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Sunday grace

Dear Father in Heaven,

Thank you for the women, for the ones who touched my life and left their fingerprints.

For the women who lived before, fighting battles and suffering long that I might live free and equal, and be considered a person and not property.

For the women in Scripture who stood tall and brave in the face of adversity, who spoke prophesies and championed soldiers, who stood between kingly decrees and their children, who faithfully followed in terrifying conditions and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For the women who taught me through word and example, who told Bible stories and expounded the Truth, who lived lives of grace and mercy, who were faithful to their husbands and loved their babies.

For the women who saw my untamed talents and the beginnings of my gifts and nurtured them in me, smiling their encouragement and applauding my progress.

For the women who authored books that made me laugh and made me think, who pricked my heart and seemed to know my story, who did not condemn but showed me how to move toward healing.

For the women who were my grandmothers, leaving their impression on my parents, passing along the inheritance and blessing of their goodness.

For my aunts who loved me and treated me like one of their own.

For cousins who have been like sisters.

For my dear mother, my mother-in-law, my step-mother, each one so different yet profoundly impacting my life.

For my one daughter-in-love who continues to teach me about loving  a husband and training her own brood to fly.

For the friends who have become like family and kindred spirits, and for daughters-of-my heart who have their own special place.

For the women, O Lord, who have been your vessels and have poured into my life, who opened their heart and welcomed me into their circle, who have laughed with me and cried with me, who have held my hand and hugged my neck, who have prayed for me and inspired me to take courage.

For these women, daughters of Eve, tough and tender, warriors all, leaving a legacy of love and devotion, being the beautiful crown of creation and housing the light of Jesus. They cause me to give You thanks on this Mother’s Day.

Thy have left their fingerprints on my life.

Sunday grace.

 

Dealing with Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is complicated. At least it is for me.

I’ve celebrated it in sundry ways.

There were many years when I celebrated my own dear mother.

I suppose words of affirmation are my love language because I wrote a lot of notes and letters to express my devotion.  Often there was a handwritten note to the woman I considered to be the very best, and I was thankful she was my mom. I told her so, setting words to the page on Mother’s Day.

In 1983, my mother died. My grief seemed unbearable. Mother’s Day that year filled me with deepest sorrow and loneliness. I no longer had a mother to celebrate. It changed the day forever. And it changed me.

There were the years when my son was young and learning what it meant to celebrate his mother.

It was a Sunday evening of Mother’s Day, and this little lad of mine wanted to “take me out” to MacDonald’s® for an ice cream cone. You see, there was a give-away of free cones to any mother who came, and it was what my son could afford.

I was weary and worn. Problems don’t take a holiday, and I didn’t really want to go. My mother took my aside me and helped me understand that this was important to my son. This was his gift and I needed to receive it.

So I drove the two of us the few miles to the fast food restaurant, and we enjoyed the taste of cold sweetness together. It is a memory I hold dear.

When that one sweet boy grew tall and whiskered, there was that one year he let me know I was to be a mother-in-law. I was so excited and felt like I had been to a big reveal party where someone proclaimed, “It’s a girl!”  The one daughter-in-love became another reason to celebrate being a mother in a completely new and different way.

 

There were the years when I should have been holding another baby on Mother’s Day, but I was not. Two miscarriages in two different years left me bereft. I saw other young women cuddling babies in blankets, full of life and happiness. It was hard. I clung to my one small boy, thankful for the gift he was to me.

There were years I worked myself silly on Mother’s Day.

I was a Mom and a Grammy. I invited my family – son, daughter-in-love, three grandchildren, dad, and step-mother – and cooked up a storm. I wanted them here, not spread out at a restaurant that would be overly crowded with families trying to bless their mothers, waiting for us to give up our table.

This was my way of celebrating. And it was a blessing to me. Nothing is sweeter than having the house burst with noise as dear ones come through the door, They spread out through the rooms, then we wound our way in a circle before the meal, holding hands for a prayer of grace and thanksgiving. We gathered at the table, and this was sharing life together. The laughter, the stories, the children in dress up clothes, the making of memories were worth every bit of effort.

When the youngest grandchild and the only boy was quite young, I planned for him to sit next to me. He was the non-stop talker, and I was especially patient with this little guy who had my heart.

I recall those years fondly and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

And now I am in a different season. Our family dynamics have changed.  Time, death and life stages have altered the holiday. Family units evolve; they cannot stay the same.

So the second Sunday in May is complicated for me. I know I am not the only one.

In the way of the Lord’s giving and taking away, I recognize the blessing of others who entered my life as changes were dramatic. Older women became my mentors after my mother’s death. Friends of all ages have loved me, touched my heart on any given day.  My life is full and rich in relationships.

Though it may be complicated, we should celebrate. Mothers are a breed of their own. Their hearts demonstrate God’s own love in a way no other can. They are tireless, loyal, selfless, committed to their children, and will never, ever stop loving them, even when they are the prodigal.

