I knew I HAD to meet her.
The next night, at the American Mothers' national convention, I found myself in the same beautifully decorated ballroom. My friend, Chantel, and I were preparing to leave after a fun-filled day of empowering workshops, good food, and keynote speakers. As Chantel and I walked through one of the many ballroom doorways, I saw her...
I timidly approached her and introduced myself. "I'm happy to meet you," she said to me, sincerely, "but you should know I don't shake hands. I give hugs and kisses...if that's alright with you."
"Absolutely!," I exclaimed. I laughed while she gave me a grandmotherly squeeze and planted a kiss on my cheek. She whispered in my ear, "May the Lord bless you and keep you." I knew I was in the presence of a special woman.
Her name is Ruby, and she's from Nebraska. In 1991, she was nominated for AMI's "Mother of the Year" in her state and won. The next year, she won the recognition of "National Mother of the Year." (An incredible honor that celebrates a mother's efforts in the raising of her family, as well as the service she gives in her community.)
Ruby, like most mothers, was eager to talk about her children. She showed me a couple of pictures of her two, handsome sons. Both are smart and successful and have had prestigious military careers. One is currently teaching in a professorship at a university in Michigan.
Then she told me about her "other sons"...the two hundred and twenty boys she has fostered over the years. She has provided a safe haven for delinquent and neglected boys (mostly adolescents) who would have otherwise "fallen through the cracks in the system," or ended up on the streets. She saved many from lives of substance abuse. She saved many from suicide, loneliness, and despair. She saved many young boys from habitual crime and disorderliness.
She loved all of them.
The world is a better place because Ruby is a part of it; the calling of motherhood is more noble because Ruby embraces it. What an example she has set for a "new generation" of mothers. In Christ-like emulation, she has openly and uninhibitedly loved those who are difficult to love. The outcasts. The down-trodden. The lost. The rejected. The unlovable. She took them in and exposed them to the sacredness and security of "home," and taught them about "belief in self" by example. She ultimately showed them that there are better and brighter paths to choose on life's journey; instilling the beliefs that they don't have to settle, they can rise above the ashes, it's their choice.
Ruby is inspiring. She is the embodiment of a beautiful truth, that reminds us of the power of a woman's influence: A good mom can teach her son to be a good man.