Tears and Crying

I’ve never been much of a crier.  I would rate myself as average on the sentimentality scale, but not to the point of tears.  I’m not sure why.  I suspect it goes back to needing to be strong enough to deal with tough issues as I grew up.  To cry always equalled weakness, which opened me up to being made fun of and hurt.

In the early years of my relationship with Michael, several times I remember starting to cry.  Each time he seemed to react more harshly than I would have preferred.  Again to avoid being hurt, I learned to swallow deep and keep the tears inside.  It was only in later years that I realized that his reactions were out of fear himself that I was hurt and he wouldn’t be able to “fix” whatever the problem was.  I even remember one of my kids commenting to the other that at their high school graduation “Mom cried!” because it was such a rare occurrence for them to see.

So, for the past ten days, as many of you know, I have been in Israel with friends.  This is a trip that Michael and I made together three times before.  I knew what to expect and most of the sites visited I’d been to before.  But what I didn’t expect was all the memories of being here with Michael – memories of the people who had travelled with us before, the places we loved, the laughs and games we played, the friends we met in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  And over and over again on this trip I have cried. Sometimes it’s just a misty eye; other times I boo-hoo.

This week I was asked to present a devotional teaching on the trip.  The site assigned to me was the Pool of Bethesda.  This is the place in John chapter 5 where Jesus heals the man who has been waiting 30+years.  Well, after a week of emotional reminiscing, for me to talk about healing just opened the floodgates.  I blubbered through trying to convey how much I don’t understand about healing, why some get healed while others don’t.  It wasn’t my best work.

I just hate that I cry this way.  I understand it’s probably normal.  I know it’s because of the wonderful times we had together.  But I hate the way I feel so weak.  And I hate that it draws attention to myself and others feel sorry for me.  (Not to mention the fact that my nose turns red and my eyes swell – yes, I get the big ugly cry.)

Later in the day, while walking through the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, I stopped into a shop where we’ve befriended the owners.  I’d been looking for something to bring my daughters from my trip.  As I looked into one of the jewelry cases I spotted two beautiful silver chains with teardrop shaped charms hanging from them.  The scripture next to the necklaces was Psalm 56:8 – You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? (‭Psalms‬ ‭56‬:‭8‬ NASB)

Oh God, thank you that You care enough about me to gather up my tears.  You do not chastise me or grow impatient with me for crying.  You hear me and comfort me.  You understand all the mix of emotions, from loneliness and heartache to thankfulness for the memories and experiences I’ve had.  You know how weak the tears make me feel, but maybe weakness is just what I need to be feeling – weakness and dependence on You.


A few weeks ago I wrote about shifting my focus from the past to the future.  But sometimes in order to make the shift you have to go back and deal with some of what’s been left behind.  I guess because I’m the oldest daughter of an only child, I somehow managed to inherit boxes and boxes of old papers and pictures from my mother’s family.  I’ve been trying to systematically rid myself of 65 years of my parents’ tax returns, property tax bills, old newspaper clippings, recipes, magazines, health records, etc.

The latest project to tackle has been the papers left behind by my great aunt.  Having never married or had children of her own, my mother was her next of kin and caregiver in her later years.  One of the things my dear Aunt Chris devoted herself to was uncovering our family’s genealogy.  She literally spent years of her life researching, traipsing through cemeteries and courthouses, corresponding with cousins across the country and around the world.  It’s an interesting hobby that can consume you easily.  But what do you do with all the paper and copies of documents once there is no one ready to take on the task?  Well, it may have been a mistake, but this week I shredded most of it, saving only the most important documents and the last resulting family tree.  That’s right, I shredded old title deeds to property that was lost during the depression because the taxes couldn’t be paid, then recovered in the 1940’s by paying up the taxes.  I tossed out old letters sent by airmail to cousins in Tokyo and London.  I destroyed all her working copies of ancestors, written out in longhand.  And Emily, yes, I even shredded copies of the wills from 1723 South Carolina in which one of my great-great-greats bequeathed to his children specific Negro slaves by their gender, age and name.  I must confess that I did keep the final copy of our ancestry showing our direct lineage to King Edward I — I figured it should be good for some laughs in the future.  (I will now be answering to “Lady Sara” and expecting curtsies.)

