Doughnuts and Grape Jelly

As I walked in from the laundry, I caught a glimpse of the picture of the old bearded gentlemen praying over his bowl of soup.  And for a fleeting moment I wanted to call you to tell you that after several months of not having a home he finally has a place on the wall in my kitchen.  Right above the bench I purchased when I worked for a garden furniture company.

You remember how he always hung above Grandma’s little kitchen table as if he were watching over and praying for all of us.  I never thought about that picture much as a child.  I just knew it was there.  It was a constant just like Grandma and You.  I don’t remember exactly when you gave it to me but I’ve always cherished it.  Now that it has a home again in my kitchen it feels right.

 I look at it and memories are suspended in time, memories that connect the three of us.  The bitter sweetness of it all washes over me.  I sigh wishing for just a spot of time for the three of us to sit around that little table sharing doughnuts smothered with grape jelly and laughing at something nonsensical that no one else would understand.

I’m hoping that God has a little table reserved for us in heaven with doughnuts and grape jelly.

 

Well, it has been a while hasn’t it?  This is my first post in over a year.  Today is the first in a long time that I have wanted to sit down and write.  You never know what will cause the spark.  I had just put a load in the dryer and was returning to the kitchen to finish the dishes I had started when I caught a glimpse of the picture. It gave me an odd sense of joy and melancholoy at the same time and for a brief moment I thought I should talk to Mom.  But of course in such moments I immediately remember that I can’t. So, sometimes I talk to her in written form.  I also did this a few weeks ago when I was sitting at my work table and happend to look out the window and across the yard at her home. I was prompted to write a note then on some scrap paper so I wouldn’t forget the thought.  Someday soon I’ll share that with you too. 

My family is important to me and I was very close to both my mom and my  grandmother.  The picture was my grandmother’s given to me by my mom when grandma passed away.  I remember sitting at that table many times when I stayed with grandma.  She loved to put jelly on her doughnuts. 

I don’t know what sharing this with you today means, but maybe it means I’m ready to write again.  For so long I have felt blocked and couldn’t find the joy in sharing words with you.  I would think of things and even “write” them in my head but didn’t put pen to paper or pursue them.  I just wasn’t ready for some reason.  I think I felt lost and couldn’t find my sense of place.  I know I’ve needed to grieve and heal.  Life, of course, has it’s ups and downs for all of us and we have different seasons that shape us.  Sometimes a hard season or two can cause us to retreat.  But, eventually if we hold on we see the light again and healing begins.  

Thank you for reading,

Teresa

Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the Father, in truth and love. 2 John 3

 

This is Easter Morn

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)

As many of you know my mother wrote poetry.  She was never formally published but I wish we had pursued that while she was alive. She was in a poetry writing group for a while and had a few published in a couple of newspapers.  She also generously shared poems with others when she felt a poem had a message that could encourage the person in whatever circumstance they found themselves. If you have a handwritten copy of one of her poems I hope you keep it as a treasure.

I promised her when she was in hospice that I was going to see that her poetry was published for the whole world to read.  I have published a few on my blog, but I have plans, God willing to do a book of her poetry.  Most of her poems were written in the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties.  They were actually quite good; some, a little rough around the edges, needing some final editing.

In 1975 during Holy Week, on Good Friday, she wrote an Easter Poem and titled it Hallelujah. Because of the repeating refrain of This is Easter Morn I thought about changing the title of the poem but decided that the whole concept of Easter is definitely one big Hallelujah and that must be how she felt about it, so I left her title. I’d like to share it with you:

Mom's Easter Poem

Happy Easter! I hope you find a church and attend on Easter Sunday to Worship our Risen Savior!

Celebrating in Grace,

Teresa

If you haven’t read it yet, I shared a whole series about losing my Mom to Alzheimer’s. I shared a few of her poems throughout the series. You can click here to check it out.

calm sky

 

Into Your Hands

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

When he had said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

cross-sunset-sunrise-hill-70847.jpeg

The verse we read in Luke 23:46 as part of the Easter story is also referenced in Psalm 31:5. Several sources I came across while researching indicated that the phrase “into your hands I commit my spirit” was how the Jewish people ended their evening prayers.

I would imagine that like other Jewish children, Jesus was taught this prayer as a young child. It was a familiar practice that was an act of trust. To commit something of value to another is not a small thing.  By definition commit means to entrust something to someone; it also means to put into a place for safekeeping. (Merriman Webster).

By committing their spirit to God each evening they were submitting their soul for safekeeping.  What a beautiful picture of complete submission to the will of the father. We know that Jesus had prayed on the Mount of Olives asking for this cup to be taken from him but he surrendered by concluding his prayer with “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). This too would line up with committing his spirit to Father God.

Then, we have the account in Mark 15:34 of Jesus crying out asking God “why have you forsaken me?” According to Mark, this was at 3 O’clock.  Luke’s account begins at noon, followed by three hours of darkness and then right before Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Luke mentions that it is 3 O’clock.  This would imply that only moments after asking why God had forsaken him, Jesus then acknowledges that he is committing his spirit to the father.

In his darkest hour, burdened by the weight of my sin and the sins of the whole world, sins that had not yet been committed, sins that God in his holiness could not look upon, Jesus felt the crushing despair of complete and utter abandonment.  But yet, he still trusted that his spirit would be safe with the father.

His loud proclamation of “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” tells us all we need to know about God’s faithfulness.  It tells us that a daily practice of committing our spirit (soul) to him is how we develop trust in him, it is how we surrender to his will, not ours, and it is how we can face our own mortality with confidence.  When the time comes, just as Jesus did, we can breathe our last breath knowing that we will be united with our Father eternally.

