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:

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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.

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Complete

and in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Colossians 2:10 (New Am. Standard)

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My beautiful Ladybug as a young woman dressed in her Sunday best.

Edited from thoughts I put on my phone app October 10, 2018:

I know from a scientific standpoint that it probably wouldn’t make sense to say that a person with Alzheimer’s could, in their final days, be cognizant or whole again. But, I would like to think that the week we spent with Mom in Hospice that she did have an understanding of the things we were telling her and even though she wasn’t completely alert that somehow she was comprehending.

I know when Dad told her he loved her she responded and tried to tell him she loved him.  I know when my brother’s family were with her she tried her best to sit up and engage with them.   And, when my Aunt Jenny’s name was mentioned she reached up her arms as if to hug her.

I know that she knew when my sister was by her side. It wasn’t until after my sister arrived that she slipped deeper into a sleep state, so I know she was waiting for my sister.  We all had moments with her and I know she was comforted to hear our words of love and affirmation.

The day I was telling her how beautiful she was and how I  was going to see that people read her poetry I know she perked up and understood what I was saying.  I also told her that I was going to do my best to see that all of her family made it to heaven. I feel that she was not just hearing me, but that she was understanding the way she would have before the Alzheimer’s. I think she was fully aware.

I just need to mention that even in the final stages of Alzheimer’s she responded well to us but there were facts missing.  She recognized love, and that we were familiar, but she didn’t always know exactly who we were.  There were many things we’d talk about, but complete comprehension of facts and details was missing.  Those are the things I think God restored to her that final week.  Knowledge of exactly who we were and full comprehension of what everything meant.   Those details that made the love even more special to her.

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 NIV

Science knows a lot, but there is much not known as well.  God knows all things including what science doesn’t know. With him all things are possible and his purpose will be accomplished. So, to me, it makes sense that in my Mom’s final days he could restore her mind and give her those moments of clarity as her loved ones told her their final goodbyes. I’d like to think it was God’s gift to all of us.

She is now completely restored and basking in the Love of her heavenly father. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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A Firm Hand And Tender Mercies

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A few years ago I wrote a list of things I had learned from several influential women in my life and shared it here.  For each of these women, I chose a list of ten things that they had taught me.  One of those women, was, of course, my mother.  Needless to say, she taught me much more than just those ten things.  I was fortunate to have a mother who instilled Christian values in me as well as giving me a great love of daydreaming and using my imagination.  She loved me with a firm hand and tender mercies.

Our relationship was riddled with the usual upsets and imperfections and occasional sass, but I always knew she was a safe place to rest my weary head and unpack my troubled soul.  I remember her praying with me on many occasions. One such occasion was when I accepted Jesus at age ten.  She and my father knelt with me by my bedside.  I remember pouring my heart out in tears as they prayed with me.

I also remember many a late night talk fest where she nurtured my dreams and plans or listened to me wax eloquent about the latest love of my life.  I had quite a few crushes and she always listened with sincerity when I thought I was in love.She was even on board with helping me chase a certain family gospel group around because at 16  I was sure I was gonna marry their son. When I was 17 he married another young girl and broke my heart for about five minutes.  We no longer had to travel all over the countryside to chase a guy, but that didn’t stop our late night talks about anything and everything. She was my biggest cheerleader.

A lot of people have gravitated towards my mom over the years needing her to be their cheerleader.  She is a good listener and a natural born caregiver.  She genuinely loves people and prior to the Alzheimer’s was always taking someone under her wing. It was nothing for her to bring someone into our home and nurse them back to health, or if they weren’t going to get well to bring them comfort in their final days.

I’m sure my mom has never taken a spiritual gifts survey, but I’m also sure that one of her gifts is mercy.  She has always been at her best when helping others.  She used to tell me that when I was old she’d take care of me.  And were it not for the Alzheimer’s I know full well that she would be the first one by my side on the days that the MCTD wears me down. Even so, there are days she looks at me with such tender compassion when she realizes that I’m tired or not feeling well and she talks to me about Jesus.

It has only been over the past few years that I have truly begun to grasp the truth in number seven on her list: helping others is a way to help ourselves.  As I have become her caregiver, and especially, as I see each day how much help she needs with everything it has been a humbling experience.  Caregiving does not come naturally to me.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have the gift of mercy.  I love people; I have compassion for people; I do not want to take care of people. But, I take care of my mom because I love her and because she needs me.

I take care of my mom because she showed me how it’s done. She truly understands what it means to serve others. She understands that sometimes you sacrifice your plans to meet their needs.  And, while it’s still a learning curve I’m beginning to see clearly how helping her is helping me.  It’s helping me be a little less selfish as I put another’s needs ahead of my own; it’s helping me trust that God’s plans really are better than my plans as I reevaluate my dreams; it’s helping me learn to live in the present and savor simple moments as I embrace slow living; it’s helping me accept that there are things I cannot change as I trust God’s provision.  I’m learning to live God’s way, submitting to his firm hand and tender mercies.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

What have you learned from your mother?  I invite you to share her wisdom in the comments!

