Tag: love

mom's birthday cake

Grieving a loss by baking a birthday cake

As you know from my earlier post, today was my mom’s birthday. I made this tiny cake for her and some cupcakes. I took a fresh rose and a cupcake to the cemetery and wished her Happy Birthday.

I did today just as I said. I took the day for myself. As the day went on, I felt a sense of closure. I miss her terribly. I will always miss her. I will also miss the lost opportunities to learn more about her. But she was a very close-mouthed person and kept most things to herself.

But I know she loved me. Not by the fact that she said it often but by what she did. She was always so good to me. That’s how she showed me her love. She would’ve given me her last penny had I asked for it.

By the way, that weird frosting? It’s a combination of chocolate and a brand new peanut butter frosting I just found. My mom LOVED chocolate and peanut butter. So I combined them both.

 

Happy Birthday, mom.

mom's birthday cake

 

 

 

calm water

How to walk on water without a life jacket

Walking on water without a life jacket is pretty hard to do. Actually, it’s impossible to walk on water anyway.

Unless you’re the Apostle Peter that is. And even he started to sink.

But don’t you feel that sometimes that’s exactly what you’re doing?

I think back to the two weeks before my mom died. I can say truthfully that God’s hand was reaching out to me and keeping me afloat just as Jesus reached out to Peter.

We don’t always have a life jacket. But we certainly always have God keeping us afloat.

It’s hard to always feel his strong arms holding us and keeping us steady but sometimes we’re acutely aware of it.

I know those two weeks were really hard but when I look back I don’t recall them as hard. Not in the sense of physical and emotional exhaustion. I really felt like the water beneath my feet was totally calm, like Lake Michigan when there is no wind. Like glass. Have you ever seen a lake that is totally calm? It’s really quite rare but it’s the most calming scene ever.

calm water

It’s almost like you could “spread” it on toast.

I never once felt like I was going to sink. While it’s still really hard because I miss her so much, I still feel like I’m walking on water. I still feel calm like that rare calm lake. Oh, it still hurts. A lot. I miss her so much but I remind myself  I should. When you love someone and you lose them, you are supposed to feel sad.

If you are where I was and you are facing some really tough weeks, I want you to know that God is able to keep you afloat. Watching my mom die and being there when she breathed her last breath was the most heartbreaking experience I’ve ever known. At no time, though, was I unaware that God wasn’t aware of what I was going through.

We can have that reassurance that God is always aware of what we are going through. We don’t go through the tough times without God knowing about it. 

I know what the next question is,  “Well, why then doesn’t he prevent it, stop it, etc?” If I had a definitive answer that everyone could accept, I’d be a wealthy woman. Besides, so much of what happens to us is in our own hands, it’s hard to untangle it all.

Don’t you think I questioned, “Why, my mom? What did she ever do to deserve the events of her life the last year? Why her?”

Of course, I did. I told God I didn’t get it. I told God it wasn’t fair.

Did I get an answer that satisfied me?

Nope.

Did I get a life jacket, a way out? Can I avoid this grieving process?

No.but I felt that peace that surpasses all understanding, I felt calmed just like that lake.

But I felt that “peace that surpasses all understanding” as described in Philippians 4:6-8. I felt calm, just like a serene and calm lake.

If your seas are rough today, take heart. God will not let you sink.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

 

 

 

table in garden

Why giving away our time redeems our time.

(My mother died two weeks ago today. I’m reposting this as a tribute to her and an encouragement to me. It was written four years ago.)

I love you, mom.

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I don’t know about you but I have found the oddest thing to be true. When we give our time up for someone else, we almost always find we end up with more time.

Yesterday was a day totally spent on someone else. It’s Mother’s Day Sunday. My mom has had a tough winter. Two weeks ago she suffered a small stroke. I was concerned that would impede all the great progress she has made since her fall last September. She can’t get down on her knees anymore so gardening is out of the question.

I was at her house by 8:45 and never got out of the dirt till 1:00. The sun cooperated and stayed behind the clouds while I worked feverishly, weeding, spreading weed preventer and straightening her brick edging.  After that we went to Home Depot and bought flowers for her deck and front porch. She loved seeing all the flowers. I loved seeing her enjoying the day. Last September I didn’t think this day would ever come again for her. I didn’t think this day would come for me.

I left her around 3:00 so she could rest. She fell asleep and called me when she woke up. Here’s what she said, “I looked outside and couldn’t believe this was my yard.” My eyes are tearing up a little as I write.

This has been a stellar day. It always is when you give it away. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, can I make an obvious point? It’s trite but that doesn’t make it any less true. What your mother needs is your time not your gifts. It’s easy to buy a gift. It’s much harder to give of yourself.

What was really cool today is that not once did I begrudge the time. Not once did I worry about my own yard and how I would get her gardens and mine done before the weeds took over.

