a little bit of Native American thrown in there. So, we aren’t the kind of family that cooks recipes that can be traced through our family line all the way to the Prussian empire. But where I lack in ethnic culture, I seemed to gain an identity with our celebration of Passover.

Sure it requires an hour or so of sitting still, being careful not to knock over the wine (or grape juice) glasses, following along in a book filled with ancient verbiage. But that ancient verbiage tells the story that gives my meaning of existence – that of Christ. It connects me to the greater body of Christ and places my beliefs and faiths and everything I am trying to live by in a greater, deeper context. It is one that dates back to the beginning of time. It isn’t “new” or “fresh” or “hip.” It is old, ancient, liturgical, ritualistic. But those very things are what seem to keep my faith from being something shallow, something that is tossed to and fro in the wind. They keep it from being shaped and molded by the hands of relativism, shallowness, and ever-hanging “truths” and emphases.

And they incite in me a small flame – the flame that brings forth a deep and genuine smile when being in fellowship. The flame that both puts me at peace and spurs me on to a greater understanding and depth of who my God is and what His plan is for my life in this world. The flame that reminds me my God is unshakable: He survives wars and destruction, precarious beliefs and customs and worldviews. We are fools to forget the past and to think that our modern ideas are necessarily what God always intended us to have.

I still think cool pyrotechnics and exciting bands are valuable tools in evangelism. I still believe that Christianity is more than sitting in pews or absentmindedly attending church. But I do not have to exclude thousands of years of practice and belief and ceremony to arrive at that conclusion. And while we are always looking to the future, to the coming of Christ, our answers come from the past.

Even as the youngest in my family, my turn to ask the Four Questions has come and gone. And I now love being able to join with my Christian brethren and Jews around the world in heartily saying: “Until next year in Jerusalem!”

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Inspired by…Kind Connie

Number 9.  I can only imagine how being number nine of fourteen children has played a part in shaping the woman that I call “Mom”.  She’s quiet, but strong.  Submissive, but tenacious.  Quirky, but personable.  And she definitely doesn’t always get the credit she deserves.

My mom will never be the life of the party; she prefers let Dad work the room.  Often known as “Ken’s wife” or “Beth’s mom”, there have been seasons of life when she’s struggled with her identity.  But that is the irony of it.  She likes that place—and she’s good at it.  My mom is DEVOTED to my dad, and always has been, even when he’s a knuckle head (sorry Dad, but you know it’s true).  There couldn’t be two more different people and, by the grace of God, they’ve stuck it out.  Through some really tough times and lots of the mundane days, they have found a way to knock off the rough edges and grow into a dynamic team.  Dad pushes Mom out of her comfort zone; Mom brings a sense of stability to Dad.  But I have a feeling it’s Mom’s quiet strength that keeps them going.  The fact that my mom and dad are still together after 36 years puts wind in my sails!

And what an example!  My mom is definitely not a doormat, but there is a general air of deferral in her personality.  She’s not your “modern day woman” who puts her foot down and demands her way or competes with her husband to prove she’s something. She’s not fussed by the particulars.  If you have a strong opinion about something, she’ll let you win.  Proverbs 20:3 says, “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.” My mom should have 10,000 badges for this.

Family means everything to my mom.  We’re not as particularly close as my mom would like us to be, but she has never let the dream die.  She is constantly finding ways to keep us together.  Mom has devoted countless weekends to her grandkids and takes time off work to “bond” with them.  We would all be drifting further apart if not for her tenacity on this point.

My husband used to call her “Kind Connie”, now he calls her “Mom.”  I think that’s how everyone feels after they have spent any amount of time with her.  She is gracious, thoughtful, caring, and a consummate servant to her family.  Most of what she does is behind the scenes, but she never misses a detail . . . literally never.  I love you, Mom, and I’m so thankful God chose you to be my mom.

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Inspired By…

We, at On the Willows, are inspired by YOU. You inspired us to start this blog.

You are wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends, sisters, professionals, hard workers, students, missionaries, artists, athletes, travelers, leaders, dreamers, influencers (breathe!) – what’s not to be inspired by?

You are each making a difference in your own way, and we love to know your stories and share them with others.

