Fifty shades of green…

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A little over a week ago, we journeyed down to WV to place my mom’s ashes on the graves of her two husband’s graves. Her first husband passed away when mom was only 25, with three small children. My dad passed away when I was 19, and mom lived all those years as a widow but not really totally alone, since she had her children and step-children, grandchildren, greats and a great-great.

As we drove, the many shades of green along the road and on the hills gave me great joy. Green is my favorite color, most shades of it. The beauty of all the greens spoke deeply to my soul.

How good it is to know my mom rests in the care of the One who created all of this beauty. Joy is possible because I know this to be Truth, that I too will find my life settled forever with God , as well, after my life here ends. Peace is possible and grief is not forever because i know most of those I have lost in this life will be a part of my eternity with our Creator.

As I honor those who have passed away, I’m thrilled to think of the new life found for all who have died in Christ, the new life I see represented in the many gorgeous shades of green. Yes, I cry sometimes from missing my mom, dad, sister, brothers, aunts, uncles, nephews, friends…but the tears are always mingled with joy and a deep settled peace.

Celebrating being a mom…

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During this time of sheltering at home, two of my adult children have been home with us. Our daughter still lives with us, and she has been furloughed from her job during this time, since she’s a cosmetologist. My oldest son is a teacher and came to stay with us once his school closed for the pandemic. He has been working online this entire time, as have I. Our middle son and his wife have been working from their home in IN.

With travel restrictions and gathering limits loosened a bit, my daughter-in-law and son cane to stay with us this week, as did my daughter’s boyfriend. We all had work responsibilities to attend to each day…Zoom calls, phone conversations, loads of emails answered, documents created and printed. My daughter was even “working” as her salon team collaborated and planned for their soon-to-be reopening.

As I worked from my home office, in one corner of the house, I listened to the sounds of all of them doing their jobs, being productive adults working to make the world better in their own ways. What an incredible blessing to this mother’s heart! What an affirmation that something we did as parents went right !!

No, it hasn’t been a perfect time together. Yes, this Mother’s Day also bears remembrances of my own mom with bittersweet emotions, being my first Mother’s Day without her. However, over it all, I feel so very grateful for the honor of being a mother, for children who know love and who spread love, for my mom who taught me much about mothering, and for aunts, nieces , sisters and friends who have helped me be the mom I am and have partnered with me in raising my children to be who they are today. Ultimately, I thank God for the provisions and strength He gives me every day to be who He has made me/is making me to be.

Fighting the darkness…

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Easter and Holy Week have always been important in my journey of faith, as far back as I can remember.  This season has always been about more than bunnies and candy and eggs to me, except maybe when I was very young.  I still enjoy the egg coloring and some candy, and let’s face it, bunnies and baby chicks will forever be cute.  Yet, the Light and Life and Truth of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection remain my focus during Lent and Holy Week, culminating with Easter morning’s resurrection celebrations.

This year, of course, is somewhat different because of the Corona Virus and our current worldwide experience of this pandemic.  Some have exclaimed in the last couple weeks that “Easter is canceled”.  These types of statements have been disheartening for me, and I believe these words have helped to fuel the darkness encroaching on our lives in so many ways.

Truth is – Easter will never “be canceled” because it’s a fact of history, not a generic holiday to celebrate.  

My heartbeat in the last couple weeks has been sustained by a motivation to bring more light to dispel the darkness. I desire to remind people of all the Hope we have in this life, as well as in the life to come.  So, this week, I’ve followed a couple impulses of my heart that I believe the Holy Spirit placed there as a means to fight the darkness trying to creep into my own thoughts and feelings, while at the same time, trying to reach out to others as I can, to help remind them of the Light Jesus continually brings to our world because of his resurrection, and then, his ascension about 40 days later.

He sits in Heaven by his Father, our Abba (Dad), and He sent His Spirit here to live in us and to be all over this world bringing the Light and Life and Hope of God and His Kingdom to us, in us, and through us to everyone else.  

I’m hoping your Easter is blessed and that you are fully aware of God’s presence.  More than ever, I’m going to continue honoring Easter tomorrow by lighting the light of hope in my neighborhood and then celebrating the Life, the Truth, the Way that is Jesus.  More than ever before, I see how our worship, our celebration, our love for God and others brings light and life and hope into our world to fight the darkness.  Will you join me in this battle?


Philippians 2:5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Living in troubled times

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Unsettled….this is the word I would use to describe my general feelings the last couple of weeks as our country has been addressing and acting upon the threats caused by this global crisis called the Coronavirus.

Sing and rejoice you children of the Day and of the Light. For the Lord is at work in this thick night of darkness that may be felt. Truth does flourish as the rose, the lilies do grow among the thorns, the plants atop of the hills, and upon them the lambs do skip and play.

Never heed the tempests nor the storms, floods or rains, for the Seed, Christ, is over all and does reign.  EXCERPTS FROM The Letters of George Fox

 

All dear Friends everywhere, who have no helper but the Lord, who is your strength and your life, let your cries and prayers be to him, who with his eternal power has kept your heads above all waves and storms. Let none go out of their habitations in the stormy time of the night, those whose habitation is the Lord, the Seed, Christ Jesus.

