Celebrating Strong Women: Learning from Differences

unnamed-1Today’s post comes from my friend, Kellie Van Atta. We met as summer camp counselors and she has always impressed me with her passion for loving and serving others. Kellie is a wife, a mom, and a teacher. She is also the founder of The Family Service Club, an organization dedicated to teaching kids and parents to love others together.

Learning from Differences

I’m pretty lucky because I have two mothers. My parents divorced when I was 12, and when I was 14, I gained the most wonderful stepmom, Kimberly. I believe God really knew what He was doing when he mended part of my broken family because just three years later, my mother, Alice, passed away unexpectedly when her lungs collapsed. And while it was incredibly hard, and while I would never wish divorce on anyone, I’m glad my parents divorced for one reason: I was able to have the two best moms a girl could ask for.

The thing is, my two moms couldn’t be more different.

My stepmom was a prime-time news anchor, a powerful woman that others all over the state looked up to and idolized, and they still do. She is a beautiful, successful woman who knows how to take control, to make things happen. She hosts incredible parties, and keeps up with my fast-moving father as they travel the world.  I love my stepmom: she teaches me how to be a grace-filled, working mom and how to take action steps to make the world a better place. She and my dad have done incredible things for people in third-world countries along with people in their communities, and they are constantly using their resources and influence for good.

My mom, on the other hand, was an unsung hero. She didn’t go to work when we were growing up, and while she was well-loved at church, she didn’t have a global sphere of influence the way Kimberly does. She didn’t have many friends, and certainly didn’t enjoy throwing parties. And while she wasn’t successful by the world’s standards, she was an incredible mom. She made our favorite foods on our birthdays, and left encouraging notes on my windshield once I learned to drive. She listened well and fought depression tooth-and-nail to put on a smile for my sister and me.

Reflecting on the two strong women in my life, I can’t help but thank God that I’ve been mothered by both of them. And although I love to write, I am unable to articulate the various ways in which they have shaped me as a person and as a mom. But I know that because of them, I strive to love people well. I want to make my kids feel valued and loved, and I also want them to believe that they can do great things.

This past year, I started an organization called The Family Service Club. Both of my moms taught me that rising above myself in service to others is incredibly important, and I want to impart that lesson to my kids as well. With that in mind, I’ve started this group that empowers families to do monthly service projects together. Many times I’ve felt overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone, but I press on.

I want to be a strong woman: I want to follow in the footsteps of two mothers who have changed the world. I want my kids to see that whether their sphere of influence is large or small, they should strive to meet the needs of others, to love others well. I love my strong moms, and I hope that I pray that I can be a strong mom as well.

I wasn’t planning the timing this way, but Kellie is also a contributor to The Mom Quilt, which released on Monday. Check it out here and please consider purchasing a copy to benefit mothers in Kenya. 11870680_10155868283420177_237735075704560636_n


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Annie Rim

Welcome! I live in Colorado with my family and have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I reflect about life, faith, and books here on my blog.

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