Singing through the Sobs – Mama has to go now

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This is the longest post I have ever written, but like all my posts, it is a story, and I just cannot bear to break it up into pieces – not this one. So you may wish to save it for reading when you have some time. You may need tissues too, depending on what you have experienced in your own life. (I have gone through a box already just in writing this).

I have completed my goal to write to you, thirty stories in thirty days. The Lord really placed that upon my heart and He has been gracious to allow it to happen. I will continue to write to you, dear friends, of the wonders my Lord, my God is doing in my life. I will continue to pray that He blessses you as you press deeper into His bosom and praise His glorious and wonderful name. It is a blessing for me to be able to reach out to each of you and to share all that He is placing upon my heart.

Thank you for being a part of my continued journey in Christ. And thank you for inviting me to be a part of yours.

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People sing, even when they’re sad. And did you know that we can worship God any time? No matter how we feel, happy, or blue…Our God, we can sing to Him. And He hears us, our songs, our cries, and our praises. He hears us singing, even through the sobs.

We’re closing in on almost three years now, since my beautiful mama left this world to go home to live with her Savior. I can remember so clearly driving across Kansas to try to reach her in time.

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My brothers and I had been taking multiple trips to go out and spend time with dear mama as she slipped further and further out of our reach. We sometimes got to be there with her, all of us together, to listen to her, to talk and sit with her and read the Bible and pray. We were able to rub lotion on her hands, massage her arms, administer medication, cry, laugh, and eat chocolate. We got to talk to doctors, nurses, learn about controlled medications, and eat chocolate. And we wept with family, hosted friends and visitors, administered said medication, and ate chocolate.

Good thing that chocolate isn’t a controlled medication…..I’d be an addict AND a criminal if that were so!

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We got to also, for precious moments at a time – to, just be……… A family.

My brothers and myself, we really didn’t know exactly when mama would leave us. Honestly, the heightened awareness of the fact that it “could be any time” lasted over a period of several weeks. Every time all the hospice workers and grief counselors said, “any time now,” she would bounce back to us again. We loved the fact we got to have her with us all the longer, but that was seriously stressful! Wondering when exactly the hammer was going to drop upon our heads and the light in our hearts to momentarily be blown out. The not knowing….the not wanting to not be there when she needed us most…this aspect of it all, along with worrying about how much pain she might be in was probably the worst part for me.

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But we had jobs and families outside, (all three of us lived in different towns/states) so we unfortunately had to start taking shifts to come out to be with our dear one.

Mama battled cancer well. Not just with the most phenomenal example of grace that I have ever seen, but she was just strong as a horse physically. None of us could believe what all her poor cancer-filled little body could take. When she finally did leave us, it truly looked as though she were being ripped right out of her body….pulled up into the air, by the hand of God Himself (at least that’s what it looked like to me).

I think mama was so solid in her faith and her belief that God would always be there – waiting for her when the time was right, that she fought to stay with us, her children, as long as she possibly could. I really believe that SHE was ready to go, but she wasn’t sure if we were ready for it. She didn’t want to leave without her family. And God answered her prayer for that. He allowed her to stay until He saw fit to say that it was finished. Mama’s pain and affliction was used for OUR good and His purposes in our lives. Have you ever experienced the excruciating feeling of knowing a suffering loved one is staying around and continuing to endure unimaginable pain for YOU?

It wrenches my heart every time I think of it. Something is squeezing it very tightly right this very moment. But I know it to be true.

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God never allows pain  without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor  circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that  affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work  together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness  of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29). ~ Jerry  Bridges

I remember one day (when she could still speak a little) she kept saying that over and over….”I want ALL of my family to come with me to  heaven,” I want ALL of my family to come with me to heaven.” Once the statement started to take on a tone of distress, I told mama that the Bible says that Jesus was recognized after His resurrection. If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, wouldn’t we be recognizable in our own? And, we’d be right behind her – that it just wasn’t our turn yet. The passing of time in heaven is something we cannot fully understand.