Maybe you are facing insurmountable trials that are shaking your very foundation.  Maybe you feel that God has turned his back on you and your world has gone dark. Maybe you are crushed under the weight of despair.  I urge you to remember that if you are a born again believer you have hope and even when it seems that all is lost, you can confidently say, “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” You can trust him with the safekeeping of your soul.

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior I can’t think of a better time than during the Easter season.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Committing with Grace,

Teresa

The Next Right Thing

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24

I’ve been all twisted up in decision fatigue recently. Considering my place, my purpose, and how that relates to my husband, my writing, my family, my health, my church and my community.  I encountered a situation that was a relentless drain on my spirit. Some things were said that were out of line and it hurt deeply. Being the melancholy type that I am and also one who tends to overthink things I replayed the scene over a few times in my mind.

It was exhausting. I remember telling my husband, who is my biggest champion, that I wasn’t even angry, although I may have had reason to be, but that instead I was just done. Over it. I was too tired and weary to handle the stress of the situation.  So, I decided to just be me, do life in my corner, trusting God for the outcome and being a helpmate to my husband which is my first calling and the most important relationship in my life after God.

I’m sure that it’s not over yet and there may be more to come. I’m sure that emotions will run the gamut from angry to sad and everything in between. But, I’m also sure that I don’t have to stay on that emotional roller coaster. I don’t have to have all the answers.  I just need to do the next right thing.

1.next right thing

So what is the next right thing? Well, I’m so glad you asked.  For me, the next right thing has been reading Emily P Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing. It is a game changer.   It actually does not officially release until April 2, so you have a few days left to pre-order and receive some pretty cool bonuses.  Here is a link if you want to check it out:  http://nextrightthingbook.com/

I was privileged to be on the launch team and help promote this book.  I had actually already pre-ordered my book back in November when Emily first mentioned it in her Newsletter. When the invitation came to join the launch team I jumped at the chance.  Even if I wasn’t on the launch team I’d tell you to read this book. All of her books, actually.

Emily’s writing style is beautifully lyrical but at the same time, it is everyday practicality.  It’s like sitting down to have a conversation with a kindred spirit. A friend who understands you on the deepest level and will help you see the best parts of your soul. She will guide you through the decision making process, not by telling you exactly what to do, but by showing you the strategies that can help you find the answers that fit you.  She also reassures you that you don’t have to see the whole picture all at once or have everything figured out.  It is ok to take it one step at a time and just “do the next right thing in love.”

By doing the next right thing you are giving yourself permission to let go of the anxiety-producing over thinking that makes your head spin in circles.  The cycle that keeps you awake at night, gnaws at your insides and tells you that you’ll never be enough.  This hit home to me in the chapter called Don’t Give Your Critic Words.  In this chapter, Emily gives you permission to “refuse to give the critic words”.  I can tell you that was very liberating for me to read.  I had already decided I was done trying to please the critic, but what I hadn’t fully realized was that as long as I was rehashing the scene I was still giving the critic words.  “The critic only lives if we let her live.”

when we don’t admit or become aware of our current life situation, we will continue to have expectations of ourselves and of other people as if things are as they’ve always been when, in fact, they are not. When we’re unaware of where we are, we can’t possibly make informed decisions about where we want to go.  This leads to an inability to discern our next right things. –Emily P Freeman

There are so many treasures in this book.  Many of them are simple practices that are based in common sense.  Yet, they are things that we easily overlook when we get caught up in making plans and choosing what’s best. We make it more complicated than it has to be. That’s where Emily comes along as your guide to gently lead you through the process.

The chapters in the book range from Becoming a Soul Minimalist to Looking for Arrows, Being Where You Are to Wearing Better Pants and Looking for God and Coming Home to Yourself. Throughout the entire book Emily gives a clear path to take one step at a time; A path that will free us to slow down and be fully present and allow the journey to unfold. Instead of worrying about the outcome you will learn how to rest and just do the next right thing.

Finding Grace In The Next Right Thing,

Teresa

54228738_10105001358170488_5785725718314876928_n

The Greatest Love

 

 

As Christmas draws near I am realizing just how much not having my Mom with me this year hurts. I know I am not alone in missing someone.  Several of you who read have also lost loved ones and you know that tug and pull of celebrating while grieving.

We will make new memories this year but the air will be palpable with longing for those who are not present.  One of the new memories for our family will be taking Roses to my mom’s grave in honor of what would have been her and Dad’s 59th wedding anniversary.  He had been giving her roses for the past several years.

I think that is what hurts the most – knowing that my Dad has lost his bride.  He married her on Christmas Day in 1959 and he loved her well through all the years they had.   I remember the week she was in Hospice he held her hand and told her that he had loved her for 58 years and would never stop loving her.  I know she heard him because she tried to tell him that she loved him. We heard the word love.  It was one of the last moments that we knew she was still somewhat aware of us. A moment we will treasure.

cropped-little-house-football-apartment-036.jpg

Two hearts entwined; inseparable LBT

Christmas is Love.  The greatest love ever given to us was the birth of Jesus.  It is because of his love that we are capable of loving.  It is because of his love that my parents were able to celebrate so many years together and raise their children to know Jesus.  I know my mom loved Jesus.  She would tell me that she wanted to see Jesus. In the midst of the Alzheimer’s she still knew who Jesus was and she would talk about him.

This year she is celebrating Christmas with Jesus. She is having the ultimate Christmas and so even though I miss her terribly and know that Christmas will be bittersweet this year I am rejoicing with her that she is experiencing the greatest love of all this Christmas.

She has received the gift that was anticipated for so long.  Her long-expected Saviour has arrived.  As we are celebrating the Advent of Christmas, we too can wait expectantly for the Christ-child. We can open our hearts to receive him. He will be our comfort and help us navigate the missing, the longing, the memories and the hope of one day being reunited.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.        1 John 5:11

Hope for the journey,

Teresa