Today May 25, 2022, marks the one year anniversary of my mother’s homegoing. As I’ve thought about her today, I’ve gone through my files and found Facebook posts, text messages, and voicemails where I talked to my mom and about my mom. I also found my notes for the eulogy I gave at her funeral. Here’s what I said.
I was born in 1966, and there are two things that happened around that time that radically shaped the person I am today. First, Sesame Street debuted in 1969, so it was finding its footing at about the same time I was learning to read. Some of my earliest memories are watching Sesame Street with my mom. Watching her laugh at “The Count” (I think he was her favorite character) made me delight in learning.
Then, in 1971, the Living Bible was published. They published the adult version, the teen version (“The Way”) and The Children’s Living Bible at the same time. My mom bought the Living Bible for herself and Dad; “The Way” for each of my siblings, and The Children’s Living Bible for me. All three versions shared the same, avocado-green art direction. It was the Seventies.
I had no idea that before that the Bible was seen as stuffy and hard to understand. I never knew that most people thought the Bible was just a book full of thee’s and thou’s and sayests and doests and verily verily’s. When my mom read to me, it made sense.
I know people are critical of the Living Bible because of some of the liberties it took with its paraphrase. But when my mom read it to me, I thought it was beautiful. My mom and I would read The Children’s Living Bible every day.
So there was Sesame Street, Dr. Seuss, and crossword puzzles every day before nap time. Mom would ask for my “help” with clues even when she knew the answer. Through this, I developed a love for reading, language, and word games. But there was also the Children’s Living Bible. I truly believe it was the one-two punch of Sesame Street and God’s Word that has fundamentally shaped who I became: an English major who studied children’s ministry in seminary; who became a pastor; who has at least one bad pun in almost every sermon.
This year, I’m on my 25th read through of the Bible. And it started with my mom reading to me.
Moms, I can’t say it enough: your love for God’s Word will shape your children. And I am so grateful to my mom, for every book, every verse, every episode of Sesame Street, and every crossword puzzle clue.