Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My nephew Caleb is a senior in highschool. For a recent English assignment, he had to write and essay on a personal life experience with great impact. He chose to write about his grandmother's death--my mother. He wrote me with a couple questions to answer, and it was a great experience for me to ponder. here are those thoughts:

I can't begin to say all of the lessons. As I get older myself, I keep discovering what she has taught me. I wrote an article about what I realized I learned just from her closet shortly after she died. These are some of those lessons:
Take care of what you have. It's a gift from God, and careful use will help you represent God and yourself well. Be thrifty. You can look good and be appropriate without big brand names, and sometimes God will surprise you with a designer find at a thrift store. :-) Clean it and fix it before you put it away. You can be ready at a moment's notice if you take care of things as they come up. Enough is enough. You can only wear one outfit and one pair of shoes at a time. Reason and stewardship says there's a place to stop--I don't need it just because I can afford it. Simple memories are precious. Mother chose the dress she wore to my brother J's and sister-in-law Cathy's wedding almost 20 years ago for the "going-away" outfit she was buried in. The dresses she wore to the other 3 family weddings were treasures draped in plastic. HER wedding dress was not there. After 50 years, she had gotten rid of the simple white suit she wore, but her sentimental heart still had it's treasures. In a little box were 6 decorated buttons with this note, "The buttons from my wedding dress." Thinking ahead saves time. She had written little notes to herself and attached them to some of the clothes, saying, "Can wear this with the green slacks and scarf."

In addition, she taught me that people are more important than anything else, and that giving with compassion helps the giver, not just the receiver. She was the most compassionate, caring person for the needy I have ever known. She taught me that following Jesus pays! She taught me to pray. She taught me how to grow old gracefully and without regret. She taught me to be content with what I have and to take care of things. I could go on and on. :-) Her life was an object lesson in "the good life."

The first and most powerful way is that I realized that God's promises are true, to the smallest and last detail. I saw the grace with which she faced this time period of her life, how she handled pain, the gratitude she had for the smallest thing done for her, and I saw how she knew every minute that God was with her. I don't want to die anytime soon, but the first impact of my mother's death was a deep settled reassurance that, whatever life hands me, God will be with me and I can handle it.

Her death also impacted me in that I find myself much more aware of how fleeting life is, and the longest life seems too short. So, I find myself packing all I can into it, and I am much more aware of speaking and acting out my love for the people around me.

I now realize that my sister and I are the "senior women" in the family, and we and my brothers will before long be the custodians of the family heritage and legacy. I take that very seriously, and feel the responsibility for prayer for everyone, for making sure we get together, and for being certain that we all keep each other on track.

When I do something new at the house, when my children have news--my first impulse is still to grab the phone and call my mom. It is always a little shock to realize she won't answer. My stomach often has a knot in it when I see my dad alone---he and mom were such an awesome couple and loved each other so much. It gives me a twinge to see him "soldiering on" without her. If Dad wasn't such an amazing man, getting his strength from Jesus and strong character over the years, it would be very hard to see him. I miss Mom's prayers. But one of the most precious things to me is that shortly before she died, she quit praying for us. She and Dad talked, and he said that nearly every waking thought had been of her children and grandchildren, praying for our lives and ministries,that we would live faithfully for Jesus and make heaven. He said in the last couple of weeks, "the video that had been playing in her mind changed. God assured her that her prayers had been heard and were being answered, and for her to just relax and look forward to seeing Jesus and her loved ones already in heaven."

I see my children and nieces and nephews with so many characteristics and traits and concerns they picked up from my mother--it always makes my heart smile, and I know that though life is different without Mother HERE, we know where she is, we know we will see her again, and life is still good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today I Choose

Each Day I Choose - By Max Lucado

It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The
world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments, the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with
the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for
the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the
pounding of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be
invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now I
must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.

No occasion justifies hatred;
no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love.
Today I will love God and what God loves.

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…
the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see
people as anything less than human beings,
created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as
anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.
Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll
invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the
wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment
to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new
assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.
I will be kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to
the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I will go without a dollar
before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked
before I will boast. I will confess before I will
accuse. I choose goodness.

Today I will keep my promises.
My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates
will not question my word. My wife will not
question my love. And my children will never fear
that their father will not come home.

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it only be of myself.
I am a spiritual being…
After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.
I refuse to let what will rot rule the

I will be drunk only by joy.
I will be impassioned only by my faith.
I will be influenced only by God.
I will be taught only by Christ.
I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
To these I commit my day.
If I succeed, I will give thanks.
If I fail, I will seek His grace.
And then, when this day is done,
I will place my head on my pillow
and rest.