We are introducing a new, ongoing series called “Inspired By…” Inspiration is a very moving, motivating, powerful thing. It’s actually defined (according to Dictionary.com) as, “filling with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence.” Inspiration can move a person to be someone they’ve never been before, or do something they’d never thought themselves capable of.

We’re excited to share articles from our contributors about their inspirations, in hopes that you might be inspired as well.

**If you have an inspired article that you’d like to contribute for this series, please contact us at info@advicepsychic.net!

Photo credit .

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Never Give Up On Anyone

As we travel through life’s journey, it seems God is constantly bringing people in and out of our lives. While some encounters are brief or seemingly meaningless, others are life-changing. There are times we find ourselves inexplicably drawn to certain people for reasons unbeknownst to us at the time. For me, one of these unique encounters happened in Ms. Hester’s freshman English class.

As someone who really hated English, it was key for me to sit next to a peer I could tell was smart. While I may not have been a literary genius, I was bright enough to know I could get by “with a little help from my friends.” So that “friend” was going to be the quiet kid in the corner who never seemed to smile much. I could tell he was brilliant. In fact, by the end of the semester I told my mom there was no doubt he was going to be Valedictorian.

Over the next few years, while I had many close friends in my classes, I always chose to sit by him. We were from completely different parts of town and had two very different backgrounds, but my mysterious, shy little genius left me captivated with curiosity. An odd pair of friends to say the least.

It didn’t take me long to realize why he didn’t smile much. His mother had recently passed away from cancer and his home was broken by the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. In the midst of the usual teenage angst, he was also angry and confused about why he had to go through such pain. I knew he wasn’t a Christian and didn’t go to church on a regular basis. I also knew there was nothing more I wanted than to see him smile. He became my “project” of sorts and our friendship grew. Then came one particular moment that completely altered the path of our friendship …

As we sat in math class one day, my friend turned to me and simply said, “Why do you have so much joy?” It caught me completely off guard. Immediately I knew there was an obvious answer … JESUS!! He’s my Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. He’s what gives me hope and a future. But in that moment, I panicked. I blurted out something along the lines of, “I don’t know, I’m just a happy person I guess,” and changed the subject. It’s a moment my friend has since said he doesn’t even remember. But I remember. I remember the guilt it left with me, the pit in my stomach that wouldn’t leave. What a perfect, golden opportunity to share the Gospel with my friend who obviously needed to hear a message about God being close to the brokenhearted, and I blew it.

As the months passed, I was continually burdened by his question. I began inviting him to church with my family hoping that he would hear the Good News of Christ and receive it with joy. But time passed and nothing really changed. I prayed and prayed that he would surrender his life to Jesus, that he would find great comfort and peace in the God who created him, but still nothing.

My senior year I got a job, and with my very first paycheck, I bought a Bible for my friend. I knew Isaiah 55 said God’s Word never returns void but always accomplishes His purpose. The following summer I made sure he went to Young Life camp where he’d hear that Jesus died on the cross for his sins, because of God’s great love. But no visible signs pointed towards my friend’s salvation, and it was disheartening.

Graduation rolled around and low and behold, who was Valedictorian? My friend of course, just as I’d called it back when we were freshmen. The following fall he went off to Duke University and we kept in touch. He said he was going to church up there some, and I found that encouraging. I continued to pray for his salvation, but his eyes were just not opened.

Perhaps you have someone in your life like my friend. Someone you long to see made into a new creation through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Praying for these loved ones over the course of years and decades can be exhausting. At times it seems completely unfruitful and can leave us easily discouraged. But take heart, friends. Stay the course. Never give up on the ones God’s laid upon your heart. While it is not up to us whether or not our friends come to salvation, we must remember the men in Luke 5 who lowered their crippled friend down through a roof to the feet of Jesus. The Bible says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.'” Miracles can and do happen every single day when we bring people before the feet of Jesus.

Eight years after our freshman English class, and six long years after he asked me why I had so much joy, my friend accepted Christ into his life. And much to my surprise, not only did I gain a brother in Christ, but down the road I also gained a Godly husband.

While I’m still praising God for his conversion today, I’m also thinking about all my other friends and loved ones who’ve yet to go from darkness to light. Some seem so far away from understanding the goodness of God that it would take an absolute miracle for them to be saved. But while the journey is long and the road is hard, I’m not going to give up on them. Nope. Because Jesus didn’t give up on me. And I believe in miracles.

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