My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘mother’

That Kind of Woman…

 I’ve always wanted to be one of those women like my mother was.  In fact, pretty much my entire adult life has been spent trying to figure out how to be her.  You see, my mom was one of those women that are so rare.  She had that “quiet and gentle spirit” that the Bible speaks about.  She was loved by all: I never once heard anybody at anytime say anything negative about her.  She was always calm, no matter what.  I never, ever heard her say one negative thing about anyone. 

For example, there was this one woman in our church growing up.  She had really bad arthritis, the kind where her fingers looked mangled.  She was absolutely the hardest person to be around.  She was extremely negative all the time.  However, my mother agreed to drive her to and from her doctor’s appointments.  My mother actually seemed to enjoy her time with “Miss Emma”. 

I want to be that way.  I want to be content, no matter my circumstances.  I want to take joy in everything I do…without grumbling.  The problem is, that is not my personality naturally and I don’t know HOW to be that way.

1 Peter 3:3-5, speaking to women, says:

3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

That really, really is convicting to me.   And really, really impossible for me to attain.  You see, I’ve never been that kind of woman.  I’ve never been called gentle or had someone refer to my quiet spirit.  But I really want to be that woman.  So, I’ve asked God to help me in this area. 

Recently, I’ve had some success in this area.  I realize it is all God’s work, and God’s alone.  But He has helped me keep quiet lately when I was upset and stressed.  He has helped me tame my tongue.  However, I realize that this is definitely a work in progress.  And it will take a long, long time.  But, Lord willing, maybe one time I will be that kind of woman.  And one day someone will tell me I remind them of  my mother, or even better, that I remind them of Christ.

Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
       but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Praise You in the Storm…

Once, when I was around 11 or 12 years old, my mother was going to the grocery store.  I really, really didn’t want to go so I begged my mom to let me stay at home alone.  Now this wasn’t something that they allowed often, but my parents were just starting to let me stay alone from time to time.  Because it was only going to be for around an hour, my mother decided to let me do it.

My mom had been gone around 20 minutes when a really big, nasty freak storm hit our area.  I grew up in Redlands, California, and anyone from there could tell you that rain is a pretty rare event.  It is on the edge of the desert so we wouldn’t get rain for months on end.  However, sometimes when it decided to rain, it would do so with a vengeance.

This was one of the times.  Within a few minutes the winds started blowing, then howling.  There was lightening and thunder booming.  Then there was massive rain.  Then the hail came.

Our dog, Kasey, was terrified of storms.  Probably because there had only ever been a few in his whole life.

Kasey immediately started panicking, which threw me into a full-fledged panic as well.  We both decided that under the table would be a real good place to hang out.  I don’t think I’ve been more scared than that but a few times in my life.

I remember running to my mother and pretty much throwing myself at her when she got home.  She, of course, was very upset that I was so scared and upset.  I was just glad to have my mother there to comfort me and make it all better with some of her homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Today it is storming like crazy here in Alabama.  It reminded me of that day and others in my life when there have been storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and such.  Growing up in California I have seen my share of earthquakes, and living my adult life in Alabama, there have been many times tornadoes have gone through the area.

Nahum 1:3 says, “…The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”

If we are fearful of the weather, doesn’t it make more sense to be even more fearful of the Maker of the weather?

It is God who causes the weather.  He determines where it will rain and where it won’t rain.  He created the weather and He controls the weather.  In Amos 4:7 God tells us, “ I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered.“

There are many other examples of God sending or withholding weather for various reasons:

Jonah 1:4 – But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Job 37:13 – He causes it to come, Whether for correction,  Or for His land, Or for mercy.

Exodus 9:23-29 – And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.  So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

Deuteronomy 28:24 – The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

1 Samuel 12:18 – So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

And that is just what I found in a five-minute search.

Clearly, God is in control of the weather.  He creates the storms and then He sends the wind that blows them away.

So what do we do with this?  We praise God for the weather!  We marvel in the beautiful snowflakes (that He so rarely sends to Alabama!).  We are thankful for the wonderful rain that waters the trees and plants and flowers (all also His handiwork) so they will bloom.  We trust in Him during the drought, knowing that His will is being carried out.  We are amazed with the long, vivid streaks of lightening that pierce the sky.  And we sing to our Great God!

