This past Christmas, I received a Digital Picture Frame as a gift. I have it set up on my kitchen counter, and while I’m doing dishes, I see pictures of my loved ones. I see pictures of the moments of our lives.
I’ve been told that people who keep gratitude journals or make a conscious effort to focus on their blessings in life—-are happier, healthier people. There is scientific evidence that keeping a gratitude journal helps addicts stay sober, and actually changes lives.
Looking at the pictures that come across the Digital Frame, is a visual reminder of all the many, many blessings in my life–all the many, many moments I am grateful to have experienced–all the many, many people I have been blessed with in my life.
I find that scripture supports this idea of focus and transformation:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.Philippians 4:8
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
.….let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…..Hebrews 12:1,2
We are transformed by renewing our mind. We renew our minds by fixing them on Jesus. Jesus is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. Jesus is the literal Word of God and is God. John 1
As we are transformed we act differently–we show what God’s will is to the world. God’s will is for us to love Him, and to love each other. Jesus as God in human flesh, showed us what this love looks like.
It’s not hard to understand—it’s just impossible to do–in our own strength. That’s why Jesus sent us the Helper–the Holy Spirit. It starts with fixing our eyes on the One who loves us and gave up His life for us. It starts and ends with Jesus. I guess that’s why He is called the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the End.
Recently, I was communicating with another mom who lost her son, and I asked her if she frequently dreamed about her son. It reminded me of a dream I had about Sean 3 years ago. I actually wrote a blog about this dream and I sent the blog to her, but I thought I would share it again–as it reminded me of the importance of mothering–even in the smallest of moments–and I want to encourage you moms–that all the things you do, the kissing of the boo-boos, blowing noses, changing diapers, it all matters, love always matters.
Last night I received a gift. I got to live a few moments of being Sean’s mom again. I know it was a dream. I very seldom have dreams where I see Sean. I can remember less than a handful in the past 6 ½ years. Each dream when I see my son is a gift. Even if I dreamed of Sean every night, it would be a gift, but I might not be a functioning human being, if that were the case, as each dream is so emotional and carries a price.
In this particular dream, we were at an event at church. It was an event for the children. A bunch of younger boys were laying on the floor, listening to a story. All of a sudden there was a tussle, and I looked down in the crowd of boys and saw my son Sean, who was only 7 or 8 in the dream. He had just got wacked in the face, and his nose was bleeding. He was trying valiantly not to cry.
While yelling at the boys to stop, and glaring at them, I reached down, grabbed Sean, comforted him with a hug, and started dealing with his bleeding nose.
In other words – I got to mother him. For those few moments in time when I was dreaming, I got to be Sean’s mom once again.
Now it seems that all my children—are ages, where it isn’t simple to be a mom. Gone are the days of hugs and kisses that solve almost every problem. I don’t always know what to do. I spend a lot of time praying and asking for wisdom, then coming to the conclusion that for most of my children, my role now is to just love and let go. So much harder to do than it sounds.
If Sean were here on this earth, he would be 22 years old, probably getting ready to graduate from college. I can picture what he would look like in my mind’s eye, how he would have grown and matured. When I look at my oldest son, and my youngest daughter—I see glimmers of Sean. I see glimmers of him, in my nephew. I see his wonderful spirit in my grandson. How grateful I am for the real moments that have come my way of getting to hug and comfort children again through my grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.
In my dream, Sean was 7 or 8. Young enough to hug and comfort, young enough to mother.
It’s funny—in real life, there were so many moments for mothering—for hugs and kisses and let’s put a bandage on that, that they all kind of run together into one vague memory.
Now I have a memory—it is not a real one—but it represents one of the many, many memories that is now less than distinct.
That is a gift, to now have a memory of mothering Sean, that I can savor, and which my broken heart can hold fast . So, thank you God. Happy Valentine’s To me!!
I came across this blog–titled “My Blog Thoughts” in my files–I wrote this over 3 years ago before I started my “Blog”. I really liked it–it was a look into my heart and mind, and showed what God was putting in my heart and mind to do. It shows that there are seasons to a person’s life, and I was aware that I was entering into another season of my life. Anyway—Here is this blog–written over 3 years ago–I hope you enjoy it, and it encourages you.
