My One Word for 2021

When I decided to choose a One Word for the year, I thought of “listen” as I wanted to pay attention more to what God is telling me and also to listen better to the pain behind the words of hurting hearts.

But lately God so often whispers in my heart, “Just rest, My child.” To rest in Him and His plan. To rest in Him concerning the hurts and burdens of others, also of my own. To rest in His power to comfort, to heal, and to revive. And I reasoned that in order to “listen” to Him, I do need to “rest.”

I still had some niggling doubts though, and I struggled with starting a blog post concerning it. But this morning God impressed on my heart that the word to focus on is “GRACE.”

While I still feel called to “listen” more attentively and I still know I need to “rest” spiritually, mentally, and physically, I need GRACE, that unmerited favor of God in Christ Jesus who has suffered and died for me and now lives forever for me. I need that unshakable foundation of God’s GRACE, or all my intentions and efforts will crumble.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:6-9

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9

So this year I want to focus more on GRACE – to dive into the depths of its meaning. And I am convinced God wants me to allow His grace to permeate my being so that it will influence my heart and life to see every person, including myself, through God’s grace-filled lens and to turn a grace-filled ear to hurting hearts.

And You answer: ” My child, I love you.
And as long as you’re seeking My face,
You’ll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace.”

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!

God Can and Does Use Our Stories of Pain for a Purpose

Our stories matter. Not only the blessings, but also painful experiences. Shame or the fear of rejection can tell us not to talk about the hard parts. But other hurting souls need to hear them to feel less alone and more understood. And it’s the pain of the journey that makes God’s loving rescue and redemption shine even more gloriously.

“Carry one another’s burdens
and in this way you will fulfill
the requirements of the law of Christ
[that is, the law of Christian love].”
Galatians 6:2 AMP
“He consoles us as we endure the
pain and hardship of life so that
we may draw from His comfort and
share it with others in their own struggles.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 VOICE
Meaningful Quotes

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.” (Brennan Manning) 

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” (Brennan Manning)

“Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.”  (Tracie Miles)

“Because God gave you your makeup and superintended every moment of your past, including all the hardship, pain, and struggles, He wants to use your words in a unique manner. No one else can speak through your vocal cords, and, equally important, no one else has your story.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“Out of fear, we repress, reshape and retell our stories in a way that displays our highlight reel instead of our messy behind the scenes acts. Although this version might seem easier to tell and may be well accepted, we do ourselves and others a huge injustice. When we tell a “highlight” story, we actually dull the very weapon God has given us to conquer the enemy, set people free and empower others.” (Kaitlin Garrison)

Scars
by I Am They
“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars…”