Ode to My Mother

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Celebrating my mother on her 81st birthday

Estelle Elayne Butler Bryant was born this day 3/3/33 81 years ago. Many would agree that this world is a much brighter, better, happier place with the 72 1/2 years that she was on this earth. I love this picture because she was ALWAYS ready to dance even if she was just passing through a doorway. She didn’t wait for somebody to ask her to dance – she danced whenever she felt like it. She danced with sheer joy! She is dancing with Aunt Shirley (rt) I think it was the second line with the napkin in her hand. LOL!

I love to dance too because of her.

She was:
ENCOURAGER/GIVER: She was always encouraging sharing grace, a smile, a laugh, a kind word to everyone. In her last weeks in the hospital, she was introducing her nurses, attendants to us, sharing their hopes and dreams and encouraging them. Many at Howard remember the few words she spoke to them when she brought us up in our Freshman year. She was always giving (my Dad too) – She gave freely out of abundance or out of lack. She gave her time, her resources, her wisdom freely.

CREATIVE: My mother was wonderfully creative! She loved to create beautiful decorations and could imagine just about anything. She had wonderful ideas about projects, how to make things more interesting, and fun.

WARRIOR: She was a fighter. She fought for her family, for the disenfranchised, for the least of these. She lent her sword in other’s battles as well. She was relentless. Once she joined the battle with you, she would not let YOU give up. At the same time, she would put down her sword when she felt the battle was over or no longer worth fighting. She had nothing to prove. On the other hand, never a vengeful person you did not want to incur her icy wrath. She was not a yeller (don’t know why I didn’t inherit that trait) but she was very firm. Don’t mess with Layne!

PURPOSEFUL: My mother had a great sense of her purpose. Many did not understand why she endured certain relationships that appeared difficult and challenging. But her sense of destiny and purpose went far beyond her personal feelings about a person or a situation. She literally looked at the intended outcome and let that guide her actions. She was a BRAVE woman and CONFIDENT too.

KIND: My mother was a kind woman. Her kindness is one of the biggest gifts to me. She did not dwell on “haters” or “mean” people. She did not let them alter her opinion of others. She was kind behind the scenes to everyone. She did not need a reason. She extended grace because she was a conduit of grace. how how how I miss her.

FAITHFUL: My mother was faithful. She was a faithful and diligent friend, colleague, Board member, Christian, wife, mother. She was disciplined too. She believed God, she believed the Word of God and did not preach it. She lived it. She shared her faith by the way she lived. She was up at 5 most mornings reading her Bible and sipping her coffee. Another gift was her many notebooks and journals of prayers and notes from her prayer time, bible study and church. I found journals of prayers that she prayed for my future husband and children, for her friends, my Dad, challenging situations. In her Bible were prayers that she prayed and “gave to God” for Him to work out after she prayed. She trusted in the solutions that followed and kept it moving.

I am just so so full today and I could go on and on about my dearest Mother. So thankful to celebrate all that she was and still is to so many! Happy Birthday Mom!

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Present your gifts with joy!

Last night, I was mesmerized by the voice of Leontyne Price- Feb. 10th was her 87th birthday.  I listened for hours, first to videos of her performances and then her interviews. I realized then that she is the epitome of the verse Proverbs 16:18 that says A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. The clear perfection of her voice, performances, stage presence clearly demonstrate her steadfast belief that her voice was a gift from God and therefore she cherished it, nurtured/honed it, honored it and then presented it with great joy to the world. She did not just sing, she presented with great joy “thrilling” as she put it, her God given talent. God has given us GREAT gifts and talents that we must WHOLLY embrace and align ourselves accordingly to present with great joy and enthusiasm. Our gifts are really God’s gifts to the world, to make it a better place, to bring joy, healing, solutions, grace to others. Stop hiding your gift – the world needs it.

Leontyne Price NEA interview:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn8mEWvuvMg

Leontyne Price’s last performance at the Met.  the last 3 minutes is the emotional standing ovation she received which lasted for 20 minutes.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGfP38nd-U0

Someone is determined to be a blessing to me

Yes – It’s true.  Absolutely true.  I don’t know exactly what to do with it because I feel most unworthy.  She is a long time friend from college, though our friendship started after that time when we went to church together and we were in our mid 20s.   She thinks so highly of me, and reminds of things I said or done that I have no recollection of doing over our long friendship together.   We are VERY low maintenance friends. We don’t demand much of each others time and speak about 6 times a years – sometimes more, sometimes less. But mostly we laugh together (REALLY REALLY laugh) and serve together. I can call her anytime and ask her to do something (and vice versa) and with little hesitation do we respond and help for that period of time.  Lately, as my 50th birthday approaches, she has called me at least twice a month since August to find out what I’m doing to celebrate, how can she help, what dates am I thinking about so that she can clear her schedule, inviting me to whatever she is doing if I am not celebrating in a big way.  She called just this week to say that she would like to treat me to dinner if I’m not celebrating!!!  She is determined to bless me, to honor a significant time in my life.  I am greatly moved and quite overwhelmed by her desire to bless me.

This morning as I pondered her desire to be a blessing to me, it occurred to me this is how God is.   He is always waiting for opportunities to bless us, to honor our relationship with Him, to fellowship, to commune with us. Yes, we are unworthy, but this is how He is.  Remember the  prodigal son (in the Bible), who thought he only deserved to eat with his father’s servants, and yet when he returned, his father gave him a ring, a robe and a feast for coming back.  No matter how unworthy we feel or whatever we may have done, God is always trying to give to us. His hand is ALWAYS open.

So today,  I am so very thankful to God for this wonderful reminder of His persistent love toward us in the life of my dear friend.