Tag Archives: birthday

She Would Be 62…

Today is my mom’s birthday.  I wrote that sentence and immediately questioned my grammar.  My mom passed away eight years, eight months, and twenty-five days ago.  Today would be my mom’s birthday…if she were still here.  I did have to pause and count the years, months, and days.  I do not sit around keeping track of that on a daily basis.  From time to time, though, it is good to sit for a minute and count.  To remember…

Some days it seems longer than that; other days, it seems like just yesterday that I sat next to her bedside after she had taken her last breath.

Some people live life as if tomorrow may never come.  They throw all caution to the wind, and they live.  Before my mom’s cancer diagnosis (which came six months prior to her death), she already lived that way. There was always a new project, a new class, and a new friend.  After she died, I spent years cleaning out her belongings because there was simply so much to go through – halfway finished cross-stitching, crates of projects, and books…so many books.

When my mom died, she had come to terms with it.  She did not feel punished by it necessarily, and she did not exactly welcome it (although by the time it came, she had so much pain from the cancer that it was likely a relief).  But she had accepted it.  She had a strong faith that Jesus and had died for her sins and that she would go to heaven to celebrate life with Him.

Every once in a while, I ask myself if I have come to terms with her death and if I have accepted it.  I have that same faith; I believe very strongly that she will be in the presence of her Lord.  Having that certainty is comforting – no doubt – and I do not doubt God’s goodness just because she is no longer with us.  I do not understand why she had to die at such a young age, but I understand that we all do die.  I am not sure any of us die at the time when our loved ones think it is the right time.  I also do not think that a “right” time for my mom to die could have ever come.

Life does not stop just because someone passes away, but I think our current society does not know how to mourn well.  To a certain extent, I would like to adopt some of the Jewish customs of mourning.  I particularly would have appreciated the shiva time – the one week of mourning following the burial of the deceased.  During this time, extended family members and friends visit the home of the deceased where the first degree relatives gather for the week.  One of the most compelling parts (to me) of the shiva tradition is that those close family members of the deceased are not the one who entertain the visitors nor are they obligated to greet or talk to the visitors.

Those who visit do so to care by being present with those who mourn.

Ministering through presence to those who grieve also seems to be a lost art.  I do not do it well.  I want to speak words of encouragement or share from my own experience. I need to learn to shut up and sit down next to those in mourning and just be quiet with them or to listen…but mostly, I just need to allow them to be what they need to be.  Mourning has its own face in each of us, and we need to learn to allow those faces their places in our society.

Other parts of Jewish tradition concerning the death of parents that I feel particularly drawn to include those that commemorate the parent’s death each year in a special way – with a lighting of a candle or with fasting.  The concept of fasting on a parent’s “death day” makes me think of a way to empty myself once again, to remember deeply, and to then break the fast the next day and celebrate that life is still here and must be lived.  Pausing to remember is good.  Having time set aside to do this allows us to give mourning a place, to recognize it, and then to move away from it and continue to live.

In giving death its due recognition as something that happens, as something that causes pain to those who remain, and as something that we all will experience, we can learn to live.  Today may very well be our last – not because we have cancer diagnosis but because death can surprise us in any way.  Knowing that, recognizing that, and accepting that should free us to live.

What are you living for today? 

What life-changing, soul-inspiring, and breath-taking moment awaits you?

Even if she is not here, it is my mom’s birthday, and she would want us all to celebrate…

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Happy Birthday to My Huz!

303267_695547282360_184905552_35595392_499482794_nToday is a great day because we celebrate the birthday of my huz!  Thanks to the flexibility that my job provides sometimes, I will have birthday lunch with him.  Tonight, we will dedicate the entire evening as a family to him as we have birthday dinner and then something “birthday”-ish.  The girl took him to dinner and a movie on Saturday night because she is cool like that.

Almost seventeen years ago, I said, “I do,” in front of many people at the front of Grace Baptist Church.  The same reasons that I had for saying that then remain today and are why we celebrate my huz on this anniversary of his birth. 

He is loyal, kind, serving, gracious, and an amazing thinker and communicator.  I cannot imagine being married to anyone else.  He has put up with my imperfections, my selfishness, and my Italian-ness (which, by the way, does not always play out well in Minnesota).  I am blessed because he blesses me.

More than just how he blesses me, though, I am moved to share today about how he blesses others. 

My huz is a hospitable man.  For the past several years, we have hosted the church family for a Super Bowl party.  He works hard for weeks beforehand putting together the menu, preparing the food, considering who will be here and what food intolerances they might have, and rearranging our house to fit the needs of a crowd that ranges from 50-80 people.  He has made gourmet pizzas, egg rolls of many flavors, fajita bowls, and more.

My huz is a great communicator of God’s word.  The view from the pastor’s wife’s perspective is rare, but I will share.  I know what time he awakes each morning, how seriously he prepares for not only Sunday mornings but each meeting, and where he spends his time each day.  In order to be able to communicate what he does so well, he reads and reads and reads some more.  He is dedicated to the original languages as well as to several translations in order to ensure that his congregation hears most clearly what God intended to share with His people.  This is a drive inside of him that pushes him to know more so that he can share more.

