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She said, “I will always be with you…”

Today we woke up to a phone call at 5:00 am that our dear sweet mother had graduated to heaven. She is in truth my dear mother-in-law, but I call her my mother-in-love. The label mother-in-law often gets a bad rap. And I have nothing to contribute to that often misunderstood idea. I had a wonderful relationship with my ‘other mother’ and she is leaving a huge hole in my heart. I am happy she is no longer suffering but my heart aches with just how much I will miss her.

The one virtue I will treasure above all else is that she was a woman who left a legacy of love and joy. She loved us in generous ways. She had so much joy in her heart despite weathering  storms that many of us will never have to face. The stark truth is she knew how to turn her tragedy into living a joy filled life punctuated with gratitude. She has been so brave through many years of physical suffering. I take comfort in knowing that she will always be with me and our family cheering us on as the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in Hebrews 12:1.

Around her 90th birthday she was failing and I wrote this post when we came close to saying goodbye to her six years ago.

I Will Always Be With You….

Do you ever wonder what the statement means

“I will always be with you?”

When someone knows that soon they may be graduating to heaven and they look you in the eye and speak those words? I was hit full force tonight by those very words as I kissed my beloved Mom-in-love goodnight in the hospital. She turned 90 yesterday, and we had planned a big celebration. Her heart and spirit wanted to cooperate but her body would not. Out of her control she had undergone a critical surgery a few days earlier and had to spend her 90th birthday in the hospital.

We collected letters and pictures from family and friends and presented it to her in a scrapbook.

We read aloud our tributes. We told her as she lay frail in that hospital bed what a difference her life has made. We shared memories, our love but most of all we honored the Jesus we have witnessed through her life.

You see she knows that this life is not all there is. She knows that this life is just a dress rehearsal for something greater, something grander, something beyond what we could even imagine.

And so she waits.

She is ready.

But we are not.

We don’t want to let her go because we love her, she has a place in our hearts that can’t be replaced.

So we wait, we hope, we pray she gets better. Instead she whispers to each of us as we left this evening, “Remember, I will always be with you.”

Jesus said a similar statement in Matthew 28:20. Before he left this earth he commissioned his disciples and then told them he would be with them always. Words to empower and words of comfort. I am sure the disciples had mixed emotions as they watched Jesus leave them with those words ringing in their ears,

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I guess when I stop to reflect tonight, my sweet mom-in-love was doing just that. She was reminding us that we will be together for eternity with our Jesus. Her life and love we will carry in our hearts until we see each other once again in the presence of our God. We don’t know when her exact graduation date is, but she clearly wanted us to know that we need to be ready to let her go.

As I left her room tonight a flood of tears overwhelmed me. “I will always be with you” echoed through my heart as I walked out the hospital doors. Thank you Jesus for a godly mother who is looking forward to heaven.

Cinderella, Redemption and the Noise of the Election

My father has affectionately called me his Cinderella for as long as I can remember.

My story unlike the fairytale Cinderella, is not a tale of servant girl to living happily ever after with her prince. Rather it is a tale of experiencing brokenness to understanding redemption and what it means to walk out what the word redeemed means everyday of my life.

Part of my understanding of redemption is what you might call coming of a mature “spiritual age.” In other words, it has taken me a long time to get it. And still, I don’t do it perfectly or like Paul said, Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)

I long to live the concept of Jesus redemption to the rest of the world.

This isn’t going to be a weighty post or a deeply theologically one that would make you hit the share button. But rather a reflection of redemption in contrast to all the noise that seems to be quite deafening lately.

It’s been really hard to not jump in and join the rants and raves on social media with our own country days away from a historic election. I’ve read and listened, watched and prayed on what seems to have imploded. It makes me sick and sad all at the same time and I wonder, just wonder what God sees when he watches.

Today, was a fresh reminder of that as we had our windows repaired and the two men who came to the house. One had an accent and I asked him where he was from. He hesitated and said he was originally from Mexico. As we began to talk, he shared with me how he loved his job but he was sensing hate and fear recently when he showed up at various homes. It made him nervous he said as lawns were littered with signs of campaign supporters that he knew were disparaging about his own heritage. It made me sad and I assured him he was welcome to his own thoughts and opinions in my home.

And so today, as the noise continues to try and crowd out learning what it means to live walking out being redeemed in Jesus, I offer these thoughts.

God is in the process of redeeming all of us with the noise and madness of our world.

It signifies just how patient He really is. I actually struggle with God’s patience at times. And yet, I know it is a part of the narrative that is being written of redemption.

I ask you, can we walk as redeemed human beings and to our very best ability practice the virtues that reside in the hallows of our own personal redemption?

Can we in our bantering back and forth choose carefully to state our opinions with both courage and yet let them be sprinkled with kindness?

There is a line in the recent remake of Cinderella where at the end of the story her prince discovers his mystery princess and asks,

Who are you?

She steps forward and says,

I am Cinderella, I’m no princess I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry and I don’t even know if that beautiful slipper will fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am?

For some reason as I watched this, the word beautiful word redemption came to mind in the midst of all that is screaming at us. And I saw myself presenting myself to the Prince of Heaven asking the same question.

Will you take me, as I am each and every day? To which He whispered yes and I pursued His promises later in the day to fill the ache of not feeling at that moment redeemed.

You are my treasure. Exodus 19:5

I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

When you are serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. Jeremiah 29

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

This is the redemption God longs to give to us through His son Jesus as we present ourselves with all of our flaws and failings so that we may give back in our world.

He longs to redeem us to Himself and create in us a new person full of all the virtues that His redemption represents every single day.

There is a catch.

We have to be willing to admit our need for redemption and choose to live it out with His truth and grace.

Redemption then comes full circle and each day we can wake up with confidence believing that our lives matter and our own realization of our redemption in Jesus can make a difference to all we encounter. Yes, even in the messiness of what’s taking place, we can bring the essence redemption.