My Mom

I am a writer. It’s kind of an outlet for me. Sometimes the things I feel come out better written in a journal with pen or pecked out on a laptop keyboard. I woke up this morning, 4:36 am to be exact, thinking about my mom. My mom has suffered for 22 years with poor health and chronic pain. A couple of weeks ago she took a turn for the worse and has now been released to hospice care at home. I spent the past couple of days at my parent’s house helping out as our family has begun to navigate what hospice has indicated are the last one to two weeks, she is with us here on earth. So, forgive me as I sort through it all in this Blog entry today.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this picture of us until this week. Mom and me camping. She made camping look like fun when I’m sure she had to work hard. Thanks mom!

Mom probably doesn’t know this, but some of my best parenting hacks I could attribute to her. When I was little, she made me and my brothers and my Dad the center of her world, with the exception that God truly was first. My earliest memories are hot summer days sitting on the concrete back porch of our home eating homemade popsicles she had in abundant supply. (I got the recipe and made them for my kids.) They were always soooo good especially my favorite, the grape. Summers were spent going to the Current River to play, Sinking Creek to be exact. Mom took us there frequently during the hottest of the summer days. She wanted to make sure I could swim. If we didn’t go to the river, she would set up a sprinkler for us to run through in our back yard. While I played outside, she canned fresh vegetables and made the best homemade jellies ever. I was so spoiled with the taste of them, I struggled when I moved out and went to college to eat store bought jelly. It wasn’t the same as my mom’s.

During the winter, on snow days, Mom let my brothers, my cousin Ted and I build forts out of blankets between our rooms so we could have rubber band gun wars. As a kid they seemed to go on forever. She didn’t seem to mind us sliding down the hallway in our socks on the hard wood floor of our little 1200 sq ft home. We loved to pretend to ice skate. I’m sure we were loud, rambunctious, and a little crazy, but she let us play.

Birthday party for my daughter with my Mom and Mom in love

Mom took us to the public library frequently and would read us book after book. She also, sat us down and read us Bible stories from the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, which is one of my personal favorites. Her mom read it to her, she read it to me, I repeated this with my kids and hope to pass this tradition to my grandkids as they grow up too. Thanks, Mom, for giving me the idea.

Mom, my son, grandson, and me

Mom was the church pianist, so she made sure piano lessons were available to each of us kids. She loved music. It was always playing in our home. She passed this love on to me, my kids, and now to my grandkids. What a heritage!

Mom playing at church

My mom was a seamstress. She spent hours sewing me the most complicated of dresses that I would request. They fit perfectly and were beautiful. Although occasionally she would forget a sewing pin in them, and I would find it while trying it on. i teased her a lot about that. She made several quilts for wedding gifts or baby blankets as well. She painted paintings, worked on cabinets and other projects with my grandma in Grandma’s woodshop. She was brave enough to take us kids to that woodshop and let us make Christmas Ornaments with the bandsaw one year. That instilled in me a love for woodworking inspiring me to take shop in High School so I could make a cedar chest as a project. Maybe someday I’ll take up woodworking again it sure sounds fun.

Mom and me at my wedding. Mom did all the flowers.

Fishing trip to Texas she went with my dad on

Probably one of my favorite things my mom passed down to me is the love of fishing. My favorite summer memories are of her and my dad taking us fishing at Grandma’s pond. It was such a happy and peaceful place to go. Mom loved to fish. If she got a big one on the line, she would get so excited making my dad and the rest of us laugh as she reeled in her catch.

A not so successful trout fishing trip

Mom tried to pass down her skills to me working with me to learn to crochet, embroidery, sew, cook (I was pretty resistant when it came to that), and even tried to get me to learn to bake pies. When I was around five, she would be making dough for her own pies, but give me a little of hers, put it in my little toy pie tin, let me dip a spoonful or two of her pie filling in the crust and help me to seal it up with a small piece of dough on top. She would bake my little pie right next to hers so I could give it to my dad when he got home from his long day of work at the mines. I would “work” right next to her wearing a little apron she had made for me. to wear. This is one of my happiest memories growing up.

When I was nine, Mom and Dad felt like God was leading our family to become a foster family and help children who were in need. The second child my parents fostered was a special needs child that they adopted almost 9 years later. Mom tried very hard to help my sister, and keep our home what it should be, but those years proved to be very hard years for us all. Things were not easy at home as they once were. When I graduated high school, I left home a day or two after graduation. I let a lot of hurt and bitterness fester for several years in my heart. Things were not what Mom and I had wanted between us.

