Tag Archives: mother

Important Anniversaries

There are many reasons to pause today: for citizens of the United States: this weekend hosts many Veterans Day activities. My grandfather was a World War I veteran. He served as both a sniper and a front line interpreter in Europe. His experience was bad, and my grandmother would note that he never got away from the “nightmares.” He never talked about them or his experience much. But on November 11 in 1918, World War 1 ended.

Prior to World War II, this day remembers Kristallnacht. November 9-10, 1938 Jewish homes and synagogues, hospitals and schools were and demolished throughout Germany and Austria. Thousands of Jewish men were sent to concentration camps and this was the beginning of the Holocaust were millions of Jewish men, women and children would be slaughtered.

In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany would occur beginning on November 9 and continuing in the days that would follow. This symbol of the division between the east and west, between the Soviet Union and the free world would be dismantled and the reuniting of families would begin. The visual was stunning and Germany would spend billions of dollars on unification of families and their country.

Personally, today is the anniversary of mother’s death. Six years ago she transitioned from this life to the next surrounded by her children and love. Every day is filled with anniversaries of things internationally and personally. Finding time to pause and remember is important.

For me it can be easy to go through life and not pay attention to these important moments where the world changed and where my life changed. And yet…..I find if I don’t pay attention, it is easy to forget. What is the old saying? Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it.

I honor the memory of mother, of those who tore down the Berlin Wall and commit myself to not forget the horrors of Kristallnacht. Too often I turn from injustice because it “doesn’t affect” me….and yet, if I am honest it does affect me. Life is too short not to notice the injustices and pain and pain of those who are inflicted with hatred and bigotry.

We are brothers and sisters, siblings created in the image of God. This day as is true every day, we are called to stand up against evil and injustice wherever they may be. I long to be part of a world where goodness and love, hope and faith are made real in the world.

So as I remember my mother, as I remember the horror of Kristallnachht and the hope of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I recommit myself to be part of God’s reign of justice, righteousness, hope and peace.

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Lingering over the Memories

Earlier this week I noted that this was the first anniversary of my mother-in-laws death. Early November includes her “yahrzeit” and my own mother’s. Mostly this does not cause me deep grief, although I know grief. Usually, my memories catch me at interesting times and make me smile.

My sister reminded me of that today as she reposted a blog of mine from this day five years ago. https://revcindylee.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/memories/ This blog and memory still makes me smile years later. My mother was quite the shopper. She loved catalogs, shopping channels and was beginning to get into the whole “online” shopping thing.

It is such a gift to be able to linger over the memories. While occasionally there are still tender spots, mostly there are just smiles and sighs and thankfulness. In a month where many post daily gratitude posts, I am thankful for this gift of memories. I am grateful to remember those people I have loved and lost. Their memory is a blessing and in the moments of memories I say a prayer of deep thankfulness for lives well lives.

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Life and Death, Joy and Sorrow, Thankful for it all

November 5th is an interesting day in the life of my family. Ten years ago, my daughter had her youngest son. He is the third son, only 17 months younger than the middle son and 3 years and a bit younger than his older brother. He is a delight and a bundle of energy. He has aggressively followed his brothers from the moment he was born, determined to keep up! It’s hard to believe he is now in “double digits” celebrating his birthday.

Six years ago, my mother was entering the final days of her life. Facebook reminds me that I cooked dinner that night for my twin sister and my younger brother. My facebook memories remind of the menu: oven roasted salmon, carrots and broccoli and tossed green salad. I noted I was grateful for the staff at West Heights who helped me be present for those important moments.

In another year, there was a wedding which I attended and witnessed the love between a wonderful young couple. One had been my associate pastor and her new husband and I had been on a mission trip together. What a joyful occasion their wedding was and how happy I was there with them.

Exactly one year ago today, my mother-in-law died. My husband and I were there as she transitioned from this life to the next. She had lived 98 1/2 years and it was time. Her mind began to recede before her body. In her last months my husband provided her with lots of laughter and love. She was surrounded by that love and by our prayers and the love and prayers of others.

Joy and sorrow, life and death, love and loss always seem interwoven, on some days more than others. I honor these days and moments. November may make it easier to focus on how precious life is, as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder. The leaves turn colors and then release and the ground turns brown in anticipation of the winter.

The turning of the season does not mean all is lost, the change reminds me that life constantly changes and life and death are different sides of the same coin. In the Christian tradition and my faith, out of death comes resurrection and new life. The importance of remembering convinces me that my intentionality of how I live matters in the long run. I remember the deaths, but I celebrate the lives as well: birthdays and anniversaries!

Finding a way to pause for the grief, means the next moments and the next celebrations are a bit sweeter knowing I have no guarantee of how many of those moments will be granted. In the Ecclesiastes the author writes, “for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Indeed, there is a season and a time for everything and there are moments to rejoice and to weep, to laugh and to cry, to mourn and to celebrate. On this day, I celebrate: the memory of my own mother, and my mother-in-law, my grandson’s birthday and a friends anniversary. I am thankful for it every one of those moments and memories.

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Year of Gratitude, May: Week 2

As I mentioned last week the focus for May is:

Celebrations: This is month is filled with holidays and celebrations. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations abound. This month we give thanks for all those opportunities to celebrate milestones, and events and people in our lives.

This Sunday in the United States is Mother’s Day, a holiday driven by greeting cards and floral companies. This holiday is surrounded with both positive and negative energy. At many churches, attendance goes up as children go to worship with their mothers or grandmothers. While many people embrace this day with great joy, for others it is filled with angst, sorrow and anger.

For those women who have longed to be a mother and have been unable, this day pokes at all those tender and grief stricken holes in their hearts and lives. For mothers who buried a child this year or in years past, this day is like a dull ache that never stops. For those women who have never wanted to a be mom and have no desire to raise a child, they often must deal with the pointed question and disbelief that this is an experience they are not interested in having. For those who have difficult relationships with their mothers because of addiction or mental illness or abuse, Mother’s Day is a reminder of what they do not or will not ever have. For those who buried their mothers, this day is a reminder that they are a “motherless child.”

Yet, for all those difficult experiences, there are many who delight and love to celebrate their mothers or those who have mothered them. For those who have had strained relationships with their mothers, they have connected with other women where they experience grace and love. My own mother died over five years ago, there are other women whom I now claim as “my mother.” In their lives and in our relationship, I am blessed and loved and cared for.

So while I acknowledge that Mother’s day is not always easy, I do want to take this week for our Year of Gratitude to honor women. I want you think about which women in your life have loved you, challenged you, helped you, comforted you, encouraged you and mentored you in ways that have made a real difference in your life.

My daughter gave me these cards:

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Called Persistent Sisters, they are trading cards of women in all kinds of professions. They are “sheroes.” Mother’s Day is an invitation to think and honor the sheroes in our lives whether they are “our” mothers or any kind of mother at all. These women make the world a better place. As a part of our gratitude challenge, I invite you to write a thank you note to at least one woman who embodies God’s grace and unconditional one. Write a note to one women who has helped you, loved you or been there for you. You can write more than one note, or make some phone calls, send some e-mails, take a small gift and say thank you….

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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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