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It’s Mother’s Day…Again

Boy that went fast. It seems like just a few months ago I was facing my first Mother’s Day without my sweet Mama. But I didn’t write anything about it at the time because she had just passed away a few weeks prior.

Mom had been very sick and my dad was in rehab trying to recover form a severe head injury. With Mother’s Day coming just a few weeks after she died, hubby and I were pretty much in a daze. It didn’t even cross my mind that this was the first Mother’s Day without her.

But this year is a little different. I’m more aware that it’s Mother’s Day and there’s nothing I can do for her. No gift to make or buy. No special card to find that perfectly expresses my heart. No surprise visit to spend the day with her.

As I walk around the stores with their Mother’s Day displays my heart yearns to pick up a little something for Mom, only to be reminded that she’s no longer here.

Sigh…

It’s really ok. Most of my sadness has been replaced with the precious memories of having had a wonderful mother for so many years.

And even though Mom isn’t here this year, I can still honor her. I’ll look at her picture, spend some time remembering her, and mostly I’ll just be grateful. She really was someone special! And I was so blessed.

Mimi

Hellos and Goodbyes

There’s a quote that goes something like this (I’m changing up just a few words):

True friends (or family members) don’t say goodbye, they just take extended leaves of absences from each other.”

And another from Winnie the Pooh “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Hubby and I have had the wonderful opportunity this past month to say first hello, then goodbye to family and friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.

Of course, saying hello was the easy part. But that goodbye stuff, now that’s a different story.

I often describe it like this. We get used to not seeing some of our loved ones as often as we would like. It may be stinky but it’s the norm and you deal with it. But then comes the wonderful opportunity to visit. And it’s so indescribably good that you realize how much better life would be if you could see them all the time. And you also realize how much you miss them.

And this leads to lamenting that you don’t live closer, and that is followed by profound sadness until you once again come to accept it’s just the way it is.

So in April we said hello for five weeks to our brother and sister-in-law Jim and Linda. We also said hello for a few days to dear friends Bill and Sharon. Our time together was so sweet but all too swift. And before you know it we’re waving goodbye as the car leaves the driveway.

And while my heart aches at the goodbyes, waving as the car drives off, it also rejoices because sad goodbyes are simply indicative of how much we love them. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing.

How about you? Any happy hellos or sad goodbyes for you lately?

Mimi

The fat lady never sang.

fat-ladyYou know how the saying goes “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings” meaning the opera continues until the final song by the final diva (apparently, often a rather rotund lady). In other words, don’t presume you know the outcome of something until the event actually ends.

Well, I’m one of those who missed the incredible win by the New England Patriots. Dad came over for dinner and stayed through the halftime show. When Greg took him home, we turned off the TV only to discover the amazing win after Greg checked in to see the final score and saw the game was in overtime.

At halftime, it seemed there was no way for New England to take the win. No way would they muster the passion and drive necessary. But they did. Good lesson for us all. Never give up.

Some of us have been holding on to dreams for years. Some have pleaded with the Lord for seemingly impossible situations to be changed. Did the New England team feel that way? Possibly. But they didn’t act on how they felt. They stayed in the game and it paid off.

What might we experience in our lives if we kept our passions and dreams alive, refusing to give in to defeat? What if we refused to grow weary but kept those dreams and hopes alive?

The Bible is full of glorious promises about not giving up (verses from New Living Translation):

  • So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)
  • Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Today’s reminder: don’t give up; all things are possible with God; and while we may grow weary, God does not!

Mimi

It’s the Big Re-Do

01-09-17-goalsIn speaking with some friends and family members I note a recurring theme: home organization; weight loss decisions; personal, work, and spiritual goals, etc. It seems January 1 of any year brings to mind an opportunity to re-do, re-start, re-organize, re-anything.

One friend is changing up their home filing system, grandson Konnor set a goal to run a 5k, Greg and I have plans to get together with an estate attorney and create an estate plan. No matter what the goal, it just seems like the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to plan for it.

