Her Greatest Gift

 

Writing these words about my mother has been difficult for me because I want to tell you about family dinners with the good china and lace tablecloths, holidays that were always at her house, or her love of reading and travel.  I want to tell you about her classroom…how she was strict, but kind.  And her reaction when Red Weinman knocked the new IBM Selectric onto the floor and it broke into a thousand pieces!  Or the long hours she spent at school when they brought the first computer in and said, “you’ll be teaching this”.

I want to tell you how my children requested French toast with Grandma’s special syrup each time she visited, or how she loved a long hug.  I want to tell you about the notes she’d leave under our pillows, or about Saturday night rituals of polishing shoes, scrubbing heads and pincurls for Sunday School the next day or how she was a caregiver for all of our families at a moments notice.

About her going back to school with 5 little ones at home, or the jar of fruit flies in her closet for a Science class that she had to count long after we’d gone to bed.  I want to tell you how she and dad danced to the big bands, and how flyswatters were not just for swatting flies at our house.  About her passion for prophecy and Bible study.  I want to tell you how no matter what HD stole from her…from driving to, in the end, speaking…she’d always pat my hand and say “I’m fine”.

I definitely wanted to remind you about her beautiful soprano voice and her exits from the choir loft to the balcony…in the middle of the service…that had us teenagers cringing!  So many stories, so much I’ve left out, because more than all of that, I want you to know this…

My mother loved gifts.  We often wondered if that love came from when she was a little girl, living in a small apartment over a broom factory, and the only things she received for Christmas were the candy shavings from the bottom of the barrel, an orange and a little doll.  So each holiday mom would have her Christmas list or Birthday list.  (and we kids would laugh, as we knew the list was coming)

My thoughts go to the many gifts she gave each of us…she taught us by example that love is laughter, hard work, family, respect, honesty, hospitality,  commitment,  grace and so much more.

Many sitting here can attest to the fact that I was known as “the talker” in the family… which is probably how I got voted up here.  But just to set the record straight…the siblings can tell you…Robin Lynn actually gets the “talker” award!   What I CAN do, is write some.  For the past two weeks, I have struggled to write something to say today.  Usually, I can sit down at the computer and it flows.  Not this time…the words just didn’t come.  How do you put on paper, our love for our mother?

Just the other night, as I was shuffling through yet another tub of old letters, photos, and newspaper articles…I came upon this note, written from my mom:

Dear Michaela –

Been lifting you, your heart, your mind, your mouth (what else is there?—oh yes, your body!) to the Lord every time I think of you.  Do hope the Holy Spirit controls everything.  Been praying he will let you speak just the words he wants.

Love you much,

Mom

Wow, isn’t that SO how God works!   I knew the words would come.

If my mother could tell me the one thing she wanted me to say today…I KNOW that it would be this:

John 14:16  Jesus told him “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Many people will tell you that all the religions in the world are basically the same.  But that is not true.  Every other religion is based on man’s effort to reach God (if you are good enough, if you pray enough, if you work hard enough) but Christianity is different from all other religions.  We believe that God reached out to save man.   We are all sinners, saved by His grace.  And through Jesus death and resurrection, he took on our sin.  He chose us.  He loves us.  The bible is not just a book of stories.  The Bible is history and truth.  It is my mom’s truth, and I pray that it is your truth.

My mother knew that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  And just like my finding this note from her, the Holy Spirit will always guide us.

I will miss my mother terribly.  But I am filled with such JOY. If you received my mother’s Christmas letters, you will know that she prayed continually for the Rapture. Here are the last two lines of her 2009 Christmas letter…”but you know my wish over the years hasn’t changed…for Christ to Rapture us up TODAY, I want to meet him face to face.” She longed for the day that Christ would come for all who believe.  Jesus chose to welcome her sooner.    She has her hearts’ desire.   She is no longer suffering, she has no more tears.  I imagine she is walking streets of gold, singing again, reunited with my dad and all those she loved.