A couple of years ago, I took a trip home to talk to Mom about it all, for years she had been trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. We laid it all out there and forgiveness came. We talked about how we did not have what we both had wanted all those years, but we had what we had now, and we would try to go forward from there. But her illness, kept us from really getting to do the things we wanted to and to be what we wanted to be.

While I was at home the past couple of days, mom told me how much she had always wanted me. I was a “pleasant surprise” to my parents when I was born. She hadn’t planned another baby, and she never dreamed she would get a little girl. She proceded to tell me how she wished things had been different.

Things may not have been all we wanted here, but we have a hope, His name is Jesus. I know very soon she will leave behind the pain she has walked through and step into the beauty of His glory! Although by earth’s years, (I hope to have at least another 40 years left in me), it may seem to be a long time. In heaven, time is no more. It will only be a short time for her, and we will be back together once again. Everything that kept us apart will be no more. What we missed here will be there. Yes, we have this Hope. I told Mom as I kissed her goodbye, “If Jesus comes to get you, go ahead and go. I will see you again very soon. We will all be together again, and it will be beautiful.”

I love you Mom, don’t worry about me. As we talked about in the hospital a week ago, “God has worked all things out for the good of us (me and her) who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If I don’t get to see you before Jesus comes to call you on, I will see you again when my race is done.

Christmas in Luke (Day14)

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

The setting in today’s chapter is a meal at the house of a prominent Pharisee, a religious leader of Jesus time. Jesus sat and watched as the guest came in looking for seating in prominent places. They wanted recognition and positions of power with the affluent in the room. It is at this point Jesus tells a parable about a “Great Feast, “ a feast much like the kingdom of God.

A man sent out invitations to a great feast he was giving, but everyone he asked had excuses for why they could not come. So the man told his servant to go and invite the “rejects”, “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (Verse 21) He also instructs the servant to go “to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in…” (verse 23) The man throwing the feast wanted his house to be full.
Our loving Heavenly Father is like this man. The invitation to His Heavenly banquet was sent years ago, on a dark night, in a Bethlehem Stable. Jesus came inviting the ones rejected- the poor in spirit; those crippled by fear and pain; those blinded by sin; those lame, unable to stand in His presence. He calls to the “roads and country lanes” ,the out of the way, lonely places, “Come!” He longs for His house to be full!

For this I am so grateful. I am all of the people Jesus invited- I am the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. I am the one who could not come to the banquet had it not been for Jesus inviting sinners to come!

The first Christmas shows us a glimpse of the God who would go to great lengths to see His house full of guests delighted and fulfilled at His banquet. Our God came to be His invitation, with us- Emmanuel. He prepared the way for us to the banquet by His sacrificially dying on the cross, and victoriously rising from the grave. May we hear the invitation declared to us so many years ago at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14.
His favor is upon us! His invitation has been sent! May we drop any excuse for not attending His feast and RSVP with Him replying “Yes! I come!”

Hope that Makes Me Bold

“Therefore since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12

Our God is soooo good! I have been contemplating the goodness of God lately. Something that in my 40 years of walking with Him I have never done. I’m not sure why not, but here we are… I have been awed by a definition I heard of love in a class I am taking, “Living Life Live” at WOW- Women on Wednesday. “Love always wants the very best, the most excellent, and the most profitable for another to benefit them for their own sake.” In other words since God is love, He wants the most excellent, the most profitable, the most beneficial for me. Mind blown. Especially if for some reason you have lived your life with a distorted image of God, looking at Him as a taskmaster of sorts. One who demands work from us in exchange for His blessing that He occasionally doles out to keep us plodding along like a donkey following a carrot on a stick so it will pull a cart. Not so with our Loving Heavenly Father who has set His affections on us and gives so many rich gifts of love, joy, and peace to the heart who is open to receive.

This leads me to the verse above: “We have such a hope…” hope- the confident expectation of Good. Our God is the God of Hope- when we trust Him and believe Him He pours out a confident expectation of GOOD- Hope because all His ways are GOOD toward us, EVERY single one! He never acts as the false gods of ancient times did. They were known for manipulating their subjects, punishing harshly for any misstep or act that displeased them. Their ways were not able to be known because they simply cared only for themselves.

Our God is good! And He is our hope, confident expectation of Good, because Good is the essence of who He is. This goodness makes us “bold”- free from timidity, confident, brave! We are told in the word we can approach God boldly because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can be confident of His heart towards us, because it is filled with His great love. And Our God is always good!

I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to fill me with Boldness the past few months: Boldness to obey God fully, boldness to say whatever He places in my spirit to say, boldness to do whatever He asks.

