Lessons from Lois

My friend Lois died yesterday afternoon of old age. She was 97 and a joyful person all the many years that I knew her. For the last dozen years or so, Lois was blind from macular degeneration. For the last 2.5 years, she was in memory care. Prior to that, she lived in her home lovingly cared for by her children, grandchildren and home Healthcare staff. I rarely heard Lois complain if ever.. She might say something self criticizing for her weight which was a struggle for her. Or,, I might hear her say “I could complain but what good would that do me”. During COVID-19 lockdown, I couldn’t see her but I could call her on the phone and chat. It was difficult to tell if she knew who I was or if the many questions she asked were her way to cover her confusion. I loved those talks. Lois was always an encourager, helping me to see the positives in the day. When I would say goodbye and wish her a good day, she would say it was a wonderful day already because I had called.

I met Lois when I met her two daughters Barb and Beth and the rest of the Higgins family as a teenager. Barb, Beth, and I have been lifelong friends. Lois was always cheerful, interested, listened with compassion and generally helped me to feel good about myself. She believed that you offer your advice only when it was really needed. I needed that advice on more than one occasion. My husband and I made it a practice to visit Lois and her husband Dick whenever we were in Des Moines, usually 3-4 times a year. When our children were young, they came with us and visiting the Higgins house is a good memory for them. We were always welcome. When I was in my 30s, I had a tendency to complain about my mother and my mother in law for one thing or another. Lois let me know that wasn’t ok. She said that she didn’t go for the “blame your parents” theme of the time and encouraged me to see that my parents were doing the best they could and I needed to be thankful. Lois rarely corrected me so I was taken aback. I hadn’t realized that my comments sounded so negative. I learned to appreciate my mother and my mother in law in a new way and developed a close relationship with each of them that I cherish. I thank Lois for that revelation and for guiding me to treasure the women that I loved so much.

My memories of Lois include how warm and welcoming her house always was. I always felt like I belonged. She remembered my birthdays and always asked about my parents, my husband, and my children. Lois and her husband Dick, who died in 2013 were a model of a good marriage to us. When my husband Michael and I coached engaged couples for 20 years, we used little stories of how we saw Dick and Lois live out a good marriage. I knew they had arguments like everyone else but they didn’t have those arguments in public. We learned to be supportive of each other and save tough conversations for private time

I lost both my mother in law and my mother in 2012. Lois was a comfort to me. In her later years, she forgot that they were gone and she would ask me about them. For a brief moment, they would be there before I reminded Lois that they had died. My dad died in 2019 the same day that Lois lost her son Doug. Their funerals were on the same day in different states. I couldn’t imagine her pain and hoped that her dementia would ease her pain as she lived mentally in earlier times.

While life has given Lois many challenges, she always focused on the blessings and a positive way to respond. She also always left others with a positive thought. She has been an important role model in my life and I will miss her. From Lois to all of us, listen with love, encourage others, do what you can, don’t take yourself too seriously, be willing to lovingly say what needs to be said, argue if you must and do it in private, look at the positives and live this day joyfully.

Love and prayers,

Mymom

Family doesn’t give up on anyone.

You each have your own stresses right now. The pandemic has gone on so long. You are working long hours. Caring for little ones. Being there for family and friends. Know that we love you and we are here for each of you.

Cherish our family relationships with each other. None of us are perfect and each of us are special in our own ways. Where you are weak, I am strong. Where I am weak, you are strong. Our family is a beautiful pattern of people knit together by the love you share with us and with each other. Sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, daughter in law and sons in law, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends for life. Our family is strong because of our unconditional love, forgiveness that is granted without strings attached. Grace from God and sharing that grace with each other. Build each other up. Be patient with each other. Communicate. You are loved and valued. No one is left out and no one is left behind. We are each as close as we choose to be. God bless each and every one of you.

Love,

Mymom

See others through the eyes of Jesus

I can’t think of a person who hasn’t let me down at one time or another.  And I’m sure that I have let others down many times.  God wants us to depend on Him.  He loves us and is always there for us if we turn to Him and put our trust in Him alone.  Only Jesus who leads us to the Father and works in us through the Holy Spirit.  If we can trust God, then we are free to joyfully love others and allow them to be imperfect.  We can love who they are and not who we wish they would be.  We are all imperfect humans trying our best in an imperfect world.  Our sense of sometimes feeling let down often comes from putting too much on the shoulders of that other person to bring us happiness.  Peace comes from those moments when we let Jesus take us by the hand and show us others through His eyes.  Accept, trust, forgive, love.