I have told myself for some time that I would start writing, and today is the day, even if no one ever sees my writing, even if no one else ever cares. I have wanted to write professionally for a long time. I think I may have a gift for writing. Many times, I write, and I wonder where the words came from—it’s as if they spring from my fingers to the page, my heart, not my head bringing them forth.
And I feel the same kind of awe that I experience when I hear a lovely song, or see a poignant picture. I think artistic gifts awe me because I don’t intellectually understand them. I don’t know how someone can compose a song, or paint a picture, or write a book. (I can play the piano, but I can not compose). I can draw a picture, but there is a big difference between my drawings and Leonardo de Vinci. 🙂
When we see or hear or read a master’s creation, there is a sense that we are seeing or hearing, or reading the work of God. That the divine has reached down and touched us through this master.
(Now I am not claiming at all that I am a Master, far from it, but I do think that there is something spiritual about writing for me. Because it is so clearly a gift—it would be as foolish for me to take credit for my writing, as it would to take credit for my blue eyes.) However, there is also an element of work about writing—about practice—and having a voice and opinions and expressing them through writing.
That work of writing is what I need to see if I can do. The day to day, I am going to write, I am going to practice, I am going to take one more step to the goal of becoming a professional writer.
I have been busy in the season of raising children, I’m still busy in that season, but that season will be coming to end before I know it, and the same voice that speaks through my fingers is also telling me to start a new season for my life—the season of being a writer.
So the big question—what do I write about? What does this voice want me to express? That too is easy—my life has been wrapped up into my children, and my husband, and I want to tell of what I’ve learned. I want to tell you the value of letting my life be wrapped up in my family. Not because my children are perfect, or are navigating life as God would want them to, nor because my marriage is perfect and we are living a fairy tale ending.
No—because in spite of the results, (thus far), my family has been worth my life. That is the bottom line—my family has been worth my life. Just as God has deemed that I was worth dying for, and that you were worth dying for, my family has been worth my daily, sometimes moment by moment death to myself, as I have placed them over myself on a day by day basis. (Have I done this perfectly? No In fact, if you talked to each of my children and husband, they could tell you, (if they were being honest), of all the ways I have failed to love them the way they wanted to be loved.
However, Love is not giving in to my child’s every whim. Love is not being a doormat. Love is not doing all the work in the home. Love is not any of those things—it is about doing what is best for the other person—for their future character and development, for their ability to be prepared for their future life. Therefore, my child may perceive that my actual loving act of requiring them to help with the dishes—to be an unloving act. That’s ok. As my mother used to say, “Someday, I’m going to have to stand before God and give an accounting for how I raised you.” (I used to hate it when she said that, but that is true—I have to answer to God, and my child is not my God )
There ends the thoughts from this blog–I think it is interesting that I said, God was moving me into the season of being a writer—because I now realize that when one becomes a parent, that parenting role will continue as long as I and my child are both alive. However, it will change, and there will be an ability to do other things that before–because we chose to homeschool, I was not able to do.
I am also well aware, that people will be tempted to look at my decisions about staying home with my children and homeschooling and think I am advocating these decisions for them. I am not–I am advocating that we all listen to God, step out in faith, and obey Him. It will look differently for each of us, according to the gifts, and faith God has given each of us.
Our God knows we are but dust, here today and gone tomorrow–and He has compassion on all us poor souls who take one step at a time, one day at a time–fumbling and making mistakes. Our God holds our hands, and He will not let us be hurled headlong on our path, but will keep picking us up. We have a good, good God who loves us beyond what we can think or imagine. He will not leave us alone in this calling of parenting, or whatever calling He has for us. He will never leave us or forsake us. So Be Encouraged!!
Six years ago, a dear friend of mine died and I wrote a piece in her honor, called, “ My Ode To Michelle Beckman.” I would like to share that piece with you, but before I do, I want to tell you that I learned something about suffering from Michelle. I learned that many times– people who are suffering, can enter into others’ suffering and help them. When our son died, I allowed Michelle to enter into my suffering, because she had cancer, and she was suffering herself. I knew she understood suffering.
I have also found that because of my suffering, others would share their stories of suffering with me. They trusted me, they took off their masks and let me see their suffering.
Scripture talks about that if one of us in the body is hurting, others in the body share in that suffering, (I Cor. 12:26). Honestly, before the death of my son, I have tried to avoid suffering, and so avoided sharing in the suffering of others.