Where would I be without the godly influence of my mother who loved me without conditions? What other experience can be likened to being mother to a son and then getting to love his wife? And who can even describe the joy of being a grandmother? It is compensation for growing older and a do-over for parents who become wiser with the years.

Mothers are grand, they are amazing, they are something so special, no way around it. Celebrate them. Give them their due reward and praise.

No matter how complicated Mother’s Day is, it marks a day to cherish the women who shaped us and loved us, who influenced us and guided us, who shine as heroes and warriors.

I’m thankful for my own precious mother, for the experience of being a mother and grandmother, and for women who have enriched my life in ways I can never fully express.

Happy Mother’s Day to them all.

 

 

Sunday grace

Thank You God for our mothers.  mother3

Becoming a mother is an extraordinary experience.  It is the best of jobs and the hardest of jobs.  And sometimes it is the most heart-wrenching.

Motherhood is a life sentence. You never get over it and you don’t get a parole. Heart strings are permanently attached to the child no matter how old she gets or how far away he roams.

Mothers bend over to wipe snotty noses. They stand up and cheer at every achievement. They kneel to pray on the first day of school, over a new drivers’ licenses, at the first date, and when the prodigal is far from the fold.

Mothers never give up. They keep fighting for the needs their children. They keep loving. They keep believing for the best. They keep praying.

Mothering takes on different roles and comes in a variety of shapes. Aunt, neighbor, step-parent, friend, teacher, mentor.  God made women to be nurturers to show the world what He is like. His tender devotion, His patience, His faithfulness.

Mothers work long and hard.  They get tired. But they never tire of hearing, “I love you.”

Someone is waiting to hear those words today.

Sunday grace.

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE IS
    THE HAND THAT RULES THE WORLD.

      Blessings on the hand of women!
        Angels guard its strength and grace.
      In the palace, cottage, hovel,
          Oh, no matter where the place;
      Would that never storms assailed it,
          Rainbows ever gently curled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

Stones and diamonds

An old John Denver songs goes like this, “Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.”

I had a day or two this week that was pretty rocky. My tears were on the edge; my emotions were fragile.

But today was a sparkly kind of day.

Though my own son and his family are far away, and I face another holiday without them being part of the celebration, kindness has been extended to me in the dearest ways.

I think my love language includes words.  I like to speak them and write them, telling people how they have affected my life, to encourage them along their journey, and to express what they mean to me.  So when I receive words, they sooth like a healing balm.

The last two days I have been gifted with words. A card, a letter, a digital greeting, and spoken appreciation all conveyed kindness to my grieved spirit. Words reassured me that I am loved.

I needed those words this week.

I also had the privilege of offering my words to a group of women at a Mother’s Day brunch today. It was delightful to share time and conversation with God’s beautiful women.

We ate well. We talked among ourselves. We laughed and I met new friends who share my love of the Savior. We were a sisterhood.

Holidays can be hard on us, filled with expectations and pressure to celebrate in a certain way. Then they can do an about face and suddenly it is a warm quilt taking away the chill of feeling alone.

The pressure, the heat, the aggravation, and the pain are just as much part of life as the pleasure, the sweetness, the shining light, and the jubilee.

Our days are made up of the rough and rugged, the charm and wonder. They run through our lives like dual rails on a track.

There is a time for everything under heaven. Tears and laughter. Joy and sorrow.

God uses all of it to create a life as precious as diamonds.

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The second Sunday in May

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My email is full of blog notifications whose subjects are Mother’s Day. Advertisers on TV are promoting jewelry and other gifts for moms. It’s natural.

When one’s own mother has been dead and gone for over 30 years and the one and only son lives 600 miles away with no chance of being with either of them, Mother’s Day looses it’s luster.

I mailed notes this week to people I care about who are missing a mother this year. Death snatches those we love, and we are left holding our broken hearts and holding in the tears. What do you do with swelling droplets in the eyes when the rest of the world celebrates?

Friends face another sort of day with a mother whose memory is fading, who may not remember in the next hour the call, the gift, or the visit. The scenario delivers an all-together different kind of heartbreak.

It is always the same. Holidays take on different meanings depending on the circumstance we are in. I have celebrated joyfully, and I have prayed that the day would be over.

Death and distance change our view of life. What we had is a memory. We look back and cherish the communion and conversation, heart joined with heart.

Sometimes we look forward wondering how we can go on when it will never be that way again.

We can’t go back to what was. Life is a constant flux, a continual motion and swirl. Treasuring today may be the bravest way to face tomorrow.

If your mother is gone or her memory is not what it used to be, give yourself grace and occasion to cry. Remember the good and be grateful for her.

If your mother is living, go spend time with her if at all possible. Kiss her check and hug her tight. Pick a bouquet of field flowers. Touch her hand and look into her eyes.

Call her if she is far away, and talk to her about your life. She wants to know. Send a note recalling a memory that brings a smile to both your faces.

Tell your mother she did something right. Because we mommas are always wondering about that.

She’s your mother. She lived so much of her life with you in mind. She gave up a lot for you to have what you needed. She loves you like no one else can. She thinks of you always, and prays for you often.

Your voice is the one she wants to hear.

