A Weekend to Grieve and Remember

I am reading a book, set in pre-World War II.  In it, the author describes the grief parents experience when their child dies.  The author is so accurate in her description, that I wonder if she also has lost a child.

I think that when we become parents, we become vulnerable in a way, we never had experienced before.  Our child’s pain becomes our pain, their dreams, our dreams, their successes, our successes, and if we should lose them in this life—we never recover.  The hole they leave in our hearts will always be there, until we too, cross the boundaries of this world and enter into the next.

We have set aside this weekend to honor and remember all the fallen soldiers and all the loved ones who have gone before us.  I am also going to remember their parents, and the ones who have suffered their losses.

If you are one of those who remain behind, I want you to know, you will be prayed for, and that you share company with God Himself.

God is a parent.  We like to think of God as all-powerful, and invincible, and He is, but because of His love for us, He has made Himself vulnerable to us.   His love for us makes Him vulnerable to us, just as our love for our children, makes us vulnerable to them.  Our pain, becomes His pain, our dreams, His dreams, our successes, His successes.  And if we should turn our backs on Him, and break fellowship with Him, He grieves. 

Talk to a parent, whose child won’t talk to them anymore.  They grieve.  In scripture, it tells us that the Holy Spirit grieves when we sin.  Sin is saying, “Hey—I want what I want, and I don’t care who it hurts.” Sin is walking away from God, and God grieves.  He is vulnerable to us.  He didn’t have to be vulnerable to us, He made Himself that way, when He created people who could choose to return His love or not.

I have learned more about the love of God the Father, from being a parent, than anything else. 

If you are grieving, God knows your heart, because He grieves as well. 

When Jesus was here on earth, He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, and yet He wept at Lazarus’s grave site with Mary and Martha.  He was able to enter into the moment with them and grieve.

So, this weekend as we grieve and remember, please know that we have a Heavenly Dad who shares and enters into those moments with us.  I hope that encourages you, as it does me.

Happy? Fulfilled? Satisfied?

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is the author of our stories.  It is He who has made us and crafted us to be who we are.  It is He who calls us into a relationship with Him.

It is He who fills the infinite void we have in our lives.  It is He who brings purpose and meaning to our lives.

Why am I writing these things?   Because I have been reading things recently that concern me.  I have been reading that if we, (women), don’t marry and have children when we are young, we may never marry or have children, and our lives will be empty and unfulfilled.  It is true that women are most fertile in their twenties—this is true, but that does not mean that having babies in our twenties or even having babies at all– is God’s plan for each of us.

  We, each have a different story, a different purpose.  Some of us will get married and have children, some of us will get married and not have children, some of us will not get married and not have children, some of us will parent children without a mate.  Some of us will get married young, and some later in life.  I know people who fit each of these scenarios.

 I think of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) who started the profession of nursing.  God designed her to do this, He put a great desire in her life to be a nurse and to train others to nurse.  She was born into a wealthy British family and was expected to marry young and have children.  She received a marriage proposal from someone suitable to her family and also someone she cared for, but she turned him down.  She believed God had called her to nursing, and that God would fulfill her as she was obedient to His calling.   Her efforts in nursing and sanitation revolutionized nursing, elevating it to the honorable profession it is, and saving untold numbers of lives.

We don’t always know where God is going to call us.  Or what our lives will look like.  I was on staff with Cru, (a Christian missionary organization), when I met my husband to be.  He was also on staff with Cru.  We were both 27 when we met.  We married when we were 28.  I was a few weeks short of my 29th birthday.   I was 31 when we had our first child, 35 when we had our second child,  36 when we had our third child, 38 almost 39 when we had our fourth child and 46 when we had our 5th child. 

 God’s plan for me was not that I marry young—His plan was that I wait, marry later, have children in my thirties and one in my forties.  I love the story God is writing of my life!!

I have friends who married young and had their children when they were young. Their stories are amazing!!

I have friends who married for the first time in their fifties.  Their children and grandchildren have come from their husbands.   God is writing their stories, and their stories are amazing! 

I have friends who are still single.  Their stories are amazing!!

One thing I have discovered, is that no matter whether single or married, with or without children, God was and is showing me that only He can fill the infinite void in my life. 

The lie is that something else will fill that void – a husband will fill that void, or a child will fill that void, or a career will fill that void, or __________ (insert anything else) will fill that void.   God has shown me in every stage of life that nothing will fill that void except for Him.

