Tag Archives: mother

Mother’s Day and All will be Well

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States. Celebrated with flowers, candy and often meals, mothers are praised and loved and remembered. However, this day can bring mixed feelings for many. Those who have longed to be mothers, grieve. Those who have lost their children to death, to disease, to addiction, to broken relationship grieve. Those who have lost their mothers to death, to addiction, to broken relationships, grieve.

I am one of those who is “motherless.” My own mother died not quite four years ago. While her transition was a good one, there are things I miss. I am sorry she was not able to see me appointed to First United Methodist Church. She worked there as a receptionist and I grew up there. She would have been thrilled for me and (not a little proud as mom.)

I am also, one of those women who happen to be a mother and a grandmother. Mother’s day becomes a joy as I celebrate the love I have for my children and grandchildren and appreciate so many women who have mothered me and mentored me throughout the years.

Today is also on some calendars the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich. There is some discrepancy as some celebrate it on May 13 and others on May 8. Since tomorrow is Mother’s day in my neck of the woods, it makes sense for me to reflect on this amazing woman today.

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Not much is known Julian, not even if that is her real name. What is known is that she wrote a book around 1395, the first known to be written in English by a woman. Her Revelations of Divine Love is filled with such amazing imagery and faith.

There are many sayings of Julian’s that are important to my faith journey,

” As truly God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.”

“Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.”

These next words, are the ones I return to again and again and again.

When I first saw that God does everything that’s done, I didn’t see sin, and I saw all is well. When God did show me sin, He said then, “All will be well.” God also said to me, “You won’t be overcome,” and these words were said adamantly, and I was convinced. They gave me certainty and strength against every tribulation that might come.
God didn’t say, “You won’t be attacked” or “You won‘t be overwhelmed” or “You won’t be upset” or “You won’t be stressed out.” No, instead He said, “You won’t be overcome.” God wants us to pay attention to His words, and always be strong in our certainty–when things are going well and when things are going terribly–God wants us to love Him and delight in Him and trust in Him with all our heart, and all will be well.

All will be well. All will not perfect or fun or wonderful. Julian lived in times of great uncertainty, illness, pain. Out of that experience she was able to speak of great strength, comfort and love. Her words centuries later still speak of a Divine Love that never lets us go. A love that is with us in life and in death and in life beyond death. A love that promises each of us that we are beloved and graced beyond anything we can imagine.

In Julian’s words: ” All shall be well, all shall be well….for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” As I think about Mother’s Day, I pray for all to know that Force of love that will never let us go. I pray for the certainty that “all will be well and all manner of things will be well.”

The author of Second Timothy reminds him “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother and your mother and now in you….rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”   Jesus, in the gospel of John states, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  The promise is that God is at work within each of us, by the faith given us by mothers and grandmothers and mentors and by living out Jesus’ command to love God and love one another. The Force of Love makes its home with us and in us…and all will be well.

As a motherless child, as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt and a friend, I am certain that God loves me and loves us all. In that certainty, I trust that God is rekindling the gift of grace and love within me.  As I remember and give thanks for the mothers and grandmothers who have offered me love and faith, I  am graced to serve.

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Mother’s Day and Julian of Norwich

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Celebrated with flowers, candy and often meals, mothers are praised and loved and remembered. This day can bring mixed feelings for many. Those who have longed to be mothers, grieve. Those who have lost their children to death, to disease, to addiction, to broken relationship grieve. Those who have lost their mothers to death, to addiction, to broken relationships, grieve.

I am one of those who is “motherless.” My own mother died not quite three years ago. My mother-in-law is 96 years young and we have celebrated her with flowers and chocolate and dinner.

13139267_10154265783669274_8416943230986328543_nI am one of those women who happen to be a mother and a grandmother. This day becomes bittersweet as I celebrate the love I have for my children and grandchildren and appreciate so many women who have mothered me and mentored me throughout the years.

Today is also the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich. There is some discrepancy on her feast day, some celebrate it on May 13 and others on May 8. Since today is Mother’s day in my neck of the woods, it makes sense for me to reflect on this amazing woman.

Julian-Norwich-2

Not much is known Julian, not even if that is her real name. What is known is that she wrote a book around 1395, the first known to be written in English by a woman. Her Revelations of Divine Love is filled with such amazing imagery and faith.

There are many sayings of Julian’s that are important to my faith journey,

” As truly God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.”

“Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.”

