During my 17 years as a high school teacher, I participated in many Homecoming celebrations. My students dressed up in crazy outfits (pajama day was my favorite) and waged epic field day battles in tug of war. Frankly, I found the whole experience to be exhausting, and relief always flooded my soul when it was over. The hours of preparation and the crazy student behavior wore me out, but my students always talk about that being their favorite part of high school. Sometimes, what causes me grief is the best choice to honor those I love and serve.
Recently, I experienced a different kind of Homecoming, an eternal welcome home. My husband and his siblings spent a great amount of time preparing for this event as their dear mom’s health declined ever so slowly. It was tiring, rewarding, and emotional. Their selflessness — it’s the legacy she left them. Each of them wears it so effortlessly.
Our sweet Miss BJ’s 82nd birthday would have been this past week. Three months after her passing, we gathered to celebrate her life in her absence. This year has held many secret treasures for my family that were wrapped up in suffering. I have learned once again that it so essential to be fully present with those that you love. Each crazy moment of life is a gift, not to be squandered.
Moms are home keepers. I certainly learned this from my mom in law’s life as she lived out what is recorded in Titus 2:5 (MSG): “By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.” I miss her gentle spirit and her smile.
As I move into this new year, may my home and my heart be a welcoming place for those I love. May laughter fill its rooms and faith be its foundation. May I be grateful for each moment.
I am no longer teaching at the high school level, but when I did, one of the requirements was generating weekly lesson plans. Kristen, a former student who is now in a teacher ed program, was lamenting having to do this on her Facebook status this afternoon, and I was reminded about how much I loathed the process myself.
Invariably, something would happen that would make my very well-laid plans go awry — a fire drill, an unexpected assembly, boisterous teenagers disrupting the flow of things. I learned quickly that planning was basically a “looking ahead,” but that I needed to hold my plans loosely. No lesson plan could predict that I would have a student in the third row whose mom would pass away that week. No amount of planning would prepare me to deal with that. There are no effective teaching strategies that will help a child in crisis digest that a gerund is a verb used as a noun ending in -ing. Seriously, who cares? On days like that, your plans get tossed. Sometimes, life just happens.
Since late December, my hubby and I have been traveling back and forth from the East coast to visit his ailing mom. She is slowly inching her way toward heaven. We have no idea how long we will be on this journey, and making plans has really become impossible. I recently found myself telling a close friend that I would do my best to be at her bridal shower, but I wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring. My husband has basically been living out of a suitcase.
How do you plan to lose your mom? Work, church responsibilities, social events on the calendar all seem rather unimportant when you are walking on this road. Life is sometimes a messy teacher. There are no parallel outlines that uniformly highlight the salient concepts. Sometimes, you just learn by wading through the messy content yourself.
Yesterday, I was reading Mark 14, and this one phrase about the woman with the alabaster box stood out to me — “She did what she could….” Sometimes, the richest lessons are lived out when we throw aside our pre-conceived notions and plans and just act in selfless love. My husband is living an alabaster life daily as he sits at his mama’s side. I don’t want to be the disciple who misses the eternal perfume of the sacrifice because I am obsessing over the temporal cost.