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.

 

We are of Value to God

I know it’s a cliche, but one of the best parts of being a teacher is having eight weeks of vacation during the summer. I value this time as a period of rest, getting household cleaning projects done, and time with family and friends.

My daughter, Erin, works for the United States Postal Service as a supervisor in a plant that sorts mail. Because her children are teenagers—Zach is almost 15 and Katie is 13—she works the graveyard shift. She gets home just in time to get them to school, sleeps while they’re at school, and gets up a few short hours later to pick them up and spend the afternoon helping with homework, spending time with them, and eating dinner together. That means I don’t see her very often during the school year, because our days off don’t coincide.

I love the days in the summer when I can make the 2 hour drive to her home and enjoy time visiting. Last week, we went to see Finding Dory (which I highly recommend, no matter what the age). Next week, we’re going to the beach and then I’ll bring Katie home with me. My other granddaughter, Robyn, will join us. I look forward to a week of giggles, art projects, baking cookies, silliness, and hugs. Just the thought of being with these people I love puts a song in my heart.

Spending time. No agenda. Listening. Being together. I value this more than words can say.

I am of value to God

God values me like this. He wants nothing more than me. My attention. No agenda. Listening; He listens to me and I listen to Him.

It’s another thing I love about summer. I have time to linger over His Word. To gaze out the window at His creation—and sit outside on the patio when it’s not 100º—meditating on what He reveals to me. Or being amazed at His gifts (thank you, Ann Voskamp). I’ve spent hours watching the birds take baths in the sprinklers this summer, fluffing their feathers to dry. Admired the smell of jasmine and basil, the magenta bougainvillea and red roses, the sounds of birds chirping and tweeting.

I sit amazed. I am of great value to God. Just the way I am. He loves me. He wants to spend time with me and is always there, waiting. Ready to welcome me into His presence.

And that is the greatest gift of all.

Value

Seek God to Persevere in the Hard Times

Seek God everywhere. In everything. At all times. Open my eyes and my heart. Seek His will instead of my own. His wisdom and His peace. His way. Seek Him when I rise up and when I lie down. When I’m busy and when I’m quiet. Seek Him in the mundane, the crisis, the unexpected and unwanted. Seek Him.

That sounds so obvious when I write it. And I believe it with all of my heart, but I’m not living it well. The last two weeks have brought news that hurts. News I don’t want. Mom has Alzheimer’s. My mom who, until July 11, 2015 was active and could do anything she set her mind to, has slowly declined. First physically, with set back after set back due to complications from osteoporosis. And now, this news of Alzheimer’s. There is no healing from this. Not here.

In my pain and sorrow, I’ve been playing solitaire on my phone. Avoiding thinking. But that means I’m avoiding God. Instead of seeking comfort and peace from Him, I’m trying avoid thinking about the situation. All I’m really doing is wasting time. How can I have His peace if I ignore Him? There is no hope in a card game. No joy.

I delete the game from my phone, and I think instead about my one word for this year: persevere. I long to let God transform me on this journey that is harder than I ever thought possible. To help me navigate in the uncharted water I find myself in. To truly persevere, I must seek God first.

How do I Seek God?
  • Surrender to Him by willingly accepting His Will instead of my own. Letting Him transform me from the inside out.
  • Serve God by helping Mom. Even though my sister, Robyn, is the primary caregiver, I go to see Mom. Continue to call her. Bake her cookies. I serve in our church by facilitating GriefShare.
  • Stand firm in what I know to be true. God loves me more than I can imagine. He is always good.
  • Sit at His feet and listen. Even more than doing something, resting in His love and goodness.

Seek God

Linking with Intentional Tuesday, #TellHisStory, #RaRaLinkup, Testimony Tuesday

Remember Who You Are

Yesterday, I enjoyed a day with one of my dearest friends, Jule. She and I became friends thirty-nine years ago, because we were pregnant at the same time. Her son, Jeff, and my daughter, Kim, were born only 6 days apart. I benefitted from Jule’s experience because Jule already had two daughters, Molli and Sarah. She took me under her wing, and she is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.

I learned so much from Jule! About the practicalities, like how to make play-dough and painting the outside of the house with water. Using jello water when they were sick with the flu (no Pedia-lite then, or if there was, I certainly couldn’t afford it!). Standing by the tire and waiting while I got Erin out of the car.

