The Day After Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day is very emotional, multiplied by so many perspectives regarding its significance. Yesterday I was reminded of this as I had conversations with numerous people and perused so many posts on Facebook. In church we had a time of prayer focusing on Mothers’ Day.

First we thanked God for mothers and other women who have been mother-figures in our lives. Truth be told, not everyone has or had a great mom. BUT, when we put our minds to it we can discover some good qualities in the woman who brought us into the world. It is important to search (hard, if necessary) to find those good traits and thank God for her. For those with faithful, loving moms, it is not always smooth sailing; that is just the nature of relationships. However it is our choice to focus on all we can be grateful for and celebrate the woman who raised us, taught us, showed up for us, and often just put up with us. Whether you had a super mom or a not so super mom, there are other special women who have met the needs we have for mothering. On Mothers’ Day it is appropriate to thank these women who have been there for us, teaching, encouraging, supporting, and perhaps just listening. Sometimes those women have children of their own, but they make room for us; sometimes they are not officially mothers but they definitely serve in a mother-role to us and that counts! Sometimes it takes practice or intentionality (a word my son loves but I struggle with) to thank God for what you have rather than moan over what you feel like you may have missed or lost.

Grateful Grief or Selfish Grief

Secondly we prayed for those whose mothers have died. I am now in that group; we still love them and miss them. Regardless of their age when they died or our age when they died, most of us will continue to miss them the rest of our lives. But rather than feeling sorry for ourselves over what will be missed in the days ahead, we can remember and be grateful for the good memories we have from when they were with us. So, will our grief be grateful grief or selfish grief? It is our choice. And here are some things we can celebrate: we can be thankful that their influence and character can live on through us; we can talk about them and tell lots of stories so our children will have a sense of knowing who they were; we can live the rest of our lives to make them proud. I’m surprised no-one has marketed a WWMS bracelet – “what would Mama say?” It might be a good idea to consider when we are about to do something foolish or wrong.

“What Would Mama Say?”

JB and I were talking yesterday; his Mother died at 63 when we were 34; my Mama died at 90 when we were 62. Big difference. While we missed having his Mother involved in the lives of our children, she did not have to grow old and deal with all that comes with old age. When Mama died we were grateful for all the years we had with her but she suffered the last few years with the “Big A” as she called it, and that was very hard. So, either way, death is going to come and we should not be totally surprised when it comes to our own family. God only promises forever to those who accept His gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. On this earth all of our days are limited; why do some die early and some late? I have no idea but I do know God is faithful to meet our needs and bring comfort and strength when and how we need it.

We also prayed yesterday for mothers who have had to live through the death of a child. Now that is a big one and I know their hearts burn with love and loss on Mothers’ Day. It is not what we would call normal; it just should not happen; but it does. And only God is able to soothe a loss that deep. A dear friend of mine whose son died a few years ago wrote the sweetest post yesterday. In it she wrote,”my son went to the arms of Jesus, and I found amazing grace at the feet of Jesus. Grace wins every time!” What a testimony.

Grace wins every time

A young friend of ours from Kenya has experienced much loss in her life, including her mother and other family members. She serves God and others every day. She posted online, “I am blessed to be a blessing. So much has been given to me, so much is expected from me. Lord I am saying YES, here I am, use me!” Oh, that we all had this attitude.

Finally yesterday we prayed for the many young women who long to be mothers but have not yet had that desired fulfilled. We all know them; they are our friends, our family, our neighbors. Have you ever thought how hard Mothers’ Day is for these women (and their sweet husbands)? We prayed that God would bless them and give them a child – whether by birth or by adoption. God is God; we are not. Though we may not always understand His ways, we can trust Him. I will continue to pray He will bless these women with children to call them “Mom.”

So, there you have it – had you ever thought how many angles there are to Mothers’ Day? Call or text someone special today and express your love and appreciation and prayers.

Claim as your own, “I am blessed to be a blessing. Lord I am saying YES, here I am, use me!”



Turn About Is Fair Play

Have you ever said this to someone? I have never written it down before so it looks funny, but I know what it means. If you have done something kind for me and now I am trying to do something kind for you, you need to let me because, “turn about is fair play!”

