Monday, April 22, 2019

Dear Mom

There will probably always be moments in life that bring back the shock of that early morning phone call. I lay in bed this morning and re-lived it all -- the numb, slow motion process of getting ready to leave for Arkansas; the appearance of kind friends and the sweet gifts of love; the out of body feeling of just doing the next thing. I let my mind replay planning a funeral and greeting the long, long line of visitors until my feet tingled and my smile turned plastic. I felt again the utter exhaustion and laying on the floor searching for words while my family slept and the tears flowed.

We didn't have a chance to tell you goodbye, Mom. There were no long days and weeks of lingering and pain and last words. There was no declining and watching you fade away by inches. You were here one day, and gone the next; voice vibrant and suddenly silent. Many people have commented on how hard the suddenness must have been. Quite honestly, I've always been glad that's how you could go.

The truth is, there is no 'easy' when it comes to death. There might be pros and there might be cons; there might be easier and harder, in some ways. But there is no 'easy '.

Today a friend's mom is no longer here. Her story was completely different than ours - different parts harder and easier, if you will. But as I've watched her experience unfold and allowed myself to relieve my own, I'm reminded again that death has no 'easy'.

At the same time, I'm also reminded it has no power, no victory and no permanency! It is a strange paradox of pain and rejoicing, of sweet memories and tearful goodbyes, of heart wrenching finality and joyful anticipation.

So today Mom,  I embrace all of it. I'm imagining you welcoming my friend's mom to the choir; showing her around and rejoicing that another child has come home. At the same time, I'm wiping tears and lifting my friend in prayer, because death has no 'easy' and we miss you both oh, so much.

Enjoy the sights for me, Mom. One of these days there will be no more tearful goodbyes, what a day that will be!

Love,  Bethany

"Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ... and with His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4 and 5

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

John 15

Thoughts on memorizing John 15......

15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman."

These are the words I've been listening to over and over for the past month. After reading the laborious laws and rituals commanded over and over to the Children of Israel, the deep, relational words of John 15 have felt soothing to me.

15:4 "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."

No more meticulous law keeping, no more sacrifices and offerings; I cannot produce fruit on my own. Come, says Jesus. I want a relationship with you.

15:10 "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

Yes, your fruit is important; I want you to follow me. But I want that fruit to be a result of our relationship, because you love me.

15:15 "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

Friends. Is there any sweeter relationship than that? Friends. We tell each other everything.

15:19 "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

You are different; called out; special. Don't be surprised when you don't fit in. I have chosen you. You are mine, not the world's.

Abide in me, abide in me.... how I long to rest in that place as effortlessly as the branch in the vine. How I long to abide in Him and He in me, so that His fruit spills out because that's all that is in me to bring forth.

John 15 was a familiar passage but committing it to memory has made the words there richer and sweeter.

"A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred." ~Amy Carmichael