Things My Mama Told Me

No matter how you slice it, my Mama was a girl born too early.

She came along before her parents were ready, before girls could play the drums or full court basketball, before most girls went on to finish college, things she pined for even later.

She married my Daddy on Valentine's Day when she was only eighteen. About 18 months later, she gave birth to me. She was all of nineteen. She did not think she was ready to be a mama, but I was not born too early. She and Daddy always told me I was born right on time and they liked growing up right alongside me.

This photo was taken soon after her first Mother's Day. The pastor gave her a white rose and she sat on Daddy's lap and cried. She knew even then that motherhood is not for the faint of heart.

My mama's name is Josephine, named after her Daddy, but her friends call her Jo. Now, we all call her by her grandma name, Gee.

Gee was always ready with southern sayings like:

"No matter how you slice it."
"Don't sass me or I'll snatch you bald-headed."
"It came a gully washer."
"Now, quit being ugly."
"Bless her heart."
"I was madder than a wet hen."

And lots more about chickens.

These aren't only witty sayings from her childhood, but full of wisdom to give me too, wisdom that she did not get from her birth mother, Bobbi. Bobbi left for the store one day and never came back. But Jo had a Daddy who loved her and other mamas, true ones like Mama Kendrick who raised her, Aunt Tootsie who helped while her own husband was away at war and her stepmother Mildred, a surgical nurse with a knack for baking from scratch, quilting and sewing. Mildred would sew Jo's wedding dress so she could marry my Daddy.

Here are 10 simple things my mama spoke to me that were good for my heart to hear. They have proven to be life-giving and I have made a point to speak them to our children.

Terri, you're a good decision-maker.
(I knew she believed in me even if I did things differently than she did.)

What does Mike think about it?
(She always encouraged me to be a team with my husband.)

Make yourself a cozy reading spot.
(Take care of yourself and refresh your heart.)

Get a library card.
(Reading can take you places, challenge your thinking and give you joy.)

Let me hear from you.
(She wanted to hear my voice and see my handwriting.)

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
(Being kind, sweet and working hard goes further than bitterness.)

Let's sit on the front porch and drink coffee.
(She wanted to spend time with me, connecting heart to heart.)

Beauty is as beauty does.
(How you act towards others is what makes you beautiful.)

Treat your brother and sister at least as good as your friends.
(Be as forgiving, generous & tender with your siblings as you are to the friends.)

That waffle iron is HOT.
(Listen to your mama. Learn from others who know a few things.)

If your mama didn't give you words of wisdom to guide you or the sweet words you thirsted for, that doesn't mean you can't have them for yourself or give them to your children. Here, take some of mine. Take some from other true mamas that God has given you. Listen for Jesus' mama-heart in the words of the bible and take them into your soul.

How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing

By the way, I did touch that HOT waffle iron. I looked right at her and laid my pudgy little hand flat on the piping hot mirror finish. We cried together over that one and she buttered my hand. (That was the burn remedy at the time!) It was a lesson learned well because. . .

Life is full of waffle irons.

That's my little quip, but it sounds like something that Gee might say to me. We'll have to talk about it over waffles for dinner. There's something comforting and carefree about eating a homemade waffle at night. Gee taught me that.

Thank you Gee, for being a very beautiful Mama and for all your words of wisdom. Bobbi really lost so much when she left for the store that day. I am grateful that she left you right where Daddy and I could find you.

I wonder, what simple words did your mama speak into your heart that breathed life in you?