The Gift of Void

I’m so glad I listened to my heart. I don’t always do that but my heart told me to take some time to embrace the season I’m in. A season I’ve never been in before. So taking the time to wonder if I’ve been dreaming for the past 10 months, to embrace my shock, sadness, memories, need for connection, taste my salty tears, stare in bewilderment, feel my lostness, bear my aloneness—and ponder my motherlessness proved fruitful for me. There are just a few times in my life where I’ve actually taken the time to do this. This was one of those times.
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Taking the time to sit with my heart-thoughts led me to look back at 64 years of being physically in my mom’s presence on Mother’s Day. It was bittersweet to say the least. It was needed.
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As a teenage wife and mom, my mom willingly embraced her new role with love. She held me. Fed me. Clothed me. Bathed me. Talked to me. Sang to me. Nurtured me. Disciplined me. Hoped for me. Advocated for me. Cheered for me. Supported me. Comforted me. Listened to me. Knew me. She mothered me until the day she took her last breath.
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I visited my mom in the hospital on Mother’s Day last year. She was so happy to see me and I was grateful for the opportunity to visit since COVID restrictions were changing by the day. Armed with cards and gifts from the family, I felt like a pseudo-Santa Claus. We hugged. We talked. I held her hand.
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This year, I wondered what she was thinking about on Mother’s Day 2020. The year before she was hospitalized. Surely she must have documented what her day was like. COVID had kept us physically apart, of course. It was a first for her. Us too. Mother’s Day was always centered around her. Always. We made sure of it. I’d set a beautiful table and cook the food she loved. She’d laugh. She was giddy. She was the Queen. The guest of honor. My mom. Our mom. Our Queen. I reached for her last journal and flipped the pages backward. Ahhh…here it is. I read it. I cried. She called out several family members and friends. She called me out! Yes!! She was so grateful.
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Giving gifts on Mother’s Day is a tradition for many. It’s meant to convey love and appreciation. My first Mother’s Day without my dear mom delivered to me—on a silver platter—a gift. The Gift of Void. The Gift of Void caused me to long for her physical presence so much that it led me to ask the void filler Himself—The True and Living God—to fill me with Him. To fill all the places left empty in me by her absence. When He did that, I felt a peace. A peace that filled every inch of my empty aching heart.
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Experiencing pain has a way of reshaping your heart to feel other’s pain—to relate to their empty void. That’s a gift, too. I understand and accept the gift with joy. 🎁❤️🌹

To all who reached out to me on Mother’s Day knowing it was a new season, thank you. I shall never forget your kindness. Thank you. 🙏🏾

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There are years that ask questions and years that give answers. Perhaps even years that ask and demand both—questions and answers. Reflecting over 2021 I’m well aware that I’ve experienced both in the same year even though I had more questions than answers. Maybe you have, too. Questions that begged for an answer—a right now answer—a rhema word—a breakthrough. Questions that demanded wisdom, clarity, and insight. Questions that sought to know what my next step(s) should be and when I should take it. Questions that begged to know what I was supposed to learn in the midst of my joys and my challenges. Do you feel me? 

I’m grateful that God doesn’t mind me asking questions—because I have lots of them. I asked questions about the pandemic. I asked why we aren’t more neighborly in this country? I  asked where justice is hiding out, why good people die young, why people hate and destroy people and things, why racism is a mainstay especially in Christendom? I  asked how do I keep going when I’m so heartbroken and weary? So frustrated. Why does love hurt at times? Why so much suffering? How long oh Lord, how long? How do I resurrect my long forgotten and abandoned dreams? Should I resurrect them? Are they aligned with His will? So many questions I’ve asked this year. 

I’ve also asked questions like who am I? I also want to know what I can do to be a part of the solution and not the problem. How I can make a difference in my world. How I can love others better especially those I may have hurt or offended and vice versa. I want to know how I can honor Him. How I can be a better steward of what He’s entrusted me with. My biggest question has been what He wants me to learn in the place I’m in—the hard places even the cushy abundant places. It’s fertile ground to build my faith muscles. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the answers He gave me. Often times it was yes, no or “my grace is sufficient.” 

God has asked questions of me, too. “Kathy can you trust me when you can’t figure out what I’m doing?” “Will you serve me when you feel it’s all for naught?” “Will you be faithful and not fearful?”

How about you? What kind of year has 2021 been for you?  A year of questions, answers, or both? 

Here’s my answer—

Gratefully I came into 2021–gratefully shall I leave. Underserving, unqualified, undeniably His. 🙏🏾

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Fall is my all-time favorite season!  The colors, textures, smells, and crispness in the air all minister to my soul and my senses. My love of fall aesthetics is fulfilled as I drive south today. I’m taking in the beauty of my surroundings. I marvel at the beautiful array of colors of the leaves on the trees. The beautiful hues and colors of God’s majesty manifest themselves in rich jewel tones of burgundy, orange, red, emerald, magenta, goldenrod, and purple.  These beautiful leaves loosen themselves from their branches as they are dying.  Their season is complete. 🍁🍂🍁🍂

As I take in the splendor of it all, I am reminded that God has appointed the seasons–time to live and a time to die. He has appointed my seasons. As fellow Christ-followers, your seasons are appointed by Him, too. To everything in life, there is a season. [see Ecclesiastes 3:1]  A season of life and a season of ministry. A season to begin things, a season to end things. Spiritually speaking, a season is ‘an appointed time to carry out an activity or to fulfill a purpose. In Biblical Greek, the word time (‘kairos’) is a season of strategic significance. Kairos, then, is a season that is set forth by God to accomplish His purposes.