These next words, are the ones I return to again and again and again.

When I first saw that God does everything that’s done, I didn’t see sin, and I saw all is well. When God did show me sin, He said then, “All will be well.” God also said to me, “You won’t be overcome,” and these words were said adamantly, and I was convinced. They gave me certainty and strength against every tribulation that might come.
God didn’t say, “You won’t be attacked” or “You won‘t be overwhelmed” or “You won’t be upset” or “You won’t be stressed out.” No, instead He said, “You won’t be overcome.” God wants us to pay attention to His words, and always be strong in our certainty–when things are going well and when things are going terribly–God wants us to love Him and delight in Him and trust in Him with all our heart, and all will be well.

All will be well. All will not perfect or fun or wonderful. Julian lived in times of great uncertainty, illness, pain. Out of that experience she was able to speak of great strength, comfort and love. Her words centuries later still speak of Divine Love that never lets us go. A love that is with us in life and in death and in life beyond death. A love that promises each of us that we are beloved and graced beyond anything we can imagine.

In Julian’s words: ” All shall be well, all shall be well….for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” On this Mother’s Day, I pray for all to know that Force of love that will never let us go. I pray for the certainty that “all will be well and all manner of things will be well.” As a motherless child, as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt and a friend, I am certain that God loves me and loves us all. In that certainty I am graced to serve.

 

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Christmas Merry or Not

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas,” the song goes. Every artist including Kermit the Frog sings this Christmas standard. The song itself, is reflective, a bit melancholy and challenging. Regardless, the song states, “have yourself a merry little Christmas, now.”

Now those who know me, know I tend to go overboard at Christmas. My house has 23 decorated Christmas trees, yes that number is correct. I don’t count the little miniature trees that are not decorated, although my husband would include them in counting the trees. I have lighted Christmas garland everywhere and outside lights that my twin sister states are “Griswold-like.”

I love Christmas cookie and candy making. I watch a plethora of Christmas movies and have more Christmas CD’s than I want to admit. Yes, I still play CD’s, in fact I have the old time @Firestone and @Goodyear Christmas LP’s which also get played. I don’t begin these activities before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is its own holiday and deserves respect and honor.

The day AFTER Thanksgiving, the decorations begin and the plans are made. This year, for the first time in many years my children are home and the grandboys are here. Such a blessing in so many ways. There has been laughter and a bit of yelling over a game or two, some cooking and baking and eating and watching movies. My heart is happy.

Having said that, there are still those moments, when I acknowledge the ones that are not here. My facebook feed has an option to look back “on this day” and the last few days have been filled with memories, many of which go back long enough to include my mother.

Now my mom loved Christmas, but not in an over the top way. She hated baking, particularly cookies. She preferred recipes that were easy and didn’t take a whole lot of time. She was into convenience. She liked family around, but often preferred to observe rather than to participate. She did LOVE Christmas music though. The house would be filled LOUDLY with old Christmas albums playing non stop during the holidays.

For some reason, the past few days keep reminding me of her. The last Christmas we spent together this pictures was taken.

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It’s one of my favorite pictures of my mom and my sister and I. Yesterday I pulled out a cookbook she gave me. This particular cookbook was one of those “church” cookbooks, from her congregation.

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Not new, obviously but included the “pumpkin bar” recipe she made every holiday and “puppy chow” which grandboys love. I made the pumpkin bar recipe this evening and of course it reminded me of her.

I am not a person who wallows in sadness or grief. I am finding myself, noting the moments, and being grateful for both the joy and the sadness. I do not want to be one of those persons who gives up holidays because someone has died during that time period. As a pastor with so many funerals after 33 years, I would never ever celebrate a holiday again. I want to grieve and to celebrate.

Life goes on, and that is as it should be. When I prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, that birth took place in the midst of tragedies, in the midst of fear and grief and also in the midst of joy and celebrations. Each loss changes things, but grief ought not to have the final word. Love and laughter are life giving.

I ran across this amazing piece of music. It acknowledges the grief and the uneasiness of those who have lost loved ones. “Different Kind of Christmas” by Mark Schultz will speak to those with most recent losses but also those who are recreating holiday experiences.

In my life, it seems every year is a “different” kind of Christmas. Not necessarily bad, but always different. The world, the community, the family changes and each year for me I am challenged to embrace the beauty of Christmas, God made real in “Emmanuel” God-with-us.