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I told mama, that what we DO know, is that God is going to be there with her – waiting. She will be in His presence until we come to join her. And He will be with us too, here….while we wait. For we too, are his children. We too, are his sheep.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them  eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my  hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is  able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Jesus speaking) John 10:27-29

I had prayed quite a bit and asked the Lord to give me what I should say in the event this very thing should happen. I knew mom was so very concerned about leaving us behind, her three children. Grown as we are, we are still her babies. That has to be heart-wrenching in a way I cannot fully imagine. I thank My Father in heaven for giving me the words to say. Mama really did seem to be honestly relieved by this, and other things that my brothers were able to share with her. With me, she simply nodded with what seemed like a very peaceful look on her face. She just no longer seemed sad or worried about it. God had given her His peace.  And He had given it to me as well. We have an abundantly gracious Father.

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Things started to change after that, as I recall. Mama continued to share the things she was experiencing, seeing, and hearing with us. She told us of the people she was meeting, and the fact that “He is coming.” I will be writing about that another time.

So, we now will return to this clear memory I have of driving across Kansas.
It was my turn to get to go out and be with mama and I left Colorado again to make the 8 hour drive. Being a person who works at night, I decided to stay on my normal schedule and drive out this February night instead of battling the sunshine and the traffic. (It’s a bit easier to be in the dark when you are grief-stricken).

Honestly, I do not remember if this was the last and final trip that I made before she passed away, or just another one of the many I’d take over the last few weeks before she went to be with God.

I remember……………………………………………

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This trip, this drive, is the one I remember the most though. I had been running on adrenaline for quite some time, and had gotten used to coming back to my own sweet little family, my job, and my responsibilities for a week or so, then turning around to go out to Kansas again. I knew this trek across this stretch of deserted and boring concrete like the back of my hand. Dark or no dark.
As much as I dreaded these long and boring drives, I grappled with the guilt every time I thought that to myself, as I knew that when the drives out there ceased, what that would mean for all of us. So I tried to be grateful to have a reason to get to go yet another time. Music is what kept me company. There’s not much else to look at along that long road. Especially in the dark. And honestly, I needed to drown out the mutterings in my head – they really weren’t comforting ones….just me and my little mind talking to itself.

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Although this particular trek is so clear in my mind’s eye, it, ironically, was an extremely dark and foggy and VERY snowy night. Truly, I was in the midst of a blizzard at 1am in the morning…..moving at a pace of about 5-10 mph. Absolute and complete white knuckles all the way from Hays to Topeka. Not sure if I’d make it to there….to see my dear mama. Not sure if I might die before she did…in a ditch somewhere…freezing, in the dark…muttering to myself and praying for my Savior to drown out my own voice, until my heart would just…..stop. (“Maybe that’s as it should be?”, I thought).

Snap out of it!

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“I am really starting to lose my mind,” I thought to myself, laughing out loud quite hysterically.
I had made it a habit of listening to praise and worship music on these trips. I learned certain songs by heart, and listened to the same ones over and over and over again. I sang them when I didn’t want to. I sang them through the screams. I sang them through the hysterical laughter. I sang them through the fear of driving off the road.

And I sang them through the sobs…the rib cage cracking, heart being squeezed to the point of pain, my head is going to implode any moment, sobs.

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All of those songs hold a special place in my heart now. But the one I remember the most, is the one I sang over and over during that blizzard….three of the darkest and longest hours of my life. This little song….well it’s the one that came to mind when I finally turned off the radio as I was trying to conserve the little gas I had left (for some reason, I had the insane idea that the radio was going to suck all the heat out of the heater and the gas out of the tank – go figure).

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(5 miles per hour. Blizzard. Can’t see. Slower ‘ cross Kansas, poor old me.)
This little light of mine

(choking sobs-heaving chest, clinging to Jesus, He loves me the best)
Is mom still there? Are my brothers okay? Am I going to wreck? Will I see them today?)
I’m gonna let it shine.

(streaming and stinging, grief and pain, trying to see through the sleet and the snowy rain)
This little light of mine

(headlights fuzzy, dark and cold, wow this song, it’s getting old)
I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine (choke), let it shine

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(aaah….wailing cries, screaming loud, will my God ever lift this cloud?)
Won’t let Satan blow it out

(Screaming now, “I hate your guts, I hate you Satan, you’re making me nuts!)
I’m gonna let it shine

(ah, ha, ha, ha…sniff! I can’t breathe, better stop, cuz I may heave)
Won’t let Satan blow it out

(awful enemy, go back home, I can’t stand you, leave me alone!)
I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Whaaaaaa Haaaa Haaaaa AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

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The snow let up just as I pulled into Topeka. I had no more tears left for the time being. Oddly, I felt reenergized. There had been a couple of times before this in my life that I truly cried out to God. This time….I practically left my body doing it. I guess in a way, this was my moment for God to lift ME out of MY body and unto Him. It saved me. It helped me be able to face the day.

