Everything Happens in God’s Timing!
My mother told me she always wanted children, but at first, it just didn’t happen. She said she felt sad, but whatever the reasons, she also felt God knew best.
Then ten years after she and my father married, my brother was born. Eleven years later, I was born! Twelve years later, my brother’s first child was born. In the next six years, two more grandchildren followed. And then twenty years after the first grandchild, another grandchild was born. My mother said God gave her a Gift in allowing her active mothering and close grandmothering to last for so many years.
Take delight in The Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Can You See Me?
I slept in the room with my parents, my single bed next to their bed. This was fortunate because of two problems I had.
I was very nearsighted and I had an active imagination. In the nighttime hours, the shadows on the wall easily turned into monsters. When I reached out and touched my mother in the dark, they would go away. She would squeeze my hand and I knew all was well.
When my brother went to college, I was “promoted” into my own room. This was exciting until nighttime came. When the monsters arrived on the first night, I screamed in terror.
My mother patiently explained that while the shadows did look strange, they were just shadows. She demonstrated by turning on the light. It did seem better. But as soon as she left the room, the monsters came back. I begged to go back to her room. She was firm that I was in my own room now and it would be ok.
But in an act of Mercy, she arranged my bed so she could see it from her bed in the next room. It didn’t completely solve the problem, since I could not see her. But when I called out from my bed, “Mother, can you see me?” she always answered, “Yes, Carolyn, I’m right here. I can see you.”
I was eventually “promoted” to other places far outside her physical vision. I went to college. I lived in other places after college. And then one day Mother was “promoted” to the place God had prepared for her in Heaven. In the midst of grief, I found myself calling out silently, “Mother, can you see me?”
And the funny thing was that God allowed her to answer me in my mind, “Yes, Carolyn, I’m right here. I’m just in the next room. I can see you.” I would come to know that it was God Himself speaking. As recorded in Isaiah 66:13, God said,
“As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you …”
How To Handle Storms
Thunder storms were common in South Carolina. Thunder didn’t just roll. It shook the whole house. The lightening would light up all the houses all the way down the street. Frequently the electricity “went out.”
Everything would stop and in-between lightening, all would be dark. I never liked the dark. Those same monsters threatened to show up in the dark. But my mother would get out the kerosene lanterns and light them. We would cluster together near the lights. I’d get in her lap and she would rock and sing. She sang various soothing songs, but my favorite was “God Will Take Care of You.”
She insisted I sing. And then she would change the words to “God will take care of me.” Then she would say, “God will always take care of you, Carolyn. Don’t ever forget that. There will always be storms, but He will take care of you.”
I had many storms in my life after those South Carolina ones. Frequently I would find myself singing, “God will take care of me …” And He did.
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Then He got up and rebuked the winds
and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The Unseen Guide and Protector
As I grew, I developed a streak of independence. I frequently said rather defiantly, “I can do it myself.” Mother let me do many things. When I crashed, she never said, “I told you so.” She simply picked me up and assured me things would go better the next time.
On the first day of school, we forgot a form that had to be completed. My mother assured the teacher she would bring it after school. When I arrived home, I announced I would take it back to the school. This would involve walking four blocks, turning onto a busy street, walking a few more blocks and then crossing that busy street.
When my mother told me she would walk with me and we’d take it together, I informed her I was in the first grade and I could take it “all by myself.” To my surprise, she said, “OK.”
I bravely started down the street. The neighbor’s big dog barked. I jumped and considered going home. I looked around. There was no one in sight. I walked on. I felt a little disoriented. Even with my new glasses, things didn’t look quite the same when I was walking alone.
But I made it all the way to school and proudly delivered the form and returned home. If my mother looked a bit tired, I never noticed. Years later, she told me of how she had followed close behind, hiding behind trees and fending off the dog herself. She also told me how proud she was of me when I was very careful crossing the street.
We may think we are walking alone in life, but we aren’t. Even when we are being stubborn, God will guide us.
Whether you turn to the right or the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you,
“This is The Way; walk in it.”
The Road Goes Anywhere You Want It To Go!
My mother enjoyed painting. Her paintings were all over our house. One picture was of a road that wound around a curve and disappeared into the distance.
I asked my mother where the road went. Instead of telling me, she asked me, “Where do you think the road goes?” I would come up with various destinations and tell her all about them. She would ask me questions to help me make more complete scenes in my mind. And then she would tell me what she saw. We spent many happy hours traveling that road together.
As I was nearing college and considering an uncertain future, I asked her again, “Where does the road go, Mother?” She smiled and said, “It can go anywhere you would like it to go, Carolyn. But be sure to ask God for the directions!”
She never forced her views on me. She gently guided me and allowed me to choose the roads I chose in life, even when some were not the roads she would have chosen for me. The journey was always easier when I asked God for directions. (And thank God — He allows U turns!)
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
You Are A Part of The Story!
My mother never simply read a book to me. She acted it out. She changed her voice to be each character. She put the book down and acted out the parts. She was so funny!
But not only would she act out the stories, she would encourage me to get in on the act. She would say, “Today, you be the rabbit!” And I’d act out the parts to the tune of her laughter.
Then the day came when she stopped right in the middle of a story. I wondered if something was wrong with her. Instead of completing the story, she said, “What do you think happened next?”
I said, “I don’t know. You haven’t read that part yet.”
She said, “No … you finish the story. Don’t let other people be the only ones to tell the stories. You tell the story too. Your story may be better!” So I’d make up a part of the story that came next, and then she would chime in with a part, and sometimes we never read what the author intended.
Later as I began to write stories and plays, I realized the seeds of telling a good story had been planted by my mother. Even today, I find myself thinking of alternate endings to tv shows and movies.
Finishing is better than starting …
Success Is In The Details!