That is why, whatever stage we are in, we can be content and filled with joy, because we have Him.

He is the author of our stories. He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  He is also the giver of good gifts.  The best gift He gives us, is Himself.

So, Be Encouraged!!

Does God Even Care?

I wanted to share this video of Roxanne Hershey talking about, “Does God even care?”, because her story echoes mine so much.  She lost a friend in the great Thompson flood of Colorado, (I share a video about this story as well.), and then later lost her son, and she shares about struggling in her relationship with God and asking the big questions, “Does God love me, does God care?” 

We ask these questions when our circumstances do not match up with our expectations of what we thought would happen, and we question God.  I think God prefers our questions to our silence.  I think God prefers our struggling with who He is, rather than just turning our backs and walking away.   I hope these videos comfort and encourage those of you who may be asking those big questions and struggling.

The video on the Great Thompson Flood of Colorado mentioned the Four Spiritual Laws, if you would like to see what those laws are you can click here and it will take you to a website that will show you what those are: https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html

May God Bless you and Keep you and

May you—Be Encouraged!!

Happy Mother’s Day–Mom!

This Mother’s Day, I would like to pay homage to my mother.  My mom is a beautiful Irish-looking girl.  Her parents were very young when they married—17 years old.  My mother was their second child and daughter, (they eventually had 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy.)  She was born in 1938, not long before World War II started.   Her father left to go serve in the military, and she, her sister and mother lived with her father’s parents.

My mom and her siblings

My mother says that those early years of living with her grandparents shaped the kind of person she wanted to be when she grew up.   Her grandmother was very hard working and cheerful.  She had a baking day, and a laundry day, and a cleaning day.  They lived on a large farm and had field hands that had to be fed.  Her grandmother cooked massive meals for them.

Mom and her older sister
Mom and her grandfather–Pa

My mother wanted to be just like her grandmother, cheerful, hardworking, baking and cooking for a crowd.

Dad and Mom when they were “courting”, sitting on her parent’s front porch.

She got her wish.  She married my father, and they proceeded to have 6 children.  My mother was cheerful, hardworking, and she cooked and baked like she was feeding farmhands, which is probably not far from how we ate.

Mom and Dad–Mom just gave birth to her third child and is not feeling the best, so is not wearing her usual smile.

Mom with my two oldest siblings, pregnant with her third child. She would have her first five children in four years!
Mom with all six children–four girls and 2 boys!! The afghan on the couch was crocheted by my Dad’s mother, and my mother still has it!! One of her love languages is gifts–she loves to give gifts and receive them!

In so many ways, my mother was the consummate homemaker, mother, wife, hostess and just plan—wonderful person.   She has persevered through life with a smile. She has known the loss of many loved ones, including her husband and her grandchild, (my son), her niece and nephew, two of her siblings, her parents, grandparents, many loved friends and extended family. Almost everyone in the picture below has entered into eternity, including the little boy –my Aunt Gaye’s son. My mother stood by her sister’s side, as my Aunt Gaye lost her husband, son and daughter within a six month period of time.

My mother hosted the holiday meal for her family, while being very pregnant with my youngest sibling!

My mother has shown me the wisdom of just doing the next right thing that there is to do. She has shown me what it looks like to depend on God, in times of weakness.

My Mom and Dad with all six of their children

My mother is a person of great faith.  She has an awe of the Almighty and a humbleness that displays that she knows who she is, because she knows who He is.

She is also a little dynamo!!  Her energy never seems to flag, and her smile is a constant garment she wears.

Mom and Dad with their children and grandchildren surrounding them.

What I love most about my mother, is her laugh.  It is infectious, and joy filled, and my mother laughs often.  My mom seems to take joy and sprinkle it wherever she walks and wherever she is.  Her very name means “Joy”.

She has graced her family and friends with that joy for more than 81 years.

Mom holding one of her great grandchildren–my granddaughter. 🙂

So, Mom—This Mother’s Day—I want to wish you a Joy Filled Day!!   I love you Mom!!

Stumbling into the calling of being a mother.

I would like to share something written by Dale Hanson Bourke on the subject of being a mom:

I first heard this story after having had my fourth child and my first girl, when two of my friends threw me a baby shower, and this story was read at the shower.    I can see almost everyone who came that evening to celebrate the arrival of my first daughter, among them my friend Becky Crain, who would die within the year.  Each of the women in that room were moms.  When this story was read, almost all of us were in tears. 

