Are New Year’s Resolutions going to change us?

We spent Christmas with YD and family. After the Christmas Eve service and dinner, my daughter read their daily Advent devotional from Ann Voscamp’s book. I haven’t stopped thinking about Ann’s image of trying to wipe my world clean with dirty rags.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

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I didn’t think I was trying to make my world perfect, but when I went to bed that night I began my usual scan of the day, thinking of good things, but also going over things done and left undone, said or unsaid that I could/should have done differently. Besides being a terrible way to get my brain to shut down and drift off to sleep, I realized I was actually trying to correct my day, or make preparations to fix it the next day.

To wipe my day clean with dirty rags.

But I can’t change my mistakes and omissions. No amount of analyzing what I have done or confessing will ever make a perfect day.

That’s why God had to come as a human being

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to enter our very dirty world, walk through the muck of it all, to take on everything the enemy has to throw at us, including death — and triumph.

Resurrected, he came out absolutely clean and alive.

Promising fresh new life for us all.

Why would I want to ignore that, keep up my silly efforts with my filthy cloths?

How many New Year’s Resolutions are going to change what I am working with? — Frail humanity and a world infested with evil, sickness and death

Oh yes, there is beauty all around me. There are wonderful, lovable people. I’m blessed with a whole family full of them, and friends.

And I relish all the ways God speaks through nature, and the creative processes of the arts.

But none of it will ever make me good enough. Or make me impervious to the pain of loss.

My New Year’s Resolution is to give up trying so hard to get it right. To trust him to make it so.

To relax, and go for the water of life.

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards— Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.

Isaiah 43 16-21 MSG
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Just give me Jesus

What are your goals for the new year?

Some happy Mother’s Days are out of this world

As my girls and I made plans for Mother’s Day, I glanced at the photo under glass on my desk, family gathered around my Mom. Her sweet smile. The familiar ache built in my chest, pulling me into the dark place, wishing I could have one more Mother’s Day to shower love on her.Mother's Day joy

Then I realized that our little brother, Mac, who drowned when he was three, is in heaven celebrating with her.

little brother Mac
Malcom Bayard Foard III

And she is there with her dear mother, celebrating the life of a true servant-hearted woman.

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And my grandmother, Eleanor, is celebrating with her mother, Maria, who died when Grandmom was a girl.

Maria Tschanin Zimmerman
Maria Zimmerman

And Maria is celebrating with her mother from her native Switzerland that she fled during an Anabaptist persecution.

That’s as far back as I know family history on Mom’s side.

Enough to give me perspective.

Would I really want to drag Mom back to this little world, when so much has been opened up to her? So much joy. So much celebration. So much connection. So much life.

No.

I stroke the face in the picture, say ‘I love you’ again, and release her into the hands of Love who holds her forever.

Real love is like that, isn’t it? Loving, holding, and then releasing when necessary.

For the first time, I am truly ready to pick up the mantle my brother offered after Mom’s funeral—the matriarch of the family.

To continue to hold them all up in prayer, no matter how large the family grows.

To rejoice in their accomplishments and weep with their pain.

And to smile when my family is gathered around me.

Grammi love
Grammi love
grandchild fun at Easter
egg dying with grands
three generations at Christmas
three generations at Christmas
Siesta Key
Fun in the surf

The circle goes on.

So good. So good.

She Gave Up the Ghost

MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
After almost a week in hospice, with loved ones by her side, my mother gave up the ghost. Long after I said goodbye, “give up the ghost” lingered in my mind. For over a decade I had walked with Mom through the tunnels of advancing dementia, then stood watch in the dim light of her hospice room. Over and over, she seemed ready to go. Her breath would stop, then twenty seconds later, she’d suck in air and battle on with furrowed brow. Giving up the ghost took on a different meaning.

‘Giving up the ghost’ comes from the King James Version of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s also used commonly, as an old car gives up the ghost.

For Mom, I think more of ghosts that haunt. Ghosts that lurk around corners and pounce at unexpected times. Ghosts of Christmas Past. Ghosts of if-only. Ghosts of what-I-should-have-done.

I believe the “ghost” that threatened her peace and made her reluctant to run to the Light was guilt over the death of a tiny soul.

When I was ten, my youngest brother drowned. As families will after a tragedy, we all privately blamed ourselves. But Mom was the mother, and she hadn’t cared for her three-year-old. Though she maintained she was fine, since Mac was safely in heaven with Jesus, that event shook her foundations, and brought her back to her Lord.

However, as executive function diminished in her brain toward the end of her life, nightmares and delusions often crowded out her joy. In the final days, clearly she could not let go. When my sister and I, separately, talked to Mom of going to heaven, that her mother and sisters were waiting for her, she beamed. But when we mentioned our little brother, she drew back, almost in fear, and the darkness covered her again. When we realized what was happening, we assured her that she was forgiven, by Jesus, and by Mac.

Still, I believe she was afraid to face that child.

After several more days of prayers, Psalm reading and songs, Mom found peace. The shadows gone, she is restored and whole and radiant. With her dear son, and the Son who makes true restoration possible.

Why, you ask, am I sharing this with you?

Because many of us have buried pain. Remorse still raw, or guilt not absolved. Perhaps “The Secret” that lingers in the shadows, waiting to accuse, again.

I’m encouraged by the lesson from my mother’s bedside to continue to let go. To journey forward on The Healing Path, and offer you, my friend, a hand.

When it’s my time, I want to run to Jesus with open arms, not edging back into the darkness.

Come join the journey to Peace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt 11: 28-30
(If you do not see the video below, click on the title at the top to view pictures and videos in the webpage.)

Mac
Mac
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mom birthday 2008
Mom birthday 2008

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Mom
Mom

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Janie and Mommom
Janie and Mommom

Mommom love
Mommom love