In honor of Mother’s Day approaching, we’re going to have a litte chat about my mother-in-law, Cheryl. I know that Cheryl isn’t going to read this post because chances are good that she doesn’t know I have a blog, doesn’t know what a blog is, and doesn’t actually turn on or operate computers. Or cell phones. Or tablets. In fact, she finally gave up her rotary-dial telephone just a couple of years ago. I am not making that up. She refuses to acknowledge technology more recent than 1975.
But that is the worst thing I can say about her. And if that’s the worst thing about a mother-in-law, then I’d say I have no grounds for complaints. Some of you out there have been suffering with unpleasant in-laws for years and would trade places with me in an instant. But I won’t trade with you, because I’m keeping her.
My mother-in-law is kind, funny, and always willing to babysit the kids when we need to go out. But most of all, she is generous. Many people are willing to share from the excess in their life, like “Hey, I just realized I have twenty t-shirts. Do you want a couple?” Or, “I just bought ten pounds of cheese. Would you like a slice?” But it’s rare when a person goes without so they can give away what little they have. Like when you’re cooling your very hot house with two little window air conditioners, but you give away one of them to a person who doesn’t have any. Or when you give generous amounts of money to your family, but cook with pots that have no handles, on a stove that has two broken burners and an oven door that hasn’t shut for fifteen years.
Last year for Mother’s Day we had all had enough. We bought Cheryl a new stove. Seriously, the woman needed a working appliance. Could she have afforded one for herself? Of course! But she didn’t want to spend the money on herself, so she made the old one hobble along for years longer than necessary. She’d rather give away her money to those in need than buy things for herself. That’s why she drives an enormous old van that we (all the kids) have seriously dented and smashed on all sides. That’s why she buys herself no more clothes than absolutely necessary and that’s why she cooks with a pot that has no handle.
At Thanksgiving she handed me that old broken up thing and asked me to make gravy. Then she said, in all seriousness, “Don’t burn yourself.”
“Um, thanks. I’ll just use this hot pad on the leftover screw to the broken handle and try not to pour boiling gravy down my front.” I succeeded, by the way. No boiling gravy scars anywhere. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 says:
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”[a]
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (NIV, biblegateway.com)
That’s the secret of Cheryl’s generosity. She knows that God provides all her needs, so sharing means that God will pour more blessings into her life. Sometimes I wonder if she’s challenging God to a giving battle, trying to get down to bare bones just to see what He will do. God will do this for anyone who shares. He’ll bless us with our material needs, and He will bless us spiritually. He has unlimited resources and He wants to share them with His generous children.
For Mother’s Day this year, we’re buying Cheryl a new pot to go on that new stove. I’d like to buy her a whole new car, but I don’t think that’s in the budget this year. Maybe next.
Later this weekend I’ll post Mother’s Day Part 2 about my own dear mother. But that one will be a bit harder, because she’s my mother. I’ll have to think this one through very carefully.