Note from Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Five years ago today, my cousin Ruth Ozinga passed away. She was a dear friend to me, especially during the last several years of her life as I got to know her better. Ruth was a true woman of God and a prayer warrior for Revive Our Hearts. This past Mother's Day, one of her sons, Marty, wrote this touching tribute to the impact his mother had on the lives of her family and everyone else who knew her. (At the visitation before her funeral, people stood 500 in line for seven hours to express their affection and gratitude for Ruth's life!) The ripple effect of her impact will be seen for generations to come as they pass on the baton of faith they received from this remarkable woman.
When I was in elementary school, I was given a homework assignment to interview one of my parents about their job. In this particular case, I interviewed my mom, who at the time was a stay-at-home mom of six boys.
I don't recall a lot of detail about the interview, but one thing that has always stuck with me was her response. She said she needed to start by taking the word "job" and replace the letter "b" with the letter "y," because her "job" was so much more than a job. It was her "joy."
She poured herself into the work of raising us boys. She made tremendous sacrifices on our behalf. Her unconditional love, support, empathy, and endless encouragement have shaped our worldview in unshakable and powerful ways.
A Mom's Influence
My mom raised six of the seven boys who are now the fourth generation co-owners and leaders of our family business. Despite never being on the payroll, I am convinced that she is one of the biggest influencers at our company.
When I think about the way in which my mom poured herself into the job of raising us, she truly embodied the values that characterize our company—those of a servant, a student, and an entrepreneur.
We have all been placed in the role of serving others, at times by our own choosing and at other times by someone else's. Becoming a servant is not easy. It demands humility, patience, and sacrifice.
Moms give of themselves in ways that the rest of us will never truly understand or appreciate.
Motherhood is arguably the most demanding calling known to mankind. Moms give of themselves in ways that the rest of us will never truly understand or appreciate. As a mother of six sons, my mom was pushed to her limits and beyond. She made a determination rather than begrudge the rambunctiousness of those boys to see the potential in the energy and make every attempt to direct it for good. Often this was in the face of the doubters, skeptics, and prognosticators.
She had a vision for us that others didn't. And she made us believe that anything was possible, especially as a unified group who loved and cared for each other, who had each other's backs.
She took joy in serving us. In spite of the challenges, the frustrations, and heartbreak, she took the long view, putting her trust in God and His promises, whom she ultimately saw herself as serving by doing her job well.
You would think that a mother of six sons wouldn't have the time or energy to really listen to each one of us. Yet my mom had an incredible ability to make each of us feel like we were heard, loved, and appreciated. She regularly affirmed the qualities she saw in us that made us unique and, by her estimation, extraordinary.
My mom was a student of people. She would ask questions that would get to the heart of a person in short order. And she genuinely listened. She was passionate about learning the needs of others and finding ways to creatively meet those needs. She found great fulfillment and satisfaction in it.
My mom embraced risk, saw opportunity in change, and had a vision for something greater than herself and her present circumstance. She taught us to do the same.
My mom got a degree as an interior designer. After she graduated, she started her own business. She was very creative, ambitious, and hardworking. Although she closed the business once she started having children, she maintained relationships she had built with her clients well after the professional relationship had ended. And she used the skills she was professionally trained in by volunteering her time and talent for others. Her innovation and creativity was only enhanced through her role as a mother.
An entrepreneur sees all facets of life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—through a lens of adventure. My mom embraced risk, saw opportunity in change, and had a vision for something greater than herself and her present circumstance. She taught us to do the same.
A person's legacy is what continues living after he or she is no longer here. My mom passed away almost five years ago now. We miss her dearly. Yet in a mysterious and profound way, her influence continues to grow stronger in my life, the life of our family, and our family business.
Marty Ozinga IV is the president of Ozinga Bros., Inc., a fourth generation family business.