Sunday, April 14, 2013

Honoring My Mom

This weekend was my Mom's "Celebration of Life," and it was just beautiful. An awesome picture of how she loved and honored God with her life. It was a sweet gift from the Lord. Many family and friends of hers were there, sharing of her life beginning in junior high through today. Amazing! And, precious pieces of my heart there to hold my hand and encourage me through it. Eternally grateful that God sees exactly what we need. (Thank you Gina, Kristi, David and Ruth). I was blessed to speak in honor of my Mother. I thought I would share what I said ...

The Bible talks about riches and being rich and I know, as humans and as a society, we often think of that in terms of financial prosperity, but I’m here to tell you that my Mom was rich. She lived rich. She was rich in favor, rich in friends, rich in family, rich in graciousness, rich in generosity, rich in forgiveness and rich in love.
There’s a song by Nicole Nordeman called “Legacy.” The chorus goes like this, “I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me, did I choose to love, did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering. A child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically and leave that kind of legacy.” “Not well-travelled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred. I just want to hear instead, “Well done” good and faithful one.” I’m certain that is the first thing she heard.

There really are not enough words to honor my sweet Mother and I’m certain I couldn’t say enough or tell enough about her to begin to do her justice. Most people don’t know this, but she was our only living parent for great many years. She raised us to be empowered by the Spirit and to see things through glasses half full, optimistically and without a care for what others might say we couldn’t do. I can tell you I never realized how hard being a Mom is until I became a Mother myself. I never realized, and probably never will this side of heaven, the amazing and enormous sacrifices our precious Mother made for us, willingly and often without acknowledgement from us. My Dad died when I was 12 and she was both Mom and Dad for my sister and me until she was blessed with Dan. She remarried when I was 21. Dan was her treasure, her best friend, her one true love. 
My Mother had a strong trust in the Lord that got her through all those years and all the years that followed. Did she do everything perfect? No. Does anyone? No. But, she absolutely gave the best of herself.
She made our growing up fun! In fact, one of the things she told me in a particularly stressful time of my life was “when in doubt always choose fun”. I can still hear her saying that to me when I feel compelled to do things that can be done later or aren’t important in the grand scheme of life. Mom would take us country and western dancing on Sunday evenings in Junior High if we would take a nap after church. She would wake us up early, before school, and take us to get Dunkin Donuts on random mornings for no other reason than because she rocked. She always took us to “fancy” restaurants for birthdays and special occasions. We went camping, tubing, had guitar sessions with the high school kids from church, and let’s not forget the time she had Tracy teach her how to disco dance. She even humored us with our Charlie Brown Christmas trees and, can we talk about all the gifts she didn’t mark because we would sneak a look and then she would forgot whose they were until we were opening them. There were girls scouts and selling cookies, and us mowing lawns to earn money with a rolling reel mower (meaning not motorized) because we were going to have all our toes intact, unlike my cousin who’d had his mowed off. There was many a taxiing Tracy to drill team and me to swim team and water polo and carting me all over Texas to ride in parades. Oh, and let’s not forget the chickens I hatched in an incubator in our apartment or Tracy’s guinea pigs that ate the curtains. Always something fun! One of my all-time favorite times with my Mom was sitting in the bathroom with her when I was in high school and home from college. She would be in the tub and I would put my feet in the hot water she was soaking in. She would complain, I would laugh and we would catch up and share and talk life. Just precious.
There was mending broken hearts and ridiculous patience for teenage (and 20 and 30 year-old) angst and boyfriends, thankfully long gone. There were homemade prom dresses and out-of-the-box ideas and support that went beyond the ordinary, particularly as we traversed the difficult walk of being outsiders in a small town, where she was now editor and owner of the county newspaper. And, can we talk about the editorials she wrote? Oh my. One thing my Mother never did was compromise her God-focused values and she wrote plenty to that effect; a character trait I hated as a kid, but love and emulate as an adult and a mom.
She had a servant’s heart. She was always thinking of others and how she could help and encourage and what someone might need. She was a letter and note writer. Many of you might have been the blessed recipient of one of those letters and not even known it because she sent them anonymously. In fact, she sent me a card in January to encourage and love on me. I’ll treasure it forever, so beautiful and such a blessing, always with Bible verses to encourage and with words that built up and prospered and spoke life. She provided gas money, emotional support, help, food, workdays, spending the nights, chauffer services, wisdom, Bible studies, laughter, joy and much more to those she loved and many others she didn’t know because Jesus loved them.
A whole new world opened up to her when she became Grannie. Nothing gave her greater joy than being “Grannie” or “Guinea” or “Grandie” or any other version of “Grannie” the girls came up with. She delighted in doing the extraordinary things with the girls, the unexpected and zany and spontaneous. There was “Cousin Camp,” which was no parents allowed, where fun and mischief abounded. They cooked together, sewed together, played card games, built things, painted the porch and furniture and signs, went to second-hand stores, participated in outreach, swam, laughed, danced, jumped, roller-skated, texted each other, blew bubbles, sat on the porch swing, wrote letters and read books to name just a few things. Reading aloud was one of our girls’ favorite activities … especially reading with Grannie. She made stories come to life, no matter the book. And, since we homeschool, there was a lot of reading aloud, for school and for fun! It grieves me that Brianne, our youngest daughter, is only three and won’t know her like the rest, but God knew this, too, and provided a world of memories and photo’s for our youngest treasure, the only granddaughter whose birth Mom was in the room for.
She was a great mother-in-law. She loved her sons-in-love, Justin and Brian, like they were her own. She was proud when Justin finished medical school and even more proud of the amazing ways he has distinguished himself in his field. She was always on the look-out for antique medical instruments as surprises for him. And, she developed a unique relationship with Brian, over the last eight years, in particular. They were great friends. She listened to him and loved on him and encouraged him and enjoyed the things he loved. He called her Mom and she loved that. Most of all, they shared Jesus together and all He had done and continues to do on our behalf.
