Amazing Grace

Today I have to read something that I wrote about Mom. Her eulogy. Funerals are difficult for me. I try to avoid them whenever possible. One is bad enough. Two seems nearly unbearable to me. So, I pray for an extra measure of grace and peace. The only way that I’ll survive today, is truly by the grace of God. Interestingly enough, that is the topic of Mom’s eulogy. For those of you who are not able to be here today, I am posting the entire text here. It is perhaps, not my best writing, but it has certainly been the hardest for me to write out of anything. It is the best tribute that I could write for the wonderful woman who I was immensely blessed to call, “Mom”.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.”

It’s customary on such occasions to speak about how truly good that a person was. But, that’s not what Mom would have wanted. Romans 3:10 tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one;” She would not wish us to remember what a remarkable woman she was, without crediting it to the work of God in her life.

John 3:16-18 explains, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned;” This was the very foundation of Mom’s faith. Above all else, she was truly a follower of Christ, and a woman of unwavering faith in Him.

    James writes, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” That was the key; that was what made Mom the wonderful woman, who we all remember with great love. Mom’s faith was so real and vital to her, that it touched every area of her life. The result of her faith was that she was a Godly woman. Everyone who knew her loved her; they couldn’t help but love her. She was kind and loving to all of us. Her faith is what gave her that great love and compassion for others that we all remember so well. All of this was the work of God in her life.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.”

Mom suffered through some very difficult things in her life. Through every one of them, she relied on God’s grace. I remember one time in particular, when she was in tears, and she asked how much more we would have to face. With her next breath she quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” Then she prayed that God would give her grace, and she finished by praising God.

God did bring her safely through many things. On more than one occasion He miraculously intervened, healing her and giving us a little more time with her here. I am so thankful for that. But on March 3rd, 2009, it was time. God called her home. His grace had brought her through all of her trials and struggles. Now, it was finally time for her to lay the burdens down for good, and go home. She finished her race. And I am convinced that her Savior welcomed her home with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

“The Lord has promised good to me,

His word, my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be,

As long as life endures.”

Mom found great comfort in the scriptures, in God’s word. She spent many hours with me as I was growing up, helping me to commit it to memory. Now, I find tremendous comfort in those very same promises.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 1:3&4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”

And the verse she wrote in the front of nearly every Bible that she ever gave me, Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Mom left a legacy. One that I cannot hope to live up to, but one that I aspire to nonetheless. She taught me the most important things that I have learned. She prayed me through all of my own struggles. She left me with hope, because the legacy of her faith lives on still.

I shall miss her every day, for the rest of my life. I miss her even more now, than I did that night in March. I grieve, but I do not grieve without hope. My hope is in the same God who Mom placed her hope in. Her Savior, is also mine. That is why I take comfort in the knowledge that we will one day be reunited in the presence of our LORD.

I wrote a stanza of my own to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. It is what I imagine that Mom might say to us now if that were possible.

“There’s no more pain, and no more fear,

My Lord has made me whole.

So dry the tears; I’ll meet you here,

When your Savior calls you home.”

A Woman of Faith

How do you write something for your Mom’s memorial? I’ve been trying to for over a month now, and I only have a week left to do it. I usually enjoy writing, but this is one thing that I never wanted to. It is truly amazing to me how bittersweet memories can be. I have so many wonderful memories of Mom. Remembering makes me smile. But remembering them also brings to the surface how very much I miss her. Joy, grief, and hope are all warring for my attention. I feel them all. Hope and joy keep the grief at bay enough to keep me from despair, but the grief is still there. My heart still breaks, and I would give anything if I could just have one more hug from my Mom. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve thought, “I wish Mom was here.”

I marvel at the number of people who miss her. I realize that it was because of her faith, because she allowed the love of God to shine through. That was the reason why everyone who knew her loved her.

How do you summarize a life in a few short paragraphs? In Mom’s case, I don’t think that even a novel would be enough. If I had to write just one sentence, I think it would be this: Mom was a woman of such deep and personal faith in God, that it touched every area of her life, and truly defined her.

I think that’s how she would want to be remembered, for her faith.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace…

There have been a few inquiries about how my sister and I did on Mother’s Day this year. I want to thank you all for your prayers on our behalf, they are truly appreciated. Actually, I ran away. The two of us went to see a movie together. (The new Star Trek, GREAT movie by the way…) We had a really good time, and I forgot that it was Mother’s Day for a while.

It’s true; it gets worse before it gets better. I’m waiting to get to the better part. There are still good days and bad. Lately, I’ve had a string of the bad ones. Still, the God of all comfort is there. The stars still shine in the sky. And life goes on. Grace for the day. He gets me through the day. We will tackle tomorrow when it comes.

