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The Little General

My mother, a leader and class act.

My Mom

My mother is a descendant of farmers and educators. Every summer, we went to Mississippi to visit the land of my ancestors. We would trek through the wooded country to see "The White Place" and check on the cattle. My cousins and I would play in red clay, terrorize our aunt's chickens, and slam doors running in and out of our relative's home. Running wild without much supervision because our mothers knew we were safe. Every house along our land belonged to a relative; we could be free.

My favorite memory would be staying up all night reading. I would read until the first beams of sunlight would peek through my great grandparents living room windows. And then, I would sneak out the front door and quietly cross the yard to greet the horses. They would only come to the gates at sunrise and sunset, the coolest part of the day.

I have always loved animals and spent many years begging for a pony. My pleas went unacknowledged for some time because I am allergic to everything. My parents feared my asthma and allergies could not handle any new additions. However, one summer, everything changed. We drove about an hour outside of Chicago, before the pungent aroma of hay and manure caught my attention.

My mother signed me up for an equestrian camp. We would wake up two hours early every morning, so she could drop me at camp before heading to her summer teaching class. I spent my childhood learning different breeds, watching and re-watching Black Beauty, and memorizing My Friend Flicka. Now a dream became reality, caring for and riding horses daily. My favorite stallion was Eagle; he was gentle and spirited.

The camp would take us on daily trail rides, and at the end, we would race back to the stables. But I was afraid and would only encourage Eagle to trot. His frustration was palpable, but I could not relinquish control. On the last day of camp, I decided to trust Eagle; better yet, I decided to trust myself. When we crossed from the woods into the pasture, I whispered a prayer and kicked my heels. My stallion's name was prophetic; we soared across the green. My body did not feel limited for the first time in my life. I was bigger than my body; I could fly.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon watching the Land Rover Equestrian Championship in Lexington, KY. And I could not help but smile at the memory of Eagle and my mom driving me to that camp. She feared my asthma would limit my participation and still signed me up. Now there are many stories I could tell of my mother, but on this Mother's Day, I wanted to share a cherished childhood memory. My parents went out of their way to give me access to my very own pony. And he still brings tears to my eyes 20 years later.

When I think of my mother. I remember the nights she stayed up caring for me, taking me to emergency rooms and specialists, and advocating for my health. I remember being the kid in evening classes, doing my homework while she pursued her master's degree. I am forever grateful for my mother's example of perseverance and dignity through adversity. Her patience and fierce love have been a guiding light in life. Whenever I have faced a challenge and wanted to quit, I am reminded of her goodness and sacrifice.

My mother has gifted me with tenacity, a love for understanding and valuing history, and a heart of service. In affliction, she has carried herself with grace and without complaint. The Proverbs 31 passage is often used to celebrate mothers. And trust, Marvis has all of those qualities and more. But there are two particular passages I want to highlight in honor of my mother today. In Jeremiah 12:5 ERV, God says to Jeremiah: "Jeremiah, if running in a race against men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you trip and fall in a safe place, what will you do in a dangerous place? And Isaiah 40:31 NLV, "But they who wait upon the Lord will get new strength. They will rise up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weak."

Thank you, Mama, for showing me how to run with horses and gifting me my very own Eagle.


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