In this Seed you will see the bright and morning Star appear which will expel the night of darkness, by which morning Star you will come to the everlasting Day which was before night was.

So, everyone feel this bright morning Star in your hearts, there to expel the darkness. [Letter 280] (Abridged and revised for the modern reader by Howard R. Macy.)

Letting myself feel…

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Sometimes, grief just shows up. I’ve experienced this off and on for years since my dad passed away in 1987, a brother in 1989, a sister in 2013, and another brother in 2015, as well as close aunts and uncles , both sets of my grandparents and my dear step-father-in-law. Naturally, grief has been closer to the surface these last couple months since my mom passed away.

This week was my sister Anne’s birthday, though she passed away in 2013. I went to see one of my other sisters that day and we watched some old family videos while drinking hot tea.

The videos brought back a flood of of memories, and not just of Anne. My dad, his brother and sister, were in the videos , my two brothers, two nephews and grandmother, as well. All have left us here in this world. My heart has been heavy since.

My MaMa, mom’s mom, has been gone since 1985. I barely knew her since I was so young still at 18. What would it have been like to have known her once I was an adult?

I miss my dad and brother who’ve been gone long enough that I’ve forgotten what their presence was like. Thoughts of my dear sister, who lived through stage 4 cancer and fought to survive for 24 more years, follow me daily as she intentionally participated in my life for all the years she lived since I came into her world. Her presence is palpable at times.

I watched some more family videos last night with my nuclear family. Allowing myself to feel the depths of grief while also laughing with my husband and kids as we watched these was good for my soul , helping me wrap up this difficult emotional week. To quote one of my favorite movies, Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias, “laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

A legacy of love…

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Since my kids were little, I always made sure to get each of them something special for Valentines Day, and we tried to love them extra and be sure to express it fully, specifying what was special about each of them, and so on. From my perspective, the point behind honoring St. Valentine’s martyrdom was always meant to be about showing love intentionally and purposefully to all others in one’s life, to love unconditionally with the love of God. Yes, a day was picked to specifically celebrate St. Valentine, and yes, our culture has romanticized it (partly due to some of the legends about St. Valentine).

Regardless, for me, it’s a day for me to tell my immediate family that I love them and why I love them, and it’s a day to be more aware of God’s love and my desire to show that in my life in all that I do.  Do I always accomplish that, no….I don’t always show others the love of God in the way He would desire me to do.  I’m human and I fail miserably in the realm of being loving, at times.

My hope is that the overall viewpoint of my life, when people look back to survey it after I’m gone, will be that I was loving, kind, compassionate, accepting and welcoming, to friend, family, stranger….to all.  This was the legacy of my mom, I believe, that she passed on to me, through some of her words, but mainly through her actions, her day-to-day consistent, intentional way of living and loving.

As you may know, mom passed away December 27. I have been very quiet on social media since that time, including my writing in this space. I’m still feeling that I would prefer silence for a while, as I grieve, as I transition and move forward.

However, on this Valentines weekend, I wanted to share a bit about my mom and her legacy of love. 💖 She sacrificed for others as a habit, probably to her own detriment at times, though she wasn’t perfect. Yet, even in her imperfect, human ability to love, she showed love by asking forgiveness and apologizing, even before the other person realized she had wronged them in any way.

I could go on for hours about her, and perhaps I should write a book to honor her… Yet, for now, may it be sufficient to say that her love, and way of loving, shaped me and will continue to guide me as I live out my life on this Earth. I’m so very thankful for the love of my mom, and I’m at peace with her passing as she can finally rest and be held in her Father’s arms.

 

An open Christmas letter….

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We didn’t really do cards (or pictures or a letter) to mail this year. Life has been …. unexpected … this past year, and we have had to wisely choose to let go of some chores, some traditions, some ideas, and some ways we spend our resources of time, energy, and money in order to focus on absolute priorities. None of this means we love less , nor does it mean we have no time to think of others, hold you in our hearts, and pray God’s blessings, provisions, healing, peace, love and joy for so so many whom we hold dear.

If you follow me or any of the family at all, you know we’ve grown in numbers this last year, with Noah marrying Legend, and Michael visiting Jenna every couple of weeks. Taylor drives down for many weekends throughout the year, as well. Tom’s mom often joins us and sometimes we are blessed with visits from our dearest friends and family.

We are making new traditions and growing closer as a family with adult children. Each of us is working hard for every dollar we earn , and when we have downtime we try to squeeze as much life out of it as possible.

My heart is filled with gratitude for God’s love this Christmas Day , with an amazement for the ways He works and moves in my life and the lives of my precious family. His graciousness, merciful provisions and presence are the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I have reflected on and celebrated all He is to me in this month of Advent, and I long for His love to pour out more freely from me in the year ahead.

I pray you and your family have had a joy filled Christmas. If you haven’t , if you’ve struggled with grief and loss or just been frustrated with consumerism and our culture, I hope for greater peace for you in the days to come.

May God bless and keep you and shine His face upon you, and give you peace.