A while back, I was asked to give the devotion for my Bible Study group about our
faith journey we were on recently.
We have about 140 people enrolled….. I could never have considered
doing this before our journey we took with our Mother in 2010, but now, going back
over those weeks and months in my mind, I wanted to share it.
Speaking in front of a room full of people is certainly out of my comfort zone,
but it wasn`t about me. I didn`t want it to be about me. It was about what God
showed us through Mother as she was going through the toughest battle
of her life. It was about how we were encouraged through watching her. It was
about how our faith was strengthened in the midst of this trial.
So, yesterday was the day. And this is what I said….
In our lesson this week, we are studying faith journeys of those who perservered
by faith and how they effected generations to come. I want to talk a little
about the faith legacy of my Mother and how God used her to strengthen our faith.
As I have gone over what I wanted to say, so many times, I woke up this morning, thinking
I had it all ready. As I turned on the computer, I posted a verse that had come
to me in a devotion earlier. Isaiah 45:3
A new friend, Shannon, came into my life through her journal online. She
lost her mother years ago, and we have been brought together through
our personal walks, without our Mothers. Shannon commented
how this was her favorite verse and rewrote it from the Message Bible.
“I`ll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road. I`ll break down bronze city gates,
smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.
I`ll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables,
confirmation that it is, in fact, I, God, who calls you by name.”
Buried treasures in the midst of dark times…..
In July, 2010, our family began a faith journey following the path that God was
leading us on . I discovered Caringbridge through a friend. Their mission is
to expand the love , hope and compassion needed to make each health
journey easier. Friends and family were able to get on each day to stay informed.
This caringbridge journal was about my Mother and her battle with
pancreatic cancer. It was her faith journey, a place to share God`s
word and His message, but along the way,
It became a spiritual journey for me as well.
Before I read some excerpts from my journal, I want to share the unique story
of how two families joined together.
Soon after Tom and I were married in 1974, my Father died. A few years later, his
mother passed away. Through these hard years and losses, God
suprised us with His plans. and in His
Perfect timing.. My mother married Tom`s Dad a few years later
and lived happily together for 29 years.
…..8 years ago, Alzheimers invaded their lives.
During this time, she took care of his every need. When the time came when she
could no longer physically care for him, we found a facility that
specializes in the care of alzheimer patients , and that would be his home now
My daughter had given Gaga, as she was known by her
grandchildren, a journal book one Christmas a few years back
to fill out the answers to specific questions. They called it her
“Coming of Age” book!
One of the questions asked what her greatest fear was.
Mother wrote… “That I`ll get sick and have problems with Papa
still here”. Later, after she found out
about her illness, she wrote on that same page..”it looks like that has happened
with my recent diagnosis of cancer. I am just so grateful we have Tom in a good place and I`m
assured that they are taking good care of him.”
This is where my journaling begins…
Saturday, July 17
The reality is sinking in this morning.
I was hoping to wake up from this dream but as morning
got here, nope, it is not a dream but very much real. We are moving ahead, gathering our
armor and getting ready for baattle.
We will be deciding the oncologist so we can get in touchwith him on Monday. that will be our biggest decision for now because he will be our new best friend in the days and weeks ahead
“Please God, place the Doctor of your choice in our lives to care for Mother along side You.
Our hope is in You. we know you are in control.
Mother writes again in her journal,
“What would we do without our Faith? I can see God`s hand in all of this,
the fact that we got Papa settled before the cancer hit US. I pray each day
that God will look after him and I pray for those sweet workers that are caring for him.
Right now, we are all putting our trust in God, knowing He is walking
this path beside us..”
sunday, September 12,.
We have had to put Papa in the hospital for some evaluations. He has taken
a turn for the worse today and is in bed on oxygen
Tuesday, September 14
Papa passed away that September night after we had taken Mother
to visit him in the afternoon. They sat, holding hands, him asleep, her in the
wheelchair beside him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don`t depend on
your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5. When Mother couldn`t take care of him, God
took over and welcomed him home with Him, just two months after Mother
got her news. We grieved for him but celebrated him out of that broken and worn
body becaue he was whole again.
Thank you, Lord, for the assurance we have in You. As soon as Papa took his
last breath on earth, he came into Your Presence. We thank you for his life
and what he meant to each of us.
Sunday afternoon, Prayers for Gaga. We invited friends, family, neighbors
to join us in her front yard for a praise time. It was a time of prayer, singing
and encouragement. Purple is Pancreatic Cancer color so we asked all
to wear purple. We ordered purple bracelets with Prayers for Gaga, gave
our purple bookmarks, had purple ribbons on all the trees. Purpose was to
encourage Gaga and lift her up in prayer.