Though the apron strings may have been severed many years ago, her heart strings are still attached. They cannot be torn away.

She’s your mother. Thank God for her.

 

For all the women

Mother’s Day blogging is upon us.  I am reading them this week.  I’ve written my share.  What else is there to say?

As a mother of a grown up son, I long to hear the words, “well done.”  I want to hear that I did a good job, or at least that I didn’t leave permanent physiological damage.

We women are known for comparing ourselves with other women.  We wonder if we are keeping up, if we are good enough at this high calling, or are we failing at the most important task of our entire lives?

Looking back, I see lots of places for a do-over.  But life does not offer a rewind.

Perhaps that’s why we enjoy grandmothering so much.  We get a little bit of a chance to do things differently, realizing that some things we thought were so important just were not.

I miss my own mother on Mother’s Day.  I always will.  When she was alive, I tried to tell her how much I loved her, how I appreciated her role in my life.  I hope I did it enough so that she felt like she had done her work well.

Mothering is the most rewarding and sometimes the most heartbreaking of jobs.  We celebrate and we cry.  We hold close and then we let go.  We teach and instruct only to come to the place when we must keep our mouths shut.

It’s not easy being a good mother.

Yet is it the way God planned for children to be raised, nurtured, loved, trained, and set off on their own as young adults, just so the cycle will repeat itself.

God’s tender compassionate heart is reflected in mothers.  They don’t give up on their children.  They don’t turn away from them when they make mistakes, end up in jail, turn out badly.  They keep loving, keep praying, keep hoping for better days.

I am thankful for women who have poured their love into my life in so many ways. While some will have the title of “mother,” others will not, but their hearts still mother in ways only women can.  God made woman that way.  She is unique, a creature like no other.

William Ross Wallace said it well:

Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Where would we be without the love of mothers, the love of good women?  Blessed are they.

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Thoughts of my son on Mother’s Day

For the second time since becoming a mother, I will celebrate Mother’s Day without my one and only child, my son in whom I am well pleased.

After he married, he lived close enough to our house for more than 14 years.  Not so now.  He moved miles away in 2011, taking his sweet wife and his three children, our only grandchildren.  I have not gotten over it yet.  I don’t think I will.

I’m aware that many moms do not get to spend Mother’s Day with their children.  Bear with me.  I am still trying to adjust to it.

My thoughts are on my son this day, the babe in my arms, the toddler waking in the middle of the night, the boy riding his bike saying, “Watch me, Mom,” the teenager taking the car alone for the first time as I stand at the window and pray for him, the man who took a wife with all its responsibilities, the young father who made me a grandmother.

I think of him with tenderness.  The struggles of parenting don’t matter any more.  I just remember the joy of being his mom.

His birth changed my life forever in ways he will never know.  But I will always thank God for it.

Bill and me, pregnant 1973My very first Mother’s Day picture was taken in 1973 while I was about 8 months pregnant.  The handsome man beside me is my Sweet William.  I was full, like the moon.  My belly was big, my smile was bigger.  My hair looked stupid – it was the 1970’s.

Big as a barrel and happy about it.  I loved wearing maternity clothes and sewed most of them myself.  People thought I was having a girl by the way I carried the baby.  One friend told me she could not imagine me with a boy; it had to be a girl.   Did she think I was I too prissy to mother a boy?

Yet a boy child is what the Lord gave us.

And what a joy that boy was, a tiny little found-faced creature.  I felt the weight of the world as the nurse placed him in my arms the first time.  How was it possible that the Lord Almighty had entrusted this tiny helpless human being, this everlasting soul to Bill and me?   I knew nothing about rearing a child except what I had seen my own parents do.  They did it so well.  So I tried to do it like they did.  I failed often.

I was cross too many times.  I expected a lot.  I doled out punishment when I could have given more grace.  I should have played more and cleaned less.  I wanted to be such a perfect mother.  But I was not.  I did what I thought was best.  It wasn’t always.

Oh, but I loved that boy with all my heart, and I prayed to be a good mother.  The Father took the feebleness of my efforts coupled with my prayers, and miraculously made a fine man from my tattered efforts.  What a great miracle that He took what little I had to offer and redeemed it to create something good and wonderful.

I wish I had understood more and acted differently when Travis was small, growing up, emerging into a teenager, becoming a man.  I wish I could undo some events and wash away others.  But alas, the days have gone by and I am left with the memories of them.

My son grew to be a good man.  He adores his wife, loves and plays with his children.  He takes his role as provider and spiritual leader seriously.  He loves the Father above and seeks to do His will.

I’m thankful for grace that accomplished much with what I gave to this son of mine.  I call him my Son of Consolation because he brightened my darkness and lightened my heart.  Truth be told, he has done more for me than I think I ever did for him.

To my son I would say:  Never could I have imagined the joy, the pain, the surprises, the laughter, the delight, the tears, the wakeful nights or the fun-filled days of being your mom.  You are a treasure to my heart.  Though the birth cord was cut when you were born, the cord that connects my heart to yours is never severed.

I love you, son.

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