Remembering How My Mom Loved In Spite of Depression

“I love you! I love you! I love you!” she whispered some of her last words as she fought for breath. I still see her helplessness as a spinal stroke paralyzed her and took away her freedom to hug us. She loved to hug us.

My mom was plagued with depression through her life (My Mom, Depression, and Love), so my child heart had to work through insecurities. All the turmoil of wondering what I did wrong that I couldn’t make her happier. That I couldn’t stop her hysterical crying. That I couldn’t stop her from wanting to end her life. I didn’t understand why she had to leave to go to the hospital. When she clung to us after our Sunday visits and sobbed and begged my dad to take her home, I didn’t understand why we couldn’t take her along.

It took years before I worked through my guilt and feelings of desertion. But the more I healed, the more I realized what a wonderful mom I really had. Although depression sometimes snatched her away from us or plunged her into inescapable self-absorption, she loved us deeply. Now I am amazed how she even coped, knowing more of her past and all she dealt with. Now I can see how God still taught me about the real love through her.

Today it is 14 years since she passed away. February 18, 2006. She was only 80. I still have times when I miss her.

I am so grateful for my Mom’s love. Though not exhaustive, here are a few ways she showed it:

I often had ear infections. I remember being not very old and crying because my ear hurt horribly. My mom took me to the doctor. I still hear his words, “SHUT UP!” That only made me cry harder, and my mom hurt so much for me that we changed doctors.

She believed me when others didn’t. When I was a sophomore in high school, I ached all over and would run a small grade fever. I was so, so tired. Even our family doctor couldn’t figure it out. I started believing others that maybe it was just the result of emotional issues or of something I was avoiding at school. When I sobbed because someone called me a faker, she hugged me and said, “I believe you.” Later on, my feet and hands swelled up and I was sent to a specialist. Finally a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. It was a long journey through treatment, but she stood by me all the way.

When I was a junior in high school, I had a tonsillectomy. They were more spread than they had thought, so they had to dig and stitch. I couldn’t eat for some time, and I remember feeling Mom’s concern and bringing me popsicles.

♥ She never squelched my creativity and passions but instead encouraged them. When I found some baby frogs, she gave me an old canning tub to build a habitat for them before I released them. She allowed me to make terrariums. I enjoyed keeping an aquarium, raising hamsters, and nursing a duckling back to strength in a box in the corner of the kitchen.

She couldn’t protect us from abuse, and she was emotionally incapable of recognizing it or helping us through the effects of it. But she did care about our safety as much as she was able. Once my brother and I wanted to swim in a pond under a bridge, and she allowed us to but she said, “Keep your shoes on” as she was afraid we might step on broken glass or barbed wire. (I already mentioned before of an incident where she was more concerned about our safety than hers in “My Mom, Depression, and Love.”)

When she was present, she allowed us to pick which cake we wanted for our birthdays. I always chose confetti angel food cake. On my birthday last month, I thought of how she always sent a special birthday card even though her handwriting had become more wavy.

Her children and grandchildren were her pride and joy. She loved it so when we were all together.

Even though my kids were adopted, she never loved them less than the other grandchildren. Once when she was in the hospital, my husband and I went to see her. We didn’t know if children were allowed in her room, so we left them in the lobby. She immediately asked us where the kids were. When we told her, she pleaded that we bring them to her room and said they are just as important to her as the other grandchildren.

I was already working on another post, but my heart led me instead to remember my mom’s love. I’m so grateful she can now dance and rejoice fully in Jesus’ love where there is no more depression.

I love you! I love you! I love you, Mom!

Please share your story about your mom. If she is no longer on this earth, how did she show you she cared in spite of her imperfections? Or perhaps you have no positive memories of your mom, because she was absent or abusive in one way or another? Is there someone in your life that gave you the nurturing love like a mom should?

“Amazing Grace”

This was one of my mom’s favorite hymns. We sang it at her funeral.
Her name was Grace, and by God’s grace, she was amazing, too!

7 Days of Soul Care (Book Review)


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I feel nudged to repost this book review from nearly two years ago. The truths in this book are so needed in our lives and in this world. As I revisit these truths, they have again comforted my heart. I hope they will encourage yours, too.

Does your spirit feel empty, discouraged, and confused? Does it feel like you’re missing something important in your life? Do lies about God, yourself, or others torment you? Do you long to grasp your identity in Christ Jesus? Do you crave a deeper relationship with God?

Wearying of trying to fit her circle into the square expectation of certain key people, Dolly Lee prayed and asked God to show her how He created and designed her. God answered her prayer and led her on a deeper experience of His love.

The journey was far from easy. Through valley lows and mountain highs, God led her on a journey of self-discovery and a deeper experience of His love that can transform and redeem brokenness to beauty.

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Dolly’s personal battle with anxiety, depression, and  PTSD, and God’s transformation through His love and grace has birthed a book that will resonate with many. 7 Days of Soul Care: A Guide to Letting God Do the Extraordinary With Your Ordinary  “invites readers to surrender fear and to courageously embrace the journey of living more fully into his or her amazing true identity as God’s Beloved.”

Through creative (and some vulnerable) stories, Scripture, soul-searching journal questions, and heartfelt prayers, Dolly gifts us with highlights of what she learned over the past 17 years and continues to learn. With love and compassion, she invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

The top three takeaways Dolly wants readers to take to heart are:

God created you in love and for love.

