Life Builders: Ruth Lewis (My Mom)

Ruth Lewis and Baby Tiger (on the autobahn)

The Best Mom Ever!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my Life Builders Series, I am in the process of writing blogs about those people who have contributed to my success in life. I wish to honor them by acknowledging the way they built me up. My mother is certainly one of those people.

My First Christian Model

My parents were the first people to model Christian living in my life. For my mom, being a Christian was always so much more than just showing up to church on Sunday mornings. Yes, we did that. And yes, sometimes it was my mom who encouraged us to go when we didn’t really feel like it. But being Christian was never just a matter of attendance in our family. It was a way of life.

I often didn’t know what was going on when my parents were doing what they did. Maybe that’s the best kind of modeling? They didn’t trumpet their good works for everyone to praise them for it. Most of what I saw them do, they did it quietly and often times with no obvious or apparent rewards or praise.

I remember the time when someone approached me at church (Center Chapel One in Fort Bliss) to express his gratitude to me for something my parents had done for him and his family. I was actually surprised by what this man had to say because I had no idea my parents had helped their family. But that was the first of many similar incidences. My parents made a habit of helping families who needed it. Us kids were just along for the ride and didn’t really know what was going on.

You know, when I hear people say that they hate Christians, what I hear them saying  inside my head is “I hate your mom and dad.” I hear that because I know my parents have lived genuine Christian lives. If you hate Christians, then you hate the people who help families out when they need it….not just by sending a cash donation to some mega charity, but by giving what little they had to someone who had less than they did. If you want to know what a real Christian is before you decide you hate them, take a good long look at my parents first. That’s who you are saying you hate.

What’s interesting about my parents’ generosity is that they were like this even when there wasn’t much to give. I remember the hard times. My parents never used those hard times as an excuse to behave any differently. My parents were/are not fair weather Christians.

Our Daily Bread

I started reading the Bible at a very early age. I think I thought this was normal and I have to thank my mom for thinking that way. Going to Sunday school every week made it seem normal to me and I’m happy for that.

But my mother also used to receive devotionals by RBC Ministries called Our Daily Bread. I used to sneak into her room and snatch these little booklets to read through them, typically all in one sitting. These were little tidbits of wisdom, reflecting on various verses from the Bible. If I remember correctly, they were the first Christian readings that I had read outside of the Bible. These booklets and other publications I borrowed from my mom helped me to connect what I was reading in the Bible to modern day living. If she hadn’t been reading them, I may not have had the same access to similar materials and I would have begun my adult life from a different spiritual place.

Typical Mom Stuff

Of course there was always the typical mom stuff to appreciate her for. She often worried about us kids. I remember the one time that I told my parents I was going out to the desert. When we lived in El Paso, most of my free time was spent either practicing trumpet or spending time in the desert or up in the Franklin Mountains. This one time I remember changing my mind half way there and turning around to come home. But when I got to a friend’s house (Larry Pipkin), he invited in to his house to play games or something. Hours passed and it got dark, so I figured it was time to go home.

When I got home, the family was very excited and not in a “hey, I’m happy to see you” kind of way. Apparently they had spent some time looking for me in the desert and couldn’t find me. They thought something bad had happened. I had made my parents so upset, especially my mom, that the guilt of it caused me to never do anything like that again. From that point forward I knew to call to let them know when my plans had changed.

Other typical mom stuff included things like getting loans when I needed them when I first moved away. I don’t think I borrowed money very often. I don’t remember doing that. But the times when I did were extremely urgent and important. They helped out when I needed it and it made a big difference in my young adult life.

My mother also did a lot of the more traditional things that people don’t do today, not Americans anyway. She sewed my clothes. Sometimes she made clothes for me from patterns. She cooked thousands of home cooked meals for the family. She gave me rides to anything that was too far to walk to. She kept the house clean and did all the shopping. She was a traditional housewife and I’m proud of her for doing that when it probably wasn’t very popular. I know it’s not a popular thing today. In that respect I feel as if I came from a normal home.

Higher Education

My mom does have a degree and taught school at different periods during her life. I believe she was a social studies teacher. What she brought to the family, through her education and teaching experience was a positive attitude towards learning and doing well in school. Both of my parents had great attitudes towards learning but they applied it in different ways. My mother’s approach was a bit more formal than my father’s. She helped us with things like spelling and geography. She quizzed us often, usually on the fly, sort of like what I do with Alex today.

One thing I remember doing a lot of when we were kids was traveling to special historical locations where we could see the places where history happened. I remember going to the petrified forest and the grand canyon. We went on several factory tours. We once saw a house that was once on the underground slave railroad where we saw how they hid the slave from the authorities looking for them. I remember going to see the liberty bell only to find that it had been moved (that was a long time ago so my memory is a bit fuzzy on that one). We went to a lot zoos as well. We did all sorts of things like that, so much that I believe it impacted my attitude about learning. It’s one thing to read information in a book. It is another thing all together to actually walk where the history actually happened.

You know, I think a lot has changed since then. They have taken these places, which once served as educational stimuli, and turned them into entertainment centers. They have cheapened the learning experience while jacking up the prices. I’m not saying they are all like that, but the places that are not that way cannot seem to compete with the rest. So yeah, I think a lot of that is changing now. The educational locations we once knew are not as genuine as they once were.

Thank You Momma

I could go on talking about my mom like this for days and still only cover the tip of the iceberg. Like I said at the beginning of this post, this Life Builders series is meant to acknowledge those who contributed to my life. No one has contributed so much over so long of a period as my parents did. They had to put up with me living at home for almost twenty years. He he he… My mom should get a medal for that. But seriously, she is a wonderful, special, caring woman who gives so much of herself. Today she is singing several nights per week with various choirs, she meets with different groups from the church and plays an active role in the lives of my niece and nephew. She is an inspiration.

Thank you Momma for being who you are. I love you.

 

  1. I just read your comments on the impact your parents (especially your Mom) have had on your life. As I read through the article, it just brings back so many of the great memories we have of your parents and your family. What a great tribute to your Mom. Thank you for the reminder of why we have loved you and all of your family throughout the years and why we count ourselves as one of those who has been touched by their kindness and friendship for many years. Have a great Christmas with your family and celebrate the reason for the season. Hope to see you one day again on this side of heaven.

    • Hello Dennis,

      Thanks for leaving this comment. You guys have always been special friends over the years. Some of the fondest of my earliest memories are of going to visit you. You are good, caring people and it is an honor to call you our friends. Thank you and merry Christmas to you too!

      Eddie

  2. I can say a good old fashioned “Amen” to that and in today’s language a big “YES”.
    I read your heart in your lovely note (My Mom) life builders: Great to hear love and respect for great parents. we should do it more often this is the good news !
    I too have thank my Mom for the Spiritual, social, hands on practical life skill’s she has influenced in my life and that of my siblings. (I am the eldest of 6)
    I am a Mom and I love it when my son’s let me know they love and appreciate me.
    God bless

    Charmaine Berndt

    • Hello Charmaine,

      It’s great to hear from you. You’re right. It is important to acknowledge our parents this way.

      For me, this is an important part of exercising Biblical love. What I’ve learned in this past year, studying Chor 13, is that the WAY we show our love for others in the context of not being proud is to acknowledge how they have contributed to our lives. My life builders series is an effort to do that formally, not just to put into practice what I preach, but also to demonstrate this part of love as an example for others to follow.

      Anyway, I am glad you liked it. I just friended you on facebook, btw.

      Be blessed and have a merry Christmas.

      Eddie

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