And then, mama left us.

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The day that mama went home to be with her Savior, we all got to be there with her, my brothers and me. She had told us in days previous to that one the wonderful things she got to see as she was waiting on the Lord. The most important thing she told us was that He says we are all invited.

“Tell EVERYONE they are invited. He says ‘Come All’.”

I guess in kind of a strange, yet glorious way, she did get to take some of us along with her to heaven – even if it was just to the edge of it and back. But the message He sent – THAT gets to stay with us forevermore. And He’s the light that won’t ever go out.

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I will hold that little mama light of mine close to my heart while I’m still here. But I won’t be needing it any longer once it’s my turn to join her and my Savior for eternity. He IS the light. And He is with me NOW. In a way, so is Mama.

Do you think He will choose for her to come with Him to the gates when it’s time to greet me? Will mama’s face be the one I see right after I get to see His?

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I can almost hear her voice singing to me now….telling me…reminding me of what I can do in the meantime……while I wait…………………..

“You know Anne, you can worship God ANY time!”

“Yes I can, mama. Yes, I most certainly can.”

And yes………………………………..I WILL.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

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Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

Do you have someone whose little light still shines in your heart? I would love to hear about it! Please share below in the comments if you wish.

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Brilliance of Hope – It’s Eye Opening!

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Another Glorious, God-GivenTruth: We have the gift of hope in Christ Jesus!

How can we really experience the full meaning of hope with our mere human language? We can’t, really. Yet, even though what we can SAY about hope is certainly not sufficient to fully describe it, we can try to understand aspects of it a little bit better when we talk about and ponder it for a while.

Hope:

  • To desire something with the expectation of obtainment
  • To expect with confidence
  • To cherish a desire with anticipation

Pretty simple little bullet points to offer a description of something so completely amazing. Yet they are all spot-on.

Look at the strong words utilized here. Desire. Expectation. Cherish.

And the end result: Obtainment.

Those are not feeble things! Each of these descriptors are strong in and of themselves. They conjure up thoughts and feelings that paint a very powerful picture.  And they are only the descriptions of this wonderful thing we are talking about…that thing we call “hope”.

Hope is powerful. But what is even more critical is what we decide to place our hope in throughout our lives. That can be something that is as tiny as a mouse, or another thing entirely; one that is so very grand that we cannot even fully soak the whole of it in with just our eyes.

The very nature of living a life of hope is obviously active, not passive. Although many times, the realists out there in our world like to scoff at the idea, having and holding onto hope takes a lot of courage. It takes risk, surrender, motivation, dedication and desire. Especially when one places their hope in that which is unseen in our physical realm.

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Yet, that which is  unseen is often far more real than the things we can view right in front of us. True hope involves the use of a different kind of vision than what we normally rely upon. Again, we find it to ring true that anything of much lasting value starts within our hearts, and the truth that God has placed there.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is
seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

My Lord in whom I place my hope may not be fully seen with my shabby mortal vision, but I assure you, He is quite real.  He is more real and more true than anything else that I ever experienced. Further, everything that I do experience or see I owe to Him…for He is the Author and Creator of all. He paid for my sin on the cross. That too, is quite real.

By cherishing the hope that we have in Christ, and all of the promises He has made to us, we reap blessings we could never even imagine before we accepted Him as the Lord and Savior of our lives!

In His sovereign and merciful grace and power, He has done nothing but strengthen the hope I have in Him, and reveal Himself to me more and more each day. He has brought more conviction, more confidence, more strength, and more joy into my life since I have looked with great expectation towards Him, than I ever thought possible. The hope I have in Him – it is alive. It grows. He is the living water of my life.

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HE is my only REAL hope. Hope in Jesus is massive.

