Many years ago a man would gather with his friends for a dinner…his last dinner with them. Among them would be a deceiver, a betrayer, a doubter, young, old, men and women. He would take a path few desire and even fewer choose. He would set the example as one who serves, offers…loves.
This year my family will gather but there will be a space at the table and a heart beat that skips for the ones who are not with us. I always longed for a family, for reunions, for memories of loved ones seated together in love, respect, and gratitude. I pursued it by creating it for others…that which I did not have in my own life. When I had a family of my own, I opened the door to those who found themselves alone, lonely, hoping for the same thing…to be included.
I am grateful for so very many things in my life and I thank God for all He has done in my life; loss, birth, friendship, adversity, joy, pain, tears, sleep, and hope. I grieve, however, for the attitudes I see in our country this week. Some hope for a voice, others utilize the grieving of others as an opportunity to pulpit their perspectives with violence as if violence has ever caused anything more than pain and death for the sake of power for the few and momentary freedom for the many.
I do not know what the next year may bring, but I will endeavor to embrace those who have no connection, no family, no friend, and have lost hope of love. I will do it with kindness, prayer, food, shelter, and love. There will always be those who differ in opinion and choose various ways of impressing that opinion on others with passionate pleas of prejudice backed with bullets and batons, but some of us will use the weapons of faith in love.
Many of us will gather tomorrow and amongst those present will be much the same as Yeshua faced. We know the back stories in our own families, but still we seek connection–some for love, some out of respect, some to look proper, some hoping to reconnect, to resolve, to forgive and forge a stronger connection, a stronger future. May we find strength and may prayers be answered for hope and a future that is brighter than today and that will not be eclipsed by hatred, strife, and jealousies. How blessed it is when brethren dwell in unity together.
How does a heart grow? For with every beat it paces itself even closer to its own end. At times, it races and strengthens the force with which it will drive the vessel forward, within which it lives. At others, it slows to such a stillness that it is almost imperceptible; when pain and suffering encroach upon its borders and leave the gasp of a heart desiring to beat but bound tightly in an unmerciful grasp that left to its own devices will succeed in crushing the spirit of an individual and ultimately, its spirit of life.
But a heart is an unbelievable organ that possesses self-protective mechanisms that allow it a dimension of life that cause the mind to marvel. Its fibers appear to work in unity but possess the capability to function as individuals should an event occur that necessitates the intercession of this ability.
There exists a heart that cannot be held with human hands but can be seen and heard with more resonance than that which beats within the human body. It can behold great aspirations and hope for great things not yet manifested in the physical. Perseverance is fed by it, and it can surpass even death in its eternal ability to inspire others, who will duplicate its energy and provide encouragement.
It is this that cannot be seen that enables the physical organ to override the broken parts closed or barely flowing due to the excesses of life, physical and emotional. The spiritual enlarges it borders beyond what man and technology find possible to restore. The heart that cannot be seen and yet gives more life than its physical component and will produce effects that are more enduring. It is with this heart that we love, grow, inspire, persevere and hope. The heart that will await patiently that which it has hoped for, endure great measures of pain for a moment of love and fade like smoke in the wind if not nurtured by even the smallest measure.
It is with this kind of heart that I wait upon the Lord. It is this heart He seeks…that will wait, hope, persevere and love as He loves; see as He sees and hear His voice when it is but the faintest whisper within; it’s desire for that which gives it life is insatiable and yet simultaneously content with what God has given. I must hold this heart within myself and while waiting love, laugh, cry, breathe, hope, dream, and endure. But my heart is only half full, for it beats with another’s that makes its joy full, its hopes fulfilled, its breath deep, and its love fresh and renewing; it is in cleaving to this heart, I am made complete. It is the one I was fashioned from within and his heart completes my own and to him I return the heart of love he built and perfected. Freely, I give it.
It’s been a decade now since my mother-in-law, Lourdes, passed away. I married her baby son 26 years ago in November. It was never a great relationship. She was the ‘matriarch’ of her family but had grown up the baby in her own family. She had grown up in a large family of Spanish/Taos Indian descent and being the baby she had grown up used to having her way and being the center of attention. Her baby son had always been a treasure for her. She was pregnant 16 years after his birth and being older found comfort and love in his attentive care. He had married when he was 20 and divorced about 6 years before I met him. I found myself constantly being told about previous memories from his marriage and everyone was “civil”, but it was one of those families where the elephant’s under the rug and everyone walks over it like a speed bump near their favorite shopping place.
There would be many heartbreaks of their disapproval of me or probably the thought that no one was good enough for her son. I was determined I would prove that wrong.
My own mother had some pretty awful mother-in-laws. My mother is Korean and both of them were pretty vocal about mixing of white and other ‘races’. I was described by my own grandmother as that little ‘porch monkey’s children’. I didn’t really understand what that meant but that hillbillies in West Virginia had their own sayings. I would learn. My stepgrandmother referred to us as my son’s wife’s children…ugh! My mother always held her head up and was kind. When my stepgrandmother broke her hip and couldn’t get to the bathroom by herself, my mom was the one who wiped the trail of pee from the bed to the bathroom. She had just been widowed that year but she found pleasure in serving. After helping her thru breast cancer and the hip injury, my stepgrandma changed her attitude. I remember still today her telling me how sorry she was as she lay in the hospital bed about her treatment of my mother and how much she loved her and how we truly were her grandchildren and she was blessed to have us.