The times where God has allowed me to join in another’s suffering, have been times where I was most aware of God’s presence, love and strength. I know that these are actually great gifts from God, and have revealed the Lord more fully in my eyes. Michelle was one of the people God used to teach me these things. So without further ado:
My Ode to Michelle Beckman
August 11, 2016
Dear Family & Friends,
My friend Michelle Beckman stepped into eternity yesterday. She walked past that line that has many of us wondering what she found. I’ve read the posts on her wall, each one was a testimony to her love for God and love for others. They were each an encouragement to me, as I face the future without her friendship.
I met Michelle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was finishing up her degree in teaching at Marquette University. She became a christian her freshman year in college when another college student named Mary Kay shared with her how she could have a relationship with God. Michelle never got over the wonder that the Creator of the Universe wanted her so much that He left all the glory of heaven, took on the limits of human flesh, suffered and died for her. Her God was an intensely personal, loving, consuming God.
Michelle got involved with Cru, and was discipled by Margaret Yu for two years. When Margaret left Milwaukee, I came as the Cru staff woman, and I met Michelle.
Michelle and I had one semester together before she left to do her student teaching. Honestly, when we reconnected 3 years ago, I had very vague memories of her. I knew that I knew her—but I didn’t remember many of the details.
She told me that I had a sleepover party where we stayed up all night talking, and she told me the story of her relationship with her Dad. I looked at her and asked, “Have you forgiven him?” She said this question sent her on a 10 year journey of asking herself that same question? (I am now a parent of adult children—and believe me when I say—one could be the very best parent one could be, and there would be a need for a child to forgive a parent, just as there is a need for a parent to forgive a child.)
When we reconnected, Michelle told me about her cancer. I had lost a very good friend to cancer before this—my best friend in fact—and it was agony for me. My heart was broken, my grief overwhelming. I had also lost my dad. I knew what it was to grieve—and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to get all that close to Michelle. She would be hard to resist.. She asked great questions, she listened, she cared, she laughed, she had depth and spiritual discernment. What more could you ask for from a friend?
Two weeks after we reconnected, my son Sean was killed when he was out on a training bike ride. He was hit by a car.
Michelle ran to help me. She entered into my suffering. I don’t know how else to describe what she did. She sent me a book that she heard about on a radio show. She said the Holy Spirit told her to send me this book. It was called, LAMENT FOR A SON,… It was a father’s journal that he wrote after losing his son in a mountain climbing accident. One of the things that he said that resonated with me was, “If someone is worth loving than they are worth grieving.”
She sent me a CD of worship songs. We wrote back and forth to each other on a consistent basis.
She suffered with me. I do not know how else to describe it. She wasn’t afraid of suffering. She did not avoid the pain.
This is quite amazing to me because I would have avoided the pain of her suffering, if not for my own. And honestly, if she had not been suffering, I would not have let her enter into mine. Other friends had tried to enter into my suffering, and share this pain, but my walls were high, my barriers strong.
One of Michelle’s greatest prayers, is that God’s people would be fully surrendered to our Lord. I know that fear is what keeps me from surrendering. Fear of pain, fear of suffering. “When you face the thing you’ve always feared, you learn you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.” This is a direct quote of my friend, Becky Crain, when she found out she had stage 4 breast cancer when she was 5 months pregnant. She entered into eternity when her baby was 4 months old.
All my life I have tried to escape from pain and suffering. God has used Michelle to show me how to face it, even embrace it. Knowing her has helped me grieve for my son, and all the other losses in my life; and oddly, it will even help me as I grieve for her. Also, I have finally experienced the truth of what Becky was trying to tell me all those years ago. “When you face the thing you’ve always feared, you learn you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.”
My husband and I have been married 30+ years. We have survived having 5 children, losing 1 child, adding children and grandchildren to our family, losing parents, losing friends, losing family, financial droughts, financial windfalls, owning our own business for the past 25+ years– we have survived life. As an older woman, I am instructed by scripture to encourage younger women to love their husbands and their children. Since I love to encourage, and give advice, 🙂 I have complied a few pieces of advice for you, in your marriage.
