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A MEMORY OF MY MOTHER

“Hi Mom, anybody home?”

I knocked on the door and walked in at the same time.

“You didn’t tell me you were coming over!” she’d call back, slapping her face for added drama.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t because I didn’t want you to feel like you had to make any food for me.”

“But it’s not right not to have anything for you!” she’d always counter back at me. “HarRAM”, she’d say in Arabic, a phrase she used, which loosely translated means “you poor thing!”.

And on we’d continue. This particular conversation would be repeated many more times between my mother and I while she was alive.

She was the type that always gave of her time and talents, and boy, was cooking one of them!

Cabbage rolls, stuffed grapevine leaves, pan-fried fish that was all so filling, so comforting. She made the best grilled eggplant that I tried to duplicate once but failed miserably.

I didn’t want her to fuss, really…because I knew she would, and that wasn’t fair to her.

What I didn’t realize was that she took joy in serving, that she wasn’t just being polite, she really felt distressed that a virtual spread wasn’t on the table to meet me at my surprise appearances.

Even in her last years, when she couldn’t stand for long periods of time, I would see her seated at the stove, doing the best she could.

…and when we gave back just a little to her, you would have thought we gave her the moon by the way she would go on and on in gratitude.

Stranger, friend, or family — Give her an ounce of kindness and she’d repay you with an extra amount.

She loved her family, and she loved the Lord. She gave her life to both, fully and without holding back.

Now, exactly two years to the day she left us, I can see her smiling at peace, living in the mansion God prepared for her, seated at the table, serving, laughing, feasting in Heaven.

Picture of Mom (2)

THOUGHTS ON MY MOTHER’S PASSING (ONE YEAR LATER)

A year ago today my mom went to be with the Lord.

And today, He has especially given me His assurance of victory and peace…

Of my mother’s comfort and joy,

Of newness and hope,

Of victory over all, when it’s all said and done.

Though there were days I wondered if we’d ever survive, we stood today at her gravesite, and I marveled that we not only made it through, but I knew that He had carried us through.

Today was one of those days that you think God may have turned up the colors on the Earth. Especially bright, sunny, with a just-perfect, soothing breeze. When we played the Hallelujah chorus by Handel, (a piece she loved), I couldn’t help but think that it was a small peek at the beauty she is seeing and hearing in heaven.

A year ago, I heard another wonderful song, “Grace Falls Down” by Christy Nockels. It kept running through my head when God comforted my mother after an especially hard day. It kinda became a theme of God’s goodness and care for her in my head:

 

As I was leaving the gravesite and got into my car today, I turned on the radio. Guess what was playing?

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound

Amazing Love

Now flowing down

From hands and feet

That were nailed to a tree

As Grace flows down and covers me

 

What a reminder that He has covered my mom with grace, in her life, and now in a greater way I can’t imagine in heaven. As I walked the park later today, I noticed the same brightness, and His creation seemed to speak one word: Peace.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3: 22-23)

Yes, life is hard. Sometimes it is a horrible nightmare. We will suffer. We will be in anguish. There will be days when we may doubt His presence. ..but He can and will snuff that away. He whispers his comfort and a heavenly “told you so” when we look back on His faithfulness. And having shown this, we see a small way that He will ultimately provide the final victory. Besides, He said He would:

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…”(Rev. 21:4-6) 

Christ has the last word in all of this. Just wait and see.

 

See the original post: “Thoughts on my mother’s passing at Easter

A JOURNAL ENTRY WRITTEN EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO TODAY

Dear Friends,

I don’t normally write posts like this, but this one just fell in my lap. I have to share it.

I was looking  through my journal from last year, and my eyes fell upon an entry.

Then I noticed that it was written exactly one year ago today.

January 7, 2013

I’m seeing something in Mom as I observe her these days.

I see peace.

She’s much more mellow; more calm.  I see it when she says that this is the suffering God wants for her.

I saw it the other day when she made reference to only being here for a little while…

“Right?” she asked.

“Yes, Mom”, I said, much to my shock and surprise.

My instinct was to say “Don’t say that, Mom! You’ll be here for a long time!”.

But I didn’t, because I know…I knew on some level…she is leaving us.

