My mother is utterly otherworldly. I don't mean the alien or deep sea variety. She is the most selfless, giving, caring person I know. She is an angel who walks among us.
My mother was in her early twenties and a new mom when she and my father decided to leave their comfortable home in Seoul, Korea and move to the US. She dreamed of giving her daughters a better life. In her new American home, she had no friends, little money and a language and cultural barrier that made it challenging to establish roots. Plus the food was so bland! But undeterred, she worked long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, took no vacations, saved everything she could and never missed church.
If there is one thing my mother instilled in me, since I was old enough to remember, is to live by faith. In this unpredictable, sometimes heartbreaking, often glorious world, she saw no other way. She trusted God in every aspect of her life. Her unwavering faith carried her as she raised her two daughters in her adopted country. Oh how she leaned on that faith when we were teenagers. And despite the hardships she faced as an immigrant, her faith helped her live with gratitude and grace.
My mother didn't necessarily speak that 'live by faith' mantra to me in words, but rather showed me through actions. My mother is a woman who wakes up early every morning to read the Bible and pray, thanking God for the life she's living, instead of complaining about the life she left behind. She's the kind of woman who visits church members in the hospital when they're sick, delivers food to families at home, and will pray for you by name if you have a need. No prayer is too big or too small. I always felt like she had God on speed dial. And the beautiful thing about my mom is that she gives without expecting anything in return. She feels blessed that she can give her time and care and prayers, even if she can't give materially.
My mother's faith shaped my entire life and still influences me today. For as much as she sacrificed for me when I was growing up, she continued to give of herself, stepping in to help me care for each of my three children when I went back to work. She watched them lovingly, cooked homemade baby food for them and carried them on her back Korean-style. (I was afraid my youngest would break her back!) My children share such a precious bond with their Halmuni now. They call her 'Hami' for short. She's still a big part of our every day lives--helping me with school pick-ups, meals, and emergency milk runs. She is voice of calm when my kids are fighting with each other or I'm fighting with them. And now she is showing my kids, as she showed me, how faith can change lives, move mountains and make dreams come true. She believes her life, my life and my children's lives are evidence of that truth.
My children know their Hami would do anything for them. They adore her, not for the treats she too frequently showers them with, but for her kindness, gentleness, strength and love. And while she loves her grandchildren beyond measure, she says she chose to care for them out of love for her daughter. That is a mother's love. I could live a thousand years on this earth and not repay her for everything she's done for me. I am who I am because of my mom. She is a gift and blessing.
VIDEO: Watch my tribute to my wonderful mom