She was a bit sick that morning but was able to go outside on her porch
to see everyone and was amazed at how many people had come. She stayed
until the last one left. The balloons were let go at the end and we watched
as they all floated up to Heaven with prayers for Gaga.
This week she was feeling pretty good,
we decided to pack her up, that Friday. pack up
her pills and take her to the beach where she loved to go.
Just us three siblings, Anne, Bill, me
and Mother. It was an open window, an unexpected gift we got, just at the last minute
but we jumped at the chance. We went out to eat, sat out on the balcony
she even had coffee and knitted which she had not done for weeks. If she
felt bad, she didn`t let us know. I think she willed herself to feel good.. for us.
It was a step back in time for us. Just being with our Mother,
the three children. We talked on into the night, laughed over old times and
just loved on her. We came home thanking God for His timing in
making this happen.
I remember when Susanne Bailey gave the
opening several years ago about her hard journey with Christopher,
she said, she heard God speaking in the midst of their trial, “Do you trust Me?”
I had the same question come to me so many times as the days were getting harder…
Do you trust Me?”
“Yes, Lord, we trust You, we don`t understand but we trust you and we Love you.”
Thursday, Nov. 25
Thanksgiving at Mothers House, we were reminded of all we have to be thankful for.
Family and friends have been brought together these last months as we are all here for
Mother. 23 gathered at her house today. We brought out old pictures, and took a trip
down memory lane. So much of our lives were there in print. So much of our parents,
grandparents, and great grandparents lives were there for us to see. we feel very
thankful today, to be a part of this family.
Song that I love. and is perfect for today…
I will bless the Lord forever, and I will trust Him at all times, he has delivered me from all fear
and he has set my feet upon a rock and I will not be moved, and I`ll say of the Lord
you are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliverer, my shelter, strong tower
my very present help in time of need.” Yes, Lord, we trust you!
Proverbs 16:9 says “a man`s mind plans his way but the Lord directs his steps
and makes them sure.” We had planned our lives with Mother all on our own.
Her mother and grandmother had lived to be 96 and were a huge part of our lives.
We thought we would have her for at least that long. It was not in our plans for
her to get cancer and leave us at 81. We had lots more we wanted to do with her.
She was not only our mother, our grandmother, but our best friend.
She entwined her life so deeply into ours that she was a vital part of our being.
But, God directed our paths in a different direction.
Yes, Lord, we trust you….
These words are getting harder to find and write down. Our hearts are heavy. We still
pray for that miracle but know God may give her that perfect body with Him.
One of my children asked me this morning as we were talking about gaga and how
she is doing.. Mom, weren`t we just here? Yes, we were on this road a few short
months ago with Papa. we don`t want to be here again is our first response. But we
are and we are here for a different battle. She has not given up and neither will we.
Do you trust me? Yes, Lord we trust you…..
Another example of God`s perfect timing and how
His hands were at work when we didn`t even realize
….we remembered a surprise birthday party
we had for her the summer before.
We invited friends and family, many she hadn`t seen in a long time
. It was a day that she loved to relive and read
cards she got, over and over. The house was full of everyone who was special to her.
We told her and teased afterwards that it was like being at your own funeral.
Seeing all your friends and family coming for you. It was a great day
for her and for all of us there. Lots of hugging, lots of pictures for us to remember.
A great 80th party..
Little did we know that we would all be together again in a short year and a half
for another celebration of her life..
Monday, dec. 13,
The waiting is so hard. We did not want this time to come, we prayed so hard, we
all watched as Mother fought so hard, we rejoiced in the good days we had with her
selfishly, we didn`t want them to end. But now, 5 months after our journey started,
it is time, time to pray for God to take her home with Him. She is slipping away each
moment and it is the hardest task we have ever had to watch
As I was looking through some of her things, I came across this devotion that
she had written in her Bible some time ago.
“And that is Life”
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky came down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There! She`s gone.”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and span as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when some one at my side says, “There! She`s gone”, there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “There she comes!”
What a picture of this is in our minds as we sit by her bedside. We whisper to her the minute she takes her last breath here on earth , when she opens her eyes, she will be in the presence of our Lord!! What could be better than that?!! We are excited for her and what she has in store on this journey. Our hearts ache for us, for what we have lost and memories we will not have with her…. but the good news is that as we say good bye, others will be waiting with open arms to say, “Here she comes!”
She was born on June 24, 1929, to die Dec. 13, 2010.
It was the dash in between those two dates that she
wrote and left as her legacy. Her journey on earth was over that
afternoon and in an instant, she arrived to stand
before God. our faith journey without her
continues. It has been over a year now, lots of relived memories, lots of tears,
but with God`s grace, we are
able to move forward, knowing our lives are in His hands.
“Yes ,Lord we trust You “
Forsaking all I trust Him.