On Sunday, April 15th Willie Pearl Serrano-Neal, my mother, went to sleep in a life of sickness, suffering, pain and struggle…and woke up healed, whole, and in the presence of her very best friend: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It has been 7 long months and yet, we are still standing. My mother exemplified the idea that there is more to living than being alive. She was driven by a sense of duty to lead her family to serve the Lord and Him alone. She taught me to keep God first. Parents you’ll never know how much your words will stick with your children. My mother told me a lot of things: “Clean you room, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, be nice to people”. That advice has come in handy! However, there is one piece of wisdom that stuck with me through good and bad, sickness health, war and peace: KEEP GOD FIRST. In fact, some of her last words to all of us were this: “Keep God first in your life. Run to Him and not from Him and watch Him work in your life! She also taught me to TRUST GOD DAILY. For my mother, everyday was a new day to thank God for His goodness and to trust in Him during the hard times. My mother knew pain and loss at the most personal level. Every time I’d call or stop by to visit her I’d ask, “how are you feeling?” She never pulled any punches. My mom was the originator of “keeping it real”. I’d ask “How are you feeling?” and she say, “Not too good, BUT God is my strength”. She’d say “Today was rough, BUT God is going to see me through.” She set the example for me that no matter what the storm, no matter what pain, trust God daily because He will never let me down. She taught me to WALK IN FORGIVENESS. In our long talks my mom would sometimes reminisce and share with me some of the hurts she’d experienced down through the years. Talk about being done wrong! If anyone had a reason to hold a grudge, my mother did. Yet, no mater how painful the story, she would quickly remind me that we have to forgive, we have to move on, we have to love.My mother’s secret to having a big heart for everyone was walking in total forgiveness. Her attitude was this: “You can walk around bitter and angry at the world, I’m going to forgive and have freedom in my heart.” She lived it out every day. Put God first. Trust in Him daily. Walk in forgiveness. I supposed I could talk for days about the principles my mom instilled in me. I’ll spare you and share with you the most important thing. Above all else, my mom taught me that THERE IS HOPE IN JESUS. Today would have been her birthday. I am thankful that she took the time to introduce me to a man named Jesus.
This post is adapted from an article I wrote for Theleafchronicle.com and from the Eulogy I shared at her funeral.