My Sweet Mama is now gone from me forever

Sunset on the beach at Crystal Cove, Ca

Every year, around the time of our anniversary, Clay and I gather all our children to celebrate family day. We feast together, share in our love and then spend hours of serious commemoration of all the ways we have seen the fingerprints and faithfulness of God in our lives that year. And so, at the last moment, we were able to get all of us reasonable tickets to California where the boys are, to celebrate our history, one more year. It is a day of great import to each of us and our souls, sharing together in God's faithfulness each year in our lives--a day to leave memorial stones for others to see, and to worship Him.

A two bedroom apartment at the beach was our house of worship. Off to bed after our flights, before our day of celebration would dawn.

At 5 a.m, Friday morning, Sarah crept quietly into our darkened bedroom and said, "There was a call on your cell phone in the living room a few minutes ago."

My brother had called, "Mom just passed away and I wanted you to know."

Waiting each day, wondering when it would be, I was anticipating my mama passing from this life into the presence of Jesus.

Now, it was final, there would be no more opportunities for words of life between us, no sweet caresses against squishy warm cheeks, no putting to rest any untimely issues, no more moments to bless or take away curses. Her opportunity to live a story was now over. This thought entered my mind. Others began to push their way in---

A week before, my family and friends had cleaned my home, placed china on our tables, placed flowers into vases and cooked our homemade food--we had prepare for friends who were coming to our home to be blessed.

I was wondering, if God who helped me to be able to conceive of "preparation for loved ones", the one who said he "was going to prepare a place for me in heaven to receive me", had prepared a welcome committee that morning for my mom. Perhaps my dad would be there, my oldest brother, her mom and dad and maybe even her grandparents. I liked thinking of Jesus preparing for a welcome for my mama. It made me smile to think about her feeling well again, smiling, hugging, seeing those who had gone before her who had shared in her life and loved her.

Memories began to flood my heart, the birthdays were always documented--the trail of pennies from my bedroom to a pile of presents when I awakened, that stands out from all the rest. Lighting candles each evening and putting on music and painting on bright red lipstick to prepare for the welcome, as my dad came home from a hard day at work. Christmases, Thanksgiving feasts, delectable homemade food in general and the multitudes of times we had girl dates together, the ways she served me as an asthmatic child, singing songs to me in the dark nights of difficult breathing, comforting, the way she gently played finger games with me in church to pass away the long minutes of the sermons, Her willingness to listen to me many hours throughout the passages of childhood, the little welcome signs that greeted me every time I came home from college or for holidays.The moments she invested, the thoughtful ways she mothered, for these I will always be deeply grateful.

Nathan and me, cherishing moments together on the beach at sunset.

A new thought came to me, "How very wonderful for me to get the news here in California, at the beach, with my sweet family, my four kids and Clay, where those I loved the very most could be together. And a place where I was not accosted by the demands of normal life, phones, dishes, duties, but where I could be away to put to rest this history of me and my mama. How considerate my sweet Father was to my very demanding life.

What surprised me were the demons that crept into my brain and heart. They raised their ugly heads and voices to remind me of issues that could never be addressed again or put to rest. I felt some deeply painful fingerprints on my heart, whose imprints will be there forever. I am an adult on the outside, but inside, my heart is that of a child, the heart that bears all the goods and bads, the memories, the impressions, and it was there that daunting pain raised it's head and whispered of the wounds  inside where no one could see.

And so a part of the weekend, in the midst of family day with all 4 children and a precious new friendship for our family, and the sharing of life and meals and the ponderings of God's faithfulness to us,and planning the timing for the memorial services, I spent hours on the beach, pondering, reviewing what was there, observing what remained, in the hours between 6 a.m. and 8 each morning miles and miles on the almost abandoned beach, I walked through the hallway of the remains of my pain, and found His presence speaking to me there.

And the grace that we share in Jesus is that His redeeming love renders the the voices of darkness silent and brings the sure comfort of His healing touch.

These words He left me, "Honor your mother." "Love covers over a multitude of sin. Love is the perfect bond of unity." "Love one another." "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.

But, sometimes we need  time to hear His voice, to gain His perspective and to see His way. Healing is not always instantaneous and so He had already planned that I would need this, and  prearranged for me to be on a beautiful beach, away, to put to rest the legacy of this heritage--while helping me to clearly understand, that now, I must be more intentional than ever about the legacy I will one day leave--for all women, will leave a legacy--one that is intentional or one that is passive, but nonetheless remains.

And in this moment, I realized how definitively God had created this story to give me a passion to help other mothers understand the eternal impact of their lives. This relationship of mother to child matters deeply, personally, and will potentially have an impact forever.

And so I pondered, how do I want to leave a legacy? What legacy do I want to leave? What legacy will I leave?

My arena to bring life--Nathan, Clay, Sarah, me, Joy and Joel--Family Day 2011

And so, I find that because of my own life's history and the ways He has placed His call on my life, He has given me such a joyful heart-filled opportunity. I know more deeply than ever, that a mother only has one life to tell a story to her children of His grace. I understand more clearly, only these moments today, a gift,  to face life head on with faith, finding strength from Him to be a champion for His kingdom. Today, I have the seconds left to bless my children, believe in their dreams, give love to their hearts, speak words that will remain forever. I want to live fully engaged in all that He has planned for me--to give as generously with all of His treasures today, because one day I will have no more time to sing, to love, to worship and to bring life. And so in the living of this day, and seeing my moments as gifts of opportunity to bring life and light, I will choose to face this day with courage, strength, hope, grace, love and a deeply grateful heart.

This day with my baby girl attending her first college class, when Clay will meet with a surgeon to find out when he will need to have  his surgery and what it will mean, Nathan needs my help in his projects asap, all the bags need to be unpacked, travel to Texas arranged, but in this day, I will rejoice for the life that is left to me to invest today, for eternity and for His kingdom.

But always, I will carry my mama with me in my heart, and remember her last words, spoken a couple of months ago, "I love you. I am proud of you." A legacy of life inserted in the midst of her dying--that I can dwell on when I need a place of her touch to revisit.