Friday, January 30, 2015

Joy comes in the morning

After mom came home from the hospital the last time, she was put under hospice care. It was around this time during mom's last days that I took the night shift one night to make sure all was well. It was the first all nighter I had pulled since college. And I had no test the next day so instead of cramming material in my brain with tons of caffeine I turned to study God's Word. It was some of the most beautiful six hours of my life. I read through most of The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job and then wherever the book fell open. The Lord himself was keeping me company and whispering sweet words of love and peace to me while I was watching my mom pass from one life to the next. It was a great moment of reassurance and there has never been another moment in my life much like that. 

I remember camping out on Psalm 30 for a while, being filled with such a great promise and hope for tomorrow...not just, tomorrow as in when the sun would rise, but the new tomorrow when the restoration to life would be forever granted. I also remember thinking back to a season in my life in college when I struggled with an eating disorder and praising God that he had indeed "brought my soul up from Sheol" (that's another story -or ten - for another day...) and that my life had been restored. While I was sitting there watching my mom DIE, I was so caught up in the wonderful love and mercy of the LORD that I was overflowing with praises and song-not mourning!!!!!!! The spirit was moving and there was so much joy! What great favor The Lord places on His children in time of their great need!!

I've been following a two-year Bible reading plan and was brought to tears of joy and remembrance when I came across Psalm 30 in today's reading and it was so timely. Joy certainly does come in the morning! O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. 

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:1-12 ESV)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Heaven Nana

Mom affection ally became "Nana" after Grace, my niece, was born in Feb 2003. She was a rad Nana. I couldn't wait (but really I could) to have kids so she could retire and always be a phone call away so I could keep working full time and not have to ever pay babysitters or child care. Ha. (We paid more $$ for childcare in the first two years of parenthood than should ever be allowed. Makes me sick to think about it....)
Anyway....then, J's mom became "Nana" after the first Ghent grandchild was born Jan 2006. So, we would have had two Nanas to keep track of....but this sweet girl calls my mom "Heaven Nana"
It was the best thing we could have ever come up with. And the conversations it has alluded to have been outrageous!!! M LOVES HN with all that is within her. And she talks about her as if she just spent the entire last weekend with her doing what grands do. And she's never met the lady!!! We often times talk about HN's body, and spirit, and her closeness with Jesus....and in her childlike faith, M often longs deeply to be with her HN and with Jesus. When I find myself weeping over the loss my my older best friend, my younger best friend will remind me, "momma, one day we'll get to go play with Heaven Nana, won't we? I bet she'll be so excited to see us! I wish we could go see her right now....aren't you just ready?!"
Oh to have that excitement and lack of fear and fullness of faith!!!!

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 ESV)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cracked eggs

IWhen I lived at home with mom and dad after graduating from college (it was really just mom and me for most of the time since dad traveled Sun-Thurs), one of our fave dinners each week was salad night. We had a massive bar displayed, Ruby Tuesdays or Jason's Deli couldn't compare, and we feasted. She always HAD to have hard boiled eggs. I (at the time) on the other hand, thought they had too much fat in them, so I scraped all of the yellow yolk out and ate only the white part and claimed it was "healthier for me." Ha. No matter how hard I tried, I ALWAYS screwed up the boiling or peeling of the eggs. Mom would have something to say about it: either I didn't boil them long enough, I started with warm water, I didn't put them in ice cold water after they boiled, blah blah blah. 

Well today I perfected the art of hard boiled eggs. And my heart was so happy. 
I know. To you, they are just eggs. But to me they were perfect. And to my momma, they would have been glorious. 

After snapping the shot, I couldn't help but think about the cracks in those eggs and how IMperfect they really were....and how somedays my soul feels as if the cracks are infinitely drawn all the way around like those eggs because of my lack in devotion to God's Word or my displeasure in His perfect plan for me or my family. Oh how quick I complain!
But, God's Word offers the great promise of this: 
I get to take off that "old self" with all of the cracks and blemishes, be daily renewed by the spirit, and put on the "new self" created in the likeness of God
in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24 ESV). Once that egg is peeled and the cracked shell is removed, the smooth, white layer is revealed. And it's perfect. It's glorious. 

I am cracked. But, Praise The Lord, the One who provides, forgives, and redeems, for my shell can be removed! Thanks be to Jesus!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cheering from the sidelines

As the preschool teacher, I witness so many new steps each day. This week I'ce seen a child successfully distinguish between "on" and "in" while reading sight word books, and another child, who has such a difficult time with transitions, on his own offer to help clean up when it was time to change centers. Then, I saw another just hysterically sob after saying "sorry" when his friend wouldn't forgive him. I learn so much about life accomplishments through 4 year old lives. And today I captured this moment:
These friends were racing around the room and just cheering their hearts out for each other. I couldn't help but smile at their excitement and joy for the simple fun they were having. I love my little friends. 

These days can be hard sometimes. They are LONG. And hard. Did I say that already?! And sometimes without pauses of noise (though today, my little friends did decide they would rest a bit). I'm reminded of my current life issues and difficulties, and the hard things my friends are facing. Some are grieving loss of special people in their lives physically or emotionally or spiritually. Some are discovering they've now entered into a new season with jobs or interesting family transitions that are necessary. And some are living as far away from Jesus as they can. My heart is hurting for them so much. It's. Hard. 

BUT my sweet little friends today reminded me that we can be like those little cheerleaders on the sidelines for each other. 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Something else you never taught me....

Not to complain....but I'll take a quick second to do just that then I'll move on. 

Mom never taught me how to French braid. I'm actually not even sure she knew how to do it herself. If she did, then she taught my sister, then let my sister do all of the braiding in the house. But she never taught me how, either way. So now that Lydia's hair is getting longer, stringier, and a little less curly (and quite the hot mess) I gave it my best go this morning. 
Clearly, I never learned. Oh. My. 

Moving on. 

It's been an astonishing 6 years since I took a trip to Wal-mart on a Sunday evening with my friend Terri, had a spastic exchange at the check out counter when I found out mom had a stroke/seizure, lost my debit card and saw my mom leave one ER via med-vac for another ER. I call January 25,2009 the "changing of the guard" in her life story sometimes because that day something drastic happened. The slopes we had been skiing on for 21 months had abruptly taken an immediate 90 degree downward path off the black diamond. We all knew the direction she was headed, it was only a matter of time. 

This season every year gets me because I can recall so many vivid memories of what happened, what I ate, what I was wearing, noises I heard, etc (but I can't even remembered if I brush my teeth sometimes each morning?!) and the weeks that follow always bring the mellow out of me. 

Yesterday, I heard a fantastic sermon on protecting the sanctity of life and how God is able to work life even in the midst of death and even in my moms process/stages of dying, never once was there a disrespect for the life she was living. There were so many folks that surrounded us who were changed by the perseverance of mom and the family, despite the horrible prognosis.  I am so grateful for a pastor who reminds us that God desires us to restore a reverence for life among the nations!!

So, if you catch me dazing it's probably because I'm lost in those great memories of my mom in those glorious last days, or I'm really trying to perfect the art of French braiding in my head. But more than likely, it's not the latter.