Recently I’ve reconnected with someone close in age but who seems lightyears ahead in learning new things and challenging herself. My life looks sedentary and sedate in comparison. So I’m definitely looking at new opportunities in the area of hobbies, ministry, and personal growth.

But I imagine for many of us it will be hard to look ahead. Perhaps you’ve had a rough 2016 and the last 12 months were not what we were expecting or hoping for. And maybe this has resulted in losing the ability to look ahead, to set goals, or to dream.

Be encouraged. You are not alone; we’ve all been there at one time or another. And the Bible book of Philippians even addresses this in Chapter 3, verses 12-15a:

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, (emphasis mine) I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. All of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, too.

With this in mind, now is the perfect time to seek God and His plan. Ask Him to help you set goals for the new year, then bravely move toward those goals. And a year from now you’ll be able to look back with satisfaction knowing you were able to forget the past and strain toward what is ahead.

Mimi

Missing Mom

Lee Turner (my mom) celebrates her 88th birthday, March 2016.

Lee Turner (my mom) celebrates her 88th birthday, March 2016.

So while taking a walk the other day and as I often do while walking, I pulled out my phone and prepared to ask Siri to call someone. It’s a great time to chat. No distractions, just plenty of time to talk with a loved one. Only this time I was unable to make the call. You see, when I started speaking to Siri I realized I was asking her to call my mom.

What? My mother passed away on April 27 and since that time I’ve thought about her a lot. Often times with sweet memories; other times with sadness. But never once have I thought to call her until the other day.

And right on the heels of calling Mom came the realization that I could never do that again. And that, my friends, led to the waterworks being turned on. Instead of walking and talking to Mom, I walked and remembered her. I talked with God about her. And I realized how very much I miss her as I cried my way through my neighborhood.

After arriving home, I called my sister-in-law to share the experience as I knew she would completely understand. Because she had lost her father earlier in 2016, too. Since both our parents had lived enjoyable and long lives, and because both are in Heaven with the Lord right now, most of the times we experience the joy of knowing we’ll be reunited with them again one day. Yet, sometimes, the sorrow of missing them rushes in and sticks around awhile, before once again retreating. I knew Linda would understand. She did. And she provided that human touch I needed at the moment.

This will be my first Christmas without my mom. For just about all my 63 years we’ve been together each December 25, a tradition that began on Christmas 1953…when I was born.

12-13-2016-mothers-quoteThis year there will be no homemade coconut cream birthday pie lovingly made by Mom. There will be no reminders that when she gave birth to me on Christmas that meant she wasn’t home with her 16-month-old daughter, my sister.  There will be no memories of how long it used to take to open all the presents because we insisted on watching each person open every single gift one at a time. Indeed, one very special someone will be missing from the festivities. And this daughter will no doubt experience her loss all over again.

I know for many Christmas can be a reminder of what isn’t rather than a celebration of what is. So I will allow the sorrow to wash its waves over me but I will also smile and be ever so grateful that God gave me a precious, wonderful mother to raise me and point me to Jesus.

Mimi

So Very Thankful

thanksgiving2016craftsJust look at those pictures. Continuing on with our after Thanksgiving tradition, the family gathered in Clermont to enjoy some pre-Christmas fun. Decorating the house, crafting for young and old alike, baking cookies, eating some good food, and mostly just being family. We had a great, great day.

One of our projects was to come up with a decoration for Dad’s apartment door. You’ll remember he won a prize for Most Festive for his decked out fall-theme so we have high hopes for his Christmas door as well.

The result, as you can see, is a large Christmas tree made up of the handprints of each family member who could be here with us in Florida. But whether or not all family members were here, we included them on the tree ornaments so Dad’s Christmas door tree will contain reminders of all his loved ones.

At this time of year, families gather to spend time together, to love one another, and to build lasting memories. This time of year also reminds us of God’s family and His deep love for us. He sent his son to be born on earth, live as our example, and provide the way to eternal relationship with the Father.

So like many of you, I’m very thankful for my wonderful family, near and far. And I’m truly eternally thankful to God for providing a way to Him through His precious son Jesus.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)

Mimi

I heart you.

