Collected Tears

 

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Journal: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Today was a day of crying and praying and missing my Mom. Of all the people in the world that I can talk to and tell anything, she was always the one I could be the freest with. The one I could count on to comfort me and pray for me; to love me and forgive me when needed. So today was just a day that I really wish I could talk to her. Some days I miss her so much. I need her love, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and care. I know there will always be days like today and it won’t be easy but I know God can be my comfort. I can go to him.  I can take him my heart; I can ask for strength.  He is faithful.  He loves me even more than my mother.

I miss my Ladybug and our late night talks; our inside jokes and laughter; our trips to the Dairy Queen when we’d sneak off without telling the guys; The drives we took in the country when we were restless. I miss all of it. I love her so much. 

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.                                                               Psalm 56:8 NLT

One of the things I miss the most is talking to my Mom.  Before the Alzheimer’s took so much away from her we would talk constantly. I’d call her or she’d call me and we’d talk about everything and nothing in particular.

Even after the Alzheimer’s I’d call home, Dad would answer the phone but I’d always ask to talk to Mom.  Sometimes she’d talk a while, other times she’d have trouble with the phone. Eventually, she pretty much gave up talking on the phone.

I missed our talks even while she was still living.  There were times I’d tell her things knowing that she didn’t fully comprehend, or remember later, but at the moment she’d try to let me know all would be well.

A few months before she died we had a wonderful conversation about forgiveness.  I’d recently been short with her.  I told her that I was wrong and hadn’t treated her as kindly as I should have.  We talked about forgiveness in general and what it means and I asked her if she would forgive me.  She ever so sweetly said yes she would.  Even though she probably didn’t remember the incident in question and probably didn’t remember our conversation later, at that moment she understood my need to ask forgiveness and she sincerely, without question granted it. Much like she had several years earlier when I had needed to ask for forgiveness. (you can read about that time here)

Growing up, forgiveness always flowed freely. If Mom and I had had a particularly trying day as can sometimes happen, she always made sure before bed that all was well between us.  We would talk things out and I always knew she was there for me.  Even as a small child I remember kneeling beside her to pray about whatever was troubling me. Being the melancholy child that I was it seemed I was always needing to pray or talk about something.

That did not change as a teenager.  We had lots of adventures together.  I remember one summer or two that she spent a lot of time driving me around the countryside chasing a dream of a piano player (not Rocky, that came later) that I thought I was in love with. I also remember having many late night conversations about boys, dreams, life.  It was nothing to stay up until the crack of dawn talking. Even after I had married and moved away from home, we always had at least one all-night talk session when I’d come for visits.  Rocky and Dad would come downstairs of a morning and there we’d be still sitting on the couch.

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One of our adventures at a camp meeting in the mountains of Eastern KY during one of those summers chasing a piano player. The photo bomber also had a daughter, probably chasing the same piano player.

Later, when Rocky came on the scene I wrote her a letter telling her that I was in love and I knew he was the one.  I was in college and cell phones and Facebook didn’t exist, so you either made a long distance call or wrote a letter.  I found that letter last year when going through some of her things. She had kept it all these years. I know my Mama’s level of sentimentality and I know she hung onto that letter to mark a significant time in my life that she rejoiced in with me.

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Rocky and me the early years. Mom always said she couldn’t love him more if he was her son. The minute he came on the scene, he was family and she never let me forget that. She was always on his side. Sigh. I’m glad she loved him that fiercely.

I’ve always shared my everyday life with her.  Each new adventure, each crisis, everyday moments. It was all chronicled with her. And she never failed to cheer me on or commiserate when necessary.  Every new move she was there helping and planning with me even when it took me too far from home.  She never tried to hold me back, but always rejoiced at each new opportunity.

She did tell me, as she grew older, that she missed her daughters and wished they could both move back home. She once offered to give my sister her house if she’d move back home. And my mom really loved her house. She is now buried on the hill facing her house. When Rocky and I moved to Louisville in 2007 she was glad we were closer. She and Dad would come to visit and we would go see them when we could.

In 2010 when we went in with Dad to purchase the house next door to them she was excited for us to fix up the house and be there on breaks, but before we could spend much time there the Alzheimer’s was fast approaching. When we moved there in the summer of 2012 between the seminary and whatever was to come next, it was clear that Alzheimer’s had set in and we were needed.  I know it was a God thing that we had decided to buy the house two years prior when it didn’t really make sense to do so. We had no long-term plans of settling back home once schooling was finished, but home was exactly where we needed to be.

Living there was as it should be.  Mom was restless a lot and had lots of questions about everything in the early days.  She would come to my house for reassurance or sometimes just to chat a moment.  The door was always open for her and sometimes she’d be back and forth several times a day.  We’d have the same conversations, mostly with her trying to make sense of the muddle in her mind.  Memoires were hiding and bits and pieces would show up and she’d need me to help her make sense of it all.  She trusted me and I did all I could to honor that trust.

