I am a single woman. I have never been married. I have never had children. So to the world…. I am not a mother. In a society where being a wife and a mother is something that is desired, my heart hurts often that I am without these things. I know, I know…. I am only 28 and that's hardly the age to start signing up for AARP. However, when the majority of your friends are married and/or also have multiple children it's hard to feel that way.
Since I was a little girl I have been a hopeless romantic! I grew watching the beautiful Disney Princesses fall in love with their handsome princes. I watched my dad love my mom well. I was exposed to love and marriage and children and had a beautiful view of what it was and what it is supposed to look like. So, you must understand, I am not some whiny single white female that just wants to find her man and have babies running around my house because that's what you do when you turn 25. I desire to have a husband that will love and lead me well, who will point me to Jesus and who I can do more for the Kingdom with than without. I would love to have children. Little blessings that I would get to pour into, encourage, love on, teach them about Jesus and show them the importance of loving others so that Jesus will radiate out of them.
I am also a teacher. A first grade teacher. So the questions and things I hear daily are hilariously honest. "Do you have a husband?" "Why don't you have a husband?" "Do you have kids of your own?" "Why don't you have kids of your own?" Along with the endless supply of personal questions I get called mom accidentally… a lot! I love when they do it because it completely shocks and surprises them and everyone around them. I, personally, love it. But after every, "Momma??" there is a, "Ahhh… I mean Miss Daniell??" They realize they have called me by the wrong name. That I am, in fact, not their momma and that they shouldn't call me that.
Well, being used to this I remember the first time I was called "Mama" in Africa. I waited for the awkwardness. The giggle. The correction. But it never came. It actually continued. I asked one of the older kids, Nash, about this. I said… "so, why do you call me "Mama"? Is that a respect thing? Or what do you mean when you say that?" I will never forget his answer. It was short and sweet and to the point. He said, "because to me…Stephanie means 'mama'. Well, as you can imagine (if you know me at all) I immediately began to cry. To Nash, and to some others, I was 'mama'. Not accidentally. Not wishfully. I just was. Nash gave me a little book he made this past summer called, "Mama Stephanie". The words he so poetically wrote cut deep down into my heart. I may not ever get married. I may not ever have biological children. But the Lord loves me despite all those things. And if that is not for me, He will change the desires and yearnings of my heart. But there is one thing I know my Beloved will allow me to be… and that is called 'Mama'.
I call you Steph Mama for so many reasons.
You may never know of what value you are to my life.
But God has a reward for you.
When I first met you, I didn't know that I'd call you mum.
But God had it all laid in plan.
Our best time together was the quiet time with Jesus.
Above all I enjoyed to see you sit and have a ear to hear
Jesus say something to you.
Your hearty co-operation and hard work in everything
made an impression on what I should do to others.
You're ready heart to share.
Even at school with all our teachers through your teaching experience.
Though small it may seem-- thank you for being ready to share.
For our little ones at Fiwagoh… you are mum.
Playing and loving around to the least of these before lonely ones.
This did teach me a great lesson.
Help at work, even during pizza night.
No matter how small it was, you taught me
what it looks like to help, mum.
Your courage to me in leaving your country for a strange one.
Trusting fully that God will guide your way
is a story to tell.
Your smile was a sunshine.
I felt someone who cares for me was by me.
I know others felt it; including Daniel.
All your hugs.
You took away loneliness of many.
Thank you for sharing Jesus' love to us.
Your letters… what an encouragement.
I know I am a weak human and failing mortal.
You pray for me not to fail. Thank you mum for doing that.
To me your tears left a stain on my face.
Every time I think about it, I don't want to.
But most gloriously to see you again is what I
look forward to.
Praying for you.
Treasuring you mum.
I love you.