A Mama’s Love

Mama sits in her clean dress, her hair still damp from washing. I clip her toenails and file them down. She’s not too happy about this, but she is much calmer than she was about her bath. During her bath she kept shouting and swearing and wanting her mama.

But now she says, “I want to go home and see my children.”
I perk up, surprised. She never mentions her children. She doesn’t seem to remember she has them anymore.
“Do you know the names of your children?”
Mom looks thoughtful but says, “No.”
“Ricky and Sherry?” I offer, suggesting the names of her two oldest in case they may still be in her long-term memory.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Delbert? Ira Lee?” I mention two of her brothers; in case these are the “children” she misses.

None of the names spark a memory for her, so I let it go. Yet I’m intrigued that she said she wanted to see her children. And I remember again how precious it is to be a mama’s child. How dear it is to be known and loved and fretted over and prayed over and scolded by and even pestered with a mama’s love.

And I’m so grateful I still have my dad knowing me and loving me. But I think of all the mama love that was lavished on me through the years and how I took it for granted and even scorned it sometimes. And my face is wet with tears and shame and regret.

So now it’s my turn to lavish love on my mama, even though she fights me and shouts and doesn’t understand that washing her and dressing her and brushing her hair are acts of love. And I hold her hand and talk of life and sing to her, though she doesn’t know my name or me.

But someday Jesus will restore all things. And then Mama will look at me, and the knowing light will come in her eyes. And then she will see that I am her child, her only daughter. And she will know that she is my mom. And the mama’s love will be back again. Forever.

Blessings From Ditch Digging

Some days we are ditch diggers. But there are lessons and blessings to come…

Mama is hollering and yelling and needing dress changes twice. The carpet is stained and food is ground into it and the carpet shampooer is put to work again.

Then later in the evening I pull out Dad’s built-in bread board and find mice poo all over it!  (Thankfully he never uses that one, especially since he’s blind and wouldn’t see what he was putting his bread on.)

I could go on about the unpleasant things…but let’s not. Some days are just tough and dry and full of hard work.

Which reminds me of a Bible passage I read today. In 2 Kings 3, King Jehoshaphat was with two other kings in the wilderness on their way to fight an enemy with their troops. But they had no water for the army or the animals.

So the prophet Elisha gave them a message from the Lord, saying, “Make this valley full of ditches.” God said they wouldn’t see wind or rain, but He would fill the valley with water for them and their animals and give them victory over their enemies.

But to see the deliverance and the miracle, first they had to trust God and obey Him. They had to dig the ditches that He would fill. They had to do this hard work when they were already parched and the likelihood of water showing up without rain seemed unlikely, to say the least.

But the Bible says, “This is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Kings 3:18, NKJV)

When days are especially challenging and we feel like we’re sweating in the wilderness with no refreshing water in sight, we can trust God. We can know that meeting our needs is a simple matter for our Lord.

We can believe that obeying God and sweating through the hard work of the assignments He gives us, is actually carving depth in our lives for God to fill with His blessings and victories. 

We might be digging ditches today. But the water is coming.

Finding Freedom

Mom is shouting, “I want to go home! I’m going to kill you. Mama, where are you mama? I want to go home!” She tries to get up and leave, as we sit on the edge of the bed and I help her get dressed after her bath. She is desperate to leave this place where she has lived for more than fifty years. She longs to go home.

When we are finished I say, “You can go find Daddy now. Go out the door and find Daddy.” Mom goes around the bed away from the door. I direct her back and she moves the clothes hanging on the hook on the door back and forth and taps the wood of the door. “Where’s the door?” She says.
“That’s it, Mom. Just open it. Open the door. ”

She finds the knob and almost opens the door, it starts to move towards her, but then she closes it again. She jiggles the door back and forth and then walks off to the other side of the room.

I open the door and guide her out. She walks down the hall way a bit and then comes back to the room she was so desperate to leave minutes ago, and sits back down on the bed.

I think how similar to being stuck in old or sinful habits and feeling desperate to leave. The door is right there. God’s power and healing grace is available. We have everything we need. The knob is in the hand, but we just don’t quite open the door.

Someone points us in the right direction. We get a few minutes, days or months of freedom and then, for some reason, long for prison again and go back to old ways.

Finally, I get Mom up and hold her hand and walk with her down the hall. Dad says, “Come sit by me.” And Mom cuddles warm and safe next to the one who loves her so.

Maybe that’s why God gives us each other. When we are stuck in old patterns or the prison of sinful habits, sometimes we need a caring hand to show us the way and lead us closer to the One who loves us so.

And as we stay close to Him we will know His warmth and the security and the strength He gives. And we can find freedom from old ways as we trust and follow Him.

“I’m Not Here! and Other Stress Reduction Tips

Today I learned lessons of time management and stress relief from Mama…

I was trying to get Mom up to take her bath. She sat in her rocking chair and said, “I’ll do what I do.”
I tried again with a positive cheerful tone. “Come on, Mom. Let’s get you all fresh and clean. Let’s take a little walk down the hall.” I smiled and held out my hand.

She looked me straight in the face and shouted very loudly, “I’M NOT HERE!” I couldn’t help laughing. And then she laughed, too.

I soon convinced her to get up, though. (I bribed her with a treat. Yes, that’s what it takes sometimes.)

The bath and dressing times were as challenging as usual. Shouting and death threats were involved—all from her towards me. But soon she was content in her rocking chair again. I brushed her hair.

She started tearing apart a box of Kleenex. She so likes to do that. I told her not to, and then she threw the box.

But she did sing some songs with me. And then she ate lunch and dozed off in her rocking chair.

As I look back at this day with Mom I have some thoughts. I’m feeling so overwhelmed lately with a growing to do list and many commitments. I’ve been waking up feeling stressed out before the day starts.

Maybe I need to say with Mom, “I’ll do what I do.” And know that maybe I won’t do everything I’d like to do, but I can pray that God will make His priorities clear. And I can know that He will give me the strength to handle everything He wants me to do.

And when things tempt me that I’m not supposed to add to my day, I hope I’ll look at it boldly and shout, “I’M NOT HERE!!” (Unless it’s an actual person—then I suppose I should think of a more kind way to handle things. LOL!)

And maybe I can give myself little rewards for getting done what I must do, but dread. And take rocking chair breaks when possible and sing songs. Or maybe even take a nap.

I haven’t tried tearing apart Kleenex boxes or throwing them, but there could be some stress relief there. I kind of want to try it now. 
I’m thankful God gives us laughter. And He knows how human He made us.

He tells us to cast our cares on Him. And He says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He supplies all of our needs. He leads us beside still waters and makes us lie down in green pastures. He hides us under the shelter of His wings and calls us His beloved children. He is so good.

And I’m thankful for the lessons He teaches me through my sweet mama.