Editor Jason shares how his mother’s commitment to putting her trust and faith in God has shaped him to be the man of God that he is today.
Every parent loves sharing their life story with their children. They consider it carrying on the family legacy through sharing their trials and tribulations, as well as their blessings and successes with those that they care for the most in this world – their children. My mother recently shared her story with me.
As much as I don’t like to admit, I am very much like my mother. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just growing up, everyone feels as if they need to be independently different from their parents. We struggle to change while searching for where we fit in, in order to eventually find our own place in this world. But it’s impossible to explore our identity and understand our potential without knowing where you came from in the first place. As I dig deeper into my roots and how my life came about, I have come to realize that I am very much like my mother, and not until recently have I been able to embrace it and love the man I’ve become because of her. My mom is an amazing woman. I really don’t give her as much credit, respect, honor, and even love that she deserves, but I would like to start doing so, with my first step as sharing her incredible story.
Jodi Thorn Lee is my mama. She was born in Asia somewhere and was sent to a Christian Orphanage in Kowloon, Hong Kong when she was very young. Her birth name is Kato-chan, that’s all I know of her before coming to the States.
She was adopted by an American family in 1962 at a young age. Her adoptive father was working in Alaska at the time. He met my mom for the first time on their connecting flight to Seattle, where she was to call home. The family already had 3 kids; two brothers (Rodney, Gordon) and a little sister (Julie). At age 12, my aunty Julie was struck by a drunk driver and suffered major trauma to the head that left her mentally handicapped. For 3 months, Julie was in a coma. When she came to, her parents were so overcome with joy that they asked her “If there’s anything in the world that you would want, what would it be?”, she said “a little sister.” My mother grew up along side her, serving her as a sister and a friend. I remember seeing pictures of them wearing the same outfits even, I’m not sure if it was out of sisterhood or just terrible fashion trends at that time.
Her parents were old school God-fearing people. They were strict and held tightly to the Word and it’s teachings. Although my mom grew up with a stern father and a no-nonsense mother, she learned to continually embrace the love of God. She actually did not take after her adoptive parents much in raising us kids, except in the pursuit of bringing her children to know Christ. My father was absent most of the time, so my mom raised the 3 of us pretty much on her own.
As a young adult, she was a very talented artist and won a large scholarship to go to art school and then later moved onto cosmetology school. She took multiple buses to get to school while juggling my two sisters. After finishing school, she gave my dad and the relationship another try. I was born from this rebirth of their relationship, however my father’s temper and gambling problem was too much to bare for my mother who was already struggling, and the relationship ended once again.
Amazed at what my mom accomplished so far, she knew she could not handle life alone. So she turned to God for support to help raise her 3 kids. She said to me, “I dedicated you to Him and asked that you would be raised up by God. I trusted in Him to bring you up.” Out of a broken home and scarred relationship with her husband, my mom was able to receive and share Christ’s love in her interactions with her children, allowing God to show His perfect strength in her time of weakness.
Growing up in San Francisco, both of my sisters and I went to Saint James Episcopal Church, on 7th and California. As we grew older, we started checking out other churches. My sisters went with their friends and tried out the whole “church” thing, but considered it a phase at the time. For me, it was different. When I first came back to church, it was different from the last times that I was in Sunday School as a child. It instantly felt like home. The feeling wasn’t just from having a group of kids in the same age group around me, but I just felt that there was something… someone special waiting there for me.
God is a tricky guy. He had my life planned out all along. At age 14, when I came back into His embrace, I didn’t know He would be my future. A life devoted to someone beyond myself. I had no idea, but it was came so naturally. Yes, there is struggle, but there is also overwhelming love and peace. I’m still growing for sure and have a long long way to go. The man that I hope to be one day will only be complete when I am with Christ. What I do now is progress. I will walk with the Father and follow His lead.
Christ is at the Heart of my life when I allow Him to be, and even when I don’t choose to follow his lead, He takes hold of me and shows me the way. It is not my life anymore. I am blessed to have a wonderful supportive Church family, as well as my sisters and mom. This mishmash family that God has blessed me with is more than enough to build me up as the man that God intended for me to be. The strength and love they demonstrate to me, caring for me tenderly but holding me accountable when necessary, is exactly what I need. Thank you!
In my last testimony I mentioned that there aren’t coincidences, and I’ll say it again. A friend told me that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and I believe it with all my heart! My friend Gordon once said to me, “You know, He has placed you exactly where I need to be.” It’s so true! The timeline of events that took place up until now and bringing me to where I am today is ridiculous. For all I know, I could have been in China still or Asia somewhere doing nothing that has to do with the Kingdom of God. I mean, I’m here today speaking English (…well barely) and am fortunate to have the opportunities that have come my way. There are no coincidences!
When my faith falters or fails, Christ remains the same. He is my constant. He has brought me here and has woven my path even from before I was born, from the moment my biological grandparents created my mother and up until now. The trials and steps it took for me to get here can not be “chance”. The stage that I’m in is my life. A love relationship that tugs back and forth, but I will praise God none the less!
It is because of missionaries sent to Hong Kong to start an orphanage
It is because of my mother being given to that orphanage
It is because of an American family that chose to bring her to the United States
It is because of parents raising her in faith
It is because Christ called my mother to love Him and love her children in that same sacrificial, selfless, enduring, unconditional love, love…
It is because of all of this, that I am here today to share my story with you. Thank you Mom and thank you Jesus! When I say “I OWE YOU EVERYTHING!” it truly has full meaning. Thank you for who I am and Whom I live for!
Happy Belated Mother’s Day Mama!