I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I learn from other people. You know, you really do become like the people you hang out with. It reminds me of Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Well, after being married to my sweetie for 31 years, I’ve had lots of opportunity to learn from my mother-in-law, Joan. I just visited with her yesterday and realized that she has had quite an impact on me. Here are just a few things I’ve learned from her.
1. Keep going no matter how much it hurts. Joan is a cancer survivor. She bravely faced breast cancer soon after I met her. After surgery and radiation, her body has never been the same, but thankfully, alive! She has suffered the consequences of no longer having lymph nodes which means she is constantly threatened by infections. She is now in constant pain since she needs a knee replacement and it is not safe for her to have surgery. And yet, nothing stops her! I often ask if I can do something for her, but she says no. As she explained, “I need to keep making myself do things or I’ll just get weaker and unable to do anything.” It’s so true! And she does keep going through the pain.
2. Give and then give some more. Missions and missionaries are a passion of Joan’s. Through the years, she has given not only her money towards missions, but her time and talents. Missionaries have stayed for prolonged periods of time in her home. And for awhile, Joan was a missionary herself with Wycliffe translators, JAARS. That meant she had to sell her home and move away from family. I’m always amazed at all the missionaries that she knows by name and prays for.
3. Make your home beautiful. Joan has a way of making her home a lovely oasis. I remember shortly after Matt and I moved into our first home, Jo brought a beautiful floral arrangement to us. She arranged it herself and put it in our bare bathroom. She said, “A room should have beauty and not just be utilitarian.” I’ve never forgotten that and often hear her voice as I decorate our home.
4. Take crafting with you. As a young mother anticipating my in-laws arrival, it was quite intimidating. Our home was a mess with three little boys and I felt overwhelmed. I was usually able to clean up and prepare meals, but I didn’t always have anything else planned for us to do. That was quite alright. I did not need to worry about entertaining Jo while the men did, well…manly things. As the boys napped, she would take out a quilt she was working on and be happy as we chatted. She didn’t even mind if I snoozed a bit. Oh, and she always brings food! Such a wonderful help to a young, cash strapped family.
5. Share the things that are precious to you while you still can. Jo never minces words and I felt some shock as she gave me a gift and said she wanted me to have it now while she was alive. “You never know when you’ll go and I want you to have this now.” I opened the present to find a beautiful piece of Depression Glass. My sweet mother-in-law knew that I was interested in this antique glass and she had some. Why would she keep this treasure when I could enjoy it? What a giving heart!
6. Share your home with others. Even now when Jo is in pain, she opens her home. It sounds like they have people over more often then we do! I still have lots to learn in this area of hospitality, but she sure is a good example. Just open your doors and let them in.
7. Encourage others in their talents. Each time I visit with my mother-in-law she fusses over the things I do. Jo always notices my handmade jewelry and wants to examine each piece with great enthusiasm. She makes me feel like I could do anything! And always prominently displays the handcrafted gifts that I have given her. Jo is an example to me to make gifts for others too. I still have a Noah’s Ark baby quilt that she stitched hanging on my wall.
8. Laugh at yourself. Some of the stories Jo tells are ones that make herself the butt of the joke. But she doesn’t care. One of her favorites is the time she and another woman got lost (before gps systems) and asked for directions. They were driving to the Friendship airport but couldn’t find their way. Finally, she stopped a man on the street and said, “Excuse me, we are looking for friendship!” I guess the man looked shocked and she still laughs to think of what he must have thought of her. But then there is the time that she was with her husband at a conference. He was one of the main speakers and the hotel was full of people that he would be addressing. One morning at the escalator to the lobby she kissed him and said, rather loudly, “Last night was fun! Let’s do it again next year. What did you say your name was?” She sure has kept Dad on his toes!
9. Love your man with all you’ve got. She and I have one of the few Broscious men. They are treasures and we know it! Every time I see Jo, she makes a point of telling me how wonderful her man is. And they’ve been together for a long time.
10. Most important, praise God though it all! Life has not always been easy for Jo. In fact, she has been through a lot. And yet, whenever I see her, she encourages me in Christ. She loves Jesus with her whole heart and it shows. No matter the pain, she praises God. What an example!
Thank you, Jo – Mom, for all you’ve taught me. Lots of love, Janine