Staying connected…..

My clothes dryer quit drying. Annoyance verging on catastrophe for this family that does laundry almost daily. So…my husband took it apart to fix it. He is blessed with many talents. Appliance repair is one. The initial diagnosis was failure of the heating element. This would have been relatively easy to fix. Except for the reality that the machine had to be completely dismembered to get to it!

He then began assessing various relays (whatever those are) and watching YouTube videos. At the end of the second day he was at a loss. Everything checked out fine. He began putting it back together. Easier to get rid of that way.

Brother-in-law was helping at this point. He noticed a little connector of some time and unplugged and reinserted it. The machine gave a promising beep. Reassembled. Working fine.

What a lesson! When my life is in disarray, I am at my wit’s end, things seem hopelessly out of sorts–maybe I just have a loose connection! The most important connection of all–to my God!

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself;it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me…………If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. John 15:4,7-9

There’s a lesson in everything, isn’t there?

A Life Sentence……..

I’ve recently been involved in a lot of conversations about parenting and was captivated by the comment that it’s a “life sentence.” I can think of worse ones, but it does have its ups and downs. Whether one becomes a parent through giving birth or adoption, the duration of the relationship is, indeed, lifelong. When you then consider the hoped-for progression of grandchildren and, if you’re lucky, great-grandchildren, filling a parent’s life, the reality of the lifelong commitment becomes clear.

Nobody ever said parenting is easy. Somehow offspring have a way of surprising parents. At lease that’s been my experience. An unexpected tattoo. Moving out when least expected. Moving back in when least expected. Relationship choices. Education choices. Sadly, tragedies insert themselves into families–the crisis of illness and the grief of loss. Through it all, the heart remains steadfastly invested in the relationship of parenting.

I looked out today and saw the two-day-old calf with it’s mother. I failed to catch a picture of it nursing but just stood and watched for a minute as it situated itself between the two adults. How special it is when a young person has more than one older adult to follow! I know my children and grandchildren have been blessed by teachers and church family and adult mentors.

Then the mother cow turned to caress her baby with her tongue. A portrait of maternal instinct and love. I am blessed to have great-grandchildren now. Children are good, grandchildren are grand, and great-grandchildren are great. My heart swells with love for each generation. I’ve found the maternal instincts only grow stronger. Perhaps because of greater maturity. Perhaps because one recognizes that not everyone experiences the blessing of multigenerational families. Even now I recognize in my 92-year-old mother evidence of her daily desire to be assured that I am healthy and safe and happy.

I wandered closer, hoping to get a clearer shot with my phone. And she saw me. Mother cow saw me. A low moo warned me not to get too close as, head down, she had eyes only for me. She was warning me. I could relate. A child’s scraped knee, a teen’s broken heart, an adult child’s crisis–all cause parents to leap into action. Even now I am on guard, wanting to protect my family from possible hurts. I love the line from the TV show Blue Bloods — “family comes first.”

I’ve been far from a perfect parent or grandparent, but I long to draw this family closer every day. I pray that someday my family can say of me:

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31;28

(And not to leave you gentlemen out–his children arise and call him blessed; his wife also, and she praises him.)

May God bless your family through you!

 

 

 

Memories…….

 

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Dear Daniel,

I found this picture the other day. It’s the way I like to remember you. Full of life and laughter and love. I still wonder sometimes if anything could have been done to save you. Fishing season this year I so longed to see you on the pond bank pulling a big bass from the water. Hunting season is here and I miss your excitement about it. You made such a production of planning and preparation and then the joy of the hunt.

Losing you changed us all. We still grieve. We still feel guilty at times. You would be, I think, I little irritated but a lot proud of me now. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. You were the one who prodded me to keep doing it. Therefore, you would be giving me a call to remind me that it is time for another post. I missed getting that call so badly!You were so proud of me when Freely Given was published. You wanted a signed (bad) proof copy that required corrections, acting like you were convinced that it would someday be of value. Now Colorado’s Choice is coming out, and you’re not here to cheer me on.

My writing has changed. My conversation has, too. Bringing suicide into awareness has become my soapbox. I share our story a lot. I don’t think it’s to get sympathy. I am just compelled to open the discussion, focus attention, direct people to sources of help, both to prevent suicide and to help survivors heal. I wish no other mother would ever have to lose a child in this way. I wish no other family would have to experience this pain. I long to be present and a source of support and comfort for those who fear a loved one’s suicide and for those who are living the nightmare.

You are always in my heart and thoughts. I see you in every picture of Kaci and Lorelai and recognize your love for the outdoors in your daughter’s joy as she becomes a “country” girl. Your craftsmanship is evident everywhere in this house. What creative gifts you had! I heard an author/speaker describe heaven as a place where we still use our God-given gifts. I hope that is so. It’s such a shame to waste yours.

I love you, Son,

Mom

 

 

 

Book Review: The first phone call from heaven

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Mitch Albom delights once again with the first phone call from heaven, a beautifully written and engrossing tale of a small town in Michigan, where eight “chosen” ones receive phone calls from departed loved ones. The Friday calls reiterate the truth that there is life beyond death, that “the end is not the end”.

As a believer with firm faith in a beautiful life everlasting, a place called heaven, and the concept that our loved ones are never really absent from our lives, the title intrigued me. Granted, the idea that my dad might ring on my smart phone to remind me of his continued existence, refresh my memories of him, strengthen my faith, or remind me of my very real hope for a better world beyond this life was a little farfetched. However, I found this novel to be something more than pleasant “escape” reading.

Mr. Albom masterfully reveals a glimpse of how the living are changed by the loss of a dear one and how a tangible sign from those who have died is often longed for. The fact that death often robs us of the opportunity for true closure, leaving words of love, apology, and explanation unspoken, threads its way through the novel. He explores the impact that today’s ever-present news media can have on people and towns who become the latest headline. Throughout the book, one finds intriguing historical tidbits outlining Alexander Graham Bell’s discovery and inviting consideration of how his invention has indelibly changed our lives. One soon finds oneself appalled at the twisted perspectives of the pilgrims who descend upon this quiet little town in search of a link to the hereafter. Questions are raised regarding the fundamental beliefs that drive various characters and how those beliefs are changed as events transpire.

The novel is a page-turner of a mystery, a poignant love story, a recounting of wrongs committed and lives changed and restitution made. It was a roller coaster of a read–superficial interest followed by assessment of lifelong beliefs, consideration of today’s love affair with instant communications, an aching need to see evil conquered by good, an irresistible force thrusting me toward the conclusion. I recommend it highly.

And, lastly, I must give notice to Mr. Albom’s last paragraph in the Acknowledgements. I think it speaks volumes about his gift of writing and consistent recognition as a best-selling author:

“Finally–and firstly–anything created by my heart or hand is from God, by God, through God, and with God.”

Well said, Mr. Albom.