July 9th my mother-in-law passed away. She was an amazing woman whom I admired tremendously. Though she had humble beginnings and she and her husband often struggled to make ends meet during their family rearing years, all of her children went to college with several gaining master’s degrees and one earning his PhD.
As I think about the times I spent with her, there are several lessons I have come to realize
- Faith is the Foundation– Tillie was an amazing Christian woman. Her faith in a Savior named Jesus was so strong that not only did her husband become a Christian, but went to seminary to become a Minister of Evangelism, all 3 of her sons became Lutheran Ministers and her daughters serve in their local congregations in a variety of ways.
- Family First – Tillie always put her family at the forefront of her life. Moving from Iowa to Florida to be closer to her oldest daughter Cathy, she and her husband eventually moved in with them and helped to raise their children. Though the rest of her children were spread out around the country, she made it a priority to make it to baptisms, confirmations, graduations and weddings of as many of her 18 grandchildren as physically possible.
- Give generously to others – Some would say Tillie had the gift of hospitality. Though they didn’t have very much money, and raising 5 children even with money is challenging, Tillie and Ed opened her home to countless people both near and far as they hosted several missionaries. Many of my husband’s close friends growing up share stories of how their home was the hub. Many of them even spent short periods living with them. As my Sister-in-law wrote in her obituary, “with Ed’s gift of evangelism, one could say Ed and Tillie were a tag team. Ed would bring in a neighbor or stranger and feed them God’s word and Tillie would shower them with food and a listening ear.”
- Expect greatness from those around you – She expected a lot from those close to her, not because she was demanding, but because she knew that each of us has the capacity to do amazing things in this world. In this way she also gave those around her encouragement, lifting them up to reach for higher goals and never giving up on them when they fell short.
My brother-in-law wrote, “Mom touched the lives of many people around the table. Her listening ear and sage counsel saved many lives from heartache and pain, and instilled confidence to live life to its fullest. Her stalwart defense of her family members against any assaults was commendable. She did not mince words. She would say it the way that she saw it, plain and simple.”
To fully acknowledge the life of this amazing woman would most likely be more of a novel then a blog post. However, for me and those closest to her, her life can be summed up in one word LOVE.
Thank you for the lessons Tillie, you will be missed.