Even in the difficulty of living with Alzheimer’s, we had some good times and lots of laughter.  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.  But sometimes I’d miss our old conversations.  The last couple of months before she passed away there were several times I’d think I need to call Mom only to immediately remember that things were different.  I went through a spell in the summer of nesting and tweaking my living room, buying lamps and finally hanging pictures.  All the things I would have discussed with Mom.  So, I called my Dad and shared with him.  I suppose I could have told mom, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same and I also knew that she might not even engage at all on the phone.  I wish I’d tried anyway.

Since her passing, I have had several times where I wish I could talk to her or something will happen and my first thought is to call Mom.  I’ve needed so much to hear her words of wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. I’ve needed to laugh with her. There are times that you just need your mother because no one understands you like she does. In those times I remind myself that God can comfort me and that he truly understands.

I cling to all the hope, dry my eyes, and do my best to live life without my Ladybug.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~~ Washington Irving

Another song for you to listen to, For Those Tears I Died

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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My mom, the cheerleader (8th grade, Mt. Carmel) standing by the fence in front of their church turned house where they lived in Beechburg, KY.
This home is now a garage and
my best friend recently purchased the property.
My Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader.

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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Why You Will Want to Read All The Pretty Things

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Edie Rudder Wadsworth writes words that burn deep into your soul. Her book, All The Pretty Things launches today. It needs to be on your must read list.

Here’s Why:

  1.  You will Love the chapter titles
  2.  You will experience all the emotions
  3.  You will see grace in action
  4.  You will find redemption
  5.  You will not be able to put the book down
  6.  You will recognize yourself
  7.  You will find hope
  8.  You will cry and sometimes laugh
  9.  You will forget to breathe, finally letting out a sigh of relief
  10.   You will be changed

It’s the story of a young girl’s journey into womanhood and how through everything  love, grace, forgiveness and redemption were the threads that held it all together resulting in a beautiful tapestry only God could weave.

It’s the first book in a long time that I couldn’t put down until every last word was savored. Edie’s voice draws you in and compels you to stay.  You will come away with your heart full and a new resolve to embrace your life and live it with grace.

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Reading in 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.

Prompted By Forgiveness

Today’s post on Forgiveness, is the last in the Write 31 Days series, Prompted to Write.  My first post in this series was about my mother, so it is only fitting that I end the series with a post about her.  If you have followed along, I hope you have enjoyed the journey and I hope you have extended grace on the few days I missed or gave you a bunch of pictures.  I will continue writing going forward, but it won’t be every day.  I hope you come back and please leave a comment to let me know you were here.  God Bless!

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Forgiving and being forgiven is a wonderful thing.  When we live in fear that we aren’t forgiven it weighs heavily on our spirit.  Likewise, when we have an unforgiving attitude towards others it kills our peace.  I’ve been on both sides of that coin and I remember the relief I felt when I realized I was forgiven and also when I was able to extend forgiveness.  It definitely lightens our load.

I was reminded recently of the gift of forgiveness when I ran across a letter my mom sent me years ago, long before the Alzheimer’s began to set in.  I had felt the need to write her and ask forgiveness for a time in my life when I felt that I had broken her trust.

We were living in Florida at the time and so I wrote her a letter as I have always preferred to write down what I want to say in order to make sure I say what needs to be said.  And, also because sometimes it is easier to hide behind the pen rather than talk directly to someone.

I’ll never forget the day I received her letter in the mail offering forgiveness.  The tears flowed and I realized that her love for me was stronger than any sin I could commit.  When I read the letter again, just yesterday, it still brought comfort to me and it reminded me that she has always loved me unconditionally, and does so even now, on days when she barely knows who I am.

Mom, right before I was born.  I was a winter baby.
Mom, right before I was born. I was a winter baby.

In her letter she used an acrostic of my name and the word forgiven to write out her message.  I’d like to share her words with you:

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With those words she offered me hope and she reminded me of one who loves me even more than she.  I thought of her line that said “intense moments of pain cannot destroy that love,” and how that is true of Jesus’s love for us as well.  Our sin caused him intense physical pain as well as intense emotional pain. Yet, he still went to the cross for us.  Even now, as redeemed children, we still cause him pain when we ignore him or doubt his power to forgive.

Won’t you join me in accepting the fact that he loves us unconditionally and we can never out sin his love.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We don’t need to live under the bondage of sin and guilt. If we are in him, then we are free.  My mother ended her letter by saying, “A contrite spirit is always rewarded with God’s forgiveness and healing.”

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Healed by grace,

Teresa

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me, with normal ears…

PS – if you are wondering about the “ears taped securely in place”  it is a well-known fact in our family that my mother taped our ears with small band-aids when we were babies so that when we rolled over they would not get bent, thus avoiding ears that stick out.  Does this really work?  Who knows, but our ears did not stick out…