First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for coming today to honor my mom. It truly means so much to my family and I that you’ve taken time out of your day to remember her, celebrate her life, and support us during this time. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to everyone who walked so closely with us this past year. Your prayers, support, cards of encouragement and sympathy have meant more to us than I could ever express with words, and I am so thankful for the way so many of you have ministered to me and my family.
As I was thinking about all that I wanted to say for this service, it dawned on me that I can only speak for the last 20 years of her life as her daughter. I know that so many of you have known my mom for many more years than I have, and it’s been so wonderful getting to hear the memories that you had with her.
My mom had many roles throughout her life. She was a beloved daughter and the firstborn child, which I can sympathize with and attest to the difficulty of being the oldest kid in a family. She was a dear sister, both to her brother and her siblings-in-law, a faithful wife of 36 years to my dad, a devoted mom to my younger sister and I, an aunt to multiple nieces and nephews, and a Sunday School teacher and AWANA leader for 15 years. In each role that she embodied, her primary identity in Christ was evident in every single one through her love and sacrificial service towards everyone she encountered.
Many people might not know this about my mom, but before she became Mrs. Lansford and Hannah and Bekah’s mom, my mom was someone who always said she never wanted to be married or have children. After seeing how she lived her life after she got married and adopted my sister and I, I’m sure some of you might find that very hard to believe about her, considering how much she dedicated herself to those roles. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize the rare blessing and privilege it is to have parents who are happily married and cultivate a loving home together. I am so thankful to be able to say that I got to see a loving and godly marriage between her and my dad while growing up, never witnessing a fight between the two of them, always seeing them work together, and occasionally seeing the PDA that grossed us out as kids, but became sweeter as they aged. The faithfulness that was evident in my parent’s marriage was truly such a gift to be able to witness, especially towards the end when the sickness part of their vows was far more prevalent than the health.
My mom’s journey to become a mother was a long and difficult one. Together with my dad, she endured the loss of a child she had mothered for 2 years before adoption plans fell through. She braved her first plane ride that ended up being 24 hours long to the other side of the world in order to adopt me and bring me home and then turned around 2 years later to do it all over again for my sister. My mom was incredibly devoted, caring, and selfless. When we were in school, she would wake up early to make us breakfast every morning and have our lunches packed before we even got up. She would drive us all over creation between gymnastics practices and competitions and band rehearsals and AWANA club and every other activity we did without ever complaining about how much time it took or how draining it could be at times. My mom always encouraged us to do our best in everything and fought hard for us to have every opportunity for success that we could. Most importantly, she was faithful to have our family in Sunday School and church every Sunday morning, and in AWANA every Sunday evening, helping us memorize Bible verses and even learning them with us, while also pouring into the lives of other children in the church too. I know that everyone’s presence at the visitation last night and the service here today is such a testimony to the impact that she had with her heart for raising up the next generation and encouraging those around her.
The relationship between my mom and I was very testing, and an incredibly sanctifying work to say the least because of how similar our personalities were. Even though I have no biological relation to my mom, I am truly her child through and through. A few words that could be used to describe both of us that I can’t say that I’m particularly proud of include stubborn and hard-headed, and we both always had to be right. Some of you may hear those words and think, “that doesn’t sound much like Hannah”, but I know that y’all know that sounds like my mom. I’m sure you can imagine the difficulties that brought to our relationship, especially in fights that would just end with us realizing we meant the same thing but had different ways of saying them. But other words that I would use to describe my mom that I am so proud and honored to have gotten from her would be strong, resilient, compassionate, and fiercely independent. When I was a child, my mom used to joke that I took all of the fun out of being a mom because I wanted to do everything for myself – change my own diapers, feed and dress myself from a very young age, never wanted to be held (which still hasn’t changed). Thankfully the Lord saw that lacking in her life and gave her my younger sister, who made up for all of that and gave my mom all the mothering needs to be met through Bekah. It’s through my mom’s example that I’ve become someone who cares deeply, learned how to stand up and take care of things for myself, and to fight hard for the people that I love and care about. On the day she was put in the hospital a few weeks ago, I was about to raise all kinds of problems when it sounded like we weren’t going to be meeting with her doctor because some appointment plans fell through, but I stood my ground and refused to let my mom go anywhere before getting the help that she needed. After we had gotten her to see her doctor and had her all settled into her hospital room, I was leaving for the night and she thanked me for standing up for her. All I could do in that moment (besides bursting into tears) was just thank her for raising me right.
A year ago to the day that my mom passed, she was in the hospital about to receive her second diagnosis of breast cancer. Of all the hardships that my mom has faced in her life, I witnessed and lived in this one so closely with her, and really had the privilege of seeing how strong she and her faith really were. Even though she had chemo treatments 3 out of 4 weeks of the month, she still attended church with my dad, showed up to help out in AWANA as much as she could, and went to work as if nothing were different. She did her absolute best to make sure she lived her life as fully and presently as possible, regardless of what she was going through, and especially after her diagnosis. She got to celebrate another wedding anniversary and all of our birthdays and holidays with us one last time, witness my baptism (which she’d been waiting for for 16 years) and see my sister perform at her last game as a ballerina, which I know brought her so much joy. There were times when I’d try to push her to take a day or just some time to rest, and she would argue that she was not going to live her life as if she were dying, no matter how tired or weak she felt from her condition.
In the last few years of my life, God has been reminding me over and over again that despite present trials and tribulations, there is always good being worked out in everything that He allows His children to go through. When I look back on the past year of my mom’s life, there were so many opportunities that we’ve had together as she was going through treatments that I know ultimately brought glory to God and helped us and others through the times that were really hard. There was a woman who talked to my mom at the treatment center because she was scared to begin her own treatments, and I got to pray with her and her husband while I was there. My mom would listen to worship music the entire 3 hours that she would sit to get her treatment, even if she was sleeping through most of it. She would wear a shirt that had “God is Good” written on it to her chemo treatments in the summer, and she was wearing it the day that the PA broke the news to us that her chemo treatments would probably never end. Through her tears and heartbreak, she still held her head high and declared that God is good all the time, even when her circumstances would say otherwise.
My mom’s faith carried her and our family through many ups and downs over the years. Even though I am so sad that she’s no longer physically here with us, and I know that this is a pain that I’m going to have with me for the rest of my life, I am full of so much joy, peace, and comfort knowing that her faith has finally been made sight now. She no longer has to endure chemo treatments, cry tears of pain or sorrow from the losses this world brings, or be strong for herself or those around her. Rather, she gets to simply rest and enjoy being in the presence of our Lord and Savior, free from worry, free from pain, and free from suffering. There is so much hope in my heart and in the hearts and lives of our family and other people that she touched that we will be together again, worshipping eternally in heaven, and it is because of her faith and the grace of God when He chose her to be my mom that I can have that hope. I am beyond grateful for the time that we had with her here on earth and the legacy that my sister and I get to carry on that we got from her, and I look forward to and anticipate that glad reunion day when we get to join her again.