The Compassion Legacy: Life Lessons from My Mom

As a kid, I spent a lot of time shopping with my mom. My mom adored shopping with my sister and me, and I was a weekly beneficiary of her passion. Our Saturday outings consisted of malls, department stores, and restaurants.

The holidays were no exception. We were out and about as usual. Something that stands out in my memory is the Salvation Army bell ringers outside the stores we frequented. In the hundreds of times we passed by the dedicated bell ringers, there was never once that my mom didn’t stop and put money into their buckets. It wasn’t something I thought about as a kid. It was just her thing.

A Generous Heart

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I also remember, no matter the season, whenever my mom saw someone in need standing on the corner holding a cardboard sign, she would dig furiously through her purse to find cash to hand out the car window. If the light turned green and the cars behind us started honking at my sister to get going before my mom had time to find her money, she would always get upset and  frustrated. She would say, “I know what it’s like to be hungry! To go without. I just can’t stand seeing people suffer!” 

An Open Home and a Giving Spirit

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My mom would bring home “lonely, lost” Airmen from Hill Air Force Base to eat Sunday dinner with our family. She invited a boy from California to live with us during his senior year of high school after the family he’d been living with asked him to leave.

I remember shopping for a “Sub for Santa” family and her buying piles of gifts, all the while saying things like, “That isn’t good enough. Let’s find something nicer.”

The Pain of the Past

I knew she’d had it rough as a kid. I had heard the story of dinners consisting of one can of Campbell’s soup shared between my mom and her little brother. My grandma went hungry on those nights because there wasn’t any other food in the house, and Grandma wouldn’t dream of taking a bite of her babies’ portions.

As I matured, I realized the pain, suffering, and trials my mom went through shaped who she became. Those experiences had filled her with compassion and understanding I’d never know. Those experiences drove her to take action, without a second thought, when she saw a need.

Embracing Life's Challenges

I don’t love all the hard “stuff” life shoots our way. It is so often beyond my ability to understand. But I’m trying to have more faith in the bigger picture, hoping my trials will lead to a better me – a more valiant disciple of Christ. I’m aiming for less complaining, more gratitude, more trust in God’s omniscience – all of which is not easy when you’re up to your eyeballs in the muck. 

Lessons from Brokenness

This quote from Vance Havner especially spoke to me. “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” These words remind me that God can use our brokenness to create something beautiful and meaningful.

Divine Stretching

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Neal A. Maxwell wisely said, “God, as a loving Father, will stretch our souls at times. The soul is like a violin string: it makes music only when it is stretched…God will tutor us by trying us because He loves us, not because of indifference!” It is a powerful reminder that our challenges are not a sign of abandonment but a form of divine guidance and love.

A Call to Action

Reflecting on my mother’s compassionate legacy and the lessons I’ve learned from her, I pray that we can each find hope amidst our trials. Let us love and support each other as sisters, neighbors, and friends. My mother’s unwavering generosity has left a lasting impact on me, and I am determined to carry her legacy forward by making a positive difference in the lives of those around me.

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1 thought on “The Compassion Legacy: Life Lessons from My Mom”

  1. Rhonda Beckstead

    Oh Kristi! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story about the precious legacy your mother gave to you! I miss your mother and dad so much! I will forever be grateful for the many times they ‘rescued’ me and for the positive influence they were in my life! I can easily envision your mother doing those wonderful things for others. I sometimes feel compelled to do the same thing, because I know what it’s like to lose everything! I know what it’s like to have to rely on others for food and shelter. But more importantly, I will always cherish the one-on-one times I had with your parents in teaching me the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for helping me to discover the beauty of the Atonement and how it applies to me. I’ll miss your parents for a while, but I know I shall see them again because our friendship and spiritual relationship is eternal! It will never end! I am grateful for you and all your family as well. May God bless you!
    Love forever,
    Rhonda ❤️

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