Dale expresses the love and sacrifice of being a Mom so eloquently, but in the last line of this story, she talks about stumbling into the calling of being a mom.  I love that idea— as we often don’t know what we are doing when we become moms.

 Sometimes, I think that the reason it takes 18 plus years to raise a human, versus the two years it takes to raise a bear, is because God is giving us time to figure it all out—to know how to love, train, guide,  and coach this little human into a big human who can then do the same for the next generation.     So, I pray that this is a Happy, Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms out there—-thank you!!  

On Being A Mom — From Everyday Miracles by Dale Hanson Bourke

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “Starting a Family.”  

“We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking.  “Do you think I should have a baby?” 

 “It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.  “I know, ” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.”  But that is not what I meant at all. 

 I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her.  I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.  I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. 

 I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?”  That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.  That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.  

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.  No more thinking just of yourself.  That an urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a souffle or her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation. 

 I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.  She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby’s sweet smell.  She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right. 

 I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine.  That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma.  That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that men’s room.  However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

  Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.  That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.  That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

  I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shining stretch marks will become badges of honor. 

 My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, and not in the way she thinks.  I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.  I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic. 

 I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. 

 I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.  I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.  I want her to taste the joy that is so real is actually hurts. 

 My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.  “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say.  Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Happy Mother’s Day—Mom!!

Weeds In My Garden

Today, I was out working in my garden.  I remember when I first started gardening, I did not know what a plant was and what was a weed.  I did not know what to pull up and what to leave.  So, some plants I let grow and found out later, they were weeds.  I hardly ever pulled out a true plant, as I was so concerned about doing that, I left it if I had any doubt.

When I was vegetable gardening, I was struck by how often the weed, mimicked the look of the plant—the difference was, the weed did not bear any “fruit” or vegetable, as the case may be.

I think the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit growing in our lives, and the sin growing in our lives, can also look similar at first.

At first, it may be difficult to tell the two apart.  Pride and obsession, a sin in our lives, can look a lot like, self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.   How can you tell them apart?  I think it is by how we treat people in the process of life.   If we are hateful, impatient, mean and/or yelling, as we do the things that need to be done—we are probably being motivated out of pride, and obsession. We can even appear to be loving on the outside, but on the inside, we are filled with angst.

If we are kind and loving to others, on the inside and the outside, as we carry out the duties of the day—then we are being motivated by the Holy Spirit, who also produces patience, love and kindness in our lives.

In fact, I believe that God is more concerned about our love for Him and our love for others, than anything else.  This is why Jesus says, the two greatest commandments are, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In these days of quarantine—when we are around the same people every day, and nerves are frayed, people haven’t been sleeping, anxiety about the future is growing, we need  to rely on the Holy Spirit to grow the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (Click here to read about how to be filled, (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit.)

I am seeing a great deal of frustration on social media.  I get it—people are scared, and they are scared about different things.

We all think that we are right and feel justified in our feelings of disdain towards those who disagree, but Hatred is a weed.  It is the opposite of love.  And it needs to be pulled out.  It is an obvious weed that everyone can recognize.  It is the weed, that infected the nation of Germany and many other nations before World War II and spread and spread and spread, until the entire world was engulfed in a war. 

 There is no justification in God’s eyes for this hatred people have towards other people.  This is what led to 6 million Jews being killed in concentration camps.  This is what led to mass slaughters of people in Russia and China and so, so many places around the world.  The people that took power, thought they were justified in killing anyone they considered a threat.  They thought they were justified in their hatred of that person or persons who had another point of view– as if disagreement meant that the other person/persons was somehow subhuman.  This was the thinking of the Nazis.    This is the work of Satan.  This is evil.  We must recognize this hatred for what it is, and we must not allow it to live in our hearts and lives.

We may not all agree with each other, yet we can all be kind to each other.  We can love one another, as we rely on the Holy Spirit of God.  God has not changed—He is still telling us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.   As we turn our lives over to Him—the Master Gardener—He will grow that love in our lives.  We can trust Him.   We are His Garden!! He is committed to growing beautiful “fruit” in our lives and pulling out the weeds, and He never has to guess which is the plant and which is the weed.   Someday His will – which is everything that is good, acceptable and perfectand abounding in love—will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!! 

So Be Encouraged!!