Mother’s Day Grace

Gratitude Day 268

Fri., May 10, 2019

Proverbs 31:28-29 – Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

I’m not a mother. And this time of year, I become very acutely aware of this.

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While other women my age are being taken out for brunch or receive beautiful baskets of hanging flowers, I’m trying to not feel like the third wheel in any setting. I just want to slink away quietly into the shadows where no one can see how uncomfortable I feel.

It’s not anyone’s fault that I feel this way. These are my feelings, my struggle, my uncomfortableness with whether I do or do not fit into Mother’s Day celebrations and remembrances.

As we remember our moms and honor other women who have been a part of our lives, I’m confident there are lots of women who just want to pull a blanket over the head and stay under the covers until Monday when the world moves on from Mother’s Day. Women whose stories may be very different from mine … but also acutely aware that there’s a day once a year when they aren’t quite sure what their spot in this world is.

Women who have tried and tried for a baby … with no success.

Women who’ve lost a child … and yearn to see their precious baby (no matter what their age when they died) once again.

Women who miss their mom and would love to have just one more meaningful or pointless conversation with them.

Women who feel disappointed with the results of their parenting skills and only wish their child would be in a better spot.

Women who know they won’t be able to birth a baby and wonder what they did wrong to deserve this sentence.

Women who chose not to have children and feel like they have to defend this decision.

Women who feel abandoned by their mother and they wonder why their mom chose not to be fully a part of their lives.

Women who lost their mother at a young age and struggle with why this happened.

Women whose mother was not emotionally or mentally able to cope with life and may not have been available to their child.

And a whole bunch of other women whose stories should be on this list and aren’t.

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When I meet someone for the first time, a common question is, “How many children do you have?” It’s a normal question. One that should be easy to answer, right? My usual answer states that Hubby Rick has children and we have grandchildren. Awhile back, I was at an event and was introduced as the stepmom to one of Rick’s children. When this happens, I always feel a little cautious. Rick’s children have a mother … and it’s not me. His kids were young adults when Rick and I were married. They have never lived with us. My role just always feels a blurry. Once again, I’m confident that I’m not the only woman who feels this way.

Yes, I have been involved in lots and lots of children’s lives. Thankfully, Rick and I have had lots of quality time, including sleepovers, with our nieces and nephews, our grandchildren and sometimes even other little people that we have been entrusted with. I love playing games or cards with them, baking brownies or cupcakes, reading books together, watching a movie, going on a hike or a bike ride. I treasure these moments as some of the most special ones in my life.

But these moments don’t qualify me as a Mom. More than once, I’ve been in a store with some of our grandchildren and been mistakenly identified as the kid’s mom. Usually, one of the kids pipes up and says something like, “She’s not our Mom. She’s our grandma.” Then, there is the shift of eyes from the kids, to me, back to the kids … and they simply walk away. And we move on as well.

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For those of you who are mothers: please celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. Celebrate well. I hold no ill feelings towards you. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend with those who mean so much for you.

I share these words simply to bring to light that there are women who just feel a bit out-of-place on Mother’s Day. I simply ask that you extend them a little Mother’s Day grace. Acknowledge that this day maybe one that is uncomfortable for them. They may not be unsure of their spot or role. They may be sad and disappointed. And it’s OK.

When I served as a pastor and it was Mother’s Day, we would usually have a flower to give to the women who were present. I carefully chose the words I said, wanting to honor all women. I reminded folks that Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to honor and remember any woman who has been an important role model or person in your life. Lots of women can influence us and impact us. Why not honor all of these women today?

The last half of Proverbs 31 is entitled, “The Wife of Noble Character.” It’s an extremely comprehensive list of how a woman could and should life her life. The list is daunting. While reading it, you may wonder to yourself, “There is no one who can fulfill all of the things on this list.” And you would be right.

Yet, we can aspire to embody many things on this list. Whether we are a Mom or not. Whether we are a wife or not. Whether we would be considered a person of noble character or not. This isn’t a checklist for who is “good” and who is “bad” in God’s kingdom. This list doesn’t determine who is “in” and who is “out.” It’s a list intended to be an encouragement. Something to aspire to. A way to encourage us to give our all to God’s kingdom.