Love,

Mymom

Do not let the sun go down on your anger

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4; vs 26-27. In my study bible it says – In the case of personal insults, we should strive for reconciliation with the offender before the day’s end. That is a most difficult thing. I have had many times when I haven’t been able to do this and that leads to a sleepless night or a fitful night. Always remember that we don’t have to be perfect. Indeed, we can’t be perfect but with God’s help, we can make progress and do our best. Sometimes, the best thing is to calm down, journal, pray for help and begin again. Then decide whether it is worth the conversation or not. Maybe we just need to let go and love.

Love,

Mymom

How do I agree to disagree and move on respectfully?

Arrrg! I disagree with this decision you are making! It impacts me and I know you heard me but did you really hear me? I don’t want this direction to be a mistake. It will cost us money and time. We/you don’t have the experience needed.

Does this thought process sound familiar? Sometimes the littlest decisions can be big and divisive. Sometimes big decisions can be divisive too. When my husband makes a decision that I don’t agree with, I have trouble letting go. He is my best friend. I respect him. He is knowledgeable. I trust him. I ask his advice on many things. I tell him everything. And yet, when I disagree, it is hard to let go and let him make a decision and support the direction he is choosing to set.

What we try to do is let each other lead decisions that align with our expertise. My husband loves to do infinite research for making major purchases. I don’t have the patience for that so I will give him my wishes like I want a red car with 4 doors and a sun roof and I want us to buy it in the next 3-4 weeks. He will do the research and get it done.

I take care of all the monthly bill paying. I’m efficient and I work well with all the online accounts and I keep things paid on time. I also work with repair people for scheduling work at the house.

We have found our areas of responsibility and trust each other. A couple of areas are still difficult for us to agree on. We have learned to compromise for most of those areas.

Once in a while, we simply disagree. I find that when either of us take the disagreement personally, that can lead to a standoff. In these cases, we both lose. There may be consequences for incorrect decisions. There may be unexpected gains from good decisions.

If we disagree, it is good to hear each other’s point of view and then make the decision agreeing to disagree. Support each other in these decisions and always apologize if in an argument, I forgot to listen and support. In the worst case, we will lose a little money or time.

Perhaps the way to handle the situation is to trust that the outcome will lie somewhere between the best case and the worst case and we will learn to listen and trust each other all the more.  And we might learn a lesson or two.

But… As anyone who knows me knows, I sure do like to get my way. I thank God for a patient, loving, supportive, smart, and faithful husband.

God, please help me to let go of control and trust others, especially my husband. Help me to know that in all cases, You are there. Help me to learn to share my opinion and trust others to listen and make their best decision with the information they have. Help me to be supportive. Thank you for your guidance through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Love,

Mymom

When does sharing news become gossip?

When we are all together with friends or family, it is loving and joyful to share news about those friends and loved ones who aren’t able to be there. We share news of blessings and suffering that our loved ones are experiencing and we rejoice and suffer together. One rule a friend shared regarding the difference between sharing and gossiping is that you should never say anything spoken to you clearly in confidence and you should never share anything you wouldn’t say if you were telling the story with that same person present. Keep your criticism and your editorial comments to yourself as they may be very hurtful. Don’t share comments meant to justify yourself or tear down the other person’s reputation. To that I say while tempting, it is bad form.

What if someone asks you directly about someone you are known to have a disagreement with? Please decline to comment. State that you have strong feelings between you and hurt feelings that are not yet resolved. Ask for prayer support for the opportunity to have the difficult conversation that will be needed to lead to reconciliation. Remember that peace begins with each one of us. Choose not to gossip but love and forgive instead. Pray for each other. Listen with love. Treasure these precious moments of time with family and friends. Spread joy, not gossip.

Oh God, help us to be instruments of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon through Jesus Christ or Lord, Amen. Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us. Our Lady queen of peace, pray for us. St Frances, pray for us.

Love,

Mymom

Come together in love and friendship

Our nation and the world need to come together in love, friendship. forgiveness, hope, peace, and a sincere attitude of cooperation and collaboration in the interest of the common good.  Dear God, we pray that you drive the devil out of our conversations and help us all to listen before we speak.  God bless each of our leaders in all areas of government and business, regardless of political party or level, with the wisdom to seek your will in all their words and decision making.  God bless each of us and help us to listen to your call and to love one another.   Peace be with you.

Marriage: Be together even when you are apart

In my relationship with your dad, we see each other in the morning as we both wake and get ready for our days. We always say a goodbye with a kiss, a hug, and a prayer for the day. We greet each other with a kiss and a hug. We hold hands. We pray for each other.

