This past Sunday, Chaplain Diane, (at my dad’s care facility) said something profound. She said, “Do you ever think about that moment when you will be face to face with Jesus? Do you ever wonder what He might ask you, or what you might talk with Him about?" She continued, “I think that the question He will ask us is this, 'Have we learned to love?' Because, really, that is what it all boils down to, right?” Yes! Gold. I had never thought of that before. She is so right. As followers of Christ, we should be known by our love. Above all we are to love our neighbor. They will know us by our love. Wow. This ties in perfectly with our guest blog post below. For whatever reason, when I read this post last month, it struck me. I saved it, asked permission from the family, and think it fits perfectly with the holiday season that is upon us.
A little background about this amazing woman who lives at the same care facility as my dad. Her name is Marie and oh my goodness, for a woman who is unable to speak anymore, her voice is reaching so many people with her blog that her children have created, www.meditationsofmymomsheart.com.
From the about section on the site: Mom began keeping a journal after a friend gave her a book with blank pages. She begins each entry with a personal prayer about what was going on in our lives at the time. It’s interesting to see the events she describes through her eyes since they often involve our own lives at the time. (Sorry, Mom!) She generally follows that with a “Meditation Thought” which is almost just a verse or two from the Bible that she apparently chose at random. She then writes down what she perceived God was teaching her in this prayer time. (That’s the part we are publishing here.) The power of the Holy Spirit’s teaching is palpable in the pages. It’s amazing how relevant the entries are even up to 40 years later. (The journals cover the mid-70’s all the way up to the early-2000’s.) I initially put the dates she wrote the entries on the first few I typed and then decided there was no reason to do so since they are as applicable today as the day they were written so I stopped.
The Lord put it on my heart some time ago to publish these entries but I had a few false starts and, to be honest, plain old procrastination. Mom self-published a small book of the meditations some years ago and that little book has blessed so many that we are excited to share this wisdom with others. (We have mom’s permission.)
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Love is giving when you long to keep, love is a gentle word when you are feeling surly, love is doing a task you dislike because it is pleasing to another. Love is not easy: responding to love is easy. This is why the giving of love is a sign of discipleship: it is out of the ordinary.
Your joy comes in the thrill of a response to your giving – perhaps the response is long-delayed. Nevertheless love is the most powerful, persuasive force in the universe, for God is love and God is Creator and Lord. What is God’s nature is more powerful than any other nature – be it selfish man or evil spirits.
Make love your aim, make love your method, make love your primary expression, whatever is required – whether it be thought, word, deed or worship.
You need not feel love to be loving in the name of the Lord.
Soften, mellow, cling to Me.
I am your strength and shape, you see.
I need your love,
But your love needs Me.
Seek to follow the form I reveal in a thousand ways:
Do not let tendrils of your life
Shoot out into the world where they will be trampled, or cut off from your Support.
I need every vibrant part of you to be close
That I may nourish, protect and cherish all you are, and all you hope to be.
The purpose of your being,
The joy you seek,
All peace and love desired
Can mature and grow in just one place:
In the temple of your heart, entwined in the softness of my love,
The rightness of my way,
The strength of Truth –
Let us be so close that none can pry apart the separate strands of your life and of Mine.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.