Gifts From My Mother – Through Life and Her Death

#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.

 

 

 

 

 

Falls Imminent Arrival

rain gutter for blog post

 

Confirmation of falls imminent arrival came in the form of a gentle rain last night and lingers still.

A soft damp blanket overlays everything – especially showcasing the transitional colors of our fruit trees. A few remaining figs and apples hang waiting to be picked, while surrounding leaves are beginning to let go. Our parched lawn welcomes the unfamiliar moisture.

Birds play in puddles, oblivious of tomorrow. Their songs are joyous, free and inspirational.

Time seems to stand still in the mystery of this glorious space in time we call fall.  It’s subtle, but intentional –  poised to abandon summer  while steadily marching on toward winter.

I smell the pavement and anticipate change.

Could it be the bulk of my days I call life, are much like today – a short pause between the luscious summer of youth and the grand finale of winter?

I see wonder in the merging of drips pouring off my rooftop. It satisfies, nourishes, cleanses, restores and subtly tempts my desire to linger.

In the stillness of this seasonal doorway I remember tomorrows bidding.  Fall is only a transition between my beginning and my end of seasons. Winter will come and go, but new life await beyond these harsh borders.

 

“Listen, you heavens, and I will speak. Hear the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord and praise the greatness of God!” Deuteronomy 32:1-3

 

 

photo credit

Search For Significance

#3 framed

 

Our search for significance often begins on a playground sometime between the ages of 3 -5. It starts the day we first risk asking the question, “Will you play with me?” and then matures to even more vulnerability when we dare to add, “Will you be my friend?”.

 

Think about how many times over your lifetime you asked those questions – and how many times the answer either hurt or disappointed you. These encounters are the beginning of our shaping.

 

I watched my granddaughter try to approach a group of girls the other day at the park. The girls were fully engaged in what they were doing and obviously all knew each other well. At first, she stood a distance away from them – observing and waiting. I knew what she wanted and it was agonizing to watch. She inched closer and closer hoping they would notice her, knowing full well she had nothing to offer them but herself.

 

My instinct was to dive in, intervene, and help her out. But my heart knew better. It would be as big a mistake as helping a struggling baby bird out of its birthing shell.

 

There are things we need to discover and conquer all on our own. The shaping of our identity and the role others play in our significance are core issues we’re tasked to settle through a lifetime of experiences. It starts early and the lessons we learn early-on carry as much weight as the ones we learn later in life.

 

I’ve worn the same uncomfortable shoes my granddaughter did that day many times in my life. It’s risky business to seek an invitation into an established group. Do you remember your first day at a new school, or your first crush or first job interview? The playgrounds change, but the emotions are the same.

 

During the long quiet walk back to my car, I sensed the wheels turning in my granddaughter’s mind.

 

As much as I wanted to tell her this was an isolated experience or that she was the most special girl on earth – I knew there were other more important shaping factors in play.

 

Instead, we talked about compassion and empathy, about forgiveness and feelings.

 

The truth is, not everyone she meets will like her or want to be her friend (even though the sun rises and sets on her, in my book). Her significance is not found in the acceptance of others. It’s not even found within the security of her family. Her significance is found in Christ and who he’s created her to be.

 

He has given her, and us, everything we need to effectively (and significantly) join the game of life on any playground we find ourselves. We are secure, loved and equipped to be his. And that’s good enough.

 

 

 photo credit

How Do You Describe God?

elephant collage 2

 

Someone recently asked me how I would describe God. My mind immediately went to the ancient parable of the blind men discovering an elephant for the first time.

With great fascination they each grabbed hold of part of the giant beast in order to better understand it. As one man felt its large ear gently waving to keep pests away, the man described the elephant as a soft leathery fan. Another man held onto the elephant’s tail and deduced an elephant is strong and slender like a snake. The man standing beside one of the elephant’s large legs told the others the elephant was like a tree trunk, tall and stately.

The moral of the story of course, is each one was entirely accurate and completely wrong at the same time. Trying to describe God through my limited knowledge and experiences of him is also based on a very minute view of all that he is.

Whether through my comprehension of the Bible or through personal experiences – my understanding is limited at best.

Some days he is like a fan. I feel movement and breeze when I spend time with him. I sense his involvement and intervention in my life. While other days he seems distant and rigid – stately and hard to grab onto.

And just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, things shift and my firm convictions are challenged by what I read or experience. My hold on the tail of truth whips free and I’m left grasping for a better understanding of the God I love.

He is immense to me like the elephant was to the blind men. He is untamable, no matter how long I’ve known him. He will never be fully understood by my finite mind. And yet, he is approachable and within reach.

When I feel blind I choose to stand firm. I wait for his voice, for his touch. I stand firm on the truth I know.

I know his consistent love. I know he is trustworthy. I know him even though I will never fully understand him until I see his full person, when I am free of mine.

So how would I describe him?

He is large, inexplicably large. He is gentle and strong, stronger than any force known to man. He is ever-present, no matter how distant he seems to be – he’s everywhere. He laughs and cries, he speaks and listens. He’s tender and fierce, gracious and just. He’s approachable, reasonable, multilingual and fair. He does more than love, he is love.

He is creative beyond understanding. He speaks without a voice – and yet speaks with a voice every person is able to hear. He never turns his back on the hurting. He hears, heals and patiently waits. His nature is like nothing we have known – and yet we are created in his likeness. He is simply indescribable.

The pursuit of God can never be exhausted – I am convinced there will always be more to discover about him. The tragedy is feeling satisfied with what we already know or dogmatically declaring we know it all.

I can’t help but make an attempt to describe such mystery and wonder. But please don’t take my word – discover for yourself and never, ever become satisfied with what you find.

 

 photo credit – and acknowledgment the original version is much prettier

 

 

We Are God’s Masterpiece

wyatt

 

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

 

What a beautiful scripture this is, encouraging us to know who we are through the eyes of the one who created us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to be reminded of this truth.

Deep within every human being is a longing to be loved and accepted. I need to remember this, because for most of us, this is not a reality we easily claim. Instead we look in the mirror and only see faults or reason for comparison. We allow the wrong voices to define who we are.

In some cases it’s our culture. But other times it’s the very people we love who wrongly define who we are. Hurtful words can deceive us into thinking we are unworthy.

Yet God created us to be people of strength and beauty, each with a divine purpose planned by Him before we were born. God alone has the right to define us.

He is the Creator. He is our designer. And this is what he says about you and me, WE ARE:

 

Created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

Fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

Precious and honored in His sight. (Isaiah 43:4)

Redeemed and forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)

A new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Holy and blameless before God. (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Corinthians 1:30)

Chosen by God. (1 Peter 2:9)

God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Created with purpose to do great works for God’s Kingdom. (Ephesians 2:10)

 

Will you believe these words about yourself today? Are you able to look for that same truth in your fellow man today as well?

We are God’s beloved creation, masterfully designed for his use. How absolutely amazing is that!