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

Missing MyMom

My mother told me many times that she missed her parents every day.   I was a teenager at the time and I thought that was so odd.  I mean, of course I loved my grandmother.  I knew her.  I was 14 years old when she died.  She seemed terribly old to me and I thought my mom should be more use to not having her parents.   My grandfather had died when I was just five years old and I only have one brief memory of him and it isn’t a positive memory.  Hmmm, I wondered where this longing came from.  Logically, they had been gone a long time and yet my mother missed them very much.  She remembered how her mother had taught each of her daughters to guard themselves and to dress modestly and to work hard.   There was a mistrust that was passed along from Grandmother to mother to daughter regarding dangers in the world.  I carried that fear for many years and conquered it after taking an Impact training class (high contact self defense where you learn to kick heads and get away).  I learned hard work and that everyone loves the person who takes care of the dishes after dinner.  I always help to clean up.

My grandfather taught my mother about gardening.  I understand that he always had beautiful gardens.  He also had a big temper and when I slammed the door to his kitchen one too many times, I received a slap on the head that left my ears ringing.  I remember running to his garden and walking there for solace. My grandmother came out to console me and talk about not slamming doors.  She said that I should appreciate my grandpa for the beautiful garden and that he loves me enough to teach me not to slam doors.  I never really learned not to slam doors but I do think of him every time I do.  And I remember all the lovely days I would spend near my mom as she gardened.  I know that love of gardening came from her dad.

I really miss my mom today.  I can tell you so many stories about the person she was.  You only saw her in her older days when she was tired and sick with such limited mobility.  I remember her vigor and how she taught me so many things: to cook, to sew, to knit, to try.  She taught me about God and his Holy Mother Mary and passed along her steadfast faith.  I know that I will see her again one day.

I am grateful that I still have my dad with us.  He has always worked hard and been a very action oriented man; a leader who always has a plan.  I know that these days of diminished capacity are difficult for him.  I hope that I am helping him in these years and enjoying his company as much as I should.  What a blessing my parents have always been to me.

I miss my mother in law too.  She and my mother died in 2012.  Sometimes their passing seems so raw and fresh to me.  My grief and longing overwhelm me.  Many times I think of them.  Such good, loving women that God so graciously put into my life.  Not perfect but good people.  I know they both forgave my failings, took pride in my success, and loved me with all their hearts.

We are fortunate to still have my father in law too.  He is still strong willed and able.  He golfs multiple times a week although he needs a cart now.  He should ask for help more often.  We are so glad when we spend time with him.  After he recently visited, we had the golf channel on our TV for a couple of weeks.  We would turn it on and watch a little golf, think of dad and then turn to our current Netflix series.

It may be a bit self serving of me to say this but cherish your time with your mom and dad.  Cherish the time with your grandfathers.  Truely, “Honor your father and your mother”.   I know that we will see our moms in heaven again.  I know that our time with our dads is fleeting.

Oh God, help us to be the sons and daughters that you desire us to be.  Help us to Honor our fathers and mothers.  Help us to forgive them their failings, to love them, to listen to them and to honor the place you have given them in our lives.  Through Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Love you,

Mymom

Book Recommendations: The Bait is Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere

I read The Bait of Satan in 2013.  At the time, I had no idea how hurt I was by my feelings of being offended.  As John explains in his book, there are many reasons to feel offended.  Our reasons are usually good ones.  Our parents, our spouse,  our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, boss, pastor, fellow Christians, teachers…and the list goes on and on all have times when they offend us.   When I feel offended, I may choose to wallow in my feelings instead of having conversations and forgiving the ones who have offended me.  

John Bevere calls the temptation to feel offended and disrupt or sever our relationships with others, the Bait of Satan.  It is what Satan uses to hook us into not only feeling bad but to quit talking to those we legitimately feel have harmed us.  Falling into the trap of rightous unforgiveness is a sin.  These sins separate us from others and more importantly, turn our attention inward and separate us from God.

Jesus has told us, we need to forgive others always.  

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;”

Forgiveness is never optional as a Christian.  If we are to be forgiven, we must forgive.  Satan tempts us with the offenses of others.  His goal is that we be separated from God and others.  Worse, our separation leads us to other sins of gossip and treating others badly.