Spend time together on a regular and consistent basis. My husband and I both have a need and desire to spend time alone with each other. We both made this a priority. When my husband would come home and say, “Let’s go out to dinner tonight?”, I would say, “Great! I’ll see if Joan can watch the kids?” (Joan is a made up name. :)) Joan could have been one of our neighborhood’s teenage girls, or one of the college students involved with Cru, or one of our friends that we were exchanging time with—by watching their children. The point is, that we made time to be with each other, and we had a group of people we trusted to be with our kids to call on, when our kids were young. We also made it a priority with our finances to spend money on our dates. We didn’t have much money at times—so we would need to get creative—the point wasn’t the money spent—the point was the time spent.
Recently, my husband and I went on a date. It was a dinner date. I have been going through a really difficult time lately. Over dinner, I got a chance to share my heart with my husband and tell him the things I was concerned about. We made eye contact. I saw the compassion in his eyes for me. I saw his concern for me. I heard his wisdom for me, as he leaned over the table, held my hand and told me to have faith, keep believing God, even when things look so dark. Then he gave me his perspective—his hope. Things did not seem so dark after that. I had strength—the strength of knowing I was not facing these trials alone. It was as if my husband took my hand, and then put my hand in God’s hand, and I was pulled up, and put on solid ground. This is the benefit of finding time to be alone, to talk, to share one’s heart. This is the story from my perspective, but I know from my husband’s perspective, he also shares his concerns with me, and I listen to him, I respect him, I admire him. These are deep needs my husband has, and I take care to meet these needs. Some couples spend this time alone with each other, every day. They tell the children—”this is mommy and daddy’s time. Go play quietly in your rooms.” (They put the baby in a play pen with toys), and they spend 15-20 minutes alone talking. We did not do this consistently—but I bring it up, as I know some families that did do this.
The other thing my husband and I have done, is we take a day or two every year to go away by ourselves. Our children stay with trusted family or friends, and we go to a fun destination. When we do this, I feel like a bride again, without the responsibilities of children. (We still have children at home—so even now, I feel that freedom of being on our own.)
The last time we went away from home, we went to Frankenmuth, MI. It is a town in Michigan founded by German immigrants in the 1800’s. It is a little like going to a Bavarian village in Europe—and we loved it. We strolled down the streets, hand in hand, admiring the flowers and the picturesque village. Later, we had a picnic by the river—and we talked and kissed and connected.
Probably the most important thing we do as a couple in spending time with each other—is pray. We pray everyday together. Sometimes as we share a concern with each other, one of us will say, “Let’s pray.” We will then start talking with our Lord, bringing our concerns to Him.
When we were married, we had the verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 read at our wedding, “Two are better than one, for they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together, they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
The cord of three strands is God, and then each of us. God is the reason, our marriage has survived. God has given us His strength and we have taken it. At times one of us will be stronger, and will take the other’s hand, and put it into God’s hand. God pulls us up and puts us on solid ground. He gives us His grace, love and faith—to keep walking in this life. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say that tritely. Life is very, very hard. Hold unto each other, dear children—love each other!! Forgive each other!! Keep your hearts soft for each other. I am pulling for you and praying for you!! May You Be Encouraged!!
Every year, our family puts up our Christmas Tree. We get out the boxes of decorations–they are in red tubs with green lids, and each ornament is nestled in its original boxes—I am bragging about this area of my organization, as it is the only area I can brag about. 🙂 We make hot cocoa, have some cookies, and decorate our tree.
I love decorating the tree. We usually buy an ornament to commemorate a vacation we took, or a special trip we took and so decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane. We talk about the trip or remember the people who gave us the baby ornament, or any ornament we put up on our tree.
After Sean died, this usually wonderful tradition of decorating the tree became a tradition that led to grief. Every ornament became a memory with his memory attached. “Remember, we got this ornament when we took the trip to Florida and we went to Disney World?” Then I would remember how Sean wanted to go to Florida to Disney World so badly. There were T.V. shows on the Travel Channel highlighting the Disney Parks, and he would watch them over and over again.
“Mom, can we go to the Disney Parks?” “Well, Sean, you can pray about anything, so you can pray that we go to the Disney Parks.” In my mind, I didn’t know how this would ever happen, it seemed unlikely to say the least, but when Julia, my daughter told me all she wanted In the whole world was a baby sister, (she was 5 at the time), I told her the same thing—”well Julia, you can pray about anything, so pray for God to give you a baby sister.” I was thinking we could look into adoption. Instead I found myself pregnant at the age of 45, giving birth to a baby girl at the age of 46.
