Emptied

Attempting to write a blog after more than a year. A year that has been filled with severe health issues; from a near death stent in ICU, over 120 days in the hospital, and the daily struggle to breathe and have enough energy to move around.

I am emptied. Physically, mentally and yes, spiritually. Emptied of emotion, strength and fortitude.

I am emptied. Often times, emptied of thought, creativity, and desire.

I am in constant pain. And I constantly struggle for my next breath.

What I pray I will never be emptied of is hope. Not an earthly hope, one of a, “I hope this meeting goes well”, or “I hope I get a _________ for Christmas”, but a hope that is secured and anchored in Christ.

A heavenly hope. A hope that is anchored in God’s word, that doesn’t yield a “hope so”, but is bound to a “know so”.

Life is a struggle, and it is extremely difficult right now.

Perhaps being emptied is a good place to start.

It is when we are emptied that we can be filled.

Paul tied the two together this way.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13 ESV

90 Years a Life

Today my mom would have been 90 years of age.  Last year she passed; a little over 3 months after her 89th birthday, following a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer.  My mom was no ordinary mom.  I know everyone says that but it was driven home to me once my family and I started going through her belongings following her passing.

We had over 60 years of family treasure to dig through in her house.  No, she never had a lot of money, just a lot of memories.  Every piece of the past we found spoke of family, events, love, joy, hope and were testaments of a life that treasured the little things that really matter in this breath of a life we have on earth.

old attic-rocking chair

I’m an adopted child, an only child, and my mom’s propensity to hold onto EVERY piece of schoolwork, artwork, hand-scribbled drawing or whatever I did was evidence of that fact!  There were literally boxes of my stuff we had to go through.  We knew she had many miscarriages before deciding to adopt.  We found record after record of the pre-adoption and adoption process.  We knew my mom, and dad, wanted a child to the point of sacrificing a good slice of their life, time and money to find the one God had for them.

I’ve always been grateful for the gift of adoption and forever thankful that God had placed me in such a loving, caring and nurturing family.  I knew my parents loved me. I never realized the depth of that love until I started unearthing ALL of the ‘artifacts’ of my mom’s life.  It was then I saw, and read, her deepest thoughts and desires.  She literally poured her life into mine and probably to a fault, set me on a bit of a pedestal; at least in her mind.

But it didn’t stop there.  My mom was a frugal and WELL organized person.  My dad passed in 1976 and for that time period, left her fairly well off; at least enough to not have to worry about her financial situation.  My mom worked several full-time jobs following my dad’s death.  She worked at K-Mart, a theme-park bakery and other miscellaneous places.  Once she stopped working full-time she began helping prepare meals for elderly or handicap people who couldn’t cook or get out for themselves.

My mom was always giving to others.  She gave to Disabled Veterans, the Humane Society, her church and a myriad of other organizations; all while living on a minascule retirement income and Social Security.  She had NO credit card debt and always paid her bills on time.  Her finances were in good order, very detailed and she kept good records!  She even had all but $1000 of her funeral expenses covered.

But her life was about more then fiscal integrity, sacrifice and organization.  Her life was, and will continue to be, a testimony of a life that finished well.  Not a luxurious life by ANY stretch.  Not a lavish life.  Not a frivolous life.  Not an eccentric life, but a life of love, joy, peace, perseverance, faithfulness, patience, self-control, kindness, goodness, gentleness.

Hmmm, sound familiar?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  

(Galatians 5:22-24 NIV)

Happy Birthday mom, the legacy of your life still lives on.  You are a wonderful example of a mom and shining example of how we should live our lives.

You finished well, are loved and greatly missed.

Autumn’s Annual Abashment

fall+picFor me this time of year, autumn, fall, whichever word you choose to use, is filled with a sort of discomforting or unsettledness in my soul.  I’m not really sure why, but when I found this quote, it helped me to at least start to understand this annual event and how it affects me so deeply.

It was Stanley B. Horowitz, a prominent leader and humanitarian in the Jewish community, that said, “Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

As the calendar seems to tumble quickly into the autumn season, a kind of melancholy mood mixes with the elation of seeing the glorious fireworks of nature that are on display this time of year.  I’m not sure why that with the rainbow-colored sunsets, the crispness of the air, the first smell of smoke from fireplaces and the rich depth of brilliant color all around, I being feeling this way. Each autumn, I experience a convergence of the entire year that has passed and quickly realize that we’re staring winter in its ugly face.

It might possibly be the sadness that another summer has faded away.  Or, maybe it’s the thought of winter’s icy grip coming just around the corner.  Perhaps it’s that the serene images of spring have long ago left my memory, who knows.  What I do know is that autumn has become kind of reckoning of all things regarding life for me.

In autumn, you see the death of things living, but in their death there is glorious beauty.  Isn’t it that way with us mortals as well, especially when that one knows they will be with God after leaving this earth?  It is certainly a spiritual event when a person passes from life unto death.  We don’t understand it, we cry, we grieve, we ask why, but how many times have you heard loved ones, who gather around the bedside of someone who has just been ushered from this world into the next say, “They had such a peaceful expression on their face when they passed.”  I know I have, and maybe a bit of that is reflected in nature during this time of year.

Yes, a lot of things that were vibrant and alive during spring and summer are now dying.  Yes, winter will continue complete this process and freeze nature until the warmth of spring will allow it to burst forth with life once again.  So we see it in a person that is passing from life unto death when they have secured their glorious eternal future through Jesus Christ.

I’ve found that it’s this convergence of all the seasons of the year, and what they each represent, that creates this annual discomforting, or discontentment in my soul.  It is nature’s visual representation of our mortal lives passing from life to death.  It is not unlike the fact that when someone dies, you often hear them talk about their entire life passing before eyes.  So I get it more now than ever before!  We see all the seasons of the year crammed into autumn because we experience the passing of spring and summer and nature preparing itself for the winter to come!

It is often said that ‘art imitates life’, I would like to suggest that ‘nature imitates life’ on a much deeper, yet often unnoticed level.