Jolena Hays could not be more proud of her two daughters, Rachel Cheatham and Whitney Burt, and the moms and wives they have become. “Both of my girls are amazing, women of faith, who are raising my perfect (I am biased) grandchildren!” Jolena says. “I wish we could take credit, but we know for a fact God has had His hand on them since the day they were born.”
Jolena has been the business manager for more than 22 years at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church, and she raised both of her girls in the church. She always prayed that the girls would continue to grow in their faith as they got older, and her prayers were answered. “I know when I wake up on a Sunday morning and prepare to go to church, that my girls are getting their families prepared and ready to go to church, as well. As a parent, that was always a prayer I had,” Jolena says. “I also prayed that Godly men would be put in their paths, and thankfully, that prayer was answered for them both. I have three wonderful grandchildren who absolutely make my day better. I am incredibly proud of them and thankful, again, that the girls are raising them to be Jesus-loving, respectful, thoughtful, loving little people.”
Rachel, who is currently the office manager at Cobb Financial Services, says that Jolena modeled her faith at every opportunity. For example, when Rachel was only in 8th grade, she tried out for the drill team after moving to Texarkana ISD the year before. “I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I was so excited for the chance to be in such a large group with girls to become friends with. My mom and I sat in the car, prayed, and went over the tryout routine up until time for tryouts,” Rachel says. “Then, when it came time for the list to be posted of who made it, she said a quick prayer with me. As I went to find out, she prayed again. Then, as soon as I saw that I had made it, she jumped out of the car and gave me the biggest and most perfect congratulatory hug. She always knows how to tell and show me how proud she is of me.”
Whitney, a stay-at-home mom, says that her mom has impacted her life by providing her with a fantastic model of a godly, loving wife and mother. “I could not have gotten better training than from my mom. She showed me that God is my first priority, my husband comes next, and then my kids. One day they will leave and have families of their own, and she showed me how important it is to make your husband a top priority,” Whitney says. “Like all women, we tend to think we’re not good enough as mothers and wives. But I’d like my mom to see that she truly is the best of the best. And I want her to know that she did an incredible job raising us, and I hope my kids will one day look at me like I look at my mom.”
Jolena says Rachel was always a “line leader” when the girls were growing up. From the time she started preschool, Rachel always wanted to be in front, and she loved to help her teachers and lead all the playtimes. “Rachel is still outgoing today and loves to help. She has returned to singing at her church and loves being helpful where needed,” Jolena says. “Her employer also appreciates how well she connects with the people that they work with daily and the relationships she has attained with them.”
Whitney was always the shy one. She only wanted to be with her daddy and told others to leave her alone. “It’s an ongoing joke with our immediate family as they loved the way she would say ‘Weave me awone’ since she couldn’t pronounce her L’s yet,” Jolena says. “Whitney no longer has any problem with shyness. She stands in front of a large crowd at her church every Sunday, leading worship songs. She also helps lead Bible studies and leads the discussions within them. She is very socially connected with many people and continues to surprise me.”
The relationship between Jolena, Rachel, and Whitney has morphed into more of a friendship than the stricter realities of a mother-daughter relationship. Both girls call their mom daily just to check in and visit, and they both say that their mom is always available to listen or offer encouragement. “Mom is truly amazing. She always knows how to make my day just a little bit brighter, and she has a way of making me feel better about myself when I feel down, whether it’s by lifting me up with a funny story or just always knowing the right thing to say,” Rachel says. “She is the strongest woman, and I look up to her with hopes that I can be like her.”
The girls have also enjoyed watching their mother become a grandmother. “As great of a mom as she is to me, she is an even better ‘Mimi’ to her grandkids. For example, growing up, I had to eat what was given to me. But at Mimi’s house, she specifically buys the things they want, which is not the case at my house!” Whitney says. “I’m most looking forward to watching her enjoy my kids as they grow up, because when we were young, she had to worry about raising us and making sure we were making the right choices. Now, she just gets to do the fun part and leave the hard raising to me!”
Rachel says that their mom exudes selflessness, a trait Jolena shared with her own mom, the girls’ grandmother. Jolena makes her love for her family evident in everything she does. “My mom will make sure that her family has everything that they need before she even begins to think about herself, and it is something that I really admire,” Rachel says. “I am proud of the woman that my mother is in all ways. Her love for her family is so strong, and I look up to her and how much she does for us all.”
Questions for Daughter, Rachel Cheatham
1. What memories are you most looking forward to making with your mom?
I am most looking forward to making Disney memories with my mom. My mom, sister, and I are the BIGGEST Disney fanatics. We see a Disney commercial, and we text each other about how much we cried and got emotional watching it. We are planning a Disney trip in the next few years, and I am honestly looking forward to how she reacts to her grandchildren reacting to being at Disney. It will probably be emotional for us all.
2. In what ways has your mother influenced your life?
In absolutely every stinkin’ way. I can only hope that when I am out in public, people who know me know that I must have the most amazing mom who has helped me and continues to help me be the woman I am today. My mom has taught me more about being a wife and a mom, and I thank her as often as I can about raising me to be the woman/wife/mom I am today.
Questions for Daughter, Whitney Burt
1. What is your favorite thing about your mother?
It’s hard to list just one. But for starters, she’s my “Jiminy Cricket.” She calms me down and gives me the perfect advice at just the right time. I love the fact that my mom puts others before herself. She is one of the kindest women I’ve ever known, and I hope her gentle, kind spirit is something that is passed down to me!
2. What advice do you have to daughters on navigating a good mother/daughter relationship?
The best advice I can give you is to communicate and be honest. Remember, you’re still her child. She wants to be there for you, so those two factors are so important. Don’t try to lie to make each other feel good. Say the tough things when needed and help lift each other up. I’m big on calling my mom every day just to talk. It’s really important to both of us to have that constant communication. I never thought growing up that my mom would become one of my best friends. One thing that helps us is that we respect each other’s personalities. She’s the calm to my fire, and I’m the one who helps remind her how amazing she is.