When Mother’s Day Isn’t A Happy Day

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Friendship, Love, Motherhood, Words | 18 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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In a Moving Vehicle

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Aging, Control, Humility, Motherhood | 20 comments



For now, they share the back seat while I drive. A carseat and a walker. Time never stands still, but today, my personal timeline sits in my car. I hesitate to look in either direction – back or forward.

I have no recollection of ever occupying a carseat myself, in fact I remember being lined up in the backseat of a station wagon shoulder to shoulder – all four of us. Seven years separating the firstborn from the youngest.

The carseat era brought with it restraints and a need for front seat entertainment rather than management. No more playing the “she touched me” game for the thrill of watching a leg get slapped from the front. No more trying to be the one closest to the window for relief from smells, annoying tapping and endless questions.

Today is different. Today I’m the keeper of the carseat from the front. I wrestle and manipulate the wiggly little creature into it. I lock firmly and tighten for safety. I manage entertainment, but never slap.

The carseat holds hope, dreams, undiscovered galaxies. Next to it – the walker.

I remember the day we went to the Salvation Army to find an appropriate walker. She was sure she didn’t really need one even though all the health professionals told her she did. None of the gizmos seemed right. One was too short, one too bulky, they needed a basket for carrying things. They all made her look old.

I can’t say I was sympathetic, or patient. It was just one of the ten other tasks on my checklist to make my job a little easier.

Ten years later it gets thrown in the backseat like my appendage, the purse. It haunts me. I sit in front.

A stroll down our timeline is a stark reminder we’re trapped in a moving vehicle. Time progresses without our consent. We change seats and don’t even know it.

She was once a carseat dweller. Young, full of dreams. She didn’t concern herself with thoughts of walkers, purses, or days spent looking back. The world was her galaxy.

I can’t be concerned with where I sit.

One day the carseat will vacate and little one will move up front. My walker will occupy the back as she looks over her shoulder to be sure I’m properly buckled in.

Life is a vapor. Life is to be cherished, valued. Used up.

Mourning the loss of years gone by is as futile as anxious anticipation of the future. The young drink from the old. The old dry up. The driver sits in the front seat with misguided feelings of control and worth.

Life is a gift. Our value comes from the life given us, no other place.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

The smudgy fingerprints on the carseat will be the same that grip the wheel and eventually the walker handles. Some things change – others remain.. Our DNA, our gifts planted from above, and the tiny lines on our fingers never change – just where they land in the grip.






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Teacher, Hero, Mother-in-law

Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Extraordinary Everyday People, Motherhood | 4 comments

Dust has settled sifting sweet sorrow by joyful tears. So I write about my hero.

She was a teacher. Not just in the elementary and special ed classrooms where she worked, but with her life – she taught. Without chalkboard, theory or effort she taught humility, joy, other-centeredness, simplicity, and love.

I celebrate Mary Baer today, who one month from her 98th birthday, slipped effortlessly into her Savior’s arms with most of her children at her side.

She now dances – she laughs – she rests – she reunites – she worships. Her day is no longer dictated by the clock or insulin injections. She no longer waits for her favorite time of day, to ‘snooze’. There’s no need to worry about her children or grandchildren. Surely she celebrates HIS perfect timing in all earthly matters.

Even during her final breaths, she taught us – our sweet, simple, gentle teacher.

Thank you for years as an amazing role model Mary Baer, my teacher. When I was young and unwilling to admit you knew more than me; more about child-rearing, about being a wife, cooking and even faith – you simply showed me. You waited and modeled what I needed to learn. You didn’t finger point or lecture. You didn’t grandstand or shout. You just simply were, and I love you for that. I am so grateful I got to be with you when you slipped away from us. How I praise God for his perfection in all things. I think of the times I begged him to release you – to just take you home, away from your pain. But like you, he knew best. He didn’t shout or lecture – grandstand or finger point, he simply was. In my wildest imagination I couldn’t have choreographed your departure better. Not one of your days went unnoticed by your Savior. Not even your last.

It may be silly, but when I think of Mother Teresa, I think of Mary. Mother Teresa was also a teacher by example. She challenges us with this thought, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness, kindness in your face, eyes and in your smile.”

Mary could have been the author of this statement, it’s exactly how she lived.

In many ways, the two women seem similar to me – but obviously, one of them has a name familiar to most everyone. She’s a woman of influence and her contributions to mankind are immeasurable. Although the other shares the same simple, humble and giving nature – she left the earth without recognition, fanfare, or a noteworthy legacy.

I wonder, as they now both sit in God’s holiest place, enjoying His inexplicable presence, if the distinction between their lives is even noticeable. I wonder.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a ‘special gift’, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”.

Still learning from my teacher, I ponder ‘special gifts’. I ponder contentment wrapped in simplicity – I ponder relevance and influence. Weighed down with concerns I’m challenged to surrender. I ponder departure – my own and my hero’s.


mary and me

Mary Katherine Baer

July 27, 1915 – June 27, 2013

Teacher, Hero, Mother, Servant, Friend


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Cards Missing from the Mother’s Day Rack

Posted by on May 11, 2013 in Extraordinary Everyday People, Motherhood, Our Hope | 6 comments

Like many of you, I visited the card rack yesterday. I was looking for appropriate cards to give several women in my life for Mother’s Day. While sifting through rows of colorful choices I noticed some blaring gaps in the selection. I couldn’t find custom cards for my friends who didn’t seem to fit into the neat categories offered. 

As I watched shoppers finger through their cards – reading and rejecting, sifting and segregating their choices, I wondered if perhaps they were also stumped like me. Not all women who mother are moms. And the broad sweeping categories seemed to exclude many deserving women.

The more complicated the situation, the more inappropriate generic text became.



Where is the card for the young woman I know who recently walked through the unthinkable journey of burying a small child? She is a mother still.
And where is the card for my friends who long for and have worked hard to become pregnant, rejoiced over a positive pregnancy test only to later lose the child before ever having the opportunity to hold it. They are mothers.
I believe the desire to be a mother comes from God and is delivered through a seed more powerful than man’s. God’s seed is fruit-bearing and redemptive. It comes from him, honors him and is him.

I’ve seen many women give birth to such a seed after facing the trauma of their own empty womb.

Women who nurture, feed and tirelessly provide for others are mothers.


Jesus wrote each of my friends a personal card not found in a Hallmark store in the mall. His pleasure for them is spilled out through his Word and by his Spirit. When he answered his disciples with the rhetorical question “Who is my Mother?” he knew. He knew there was a higher law in effect than the natural order of biological connections.


When we mother out of love for others and obedience to God – we give life. We partner with the seed bearer.
Leaving the card counter empty-handed, I chose rather to pray.

May my card-less friends find the treasured text God has written for them on Mother’s Day and know they are deeply loved, appreciated and never forgotten…


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