Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. Happy Birthday! I thought it was a good opportunity to not only wish her a happy day, but to write about her courage in another post in my Courageous Women series.
To my kids, she's Oma -- German for grandma -- because back when they were still foster children, they were still in touch with their biological grandmother and since we weren't sure what their future with us would look like, we wanted to create a different name for them to call her, so as not to confuse them. Confused? Hopefully not. We tried out a couple names, but everyone settled on Oma (and for C's dad, Opa). And, it stuck.
Oma never held back her love from our kids. Even before they were officially our kids, she sent gifts at the various holidays and let them into her heart. We warned everyone in the family that if they sent stuff to the kids, we would send those gifts with them if they went back to live with their biological family. We wanted to make sure people understood that these would not work like wedding gifts given to a couple who does not marry. But still, the gifts came.
To her, our foster children were her first grandchildren. Fortunately, for everyone, they stayed with the family and they were made officially ours. But the thing that amazed me was just how willing Oma (and many other family members, by the way) was to welcome them into the family never knowing if she was opening herself up for future heartbreak.
But even before the kids came along, before she was Oma to anyone, I saw courage in the way she bravely put her heart on the line for the public. Something very special about Oma is that she is very gifted with crafts. She has created the most wonderful projects with her husband over the years, including wooden dolls, sewing projects and delicious homemade jams of practically every flavor you might imagine. Blackberry is my favorite because by some miracle, she manages to get all the seeds out! And the flavor is so good.
Every year, they'd spend months gearing up for the Christmas craft shows and then they'd go and sell their crafts. Through illnesses and injuries, Oma still showed up each November to display what they'd produced during the months prior to bring home their holiday spending money.
The early years of this were not as successful as they'd hoped. But as the years went by, they did not give up. They honed their skills and learned to market themselves better. They narrowed down their efforts to focus more on the jams which were the most popular and less on some of the other crafts -- which were still great, but not necessarily best sellers. They made a real business from something that was near and dear to Oma's heart.
I admire her for that. For so long, I have loved to write. It is my passion. But until I began blogging, I was reluctant to let anyone read what I wrote. It was too personal and I was too afraid to have my heart broken if people didn't like it.
There are times when still I am critical of myself and I second guess why there are no comments on certain posts. It doesn't matter really because I don't write for the comments and I don't write for the approval of others. I write because it's in me to do so. Good or bad, I write because I need to.
But she inspired me with her craftiness. Maybe not everything she made was super popular with the craft show shoppers each year, but that is what helped her grow and learn how to be better at it. How can one expect to improve if they never share themselves with others?
We are our own best critics at times, but that's not always enough. God gives us others to help mold us into who He wants us to become. If that weren't true, he might have just stopped at Adam. Having one guy to love Him back would have been enough. But God knew that Adam needed others.
Oma has taught me to be more courageous with my own art. Good or bad. Popular or not. I share my heart with you here because she showed me the way to do that by her willingness to share her heart with others, well before the outcome could be known.