Peace, peace wonderful peace

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You know how some moments just stay with you, all of your days?  You couldn’t erase them from your memory, even if you tried?  I remember one of those days.  It started as a visit from a friend, who I’m sure was concerned about my well being after the recent loss of my mom.  I don’t remember all of the details but I know God had His hand in it.

On the outside, I was a wife and mother doing my best to serve my little family well.  On the inside, I was a wreck.  I hadn’t seen or even smelled anything that resembled peace in a very long time.  As much as I loved my little family, I felt as if a part of me had died with my mom, who left us at the tender age of 49 due to infection after a liver transplant.  She left me, her eldest, 8 months pregnant and struggling to make sense of a life without her.  Honestly, the thought of continuing to live without her, didn’t seem possible.

For the most part, I could hide my grief.  My husband saw the really ugly days and held me as I was falling apart.  He understood better than many, as he’d experienced great loss himself.  Friends and family were supportive and said and did all the things they truly thought would help.  But, like I said, on the inside the battle was raging and few knew how bad it could get on some days.

Mom was my best friend, the person I spoke to every single day, the person I shared everything with.  She had been an excellent mother from day one, but you don’t learn to have the deep appreciation until you are older and you don’t really understand some of what motherhood means until you have your own children.  She advised on any and every problem without judgment, she was my biggest fan and Nana to my daughter.  She had felt the movement of the grandchild she would never hold as she moved her hands across my swollen belly and spoke words of tenderness as she lay in the hospital bed.

Once she was gone, I threw myself into the role of “the strong one”, but I didn’t realize that I could only do that for so long, that sooner or later I had to deal with it.  I waited until after the baby was born, agonizing through labor without her by my side; I waited until I stopped nursing so the stress wouldn’t affect my little princess.  Then, I shoved the pain inside and watched helplessly as it reared it’s ugly head touching my family through my lack of patience, my loss of desire for living and a dark depression which had settled over me.

But on that day I mentioned, sitting on my old green couch, I uttered words that began a chain of events that would change everything.  As I was talking to my friend, I merely said, “I think I need to go see someone.  I can’t do this anymore.”

I don’t remember when I saw her again or if it was by telephone but not too much time passed before we spoke again.  She uttered the words that spoke to me somewhere down deep and my soul raised a frail and weary hand to identify with them.

She said, “I was telling mom what you said the other day about needing to talk to someone.  Mom said that you already know Who you need to talk to.”   Now, it goes without saying that my friend and I knew she meant I needed to take my troubles to the Lord.  There was no explanation needed for 2 girls who had grown up on the little white church on the island.   I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but those words started a fire somewhere deep inside of me.

They were simple words, brief and to the point, but I am so glad they were spoken and then shared with me.  (Sometimes you will never know the effect your words can have on someone or how God will use you in mysterious ways to bring about change)  Those few words weighed heavily on my heart and mind for days.  I couldn’t shake them, couldn’t forget them and couldn’t ignore them.

In retrospect, I realize that people were praying for me.  At the time, even though they would say, “I’m so sorry, honey, I’m praying for you”, it didn’t resonate with me, didn’t even bring me comfort.  It didn’t register in my spirit or maybe I was too angry at God for taking her to listen with my heart.  I’m not 100% sure, but I know now that God had a plan and that in the depths of my grief and despair, at a time when I was far away from Him, He loved me.  He saw me, He saw my pain and He reached out to me.

A few days later, I found myself on my knees beside my bed pouring out my heart along with what seemed like buckets of tears.  On that day, I finally surrendered.  I gave everything to Him and I made a decision to turn away from all of the wrong, negative thoughts and turn to His Word and His council.  I decided to to choose Him first and foremost.  My heart was filled with a peace that I still do not understand.  When I got up from that floor, my life was changed.

To this day when people ask me to name something I gained from my relationship with Jesus, the first word that comes to mind is peace.  I hadn’t had any peace for so long; it was such a welcome balm.  There are so many who long for peace and look for it in all the wrong places.

Do I still miss my Mother?  Of course.  But, I can honestly tell you that my grief doesn’t control me anymore.  My earthly flesh will always miss her and feel a pang of hurt when holidays come or events occur that I would love to share with her.  But, Mom is with Jesus and it brings me comfort to think that maybe she had something to do with my outcome, even if it was just her prayers.  She always wanted her children to serve God and voiced that again near the end.

There is a Way to peace and He waits with open arms.  Run to those arms and find yours.

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Laughing with Mother

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Mom loved getting cards!

With vivid clarity, I can remember her laughter coming from the other side of the Hallmark aisle, where she had found a card funnier than the one we had just shared a laugh over.   She would say, “We better stop laughing so loud, or they are going to kick us out of here”.  My sister will remember the good times in the Hallmark stores with Mother too.  She loved cards, loved giving and receiving them and we could spend half an hour finding funny ones and reading them aloud to each other.  Then, we would get the giggles and with tears coming from our eyes and our bellies sore from laughing, we would finally move on to another store.

This is just one of the memories I cherish with Mother, who went home to be with the Lord almost 20 years ago.

A couple of days ago, when I walked the aisles of the card store, picking out cards, I felt that old, familiar pang of loss like I always do around Mother’s Day and several other times throughout the year.  You don’t ever stop missing a presence that made your world brighter.  My mom was like a ray of sweet sunshine and anyone who knew her can attest to that.

So, for those missing your mom on this special day, who like me, have already experienced their departure from this world, take time to honor their memory today.  Look at old pictures, laugh, reminisce.  You can have one of those downright ugly cries and use a whole box of tissues if you need to.   But when you’re done, get up and honor that memory by being the best mom you can be.