In a lot of ways, Mom was one of my best friends. I talked to her so much. I visited her all of the time, and we did so much together. We laughed a lot. So many times I’d say, “You’ve got to see what I’ve been knitting,” or, “I found a great recipe for you to try!”

I finally sewed the curtains for my dining room this week. I hung them up and I just love how they look. Mom was with me when I picked out the fabric for them, but I just never got around to making them until now. My first thought was to call her up and ask her to come see them. But I can’t. And I really, really, miss that. I miss her.

There is a big, empty hole in my life. And lately, it’s felt emptier than ever. Grace is all that sustains me. Standing here, utterly helpless, weak and worn out, God steps in, and fills the gap for me. When I can’t go on, His strength shines through. My strength was exhausted long ago. Without grace, I’d be lost, in so many ways…

Conscripted!

The pirate ship “Floating Ship” is seeking crew for conscription. It is commanded by the vertically challenged pirates-who-don’t-do-anything: Captain Quinton, First Mate Arynne and Cabin Boy Camden. They have conscripted Daddy for the position of Second Mate, and Mommy has been conscripted as well, but her duties have yet to be defined as anything other than straightening the Captain’s hat whenever it’s askew. First Mate Arynne assures everyone that they are not bad pirates who will take you away from your home. Any interested parties may apply at the “Living Room Inn”. No skills necessary other than a vivid imagination…

The Right Tool for the Job

What’s that old adage about using the right tool for the job? Whatever it is, they had a point. I’ve taken on yet another unfinished project of Mom’s. It’s a half-done afghan that Mom was knitting for my sister. I’m planning to finish it, maybe in time for her birthday??? (Sis, if you’re reading this, don’t hold me to that!) Anyway, she was knitting in on size 9 needles. I’ve worked my way through a few sizes down to size 6… The variation in our gauge was so bad, that I’ve ripped back all that I had knit on it, and started with the 6 needles. We will see how it goes from here. I kept holding it up, stretching and shaking it, hoping that somehow, magically, our gauge would match perfectly. However, it turns out my knitted strips were a couple of inches wider than Mom’s. Since I picked up knitting a strip where she had left off, it was looking a little, well, wonky…

Trying to finish someone else’s knitting can be quite the challenge. Every knitter is unique, and their work is filled with the idiosyncrasies of their individual technique. So, it will never be a perfect match, but maybe it will be close enough to work. I’ll never be able to fill Mom’s shoes, but maybe I can be a little like her. Maybe I can do a few things that she would have. Maybe now and then I can do something good because it’s the sort of thing that Mom would have done. She may have left some big shoes to fill, but more than that, she left a legacy. I hope that some of who she was is part of me. She taught me so much, both with words and by example.

Right now, I’m going to go back to knitting. Hopefully, I’ll find the right needle size soon, before I have to rip out my work too many more times…

One Step At a Time

I picked out Mother’s Day cards yesterday. I had Munchkin with me, and she helped too. I didn’t think that I’d be able to manage it this year, but I had her with me and that gave me the courage to try. It felt like a small victory. One more step forward. At the same time, it was a really hard thing to do.

I took a walk that afternoon while the kids napped. I walked over to the field, and sat at the top of the hill. I’ve always walked the field whenever I need to clear my head. Things just seem to make more sense over there. I’ve had a lot of conversations with God in that field. Like the rain renews and refreshes the air, a good walk in the field does the same for me.

I’ve started knitting a cardigan for Munchkin. She was sad that we had to pack up her too-small sweaters, so I promised that I’d knit her another. I let her pick out the yarn, and it’s so bright that I might go blind knitting it! She loves it, and even I admit that when I was younger, I would have loved it too! I’ve got the back knit up already, and now I’m starting on the front. I don’t think it will take too long to finish. I’m working on sewing some summer clothes for her as well. She likes some of the fabric in my stash, so I’ve got plenty of options for dresses! I wish that they made more sewing patterns for little boys, but most of them seem to be for girls. Ah well, she is the one who appreciates pretty clothes anyway. The boys don’t seem to care what they wear. Mr. Q does prefer clothes with cars or tractors on them, but really, he’s not too picky! Camo is still too young to voice much of an opinion on the subject. Munchkin certainly is a girly girl. She LOVES dresses and heels and purses!

Unfinished

I’ve found a barely started placemat and nearly finished sweater in Mom’s knitting bag. I was looking through it to try and find a ball of burgundy cotton yarn for a gift I’m knitting. I came across these two unfinished projects. Something in me just couldn’t leave them that way. I’ve made a bit of progress on them both today.

Mom kept knitted placemats on hand for the kids. They loved using them whenever they ate at Grammy’s house. She probably cast on another one for them to use. She was knitting it on a pair of beautiful wooden needles that I’d given her for Christmas. She loved my circular ones, but preferred straight needles herself. When the company who makes them came out with the straight knitting needles, I knew exactly what to order for her! She had only an inch done, so the difference in our knitting will probably not be too visible.