The Bait of Satan opened my eyes and I started forgiving others.  Occassionlly, Satan still catches me with his bait.  Most of the time, I’m able to recognize the offense and call it out.  When you have a conversation with the offender, you often find that you misunderstood the situation.  Their intention wasn’t to offend and even if it was, let them be, forgive, and do not be held captive by the offense.

Oh God, help us to recognize when we feel offended and to swiftly forgive others.  Help us to truly mean it when we pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen

Love, MyMom

Listen, don’t judge

Many times I have failed to be present with you, to listen to your story.  I have jumped to conclusions and I have judged you from my own background and experiences.  I have tried to fix things for you and I have undermined your self confidence.  I’m sorry.  I truly want to listen and accept you where you are and trust you and God with your future.  You will have setbacks.  You will have successes.  You will succeed and you will fail.  Get up.  Plan your day.  Seek help.  Ask God what you should do next.  Spend time with Him in prayer.  I am praying for you.  I will listen to your story without judgement.  I will help when you ask.  

Jesus, Son of the living God, help us as we communicate with each other to listen and to see each other as you see us.  Amen.

Love, Mymom

I Can

“It is God’s resounding I Am that drowns out our weak, I Can’t” from Your Daily Walk , daily devotions to read the bible in 365 days, January 19.  How very often I have said I can’t.  How often I have had to realign myself to God’s will instead of my will.  It is tons harder when instead of my will for me, I am focused on my will for you, my children.  Oh how tangled I get.  It can look selfless in that I only really want good things for you, my children.  I make it hard for you to pray and listen to God’s voice in your life because I am so busy sharing my voice.  

Today I say peace be with you.  I trust you with your future.  I trust you to make mistakes and pick yourself back up, ask God’s forgiveness, pray, listen and begin again.  I trust you and God with your future.

Tomorrow, I will need to pray and let go again.  God is good.  He is the great I Am.  I can let him be God of your life and I will be your mom.

God bless you.  Love, MyMom

Ask Mary

John 19:26-27  When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

Jesus gave us His mother as our spiritual mother.  Jesus is God.  Mary is His mother, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.  God asks us to honor our father and mother.  He honors His own mother and listens to her.  Jesus brought His mother to heaven with Him.  She intercedes for us and leads us to her Son, Jesus.  I honor his mother and I ask for her prayers, just like I ask you to pray for me.  Mary listens.  She cares for us as our spiritual mother.  She is always there to listen.

It occurs to me that the devil doesn’t like the close relationship Mary has with Jesus.  He also knows how influential she is.  If the devil can make us think Mary is insignificant, then he cuts us off from the Spiritual mother who cares for us and can lead us close to her Son, Jesus.

I love the Hail Mary prayer.  “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen”

I say this prayer knowing who Mary is; the mother of God.  I worship her Son Jesus.  When you are troubled, remember to ask me to pray for you.  Remember to ask Mary to pray for you.  Mary listens and Jesus listens to His Mother.  God Bless You and may Mary pray for your needs.

Love,

Mymom

Advice from mymom

I thought of the name “advice from someone else’s mom” a few years ago but settled on the name “advice from mymom”.  I learned so much from my mother, my mother in law, my grandmother, my husband’s grandmothers, my friends that I’d like to share with you.  They each tried to share their wisdom with me.  Sometimes I listened but more often, I didn’t listen at the time. But whether I ran into difficulty or triumph, I reflected back on the events and recalled their wisdom.  I feel like who I am comes from each of them.  Most especially my mom.  The other reason for the name Mymom also comes from one of my children.  He noticed that he is one of four children and started calling me Mymom whenever he wanted my attention.  It became his name for me and I rather like it.  So in honor of my mom and in recognition of my son’s nickname for me, I’ll be Mymom in this blog.

I want to write these blogs for my children.  I have so much to tell them.  So much that I have learned from all those wise people that have been part of my life.  I could help my children avoid the mistakes that I have made.  But of course in life, we are all experiential learners and none of us seem to want advice from our own moms when they can see so clearly that we are in need of advice.  It is ok.  I forgive my children as my mom forgave me.  We moms always do.  I’ll write to you instead.  You can choose to hear advice from Mymom.  God bless you and all your intentions this day.

Love, Mymom