Friday, January 05, 2007

Weekly Word for January 5, 2006

“The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, For the Lord is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting’;”
(Jeremiah 33:11)

It was going to be a party, a celebration of her life. All around me, people were getting ready - cleaning and cooking for the birthday party. I was helping in the kitchen, trying to get all the food ready for the party. It was supposed to be a surprise party, and so everyone was very quiet about what we were doing. We were all working very hard, trying to finish up all the little details we had planned out. But like most plans, not everything was going as we wanted it to. I was frustrated, wondering if I would be able to get all the food ready - and out on to the table. It was then, that I noticed her. We had all been so busy, that we hadn’t noticed that she was already there. She was sitting on a lounge chair in the corner of the room. Unnoticed by everyone around her, she sat there sobbing. As I went over to her, I could see the terror in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. For just a moment, she sat staring at me. Fear seemed to fill her being. Very softly, I heard the words: “They are going to get me”. Looking at her, I knew that her fears and torments were very real to her. Sitting down next to her, I tried to comfort her. As I looked in to her eyes, for just an instant - I saw the world she was living in. Her disease had been growing for years, and the confusion and fear were so real. “It will be OK” I told her. But I didn’t know if I was telling her the truth. Hearing my voice, she seemed to calm down. As I watched her, my mother finally smiled. And then - - - I woke up . . .

But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And mayest Thou shelter them, That those who love Thy name may exult in Thee.
(Psalm 5: 11)

As I woke up from the dream, I couldn’t help but think about the woman who is my mother. As I did, memories seemed to flash before my eyes. This past Christmas had been one of such turmoil - and yet - it was also a time to watch my mother laugh at the simple joys that were around her . . .

But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, Let them ever sing for joy;

We had all gotten the call, telling us that our mother wasn’t doing very well. The best we could hope for, was to let her be as happy as she could - making sure we smiled at whatever she gave us. And that was some of the problem. My mother absolutely loved shopping. And she had shopped every day - buying small little presents for each of us. None of them were very expensive, but there were lots of them. As part of the family struggled with how unpractical this all was - I guess I realized that it was something that my mother just loved doing. She loved to wrap presents - and watch the faces of each person - as they opened the gifts she had wrapped.

So as Christmas Day came, we headed off to my parents’ house. She seemed a little confused, but also so happy. Each family had a number of bags in front of them. And she couldn’t wait for the moment we would start to open them.

We took turns, each family having it’s time in the “limelight”. Ted and I had gotten there late, so we had to wait - watching the others. As I sat there watching one of my brother’s opening his gifts, I watched my mother’s face. And I remembered back - to times that are now long gone . . .

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs,
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead . . .
(Isaiah 40:11)
As the oldest, and the only daughter, I didn’t always get along with my parents. I thought they were too strict, too old, and just didn’t understand me. As I grew, I gave both my parents a very hard time. The relationship between my mother and myself - seemed always to be a struggle. And truthfully, I never knew what to do about it. So it was with mixed feelings, that I remembered back to being a very little girl . . .

We (my brothers and myself) had been warned not to play too far into the woods behind our house. I guess I must have been about 5 or so, when I decided to forget that rule. On this one particular day, having to take my brother along with me, my friend and I decided to go play in the woods. We started out right behind our house, but it didn’t take long for us to wander all the way down to the end of the street. We found lots of things to play with - branches to swing on, sticks to use as swords, and even trash that we thought was treasure. There was so much to do - playing in the woods. We pretended to be pirates, and cowboys, and all sorts of imaginary things. But then, like most little children do - we decided it would be fun to play “doctor”. My little brother, who was always so much thinner than I was, wore suspenders on his pants. It was those suspenders that got us in deep trouble that day! The moment we heard our mother yelling for us, we tried our best to get those suspenders back up! But we were too little, and she was too quick for 3 little children.

To this day, I remember the terror in the middle of my stomach. The moment she saw us, her face became a red mask of fury! She told us to get home, and she told our friend that she would be speaking to her mother. As my mother marched up the street toward our house, I decided to run. I wanted to get away from her, and what I thought she would do to me. I wanted to hide - and I tried to - when I ran into the house. But 5 year olds don’t hide very well, and she found me right away. I still remember sitting on my bed, sobbing - as my bottom throbbed in pain. When you are 5, those are the things you remember - about your mother . . .

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
(Psalm 30:5)

As I grew, I saw my mother through the eyes of a teenager. I saw her as the person who wouldn’t let me go places, or wear the newest fashion. I saw her as the person who always stopped me from having fun! And then one day, I saw her a little differently. I had been fighting with two friends from the neighborhood. You see, three girls don’t always get along. So when the two of them decided that “they” were best friends, and I was “nothing”, I couldn’t help but feel hurt. They taunted me at school, and made fun of me as we walked home. As I tried to walk faster, I hoped and prayed they wouldn’t see my tears. My heart was breaking inside of me, and I didn‘t want them to see it. At that moment, I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong. The walk home seemed to take forever, but I finally walked through those kitchen doors. When I did, I burst into tears. That day, my mother sat and listened to me. She sat right next to me, telling me that I was alright - and that she was sorry that this had happened. That day, it was her voice - that seemed to ease the pain deep inside of me.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; (it) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 6)

I wish I could say that our relationship got easier after that day, but it didn’t. We struggled with our differences, and what each of us thought was right. The day she found out I was going to get married - she cried. She had hopes for me, that I didn’t. I wanted to get married - she wanted me to become a nurse. And yet, she celebrated each milestone that I crossed - getting married, having children, and even getting my degrees. Through all the difficulties I faced in my life, there were moments - like that day so long ago - when her voice brought comfort and reassurance.

Love is patient, love is kind, . . .

So on this day, Christmas Day, I watch my mother - the woman who has been a part of my life, always. The memories are there - both good and bad. But it is this day - that I find myself concentrating on. As each person opens their presents - the joy on her face seems to flit back and forth. She seems to know that there are things that are not quite right. Her eyes seem to cloud over for just a moment, and then she sees her children and grandchildren. She smiles at each of them, laughing as they open their gifts.

And then it is time for her to open her own presents. As I hand her the gift I made, her eyes become huge - and the years seem to just drift away. With each little gift she opens, her face lights up - just like a little girl’s. As I watch her, I realize that for a moment - she is the child that I never knew. At that moment, I realize that I am praying that God will bless her with moments of happiness - all the days she has left in her life . . .

“Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”
(Hosea 2: 15)

My mother is slowly losing the memories of her life. She is facing a future filled with unknowns. But as I watched her on that very special Christmas day - I realized that it is in the moments of each day - that we celebrate the joys in living.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15: 11)

Every single day, we have choices before us - of how we want to live our lives. Most of us have pasts that are blotted with times of hurt and pain. None of us can know what the future might hold. But we do have today - this moment - to celebrate the gifts that we have been given in our lives.

As we start this brand New Year, it is my hope and prayer that each of us can find the joy and love - that God has waiting for all of us. It is my prayer that each of you will ask Him to walk with you - every day. As you do, your days will become fuller and richer - with all the good gifts that He has waiting for you - - - for the rest of your life . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

God bless you and keep you, as we celebrate the beginning of a brand New Year - one that is full with God’s blessings for each . . .

In His Perfect Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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