Being in Canada this week I keep thinking about my mother.
This is the country where she was born, where she walked to schools and parks and stores, figured-skated, where she worked for the Red Cross during WWll, and where she met and married my father.
For the first 21 years of her life, my mother lived in Ontario, in a town called Woodstock, in a simple gray-stucco, narrow, two-story house at 506 Grace Street.
Her mother, my Canadian gramma, had also been born and raised on Grace Street. Not only that, but when she married, she moved into the house next door, and lived there until she died; her whole life lived on the same Grace Street. How strange compared to my mundivagant life!
I remember visiting my grandparents’ house, the breezy back porch, large flowers in the garden beds, the small detached garage, and my mother’s two spinster white-haired aunts snapping beans or pitting cherries on their side porch next door.
Peaceful memories for me.
Not so for my mom.
When Mom turned 80 years old, five years before her death, my dad had the idea that her life stories should be written down and he asked me to help her.
What a privilege: spending time with my mom, studying old photos, recording her voice, writing her words, gathering her stories together.
Today it is one of my treasures, this homemade book of memories and photos, which Mom titled “Counting It All Joy.”
Eugene Peterson said, “Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.”
I deeply appreciate my mother’s gift, inviting us into the lessons and blessings of her life.
And today I am remembering what I learned writing her stories.
Of course I already knew a lot about her.
I knew she was committed to God and His Word, and to her calling, serving the jewelry company she and my dad founded.
I knew she loved to serve her big family and to collect friends, inviting people to Texas, wherever she went.
I knew she loved baseball, colorful and artistic clothing, cute shoes, fine china, wearing jewelry, playing games and writing thank-you notes.
I even knew some of Mom’s unhappy stories, growing up with an alcoholic father, shame-filled, disgrace-filled memories of her life on Grace Street.
But as I viewed the long procession of her stories as a whole, I saw God’s grace was there from the very beginning.
I recently heard a description of grace using these three words:
Acts of restoration.
Although my mom did not come from a grace-filled home, she had a hunger for God and He gave her forgiveness, restoration, and laughter.
Hers was a real conversion, and therefore, the home I grew up in was converted also. I grew up knowing God’s forgiveness, acts of restoration, and laughter.
Especially laughter. Thank you, Jesus, for all that laughter!
So even though my mother was desperate to leave this cold north country, I am grateful to be here because it was here in Canada where my spiritual heritage began.
Here on 506 Grace Street.