My Mother's Legacy
It is a privilege for me to share with you the story of my mom and her choices, and more importantly the lasting impact of those choices and behaviors have had in my life. I'm here because of my mom. Not just because she gave birth to me, but also because she led me to the Lord and told me to do what I do today professionally.
But before I tell you more about more these lessons, let me share a little bit of context about her.
She was the younger of a family of two sisters and her. My grandmother was a piano teacher and extremely artistic. My grandfather had a fabric store. Hard worker.
My mom finished high school. She was a very good at math and very artistic as well (she painted, she baked, made her own clothes, did wonderful manual embroidery, and was the right hand to my father who was a very successful entrepreneur.
Her hobby was to travel the world. Which she did.
She became a Christian when she was about 50 years old. Later on she became the church treasurer in Venezuela which she performed the rest of her life. She became an instructor of our Bible Institute in our church in Venezuela.
In 1993, when Gateway opened, she sewed all the curtains for all the windows. Alejandro and I (along with my 3-month-old daughter Maria at the time) were part of the founding members along with Steve and Mona Walker. I was Gateway's treasurer for 17 years.
She died on July of 2001 of cancer.
I will share three lessons that my mom taught me.
When I was 16, I started to feel afraid starting everyday at 6 pm. I could not sleep by myself. So I had to sleep with my parents in their bedroom. I felt that spirits were around me. When I told my mom about my experience, she took the opportunity to share the gospel with me and how Jesus could help me. She told me to pray which I did, but nothing changed. After a few days my mom told me to do something completely different - give thanks to the Lord, even if I did not feel like it. She acknowledged that at the beginning it was going to feel weird and that the Lord did not mind even if I did not feel it.
After that I went to my room, knelt and started praying, and suddenly I felt that I could not stop praising and giving thanks to the Lord. I accepted Jesus in my heart and I felt a bright light fill my room and I felt liberated of whatever was bothering me..... I ran and I told my mom that I felt Jesus in my heart. It was powerful until today. I shared my testimony with Alejandro (we were recently dating) and to my surprise, he said he wanted to feel the same. My mom brought both of us to the Lord with the power of giving thanks.....
Last year during our Thanksgiving celebration, Alejandro shared that our family had a very hard year. What he did not tell you was that our oldest daughter was suffering from depression, attempted suicide and was sexually assaulted. I share this with you because she has been brave and honest to share with others about her journey. In the darkest hours when we did not know what to do, what to say, we could not fully grasp what was happening I prayed and give thanks to the Lord. I saw miracles in front of my own eyes and how she was able to recover.
To this day I use the power of always giving thanks even when I don't like it, I don't understand it, I don't feel like giving thanks to him but I obey and give thanks to him always.
The second lesson,
Both my father and my mom became Christians when I was about 16. My father was deeply transformed. As I mentioned before he was very successful businessman. We all were proud of him and his accomplishments. He was also sick. He had cirrhosis of the liver. One day my father called for a family meeting with my mom, my oldest brother and my two older sisters. I'm also the younger child of my family. That day he confessed to all of us that he had an affair and maintained a second family with two kids for the last 18 years. He looked at all of us - he asked for forgiveness and said that the he repented, he knew the Lord has forgiven him and was asking all of us to do that as well. We were all chocked. The range of emotions are hard to recall but I can feel them still today in my body.
Then the most incredible thing happened. My mom looked at him and said "I forgive you and I will stay with you." My dad lived the rest of his life trying to make up for his sin, and served the Lord until he died. He gave most of his money to help spread the gospel. As far as my mom, not only did she accept the kids from the affair, but she also promised to give them what they deserved by law when my father died. That moment had a profound impact on my life until today. My mom as a young Christian exhibited the same qualities (forgiveness) that Jesus showed when the woman committed adultery and went to see Jesus. I'm sure the pain, betrayal, disappointment my mom suffered was beyond what I could comprehend, but years later she did what she said. She always did. This is a principle that I have kept and use for my life. My kids know it as well as Alejandro.
One thing to call out is that "Forgive and forget" is psychologically impossible. I learned this from a sermon that Pastor Steve shared with me many years ago from Pastor Sam Storms. Basically, lifetime events (good or bad, especially bad - sins committed against us and the wounds we have suffered" are hard to forget. They are like scars - they don't hurt anymore but they will always be there. We know Jesus has forgiven us and Jesus paid our debt.
It took me a while to forget and accept my father. When I did, I was released and freed of my pain, resentment and disappointment. The power of forgiveness and acceptance - that I learned through that powerful moment with my mom - has helped me tremendously to not hold resentment against people and forgive when family members, friends and even co-workers hurt me. I hope they do the same with me, since none of us are perfect.
Today I'm an executive in one of the largest technology companies in the world. I'm here because my mom told me what to do professionally, and of course by the grace of God that has provided opportunities along the way. I obeyed her. Not only when she told me to accept Jesus as my savior but also when she told me to study computer science. She had the vision more than 30 years ago that computers were going to be the future. I was planning to study psychology. But I was good in math and I followed her advice.
My job requires that I travel every week to Seattle, I'm in meetings every hour of the week, I have multiple presentations, meetings, and need to be available 24/7. It is a very stressful and hectic job. How do I do it, in case you wonder?
My source of strength is based on the power of prayer and listening to the counsel of people with character and strong values. (my mom, my aunt, my husband, my dear friends, my pastors and Christian friends/brothers. I pray every morning for my kids, for wisdom, for grace with others at work as I start my day.... and Alejandro does the same. That gives me strength. My mom used to pray for her children every morning. No matter what. I knew that I can count on her to pray for me, our family and any of our needs. I do the same today.
Our kids know that we pray for them and when they are in need (a test, a presentation, a hard conversation, a sick friend, or whatever they tell us to pray) we pray and no matter how hard the situation is we praise the Lord, giving thanks all the time.
At times, I wonder if I have instructed my kids enough to walk with the Lord and be ready for life. Some days I feel good, some days I don't. A few weeks ago Elida was applying to a coding academy and they asked her a fill-in-the-blank question that read: I am ___ because of ___.
Elida sent me her response that reads:
I am a computer science major because of my mom. My mom has been a major influence in my interest in computers, and always has been since I was very young. She currently works in the tech field, and ever since she saw I loved computers, she encouraged me to look further into computer science and coding. My mom was the one who gifted me my first computer and my first gaming console, which were the devices that first sparked my interest in technology. She also put me in my first coding class in high school, and after seeing that I loved it, she encouraged me to eventually choose the applied computer science major at my university. She has been encouraging me my entire life and my only hope is that I can make her proud in the upcoming years of my career.
Happy international women's day, mom. Thanks for being my rock. I am strong because you are strong.
My continued prayer is that my kids realize the power of listening to the right person - primarily God and people with strong values. I hope that other kids realize that as well.
I had the privilege to have two moms - my real mom and my aunt. There were very good friends, wives of two brothers. They have similar experiences that made them very strong. My mom died 17 years ago. My aunt took her place and became the grandma of my kids. Now she is 95 (you know her). She has been in the hospital for the last 2 weeks and it is a delicate situation. So pray for her.
To conclude, I want to leave you with A Mother's Love by Jill Lemming: