God has taught me in this season of loss so much about what my Mom spent her whole life wanting me to know. Sometimes God takes us into the valley to show us what we cannot see when we are on the mountain top. There is a vision one has in the valley that cannot be experienced anywhere else. I think of these moments often as the valley of vision. I want to share one of my favorite prayers with you all that describes the gift of reflecting that God offers us in the valley:
It was totally in her nature to cook up a feast for our family of 23, putting her heart into every dish she prepared to make sure each person in our family felt loved. She would never serve herself first, but waited for each of us to be sitting and enjoying the meal before she would make herself a plate. And then she usually was the first to hop up and begin cleaning up the food and dishes, knowing that time was precious and she wanted to get some quality time with her grandchildren. Before the dishes had dried and while the food was still warm in containers tucked in the fridge, she would be pulling out crafts and games to engage the hearts of our children. So much laughter and music…always playfulness and joy. Her words towards them were life giving. Never a criticism. She encouraged each of us constantly. She never put her feet up before anyone else. And if she did, it was after everyone else had their feet up, and she usually still had two feet on the ground to rock one of her grandbabies. And by the time our families were packing up to head home, she was in the kitchen swiftly packing up leftovers for all of us to enjoy a second meal from the generous meal she had provided to warm our hearts. She set such a clear example of a mother who took care of her family. She exemplified the Mom I want to be.
Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 that, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
I know she would have laid her life down in a heartbeat for us to know how deeply loved we are by God, and to see us share this love with one another. Her deepest prayers were that we would know God’s love for us and that we would love each other in that way. Scripture shares with us in John 15:13 that, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Mom has demonstrated the love of Christ to us through the incredible ways she has laid down her life for us again, and again, and again.
So while facing this valley of saying goodbye to such a wonderful person here on earth, I also know that goodbye for now means see you soon. Her memory carries on in all of us, and we can honor her by sharing with each other how we were touched by this wonderful woman. We also have hope that her joy is complete in heaven where she is experiencing the love of Christ that she extended to each of us from Him in such a direct and personal way. This is my comfort in the valley. I miss my Mom more than ever this morning, but I truly rest knowing she is in the presence of Jesus rocking her six babies and many grandchildren who had faith by sight before any of us. She is home and she is in glory. Death no longer stings for her, she is more alive than she ever has been before. And on the day we are reunited with her in heaven, I have no doubt she will have prepared an amazing meal large enough to feed all of us and the hosts of heaven with enough leftovers for us all.