Light Notes: My mama was an influencer ahead of her time

Lucy Luginbill, Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) on

Published in Religious News

An influencer, that was my mama.

Oh, not like the ones we see nowadays, catching themselves in perfect light, a string of followers and fame. No, my mama had just three followers, my two older brothers and then me.

As near as I can recollect, we didn’t have much, least of all fame. Living on a piece of dirt in the top half of California, my mama tilled our taxing plot of land, her hands blistered by day’s end. Hands that could as deftly tease a pail of warm milk while morning painted its way across the sky.

I watched. I learned. I followed. A child’s garden hoe in my hand, or my little fist squeezed tightly while mama’s steadied our velvet-brown cow.

Life was hard, but my mama didn’t complain, my daddy working far away. But then just around the bend one day, a new path sprung up, a different life stretched ahead. A place with concrete instead of mud, crisp-cut lawns to tickle toes, next-door neighbors a wave away.

I can still remember this change of scene, a fresh grade-school down the street, houses lined up side by side to its open gate. And when the time came to lend a hand, add a few extras to my pristine classroom, the “paper drive,” a fundraiser, was what you did. Mama insisted.

My big red wagon in tow, and discarded newspapers piled high, my mama and I trudged house to house and back to the school again and again to recycle and sell, she in high heels (women did that back then) and me whining at her side. There in the beam of our flashlights we finished what we’d begun, arms aching but with a good feeling inside. It was what mama knew I’d see.

I watched. I learned. I followed. My young hands were smudged with ink, a lesson imprinted on my heart.


Not so long after, at least from mama’s point of view, childhood stepped ever so lightly into womanhood. Along the way she told me—and showed me—how to stand tall, be a leader, and not follow the crowd. Finish what you start, speak truth, and be kind were her words, followed by a string of other thoughts that still ring true.

Like any mother now grown into her own, I see her wisdom I sometimes set aside. Good sense, I think, has caught up with me.

Inspired by her, influenced by her, I am grateful to this day how my mama wore her faith front and center, God’s love shining through. In her lifetime, his light was what mattered. I saw it, basked in it and followed her straight to a faith of my own. Life changing, life forming, a divine relationship that leads me still.

Mama’s gone now, my hands weathered a little like hers. She once rocked my cradle with her loving hands, and so she “rocked” my world, too.

Looking back, and to my way of thinking, maybe it’s not about how many followers we have, but who we influence close to our heart, the ones God entrusts to us. My mama had three. I was one of them.

I watched. I learned. I followed Jesus. Just like my mama.

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