My huz has a deep desire that all will come to know that Jesus Christ died to save them from sin, free them from guilt, and allow them to have life everlasting.  I have the honor to sit in the front row of the church most Sunday mornings.  I see his emotions, hear the catches in his voices, and know when the tears will start to flow down his cheeks.  A young person sat behind me a few weeks ago and asked the adult sitting next to her why the pastor cries when he preaches.  The adult responded, “Because he believes this so strongly.”  It is so true.

Happy Birthday, huz!  You encourage me to be a better person, partner with me making me a better mother, and inspire me to share the love of Christ with others. 

May you be blessed as you bless others!

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Happy 16th Birthday to the Girl!

There is truly no other way that I can post today except to honor the girl that God entrusted me to raise.  She is a compassionate, kind, and brilliant young lady.  I am proud to be her mother, and I know that she will do great things in her future as she does great things every day.  I guarantee that we would be friends even if we were not related.

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Sixteen years ago, the girl came along a month too early.  As the (pastor) huz mentioned in his sermon this week, he called a friend and said, “Jim, she just didn’t come at the right time.”  But she did – she came in God’s timing.  The huz and I had not turned 22, had not been married even a year, and had not finished college.  She came in the middle of my final senior semester.  I had to change a few classes because of her early arrival. She went back into the hospital for jaundice and RSV, and the first few months were really hard.  Her timing was just out of whack.

And she has kept us on our toes every since!

But – she is more than an interruption or something to be endured…she is a blessing, and she always has been.  Even in the first few months when we had no idea what we were doing as parents (and had to rely on a lot of advice), she was a blessing. She was beautiful, and she has been beautiful throughout her entire life.

As a girl of sixteen, she blesses us daily.  Oh – she is a teen and has her times of difficulty, but overwhelmingly, she is awesome.  The huz and I will have had a long day, and we come home to find that she has cleaned the kitchen without being asked to do so. She has an empathetic heart and cares about those around her.  She wants to include those who might be left out at the lunch table or in a class.  This past summer, she spent many weeks at camp.  The huz and I had the chance to see her in action, and we were impressed.

I have to admit that I am not ready for her to be sixteen. I am not ready for her to start driving a car alone, for her to have a summer job, or for her to receive emails from three or four colleges each day.  The reality that we are marching more and more quickly to her departure is one that scares me while it excites me for her.

I know that her future is bright and filled with great things that God has planned for her, but I want her to always remember that I am her mom.  I want her to ask my opinion just one more time while I want to prepare her to make decisions on her own.  I want to be important to her, but I need realize that I am no longer the center of her universe.  Maybe I never was.

Regardless of how I feel about today, I want her to know that I am blessed to be her mother, I am proud of her, and even if she does not think she needs it – I will always pray for her.

Happy Birthday, Darlin’!

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Surprise!

Yesterday was Rick’s birthday.  Rick was the star of a previous blog post: “My Adoption – A Fairytale.”

Getting Rick the perfect present is not easy. The man has all of the gadgets one could possibly want.  He is a frequent stayer at Sam’s Club, so he sees the gadgets, buys the gadgets, and shares the gadgets!  We have been blessed to have some gadgets as well: turkey fryer, quesadilla maker, and more!

Surprising Rick is not easy either.  He has a Facebook account so that he can keep up on all of the happenings of his friends and family.  He is not much for writing status updates himself, and getting him to “like” a post is pretty much as active as he gets.  However, this past summer when my son posted a picture of his swollen eye due to a bug bite, Rick knew – because of Facebook – before I did.  In fact, he texted me to find out what happened!

Yesterday, though, I surprised Rick.  Early in the morning, I called Hugo’s (the grocery store across the street) and ordered balloons for delivery. I still giggle when I think about the man protesting to me, “The only thing across the street from us is an appliance store.”  I kindly told him that I meant across the other street!  As I heard from Rick himself, the balloons showed up at the same time that his sister called to wish him a happy birthday and just as his wife and her daughter entered the motel with birthday lunch.  He was surprised!  The full package was a great mind picture for me from five hours away, and I am glad that so many people celebrated him.  What fun!

We spend a lot of time running around doing things for ourselves and for our jobs, but sometimes we need to think about others.  November is National Adoption Month, and I have been challenged to think about orphans and their plight for the past 15 days.   Adoption and orphan care is just one way that we can think beyond our own lives.  Our neighbors, our families, and our friends need to know that we think about them and that we care about them.

I am awful at remembering birthdays.  Thank goodness for Facebook and its reminders! Thank goodness for Facebook and its ability to write on people’s walls with some special thought.  I am also horrible at remember other days that are important to those who are important to me.  However, I do love to get things for people when I think of them.  When I saw chocolate chip cookie dough in a box for sale at Target, I had to buy some for my friend who loves cookie dough.  When I see chocolate at CVS while picking up a prescription, I have to buy some for our church custodian.  He also likes Pepsi, but I will not spend money on Pepsi!

Taking the time to celebrate our friends, families, and coworkers, as well as reaching outside of own homes into causes such as post-prison ministries and orphan care is important.  What will I do today to show someone else that they are important to me?  Yesterday, I sent Rick balloons.  Today, I will ….

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