Mimosa — the name of a lovely flowering tree — also is the name of a lady of courage. Let me tell you her true story.
Mimosa and I became friends through the pages of a book written by Amy Carmichael in the 1920’s. I’ll have to introduce you to Amy properly on another day. Both lived in India a hundred years ago.
Right now as I write this, there are other ladies living in refugee camps. Life is sparse. A hundred years ago and now? Faith has cost them all they own.
The gospel, the Good News! All Mimosa had was a few moments introduction to God as the living, loving God of all gods, the one Who made her and all things. She was visiting the Dohnavur Fellowship where her sister Star lived. Then her Hindu father snatched her away, refusing her pleas to hear more.
Though the “stick danced” for Mimosa, a little flame of understanding lit her heart. She firmly refused to smear ashes on her forehead for Siva, the family’s god of choice. She had a heart of love for the loving Father God she knew almost nothing about.
Fast forward to an arranged marriage, an unscrupulous family member who weaseled her dowry away from her, and a husband whose caste did not encourage him to work. Three babies later and no money, Mimosa toiled in the fields to keep food on the table. She prayed regularly in her little pantry, spreading out her sari to God.
With no Bible, no church, and no Christian fellowship, Mimosa clung to the few things she had learned about God as a child. Her neighbors and her family mocked her faith. But the worst was still to come.
Her husband was bit by a poisonous snake and went blind and mad. She had no one to watch her babies while she worked in the fields, and then her infant son became very ill. While her husband was bedridden and her little son lay dying, her roof caved in during monsoon rains, and she had to find temporary shelter for her family.
“I am not offended with you,” Mimosa told God. Her infant son had died. The village blamed her for his death as she refused to buy a charm for his healing. More cruel mocking in her hour of pain…
Her husband regained his sight and sanity but had no urge to better his family. Often he lived with relatives leaving Mimosa to fend for herself. Mimosa bore two more sons.The main trouble was keeping the rice and curried vegetables on the table. One night she prayed for food and it seemed no answer was coming. She did not want to dishonor God in her unbelieving village by asking for help.
A knock at the door around midnight — there stood the one kind relative she had. She lit the lamp, for he had been unable to sleep until he brought over rice and curried vegetables. Mimosa and her boys feasted at midnight.
No Bible studies, no pat on the back, no words of encouragement. She could not read nor write. Her sister Star did not know how to reach her.
And then her oldest boy smeared Siva’s ashes on his forehead so that he might work at a Hindu shop.
Her heart broke. She wanted her boys to know the one true God. Yet how could she teach them?
At Dohnavur her sister Star was praying for Mimosa. Never giving up hope of seeing her and her boys.
Once again Mimosa remembered Dohnavur, prayed, sold her last dowry items, and set out to make sure her sons had the chance to really learn about God. The village was in an uproar. She would be breaking caste. Her husband and the relatives he lived with opposed her. Yet she still set out with her boys on foot. Three days later they arrived.
Spreading out her sari to God and not smearing ashes to Siva on her forehead finally brought Mimosa and her sons to a place of truth, comfort, and safety. One word from God’s Word had been a lamp to her feet all those years.
Sisters, keep praying in hope. Whatever hardships you are facing, hope in God’s love and Word.
My mom lived in over a dozen homes in my first ten years of life.
No, she was not in the military.
She got married when she was 18 and my Dad was 19. She moved wherever my Dad could find a job and affordable housing. Like Ma Ingalls of Little House fame, she made a home for us wherever we went. Curtains in the windows, homemade bread, and a tablecloth on the table were standards in my home. My mom showed me heroic courage in her cheerful acceptance of old houses, old cars with no AC, and garage sale clothing. She was over 3,000 miles from her parents and all of her family. I cringe when I think of how hard this was for her in those early years with three little people. No support, no money to call home — we were literally all she had, and she loved us like there was no tomorrow.
She taught me to be thankful even when life was tough.
“Cheer up, ye saints of God, there’s nothing to worry about, nothing to make you feel afraid, nothing to make you doubt. Remember Jesus never fails, so why not trust Him and shout. You’ll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning.” Mom would sing this to us as we were stuffed in the back seat of the car with 4/50 AC on many a blazing hot day in coastal SC. (4/50 AC refers to 4 windows rolled down as you travel down the highway at about 50 miles per hour.) It seems ludicrous now. We were far from saintly. We whined and scrapped with each other constantly.
She made us be nice to each other — eventually.
“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Mom wore this saying out. She also made us think of five nice things to say to each other when the sibling insults got out of hand. I appreciate this so much now as my siblings are my dearest friends. We learned a lot about kindness and forgiveness from Mom telling us our rude ways were not acceptable. I am working on this now with my daughter. I soon figured out that not all moms teach this to their children. I am blessed.
She read many wonderful stories to us.
Yes, the Little House books were on the list. Most of the stories were of brave (or scared) people doing brave things. We actually did not miss TV in our early growing up years. We had real heroes that came to life in the pages of books we shared. I was very, very familiar with all the heroes of faith in the Bible, heroes with flaws, but brave men and women of faith nevertheless. A child needs heroes.
What does this have to do with chronic illness and caregiving?
Gratitude comes from faith that all things, even the yucky or terribly hard things, are working together for good to those who love God. Romans 8:28. In I Corinthians 13, we learn how love is supposed to look in everyday life. That kind of love is often tested when your hurting spouse is cranky because of suffering, or you have to shoulder his responsibilities along with your own. Saying five nice things to him can really be a challenge! Thank the Lord, Mom made me practice. Do I always succeed? No, I can relate closely to those flawed heroes of Bible fame.
Because of Mom’s example of cheerful faith, gratitude, and perseverance, I am encouraged in my rocky, uphill climb of marriage to a chronically ill husband. My mom is truly my humble hero.
What if your mom is not your hero?
- I have dear, dear people in my life who have had terrible moms. That is the raw, bleeding truth. Some of these people have become amazing moms. That did not happen by accident! God chooses the weak things to confound the mighty.
- Off the top of my head I can mention a few amazing ladies to use as your personal role models. For examples of faith, courage, and compassion, read the lives of Amy Carmichael or Gladys Alyward. There are many more in history.
- Look for a truly wise, godly mentor at your church. Ask around. Whom do the moms look up to and turn to for advice?
- Make a list of areas you want to grow in using I Corinthians 13 as a guide. Study the Bible passages that relate using a concordance.
- Pray for God to continue to do His good work in you. In the sermon today we were reminded how God’s Spirit prays for us when we do not know how to pray. That is me all the time!