More importantly, I learned the value of talking about God and His love in the everyday things that happened. She knew so many children’s songs that we could sing while we went for walks to point out God everywhere. “Who made the sun? God did…And everything that God made was good.”

While we were walking and talking around the lake near her home, we saw one bird with a treat he’d found clamped in his beak. In hot pursuit were two other birds, hoping to get at least a piece of that treasure.

I started to laugh and asked Jule, “Do you remember the time we went for a walk around the block at your house? Molli and Sarah were on their bikes in the front. Jeff rode his Big Wheel and Kim walked next to him. You and I were in the back pushing Erin and Timmy in the strollers. The kids were supposed to stop at the corner and wait for us. Jeff was supposed to let Kim ride the Big Wheel to the next corner; then they’d switch again.

Jeff, of course, didn’t want to share his Big Wheel with Kim, so when they got to the corner, he sped up. Kim ran after him. And you and I struggled to catch up! I don’t remember what we did after we got home. But those birds chasing each other made me think of that day!

We were worried about Kim and Jeff because we couldn’t see them when they went around the corner without us. And angry that they didn’t obey or share. But now, 36 years later, I hold that as a precious memory. One that holds joy and laughter.

Easter: A Time to Remember Who I am in Christ

As we approach Easter, it’s important to pause and remember the who I am in Christ. It’s easy to get bogged down in what I can see at the moment. I see my own faults. I want to escape the parts of my life that are hard. I chase worldly things instead of His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

When I do that, I leave God behind. Instead of joy and peace, worry, anger, fear, and impatience fill my heart. That is counter-productive. While recognizing my sin, confessing, and repenting it are necessary, once I do that, I need to remember the truth about who I am in Christ. My mistakes do not define me. I am loved by God. Just like I went after Kim, God pursues me. He doesn’t let me go or give up on me. Nothing can separate me from God’s love. I am free from sin. Charles Swindoll, in his book The Grace Awakening, says I nullify God’s grace and the gift of freedom Jesus paid for with His life when I live like sin still enslaves me (page 102).

I enjoyed my day with my friend yesterday. Remembering the story about Kim and Jeff brought joy to my heart. How much more joy there is in remembering the truth about who I am in Christ.

Remember Who You are in Christ

Linking with #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, #RaRaLinkup, #OneWordCoffee, Thought Provoking Thursday 

Enjoy the Everyday, Mundane Moments

I enjoy Monday. On Monday, I leave school as soon as the line of cars picking up students stops crawling through the school parking lot. I shut my classroom door, leaving papers to grade, copying to do, last minute adjustments to my power point for tomorrow’s lesson for the morning. Because Monday I pick up my youngest granddaughter, Robyn Ann, for a date.

I spend three hours with Robyn. Yesterday, the weather was Southern California perfect. The wind swept the clouds from the sky, leaving it a pure blue. Palm trees stood tall, flowers bloomed, lizards scampered in the sunshine.Enjoy

After a week of cold, the 80º temperature begged for us to be outside. Our first stop, every Monday, is Starbucks. I watched Robyn work on homework while we enjoyed a cool drink and a cake pop, listening to Robyn’s commentary about school: playing the flute and graduating to whole songs! Studying ancient China and the Great Wall. Solving for x in an equation.

Homework completed, we embarked on a scavenger hunt. We looked for silly things and bantered as we strolled through the outdoor mall.

Enjoy

You may think a date with my granddaughter is a special event. And it is. But we didn’t need to be elaborate to have fun. The time wasn’t filled with Disneyland or a party, but with everyday moments. Homework and a snack. A walk. Conversation.

God provides little things each day to enjoy

All day, God provided other things for me to enjoy, if I looked. Baby lizards enjoying a warm day. Birds chirping in the tree outside my classroom door. An unexpected text saying hello from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while. Laughter at lunch with my colleagues. Holding hands with Van when I got home from work. My dog, Bandit, greeting me the moment he heard the garage door announce I was home.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of each day, when tasks and to-dos seem to stretch with no end in sight, it’s easy for me to keep my nose to the grindstone. To forget the wonder of the day.

But God is there in the little things. He shows me His love and care in the everyday moments. A sunrise filled with orange, red, and pink. A hot cup of tea on a cold day. A smile.

When I remember to pay attention to what’s good around me, my race becomes easier to run.

What good, everyday things are there for you to enjoy? Notice them. Give thanks.

Linking today with Intentional Tuesday,  RaRa link-up, and #tellhisstory