Some days are so very busy. There is so little time to be part of each other’s lives when there is so much to be done. So you need to be part of each other. When we married, God brought us together. Two individuals making a marriage with God at the center. When we are together, we are complete. When we are apart, we take each other with us as we go through the day supported in our love for each other. Not together in time and space, but never apart either.

We have been married for almost 36 years. I am always conscious of my husband in my life whether we are together or apart. I go through my day independently, fully supported in God’s love and in the love of my husband.

We are away from each other 10-16 hours a day depending on our work, social, or service commitments. When we are home together in the morning, your dad makes me breakfast and we sit together for a couple moments and enjoy breakfast. In the evening we have dinner together most days although that isn’t always possible. For many years when our children were small, we would stop what we were doing after the busyness of the day, after the kids were in bed, and share time together. This is a time for rest and nurturing each other.

There are many seasons to marriage: a time to be young and dating, a time to be newlyweds, a time to raise small children, a time to counsel teenagers, a time to put those kids through college a time to help aging parents, and a time to be those aging people. Throughout these times there is always each other.

Schedule time for important conversations. I learned to keep a list of what we needed to talk about so that I could let my anger go and know that we would talk when we were both ready. I learned to listen too.

Be confident in your loved one’s love for you. When we doubt each other, our communication suffers and erodes the quality of our time together. Trust each other. Share each other with the world around you and then come back together in the intimate moments, in the sorrowful moments, in the joyful moments and in the ordinary moments.

Oh God, help us to see you in our relationship. Help our commitment, help our communication, strengthen our marriage, be at the very core of us. You are our God. Thank you for our marriage. Thank you for our time together. Help us to do your Holy will each day even when we have to be apart through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Love,

MyMom

Be glad to see each other

Our lives are busy. We work a job or run a business, we serve in our church and communities, we schedule time with family and friends, we spend time in prayer, we read, we exercise. Our days are so full. We often put ourselves and our spouses too low on our todo list. How can we reshape our days to put ourselves and each other higher on our lists?

We can start by greeting each other joyfully. When we see our loved one, we great him or her with great joy. I remember watching my parents greet each other after a long day at work. My dad would inevitably be late coming home. He had a demanding job that always had one more thing to attend to before he could leave for the day. My mom would try to be patient but would be overcome with frustration. She wanted him to be home on time for dinner and spend time with the family.

When Dad finally arrived home, he would sheepishly walk in and mom would let him have her best tongue lashing for being late. Here they were, longing to see each other yet unable to greet each other lovingly. It became a very bad habit for them.

If life’s demands give you only a short time with each other, make that time joyful. Every glance, each word, each touch should be in joy and love. Trust each other and Communicate your love for each other with a welcome and happy greeting. If you only have 5 minutes together today, make those 5 minutes count. This is true for each person in our lives. Make your moments together count.

Oh God, help us to see you in each other and in the moments of our day. Give us patience and joy. We thank you for the gift of each other and ask you to bless our time together with gratefulness and Love through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Love,

MyMom

Grieving a Sinful World

I am shocked at how commonplace mass shootings have become in the United States. Instead of a couple of times in 100 years, we now know that something will happen and it will happen soon and it will be very, very bad. We don’t even talk about it anymore. Did you hear about … isn’t even in our everyday conversation.

We have to keep talking about terrorist acts, mental illness, isolation, greed, and all the terrible things happening. The devil wants to separate and divide all of us. Republican or Democrat…. do I want to listen to you or not is what goes through our minds. Stop the hatred. Stop the blindness. Stop the separation. Stop the anger. We must love one another. Love is what we need and God is Love.

Pray without ceasing. Love each other. Pray for your enemies. See Jesus in each other. When you start to feel separated, pray “Get behind me Satan.” Recognize that the evil one is behind your feelings of isolation and run back to God. Pray. Love. Treat each other kindly.

Listen. Pay attention to each other. Put down your phone once in a while. Forgive, love, be a friend, and know that I am praying for you. Be a positive, loving, listener and voice your opinion only after carefully praying for direction.

Oh God have mercy on us for we have sinned, we don’t know where to turn, help us to turn to you first and then to each other. Forgive us Father. Love us. Help us. Bless my children and grandchildren and relatives and friends. Bless the people of Florida and people throughout the world as we cry for peace and pray for those who are mentally ill or isolated, Through Jesus Christ our Lord who is Love for the world. Amen.

Love, MyMom