Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thought for the day

To say yes to God is to say yes to sacrifice.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Not as Mary Expected

My Christmas Eve day did not go anything like I expected it to go.

Mom died 12 days prior. I had expected earlier in the year that she would be present at family Christmas gatherings. It was also the first Christmas without Grandpa.

After visitation and funeral and activities with family and shopping trips to prepare for Christmas and a trip to the cemetery to choose things for mom's marker, I was hoping for a quiet day at my sister's house making granola with her. Instead, I took my youngest to an immediate care clinic only to find out he had a double ear infection.

With still some potential remaining for a quiet afternoon, I found myself waiting for more than 45 minutes at Publix for an antibiotic script to be filled. I was not fuming, but rather disappointed that my Christmas Eve wasn't going as I had planned. I found some small amused comfort in the fact that the Pharmacist's name was Emmanuel. God With Me. At the pharmacy.

Arriving at church more than a half hour early, we found there was no room in the inn. To make our boys more comfortable, we decided to sit in the social gathering space and participate in mass via the television, if you could call it participate. My youngest was very busy and I ended up standing with him near the kitchen counter. Preparing myself mentally and prayerfully to receive Christ in the Eucharist, I was stunned as a woman left the communion line to ask me where I had gotten my necklace. So much for prayerful preparation. And I was saddened for Jesus.

Reflecting on all of these things throughout the day, I was reminded that Jesus' birth day didn't go the way Mary and Joseph had expected it to go, either. Yet He came to them.

As He came to me.

I am grateful.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My tribute to my mom at her funeral.

I received many things from my mom.

The doors to our home were always open to others. Our home cared for three foster children named John, Megan, and a baby nicknamed “squeaky”. It was a safe place to live for a while for a teenager named Candy. It was a place to come for Sunday dinner and holidays for a man named Uncle Noel. It was the site for backyard vacation bible schools for numerous neighborhood children and friends. It housed overnight traveling church singing groups. Puppies were born in our home. Stray animals were cared for in our home. We stayed safe from even mild thunderstorms barricaded with food and all of our animals in the recesses of our basement.

When I was sick, mom set me up on the couch with pillows, magazines, and ginger ale. The humidifier was placed next to my bed, and mom would bring me honey lemon tea at night if I had a bad cough.

But most importantly, my home introduced me to Jesus. I remember asking my mom to lead me in a prayer at my bedside at the age of 8. The words I repeated after her invited Jesus into my heart and into my life. As a teen I would walk past my dad every morning sitting on the couch having his devotional time, his bible in his hands. As a family we helped a bible church on an Indian reservation in northern Wisconsin hold a vacation bible school outreach to the children who lived there.

I grew up knowing I was loved. I grew up learning it was important to love others and take care of people who were alone or didn’t have a place to go. I grew up knowing Jesus, and truly growing in my faith from little on.

The last years of her life, mom’s world became very small. It consisted of my dad, her family, and her doctors. God gave her a wonderful sense of adventure and passion for life, and she became imprisoned in her body and sometimes in her mind. I had many conversations with her where she would question the purpose of it all—“why me, why this, why now?” kinds of questions. She felt at times that she didn’t have any more to contribute to life or to others around her.

She is finally whole and healed. She is finally at peace and has finally found contentment.

I told her this, and I want you all to know, too, that…

Mom, your life DID make a difference. It made the most important difference there is to make, one that I pray my life makes to those around me—an eternal difference.

Because of your example, and dad’s example, and the foundation you gave me, my life has changed for eternity. And that foundation is being passed down to your grandchildren—that their lives might also be impacted for eternity.

God used you—all your strengths, and all your weaknesses—to impact me and others forever. I can only pray others say the same about me at the end of my life.

As I write this, the words to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” are playing in my ears:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast tought me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul.

Mom, THIS is your legacy to me. Thank-you.