If I said, “I think I might do …” and then I’d lay out some dream, my Mother would say, “How are you going to do that?”
And I would say, “Oh I’m not doing it now. I was thinking I might do it one day.”
She would then counter with, “When? When are you going to do it?”
She said, “Success is in the details. When we take a trip, we know where we want to end up. We may change course on the way, but we still have some idea of when we are going, where we want to go and how we might get there.”
My Mother taught me how to combine dreams with reality.
Many of my dreams have been accomplished with focus and figuring out the details and deadlines for getting where I wanted to go. However, as Mother reminded me, God is The One with The Plan. She winked and added, “He knows where you are going and how you are going to get there, but He will let you help ‘pack the car’ for the trip!”
“For I know The Plans I have for you,”
declares The Lord,
“Plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Letting Go and Letting God
Most parents like the feeling they can protect their children from anything bad. It seems to be easier when we can just grab them out of harm’s way. However, the time came when Mother could not rescue me.
Life had seemingly dealt enough blows that I no longer trusted anyone. I willfully struck out on my own and as on my first day of school, I declared I could “do it myself.” However, the unseen Mother was still on the job, on her knees in prayer for me.
Later in life, when we remembered those times, she said, “I prayed for you constantly. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew God did and He was with you every second. I thanked God that He was with me and He was with you. I thanked God that He knew what to do when I didn’t. I trusted Him for both you and me.”
Her Love and Prayers brought me to a place where I knew once again I needed to ask God for the directions. He brought me home.
Trust in The Lord with all your heart
and lean not unto your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Forgiving Without Condemning
I actually was a well behaved child and teenager. While some of my friends were rebelling, I “colored within the lines” well. However, later in life, after a difficult divorce, I set out to reinvent myself. I must say God is a much better Creator than I. The “me’s” I tried to create were total flops.
I praise Him, not only for restoring my life, but for renewing it when I surrendered to His Loving Creation of the “me” He intended all along.
At some point when I was searching for my way “back home,” I talked to Mother about a “friend” who had committed all kinds of sins. I told her that my “friend” really wanted to make a turn around, but was afraid that she could never make anything right again. I asked Mother what I should tell my friend.
She looked at me with all the Love in The Universe. I saw a few tears fall before she hastily mopped them up with her apron. She came and put her arms around me. She just held me for a long few moments.
I felt forgiveness coursing through my body. She then stepped back and looked at me directly. In that moment I knew she knew it was not my friend. It was me. I wondered what she was about to say.
She said, very tenderly, “You are right to tell your friend to ask God’s Forgiveness. But tell her she must be sure to accept His Forgiveness. Tell your friend she needs to thank God that He will forgive her. Tell your friend she needs to forgive herself. And tell your friend that she is free now. Tell her to walk free.”
And just as quickly, she asked me what I would like for supper. From time to time after that, she would ask me, “How is your friend?”
I told her my friend was doing much better. She said, “That’s good. I pray for your friend.” She never asked me what my friend’s name was, as she usually did when she was going to pray for someone. She knew.
“Neither do I condemn you,”
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Packing Your Bag In Advance
My mother always straightened up the house before she left it. She said, “One day you will not be able to come home, and your house will be as you left it. What do you want others to find?”
She approached her spiritual life in the same way. She memorized scripture and poetry with “good messages.” She said she prayed that she “would always have her good mind.” But, she added, “Your mind is like a chest of drawers. You control what you put in there today. But one day someone else may open those drawers. All they will find is what you put there. Put good things in your mind and in your spirit.”
Mother taught a Sunday School class for years. When she was old, she had difficulty reading. She told the class she thought she needed to give it up to someone else. However, the ladies of the class would not hear of it. They said she had so much spiritual insight and Words of God’s Truth, they could not do without her teaching. They read the lesson to her to see what she would say. The ladies of the class said she had so much of God packed inside of her, that it just overflowed to them.
I have hidden Your Word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
I Could Never Forget You!
My parents lived a happy, independent life into their nineties. One day on the way back from the grocery store, a car hit them. My mother was never able to go home again.
I spent a remarkable week with her when she was in the hospital. It was remarkable because, even in the midst of intense suffering, she refused to let satan gain even an inch.
She lay in bed and prayed for every family member by name, invoking God’s richest blessings on each of us. She prayed for the doctors, nurses and anyone who worked in that hospital. She raised her hands to The Lord and just praised Him for the wonderful life she had had. She sang hymns of praise through her pain.
She tenderly expressed love to everyone. Most touching was hearing her say to my father, “Horace, God has been so good to us throughout our entire life. How could we do anything but trust Him now?”
She held his hands and said, “God made you for me and me for you. And He will take care of us. God will take care of you. He will. I know He will.”
The day I was to return home (I lived in another state), Mother was a little confused because of an electrolyte imbalance. Just before I had to leave, the doctor came in. He asked the usual questions to determine her mental status. He asked her if she knew her name, where she was, etc.
Then he pointed to me and said, “Do you know who she is?” My mother smiled the smile I loved so much — the one that seemed to just open the floodgates of Love. And then she said, “Of course, I know her.”
She grabbed my hand, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Carolyn, I could never forget you. I love you so much.” And then she fell asleep.
That was the last time I saw my mother in her earthly body. Her Benediction is a Gift I treasure. She is a part of me and her continued love as a member of that “great cloud of witnesses” sustains me every day.
Love one another,
as I have loved you …
Mother’s Day Message
My mother’s life is summed up well in Paul’s words to the Philippians. When I read his words, I can hear her saying it.
Rejoice in The Lord always.
I will say it again; Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
And The Peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable —
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —
think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received from me,
or seen in me —
put into practice.
And The God of Peace will be with you!