My Mom

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve attempted to write this post, but each effort brought a waterfall of tears or a heavy weight to my heart, such that it seemed hard to breathe. On June 19, my sweet mom took her last breath on this earth and is now in heaven with Jesus. I am sad and miss her every single day. I still reach for my phone to call her.

Yet, peace and gratitude to God anchor this space in my heart that grieves. God gave our family many rich years with Mom. She was 85. In her last few years, His comfort and strength carried me as she endured the heart-breaking changes that Alzheimer’s inflicts. And in her last days God answered my final prayers—that she would know who I was as long as she lived here, that I could be with Mom in her last days, and that she would die peacefully in her sleep.

“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…” (I Peter 3.4–5a)

In so many ways, this sums up my view of Mom. She wasn’t perfect—in fact, she was the first to point out her faults—but I admired her greatly. Her example, through many challenging circumstances over the years, inspires me to persevere in Christ and trust Him.

Her hope was in God. “I’ve been thanking Him all day,” was her response when anything good happened—from a bountiful day of crabbing off the dock to a grandchild scoring well on a test. When heartache, worry, or hardship challenged any of us, Mom seldom pushed advice and faithfully promised, “I’ve been talking to God all day.”  She knew God as the source of all that is good, all provision and protection, and all grace.

I think the most profound way that I see the fruit of Mom’s hope in God is in her gentle and quiet spirit. We see so much when we look back, don’t we? I look way back and see my selfishness, stubbornness, and plenty of other ugly-nesses toward Mom in my teen and young adult years—and how she loved me through them. Then I look back over our years of raising children, ministry, and work—which meant less opportunity to be with Mom and Dad—and she never complained. Always, “Come see us when you can, or we can come to you.”

When I was raising teens, when I missed our kids as they moved out, and when I struggled to be quiet (and say less) or gentle (in tone), I would vent disappointment in myself to Mom and ask, How did you do it? I remember how I was toward you . . . I know how much more you wanted to see us. And she would say,  I would talk to God and ask Him, because it’s all up to Him. As years passed she added, In time you forget the hard stuff and remember the good. 

She depended on God. She loved Him–loves Him–MOST.

I always saw Mom as a selfless giver. Readily she gave us her presence… her time… encouragement… support… help… a listening ear… or a warm hug or smile. Some days I could hear in her voice over the phone or see in her face that she was tired or burdened with something. Yet, always she gave, from a heart brimming with gratitude. “God has given me more than I could ever deserve.” Only in these last few years of grieving the loss of who she was before Alzheimer’s, have I realized how much more she has given me through how she lived.

Whether she was delighted, discouraged, worried, or thankful, her consistent refrain was, “I don’t know what I’d do without Him.” And now she never has to think about that again.

What To Do With Our Hopes

“Can we talk to God about our pets?”  His soft-spoken question and curious eyes exposed that his understanding of prayer was broadening in the moment, as our little group learned about talking to God. The other 1st and 2nd graders listened, as he added, “My fish is sick.”

“Yes, you can! And we’ll also pray together for your fish in a minute.”

HOPE.

This precious little boy hopes his fish will get well. Even better, now he knows he can talk to God, about what he hopes for. Before, his hope was only a thought.

Do you have any hopes that are only thoughts—or maybe, only wishful-thinking conversations with friends?

We hope . . . it doesn’t rain during our event that’s going to be outdoors . . . she believes we’ve forgiven her . . . he realizes the consequence if he disobeys . . . she knows how much God loves her . . . we handle a situation the right way.

“…we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4.10)

Throughout a day and many a night, I have wrestled, stressed, cried, feared about a hope I have. Hope is hardest when the focus of our hope is a person, a relationship, ourself, or a circumstance. We watch—the person, the relationship, the circumstance. We watch for what we want. Possible outcomes—founded on evidences we collect by sight and experiences—flood our mind, and our thoughts often swirl into a torrent of negative feelings and outcomes.

When I take these ‘hope-thoughts’ to God, my soul rests. In the handoff, my focus shifts to God and He fills those places in me with His peace.

At the same time, hope can be hard even when God is our focus, because we have to learn to trust Him. You and I have lived a lot of life relying on people, circumstances, and our self. We have to practice trusting God to learn to trust God. . . just like we practice reading to learn to read.

As we practice placing our ‘hope-thoughts’ in God’s hands over and over again, we open our heart to try on trust. The focus of our hope becomes God.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.  (Ps 146.5)

God sees and attends our heart according to his view of our genuine need. He pours grace so that His love, healing, and strength inspire us look to Him, listen to Him, and loosen our grip on the object of our hope—that He becomes our HOPE, our TRUST.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17.7–8)

. . . Whether my new little friend’s fish gets better or not (let’s pray it does), he engaged with God and God heard him. Their relationship grew because this is what God does. He gives growth–to our knowledge and understanding, our faith, our relationship, as we engage with Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

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Also, I want you to know…

Becoming A Peaceful Mom is only $9.00 on Amazon!   Here’s the link:  https://amzn.to/2Kxmi8Y.

The price returns to $15 on July 1.

I’ve had so much fun over the last year speaking and sharing the book, and it’s fun to hear the many ways you all have shared it!  (Thank you!)  Want to hear a few of them? … Birthdays … Welcoming moms to your church … Moms of teens … New moms … Moms having another baby… Moms of moms 🙂  Older moms mentoring younger moms … Small group studies!

Sooo… maybe grab a few copies and have FUN blessing some women around you.