family, Uncategorized

The Most Cherished Mother

How…. how do I keep my heart from tearing into a million pieces?….how do I take her pain and bear it for her?…how do I make these moments resemble those ‘golden years’ which sound so wonderful and poignant, yet more and more I wonder if they ever existed at all.

These are my Mother’s last days, the number of which I do not know, but that I pray pass quickly, only because I can’t bare to watch her suffering.

This is the precious Mother whom I have lovingly written about before, THE one and only. If you search the archives of this blog, you will find these precious and treasured stories.

Soon to be 90 years old, her body grows more weary with each passing day. So my family and I are at her side, doing whatever we can to ease these last miles of her journey, cherishing each little moment we get to spend with her on this earth. Being together brings us comfort and we feel God’s presence.

As I think back on her life and look at old photos of her vibrant, youthful years, it makes me even more grateful that this woman was chosen to be my Mother. I know without a doubt that every one of her children share this same sentiment…her biological children, her adopted children, and every foster child who passed through her home.

How many people actually get to live out their dreams? I can say, my Mom did. As a young woman, she desired to help children in need, and that’s exactly what she did for over 40 years.

That’s not to say that life was smooth sailing along that journey. Indeed, life dealt many hard, unkind blows her way. Many people would have hardened their outer shells and even their hearts in an effort to endure the hardships. But I can truly say that my Mother has remained kind and sweet. She could have returned the hurt that was heartlessly inflicted upon her, and if you knew that story you would agree that she had every reason to. But that’s not who this remarkable woman is.

These days are surreal. I know that these earthly bodies are not created to last forever, and there is a time for each of us to move on. God knows the length of our days, just as He knows how much longer I will be able to look into my Mother’s face. A very beautiful face I must add.

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PERSPECTIVE

Perspective

That’s the word that has been on my heart as we go into the new year. Certainly, I have no doubt that God has placed it in my mind, as this very thing has helped me navigate through some difficult days. There is so much to be said about the year 2020. Many thoughts, opinions, emotions, and memories flood my mind, things which I could ramble on about, but I won’t.

There are two ways I can put this catch-word to use in describing the past year’s events.

First, I have not been an exemplary model of strength when it comes to keeping a healthy mindset throughout all of this. I confess, I’ve had my dark days, shed many tears, prayed & complained, sat and contemplated life, and sank deeply into the lonely and hopeless thoughts that swirled inside my head. I wish I could say that every day has been great and I laughed & smiled through them all, but I can’t. I’m certain that I am not alone in that.

Like with most of you, I’ve been on an mental roller coaster, and I’ve never liked roller coasters. Just ask my family about that. My husband remembers the day when we waited in the line at the amusement park to get on a very large one, because both our children wanted to ride and I decided I would go with them. But the entire time that we stood in line, slowly moving closer and closer to our turn, there was a battle raging inside my mind. My heart raced & I fought to calm my nerves, as I forced my legs to move. But as we approached the final stretch and it was almost time for us to board, I looked at Andy and said “I can’t do it”. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life!

It has been difficult to keep a right perspective through it all, even though my faith & trust in my God still remains strong. I’m so thankful and grateful that He understands this part of my human frailty. He’s always there and listens to every word I say with patience, even if I’m complaining.

As the months have passed, and the outcome remains uncertain, God has helped me through the days when the weight of it all is too heavy. He has prompted me to look around, and to count my blessings. It gets me refocused and helps to categorize and make sense of my thoughts. I realize that for many this is not as simple as it sounds, and have lost so much more than I, livelihoods and even those whom they loved, and it truly breaks my heart.

God is the Master of perspective. He emplores us in His Word many times to align our perspective with His.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Secondly, without a doubt, this has been a shared experience by millions around the world. I’m sure there are remote places on this planet which were not effected by the pandemic, places perhaps we have all pondered as somewhere to escape reality!

This pandemic has done one thing which should work to benefit mankind as a whole, if we would allow it. In a society where there is so much diversity of culture, environment, and philosophy, the last nine-plus months gives us a place of common ground. If we never fully relate to one another on any other level, this one thing should at least be a beginning place of compassion, connection, and the extension of grace to our fellow humans.

I know… there is so much more to the story. But I’m choosing not to address any of the political climate of the matter here. Because in doing so, it would alienate those on one side of the issues or another, and further bring division. Something I have never wanted this blog to be about.

