We live in a society that has effectively persuaded the majority of parents that forfeiting ones personal comfort and “freedom” for the purpose of training their own children is too great a sacrifice. But as I look back over my life I am ineffably thankful that I had a mom who was willing to literally invest her life in mine. I know that as her child, I came first and that meant a lot.

My mind goes back to one night — one sentence — that forever engraved that fact in my mind. I was eleven years old and it was a perfect evening. My younger sisters and I had all piled in with Mom onto her king-sized waterbed. We all snuggled down under the blankets as Mom read to us from The Tales of Ranald Bannerman.

In the middle of the story my older sister came in with a message that someone from Washington D.C. was on the phone wanting to talk to her. Mom looked up and said, “Tell him I’m reading to my girls — I can talk to him tomorrow.” I couldn’t believe it! I knew Mom was protective of our nightly reading times but this was a little extreme. I mean, the famous gentleman on hold was an IMPORTANT PERSON! That little action engraved in my heart and mind that we were more important to her than anyone.

Even though I’m now an adult I still watch Mom’s life and learn from her example. For instance, unlike her daughter, Mom thinks very little about where she lands on the public opinion polls. She lives her life almost completely free of the “fear of man.” Whether her mailbox is overflowing with fan mail or loaded with criticism for a less than vogue stand she’s taken, she remains consistent. She would just as soon sit in her room and talk to her kids as be on National television or speak at a Women’s Conference — actually, if you asked her, she would tell you she prefers it.

Growing up, most of the kids my age were afraid of my mom because they only saw the seemingly austere, “Thus saith the Lord” and “No, you can’t do such-and-such” side of her. When I would tell her the different comments my friends would make about her being strict, an amused smile would flash across her face and she’d say, “I wish my young’uns were a little more afraid of me.”

Mom was, and is, a woman of high standards, and high expectations for her children. Dating? Don’t ask. Youth group? Waste of time. Staying up all night with friends? Can you say “Eleven o’clock sharp”? “Hanging out” was something you did with the laundry and “vegging out” was what we were at the end of gardening season. “Freaking out” was simply not allowed.

I never tried the reasoning tactics that other kids used to manipulate their parents like, “everyone else is doing it.” No, that wouldn’t have worked with my mom. In fact, it would inescapably have landed me in a lengthy discussion followed by a thesis assignment on, “The Dangers Of Negative Peer Pressure” or, “Why I need To Be A Leader” — and, at the time, I did not enjoy writing.

I have to admit, sometimes Mom’s expectations seemed so high that I didn’t think I could live up to them, but I kept trying. I know there were times when I wasn’t quite turning out like she had hoped, but if she felt like giving up, she never did.

If you know my mom, I think you’ll agree with me — Mom is totally unique. I still laugh when I’m on my way out the door to do yard work and hear Mom call after me, “If you chop your legs off with that lawn mower don’t come runnin’ to me!”

I smile when I think back to when I was a little girl and every once in a while Mom would wake me up just as the sun peeked over the horizon so that just the two of us could go out for breakfast — how I loved that uninterrupted one-on-one time together.

I was reminiscing with one of my sisters the other day about how Mom used to take us to the park before Church, so that we could “get our wiggles out” before having to sit still for so long. Not all parents would take those little extra steps for their children but Mom did.

We also have more than our share of not-so-fond memories like the time Mom and I were held up and robbed in Chicago (neither of us are real street smart). But even Mom turned it into a “teachable moment” and explained that there are times in life when it’s “better to be defrauded.” (At least we were still alive!)

Mom demonstrated for me the joy that comes from serving others and putting their needs ahead of your own. If someone was in the hospital Mom was often the first one there with flowers, words of faith and a fervent prayer for healing. Whether it was taking chicken soup to a sick neighbor, cleaning house for an elderly widow, or helping a family move who had to be out of their house by the end of the week, she taught me that “true Christianity happens in work clothes.”

We have had our share of tearful late-night discussions, and times when we simply agree to disagree, but one thing I know without a doubt is that she was the mom that I needed and without her guidance I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

Sure, there are things that I’ll do different if I have children, but there is a lot I’ll do just like Mom. And sure, I have my own trail to blaze, but I’m living a legacy and I have big shoes to fill. I will always be “Skeet Savage’s daughter” and that’s all right with me.

So, dear parents, if you are willing to lay down your life for your children, and train them in God’s ways you are promised in His Word — and I am here to testify — that your children will one day “rise up and call you blessed.”

Copyright 2009. Mercy Hope. Reprinted by CHEA of California with permission of the author.

Mercy Hope is a twenty-seven-year-old homeschooled graduate who loves Jesus and is passionate about sharing the abundant life that is only found through intimacy with Him! She does this through speaking, one on one counseling, and as a regular columnist for An Encouraging Word, a national women’s magazine. She is an interviewer for www.FaithTalks.com. Mercy works with various critical aspects of the Ministry at Wisdom’s Gate (www.WisdomsGate.org). She lives in Michigan where she can be found walking the beach at sunset. To learn more about Mercy, visit www.MercyHope.com.