For the three-plus years that my Mama lived with us we had care-givers in our home 24/7. At all times we had six women on our team. It. Was. A. Trip. I learned a lot from each of them; they knew what to do in ways that amazed me every day. The profession of care-taking is valuable and a God-send when you need it. We had women of all ages with various gifts and a wealth of experiences. In addition to the stories our own family produces, we also shared in the wild and crazy stories these women had in their lives and families! I could probably write a novel based on all the tales I heard! Mama out-lived two of her care-givers; a few came and went; most were with us for years. It was a roller coaster ride with some hilarious moments, a few near-disasters, lots of working through the tough stuff and figuring out how to make the best of everyday. Here are just a few memories; there is no way I could include all or mention everyone who graciously helped us.

The profession of care-giving is a God-send

Wanda is the first care-giver we had. She came to us when Mama was in rehab after a fall and surgery for a broken hip. She immediately jumped in and began to take care of things and make life good for Mama. She talked with her, took her to ride, got her laughing and made everyday fun. I was amazed to watch her watch Mama; it’s like she always knew ahead of time what Mama wanted or needed. Wanda brought in her friend Priscilla who also had great experience and treated Mama like a queen. Numerous times I would come home and find Priscilla washing Mama’s feet in warm water and giving her a wonderful foot and leg massage with lotion. She also took Mama to the beauty shop – which was a big deal and a request Mama made before she became ill. The little things mean a lot! Shonnie loved doing Mama’s make-up. I told her she could be a stylist and make-up artist if she ever decided to give up care-giving! Barbara was so much fun and amazing with an iron! JB still misses that. Our families have been friends forever and we shared lots of fun memories. Doris was on the evening shift and she gave Mama her dinner, created a calm environment, and made sure Mama was comfortable all night long. She also liked to cook and often brought Mama dinner from her own kitchen, especially if we were out of town. What a special treat and kind gesture of thoughtfulness.

But this blog is really about Wanda. Wanda was and is hilarious. She picked up on Mama’s quirkiness and funny ways of saying things and she began to say them herself.  Occasionally I would hear Wanda saying, “Miss Margaret, are you feeling nervous, weak and jerky?”  This was just one of Mama’s funny sayings. I came in one day to find Mama folding wash cloths. There were lots of them and as soon as she was finished Wanda took them and in a few minutes she gave them back to Mama, all messed up again to start over. As she explained to me, “it is good for her to keep using her hands.”  Who knew? Wanda has a gift and I learned a lot from her. She has been giving care to people in need for years and years. Wanda loves her kids (and now grandkids) and she loves animals. She brought a little dog named Pearl to work a few times and Mama enjoyed holding her. I guess Wanda understood pet therapy before it became a “thing.”

Who knew?

Wanda talked with Mama all the time; she told her what was going on and she could get Mama to talking and especially to laughing.  Wanda also had a few other elderly patients and she would entertain all of us with stories. When she had to quit working for us due to some health issues she still would come visit and Mama was always glad to see her. They definitely bonded in the time she was on our team. I was very aware how much Wanda cared for Mama and she could talk me off the cliff when things were going downhill and we did not know what to do. Wanda always had a good suggestion and words of comfort.

Now, here is the point….  My phone rang recently and it was Wanda — in tears, sobbing. She was driving back to Georgia from Tennessee where she had been visiting her parents. A few years ago her Daddy was diagnosed with alzheimer’s. His condition is worsening and Wanda is helping to take care of him. She asked me between sobs, “Shugie, why is it I can help others and stay calm and not get emotional, but I am falling apart trying to help my Daddy and my Mama?”  I replied, “Wanda, you care for your patients so well, BUT, it is just different when it’s your Daddy. You will get through this, but it is hard.” We talked for quite a while and remembered some good times together. I reminded her how much she helped our family when we were struggling with Mama’s situation. Our conversation was interrupted when she announced, “Gotta go! State Patrol is pulling me over!” Oh, Wanda – you are hilarious and you still drive too fast! When she called back I was glad to hear a warning was delivered rather than a ticket – Wanda dodges the bullet.

You will get through this, but it is hard.

By the time we wrapped up our visit, she was feeling better and had a few new ideas on how to tackle some of the details regarding her extended family’s challenging situation. She thanked me for spending that time with her and helping her through a tough moment.

Thanks for calling, Wanda. It was my pleasure to listen and talk and encourage you, because “turn about is fair play.”