In the end, there’s only one thing that is needed. And this would be grace. I pray we all experience a little Mother’s Day grace this weekend. May we see this as the way we should live our lives every day, not just on a special occasion.

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For God’s unlimited amount of grace, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for unending amounts of grace in our daily lives. May we extend this same grace to anyone who needs a little more space and understanding these days. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 40 – I Made It Through the Day

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Mon., May 14, 2018

Psalm 105:4-5 – Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wondrous works he has done, his wonders, and the judgments he has pronounced.

I made it through the day. I made it through Mother’s Day.

Earlier last week, God’s strength showed up in a very unexpected way. My friend Mary sent me a card. It said:

Dianne – Thinking of you as Mother’s Day approaches. These milestones can be challenging. Hope you feel the love and support. Mary.

I’m not sure Mary fully understood what this Mother’s Day would entail. She didn’t need to. She had a hunch that this day might be more difficult than normal … and she sent a card.

I knew in advance that May 13, 2018 could be a perfect emotional storm for me.

This would have been Hubby Rick’s eldest son, Nate’s, 40th birthday. This is the first Mother’s Day since my Mom passed away. And I have come to dread Mother’s Day because I am not a Mom. While I know it is a special day for many women, it is a difficult day for me and some women. We have our own reasons for not being comfortable with this day.

Rick and I talked in advance about how we would commemorate these events, which all fell on one day.

Friday night, we went out to dinner with Marcus and his family. Marcus was a classmate and buddie of Nate. Rick and Marcus drank Bud Light beer in honor of Nate. It was a good night. For many years, I gave my Mom perennial flowers on Mother’s Day. On Saturday, Rick and I visited a couple Amish greenhouses. We came home with some perennials along with a flowering tree which we planted on the sunny side of our house on Sunday.

This Mother’s Day was the first time in 19 years that I was not leading worship. Rather, I was sitting in the pew. I was apprehensive about attending worship. But we did. I was even more thankful the message was not about Mother’s Day. It was about being in a difficult place and not knowing how to get out of it. Hearing the pastor’s words encouraged me to contemplate sharing my feelings in this space.

The pastor’s words reminded me that from our brokenness, we can grow. When we experience disorientation and realize things can’t be fixed, we should go back to our faith. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word sheol is used to indicate a place of darkness. When our hearts are darkened, we experience our own version of sheol. In the darkness of life, Psalm 105 encourages us to seek the Lord and the Lord’s strength. When we are not strong enough, it is time to stop depending upon ourselves and depend on God and our faith in God. When things can’t be fixed, our best opportunity is to no longer expect ourselves to be strong enough.

Rather than being strong enough, I just needed to make it through the day. I just needed to make it through May 13, 2018.

My point in sharing my feelings is not to garner empathy or sympathy. It’s to share a glimpse into my heart on a day of darkness. And my choice to let God’s strength help me through the day. I purposefully choose to not let my mind and heart get stuck in a place of complete darkness. I could make it a good day.

As I felt brokenness on Sunday, I knew that God was with me. When you feel disoriented, I pray you will remember that God hears your prayers. Pray for strength to seek God and God’s strength. Pray that you will remember the wonderous things that have happened in your life even though your heart may be crying out in unrelenting pain. Pray for a brighter day tomorrow. Just make it through the day.

I made it through the day. I made it through Mother’s Day. For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – thank you for being with us in our brokenness and disorientation. I pray we turn to you on our sad days and seek your face. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 35 – Trillium

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Wed., May 9, 2018

Song of Songs 2:12 – Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard in our land.

My heart sang when I noticed the white flowers peaking out between the dark green leaves on the north side of our porch. They beckoned me to come take a glimpse.

Yes, the trillium are just beginning go bloom.

Trillium are a flower from my childhood. I grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Our land included acres of woods. I always felt spring had arrived when blankets of trillium covered the floor of the woods. They would arrive around Mother’s Day and grace the earth for about two weeks. Normally pure white flowers, towards the end of their blooming season, some trillium will have pink streaks across their petals.

