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Sheís the Singer of My Song
© Debbie Porter Ė 27th April, 2005

If I ever seem a little disoriented to those around me, it probably isnít all that surprising. You see, these days my brain lives in two different worlds. The part that resides in the same geographical location as the rest of my body, thinks, acts and feels Australian Ė which is a good thing. Having the main part of my brain and body working in the same general vicinity is rather helpful.

However, there is another part of my brain that lives away from home. The actual grey matter is still in the right place Ė but some of the thought processes have taken up residence in the United States.

This phenomenon has only really happened since I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief for FaithWritersí Magazine. Ever since then, Iíve had to be able to switch, in an instant, from my Aussie-thinking brain to my American-thinking brain. These mental geographical gymnastics are the cause of my occasional moment or two of disorientation. However, without question, the biggest challenge is switching from the use of Australian English, to US English, and then back again, when writing and editing.

For the most part, my little mental "jetsetter" is quite willing to go with the flow. After all, not only is FaithWriters located in the United States, but so too are the majority of the Magazineís readers and contributors. When in America, do as the Americans do Ė thatís my motto (although far from original).

But when Iím writing my own material, there are a couple of words that cause me to baulk at the thought of changing. Usually though, after a bit of a struggle, I give in and just fall back on my old "When in America" motto.

That is, all except for one word. This is the one word that I just canít (or perhaps, wonít) replace, even when my American-thinking brain is in full gear. Itís not a big word, but it means so much to me in so many ways.

That one tiny, little word is "mum."

You see, itís not just that we have a different spelling to the US counterpart, "mom." Itís also a case of different pronunciation Ė for us, it rhymes with "hum", not "prom."

Yet pronunciation is just a small part of the reason why I canít bring myself to use the American version of this word. As strange as it may seem, writing it any other way would make me feel as though I were talking about someone other than my own dear mother.

Thereís no denying that when it comes to the subject of our mothers, most of us would admit that our emotions run very deep Ė and I am no exception to that rule.

In some ways, Mum and I are like the sand and the sea. We were created to go together, but very different all the same. For one thing, my mother is far more adventurous than Iíll ever be. She loves to travel and prefers to go off the beaten track when she does. There have been the odd occasions where the adventures havenít always gone according to plan, but as far as Mumís concerned, that just means an even bigger adventure than expected.

Me? Give me home, sweet, home any day!

There are some other dissimilarities between us, one being that Iím a chronic rule-keeper, whereas Mum isnít. To be fair, I should say that Mum will obey the rules Ė but she just wonít necessarily break any speed records to do so (see previous paragraph regarding aforementioned adventurous spirit). Not surprisingly, this mix did lead to some rather memorable moments of panic in my life as a child.

Yet, as the years go by, I see that there are so many other ways that Mum and I are very much alike Ė more like the merging of a river into the sea.

Apart from the physical similarities, that are becoming more and more obvious with every passing month, there are similarities of the soul. Perhaps most striking is the gift of encouragement.

I suppose it could be argued that I learnt to be an encourager at my motherís knee Ė yet I believe itís more than that, for we both do it without any conscious effort or thought. It just happens and is, I feel sure, Godís gift across the generations. In return, we give it freely to just about everyone we meet. However, with Mum it is never more apparent than when aimed directly at one of her daughters or grandchildren.

Mum has always been my greatest cheerleader, and just a few weeks ago she once again donned the pom-poms and sprang into action when her encouragement radar detected a hint of discouragement coming from her youngest daughter Ė me.

In a moment of transparency, I admitted that as I was doing more editing than writing these days, perhaps that was what God intended me to do and that maybe I really wasnít meant to be a writer at all.

The suggestion was no sooner out of my mouth, than Mum sprang into encouragement mode, saying with great seriousness, "Editing Ö maybe; but writing too. You have to write!"

That was all I needed to hear. Mum didnít need to say another word on the matter Ė everything that was required was in those few simple words and the tone in which they were shared. To be honest, the look on her face had spoken volumes. Through her expression she had said, "If you stop writing it will be the greatest mistake youíve made to date."

This wonderful gift of encouragement was best summed up in a Motherís Day card I found a couple of years ago. For a change, it wasnít overly fancy or flowery, and it contained very few words. Still, when I read it in the card shop, my eyes immediately filled with tears and I knew it was, perhaps, the most perfect card I would ever find for Mum. It simply said, "Thank you for remembering the words to my song Ö and singing them back to me whenever I forget."

Parents (not just the female variety) have the incredible responsibility and privilege of being our childrenís greatest cheerleaders. We have the power, because of the relationship we have with our sons and daughters, to literally impact them for life. Itís a power that cannot be underestimated or taken lightly.

Most Christian parents know Proverbs 22:6 inside out and back to front, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (NIV) For the most part it brings to mind the need to spiritually guide our children, as well as giving them direction and correction as needed. However, itís also about encouraging them to be everything God has created them to be and to live the life they were created to live.

The Amplified version reveals that aspect a little more clearly:

"Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Mothers and fathers are the caretakers and trustees of a precious hidden treasure from God Ė their children. Their job is to help uncover the gem that lies, unpolished, just beneath the surface, and then do everything possible to make it shine.

Itís not just about discipline, and itís definitely not about making them conform to something they are not. Instead, itís about recognizing a childís gifts, talents and potential, then giving them the encouragement and guidance they need to ensure that potential will be fulfilled.

Mum has been polishing my sister and me for nearly five decades, and I imagine that she will continue to do so until she goes home to be with the Lord.

In the meantime, when she isnít busy polishing her daughters and grandchildren, youíll probably find her tuning up her vocal chords Ö ready to start singing the next time one of us forgets the words to our song.

* * *

"Therefore encourage one another and build each
other up, just as in fact you are doing."

(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

Debbie Porter has encouraged, inspired and entertained thousands of men and women around the world through her writing since June, 2000. Her greatest desire is to encourage and build up the people of God to believe in their God given potential and to step into everything they were created to be. Deb lives with her husband and two teenagers in Sydney, Australia. You can contact Debbie through the "Your Letters" page of FaithWritersí Magazine, or by visiting her website at http://www.breathfreshair.org