Thankful for tender mercies and grace,

Teresa

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What I’ve Learned From Watching 7th Heaven

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We just finished 7th Heaven.  All eleven seasons.  For the past few months that is all the TV we have watched. My husband is a great man. He watched the entire show with me without complaint.

It became my therapy of sorts.  It was how I slowed down at the end of the day.  It got me through one of the most stressful seasons in which I’ve lived. It preached to me in ways that sermons and fellowship with others could not. It met a need I had that I still can’t quite put into words.

It was a great season, but now it is over and time to move on, although I will miss checking in on the Camdens.  I do have some take aways  that can be applied to living life well, so I thought I’d share with you a few of the lessons 7th Heaven can teach us all.

1.  Family should be there for you no matter what (and you for them).

2. Family can be anybody that you open your heart and sometimes your door to.

3.  Your secrets are not really a secret, somebody always knows.

4.  Your sins will always find you out (Numbers 32:23).

5.  Forgiveness is a wonderful thing – to receive and to give.

6.  You should not be afraid to take risks and try something new.

7.  You should always honor your commitments and keep your word.

8.  Prayers are always answered; sometimes even the way you hoped.

9.  Helping others is necessary for living a balanced life.

10. Breaking bread around the table with friends and family is therapy, even if it’s just Pizza from your local Pizza parlor.

11. Death is certain and brings pain, but there is healing in the grief process.

12.  We all make mistakes, but we are not defined by the mistakes we have made.

13. Life is beautiful in all it’s messy turned upside down glory.  Especially, in it’s messy upside down glory.

14. Falling in love is wonderful.

15. There is a God who loves us unconditionally and he has a sense of humor.

16. Sometimes you need to go home again.

17. Life is a miracle to be celebrated.

18. When you’ve done all that you can do take a road trip to gain perspective.

19.  Choose to live well.  You do have a choice.

20.  Everything is going to be fine.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be garnered from 7th Heaven, but these seem to be the overriding theme and I for one needed to be reminded of these truths.

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Finding grace in my own 7th Heaven,

Teresa

Linking up with Emily P Freeman of Chatting at the Sky.  Click on over to read what others have learned.

Speaking Hope

I am excited!  If you know me at all, or have been a keen observer of things that pop up on my blog, then you have probably figured out that three of my passions in life are family, decorating and writing.

I have always loved decorating my home and even considered majoring in interior design in college.  I have had a dream for years, at least since my teens, that I would one day write a book.  For many years all I wanted to be was a homemaker.  When I never had children, I still wanted to be at home, but I always felt guilty for having that desire to not work public work as if somehow I had to have children to justify staying at home.

No matter what my work was, or where I was those three things remained constant.  I’m probably the only person I know who moves in and has pictures hung the same night, even before all the boxes are unpacked.  I am constantly decorating in my head and moving furniture is a regular occurrence at our house.

Writing is something that I finally embraced on a fairly regular basis when we moved to Louisville and I began writing for our church devotional booklets, started a writers group and eventually started this blog.

A couple of years ago when we moved back home, I was presented with the chance to be at home and I am still adjusting.  I love being home, but it has been harder than I imagined it would be.  I have all this time to decorate, nurture family and write.  Finding a regular rhythm has been difficult, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to have the time to pursue all my passions at the same time.

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So, why am I excited you may ask?  I’ll tell you.  Two of my favorite bloggers and their father along with their families, have started a new internet adventure called Hope*ologie.  For a small monthly fee you have access to the wisdom they have garnered over the years of doing what they do best.  The father focuses on family, the older sister on the home and the younger sister on quieting the soul.

I have said before that the two sisters are like two halves of me, the best of both worlds.  One speaks to the decorator / homemaker in me and the other to the writer / soul encourager.  Add their father to the mix and he speaks to the part of me that wants family to be a top priority.  To be able to go to one place and tap into all my passions is exciting.

It is so exciting that I wanted to share it with you.  I wanted to introduce you to three people who have made an impact on my life in a positive way.  I was privileged to see them in person last November when we went to The Barn Event.  It was everything I imagined it to be.  That is why I am so excited to join them for Hope*ologie.  Every month will be like a Barn Event from the comfort of my own home.

If you don’t think a subscription website is right for you at this time, no worries, they all three have wonderful blogs with lots of good information.  Their blogs will remain free and as always, they will inspire you.

No one affiliated with Hope*ologie, or their personal websites asked me to advertise for them. I just wanted to because I love them that much.

Speaking Hope In Grace,

Teresa

 

Leaning Into The Curves

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My Aunt, Virginia Miller, better known as Aunt Jenny, leaned into her last curve and made it home on Friday, March 28.  On Tuesday April 2, we gathered and gave her a proper send-off.  It was amazing to see how many lives she touched over the years.  Many of them, like me, people who learned lessons from the way she lived her life. She was the third of my mom’s sisters to go home over the past five months.  A great loss for our family, but what a gain for them to be home with Jesus.

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A few years ago I wrote the following essay about Aunt Jenny, but never published it on my blog, or even shared it with her.  I kept thinking I would send it to her and I wish I had, but as with a lot of things in life, we never quite do all that we mean to.  I know she loved her family well, including her nieces and nephews.  I also know we loved her well.  I want to share the story with you today as a way to remember.

