Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Ten years ago, at the age of 80, after fifty years of alcoholism and a lifelong variety of abuses – both given and received – Mom, watching Joyce Meyers, turned to the Lord. She said, one evening when being invited to a bar by one of my sisters, "Beer ... Bible; Beer ... Bible; Guess I’ll go with the Bible."

Until the life change, Mom and I had a rough relationship. As the oldest of 6 girls, and a corporate lifestyle of intensity, to say the very least, it seemed there was nothing we could talk about that wouldn’t begin a fuss of some kind. Mom is one tough cookie! As has been said by a number of folks over the years, she’s much like the "Maxine" cartoons. I agree. Often that can be very funny, but the person who happens to be the target can feel slammed.

Even though I live 1800 miles away and see her only about once a year, we’ve been doing much better.

Here’s an example. In 1990, when Dave and I were first planning a trip to Uganda to determine if the Lord was calling us there as missionaries, I called Mom to tell her we were going over there. She said, sharply, "Why in the hell would anyone want to go to Africa?" I was a bit overwhelmed, since she’d always been a travel fan and watched African nature stories nearly incessantly.

In May, 2000, a few years later, after our return from Uganda, our full-time missions life there having come to a close, I was visiting missionaries in Costa Rica and the Lord dropped Proverbs 13:12 into my heart and I saw it as the answer to my confusion about Mom’s retort. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled it is a tree of life." Mom always wanted to travel, to go, to see, to simply enjoy nature around her. It had never happened worldwide and rarely States-wide state-wide. Money, jobs [she worked until 80, and wished she’d kept going].

How could I tell things changed? When I was going to Morocco for a prayer walk with others, in April, 2001, I called her to tell her I was leaving and I was nervous re: the anticipated response. Instead she laughed and said, "It would be fun to see you on a camel." It was obvious the Lord had touched her heart. [I never rode a camel – but rode a donkey through a Berber village as our group prepared to go to Marrakesh for Palm Sunday – gave this photo to her shortly after our return. She loved it!]

At 90, she’s having a lot of struggles – on all sides. Her fear and frustration rise as her hearing and sight, ability to swallow, walking, all sink away; the anger is becoming recharged... similar to the years past. I’ve been told she has had some slight strokes, but nothing serious. However, her behavior certainly is not a surprise to her family -- especially the ones who live here and see the changes day to day; for me, and other infrequent visitors, it can seem hard and harsh. I’m learning a lot at this moment, sleeping on the floor outside her bedroom, hearing the various noises that indicate trouble breathing, difficulty in getting out of bed; I have never had to handle this sort of challenge on a daily basis. The Lord is pouring kindness upon me ... and patience... and wisdom in a whole new realm of life.

When she was 82, I wrote a poem for her and framed it and sentit for M-Day. She really liked it. Since I’m in Tacoma for this"decade" change, I thought I’d share it.


Mom --
lately, thinking of you
makes me smile.

Jesus said we must be
childlike to inherit
the Kingdom of God.
[Childlikeness has not come easily
to you or to me.]
And ...
I see the "child"

A gray-haired,

a quicker-to-laugh,
grateful and grace-giving child
of a grace-giving God.

A child --
listening for train whistles
watching lions roar and eagles fly,
waiting in wonder for the sight
over the next hill, around the next bend.

And --
Not fearing
the Last Bend.

Like a child returning Home
A Father's arms
will greet you.

[90th b-day event; a number of kids, g-kids, g-g-kids and other connections missing, but this is Saturday’s "pile" of folks. She was one happy and very surprised lady!]


S. Etole said...

You have, and are, blessing her well. And that blessing is a gift ... for both of you.

Mary said...

May God continue to grant you patience and wisdom as you minister to your mom. May there be sweet moments together and laughter.

Your poem is beautiful!!


Unknown said...

That...was a wonderful tribute. May God continue to heal and restore.

Beth said...

I've been specifically praying for you as you do this "walk of love."
Wonderful poem--I try to impress upon my students how much a written 'from the heart' poem or letter means to the recipient.

Know you and your family are still surrounded by bloggers'prayers.

Sandra Heska King said...

I am so glad I didn't miss this!