Sure enough, shortly after my son started praying to go to the Disney Parks, my sister-in-law called my husband and she wanted to plan a family trip with our families and their parents to go to the Disney Parks. (Their parents had a time share that we used the points from to book timeshares in Orlando, and my sister-in-law knew the websites to get the best deals on the Disney tickets—and so we found ourselves down in Florida—in the Disney Parks!!) We had a blast!! Sean had a blast!!
Looking at the ornaments–led to all those memories, which led to grief, but it also led to remembering the answered prayers as well. This helped us stand in the reality that God exists, and He loves us, He listens to us, He cares for us.
It was very difficult to continue with this tradition of decorating the tree. We celebrated our first Christmas without Sean a mere 3 months after we lost him. We were still in a state of shock. My husband and I thought we needed to continue with our traditions, that the children needed these things to bring the past into our present and our future. Even though it felt like everything had changed, some things remained the same. God’s love remained the same. We have found that each year, there is more of a blessing in the remembering, than grief. It has helped to bring Sean into our present and will help bring him into our future.
Just writing this story, I am remembering Julia praying for a baby sister, and God answered!! God does not always answer these types of prayers—as my nieces who were only daughters will attest—but He did for Julia. Perhaps because He knew that Julia and all of us would need this baby in the days to come, (our baby was 6 years old when her brother died.) She would bring us God’s comfort and love in her hugs and kisses and declarations that, “Sean is in heaven, and we are going to heaven too, we will see him again.”
Christmas is celebrating that God left heaven and came down to earth in the form of a baby. “Immanuel” means “God is with us.” In John 1: 1,14, we find this concept of : The Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In Romans 8:31, it says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” In other words–it doesn’t matter who is against us, because God is so big and great, we are covered by Him.
Romans 8: 38, 39 also says– nothing can separate us from His love.
I am here to bear witness to these truths. God is With Us. God is For Us. Nothing—not death nor life, nor any created thing can separate us from His love. Not losing a child, or the grief that this loss brings, or any other problem in the entire world can separate us from His love.
If you are having trouble believing this, I want you to think about how much you love your children, and you are a mere human being. If you and I can love with such passion as imperfect human beings, imagine how a perfect, infinite being who considers us His children—loves us. It is not so hard to imagine when we think of it in those terms—is it?
However, God’s thoughts are greater than my thoughts, and His ways are greater than my ways. Sometimes, (ok—many times), I question God and what He is doing in my life. I questioned Him many times for taking my son. I have come to the realization that God is not upset with my questions, but sometimes His only answer is to wait on Him, and trust Him, even if I don’t know the answers, I can trust Him, I can trust His love, I can trust that He is for my family, He is for me.
You can trust that God is for you, He is for your family. You can trust in His love. He is “Immanuel”—God is with us—He is with us in our joy, in our grief and in our lives!! So Be encouraged!!
Love and Forgiveness—they go hand in hand. In fact, it is difficult if not impossible to have one without the other. Let me explain—as a parent—I have forgiven my children over and over again—and they have most assuredly forgiven me. Why? Because we love each other. In fact, while I find it difficult to forgive almost everyone else in my life, it is not that difficult to forgive my children.
Why is that? Dare I say that is because God has given me a great, great love for them—so that I will care for them, sacrifice for them, and put their needs above my own. I think if the situation called for it—I would die for them. I think most parents would say the same thing.
Why? Because this is how God has designed us. He has given us this parent-child relationship so that we can understand the greatness of His love for us and the greatness of His forgiveness towards us.
Well—what if one is not a parent? I was not a parent for the first 31 years of my life. Yet, I had parents. I saw the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings. I saw the many, many acts of love—and I saw all the ways love could be expressed—words of encouragement, acts of service, gifts, touch, and quality time spent with each other.
I’d like to give you an example of each of these things my parents did for me and my siblings. My mom would praise and encourage me often. She would notice things that I did and praise my efforts—even if it was as simple as cleaning out the sink.
My Dad showed his love in acts of service. He would scour pans, vacuum around the house, set up tents when we were camping with great care, chop up wood for our wood burning furnace—and do a myriad of other tasks all to take care of us, and make life easier for us.
My mom was in charge of gifts and gift giving. While my Dad’s salary provided for all our needs, my mom’s salary went to the luxuries of life—gifts, vacations, etc. My mom would shop for Christmas with great care, and then both of my parents would wrap the gifts together. Together they made Christmas time one of the most magical times of the year.