Too many things interfere when it comes to perspective. Our view is filtered through our upbringing, circumstances, life experiences, and yes, even pandemics.

But God never changes…. ever. So when we are willing to put aside our notions of how things are, and truly seek to understand His heart and trust that He has a plan, then we can rest our minds and our hearts on Him as we continue on.

Am I going to have that kind of strength every day & never have another worry about life? No, probably not. But I’ll make it through, day by day. So will you.

#perspective #hope #godwillneverleaveus #faith #encouragement #youwillmakeitthrough #asonginmyheart

Faith, family, Uncategorized

My Dad’s First Morning in Heaven

I knew the day would come when I would write about this day, and since this month marks the 4 year anniversary of a very memorable day, it seems like the right time to do so.

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On May 8, 2015, my Dad took his final journey beyond his temporary, earthly home and spent his first morning in heaven.

As with most families, there is an unspoken history which in these final moments of his life, became irrelevant. At least for that day, and that time, all that was in the past could be hushed into silence.

 

I will forever be thankful that I was able to spend those final moments with my Dad, though I had never witnessed the passing away of anyone before. If you have read my previous story about  The Day I Said Goodbye To My Sister , you know that my heart has always felt regret about not being present with my sister and the rest of my family at the time of her death.

But on this day, when the Lord called my Dad to come home, I was there, along with two of my sisters. 

img_3951My days at that time were full of the responsibilities of children, babysitting grandchildren and most of my calendar days were marked with activity, as was this singular Friday morning. So I truly believe that God worked on my behalf and cleared my schedule. When my sister phoned early that morning to say that the nursing facility had called to inform us that he was going, I was able to say “I’m on my way”.

When I arrived at my Dad’s room, Gwen was already there by his side as he lay in the bed. My sister Debbie arrived shortly thereafter.

 

As I think of that day, I’ve realized that by the time we arrived, his spirit had already begun the process of leaving this world. I believe his vision was already opened to the heavenly realm and he was preparing to meet his Savior, the One he preached about for many, many years. The words of that precious song which he sang over and over again throughout his ministry, “I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy”, were soon to be lived out by this man who had stated many times in his life that if he couldn’t be used by God, then he was ready to go heaven.

 

He mumbled his words and though severely weakened, he was adamant that he wanted to sit in his wheelchair. So with the nurse’s help, we got him into his chair. My sisters sat on each side of him and I stood behind him with my arms around his neck to support him, and he immediately relaxed and began his journey home.

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I cannot fathom how a time such as this can be both heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. All I can say is that I know without a doubt that had I been able to see what my Dad’s eyes were fixed upon, I would have understood why he was so excited to get there. You see, I have a theory about why he wanted so badly to sit up in his chair. I believe he just wanted to get up and stroll right through to the other side and sitting up just put him a little bit closer. I believe he wanted to rise up to meet his Jesus!

 

Both of my sisters have remarked about how peaceful it was. He knew we were there and we knew he loved us, but no longer could the affections or concerns of this life be enough to hold him here, because Jesus was saying, “Come on home, my son, your work is done”. We told him how much we loved him, the sisters holding his hands, as I ever so softly hummed that beautiful song into his ear, until quietly and blissfully, our Dad left this world and met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

It was a profound day for me. A difficult yet precious experience which I will cherish within my heart always.

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Being the youngest of eight siblings, by the time I was born, my Dad had already chosen to leave my family. Though hundreds and hundreds of miles separated us and he was not a constant presence in my life, there were a few occasions throughout my childhood when I was able to see him, and I grew to love him very much. Much later in his life, he made a bold move and relocated to be near his children.

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I will always be grateful that I had the last twenty-some years of my Dad’s life in which to build lasting memories, to sing together, and that my children were able to know their Grandpa Bill.

After sharing this experience of my Dad’s passing, my sister said a couple of things that has stayed with me.

572a8c34-1920-4987-a5d9-c7467d360902First, that though Dad wasn’t with me on the day that I entered this world, I was there for him when he left it.

The second thing she said is what means the most to me and I will always hold it in my heart. She said, “Teresa (my oldest sibling) was the first one of us to put her arms around our Dad, and I was the last“.

(“I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy” written by Nettie Dudley Washington, music written by E.M. Dudley Cantwell)