When we were little, my mom would read us a bedtime story every night before tucking us in. I remember snuggling up on my bed and watching her mouth as she read the words.
She kept the books that she read to us and recently started reading them to Isaiah when we visited. Isaiah enjoyed them so much that she passed them along to us so that we can now enjoy them with Isaiah. As I look back on the pages and pictures, I realize that I had forgotten most of the stories. But there is one that I distinctly remember being my favorite.
I could still see the illustrations in my mind and recalled asking my mom to read it often. It was the story of a woman who ran into a burning house to get to her baby who was sleeping inside. In the course of rescuing her daughter, she was badly burned and unbecoming scars on her hands stayed as a reminder. When her daughter got older, however, she was embarrassed by her mother’s hands and thought they were ugly. Finally, the mother told her daughter, for the first time, of the sacrifice she made all those years ago to save her.
“My hands were beautiful until then,” she said.
Marjorie clasped the crooked hands in hers, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Mother dear,” she cried, “they are the most beautiful hands in all the world!”
The story went on to talk about another pair of hands that were wounded to rescue us. The marks of the nails that Jesus allowed to be driven into His hands to save us from the mess of our sin. The sacrifice that gave us life.
Each Mother’s Day, I grow more increasingly thankful for my own mother’s sacrificial love that gently led me to my Savior.
The hands that held my tiny body, changed stinky diapers, and stroked my newborn hair.
The hands that held mine as I learned to walk, as I crossed the street, and as walked to the bus stop.
The hands that wrapped around me during church. That I remember looking down at and touching and thinking they were beautiful.
The hands that opened Bibles and turned pages of hymnals and backed up and lived out every day of the week what we heard on Sundays.
The hands that bore a simple engagement ring and wedding band that symbolized her commitment to loving my daddy.
The hands that lovingly disciplined me when my rebellious, disrespectful mouth and heart needed it.
The hands that rubbed my back every night as she sang hymns and lullabies in the dark.
The hands that cooked hot meals every night and scrubbed dishes and washed countless loads of laundry.
The hands that cut coupons and pinched pennies and made sure we were always taken care of.
The hands that bandaged burned hands and skinned knees and wiped away innumerable tears.
The hands that clapped for me during soccer games and applauded me during piano recitals and after vocal solos.
The hands that sewed Christmas and Easter dresses and curled bangs and braided hair.
The hands that cupped my face to tell me I was beautiful when the world told me I was anything but.
The hands that handed me keys and taught me to drive a car and guard my heart.
The hands that pumped next to mine while we walked through the neighborhood and talked each evening.
The hands that welcomed my friends and served us late night snacks on weekends.
The hands that secured graduation caps and snapped photos and made scrapbooks.
The hands that built an extra room and cared for and served her own elderly mother when she could no longer care for herself.
The hands that waved tearful good-byes every time I left for college and held me close each time I returned home.
The hands that sacrificially wrote out checks for me to go to a great university because “This is where God wants you; He’s going to provide.”
The hands that made wedding plans, zipped up dresses, and made sure my hair was just right because “my princess found her prince”.
The hands that folded tightly in prayer but opened up to let me go and never held me back.
The hands that painted walls and sewed curtains and cleaned bathrooms just because “I like doing it to help you.”
The hands that shook with delight when she knew she would be a grandmother and soothed cranky babies when a new mama needed a break.
The hands that answered many desperate phone calls and typed comforting emails.
The hands that pushed back my hair and held my hand when I labored to deliver a baby that I wouldn’t meet alive this side of heaven.
The hands that gently held that same tiny baby as the tears fell and she said hello and good-bye in the same breath.
The hands that clenched in nervousness when another grandbaby was coming into the world and snapped photos as we celebrated his birth.
The hands that I still get excited to hear knock on my door and the ones I still hate to see drive away.
My mother’s hands.
I’m so grateful for the sacrifices they’ve made and the things they’ve taught me. Most importantly, I’m thankful for the glimpses they’ve shown me of Jesus. Truly the most beautiful hands in all the world.
Tonight I’m praying I get to hold those hands of hers for many more Mother’s Days to come. I don’t ever want to take those hands or the time I’ve gotten with them for granted.
I love you, Mama.