Both of my parents would hug us. However, after my dad had his stroke—hugs and touch were one of the few ways he had to communicate his love, as he lost his ability to speak—and so that was how he would show us he loved us. My Dad lived for 5 years without speech, until God took him home. (Tears come to my eyes at the thought of this.)
Quality time was spent with my parents every day. We ate supper together as a family, every night. We often laughed together, and told stories of our day around that old farmhouse table that my Dad had lovingly restored. Our family took a vacation every year together. We went camping and swimming and canoeing. We took a big trip to California and went to Disney Land and Knot’s Berry Farm. We went to New Orleans. We went to Virginia Beach. We had fun together, and we still tell stories of the times we spent with each other—(and let’s be honest—the fights we also had during these times.)
When I was a teenager, and wanted to be on the track team, my Dad ran with me to help train me and get me in shape. He spent quality time with me, and he would tell me his stories and tell me what a great runner I was and was going to be. (Which was total love on my Dad’s part—as I was not that good. 🙂 My Dad however was a great runner. )
I know that you could tell me your stories of how your parents showed you, they loved you. Maybe you can’t—maybe your parents were not good. Even if that is the case—we have a Father who is very, very good. This Father’s love is perfect for you and for me. He demonstrated that love by sending His Son to live and die for you and me. Take it from someone who has lost a son—you don’t give a son or a daughter up—unless there is no other way to rescue others that you deeply love.
For instance, my cousin had leukemia, and her brother had an operation to donate his bone marrow to help his sister. This was an act born from love and desperation—to take a risk with one child, for the sake of another child. We have seen this risk taken when people donate a kidney or another organ they have two of—to save someone they love.
Babies: adorable, sweet, cuddly, who can resist them? Well, I thought I could. Before I got married, I had a conversation
with a friend, stating that if for some reason, I couldn’t have a child, I
would not try to change that ability through medical means. If I wasn’t a mom, oh well, I had no great
longing and desire to be a mother.
Then I had my first child, and a switch was turned on inside
me. All my latent maternal instincts
sprang into being. This child had to be
the most fabulous baby on the face of the earth. My heart was flooded with love, tenderness
and emotion. I had never felt such
devotion before in my life. I would look
with pity on mothers who had older children, as they did not have a baby any
I wondered when I was pregnant with my second child, how I would ever love my second child as much as my first. Yet, when I held our second child, once again, overwhelming love came over me. I think I was experiencing what God does with His children—limitless love. Sometimes, I think some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about how much God loves me, is when I see how much I love my children.
I think God uses babies to remind me of His love. Have you ever noticed how a happy, smiling baby can effect others? They seem to bring joy and laughter into each social occasion they are in, be it a funeral, a wedding, or a family gathering. Babies comfort.
My granddaughter was born 11 months after my son died. She brought and still brings immense comfort to me and my family. From the beginning, she would snuggle into me when I would rock her. As she grew older, she would pat my back, as I patted hers. I sensed God’s presence when I was holding her, as if she could hear Him whisper in her ear, “Be kind to your Nana, she needs special love right now.”
Babies remind me that there is a God, and He creates and designs life. Each baby is a miracle, an absolute miracle. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “…You have knitted me in my mother’s womb…. I am fearfully and wonderfully made….” Psalm 139: 13, 14. I love the visual image this presents of God, crafting each child, putting into each child the things He wants them to have—not just their physical attributes, but their special talents and gifts.
Babies also bring—ok, I’m going to go there—guilt. This could be the reason I did not initially
want to be a mom. I knew instinctively that I would fail and feel guilty. I wanted to avoid those feelings. I wanted to avoid these thoughts and
questions: Am I doing enough? Should I go back to work? Should I stay at home? Should I nurse, or bottle-feed? Should we homeschool or send our children to
private school or public school? How should we discipline? Etc., etc., etc.
The decisions are countless, and unending. The practical decisions frame the moral decisions of choosing to pay attention to each child, being consistent , choosing to follow through on an assignment or a consequence, remaining patient and kind, acting out love in all the ways that are significant to that child.
Here’s the thing– I have failed many times as a mother. I have failed in what I have done, and what I
haven’t done, in what I have said and what I haven’t said, in what I have
thought and what I haven’t thought.
Here’s the good news–Jesus has died for all the ways I have failed. Jesus has died for all the ways you have failed. He gives us Forgiveness. He gives us the courage to begin again.