When I came home I walked through my own gardens to assess what yet needs to be done. Guess what? It is further along the way to be being done than it has ever been at this time of year. I know there are no “garden genies” doing the work. I know God hasn’t performed a miracle. So you tell me, what is going on?

My gardens are bare now. But that’s the point. The weeds are gone and waiting for the lush garden hibernating underground. The “wall” was built so when someone is on the deck, they can’t see the entire garden without walking into it. It also serves the purpose of giving the climbing rosebushes somewhere to climb. The first picture shows the wall in bloom.

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When we give away ourselves, we always get so much more in return.

God bless and have a good day.

How to describe something so tender and yet heartbreaking

I don’t hardly know where to begin.

How do I describe something so tender and meaningful and yet so heartbreaking?

Or even should I?

Should I keep it wrapped up like a present open it later for all of you to share?

I asked myself all these questions before I wrote this post because this is a hard post to write.

Yesterday was an Easter I will never forget.

My mom is getting worse all the time. She cannot feed herself. She’s sleeping more. She is becoming dehydrated.

Yesterday wasn’t really planned but as everyone learned how bad she was, it all just came together. Every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild was at her home yesterday. We all pitched in and brought the ham, sweet potatoes, cheesy potatoes, salads, and of course more desserts than necessary.

I took pictures of everyone with my mom. I would share them with you but my mom is a proud woman and she would never want a picture of her in her present condition all over the internet. I will honor that. Here’s what she looked liked in her twenties. Look at that hair.

But here was the hard part. We all knew that this was almost certainly our last time together with her in her home. I would catch teary-eyed faces unawares on everyone’s face at one point or another. I often had to go to another room to have a good cry as I knew how bittersweet these moments were.

Incredibly, a woman who can’t remember what is said one minute earlier, remembers the whole event. This is the first time this has happened in months. But that’s what love does. It invades our deepest soul and lives there forever. When I think about God’s love for me throughout this period of grief  (I swear, I have been grieving for months.), I feel that same miraculous love at a time when I should be falling apart.

There have been so many loose ends to tie up. We’ve had to find and organize all her finances, her insurance papers, her funeral home arrangements (already paid for years ago), schedule the caregivers round the clock and keep it all straight. My mind is on overload and yet I am at peace.

But here’s the really hard part and I’m crying as I write this because it so impacted me at the time.  I don’t even know if anyone but me heard it.

As people were leaving, my mom, who hasn’t spoken a full sentence in days, found the strength to wave her hand good-bye while saying, “Bye, everyone.” Do I have to explain why that was so poignant?

Was she just saying good-bye for this occasion or was she really saying “Good-bye.” I will never know but I will never forget the look of love on her face when she said it. Dear God, this watching someone die is hard.

God bless and have a good day. I just can’t write anymore although I had a lot more to say. I want to go visit my mom now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

growing

When you say, “I would never do that.”

Have you ever thought, “Oh, I would never do that, say that, feel that, etc.”

I used to say those things, too.

No more.

I’ve been pulled up my be bootstraps these past few weeks as I’ve had to deal with something I never thought would give me a moment’s concern. It’s a blessing but it also carries an obligation. I received a gift I didn’t ask for and now I’m responsible for it and all the ramifications that it brings with it.

And all this happens as my mom’s health continues to decline which means that my attention has been diverted from her somewhat and that bothers me. As of next week, much of what I am dealing with will be settled and I can relax a little.

But just like it can be in all of life’s challenges, much good came of it. These are the five things I’ve learned so far. I have a hunch there will be more.

First of all, some old resentments were brought to the surface. Once I became aware of them, I was able to put them to rest. Had I not been faced with this situation, I might never have had to confront them.

We think we’ve gotten over some things and when we find out we haven’t, it’s disheartening. But when we face ourselves, God’s love comes shining through reminding us we’re human and presenting us with opportunities to grow. 

growing

Secondly, I learned that satan (I never capitalize the name) is very alive and well. I’ve lost sleep over some decisions because I’ve let him influence my thinking process. I’m trying hard, most people would say, perhaps too hard, to be fair. What never occurred to me was that I should be fair to myself as well. I woke up one night and that is exactly what I felt God was saying to me, “Be fair to yourself, too.”.  So there’s that.

Thirdly, now I can rest knowing God will always “check” me when I’m heading down a wrong path, that my relationship with my heavenly father is such that I will have no rest unless I heed his voice. I’m so glad to know this. I would never want to think that I’m unteachable or “unleadable”.

Fourth, I’ve learned that honesty and openness with people are the only options. Sometimes it’s easy to assume in advance how people are going to respond. And it’s nice to be wrong. I was pleasantly surprised.

Finally, I’ve learned that if we give God enough time and if we just “coast” a little (assuming we have the time), the answer always comes and we feel that enormous sense of relief. When Philippian, chapter four, talks about the “peace that passes all understanding”, it never says it’s going to come easy.

I could write volumes about the roller coaster ride that has been my life these past few months. I’m looking forward to a smooth carousel ride in the future.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

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