“All I Really Need to Know, I Learned from my Mother” #1 A Tribute for Mother’s Day

About “Hoeing ‘In the Garden'”  – The memoir, In the Garden, portrays the author’s mother, Ellen, an ordinary woman, who became extraordinary by surrendering her will and ego to the will of God. At every crossroads of her life, she chose faith over doubt, acceptance over resignation, hope instead of despair. “Not my will, but Thy will be done,” was her mantra. After marrying the love of her life, Henry, Ellen lived her entire life in the house, on the hill, on a farm in west Michigan (the site of present day Country Dairy), putting down her roots in the place she believed God had planted her. There she found her calling as a helpmeet and homemaker. She transformed the house on the hill into a place of beauty and sanctuary for her family.

To view the memoir visit http://www.principia.com or http://www.janethasselbring.com. In Hoeing “In the Garden,” the author revisits her mother’s story, cultivating and digging up tidbits of truth to provide inspiration and encouragement for the challenges of her life.


“All I Really Need to Know, I Learned from my Mother – A Mother’s Day Tribute 2017”

“Next to the might of God, the serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence for good in the world.”  (Dwight L. Moody)

Amazing Grace Dec. 8, 1914 – Sept. 1, 2005

I gaze at my mother’s gravestone, amazed that a simple dash, set between the dates of my mother’s birth and her death, can comprise her life – her birth to a well-to-do-family, her happy precocious childhood, her romance and marriage to the love of her life, Henry, my father, their life together on a small farm in west Michigan in the 1930’s, where they eked out a living and raised their family, their retirement after selling the farm to Wendell, their son, Henry’s death, my mother’s declining health that resulted in her being infirm and homebound the last years of her life, and her peaceful and victorious death.

That simple audacious dash is a sobering reminder that when we die, everything associated with the physical realm of form – our money, possessions, career, clothes, friends, and yes, even our egos, dissolve.  Our life experiences become part of the “memory bank” we leave behind, but the solemn truth is this:  with our last breath, we are stripped, bare to the soul, to the very essence of who we “are.” Not “who” we knew, “what” we did, or “where” we lived, but the “constant radiation” of what we are at the core of our being.

The “essence” of my mother is what stays with me in the years after her death – the “serene beauty of a holy life,” that grows stronger with time and reflection.

“Ellen’s last years weren’t her best years, heath wise, but time spent with her, during these last years, as rich and rewarding. Moments spent with her were moments lived in the present, moments of eternity – kairos moments.  As her body withered and faded, something remarkable was happening.  She grew weaker, yet her spirit waxed stronger.  She was helpless, dependent and vulnerable.  Her skin was thin as an onion’s, yet she glowed with an inner radiance that was otherworldly.  It was as though the sunshine of God’s face was shining through her, this emptied tired, humbled, ordinary pilgrim.”  (In the Garden, pp 105,106)

“Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil – the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his/her life.  This is simply the constant radiation of hat a person really is, not what he/she pretends to be.”  (Wm George Jordan)

One of the most endearing things about my mother is how her faith grew and matured through the challenges of her life on the farm.  It’s in her struggles during these defining moments, that I find guidance and direction for my life. Her life was grounded on Scriptures and prayer, where she came to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of the covenant.  She communed with the God of creation as she picked string beans in the garden, trimmed and tended her beloved roses, and hung sheets on the clothesline, but it was in the “why” moments, when life came at her hard, and it often did, that she came to know the Lord and Master of her life.

     My mother was naturally strong emotionally, fiercely independent, self-reliant and she possessed a healthy self-image; however, when she came to the end of herself, was unable to cope or continue on in her own strength, she threw herself on the mercies of her Lord and prayed the prayer that would become her mantra:  Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

The essence of my mother’s life is surrender. Giving up her will and submitting her ego to the will of her Lord, didn’t mean she became weak, vacillating, compromising, or shilly-shallying.  Quite to the contrary. She was absolutely tenacious where her faith was concerned, but her conversation was without ego and judgment.  She was gentle as a lamb; powerful as a tigress – she is my hero. I love and adore her.

Stay tuned – this series continues with the words of Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount, words that come alive for me in the lif e of my mother.  It is said that “seeing is believing,” and her life personifies for me the truth of the Scriptures.  “Blessed are the meek…”