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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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Thoughts of women and Mother’s Day

I anticipate Mother’s Day with mixed emotions.

Being a mother can only be described as one of the greatest adventures of my life.  When I was pregnant, I wanted to be the very best mom with the near perfect child, and I really thought I knew how I was going to accomplish that.

Then the child was born.  Everything changed – my life, my focus, my time, my energy, and especially my ideas of what it is to be a mother.  

A child consumes you and changes you in ways no one can prepare you.  The cord that connects mother to child during pregnancy may be cut at birth, but the cord that connects a mother’s heart to the heart of her child can never, ever be severed.  Her love is bound to that child in such a way that even God showed a comparison of His love to that of a mother.

Isaiah 49:15 says “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb?  Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.”

So at Mother’s Day, I celebrate the privilege and joy of being a mother. 

But . . . the week before Mother’s Day I begin to miss my own mother once again.   She died early in 1983, and despite the year or more of deep mourning, I have adjusted to living my life without her – not really gotten over it but adjusted to it.   The months following her death, however, I could not picture how I would live my life without the woman who gave birth to me, who modeled motherhood, who gave me wise counsel, and who loved me like only a mother can.

But I did adjust.  I moved past my grief.  I allowed other women into my heart, both older and younger.  And I have become richer for it.

Still, on Mother’s Day, the memories of my own dear mother suddenly break into my thoughts like an unexpected visitor.  My thoughts return to my childhood, my teen years, my young adulthood, and my own motherhood and how I am becoming more and more like her as the years go by.  I cannot separate the happiness of celebrating from the sadness of loss.  It will always be so, I suppose.

Because of my loss, at Mother’s Day I remember women who are grieving their own mothers’ passing.  I know of two women whose mother died within this year.  Their hearts are heavy, like mine was in May 1983.  I hurt with them.  I want to acknowledge their loss and let them know someone understands how they feel this year.

Then there are the women who have miscarried and will grieve the loss of the child they should have been holding, either in their womb or in their arms.  I hurt with them also, because I remember that grief as well.  Having a hope of life snuffed out too soon is difficult to bear, especially at Mother’s Day.

In a similar place are the women who mourn a child they did hold, perhaps watched grow up, even to become an adult, but like a candle extinguished, life was cut short.  It never feels right for a parent to outlive her child.  I’ve not experienced this grief, cannot imagine the deep well of sorrow this brings.  I have friends who deal with it, who mention the child’s name and tell a story so others will remember.   I know the child lives in her heart if not on this earth.  For this woman, Mother’s Day may rip open the wound. 

There is still another group of women I think of at this holiday.  They are the ones who long to be mothers, but for reasons known only to God, they have been denied.  In some ways they have adjusted, like I adjusted to my mother’s death.  We must adjust, or we stagnate in an unhealthy place, where productive life ceases, where sorrow has made its permanent home and joy has moved out.

But if I perceive their hidden tears behind smiles, I think they have the same mixed emotions that flow through me, like high water flooding its banks.  They desire to celebrate in a way they cannot. 

” . . . The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces . . . ” Isaiah 25:8.

I wish all mothers a blessed day on Sunday.  You have been given the gift of life and of training souls for the kingdom of God.  What an awesome task.   May God be with you through it all.

I pray for cleansing tears for those of you who grieve the loss of your own mother or for the loss of the precious child you hold close to your heart.  Tears are healing.  We must give them release to flow.  There will be a brighter day and a day of reunion when God will wipe away all tears and there will be no more death.  Hope for it.

And for those who have been denied the title “mother,” I dare say you are nurturing people all along your pathway.  You may not even dream of how many are blessed by knowing you, are warmed by your love and concern, and are honored to call you friend, aunt, step-mother, sister, foster-mom, teacher, neighbor . . .  Their will be songs in Heaven for you, “Thank you for giving to the Lord.  I am a life that was changed.” 

We are women, all of us.  Placed in the heart of every woman is the desire to nurture, to love, to care for, and to protect.  God allows us to do that in so many wonderful and unexpected ways.  He brings people along to walk the journey with us on purpose, people who need what we can give, people who will be touched by our womanhood.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you precious women.  You are dear to my heart.  And even more so to the heart of your God.

Genesis 3:20 – “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”

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