Lessons I Learned from Mom: A Legacy of Love

On Friday, February 17, my mom passed away. She had been sick for almost two years. Today, Mom rejoices in heaven. All of her pain, gone. She sees her Savior face to face and casts her crown at His feet. The best parts of me are because of the lessons I learned from Mom. I will miss her all the rest of my days, but the things Mom taught me are a legacy of her unconditional love.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from my mom. Wisdom was not found in school, but in the day-to-day examples set by Mom at home. 

Lessons I Learned from Mom

Be faithful to God

Every day, Mom took the Methodist daily devotional, the Upper Room, and her Bible and spent time alone with God. But she didn’t leave the Word in between the pages, she lived the lessons she read there. She prayed for her family and friends. Mom was faithful to go to church her whole life, but she didn’t just sit in the pew. She served however she could: making soup, filling communion cups, being on committees. And she encouraged her sisters, Sandy and Bev to go to church with her. 

Give others the gift of yourself

Mom gave love, kindness, and caring in so many ways. She helped others even if she had something else to do. If someone couldn’t drive, she picked them up and drove them to church or to the market. She baked Christmas cookies and fudge and gave them away. She called people who were alone.

Put your family first

Mom would go without so we kids had whatever we needed. She made sure that there were treats like a candy bar on Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store to get the weekly pasta.  Mom opened her home for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and holidays so the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—could be together. She and Daddy took my daughters, Kim and Erin, on vacations to Yosemite and Sequoia. When Erin lived in Hemet, she brought Zach and Katie to Mom’s every week to use the washing machine and take the kids swimming. 

Christmas 2013
Let your children be who they are

Mom encouraged each of her three children. She went to every tap dance recital, Girl Scout badge ceremony, mother-daughter tea, and basketball game. To keep me supplied with the books I craved, she drove me to the library every week. But she didn’t freak out when she realized I went into  the bathroom every night after dinner to read and then hid the book in the hamper. She made me stop reading until after the dishes were done though!

Never stop learning and growing as a person

Take risks and venture outside your comfort zone. She traveled with Daddy to the Orient and Europe. When she first moved to Sun Lakes, she took swimming lessons. For twenty years, Mom loved doing aerobics with her friends. At seventy-five, she got a computer and a tablet and kept up with friends and family on Facebook.

Mom and her great granddaughter
Make life-long friends

 Mom and her friend, Marilynn, met in elementary school. In their fifties, they started weekend adventures several times a year. When I was in elementary school, Mom and her friend Alice met for coffee every morning after the housework was done.  Alice moved to New York fifty years ago, but last month, Mom and Alice chatted by phone. Mom looked forward to her Breakfast Club every Friday, and every year on her birthday showed me all the cards she received, “And not one is a duplicate,” she said with amazement. She loved her newest friend, Laura, deeply. Mom was delighted when she got Laura to eat broccoli and fresh cranberries and watch Call the Midwife. And Mom’s life was enriched by Laura’s care.

Never give up on yourself or others, keep trying

Even in pain, Mom made her bed every morning. She tried chair aerobics when she couldn’t do her regular aerobics any more. She liked reading the paper with a cup of coffee while she enjoyed the beautiful view out her kitchen window. “God is always good,” Mom said constantly. “He’s given me a great life.”

My life is better because of Mom and the lessons she taught me. She never said I needed to know these things; this was how she lived.

Her example and her love will always be with me. They are the best parts of me. The lessons I learned from Mom are gifts I will treasure and use forever.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

 

Safe

Get home! I raced down the hall toward the parking lot. My heels clattered down the quiet walkway. No middle schoolers flooded the hall; school ended an hour ago. I stayed for a meeting, but I needed to be home for an appointment and to get dinner for Van before he left for BSF. My brain said, hurry! Get home!

Keys in hand, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful blue sky, dotted with fluffy, white clouds. An unusually rainy winter for southern California meant a soggy, gray day, but now a stiff breeze moved the clouds across the sky.

I opened the car door, took one more grateful look, and stopped. Froze really. In the hedge just a few inches from the hood of my car rested a bird. His feathers ruffled in the light wind, but except for turning his head, the bird didn’t move.

Holding my breath, I held onto the car door, reached into my purse, and groped until my fingers closed on my phone. Please, don’t move, I begged.

Amazingly, he didn’t. I zoomed in. Click.Safe_1

He still didn’t move. In fact, he seemed content to stay perched on the hedge, watching the world go by. Thank You, God, I whispered.

I stood there several minutes. Enraptured. Flooded with gratitude that this lovely gift stayed. Another bird joined him for a brief second, but even after the second bird took off, he continued to take in his surroundings, content to stay in his spot.