Yesterday I was in a break out session at the Inspire Women’s Retreat and this verse was one of a section of scriptures being discussed. It stood out in my heart as I heard it read: God’s hope- my understanding of just how GOOD He is and expectation of that GOODNESS to be poured out in my life moves me. It makes me free, free from timidity and fear. It makes me BOLD! It makes me willing to go wherever God leads me, to do whatever He asks. Because I am living a life close to Him, basking in His goodness. I am anticipating with hope His love has gone before me, goes behind me, and is in me. It makes me unable to fail! That Hope truly does make me bold!

He is Good!

Praying With Your Eyes Open- originally written October 2011

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God”….. Brother Lawrence

This morning I was reminicing about how my life has been since having 4 kids and homeschooling them. “Busy”, is the best word to describe my days. Usually it is an early morning cooking, teaching, cleaning, driving, refereeing fights, trying to spend one on one time with each of the kids, grocery shopping… the list could go on and on. I was reflecting on how life was pre kids and then pre marriage, how I had time.

In all this, there has been a gift given to me.Something I did not recognize as a gift at first.It has been how my relationship with God has changed. Out of necessity I have found myself praying at all times of the day in all situations. I find myself praying while doing dishes, cooking supper, waiting for my kids to finish their assignments, cleaning toilets… It is the “continual converstation” that Brother Lawrence was talking about, and it is the most sweet and delightful thing in this world.

Here lately, I have been trying to pray for people if I think about them. If I find myself thinking about situations that a loved one or friend is in I breathe a short prayer for them. I’ve also placed a list of people on my refrigerator that I feel particularly impressed on to pray for. I figured that with my job, that is the place I will see the list the most.

In all this God has shown me that spending time with Him is not complicated. He is there waiting all I have to do is speak and recognize His presence with me.

This gift is not for me alone, but for anyone. God loves it when we reach for Him. His promise is to fill us if we hunger and thirst for Him.

In saying all of this, I am reminded of a funny story about a time of prayer that I had…One time, while I was driving, I began to pray under my breath for something. One of my daughters was pretty little and asked me what I was doing. I replied, ” I’m praying. ” She then asked me, ” You do have your eyes open right?”

So remember if God draws you into this ongoing blessing of a life of prayer to always pray with your eyes open while driving : )

Take Up Your Cross

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The cross was well known in Jesus’ day. Not as a decoration we hang on the wall of our home or set upon the top of a church steeple, but an instrument of execution and torture used by the Romans. It was used to punish the most hardened criminals. Jesus had not yet been to the cross when these words were spoken, but it was understood that a prisoner sentenced to death must first carry their own cross to their site of execution. It was a way of showing total submission to the ruling authority, Rome.

Jesus speaks of His followers being willing to follow Him in His act of total submission, not to Rome because at any time in His own execution He could have called a legion of angels to rescue Him from the cross, but to God and God’s will. Jesus knew what it would cost for Him to fulfill His purpose for which He came, a humiliating and horrendous death. He did so for the “joy set before Him”- you and me.

He requires no less in wholehearted devotion and commitment from us. All we are, submitted to God and God’s will- For all He is Life, Joy, Peace, wholeness. That is a life lived “taking up our cross and following Him”. Living in submission to Jesus and His will for us. With the promise that if we “die with Him (spiritually) we shall surely live with Him and reign. (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

“I Will Rise”

Every once in a while, a memory of hard, traumatic, unexplainable events of the past will raise its ugly head inside of me. It tends to rock me to the core. Sometimes taking a while to get my mind off of it.

Today I was reading in Luke 24:1-12. It is the account of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of James going to the tomb of Jesus to put burial spices on His body. They find He isn’t there. Suddenly, Angels appear and one says “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This phrase resounds in my heart today. The women had seen some of the most traumatic events of a brutal death of a loved one. They surely were processing what had happened trying to make sense. But they were instructed that there wasn’t anything there for them in the dead things of the past. Jesus was living! He wasn’t in the past He has risen!

Whatever we have walked through that was hard, painful, and death to us is not where Jesus is. He has risen!! He is not in the dead things of the past. He is alive now and forever more!

The song “I Will Rise” by Bethel has been on my play list this week. This morning has been a morning that I have it on repeat. It speaks of what I read in Luke.

“Beyond the burial, there's a resurrection
Your will be done in me
Oh-oh, Let my roots go deep
And I will rise, I will rise
He holds the time that I will rise”

Jesus calls us out of our graves of the past to stand in the present with Him! “I will Rise! God through my life be lifted high!” We have no time to be looking intently into the graves of our lives! Jesus is not there! The living life of Christ cannot be found in the graves of failure and pain! He is risen and we are seated with Him in the heavenly places of His victorious Kingdom! I will rise! Let Jesus rise in me!