Jesus has given us His Word to guide us in raising our children. The Bible is full of wisdom, (All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16).
God loves our babies more than we do. He loves us, more than anyone else does. Maybe that’s why we love babies so much, because babies remind us of who God is: The Creator, the Designer, the Giver of every good gift, the Giver of Forgiveness, the Giver of Love, and the Giver of the Gift of Babies!!
I like to go for walks outside in the crisp cool mornings of fall. I have a problem though. My hands—my fingers in particular– get very cold. So, I have taken to wearing mittens—wool mittens with a fleecy interior. Why? Because they keep my fingers together, and my fingers generate body warmth— more warmth, than keeping my fingers separated in gloves.
Today I went for a walk, and my fingers were fine, but my poor thumbs were cold, so I took them out of the thumb holder and let them hang out with the rest of the fingers and they were warm again.
It reminded me of how we are as people—when we are around each other—encouraging each other—we generate more warmth—we keep each other from getting cold—like a campfire—many logs together burn more brightly than one log by itself.
This is why scripture tells us: “Let us think about how to motivate one another to love and good works, and let us not neglect our meeting together…..” Hebrews 10:24-25
Many people are feeling pretty cold and alienated from other people right now. They do not have contact with others, and they are lonely.
I get it—people are afraid– they don’t want to put their physical health at risk, but their spiritual, emotional and mental health are suffering.
We need to “think about” how to motivate each other. God tells us to not “neglect” meeting together. We may not meet in large groups anymore, but we can still meet. We need each other.
Recently, I celebrated my mom’s birthday with her. While I was there, she received many phone calls from her friends and family. With each call, my mom lit up. She was being encouraged and loved!
We have been blessed with technology to keep in touch with each other.
However, the very best way—is to be physically around our loved ones. Just as my fingers stay warmer when they are in direct contact with each other, we need to be in direct contact with each other. My advice is to choose carefully from a small group—those people you can be in direct contact with—and see on a regular basis—to pray with, to hug, to encourage, to read scripture with, to love.
Take the initiative, and call, reach out. Even if the person you reach out to, does not want direct contact—I bet they’ll be encouraged by your care and concern.
Ask God who He wants you to keep warm with your direct contact.
Many people are meeting in small groups, others are going to church. Ask God what He wants you to do. He will tell you. These things He has already told us:
We need to “think about” how we as individuals and as the collective body of Christ—can motivate each other.
We need to “think about” how to spur each other on to love and good deeds.
We need to “gather together” to do this. That may mean going back to church, or meeting in a small group—but it does mean being with other believers in some way.
Let’s keep each other warm!! Let’s Be Encouraged!!
Young women, if you are reading this, it is because God has something to say to you about marriage and about loving your husband.
God wants you to experience oneness and love in your marriage, and yet He knows that you may not experience intimacy, and at times find it difficult– if not impossible– to truly love you husband.
Why? Because you married a human being. (Your husband also married a human being.)
Marriage will expose both of your humanness in a way that nothing else will. It will expose the areas where God made you in His own image, and the areas where sin has been allowed to grow and rule. It will expose your sinfulness and selfishness and your husband’s sinfulness and selfishness. (And if I am being perfectly honest–it is much easier for me to see my husband’s faults than it is for me to see my own, and vice versa.)
At times, you will wonder, “who is this person I married?”—he will seem such a stranger to you.
At times you will wonder, “who am I, and why am I acting this way? I seem such a stranger to myself”.
This is what I know, after being married for 31 years—it is God who has brought my husband and I to this point—I mean that in every way. We have raised 5 children together and lost a son, we have experienced sorrow so terrible—it seemed we could not go on and joy so great, we rejoiced in our life; we have weathered many storms in life—and believe me when I say that every day, sometimes moment by moment, we choose to hang on to God.
So, if I could give you any advice, any advice—it is—hang on, hang on—to God and to each other. Sometimes it will seem as if you are riding the rapids of life, and you are—so hang on!!
When you don’t think you can hang on for one more minute–read 1 Corinthians 13, and ask God to show you how to love your husband. Thank Him for loving you as He describes it in 1 Corinthians 13— and ask Him to fill you up with His love.
He will!! And while we may, with our limited strength, be hanging onto God, please know that He is always holding onto us with His infinite strength, and He won’t let go!! So Be Encouraged!!