A Mother's Day Tribute

Have you ever compared a child to their parents to determine who they resemble most? I have found that it is almost impossible not to compare. Does she have her father’s smile? Are his eyes those of his mother’s? I do this to my own children. Having all girls, I always look for myself in their physical features and often laugh when I appear, instead, in their mannerisms and personalities.

In recent years, a concept was mentioned to me that broadened my perspective on what parental resemblance could look like.

We were ultimately made in God’s image. In the same way that parents contribute to their children’s genetic makeup, He too, as our Father in Heaven, has gifted us special, unique traits in His likeness that manifest in us.

More specifically, God designed men (beginning with Adam) with the traits that Jesus would later come to show us in the flesh. Jesus was a leader, a teacher, a provider, and so many other amazing things, all characteristics to be emulated in our godly husbands and fathers.

So, what of women? What of our godly wives and mothers?

I believe women were designed with the traits we see through the gift of the Holy Spirit; who Jesus would call the “Helper.” Likewise, God created Eve as a helper to Adam. She was “the mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20). Women today are still helpers to their husbands; and beyond that, helpers to their children.

Here is where Big Oak Ranch immediately came to mind as I explored deeper into this incredible idea of these very special characteristics we were given. I thought about the servant’s heart of the housemothers.  During my time growing up at the Ranch, I witnessed the way the women constantly and proficiently helped their entire family navigate meals, sports, school and appointments. I have realized they juggled these tasks so well because, long before they knew those children, they were divinely designed to help in this exact way.

What else do we know about the Holy Spirit? He is gentle, nurturing and always leads with love. Again, I thought about the housemoms often being the soft hug and warm smile children received upon their arrivals to Big Oak. Safe places where their weary hearts could rest. Given houses, these women turn them into homes… given children from broken pasts, these women call them theirs… they were, and are, designed to comfort in a tough season.

The Holy Spirit is an intercessor on our behalf. Few flood the gates of Heaven with prayers like wives and mothers on behalf of their husbands and children. Even now, as an adult, I vividly remember hearing the sweet prayers of Big Oak women. I remember the personal prayers of my housemom and the way she would call each of us by name giving God every specific detail that she was laying at His feet on our behalf. She was designed to intercede on behalf of her family.

The Holy Spirit is a teacher, a counselor and ever-present help. Have you ever heard the saying “mom has eyes in the back of her head?” Come to find out, we don’t. Also come to find out, we kind of do. I watched my housemom fine-tune her discretion to the point of satellite sensitivity. Now, as a mother myself, I too have the ability to detect my children’s every move before they make them. We were designed to intimately know our children beyond the world’s knowledge of them. Just as an umbilical cord serves as the lifeline of the womb, (where we know God knitted us together and knew us even then) a spiritual lifeline was embedded deep within the design of the mothers whose journey didn’t have a biological start with their children.

A huge memory for me was watching my housemom and so many other moms use the most mundane events as teachable moments. I can attribute many, if not most, of my life skills to those taught by my housemom. From the Boys’ Ranch, values taught would unfold and increase over time. As loads of boys would pile out of vans at events, the watchful eye would notice them doing little things like opening the door for their moms. They would honor us girls, letting us go first in line, using newly discovered manners and growing in social confidence through conversation and interaction. The guys were learning the ins and outs of respecting and appreciating a woman because their housemoms knew they were raising someone’s future husband. At the Girls’ Ranch, we were being taught our worth, having our standards raised and working to re-imagine our view on what healthy relationships could look like. The moms on both Ranches were designed to teach us through example and prepare us for our futures.

One more trait of the Holy Spirit that touched me was anointing. Each mom at the Ranch shares her spiritual gifts with all those who come through her home and across her path. She encourages the walk of her children to be closer to Jesus. She wakes up every day covered in God’s blessing as she guides them to the Healer. Every kid who comes to Big Oak comes with some degree of hurt. They would not be there otherwise. Yet they arrive to women designed to help them on this earth and guide them to a path to find a relationship with Jesus.

How amazing was it, that long before the dark parts of sin would make need for a place like Big Oak, God put into us, as His children, the very parts of Himself that He knew would create the most light when needed? For many of the children who call the Ranch home, the people there are their first experience witnessing the grace of God and the gift of Jesus. Beautiful women and men, examples of covenant marriage often with biological children of their own, seeking to serve the Lord and follow His calling on their lives to raise kids who need to be shown the greatest love of all.

Big Oak is evidence that maybe looking like our parents isn’t that important after all. It’s a place where the Creator of the Universe stitches together patchwork families into quilts and then uses them to blanket the world around them in the beautiful colors of grace, mercy, redemption and love. To all the housemoms, resource and relief moms who accepted the calling to step up for children who need love…to those moms who were designed and created for such a time as this…though your kids may not share your hair color or your smile, you are passing onto them the family traits of their Heavenly Father through your faith, love, nurturing, teaching, guidance, encouragement and comfort. As a former resident and now a mother to my own three beautiful girls, I can attest that those traits help change hearts and circumstances. Those traits help change futures.

To my own housemom, I love you. To every other mom at Big Oak and beyond, Happy Mother’s Day.

Amanda White Rowell
Former Big Oak Resident