Can you imagine, for a moment, the enormity of it all? If we place our hope in Christ, we are blessed even more in return just for doing so. As if having the hope and the promise of salvation and an eternal life with Him weren’t already enough! He wants to shower us with blessing upon blessing too.

These blessings are realities He brings forth in our lives and are too many to be numbered. We certainly can see, hear, feel, touch, and smell them all. This is one of the great and blessed mysteries of our God and His power….that He can translate faith, hope, and belief in Him to very real and tangible things that are a witness of His existence through us for all the world to see.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”” John 7:38 

On top of it all, we are given the gift of enjoying things while we live here and await with expectation the day we go home to be with the Lord. The life we have here has been just another one of the Lord’s gifts unto us, and He wants us to enjoy it too. It’s good to hope for some things while we are here on this earth.

  • I hope for good health.
  • I hope my children will stay strong as they walk through this world.
  • I hope that people I care for and love will be comforted through trials, and blessed through joyful experiences.
  • I hope my coffee tastes good in the morning, that my hair looks good when I go to work, and that the brand of peanut butter I like to buy is at the store when I get there.
  • I hope my husband still thinks I am cute when I am 90.

But as I write this, I realize even more, that these aren’t really things in which I place my “hope”. They are just things that I desire or would like to have….or even think that I need in this life.

It is Him and what He tells me in His word that is truth – and it is in Him and what He tells me in His word that I should place my hope. The hope that HE offers to us is all that we can count upon for all of eternity. Our salvation in  Him, the promise that we will reign with Him forever in  heaven one day, and the fact that He IS the real way, the real truth, the real love, and the real life? Those are the brilliant nuggets of hope in Him that I cling to in life……and they all spill out and rain down from the magnificent and brilliant God that we are privileged to call our Father.

That is the hope we will see fulfilled that will last forever and ever. That kind of forever feels really good to me. It’s the forever that I plan to live out with my Savior and Mighty King.

“And this world is fading away, along with everything else that people crave. But anyone who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 Jonn 2:17

And the things of this world that aren’t faded yet? Remember to look upon those that are true and lovely, and enjoy them.  We just need to remember to focus and keep our vision sharp. There is a lot of false hope out there in our world, so proceeding with caution is a good idea. For what goes along with true hope is trust….which is also something we must do actively versus passively. And placing our trust in the wrong things – the things which are not lasting – making those things our “God” – EVEN the things that seem to be good – well, that can be dangerous if we allow them to be what we look to for purpose and meaning in life.

Lies and deception are a part of reality too. They just aren’t truth.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I assure you, they are very “real.”

I’ve been there…too many times. I have looked far too often to things in this world to fill me up. And I’ve always ended up running on empty. I’ve lost hope in those situations. That doesn’t feel good. Hope is only a good thing if it’s in things that are good for us and will draw us closer to God! Hang my hopes on Him – that’s going to be what I do.

So, my ultimate and overarching hope is in the only One that is fully true. It’s what I have in the Alpha and the Omega….in my Father God, in the Almighty and Great “I AM”, in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Revelation 22:13

Christ IS eternity and He IS God. Our Lord will never pass away. God has always been. God is. And God will always be. Hope in that above all else!

And the best news of all, is that by placing our hope in Him above all else, we are assured that we will get to live with Him for all eternity. For He is “Mighty to Save”. Even if we “pass away” from this earthly life before the Lord comes back for His church (which He absolutely WILL do some day), we will live with Him forever in a new life that will never end.

What greater hope could I ever cherish than that? What more could I look forward to with anticipation? And after all of the promises He has made that have come true, how could I not live with the utmost of  confidence and expectation that all future promises He has made to me will be fulfilled? I’m certainly not entitled to them in the first place…those promises He makes and fulfills are made out of grace – and because He chooses it – they are made out of God’s love for us.

Although hope in Jesus is a choice, to me, it is not a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity. The gift-aspect of it comes into play in the fact that I could not have the hope I have in the Lord if it weren’t for the fact that He chose to offer it to me.

Thank you, Father God, for being my glorious hope! Thank you for offering Your true and Mighty Self to me. I desire You. I cherish You. And I look forward with nothing but utter and complete anticipation and expectation of obtaining the promise I have in You for all eternity. You have already given me the opposite of that which I deserve. You are my Brilliant Hope.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Helen Lemmel