Every Christ-follower is called to a season of strategic significance for such a time as this–for His purposes. [see Esther 4:14-17We don’t know how long a season will last, so it would behoove us to embrace the season we are in. Much unhappiness and disillusionment with life come because we will not acknowledge or embrace the season we are in. Whether we are married, single, divorced, a parent, stay-at-home mom, children, no children, waiting on children, raising children, struggling with issues, struggling with people, struggling with loss, loneliness, embracing life, empty-nester, employed, unemployed, healthy, ill, confident, doubter, etc., we are called to meet with God there. Right in that place.

Dear Reader, this is a season of strategic significance for you and me. Do you believe it? Do you recognize what season you’re in? Are you embracing it?  Does your season bring about bitterness in your heart? We are poised to be developed, challenged, and changed to take on the brilliant Glory of Christ, just like the beautiful jewel-toned leaves. Just as leaves display their most brilliant hues and colors when they are dying, we, too, look more and more like Christ when we ‘die to ourselves. Consider what keeps you from displaying the most brilliant Glory of Christ. As the fall changes to winter and you die to yourself, what do you need to put on to look more like Him? Is it humility, trust, hope, rest, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, peace, patience, joy?  Remember, you are a jewel. A gem. A ‘displayer’ of the Glory of God. Shine!

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First Look: Read Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.  Look for phrases that describe what season you may be in.  Journal about it and/or reflect on it.  What is God saying to you about it?

Through The Looking Glass:  What old way of life is God calling you ‘to die to today?  Surrender.

“If you have heard His voice and learned from Him the truths concerning Himself, then throw off your old evil nature…Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better.  Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good.  Clothe yourself with this new nature.”  Ephesians 4:21-24  LAB

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My Birthday Wish From Mom.

Dear Mom,
64 years ago today, October 2, at 2:09 am you brought me (kicking and screaming) into this world. You cradled me. Kissed me and loved me. Mom, from the very first time I could recognize your voice, I responded to it — especially when you sang Happy Birthday to me—which you’ve done every single year of my life. You always took the time to make a birthday cake 🎂 for me as a little girl. You would write ✍🏾 me birthday letters 💌 and messages. These are treasures that I hold dear to this very day.

A few years ago—2018—you were hospitalized on my birthday. I sat by your side that day holding your hand. Even from your hospital bed, in enormous pain, you celebrated me! You always celebrated WITH me, Mom. You told every staff person who entered your room that day that it was my birthday. I was embarrassed by the attention but you wouldn’t have it any other way! As I watched you writhe in pain that day, I was thinking how the pain you were experiencing compared with the pain you experienced many decades before that —the day you birthed me into this world.

As a 16-year-old teenager, you were both inexperienced and afraid. You drew on dad’s strength. He was there by your side as he always was. The doting, supportive and caring husband and now a new father. Each year, just after you sang your birthday song to me, you would recount my birth story—your water broke 4 weeks before my due date, you didn’t know what was happening but you were excited, telling me (for the 60th time) how you chose my name…of course, I rolled my eyes. 🤣 Later that day we’d laugh together and you would eat a sliver of cake (just a sliver you’d always say) with a dollop of ice cream! 🍨

You always lit up with excitement when you saw me. Your love was deep. 🧡 It was unconditional. It mirrored your Savior’s heart. When you knew you wouldn’t be here for my birthdays to come, you were not sad. You knew that I’d always feel your presence because you’d be with me in spirit. I can feel you mom—especially today—cheering me on. 🎉 You are still the very first person to wish me a Happy Birthday (from your Heavenly home) and singing—off-key— but singing with all your heart—“Happy Birthday, dear Kathy. Happy Birthday, to you!” 🎶

Thank you mom for always celebrating me.

Love you forever,
Kathy💕

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She Signed Her Name ✍🏾

Yesterday I glanced at a folder that was in my mom’s belongings. Up to this point, I was intentional about NOT looking through her papers and such—too much. I opened the folder and my eyes focused on her signature. I stared at it for a while, looked away then my eyes locked in on it again. My mom had signed and dated a document on Feb 2, 2012.

Her handwriting is distinct—as most signatures are. She was born as a leftie but was made to write with her right hand. I could recognize it anywhere. Her signature showed up on my school report cards, permission slips, birthday cards, anniversary cards, Christmas cards, Mother’s Day cards, get-well cards, etc. Her handwritten letters bear her signature —“Love You Always, Mom”.

Looking at mom’s signature overwhelmed me. It came with a flood of thoughts. Here’s what I saw in her signature:✍🏾

I can only imagine what she was thinking—actually, I don’t have to imagine. She told us. She always told us—she wanted to be at home—the home she shared with the love of her life. She’d never lived alone. She married at 16. Left her mother’s house and set up her own with my dad. She wanted to be in the home where she felt her husband’s presence, the place where she could see him in every room, see his favorite chair, and throw blanket. The place she could hear his laughter, smell his cologne, see him sitting at the head of the dining room table, saying grace and being surrounded by family, good food, and conversation. The place where she heard him call her name and say “I love you, Bet.” The place where she saw him reading his Bible, heard him cry, and heard him pray…

In spite of it all…she signed her name. ✍️🏾

I saw a brave, bold, and courageous woman. A woman who picked up her life and laid it down in new, unfamiliar surroundings without complaint. You see, 12 years after my dad died in 2000, my mom sold her home and downsized to a senior living community. On February 2, 2012, she signed the lease. She didn’t want to leave the home she shared with my dad—but the upkeep was too much for her—you get the picture. We prayed as a family for the right place for her to begin her new journey. My brother and sister-in-love found the perfect place! She had to make a quick decision that day or else the place would be given to the next person on the ‘waitlist’. She agreed to accept it and signed her name. The signature I was now staring at.

🙏🏾Thank you, Lord, for watching over my reluctant, but bold and courageous mom.❤️

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