God sees you as a masterpiece.

We won’t be able to fully receive God’s love when we believe lies about God, ourselves, or others.

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Some of my favorite quotes, one from each day, are:

Being exceptional begins with our connection with God. It has taken me decades to learn relationship with God begins first with our “being” and not with our “doing.”

We have worth because we are created in God’s image.

When I admit and experience my own brokenness and my failure to love well, I see in contrast God’s tender love and grace welcoming me back home. He calls me to rest my weary head on His chest. I don’t need to live by my own limited strength.

The more I remind myself of God’s unconditional love for me, the more I walk in freedom from people–pleasing and perfectionism.

Remember that the cross and not your circumstances are the measure of His great love for you.

I travel away from God whenever I forget I have all I need in Him and instead seek my soul’s fulfillment elsewhere.

It isn’t selfish to make time to care for our minds, souls, and bodies.

Life can get so busy, but that’s all the more reason to rest and nurture our souls. Our time will not be wasted as we read this book slowly and carefully so we can soak in refreshment for our thirsty, weary souls.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit,
for [otherwise] apart from Me
[that is, cut off from vital union with Me]
you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 AMP

If you purchase this book, you will be contributing to a worthy cause – the International Justice Mission, a ministry that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. Dolly’s hope is to raise at least $500 out of her royalties for this book.

A Child's Trust

When Dolly needs to remember what is true about God and herself, she listens to songs. One of the songs she listened to during the writing process was “Here’s My Heart” by Casting Crowns.

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Dolly Lee believes God’s love can transform a person from the inside-out if one surrenders to His love. She’s thankful God’s grace allows second acts and second chances. She attends Fuller Seminary and writes at her blog Soulstops.com where she invites readers to stop and connect with God. She lives with her family and one lovable dog in California where she loves to hike, read, share meals and laugh with family and friends. Her goal is to collect enough in royalties from the sale of her book, 7 Days of Soul Care, to donate $500 to the work of International Justice Mission.

* The two images were created by Dolly’s daughter.
* I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book but I was not paid to write this review. This is my honest review, based on information from Dolly and my own opinion.

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What About the Victims?

Someone came to buy our stackable washer and dryer some years ago, and I was nervous about being the only one home. My nerves upped a notch when a man came alone. I was handling it fairly well until he mentioned he is a pastor, and my body responses kicked into panic mode – like an automatic switch kicks into high gear – “Run for your life!” My insides shook like a frightened puppy, and I wanted to cry.

Deep breaths… You’re stronger now. This is not the same one who hurt you many years ago. Help me, Jesus! As I zoned out and talked myself through it in a matter of seconds, my body and spirit calmed down.

Before he left, he started talking more about his church and what they believe. As God breathed power into my heart and loosened my tongue, I asked him, “So if someone would come to you and tell you he/she was abused by one of the pastors, what would you do?” Gulp! Did I really just dare to say that?!

He dodged my question…

In another instance, a sincere Christian woman said, concerning news of sexual abuse by leaders, “I don’t know why they bring all that up. It’s in the past. We’re supposed to forgive.”

Ouch! What about the victims? Where is the support for them? What about the victims who have never received justice? Who are still suffering and struggling from the trauma? What if the perpetrator is still using his power towards evil? Why are abusers sometimes protected while victims are rejected and silenced?

Some people and communities want to shove this important issue under the rug. Others may be well-intentioned, but they don’t realize that even if we make it to the process of forgiving, our bodies still subconsciously remember trauma.

It’s not easy to write vulnerably, but God is nudging me to speak up for those who have been silenced, those whose rights are trampled on, those lonely souls who inwardly cry out for validation, caring support, and justice.

“Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice,
 and defend all those who have been passed over.
Open your mouth, judge fairly,
 and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 VOICE

When any person or community is more concerned for the protection of the abusers than of the victims, it hurts. Big-time. When victims are ignored, not believed, or treated as the one who did the wrong, it hurts. Big-time. When Christians tell us we don’t have faith if we can’t forgive and forget and move on, it hurts. Big-time.

Love cares about the grief and suffering of victims who are hurting. Love cries with them. Love sits in the pain pit with them. Love protects  and defends them. Like Jesus does.

Jesus understands suffering more than anyone does. He bends low with us in our suffering and whispers, “I’m so very sorry.” His tears mingle with ours. He never dodges or minimizes our pain. He doesn’t treat mental and emotional pain as less important than physical illness. He doesn’t tell us we aren’t trusting Him if we need therapy or medicine. He blesses these means to help us through. He gives us grace and strength to work through the gut-wrenching grief of being robbed of the very essence of who we are. His never-failing compassion wraps us in the safe and cozy blanket of His love where it’s ok to voice our emotions. His caring support  gives hope that we can be restored to who we are in Him. Through His grace, we can become survivors and finally victory dancers as His healing works in us.

RAINN – Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network – Get Help 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE(4673)

What Is a Girl Worth? – Lesley’s moving review of Rachael Denhollander’s memoir of her journey of courageously fighting for justice for herself and other victims.

Cecil Murphey: Abuse Survivor“As long as I kept the abuse a secret, I still wasn’t free. But as I shared my experiences and what I had learned as a survivor, people resonated with those words, and I experienced healing.”

The Hope of Survivors – Support, Hope, and Healing for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Healing Is In Your Hand