So today, please join me as I celebrate the greatest gift my mother gave to us… the gift of Faith in Jesus Christ.

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When She Grows Old…

Very early morning, is still dark out, but I sit with the lights down low… Listening. Did I hear a slight noise, a sniff, a rustling of blankets…I jump to peak in the bedroom door … No movement.  So I tiptoe back to my quiet listening spot, not to awaken my sleeping angel… My mother.

I remember doing this before… thirty some years ago, with my first born.  In fact, I remember doing so much of this with my own children.  Dressing them each day, loading the toothbrush with paste and encouraging them to get every tooth, brushing their hair.

I remember holding them steady as their steps wobbled, cutting up bites small enough for them to chew.  And oh, I remember the hugs…I love you hugs that didn’t need words.

All these things I am doing now for my mother.  I am loving her the way I loved my children, but especially, the way she loved me.  My heart aches for her that life has to end this way, but I see the gift that God has given me.  He’s reminded me of how much she loves me and all she has done for me.

To all of you that are walking through this season of caring for your parents, I pray for you.  Soon they will see Jesus, face-to-face.

 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.  



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My Guarded Heart…

Sometimes I scare myself with being so transparent.  I begin to write to you all and think…. “I’m definitely not ‘Suzy perfect Christian’!”, “What will they think of me?”  “Maybe I should keep these particular thoughts to myself”.  

And then I remember 2 Corinthians 1:4. 

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

This evening I shared a verse with a friend who’s in the midst of turmoil.  I’ve been there, I get turmoil.  In fact, due to some very bad choices I’ve made in my lifetime, turmoil and I are on a first name basis.  What truly amazes me in my sometimes shaky faith walk, is that this verse has  always held true.

Phillipians 4:7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Time after time I’ve felt peace when I should have had the fall-aparts.  “Passes all understanding”… Boy did that make sense.  “I don’t get this God…by all rights I should be crumbling”.  

I guess that’s what Faith is… Believing in the unseen.  Knowing that God has my back. Believing that it will all work out… For His good.  Over and over He has taken my mess and brought blessing.

Over and over He has guarded my heart.  He loves me that much and you too.

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Grandma’s House…

I love antiques.  In fact, you might even say I’m passionate about antiques.  I love “old”.  Old people, old things, old ways.

My heart warms recalling my grandma’s kitchen, early 1960s.  Today it would be tagged #farmhousestyle.  Red and white checked tablecloth, white metal cabinets with bright red handles, red gingham curtains… Even a red wall mount telephone with a cord that stretched forever.   And chickens… Chickens everywhere.  I think those are the memories that most influence my love of antiques.

Grandma at the sink, peeling potatoes or washing dishes… And eight year old me, sitting at the table coloring or gluing sequences on to a foam refrigerator magnet.  She never had too many refrigerator magnets. Everything was metal… The cabinets, the pantry, the refrigerator.  So each butterfly or puppy dog I created found a place of honor.  
If Christmas was near, Grandma would have me creating ornaments.  Styrofoam balls covered in sequences of all shapes and colors.  Each sequence pinned into the ball with a colored plastic pin.  Now that was a project that could keep an eight year old focused and reasonably quiet for hours.

This winter I’ve carried on my Grandma’s legacy by teaching my 10 year old granddaughter, Bella, to crochet.  Crocheting was my grandma’s passion.  And my iPad loving Bella, is now excited to be crocheting.

As she hooks a chain of stitches, tears them out and starts again… Just for practice.  I remember Grandma’s kitchen table and my heart is full.  Some memories last a lifetime, and then some.

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Lessons Learned…

I once heard it said, “delayed obedience is disobedience”.  Boy, let that one soak in for a minute.  For me, it’s taken many minutes… Maybe more like a lifetime.