Showing up – Revisited

Thursday we had our Mom2Mom Christmas Celebration, concluding our meetings until January. Our lively group of 100+ young moms and 16 leaders meet each week addressing mom issues and offering encouragement, support, mentoring, friendship, and Godly influence. As we reflected over the first semester I reminded the girls that although our circumstances are different, we all share in the fact that “Life is tough ….. but God is good.” I wanted them to remember this as they walk through the next few busy weeks. Even as we focus on Jesus’ birth, God’s greatest gift to mankind, the tough stuff will still be looming around each of our lives. I had no idea how quickly the tough stuff would show up.

Life is tough . . . but God is good.

Fast forward – here I am two days later, sitting in ICU at Grady Hospital in Atlanta with Martha, my dear friend and co-director of M2M. Martha has five sisters – you heard me right – FIVE. Jane, closest in age to Martha, had a stroke yesterday morning. The irony is that she was in spin class at the gym. Jane is a nurse, a very fit person with good “numbers” and she does all the right things to take care of her health. In spite of all that, Jane had a stroke. She was paralyzed on one side. Martha made a few calls and asked us all to pray. Fortunately Jane was airlifted from Athens to Grady in Atlanta where they did some procedure and we got the miracle for which we prayed. Her feeling has come back and the last MRI shows very minor damage. The nurse acknowledges this is a miracle and not the usual outcome. Hearts of family and friends are overflowing. Jane should have a full recovery. Thank you God.

So it is 12/5/15 today, and my next week includes a party at our house tomorrow, a party at our house on Tuesday evening, and a luncheon at our house on Thursday. Thursday evening JB and I will fly to Texas to visit our son, Rob, so all the gifts that require mailing must be sent before we leave along with the Christmas cards that are not yet addressed.

While sitting in my chair early this morning drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and making lists, I clearly felt God’s prompt to contact Martha and offer to drive her to Grady today. It would have been easy to talk myself out of it given the paragraph above, BUT I remembered . . .

I remembered. . .

Several years ago Rob had a terrible accident due to a seizure and was in the hospital in Birmingham. It was a scary time for our family. Looking down the hall on Day 2 I saw Jane (yes, the same Jane) and Charlotte (another sister who lives in Birmingham) coming to visit me and bring lunch. Who has time to do things like this? Martha is the one I am closest to but I am sure she asked her sisters to show up for me and they did. I will never forget it.

Who has time to do things like this?

I also remembered that when my Mama died last year, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Martha showed up at my house. She stayed with me most of the day and when there was a lull in the plans being made, we planted pansies into pots on my back deck. That was a gift of time and love.

Today I am delighted to be chauffeur and sidekick to my buddy, Martha. Of course I am glad to see Jane with my own eyes and assure her of my continued prayers. But I am content to just sit here in the waiting room and give Martha time to talk with her sister, help her with make-up and hair and respond to all her phone calls and texts. The things that could have kept me at home today will all get done. If I had stayed home, this day would have had no special significance; it just would have faded in my memory. I’m so glad to have followed God’s prompt and stepped up to show up.

A little while ago Martha and I sat together and read the devotional materials we each brought. I got tickled as I started my reading for 12/5. It began with the verse, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things!” (I promise I am not making this up!) When we each finished our readings we shared them with each other. She gave me Janet Denison’s “Season of Miracles” advent devotional. The 12/5 reading dealt with miracles. Like the other devotional, it was so relevant, especially since we have witnessed this miracle with Jane. I love it when God reminds us of his presence and care for the very details of our lives through things like the “coincidence” of our devotional readings today! While we know that God does not answer every prayer the way we would like, sometimes he does and that is time for rejoicing.

Today I am praising God for the miracle we are seeing in Jane. And I am so glad he prompted me to show up. Making memories with our dearest friends happens in the fun, happy experiences we share and also in the hardest, scariest moments.

Perhaps God is reminding you to make something right with a family member or friend. Maybe you know you need to go help someone but you can easily talk yourself out of it. If the situation is awkward or uncomfortable or inconvenient you may be filled with the idea of “I don’t have time and I just don’t know what to say.” Here is my advice to you:

Just show up!

Just show up! God will take care of the rest and the blessing, peace and joy that comes from following God’s prompts are gifts that cannot be bought.


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