He Paints the Skies

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The view off the upper deck

My grandma was a painter. She painted some of the most beautiful country scenes. Many of them were memories of years past, trips to other states, or scenes she dreamed about after looking at magazines or pictures. Often when she would paint she would have the recipient of her painting in mind. The painting was to be a gift. I received several of her gifts of love. I have a small ornament she painted for me that was a memory of me when I was a toddler being an Angel in the church’s Christmas pageant, the painting she painted for me when I went to college, and the painting she gave me as a wedding gift. One painting she gave me was one I begged her to make. It was unique because it was of the ocean. It turns out that it was her last painting before she went to her heavenly home years ago.

This morning I finally got to spend some time on my upper deck. (It hasn’t been safe to go on for awhile. Thanks to my husband and son for fixing the flooring.)It has been a beautiful sunrise this morning. It reminded me of something my grandma might have tried to paint. But this one was painted by the Master Artist, God. As I sat here listening to the doves cooing, roosters crowing in the distance and various other birds awakening their song, I was struck by how momentary that scene was. In seconds it would change and minutes later it was gone.

It also occurred to me that Grandma painted the same reason that God paints the sky, love. That momentary sunrise was placed at that specific time so that I would happen to glance at it out my window and think. “I believe I’ll go and spend this sunrise with You, God.” So I did. His momentary painting that even a picture on my smart phone cannot do justice, and the sounds of my world awakening were there to allure me to the upper deck for a moment to feel held in His love by Him.

How often I miss the moment with God! He calls to us all if we only will listen. Longing for us to stop our struggles and toiling just to receive. The same God who stretched His arms across an old rugged cross and rolled a stone away in order to empty a tomb invites us to a momentary sunrise so He can whisper His love. May we not miss our moment with Him! He paints the skies so we might for a moment think of His majesty and worship Him!

Desperation for Jesus (Poem- originally written 7/20/2010)

This morning I was thinking about desperation for God. How I lack it. I am the queen of trying to do things in my life all by myself and leaving all the “Big Stuff” to God.

The story of the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible came to my heart. How she saw her desperate situation and knew if she could only reach out to Jesus and just touch His robe she would be whole.

She could of just lived her life with the problem she had and tried to work things out to the best of her ability (i.e. coped). Life never would have been what it was meant to be for her. She had the desperation for more, for more of Jesus. I need that kind of desperation. The kind that will press through a crowd of life’s busy circumstances, and will reach out a hand just to grab hold of Jesus. It’s the only way I’ll ever be what I was created to be: Whole In Jesus.

Desperation for Jesus (7/20/2010) 

So much crowds around me
That keeps You and me apart.
So many thoughts and feelings
Deep inside my heart.

I know if I can just reach out.
Your healing touch is there.
If I can only grasp your robe.
You will meet me here.

I take my heart and I reach out.
I'm crying out for grace.
My heart desires more of You.
Please look upon my face.

I'm tired of doing things my way.
Because my way doesn't work.
I stretch my hand towards you.
You're there. You heal all that hurts.

Dangerous Prayers

I’m not sure when it started, the drift. My best guess is 5 years ago, maybe more.. That’s why it’s called a drift. You just slowly give up on or slowly release your determination to believe one way and shift another way. Then all of a sudden you wake up and realize you’re not where you used to be spiritually. Those around you may not even know you’ve been evolving slowly because you’ve been looking for and developing reasons to justify your unbelief.

My drift has stopped! Thank God! The past couple of years God has pulled me out of it and set me back on course. But every once and awhile I find myself thinking like I did when I was adrift. God has been faithful to point out “Is that really the truth?” To me over and over.

The past few weeks my eyes have been opened to another area I had let drift away- a desire to listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction, to hunger for Him to show me His will, and the earnest prayer for Him to fill me full of Him. I had put them in a file in my head called “Dangerous Prayers”.

In my mind “Dangerous Prayers” were… well… dangerous. Dangerous because it would require me to step out in faith as opposed to hovering in the shadows of fear. Dangerous because I would have to let go of my plans, my choices, and my will and obey God. That’s the irony of it all “Dangerous Prayers” are dangerous to a heart that wants to drift. Because once you pray them, sincerely and from the heart you are no longer drifting and flirting with unbelief.

“Dangerous Prayers” are really only dangerous to one person, our enemy, Satan. Our enemy knows the moment we sincerely pray from our heart to the Holy Spirit asking Him to fill us full of Him and to make us sensitive to His voice with a heart of sincere obedience, his plans for our demise are done. No wonder the enemy wants us to believe that prayers of surrender are dangerous!