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius….

Everyone who knows me well knows that I love music. My life is lived to a soundtrack and I can pretty much tell you what was going on in my life and what I was feeling when I hear a song from way-back-when. My friend Kathryn and I used to break out into song at the drop of a hat during most any situation. She is one of the few people in my life who have the same “soundtrack to my life” kind of thing going on.

A couple of days ago, Bella and I decided to watch the movie “Hair”. It’s a pretty old movie (made in 1979) and I used to LOVE to watch it. I know my mom didn’t ever watch it because if she had, she would have never let me watch it – mostly due to some of the topics (and lyrics) in the movie. Aside from the naughty things in the movie…that movie really calls to me on a base level. I think it’s the wild-child freedom of the 60’s it portrays. That’s why music is such a part of my life. I am a flower-child born just a little too late. I have always been a free spirit…just a little different from everyone around me. I have a tendency to be a little crazy. I know a lot of people around don’t know that about me, because I’ve learned to hide it pretty well when the situation calls for it. But ask the people who know me best and they’ll agree. There’s just something not right about me.

Looking back at my life, I can see God’s grace in this too…

First off, being such a free-spirit, I definitely needed a firm hand on me growing up. God chose the perfect family to adopt me. It consisted of a father who was a nice straight-laced auditor and a quiet, demure, godly mother (think June Cleaver only even sweeter!). Even though I was raised in California, it was in a small, upscale, sleepy little town called Redlands. We walked to school past the orange groves, came home to home-baked chocolate chip cookies, and played in the back alley until my dad whistled for us to come home for dinner. Sometimes my quiet parents probably wondered what they had gotten into with this lively, free spirit that they brought home.

Second, God gave me a love of music. It always grounded me back where I needed to be when I was flitting around. It makes me happier when I’m sad, it calms me, it excites me. When God drew me to Him, music definitely taught me deep truths and allowed me to worship Him with wild abandon. It even gave me a place to plug in and get to know people via singing in the Adult Choir. There are not many strong memories in my life that don’t include music. I love that I can still hear a song I heard as a child or teenager and I can feel those feelings like it is right now. It gives me a way to remember the important things in my life.

So that being said, I’m going to turn on some music right now. I think a nice, eclectic mix of worship, contemporary Christian, old rock, a smidge of country, and a little sprinkle of pop should do the trick. Who’s ready to dance?

What’s Up?

As usual, my life has been a whirlwind of activity and I can’t seem to slow down long enough to even blog about anything. So here I go again with another post that encompasses a couple of three months of stuff.

November:

Bella and I took a long overdue trip to visit family in California the week of Thanksgiving. We had an amazing time visiting with my Father, Stepmother, Brother, and Niece, as well as spending a fantastic day with my bestest friend growing up.

Bella and I actually had a really early morning flight out, so we were able to go on over and spend the night in Atlanta. We had a nice drive over and fun just hanging out at the hotel. We were able to leave the car parked at the hotel for the duration of our trip (bonus: the hotel ended up not charging us for the week of parking either!).

We got to California and got to catch up with my parents. We even ran by my old favorite donut shop to pick up a few munchies!

Just a few highlights from our trip:

• We spent a day with my brother working at his church’s food pantry. Since it was the week of Thanksgiving they were giving away whole turkeys with all the fixings. They had a wonderful church service with lunch and communion too.

• We spent a day with my best friend growing up, Brenda, and her husband and son. We went into Palm Springs and got to see the sites and even ride the tram up to the top of the mountain. There was a lot of snow and even more wind, brrrrrrrrrrr. It was so much fun.

• My brother, Bella, my niece Dani, her boyfriend, Kenny, and I went to visit my mom’s grave. This is only the second time that I have gotten to go see it. It was a special time for us all.

• We took my stepmom out to Red Robin for her birthday and also got to tour the museum of natural history. I held a snake and my brother held a huge cockroach (yuck).

December:

While we were in California, we found out that Bud was being hired by Hyundai Power Transformers USA! It was very exciting but also a bit scary because it meant he would be going to South Korea for some training (more on that in January).