I have no idea who the sweater was meant for. I don’t even remember ever seeing her knitting it. It’s pretty, and has just some finishing on the hood and button band for me to do. There isn’t enough yarn to make the sleeves, so I think I’ll just leave it as a vest. It will still be pretty. I hope that it doesn’t look too strange. Mom knit much tighter than I do, so she usually used larger needles than me.

I can’t explain why, but I just feel the need to finish these projects for her. It seems so strange to be knitting Mom’s projects with her needles. Today has been a “ton of bricks” day. I miss her so much. It’s funny how things will go on, and suddenly, something small will bring it all rushing back. I’m learning to take things day by day. ‘I just need strength for today, Lord. Just help me get through today, and we can deal with tomorrow when it comes. I just need grace for today.’ While I pray for strength and grace, I’ll pick up Mom’s needles and keep knitting.

Fulfilling Prophecy

We continued with our study of John yesterday. John 19 was the particular chapter we studied. I picked up on something that I’d never really thought about. In several places John mentions that some of the actions of the Roman soldiers were the fulfillment of prophecy. When they divided up Jesus’ robe and cast lots for the tunic, how could they have realized that they were fulfilling prophecy that had been written before the rise of the Roman Empire? When they pierced him with a spear, but did not break his bones, they had no clue that again, they were fulfilling ancient prophecies. I wonder if any of them became believers? What must it have been like to be living amidst prophecy coming to life?

I wonder. Then I realize that I am. There is still unfulfilled prophecy in the Scripture, and we are living in the middle of it right now! I stand in awe, that something written thousands of years ago, is coming to pass today. Truly, the Word of God is ageless, and timeless. Scripture is powerful, alive, and still utterly amazes me! Only He could have written something that incredible… It’s humbling to me to think that God inspired men to write these things down, for me. Why, in this vast universe, would the very Creator of it all want to communicate with me? Someday, I will have my answer, and I suspect that on that day, I’ll be even more humbled. I imagine that I will be on my knees before Him, absolutely speechless…

You’re Doing WHAT With Those T-shirts?!

If you weren’t sure by now, then you will be after reading this post. I am CRAZY!

I saw a video tutorial online that was demonstrating how to cut t-shirts into long strips to be used as yarn. Someone suggested using the t-shirt yarn for a rug. I thought that it was a FANTASTIC idea! I ran up to Aaron’s dresser and pulled out the three white t-shirts in his top drawer. I asked him, “How many t-shirts do you need?” He told me that one would probably suffice since he doesn’t wear button-down shirts often. I gleefully snipped two white t-shirts, and went looking for more… I discovered that I had a number of t-shirts that were worn or the wrong size. They quickly fell victim to my scissors. At that point, I had a basketball sized ball of t-shirt yarn. I remembered a pattern in the Mason-Dixon Knitting book for a spiral rug knit out of fabric strips, perfect! I cast on and began knitting away. I’m still not sure how big I will make this rug. I’ll probably knit on it until I get sick of knitting t-shirts! It will be an easy enough thing to continue adding more strips of t-shirts as I keep knitting. Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up with a nice room-sized rug. Maybe I’ll wind up with a welcome mat.

Potluck Post

I’m starting off my post with a prayer request. Kay, who is one of the co-authors of the Mason-Dixon Knitting books and blog, lost her husband this week. She has two children. My heart aches for them because I know how awful the loss of a parent is, and I saw how hard it was for my Dad in the aftermath of Mom’s death. Please pray for Kay and her kids.

We had a bit of excitement around her on Sunday. There was a grass fire in a field across the street from Dad’s house. We sat on Dad’s front porch with the kiddos so that they could see the fire trucks. Several of the firefighters waved to us. Of course, I know many of them, and have since I was a kid. Dad was on the volunteer fire department for many years until he retired. I’m so thankful that we have such a great fire department here in such a small town!

We’ve had geese and ducks frequenting the pond as the weather warms. The geese keep wandering over to the garden plot. They will stay away from it once it’s planted if they know what’s good for them! Goose dinner anyone????

Mr. Q just informed us that, “Someone turned the coal stove off!” We reassured him that it was supposed to be off. “OK,” was his reply as he wandered happily off to play with his toys. What an observant little boy!

I know that this post is a bit of everything, with nothing particularly profound. I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth. I’ve just been busy with the kids and other stuff. It’s been a strange year so far, and it’s getting stranger still! But, I’m not going to ask, “What more could happen?” I made that mistake a month ago, and I found out! Perhaps God is teaching me patience. I wish that I could learn it faster…