For those of you who have lost children or desperately long for them and are unable to bear them, my heart breaks for you and I pray God’s peace and presence with you on this day and always. If you don’t have children of your own, or yours are grown and gone, there are plenty in this world that need a mother figure to guide them.  Surely there is one out there, just waiting and yearning for your nurturing.  God instilled that nurturing in us and we can greatly impact this world if we share it freely and broadly.

And for those of you who don’t know your mother, don’t feel like you have one or maybe your childhood wasn’t like the ones you dreamed about; God bless you!  And in the words of my daughter last night at dinner, “Jesus can be a mother or father to anyone who needs Him to be”.   Yes He can.  He can fulfill any desire that your heart is longing for.

Happy Mother’s Day my friends.  Enjoy!

 

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

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The writing prompt at The Daily Post, said, “This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.”  If I understood correctly, we are to write from the perspective of someone else.  Here’s my attempt:

“Honk, honk, honnnnnnnkkkk”.  The young man slowed as he came alongside and looked at me angrily and mouthed what appeared to be obscenities.  He continued pressing his horn as he sped by me, my hands gripping the steering wheel securely at the 10 and 2, just like my dad taught me.  Maybe I was going too slow, but better safe than sorry.  The honking incident hadn’t done much in settling my nerves today.

Moments later, my blinker flashing, I carefully turned into the grocery store and found a spot up close.  That walk isn’t as easy as it used to be and although I’m not ready for a handicapped space yet, the closer the better.  Before I opened the door, I plundered in my pocketbook for an elusive tube of lipstick.  I feel like I need some color, but I’m careful in my application.  I don’t want to look like those old women who miss their lips and color outside of them.

Getting out of the car, I glance down at my Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes and have to remember to be thankful I can still walk instead of wishing I could still sport high heels without pain or injury.

Entering the store, I walk toward the long line of carts and immediately sense the impatience of the sharply dressed young lady behind me.  She is obviously in a huge rush, so I hurry to get out of the way and feel grateful when the cart comes apart from the others easily and all the wheels work.

As others pile into the store, I again feel the pressure to move out of the way, to get through the front door and move to the side.  Tears well up, as I realize I’m considered an obstacle or a bother once again.  I long for my love, my soul mate to be here with me, by my side.  His hand would always guide me and his presence gave me comfort.

In the aisle for baking goods, as I struggled to read the ingredients on a jar, another woman, this one large and more interested in talking on her cell phone, than paying attention, almost knocks me over.  I overhear something about “the old fool” to her friend on the phone.  I am older now, but I still have feelings and ears.  What happened to respecting the elderly?

I look at the cases of water, and would love to get some, but I’m not sure I can grip and lift, and then I would have to also get it into the car, and then into the house.  The cart is heavy even without the water, but I manage to get the few items I came for and make it to the check out.

The young man operating the register asks, “paper or plastic?” in a frustrated tone, like perhaps he’d already asked me before, so I answer him and begin to arrange my items on the belt.

Behind me, I notice a beautiful young woman, maybe barely in her twenties, wearing a big smile.  She says, “Ma’m, could you use some help?” I looked at her with damp eyes, her kindness griping my heart.  Before I could answer, she was at my side, unloading my groceries.

Her only purchase was a gallon of milk, so she quickly caught up with me before I made it to my car.  She insisted on helping me put the groceries in my car, told me to have a nice day and carefully closed my door, when I got in.  With that big smile and a little wave, she was gone.

This young lady had no way of knowing it, but this was my first shopping trip ever without my husband by my side.  He passed away just last month and after all the affairs were settled and the family all back to their homes, I found myself alone, with empty cupboards.

My emotional state was fragile and this girl showed me attention, respect and kindness, asking for nothing in return.  I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and into a genuine smile for the first time in a long time.

They hurt, so we love

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Teardrop on Fire (Photo credit: tj.blackwell)

Why can’t we see that people are hurting?  Why do some people rush to spread bad news, but don’t bother to take the time to clear up a nasty rumor?

We are all touched by pain, turmoil and tragedy, are we not?  We all suffer so how do we forget what that feels like.  How do we forget what would have made us feel better and then not offer that instead of judgment and gossip?

Please know that I am searching my own heart as I share.  I hate gossip and try to stay far from it, but don’t we all get roped in sometimes?  Aren’t we also partakers even if we just listen?  Isn’t that just as bad?  And how does that help, what does it accomplish?

When I think on the times that I have felt ravished and torn by life’s trials and troubles, I quickly remember the friends who showed up, who covered me in prayer; the ones who stood up for me and my family.  I think of those who quickly discerned that it wasn’t a time for observation and speculation, but a time to show love and concern.  They realized that it was a time to love and hold and listen.

I have been studying the book of Job, and just like everything else God does, this was divine timing, because it has been helpful to apply some of what I have learned to hurting people.  It is teaching me to be a better friend.  One who understands that there is a big picture and I can’t figure it all out and I don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes the most helpful thing I can do is to pray for them and listen.  Notice I said “listen”, not always speaking, not always thinking I have all the answers.

Most of us, by the time we have reached my age, have experienced the death of a loved one, severe illness in ourselves or others, financial difficulty or even ruin, marital discord and sometimes divorce, problems with children and grandchildren, and the list goes on and on.

God help us to remember some of those times; the way we felt, the people who cared and the things that counted.  What made us feel better, what caused a smile to tug at the corners of our mouth and what made us feel loved and warm inside?  May we remember and pay it forward.

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