Love

Gifts From My Mother – Through Life and Her Death

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Death, Gifts, Humility, Life, Love, Mother | 32 comments

#65 Linking of Moments

 

This past week I had the sacred privilege of sitting with my mother while she slowly and bravely made her trek through the valley of death. Watching her tiny frame prepare for its final breath was a holy invitation to reflect and give thanks.

Her body may have been the instrument offered to deliver me into this world, but our shared experiences – both the good and the bad – were God’s favorite tools to shape us both for the next.

She left me plenty of gifts. Besides a great spaghetti recipe, lessons in sewing and proper table manners – I also received deep spiritual gifts I’m convinced I wouldn’t have found any other way. They were more powerful than sermons or books – and delivered straight from our creator to benefit us both.

Through her, I learned about faith and forgiveness. She taught me grace, mercy, service and humility. Through our journey together, I learned to see Christ in all things and in every face.

She confessed to be an atheist most of her life and worked hard to hide the fearful little girl she really was. And yet God chose her to teach me about forgiveness – how it easily flows to mercy. And how fear really can transform into trust. I learned service isn’t an action – it’s communion.

Our relationship caused me to face my own judgmental and religious self. The bright light of God’s resolute love and limitless grace poured out for both of us continues to melt my pious heart.

She was a good mom, a loyal wife, a talented artist and gifted seamstress. But everyone knows the simple kind of life she lived fades easily and for the most part, will remain unsung.

Even though – I am confident her life never, ever went unnoticed or was considered insignificant. I’m also certain it was joyously celebrated by the grand welcoming committee in her Savior’s Kingdom. She will cry no more.

Tears are for me – for those of us left in this temporal world.

I will miss the journey of faith we shared. And I know I will see her again.

 

A special thanks to Emily Snider Re who generously shares her gift of photography with me. I picked her puzzle picture because life is never how it actually seems. We only see a small piece of the bigger plan at any given time and do best when we trust the complete picture will be as it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Brittle Heart Yearns To Be Soft

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Control, Freedom, Love, Vulnerability | 20 comments

#42 love is patient

 

My brittle heart yearns for the softness of innocent trust. It squirms within the shell of experiences that mold it – waiting for occasional moments to beat with true freedom.

I know my heart was designed for feeling – for vulnerable encounters. Unfortunately like most people, I learned early on that along with vulnerability often comes pain . And pain drives me to the shelter of a hardened, secure place.

Our youthful hearts can easily becomes suspicious, self protective and old. Hard and hollow.

I admit it – my feelings get hurt. I wish I could say my tough exterior is made from some sort of righteous maturity, but it is not. I’ve learned to appear resolute and say the right words, but each time my heart is hurt the walls grow a little thicker. Just this morning someone hurt my feelings and didn’t even know it. I recoiled.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”. I don’t believe this verse is suggesting I avoid people and trust God. I think it tells me to trust God with every relationship, avoiding the snare of fear.

A soft heart loves at all times – even through vulnerable and difficult encounters. There’s freedom in openness and vulnerability – freedom in trust. Trust encased in love generates life.

By God’s grace I will continue to take a sledge hammer to the hard walls I hide behind every time I’m hurt. I know I’m kidding myself to think genuine love can seep through the cracks of a self protected heart.

Love, Real love, God’s love – oozes out of and overflows from selfless vulnerability.

 

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Remembering Yesterday

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Aging, Love, Remember | 22 comments

for remembering 2

 

The sun caught a tiny droplet as it slipped over a crease from the corner. It made its way down the canyon of lines time had carved. I could almost predict the place it would land. I knew it would eventually evaporate rather than be absorbed. The leathery skin was long past supple – and so were some of the places in her heart.

This afternoon was different. Something about our conversation struck a chord – a distant memory brought moisture back to her dull eyes. A trickle released from the welled up reservoir.

Her hand slowly moved up from the frail lap where it rested, revealing dried residue from a lunch spill. She tried to catch the unfamiliar moisture before it exposed her vulnerable self.

The words, “I can’t remember,” faintly slipped through her pursed lips. She knew it was a simple question – one she could easily answer. Instead, blank space now occupied much of what used to be full.

Another question and a long pause un-furrowed her brow. “He grabbed me from behind yesterday and we danced all the way to the garden,” she told me. For a moment her eyes joined the waltz before her thoughts tiptoed away.

Her retired dancing legs now hang limp from a seat supported by large worn wheels.

Yesterday was probably decades ago and yet it graciously visited for a quick look back today. Tenderness and youth were deposited –  for just a moment.

She didn’t remember the landslide of days that passed too quickly, or the monotonous months spent working behind a desk. Her mind didn’t bother to recall the thousands of trips to the supermarket, gas station or business appointments. Her positions, titles, paychecks, accumulations were all long gone and of no significance to her now.

She remembered her feelings though. She remembered matters of the heart.

I often wonder what we’ll remember in heaven and what part of our earthly existence goes with us. Will we be tormented by what we can’t hold onto – those memories of all we thought brought us significance. Or will we be remiss that too much time was spent on things that didn’t matter at all.

Worn leathery skin doesn’t happen overnight and neither does a tired leathery heart.

Healthy heart care comes from a lifetime of intentional choices. When memories fade and life narrows to a simpler existence the mind releases much that has been accumulated – sometimes to our benefit and other times not.

give yourself permission to cry and feel, to love and be loved. Make memories. Touch someone’s soul with your words and actions. Actions that remain.

Today will eventually become our yesterday too – the yesterday we hope to remember.