We had an extremely busy, but fun, December with the usual holiday preparations, the annual Christmas Celebration at church, which Bella and I sang in, and trying to get Bud ready to travel.

We had a wonderful family Christmas. It was strange for Joey not to be living at home and figuring out the logistics of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Bud was off for two weeks at Christmas, so he used that time to try to get a lot of stuff done at the house.

Towards the end of December, Bud finally convinced his dad to go to the emergency room for several health issues that were getting progressively worse. His dad, Charlie, was admitted into the hospital where he was eventually diagnosed with colon cancer. He spent over a week getting various treatments to prepare him for a colostomy. That actually helped him feel so much better. That was followed by outpatient surgery to get a port placed in his chest in preparation for chemotherapy. The plan is to do radiation and chemotherapy for 8-10 weeks to shrink the grapefruit sized tumor so that it can then be removed. After the tumor is removed, the doctors will then do a surgery on his hernia. The goal is to get him better and able to walk more comfortably and have a much better quality of life.

January:

Yay 2011! Maybe this year won’t fly by quite so fast as 2010.

Bud left for Korea on January 8th. He was in a group of six that was the first wave of people going over to train. He started out in the Winding Department but has since been moved over to the Core Department. He is trying to learn the language and to get used to the food. We have learned that Skype is a wonderful thing!

Auburn – SEC Champions and 2010 National Champions…enough said!!!

Bella and I have been busy helping to care for Charlie and having the house a “girls-only” zone. That is changing this weekend, as Joey has decided to move back in. He is going to go back to school, plus still being a temp at Hyundai Motors leaves him unsure of his job status from week to week. All in all, this will most likely be a really good move for us all.

Bella and I are going to the Morningview Women’s Conference this weekend. I really look forward to learning a lot and have a great time fellowshipping with other women from church. I am taking a MIT class this semester and working my way through J.C. Ryle’s “Holiness” [fantastic book]. Bella and I have also decided to start a Bible study together. We will be picking one out in the next week or so, so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know.

As usual life is busy…but life is good.

Mom, Momma, Mommy…

I have been blessed with four Mothers in my life. Most people get one but any of you who know me well know that I am “special” and seem to always be different from everyone else. So, I get four of them. The good thing of it is they have all four meant different things to me and played different roles in my life. This is a little late for Mother’s Day but here it goes, in the order that I met them:

Ruth

Ruth

1. Ruth ~ Ruth was my very first mother. She was the one who gave me life. I’ve known Ruth pretty much since I was conceived. Being as I was put up for adoption right after birth, I didn’t know Ruth again until I was an adult…around 30 years old. That was the point in my life that I decided to find my birth mother and get to know her again. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and am so grateful that she decided to have me and that she decided to let me go. It was the most sacrificial thing anyone has done for me.  I also get my LOVE for books from Ruth and she and I have fun discussing them.

My family in 1965

My family in 1965

2. Fran ~ Fran was my second mother. She was the one who adopted me. I knew my mom from the time I was adopted at about two months old until she died when I was nineteen. It was way too short of a time. She was the one who slept in my bed with me when I got my wisdom teeth out and got dry socket. She was the one who woke up every few hours to give me pain medicine or hold my hair back when I got sick. She changed my diapers and explained to me all about that “time of the month” stuff. We laughed together a lot and cried some too. She is also the one mother of the four that I never got to know as an adult and I regret that tremendously. She is also the one that I still miss every day of my life. She definitely had the kind and gentle spirit that I keep trying to locate within me.

Mike and Buddy-2007

Mike and Buddy-2007

3. Margaret “Mike” ~ Mike is my third mother. She is also my mother-in-law. I have known Mike since I was 15 years old. We had a rough time right after Bud and I got married, but we got along much better once the grandchildren came. Mike is hilarious and at 78 can still tell dirty jokes that make me blush. We laugh a lot when we are together. Mike and I have had some fun adventures together. Especially when she had quintuple bypass in 2007…but I won’t divulge those stories at this time. Mike has three daughters already but she has always counted me as her fourth daughter. No matter what, I’m one of hers.