(Written January 10, 2011)

Aunt Jenny is the real deal. A bona fide woman of God. She loves Him. She lives by his book. And She trusts him with everything. I know this because I’ve known her all my life. And I know her family. I know where she’s been and I know where she’s going.

I remember one time we were going somewhere and Aunt Jenny was riding with us. She was in the backseat with my sister and me. We were on a curvy road. I don’t know what I said (I was probably secretly a little scared of the winding road), but it prompted Aunt Jenny to remark that the curves weren’t really all that bad; you just had to lean into them. And she proceeded to do just that.

So, here we were riding in the car, leaning into the curves whether we wanted to or not because Aunt Jenny was. At the time I remember thinking the whole thing was a little silly. I even remember my sister and I laughing about it later. In fact quite a few times over the years it sort of became our mantra – just lean into the curves. Wow, how little did we realize how profound that advice really is.

Now that I’m no longer a silly teenager, well at least no longer a teenager, It turns out Aunt Jenny was right. When riding in cars, if you lean into the curves they don’t seem so bad. They especially didn’t seem so bad a few years later when I had a guy and was in love. Leaning into the curves then was rather fun, but that’s another story.

I’ve come to realize that Aunt Jenny’s advice applies to life. Life throws us a lot of curves and it just works better if you lean into them and ride them out. Sooner or later the road unwinds a little and you can breath again.

I think Aunt Jenny probably knew even then that leaning into the curves is a metaphor for living life. She has had a lot of curves to lean into over the years. She has ridden them out well. With grace and dignity. She taught her children to do the same. She still rides the curves with grace and dignity and so do her children.  There is a gentleness about her in her golden years that reminds me of my grandmother. And those who know me well, know that to equate anybody with grandma is the utmost in status.

I saw a picture of Aunt Jenny on Facebook recently that one of her family had posted. It touched a chord deep inside of me. It was taken during a time when Aunt Jenny was riding out a curve in her life. In the picture she is hugging her son, Jeff, and she has such a sweet expression on her face. You can tell she is holding onto him for dear life as if pouring all her love into him. That’s just the kind of woman she is. That picture, for me, tells the story of Aunt Jenny. It shows her strength and her vulnerability. It shows her grace and her trust. It shows the heritage she is building for her children.

Honestly, it is the perfect picture of how God loves us. I just imagine him holding us for dear life, pouring all his love into us and letting us know that he is leaning with us in the curves.

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Thanks, Aunt Jenny. I love you.

Remembering in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

I Have Been With Family

You may have noticed that I wrote everyday in October and have only posted a few times in November.  In fact it has been 8 days since my last post.

I have been with family.  Which is very important to me.  On November 3rd I lost an Aunt.  And on November 16th I lost another aunt (barely two weeks apart). The one aunt had suffered with her health for several months and God saw fit to heal her by taking her home to be with him.  The other had been declining for a few years and had recently been taken to a nursing home.  She no longer knew the family.  So, God in his mercy, also saw fit to take her home where she too is now healed.

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I find the way we process grief interesting.  Some people process by celebrating the joy they had in the relationship with the one they have lost, others mourn their loss and cry.  Some find comfort in humor.  But almost everyone finds solace in the company of others.

Companionship is something we all need.  It is sad to me that we sometimes wait until we have lost someone close to us to realize that connection is vital. We somehow think that we have time.  But we don’t.  Life is short and people are too important to wait for the visits.

Growing up my cousins and I were together a lot.  We spent time in each other’s homes, we celebrated birthdays together. We played together.  Even when I started dating my now husband we still hung out with my cousins.  One of them and Rocky shared a birthday so we would get together to celebrate. We had many late night game nights.  We have a lot of wonderful memories.  I am thankful for those memories, but I am more thankful for the opportunities to connect with my family.

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After we were married, jobs took us away and over time we didn’t see my cousins as much.  Even though we still felt close to them, our time spent with them was limited by distance and busyness.  We moved back home in 2012 and had a few times of  celebration, but we weren’t together nearly enough.  Then, we lost my Aunt.  Connection became more important than ever.

The week she passed away we were with my cousins nearly every night.  They were at our house or we were at theirs.  Until midnight most nights.  It was good to share memories and just comfort one another.  It made me realize that life is too short to not spend time with family.

During the visitation and funeral for the one Aunt, we met (re-met) one of my cousins and two of his children. I had not seen them since the seventies; Rocky had never met them.  It was a great time reconnecting.  And again, I was reminded that family is more important than our busyness.  This past weekend, my other Aunt, their grandmother, passed away.  And we once again find ourselves getting ready to lay a loved one to rest.

The cycle of life goes on.  God in his mercy helps us part with dear loved ones.  Family gathers around to comfort one another and we connect and realize how important we are to each other.  And if we don’t forget this lesson, we’ll make sure we find time to meet for fellowship and break bread together just because we can.

Connecting in Grace,

Teresa (Sadie Grace)