So, on this day before Christmas Eve, I wish you a Merry Christmas. May your holiday be filled with love, with laughter, with friends and family far and near. May you experience Emmanuel, the presence of God with you.

 

 

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One year ago

The news is filled with pain and anger and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. While I can’t begin to understand the suffering and grief for many, I find myself distracted from those events from my own memories of this particular day. For me and my family, this is the day one year ago when we had my mother’s memorial service.

We gathered the week of Thanksgiving for the first time in years and years. Unfortunately my mother did not live long enough to celebrate with us, but we gathered in remembrance and in honor of her life. Here is the picture taken that day before her service.

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My brother wrote a eulogy to honor her unique life. Re-reading his eulogy made me smile and feel a little sad. I miss her. I am grateful for all foibles and her unique and unrepeatable spirit. Chris captured her well.

Postude

Sometimes the personal takes precedent over the political and global nature of life. This evening I am striving to just be at peace with memory, with grief, and with a sense that the world is always a bit unsettled, a bit crazy and all too violent. Tomorrow and the next day and the days after there will be time again to engage in all that the world offers and the hope and promise that faith gives. Tonight it is enough to say Thank You to the One who loves, who comforts and who offers grace enough to face whatever comes. With that prayer of gratitude, I am graced to serve.

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Memories

My mother loved tv shopping. She could watch hours upon hours of QVC and HSN. I mean HOURS. My siblings and I received many Christmas gifts from my mother’s television watching. We can laugh over the massive wooden salad bowls, the battery operated cookie press (that didn’t really work but the cookie sheets were awesome!)
The George Foreman grills were pretty good, and the sautee pan which I still use, but others were a bit odd.

In the last few weeks of her life, she went back to watching those shopping channels on tv. Often all night long the men and women would hawk their wares and she would watch. The rehab center she was in would joke with us that they had never seen anyone watch so many hours of shopping.

Now the truth is, that my siblings and I did not enjoy watching the shopping channels as much as she did. Did you know that some of those shows ran a full hour on trying to sell the same item: computers or silverware of holiday cookies and cakes and candies? All for three or four easy payments (plus shipping of course!)

On this day a year ago, my mother was “lucid” for the last time. Of course, when she was awake she would watch the shopping channels. When she was not, my brother or sister or I would change the channel in her room, often to the Food Network, because during the day there were cooking shows. She would briefly rouse, look at the tv and look at us and then point her finger at the tv. “Do you want us to change the channel, Mom?” “YES!” and back it would go to either QVC or HSN.

She would nod back off and then we would change the channel again. By early afternoon, with my sister and I in her room, we discovered that NCIS was playing non stop on one of the cable channels. We both love that show, so while my mother slept we watched old episodes. My mom would wake up, point at the tv, we would change it back.

Toward the latter part of the afternoon, she woke up one more time. My younger brother, my sister and I were in there, playing on our tablets or laptops, watching NCIS, waiting and watching as my mother slept and began slipping away.

She woke up again and NCIS was playing. This time, though, she didn’t demand we change the channel. This time this is what she saw.

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She started pointing. “Do you want us to change the channel?” She shook her head no. She pointed at the screen. “Mom, do you want us to order one?” Her eyes opened more and she said “YES!” My brother started shaking his head and said “Mom, really, Navy guys are not that great and I should know!” Again, she pointed to the tv screen. She tried to say “that one” I couldn’t fault her, who wouldn’t want a Mark Harmon?

So my sister and I assured her we would order one. She looked at us, and we both laughed and said “really! As soon as the 1-800 number comes on we will order one for you! Maybe it will be buy one get one free!” My mom shook her head yes, smiled and went back to sleep.

She never opened her eyes again. I often smile at the memory of her pointing at the tv screen and wanting one more chance to order something, something she thought would be wonderful, something that would give her joy and make life a little bit more wonderful.

Certainly that is what those shopping channels promise: one more item with a few easy payments will make a person more happy or more productive or will make life a bit easier. For me, watching my mother want to order a handsome man at the last makes me smile even today. To laugh and smile with her in her last couple of days was a privilege and an honor.

Whatever one believes about this life or the next, I believe that wherever my mother may be now is a place with no more pain, no more weakness and is filled with life and love. My mother knew too much of fear and loss and uncertainty. The promise of faith is that when we transition from this life to the next there is peace, wholeness and a fullness of who we were always meant to be. May it be so for my mother. And some day, may it be so for us all.

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