HeartJust me, poking my head in your door once again. The spring and summer have been very difficult for my family, but things are now on the upswing. I have much to be grateful for and want to start sharing once again the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord.

Our family experienced some very dark days. Days that overwhelmed. Days where I would wake up wondering if life would ever be normal again. Days that felt like they would never end, yet they did…only to be replaced with nights of despair and sadness.

I did what many do in those times; I retreated. Instead of a lifeline to people who could encourage and lift me up, the phone became an instrument of conveying bad news and navigating through phone menus of doctors, businesses, and other entities necessary to get us help and information. The last thing I wanted to do was make another phone call or send another text of bad news. I didn’t want to talk with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary.

I did send out texts asking for prayer. I even sent some filled with self-pity. And I set up a family text to keep everyone apprised of what was going on. But sending those texts did nothing to encourage me or provide the hope I desperately needed. Instead they were another reminder that life was hard right now.

But in the midst of our family ordeal, God saw fit to break through the defensive barriers I had erected. He knew my desperation for prayer and He provided tangible encouragement when I needed it most. Here are just a few of those gifts of help. It isn’t all inclusive and I don’t mean to leave any out. I’m sure there are many other ways to get involved in being God’s hands to those in need. But for now I share with you some that were irreplaceable. Perhaps they will give you an idea of how you can help others facing difficult times.

  1. Early on dad’s pastor asked if his church could provide meals. I refused at first, but quickly realized what a tremendous help it would be. People always bring more than you need so we ended up with meals galore for future use as well.
  2. When people texted me they weren’t long-winded. They simply said I love you and I’m praying. It meant the world.
  3. Another friend would text me from time to time saying “I’m so sorry for what’s happening.” She meant it from her heart. I was sorry, too. Knowing someone else understood and felt bad for what we were going through helped me recognize it was indeed a tough time and it was ok to want a way out. And a precious family member began texting notes of thanks for what we were doing and providing ongoing encouragement in our endeavors. Her comments of you can do it gave me much-needed strength on days when I needed it most.
  4. Yet another friend began texting short encouragement EVERY SINGLE DAY. And it hasn’t let up. I didn’t have to answer back, and many times didn’t. But every day I would hear her text arrive around 6am and couldn’t wait to read it. And to this day, I wake every day to the text tone going off to say good morning. This began in early April. Now that’s a faithful friend!
  5. This same friend also introduced me to the importance of repetition. When I would share something positive, she would respond “Good. Good.” At first I thought it was just her manner of expression. But as time went on I realized what that repetition did; it made me take note. It made me rethink what she had said. So the first “good” was her expression of joy that something positive had occurred. But the second “good” was for me. It was like hearing God say “Yes, it’s very good indeed. See, I am with you and things will improve one day.” I have now incorporated this very simple repetition technique myself, hoping it will be an encouragement to others.
  6. Our family tragedy necessitated my husband and me moving 150 miles away for three and a half months. Every few weeks one or both of us would return to Orlando to mow the lawn, get some down time, or just to make sure the house was still standing. As you can imagine, we never had any food in the house. A dear friend and sister in Christ offered to provide us a meal whenever we were next in town. Again, my pride didn’t want to say yes. But my spirit knew this was a gift from God. So one day I let her know we were returning later that week and would love a meal. She texted back giving me a choice of three meals to choose from. (How great was that!!!). And the she asked for a delivery date and time. She arrived as planned with a meal and an embrace. Her kindness carried us through for days.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NCV), Jesus speaking:

“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

Then the good people will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?”

Then the King will answer, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.”

There are plenty of ways to be God’s hands to others in very practical ways and there are plenty of people who need just what you can offer: a meal, a kind word, a hand-written note or store-bought card, a babysitter for an evening, a short text message, prayer-prayer-and more prayer, a ride somewhere, or an offer to do some errands. Ways to help are limitless.

I am immensely grateful to those who have assisted and continue to assist as we walk toward our new normal. I hope you all know how much your acts of love meant to us and how much we love and appreciate you.

Mimi