She is starting the first leg of her journey and we are seeing her fade…

*****

It’s been a whole year since that entry, but I look back and I see how God carried us in those days, and I see His grace with us still. Most of all, I look forward to the joy ahead.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

THOUGHTS ON MY MOTHER’S PASSING AT EASTER

Picture of Mom (2)

It isn’t Easter anymore, so I’m sure this doesn’t make the most “on time” post entry, but it is one that I simply have to share.  I spent last week making service arrangements for my mother, who passed from this world just in time to meet the Lord on Resurrection Sunday. She was in the same home she lived in for the past 20+ years when she took her last breath, surrounded by her family. I remember at the time that my dad asked if we would like to sing. So we began to sing…and somewhere in the middle of our rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, she slipped away from this world and into the arms of Jesus.

My mother was a woman who lived a life of sacrificial love, wanting nothing more than to honor God and see her family happy and healthy. She had a humility that always acknowledged God’s will and loved the old hymns of the faith. I think I will always remember her anytime I hear the Halleujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”. (My dad made a scratchy recording of it on, yes – a cassette tape that she played literally dozens of times. 🙂 ) She was God’s constant blessing in my life growing up, not to mention the many years she stood by me through illnesses, apartment moves, and getting ready for any big occasion. She taught me how to be kind, how to be hospitable and to always finish any job I start. I didn’t inherit her artistic talent, but people tell me I’m a spittin’ image of her, and that is good. She was always ready with a meal, lived to care for my dad, and was never happier than when we were all together at the dinner table.  She had a simple yet strong faith that loved and held on to God.

I can’t begin to imagine what she sees and knows right now. I do know one thing, though. She is praising God more than the greatest enthrallment in praise we have ever had on Earth…and she sees Christ face to face. She is laughing, greeting her siblings that have gone before, and will never shed a tear in pain again.

The timing could not have been more bittersweet or surreal, because it was on the first “Easter” that Christ took that same journey into the grave and eternity many years ago. He too, died and was buried. But there is a big difference – He is deity and physically rose from the grave.

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…” (Matthew 28:5-6).

No one but deity could have risen from the dead, and no one but deity could have lived a sinless life. Jesus did both. Not only that, but He laid down that life as a perfect sacrifice, so that anyone who trusts in Him can also approach God with no fear of condemnation.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9-10)

It is because of Christ’s resurrection that we could look at my mother, who was a believer, and know that Jesus paved her way to eternal life. Because He rose from the grave, she too has risen spiritually into eternal life.

Check out Romans 6:5-6:

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

As we saw her slip away, the meaning of Easter was no longer a reality in an I-believe-and-profess kind of way, but now became a  true-to-life-played-out-before-our-eyes reality.  This is where the rubber meets the road, friends. We couldn’t sing “Morning by morning new mercies I see” without remembering the greatest mercy of His rising that first morning. We are saddened, but not without comfort. While we grieve, we are not in despair. What better way to understand the significance of Easter – the resurrection of Christ, than when we need the grace of His resurrection the most?

Let’s not forget the lyrics of the rest of that song:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This is the meaning of Easter, folks. So I’ll go ahead and say it…let’s not dilute this holy event with the silliness of Easter eggs and a bunny!

The fact that a holy God would choose to show Himself merciful to save you and I is an unfathomable mystery. Even the angels can’t understand it. (1 Peter 1:12). For that I believe that there is continual praise in heaven, a holiday every day, so to speak. (Rev. 4:8)

So while we formally celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago, I believe this is cause for continual praise on earth as well…so maybe this message isn’t so “not on time” after all.

I’ll leave you with His own words as the parting question: “… I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

TIDINGS OF COMFORT

                                                                                                           (news.yahoo.com)

Like many in this country, I’ve been watching a lot of the news coverage of the Sandy Hook shootings. I still can’t comprehend something that horrible could and did happen. While we are all shocked and saddened, I don’t believe any of us can truly fathom the grief that the parents of those little children are facing.

I am not going to pretend to know why this has happened, I can only say that we live in a fallen world. This act of violence just shows the depravity of man and the capacity for evil that man has apart from God.

I cannot be so far removed that I don’t realize that at this minute there are parents who are trying to live from day to day, and that there are children who are deeply traumatized. There will be a very long road of healing ahead.

So I’ll let my words be few. I pray that in the coming days, weeks, and months, (especially at Christmas), that these families will know God’s comfort in undeniable ways. I pray that they will be drawn to Him and their faith will be strengthened; that they will be surrounded by the love and support of their community.

The killer didn’t know God in this life, but he does now — in an awful, fearful way. At this minute, justice has already been served, more than we know. I know that does not bring back those we have lost, but still, I await the day when God will pull back the curtain from His side of Heaven and we will finally have all of our “whys” answered, when He will overcome and lock up the power of hell forever.