This is how I remember celebrating Mother’s Day. After morning chores, we would go to church, which was followed by dinner at home. (Growing up, the meal in the middle of the day was not called lunch. It was called dinner. The last meal of the day was called supper.) In the afternoon, we would take empty ice cream buckets to the woods and pick trillium. Buckets of them. We’d each be carrying two or three buckets of the tri-stared flowers. After getting them home, we would display them throughout the house. Their beauty would bring a breath of spring to the house for the next week or so.

In Wisconsin where I live, trillium are a protected flower. This means they are not to be picked unless they are on your private property. The buckets of trillium picked off our land? Perfectly fine. One year while in college on Mother’s Day, we had made our annual trek to pick trillium. I wanted to take just a few back with me to college. I set a bucket of freshly-picked flowers on the floorboards by the front passenger seat in the car. During the 150+ mile trip back to school, I kept an eye on the speedometer. If I was stopped, I didn’t want to lose the precious trillium.

Today, my heart feels like spring has finally arrived. The trillium are here. A season of singing has commenced. The cooing of people’s voices as they “ooh” over them can be heard.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – the delicateness, the beauty, the memories certain flowers drum up in our hearts and minds. All created by you. Just for our benefit. Thank you so much.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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A Sign of Spring

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Trillium by our house. Do you spot the Jack-In-The-Pulpit as well?

Fri., May 19, 2017

Exodus 25:32-33 – It will have three branches going out from each side of the center shaft, each branch decorated with three almond flowers.

 Spring has been VERY slow in Wisconsin this year. Yet, one of the favorite spring-time traditions showed up right on time.

Growing up, we didn’t go to town to get flowers for Mom on Mother’s Day. We went to the woods and picked ice cream buckets full of trillium. We’d bring them home and fill vases with these gorgeous wildflowers who naturally would bend over the vase’s edge.

These three-petaled show stoppers are truly one of my favorite flowers. Natural shade lovers, trillium grew in our woods and would be a white blanket of beautifulness each spring. A few flowers would have a hint of pink in them, with more pinkness towards the end of the trillium season. For me, trillium was the indicator that spring had arrived and Mother’s Day was just around the corner.

I knew that I would not be seeing my Mom on Mother’s Day this year. However, I saw her a few days before. Right before I took her back to her now permanent residence at the nursing home, we took a drive to the property that was the farm where I grew up. I knew exactly which woods would most likely have trillium blooming. And we were not disappointed. Endless trillium bowed for us as we observed them. They were truly at their peak and a beautiful sight to behold. I grabbed the scissors I always keep in the glove compartment and snipped off just a couple flowers to grace my Mom’s room at the nursing home. (Yes, I know they are protected. Please don’t turn me into the DNR!)

Upon returning home, I walked by the north side of our house and was pleasantly surprised to see a bank of trillium. This is just the second spring we’ve been living here. There were a few trillium here last spring. This year, one little corner off the house looked stunning. A few Jack-In-The-Pulpit only added more beauty.

Why am I such a fan of trillium? Probably because these were the wildflowers we always picked. It’s really that simple. I’d love to tell you it was because their three-petal shape inspired me to recall the Trinity or how their stark white color reinforces the biggest event of spring: Christ’s resurrection. But they didn’t. I see this now. As a young girl, my only encouragement was filling an ice cream bucket with these lovely flowers.

I’ve tried several times to establish trillium in flowerbed. (Yes, I make sure and buy the plants so it is all legit and such.) But I’ve had very limited success. Their beauty and grandeur just aren’t that easy to replicate. Maybe this is another reason why when I see many blooming in the same spot, I’m overwhelmed with joy.

I do not believe the scripture passage from Exodus is referring to trillium. It speaks of almond flowers. If you keep reading this passage, you’ll discover the flowers are used for decoration; much like we use flowers today. As I get a little more mature, I recognize a few things that are very important to me. Like really good napkins. Fresh flowers in the house. I don’t have fresh flowers ALL the time but I really strive to do this. Why? Because fresh flowers bring me joy. They draw me back to carrying an ice cream bucket through the woods and gathering trillium. This maybe a very simply joy, but a deeply meaningful one personally. And for this, I praise

Lord God – Thank you for the arrival of spring and all the joys that are a part of it. Whether it be flowers, green grass or some other indicator that spring has arrive, may this beauty remind us of you as our Creator. Amen.

 

Dianne 

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