A few days ago as I was mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed, a quote posted by Lisa Bevere immediately jolted my thoughts to the most amazing woman I have ever known. The quote was simple, yet direct and perfectly described her.

“Women who LOVE fearlessly, LIVE fearlessly.”

Many of you my know her as Pastor’s Wife, Nana, Friend, Aunt, Cousin, fellow artist, or the frequent customer at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. One thing for sure that you will recognize quickly is her love for others. I have been privileged to be patient zero to this love, because I was her firstborn. I know her as Mom.

Loving fearlessly would require a love that doesn’t hold back. My Mom was raised in a different day and time, where most parents would rarely verbalize, “I love you,” to their brood. Maybe because there were too many, and time did not allow for one-on-one time, or maybe it would be considered weak to show love and make yourself vulnerable. With this background, she made up her mind early on to raise her children very differently. “I love you,” was a very common phrase that I heard at least once a day if not more. This love was not just a phrase; it was the way that my mother lived. Her actions matched her words. . Fearlessly she wondered through unfamiliar territory of verbalizing her love, with little care for being seen as vulnerable or weak because of showing “emotion.” In fact, in my mind, it created quite the opposite impression. She never worried about building up her kids too much, for she always made us believe we could do anything we set our minds to do. If there was ever a doubt or concern in my mind that I couldn’t do something, let’s just say play the piano…she made a way for me to believe I could do it. It might have taken some persuasion with a belt, but she was fearless in that determination. During my child rearing years she was never afraid to say “No,” all the while paving the way for me to be a good mother to my children and understand that sometimes love says “No.” This fearlessness carried smoothly over into the grandkids, as there might have been a few less “No’s,” but they still know that Nana loves and Nana is fearless about loving.

As a Pastor’s wife, many an expert would advise that you would need to hold back, and not love too much for fear of that love not being reciprocated. However, Mom chose the opposite. Not only does she have spiritual responsibilities of praying for the flock (and if you haven’t been witness to her praying, you should because it is a thing of beauty), but the meaning of the word “Shepherd” is to have the feelings of a parent towards your sheep. She is the perfect companion for my Dad, the Pastor, and compliments his role in fulfilling the will of God as ministers to His people. She is the chief cook, florist, and engagement photographer, as well as the grandmother figure for everyone in her church. Every child born into the church for the last 30 years has known her as Nana, and had practically most of their wardrobe supplied by her. One of her love languages is thrift giving. If you are not familiar, please let me explain. Thrift giving is for people who love thrift store shopping so much so that they have a weekly route. On this weekly route, occasionally they will find a bargain that one cannot simply pass by. Finding clothing is one of her specialties, and no matter the size of the garment, if the price is right, someone in the church can use it. It is almost a superpower quality to be able to know every child’s size in your church, and keep up with them as they grow, but she does it. It’s just one of her many ways to love fearlessly.

While there are many, many ways of her love that I could elaborate on, one of our family favorites is her ability to make even strangers feel loved. There have been numerous times I have been out shopping with her, or on hospital visitation and we have only seconds on an elevator with someone when suddenly they start spewing their life story. She treats them as if she has known and loved them forever. A few years ago we decided to take a family vacation to Disney World, and we were flying instead of driving. On one of the layovers we were in a line for food, and my Mom was conversing with someone. My daughter, who was around 10 at the time, said, “Well, that’s number 17!” Confused by the statement, I turned to her and said, “Seventeen what?” She replied, “Friends for Nana on this trip. Mom, she has made 17 friends so far.” We were on the first layover, and the kid had been observing her grandmother’s friendly interactions and decided to keep a count. We weren’t the least bit surprised as we chuckled about the occurrence that had become quite familiar. To this day, at family dinners, people that we met on vacations once are often mentioned by their first name, and the rest of us are expected to remember and know exactly to whom my mom is referring.

My mom has become famous for saying, “It can be easily done.” This came about as I was a child and we were remodeling a fixer upper. One particular contractor that was helping started imitating my Mom and with every project would say, “Oh, It can easily be done!” with a wink in his eye and a nod towards her. One of these projects included tearing off – by hand! – five layers of glued down linoleum to get to the original hardwood floors, then sanding and refinishing with at least five coats of polyurethane. Mom dove right in and worked fearlessly to such an extent that every project since that one would seem easy. That project seemed to last the whole summer! Remember the DIY homeowner’s manual that Reader’s Digest would publish every year? While most people would tremble just looking through the pictures, my Mom could take it as a challenge to prove to everyone she was smart, adept, and more than capable of tackling such a daunting project.

While these traits are somewhat humorous, most people would be afraid of putting themselves out there in unknown territory. Mom is unashamed of her fearlessness, and I can promise you the devil trembles when her feet hit the floor every morning. Proverbs 10:24 in the New Living Translation says, “The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted.” My Mom LIVES fearlessly, she is not afraid, timid, or apprehensive, because she LOVES fearlessly. Her love gives hope, and that hope brings life to absolutely everything and everyone with which she comes in contact.

 

 

Jennifer Hurst is a mother of two and wife of Ladd Hurst. They both have a passion for others, and their multi-national congregation at The Sanctuary of Fort Smith shows just that. Follow her on Twitter.