 

 

 

 

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The Door of Hope

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Faith, Hope, Love | 24 comments

european door 2

 

The door of hope is available to every living, breathing soul.

Unlike other doors it’s uniquely fashioned without a latch or handle. At first glance there’s no obvious way to open it. It’s sturdy frame rests on a threshold of love. It is hinged with strong brackets of grace. And although it’s a thing of beauty and a necessity for entrance, many weary travelers worry it’s too difficult to open. But it’s not.

No knocking is required – or doorbells to ring. With a light touch, a tap of faith – it opens, welcoming guests to peace, joy and spectacular glimpses of His face.

I urge you – reach toward it with confidence and marvel as you watch the door open. Receive with gratitude whatever waits for you on the other side. Take pleasure in the mystery. Rest in your personalized claim. Destiny triumphs. Struggling cease. Your arrival is expected and sacred gifts will be released.

Worry, frustration, self planning and defeat will be forced to flee. Rejoice in the relinquishment. Recognize sovereignty and the better plan. Walk boldly into your story –

beyond the beautiful Door of Hope.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:12

 

 

 

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Memorial Day – More Than Remembrance

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Freedom, Love, Remembrance, Service | 22 comments

#43 memorial collage

 

The three day weekend is fast approaching. We will remember our heroes through an avalanche of patriotic commercials and emotional photos. The nation will take a short pause to commemorate our fallen on Memorial Day.

Like most major holidays the media inundates us with ads, short video clips and images. The Memorial Day photographs are meant to stimulate patriotism. They will be moving. They will be clean and pretty, leaving us with good feelings which is somewhat perplexing since they represent a very different reality.

In fairness, most difficult life experiences look better when we’re farther away from them.

I’m grateful I’ve never had to watch someone be struck by a bullet or smell the smoke of smoldering flesh. It’s hard to imagine the photos shown on Memorial Day come even close to depicting the devastation they represent.

I wonder how veterans who’ve lived through the real-life experiences of war think of the polished up images we circulate. The disabled vet who sits at the intersection panhandling in our community probably doesn’t have a Twitter account to give his opinion on the issue. He anesthetizes his mind from memories and we anesthetize ours to him as we pass by – even on Memorial Day.

It’s probably safe to assume the general population can’t identify with him. Besides not understanding the trauma of his combat, he’s certainly not airbrushed enough for our applause. Like many, he’s still attached to the umbilical cord of his pain.

Internal wars are just as hard to understand as physical wars. Inner wars bring their own kind of pain, suffering and even death.

As I sit in my comfortable chair plucking my keyboard in hypothetical thoughts, I am challenged with what I can do. How can I serve the wounded. The broken in our villages need to be fed, listened to and truly honored.

The battle-weary soldiers of internal wars are the poor and the brokenhearted spoken of in Isaiah 61. Many people are held prisoners of war right in our own communities, and they are part of us.

The truth is we all would benefit by standing at attention on Memorial Day. We’re all part of a battle and called to fight in a very real war.

Our identity and dignity are contingent upon truly remembering. By ongoing remembrance and involvement. More than a pause – a lingering that initiates action.

I want to be more than moved this Memorial Day. I want to be enlisted into the causes that move my Heavenly Father. I want to take my place on the battlefield of my own community, so maybe one day I’ll hear my commander say, “This one fought the best she knew how. She lingered long enough to act.”

For today – I linger and humbly ask forgiveness for my own lethargy and preoccupation with myself. I willingly yield these unfocussed eyes to open and see opportunity beyond the polished images of the hour.

 

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When Mother’s Day Isn’t A Happy Day

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Friendship, Love, Motherhood, Words | 21 comments

#40 mothers day

 

My stomach began to tighten the day the calendar turned from April to May. Faces of friends, looming situations and broken dreams began to subtly wrapped their tentacles around the upcoming holiday we call Mother’s Day.

For some women I know, a rose at church or a trite Mother’s Day greeting are salt to an open wound. For others, the absence of these gestures grate on the soul like sandpaper.

I spent hours on the phone the other evening with a mother deeply grieving the loss of her only child who died six months ago. Words failed me. I know three other women who have shared the same painful loss this past year. Mother’s Day will never be happy for them again. It’s also a difficult day for those who have lost their mother, either by death or to the slow spiral of deterioration of Alzheimer’s.

Other women sit waiting in the lonely cell of barrenness – hoping for a miracle. They dread the fact another empty-armed Mother’s Day will come and go for them. Still others are waiting to hear from their prodigal son or daughter lost to the evil clutches of addiction. There are no words for them either. How can we comfort someone in such silent pain. How can we make Mother’s Day a happy day for them?

My heart aches for the hurting and grasps for words that soothe. Words that comfort and ease the guilt of a society that broad brushes our holidays with trite slogans and endless adds. It’s not our fault that commercialism leads us by the nose to the card counter, the flower shop and simplistic quotes. But it is our fault when we don’t bother to consider the unique lives of individuals in the process.

Mother’s Day doesn’t need to be eliminated in order to alleviate the pain of hurting women. But Mother’s Day can be sensitized by our care for the individual people in our circles.

Our words and actions have power. We can offer solace to the hurting by our understanding.

Celebrate the gift of motherhood with women presently enjoying it. But also look for those who need more than a quote, more than a rose – they might just need you. A hug, a cup of coffee, shared tears and most of all – a listening ear. Let them talk and tell you their stories over and over and over again.

May we be a society that bothers to know each other well and strives to love our neighbors appropriately. May we demonstrate compassion, kindness and care this Mother’s Day. And be a blessing to someone who might find the day difficult.

 

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