Safe_2

I don’t know what made that bird feel safe enough to stay on the hedge. Why didn’t he take flight when I came racing to my car? No matter the reason, I still feel joy deep in my heart when I look at my pictures (and I’m especially thankful for the “live” feature on my phone so I can see the wind ruffling his feathers, his head slowly moving as he observed his world).

But I know what makes me feel safe. Safe enough to stay and observe my world.

Jesus.

No matter what ruffles my feathers. Whether I’m alone or have others near. In blue skies and storms. I am always safe because of Jesus. Like my bird friend, I can watch the world, decide when to go and when to stay. Enjoy the gentle breeze. Because I am never alone, but always in the Presence of my Savior and my King.

It’s been a long time since I participated in a Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Montaung. Every Friday, she offers a prompt and invites writers to take 5 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Click on the link and be inspired by what others have to say about this week’s word: SAFE

Living in God’s Eternal Kingdom

We walk through the gate, hand-in-hand. It’s our fortieth anniversary, we’re celebrating by returning to where I first realized I loved him. Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom. It promises a world of wonder. To be a place where everyone who’s young at heart thrives. Where dreams come true. It claims you enter with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. Just the thought of spending a day in the Magic Kingdom causes you to twirl and dance.

And we come here for a little of that. Time to enjoy each other. Reflect on forty years of laughter woven in with mundane and some sorrow. As always for me, Disneyland lives up to its hype. We enjoy a barbershop quartet while licking ice cream cones for lunch. Chat with the artist who deftly cuts our silhouettes adding to the ones we already have of our two daughters and three grandchildren.


We reminisce about the tomato I accidentally squirted in Van’s eye during our date forty years ago, Van continuing to insist I did it on purpose. All throughout the park, we hold hands. It is magical.

For a few hours.

When I walk back to the car, feet aching, there are new memories to cherish. But the magic of Disneyland doesn’t follow me into reality. Disneyland, with all its magic, is temporary. Its happily ever after is a fantasy I can’t bring home in a souvenir bag.

Once I step back into the reality of bills to pay, teaching seventh grade, meals to plan and cook, never-ending-laundry, I look back at the magic and wonder how to get more.

The answer is not the fantasy of Disney’s magic kingdom, but to live fully in the eternal Kingdom-a Kingdom not of this world. The Kingdom of God.

Continue reading “Living in God’s Eternal Kingdom”

7 Steps for a Lasting Marriage

Forty years ago, we said, “I do.”

7 Steps to a Better Marriage
January 15, 1977

Some people took bets we wouldn’t make it a year, but we never doubted. Not because of us. Because of God.

In July, a #love your spouse challenge on Facebook and Instagram invited people to post a picture of their spouse every day for a week. That gave me pause to reflect on seven things I’ve learned in the forty years we’ve spent walking together.

I’m sharing “7 Steps for a Lasting Marriage” over at The Consilium. To read the rest of my post, join me here.

He is Greater than I: My One Word for 2017

Words circle in an unending loop in my brain. Forward. Next. Worship. Content. Be. Free. Which one should be My One Word for 2017. I’ve researched each one. Written dictionary definitions. Found Bible verses that match. Prayed over each. But none of them click.

Every time someone posts their One Word for 2017, I think, Oh, that’s a good one. But I don’t want someone else’s word. I want my word. My focus for this new year that looms before me, full of promise and hope.

Yesterday, while out and about, I noticed a bumper sticker: HE>i. I’ve seen it here and there for several months, but it’s been a while. When I saw it yesterday, on a car parked next to mine in the Von’s parking lot, I knew I’d found my word.

OK-so it’s not one word. It’s a phrase. He>i. He is greater than I. Oh, how I need to remember. HE is greater than i.

He is God. I live to serve Him. Love Him. Worship Him. Seek Him in all I do. Trust Him. All. The. Time. Even when I am frustrated, irritated, unsure.

He>i.

Isaiah writes,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 AMP)

God is everything I am not. Good. Kind. Loving. Holy. Patient. Wise. Faithful.

He loved me so much, He gave His Son to die in my place so I could have a relationship with Him.

He never, ever gives up on me.

I have seen Him work, over and over again, despite me. Even when, with my limited human perspective, I don’t see how or why the circumstances of my life could possibly be good, I cling to the promise, He works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

So this year, in 2017, when I have a decision to make, I will pray first. And then I’ll listen. When the answer doesn’t come as quickly as I may like, I’ll remember, H>i. I can trust Him. Whatever happens, He is there. He has a plan. It’s much better than my plan.

Because in all things, HE>i.

My One Word 2017

If, like me, you too need to remember HE>i, you can find the story of the bumper sticker and other products at http://hegreaterthani.com/