My mom, DeAnza Duron, is amazing. At one time, there were six of us in the house under the age of thirteen. Not only did we survive, but she taught us the fundamentals of our faith, had us memorizing Christian scripture, and turned us into a real life recording family band complete with over forty original songs. To top it all, she constantly had people in her home, worshipped the ground my father walked on, took incredible care of him, ministered at church, and found time for random dance parties. How, did she do it?
Before you go and resign from life, let me say, she wasn’t perfect. That is perhaps the most amazing part of all. She had real struggles and real issues with herself and those around her. Sometimes she responded in ways that she later regretted. Yet, she never let that regret seep into the way she dealt with us. She never let her imperfections drive her from her mission. She never stayed home from church or hid from the world. She never missed an altar call for fear of what people would think. She never even stepped off the stage. And most of all, she didn’t let failure or weakness or a missed opportunity make her shrink back from the hard work of parenting. She brought it, whether we wanted it or not, every single day. How did she do it?
It happens so often now that I don’t keep track. I’m speaking to a pastor who says, “I was done with ministry! I was sick of my husband. I was sick of my kids. I was depressed. I was hurt. I felt victimized. I didn’t think I could go on. It was too much.” Whatever the struggle might be for these women, they feel it intensely! And then like clockwork the next sentence, “Then I called DeAnza and she stopped everything, let me and my kids come over, talked to me for hours, and somehow everything was different. More than that, I was different.” She makes time. In the midst of her craziness, she makes time. How does she do it?
Not long ago, my second daughter came back from staying at Zaza’s house (our affectionate name for DeAnZA) again. And, once again, she’s better behaved, further along with her alphabet, and more willing to help me and her sister. She’s even speaking more kindly, a miracle if you know her. Six days with Zaza produced this? How does she do it?
Now, DeAnza is preparing to relaunch her amazing brand, Best Buddies Music, with a new website, new offerings, a blog, and so much more. Of course, she will be doing all that while parenting her seven adult children, obsessing over the seven grand-children who now occupy most of her attention, loving on her mom who is 93, still adoring and caring for my dad, and pastoring a church full of people. Seriously, how does she do it?
Today, in honor of her birthday (I’d tell you how old she was but then you’d be depressed - seriously, I’ve seen it happen) I’m going to give you three things that after thirty-six years of DeAnza watching I think underlie how she does it. Are you ready?
1. DeAnza starts each day fresh without any baggage
If you were playing a rousing game of DeAnza bingo with all her favorite sayings, you would want a board with “It’s a new beginning!” all over it. (That and “This is the best thing I have ever eaten” and “Honey, could we have more lemon?” because DeAnza’s optimism finds its completion in any good Italian meal - as long as there is enough lemon.) Mornings are my mom’s time of inspiration. She can be found singing and writing and laughing. As a child, one of the first scriptures I ever learned was “His mercies are NEW every morning.” She lives by that. If God starts the clock over every morning, by golly so does DeAnza.
When you live each day like it is the only day and with the conviction that yesterday cannot rob today of all its potential and beauty, you slap regret in the face and open the door for new blessings.
I’ve watched my mom face many set backs and disappointments, and she has grieved. Yet, when the new day has dawned, she rushes into it leaving the past behind. Yes, I think that is how she does it.
2. DeAnza never says never
My mother has never told me anything was impossible, anything. She peppered my childhood with stories of people who did the impossible. Far before it was a song or a popular saying, my mom would tell us with an earnest expression, “We serve the God of the impossible.” No dream was too big. No goal to out of reach. She didn’t shy away from the difficult topics in the Bible because she really believed that God could stand up to any question.
How did this make her a better mom, pastor, wife, mentor, friend, person? When you put limits on God, and limits on your future, you allow hopelessness to creep in. After all, if you are too old to make a difference or too uneducated or too whatever, what hope do you have? DeAnza refuses this line of reasoning. In her mind, God can do whatever He wants with her life. It might not look the way she thought, but as long as He is using her that is just fine.
And all her dreams, well, I’ve never heard her give up a single one. She has hope that God can do as much with her in the last thirty (or forty or fifty or sixty) years of her life as he did in the first sixty. And she has faith that those dreams she doesn’t see come to life herself will be birthed through those that she has parented and discipled. Yes, I think that is how she does it.
3. DeAnza truly trusts in God
My mom’s life has been far from perfect. Her preacher dad died when she was three. Her mom remarried into somewhat complicated circumstances. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t what the brochure advertised. And yet, my mom has always, in her words, clung to the cross. Every setback and challenge moved her closer to her savior. Jesus is more real to her than her kids or her husband or any other aspect of her life. She has real joy just in knowing Him more. So, when she is tempted to regret, judge the future, or embrace hopelessness, she just clings tighter.
I can remember her speaking words of faith and trust and hope over us and over herself in my earliest memories. When I had my own children, she shared with me a mantra that she developed in a moment of desperation, “Everything is wonderful, everything is fine, Jesus is Lord of all, Jesus is mine.” When you truly trust in God, and believe He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, there is little room for fear and lots of room for love.
And you need a lot of love and no fear if you are going to do the things DeAnza does. Loving big takes courage. Speaking truth and practicing honesty isn’t easy. Making room will require you to stretch. Giving generously even when you don’t feel like you have much to give requires a true trust in the God of the impossible. And when you utterly fail, getting up again means embracing the new beginning even when you can still taste the old failure.
In DeAnza’s words, God isn’t part of the answer, He is the only answer. And that, so far as I can see, is how she does it.
One more thing I would add, my mom has never stopped learning. She learns from everything and everyone. She reads voraciously and asks so many questions. Don’t just try to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, find community, lean in, grow, and love the people you are with. After all, at the end of the day, our lives live on most clearly through those that we have loved, impacted, and made time for. And that is how DeAnza has made a difference every day and in every life she has crossed.
I love you mom. The best is yet to come. It’s a new beginning. And yes, I have more lemons.