My Mom loved her mom and Dad. She was very much like my Paw-Paw, particularly in wisdom, fun, generosity, service and a deep love for the Lord. She’s hanging out with him in heaven. I’m jealous! And, she honored my Grannie. She demonstrated great care for her and what was important to her. She was invested in her relationship with her and in continuing to allow her the most independence as she grew older and less able. She would call me and share funny stories of their times together, even recently, and talk of how brave and awesome she was. Just like my Mom. She adored her Mother, just like I adore mine.
Mom was into the details, for example, all the crazy things that came together in her house (just ask Hey-sus, who built most of them) and the way she was always thinking of gifts that would be special and impactful for all of us, especially, the grand-girls. She was always paying attention and had her finger on the pulse of what they and we loved. Even in the details of constructing a room for our Grannie, who was going to come and live with my sweet Mother. It was going to be a beautiful room with lots of light and a sweet view and nostalgic things. She would’ve loved it. And, one of the last things we did together was to hit every second hand shop between here and Kerrville to buy coats for the kids identified through the Toys-for-Tots program. She never gave a second thought to the cost knowing that God would more than provide, all she had to do was be obedient to what He was calling her to.
During an extreme trial in my life, when I made up my mind the direction the Lord was leading, she stood by me and didn’t waver. She was on my team, in spite of her feelings about it sometimes, and God brought us together in ways of thinking and believing that were profound and long-lasting.
I can still remember when I was a freshman in college and realized that perhaps she did know more than I did (which by the way, I did tell her) and I began earnestly seeking her counsel, not that I always took it.  I always wanted her to meet and know my friends. We enjoyed so many things together: old things repurposed, shopping Canton and fun, funky stores, chickens and gardening and other country fun, magazines and cookbooks and Bible studies and lots of just talking. She always brought a jar of green sauce for enchilada’s when she came to visit. Yum!
The greatest joy and the most awesome thing we shared, especially in the last 10 years, was a deep walk with the Lord. I would call her often to share a book, a verse, a revelation God had given me, a blog with a profound truth and to hear her wisdom and Godly perspective.
One of the tremendous legacies our Mom has passed down is her optimism and great gift of speaking life. She spoke life into and about all situations and people. I can remember the day in my early 30’s when I heard a radio commercial about some gathering of Victims of Violent Crime and thought, “What in the world is that?” Then I realized we were one of those people. But, my Mom never raised us that way. She raised us that God was in control and working everything for our good. She spoke life to us and to the full, not death and never an emphasis on what was behind, only what was before us. She blessed others and us, especially, with her words. She was a gifted word-smith. There are pages of her writing in notebooks and Bible verses taped to the wall all over the house on index cards. She was an encourager and she blessed many, many others with that gift.
It wasn’t until the last several years, that I really understood and that she began to share her sorrow and the pain she had felt at times at the hands of others. Many times, no one ever even knew how painful and the reason was because with this sorrow came an even greater capacity for forgiveness. She would pray before speaking and use as much wisdom in responding as the Lord gave her grace. Sometimes she didn’t even respond at all. Wisdom. She showed love and grace to people I wasn’t sure I would have been willing to. Then she’d share why and … how could you not see that person through her eyes when she was seeing them through God’s? She loved the unlovable and reached out to those who, sometimes, no one would reach out to because she saw Jesus in them and wanted to share Jesus with them. It was an amazing gift. A discipline she developed with the Holy Spirit’s help over many years and poured out on others, even when they didn’t know. Just another part of her incredible legacy.
In closing, I wanted to share a few verses that remind me of my Mom … always supportive, always forgiving, always serving, never gave up, always protecting, ever optimistic, so much grace. And, while, she was beautiful on the outside, she was stunning on the inside. I know the Lord received her at her homecoming with great enthusiasm and anticipation.
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love is never envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself as haughty. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it (it pays no attention to a suffered wrong). It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything (without weakening). Love never fails (never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end).”        I Cor 13: 4-8a  (AMP)
“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God.”     I Peter 3:3-4 (NCV)
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30  (NIV)
"Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her.”    Proverbs 31:28 (AMP)
I believe already the Lord is “comforting all that mourn … bestowing on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61: 2-3  (NIV)
These things, these stories and pictures and Bible verses and songs and words and events and feelings and memories; they are all pieces of her that live on in pieces of me and my sister and the grand-girls and our husbands and Dan and all her family and friends and those who knew her. Such precious, priceless gifts. Thank you, Mom. Thank you for your amazing legacy. I miss you terribly and I love you even more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pieces of Me ...

... through pieces of her ...

It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful.  No, your beauty should come from within you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God."  1 Peter 3:3-4

Monday, April 1, 2013

Right Now

Mourning and grieving seem a never-ending flow of raw emotions and behaviors that I can't begin to explain or understand even in the midst of it, despite having walked through it with others and having been through it before myself. Some days are okay. Some days are angry. Some days all I can do is cry. Some days I am certain I am failing. Some days I swear I can't hear God, even though I am. Some days just suck like crazy. And, some days are "D - all the above." But, there is NO day that God is not ever present and ever forgiving and ever understanding and ever loving and ever providing and ever pouring His grace on us. Thankful!
 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— " John 10:14