Maybe it’s just me the enemy tries this on, but I bet it’s not. He tries to convince me that if I pray “Dangerous Prayers” then he will put me in his crosshairs and aim his firey darts more frequently. I assure you as one who has been there and done that, this could not be any more false. His attacks are relentless no matter if you cower in a corner afraid to pray or stand boldly declaring God’s Word and His Power. All the more reason to pray the “dangerous prayers”. The only safe place to be is “IN THE LORD our refuge and fortress”, and the best way to get there is to pray the “Dangerous Prayers”. Prayers for the Holy Spirit to help me to hear, obey, and abide in His presence alone are the only safe place to be. They are prayers of safety for the believer. But dangerous to our enemy.

I’ve discovered a pretty good rule of thumb to operate in here lately. If I hear a fearful voice shouting that praying sincerely from my heart, “I want the Holy Spirit to lead me in every area of my life” is dangerous because… “What will God make you do…” Then DUH… PRAY IT! That’s just another “Dangerous Prayer” that needs to be prayed. Why would I not want to follow the only voice that promises to lead me in “Paths of Righteousness for His names sake” i.e., “Good paths/ Peaceful ones” the voice of the One who promises a “Future and a Hope” for me? So, when I hear the lying voice say, “Don’t pray that! That’s a Dangerous Prayer!” May my reply be, “Well thank you for the reminder I believe I will.”

Name Drop, A Brush with the Greatness, Relationship

I’m not what I would consider a musician. I can play the piano some. I have family members that are musicians, which is how I became familiar with a phenomenon of the musician’s world, “Name dropping”. Name dropping is naming someone you have played music with while in a conversation with someone who may not know what level of a musician you are. The more popular or talented the musician is that you can name you have played music with/ the more talented you appear to be because of the association. All it takes is one performance/ gig with the mentioned musician and you have developed your cred.

Another game people who want to impress another might play is talking about your “brushes with greatness” Here’s a couple of mine… prepare to be blown away… #1. When I was in college I went to church with the “Miss America” of that year. She was super sweet and I’m sure she still is. #2. When my husband and I were first married and poor, we had a small duplex we rented. One time we had the then House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt’s daughter over for dinner that I cooked a meal for her in our humble abode. Long story, but she was a friend of a friend and the friend asked if I cared if she came along for the meal. Now I know you are hooked with all the credibility I have since I have spent time with some pretty famous people and on one occasion cooked for one. . Ha Ha.

I’ve been involved in this Bible study about “Abiding in Christ”. After reading today’s study on what it really means to “Abide”- live in Christ, close relationship, tight with Him, it occurred to me, so many “Christians”,including me at times, are content to “Name Drop” God instead of living in the relationship with Him. Or throw Him into the category of one of your “brushes with greatness”.

Here’s how I would define “Name Dropping God”- Saying “Yes, I believe In Jesus, I go to church at such and such place, I am most definitely there on Easter or Christmas… ” Maybe even having some religious artwork hanging around your house. OR “Brushes with greatness with God” – When I was nine, I had an experience with God, I prayed a prayer. Or 5 years ago I prayed, and God did a miracle for me, but those are my only experiences with God.” All of these are good things, but God wants to go past our “Name dropping” and “Brushes with greatness” that we have with Him. He wants us to experience Him on the regular/ daily. He wants relationship. He wants to take us from knowing of Him, to knowing Him, from feeling His occasional touch to being connected with Him like Jesus talked about in John 17:33 When He said He wanted us to realize the “I in them, and You in Me”, the interconnectedness of truly finding ourselves living in Him.

Maybe a more practical illustration would help to wrap this all up. I’ve been married for 29 years, not an easy feat in today’s world, but it has been a great 29 years, because of the “relationship” I have with my husband. We’ve been together long enough that I often know what he is thinking, finish his sentences, can predict what he will do next. And the same goes for Him with me. Now imagine if all our relationship revolved around was “Name dropping”. “My husband has street cred for being the best husband, because he can mention knowing me, but he hasn’t ever hung out with me… or “My husband is legit! One time he met “the most famous husband in the world” But he rarely sits next to me in our living room.

29 years together requires lots of time, weekends away, old people dates to Menards together, holding hands- my favorite 🙂 , working through arguments- not my favorite, being together, etc. A “name drop” or “brush with greatness” simply is not enough. We have to be as the Bible describes it “ONE”. And this is what Jesus desires from us as well. He wants us to “be in Him, and He be in Us” not just conveniently bearing His name so we some how seem “legit” spiritually and have heavenly “cred” with Him. He loves us! He wants more and may the cry of our hearts be “more of Him”!