I’d love to give you the whole long story, but it might take chapters.  So this is what I’ll tell you…

I’m an idea person.  Forever coming up with some “great” idea.  Execution is my problem.  Not many of my ideas come to be.  

This particular idea was different… That voice in my heart said… This idea is what God has for you.  It was unique, it was out of my comfort zone, it was not of my making.  And for all of those reasons, I let it sit on the back burner… The very back burner!  I didn’t follow through, I didn’t put the work into it that it would have required, but every once in awhile I thought of it.  It haunted me.

Five years later, this week in fact, I heard that voice again, and this time I said…”okay God, I’m doing it”.  I’ll have to admit, I felt pretty excited getting on board with God.  It felt great. “I’m doing this, I’m doing this!”

Until…I began to finally move forward.  Do you know what I found?  Someone else had made it happen!  

My idea… My God given idea… Had been given to another.

Disappointment?  Yes.  In myself.  For not obeying what I clearly knew was God’s voice five years earlier.

And two things came to me:..

Luke 16:10

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

And… “Delayed obedience is disobedience”.

I believe God hears my prayers of repentance, I believe He’s a God of 2nd chances.  And I believe that this has been a Lesson Learned.

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Climbing To The Mountaintop…

You are talking to one of the least athletic people you will know.  Somewhere along the line, God gave me a big dose of “spirit”…But not so much athletic ability.

Kodak moment.  I tried Junior High track (although I’ll have to admit,  it was all about boys, the suntan and what everyone else was doing!). Long story short…I remember well, running the 880.  As I made my second lap around the track, the others had finished, the crowd was leaving the stands… And I, gasping for air, was practically walking to the finish line.

That moment, resonates with me now.  Life hasn’t been simple or easy of late.  It’s not been the “leisurely retirement years” I expected at 49andcounting. Life has been a struggle.  Filled with fear, anxiousness, worry, and even a little “why me, Lord?”.   I’ve seen the lowest valley… Or maybe I’m in it.  It hurts, it’s confusing, it’s disappointing and I feel broken.

And I think of climbing the mountains in Colorado.  It’s killer on me.  I huff and puff, stop and rest a lot, and slowly climb my way up the mountain.  It’s not pretty…I assure you.

That dose of spirit He gave me?  It keeps me looking up… It keeps me looking forward… Looking for the mountaintop, looking for the finish line.  Its hurting right now…I can’t catch my breath, my mind and body aches… my spirit aches. But I know that He has more for me.  I know that God is pulling for me, rooting me on.  “Don’t give up… Hold on to hope… Rest in me”.

What’s on the mountaintop?  What’s past the finish line?…I don’t know.  But I do know that it will be glorious.  That a moment will come when I will say…I made it!  I finished!  I didn’t give up!

God has great things for you.  And the harder it is to climb the mountain… The harder it is to run the race… The more amazing it will be when you finish… And you will know who carried you through.


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From Darkness to Light…

Have you ever watched a Kansas sunrise?  (well it could be anywhere, but I’m biased…I think A Kansas sunrise is exceptionally beautiful).

    In minutes, you see the sky go from total darkness to hues of pink and orange, then some soft blue with billowing clouds of white overhead.  It’s beautiful, it’s amazing.  And finally…full day light.

    During those moments that the world around me changes from dark to light, I feel such a sense of peace…crickets chirping, birds beginning to sing their morning song, cool breeze and a glorious sunrise.  A new day, a new beginning. No matter what happened yesterday, I can begin anew each day.
    I think this is how it is with God’s light. Until today I’ve always seen His light like a bright bulb, hit the switch and you have light.  “In him there is no darkness”.

    But today I’ve changed my mind.  Today I’ve watched the sun rise. I’ve watched His version of darkness to light.   I believe that God’s light is like a Kansas sunrise…gently filling the sky.  Not abrupt like a light bulb.  And don’t you suppose that is how He wants us to spread His light…not being pushy or overwhelming, but spreading it gently and peacefully, little by little.  

    1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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