Louava with my Dad and Grandmother

Louava with my Dad and Grandmother

4. Louava ~ Louava is my fourth mother. She is also my step-mother, although I don’t really like that term. Step-mothers get a really bad rap most of the time but mine is fantastic. My dad and Louava have been married for 24 years (they got married a year after my mom died). Louava is one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met. We get along great and she has always been wonderful to me. My dad was just pining away after my mom died and when he and Louava started dating, he just seemed to start living again. Louava is one of those rare people that treats everyone in her family alike. Her biological children and her step-children are the same, as are all her grandchildren. She is also one of those rare people I know that no matter how long between seeing each other or talking to each other, it’s like we just talked the day before. I am truly blessed to know her.

The Letter (or What’s Really Important)….

When my mother was dying, I went to visit her in California. We both knew at that point that it was the last time we would ever see each other alive. As such, it was extremely hard for us to communicate what we wanted/needed to say to each other without breaking down and crying. My parent’s pastor at the time suggested that we write letters to each other; so that’s what we did.

After my mother died, my dad returned the letter I had written to my mother to me. I also had the letter she had written to me. That letter has been one of my most precious possessions. It is just one page, front and back. The handwriting is hard to read because my mom was so weak when she wrote it. It doesn’t even look much like her handwriting. There are also big water spots that blur the writing scattered over the page. I’m not sure now which of these tear marks are hers and which are mine.

I always kept the letter in a little wooden box along with my letter to my mother and other really special precious things that probably have no value to anyone else in the world but me. So imagine my surprise and dismay when I looked in the box and the letter wasn’t there. I looked everywhere. I tore my whole bedroom up. I looked through every Bible cover I owned just in case I put it in there. I was devastated and finally just had a big, fat cry. Joey and Bud were home at the time and both were upset by my reaction.

For the past six to eight months, I have just tried to forget about the letter. I had prayed and prayed for God to show me where it was. But He didn’t. It was gone. Some evil person had come into my bedroom and stolen it for some unknown reason. I would never get to read it again. Every time I thought about the letter I would get upset. It was almost like losing my mother all over again. So…I would just try to forget about it.

Two weekends ago I decided to clean out my bedroom closet. My poor closet is pretty tiny and crammed full to the hilt. I have to change out clothes between my bedroom closet and the closet in the living room by season. My closet doesn’t just house clothes but also purses, shoes, luggage, journals, and bible studies. I had neglected to clean out my closet the last year, so it was about to burst at the seams.

I dedicated a whole Saturday to cleaning the closet. I didn’t even get dressed in the morning so I couldn’t trick myself into doing something else. I had to be done and today was the day. The first thing I decided to do was organize the two shelves on either side over the clothes. The journals and bible studies had started out on one of the lower shelves, but I decided to move them up to the top shelf since I didn’t need to grab them easily as I was dressing each day.

After the top shelf had been cleaned up of all the junk residing there, I started moving bible study books and journals. Of course, as usual, I picked up way more than I could realistically move. And dropped a whole stack. So I had to climb down off of the chair I was using for a ladder and bend down and start picking up books. As I picked up one of the bible study books, two letters fell out. And guess what they were? One was THE LETTER. The second one was the letter Ruth, my biological mother, had written me about the day I was born.

I was ecstatic. I stopped then and there and told God thank you! I also probably did a much better job cleaning out my closet because I realized what was really important and it wasn’t all that junk in my closet.

It’s funny when you finally realize what is important. A line in the song Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the one I love.” That is so me! Probably so you, too. I am so easily distracted by the things of this world. And this just brought me right back to God. Right back to His goodness and mercy. Right back to His holiness and justice. Right back to what is important. Our love for each other.  A dying mother’s love for her daughter and that daughter’s love for her mother. God’s love for us and our love for God.

And all I can think is God is so good….all of the time!

Legacy of an Adopted Child…

This is a poem that someone once shared with me. It sums it up well.

Once there were two women
Who never knew each other
One you do not remember
The other you call mother
Two different lives
Shaped to make yours one
One becoming your guiding star
The other became your sun.
The first gave you life
The second one taught you to live in it
The first gave you a need for love
The second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality
The other gave you a name
One gave you the seed of talent
The other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions
The other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up –
It was all she could do
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me through your tears
The age-old questions
Through the years;
Heredity or environment
Which you are the product of?
Neither, my darling – neither
Just two different kinds of love.