My story would end much the same. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and went into remission with treatment a year later, but in 2004 after my own mother’s stroke during a procedure, we were informed Lourdes had cancer in her spine and brain. They both lived in Florida and while I went to rehab for my own mother, now paralyzed and without speech, we took care of Ken’s mom. I drove from the East Coast to Orlando for a few weeks and then I moved in with my two children. The other daughter-in-law, Bonnie, lived down the street and between the two of us, we kept her healthy and her spirits up. I would lay with her at night as she retired to bed and she would stroke my head and thank me for being there .I just cried. My own mother was withheld from me after weeks of going thru rehab with her. I raised the youngest brother and the middle one had always been jealous because he lived with my grandma and dad after our parent’s divorce. In an Asian family, number one son is #1. My mother always struggled with that issue. So I was pretty broken when I went into my mother-in-law to tuck her in one night and she asked how things were going and I broke down sobbing. She kept patting me on the back and kissing the top of my head while she lay there and spoke a wonderful gift into my life. She said, “Cheryl, I pray God blesses you the way you have blessed me during this time. I am sorry for anything I did to you, but I want you to know how much I love you and until you get to see your mom again, I will be your substitute mom.”
I would help care for her for 4 months. I taped many conversations and prayed she would live until her next wedding anniversary which was Christmas Eve. She died December 10, 2004. The week before we sang praises in her room. My son read her favorite psalms. I finished all the tapes and gave them as a Christmas gift. Each family member received a recording of her speaking about how she felt about them and their favorite picture of her in a travel alarm clock. I knew how important hearing her voice might be later.
My mother cannot speak anymore and is paralyzed on her right side. She is not the energetic, servant heart she was before, but she is still with us. I got her back about 7 years ago. It’s not easy. I also have my two grandsons and daughter living with me. But, there are times when I lay next to my mama and tell her how much I love her and forgive her for all the pain we endured together. She cries, strokes my head and kisses my face and we weep that things are not as we hoped but we love one another. She was the first one who changed my diapers and now we change hers. She came to America hoping to have a better life and raise a family and she did. She can’t read and write and now there is no voice, but I hear her still. I hear her in the love she gave and that I also followed as I loved others that were many times, not lovely; I pray for her deliverance but I am always grateful for her presence.
So to all mothers, both stay-at-home and working. Don’t think your children don’t see and learn. We’re watching your offerings of love, your perseverance, your willingness to serve and we will be going forward doing the same and remembering what we learned as we weep, hold you, and await the day we must walk through this life and do the same. Your voice will always be there as it was the day we took that first step and you celebrated our step into the world and nursed us when we fell.
Do not grow weary in doing good, the Word says, for in due time you shall reap a harvest if you do not lose heart. One mother’s gift of life would bring us our Messiah and He would bring eternal life for all who desire to walk loving, giving and serving purely for its own sake. May He bless you today.
In the end, there were no words, no walk down memory lane of all that we shared and loved. Only a last embrace and your spirit surrendering its last breath to the Lifegiver.
Then the blinding dawn crept in, the beginning of another day, where love seemed but a whisper and time eroded into a slow motion of every day events that wound down to coveted sleep, only to awaken to an empty cold where once love covered me like sunrise over the mountain.
Perhaps you lingered as you passed between this world and the next. I prayed and yearned for the pressing of your kiss to my cheek, but found only another tear, seeking its way into hands clasped tightly in desperate hope that it was surely a dream and not the fulfillment of my greatest fear of being left alone again on my own
Love hoped for a better finish, a sweeter moment, when we could embrace entering home together, finishing the race stronger. Yet now, I find myself yearning for the love you gave that made life exciting, challenging, and precious. Your laughter, your smile and the fearless embrace of all we were created to be.
Memories erupt and I’m drowning in a pool of tears filled with disappointment, pain and impenetrable darkness that has no form but veils me like the caterpillar that inches along and weary finds itself within its cocoon…quiet and alone.
But beneath this veil, the smallest trickle of life beats and dreams of the days of flight ahead and the eventual landing on the hand of the Beloved who brought life, healing and love within my reach. The journey was not long, but it was ours and it will continue for love has a life of its own and it will bear its beauty on the wings of a butterfly that will find its rest in the Hand that is awaiting its return.
Look under God’s Love Story for a study that helps to define how God sees the true intimate love relationship between man and woman. I will write a series after it that will begin in Genesis 1 and demonstrate how God set the pattern on how to LOVE INTIMATELY and that His Son, Yeshua, will also demonstrate and that we. as spiritual men and women, have possibly been ignorant of by following our cultural understanding of how a “marriage” should be. It is my conviction that those who have a desire to seek may find answers to the question of why those of us who claim to be spiritual are struggling as the world does with divorce, broken relationships, and unnecessary suffering.\
John 15:13: Greater LOVE has no man than this, that to lay down his life for a friend.
Woman was created to be loved, not lusted after and Men were created to be the ones to Love her. Man was created to be trusted, but women are finding that an impossible endeavor because of so many broken relationships. Women lay down their bodies hoping to find a special love from one man, however, prior experiences make it challenging for the “right” one who comes later in their lives and so women continue to lay down their hearts and rise up only to be broken again. Unfortunately, men pay a price in this too and the women they meet are not able to receive love and so the cycle continues. Who pays?
In the end, God pays. His love is not made full in this cycle of pain. Disillusioned, we either adapt to the status quo or end up lonely, alone, and ignorant to the fact that God’s desire for love was greater. He wanted more for all of us. He still does.
So join me as I take this journey of love. It is not a journey meant to point the finger at any particular gender. The enemy of both spiritual men and women is still ever present. If we keep that in mind, perhaps, we can learn to love greater than we have before. God made us physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual and spiritual beings with a choice. Let us see if we are making our own choices or following the crowd of victims in the endless cycle of pain.