I think the most interesting thing about all this paper though is that each name on it was a life – a person who was born, grew, worked, most times married and had children.  Each person went through life experiencing many of the same feelings and emotions that I do in my life.  Each person probably wondered about why they were made.  Oh, how I would love to know their stories.  I can only hope now that each person listed knew God in a personal way.  And it makes me wonder what will generations in the future think or know about me and how I lived my life?  Instead of looking at the heritage behind me, I need to think of the legacy ahead of me.

With that in mind, I can’t help but think of Great Aunt Chris.  She is more than just heritage named on a page.  For she left a legacy for me and my family.  As I mentioned she never married or had children of her own.  But she poured her life into so many.  Several times she had college students live with her while they went to school.  She took care of both her parents, her brother and her own aunt until they each died.  She worked for the same company for nearly forty years in various accounting capacities.  She went to night school at Jones County Junior College and then at the University of Southern Mississippi taking one or two courses each semester until she finally earned her degree.  She pursued learning to play the piano when she was fifty years old – when told she’d be sixty by the time she learned to play, she responded “Well, I’ll be sixty years old then anyway!”  She was that person, in the story you read, who lived frugally all her life and when she died left her life savings in CD’s to her nieces and nephews.

But these were not her most important legacy.  For me she was the single consistent Christian witness I can point to throughout my life.  She belonged to the same little church all her life.  She was a regular there and supported every ministry they had.  She never gossiped, spoke ill of anyone, raised her voice, cussed, drank or smoked.  She visited the sick, gave “old folks” rides to church, and visited the hospitals and nursing homes regularly.  And I don’t ever remember her asking for anything for herself.  I have both a sister and a daughter named after her.  And though I destroyed a lot of her old paperwork this week, I’ve kept every single picture I found of her – there were surprisingly few.

So, forgive me Aunt Chris for not keeping all the evidence of your hard work.  But instead of researching more ancestors, I hope to spend my time with this generation and the next loving on them unselfishly like you did for me.

What will your legacy be?

How Dare I?

Yesterday I had to take my daughter to the Emergency Room.  She’s 22 weeks pregnant and was in severe pain.  It started out simply enough with some pain on her left side but within an hour it had become severe with no signs of relief.  As with any pregnancy of course you exercise an abundance of caution so we headed to the hospital to be sure she and the baby were both ok.

But as we made the trip and then made our way through triage and a battery of tests, I found myself having a particular conversation with God.  It went like this: “NO! NO! NO! NO!  DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS!  DON’T YOU DARE LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO MY GIRL OR MY GRANDSON!  DON’T YOU DARE HURT THEM!  AND IF YOU’RE NOT DOING THIS THEN YOU START PREVENTING IT!” This actually was no conversation but a screaming rant inside my head.

Several hours later, when the situation was under control and things had calmed down a bit, I began to realize what I had done.  How dare I speak to God this way?  How dare I yell at Him and accuse Him and order Him to do things?  Who in the world did I think I was to speak to Almighty God in this way?  My heart was crushed that I had behaved this way, even if just in my mind.  “Oh God, forgive me, I begged.”  How could He not be angry with me, resent me and want to turn His back on me for the way I’d treated Him?

As I prayed over this confession, He reminded me that I am His child.  And I know if any of my children had spoken to me this way I would be more hurt, than angry or resentful toward them.  And I would never abandon them.  If I can have these feelings toward my own children, how much more can God, my Father, love, understand and forgive me.  He knows that the words spoken in anger were the result of hurt and fear.  God reminded me that He loves me no matter what – even when I speak terrible words to Him.  He reassured me nothing I do can drive Him away from me – even when I accuse Him of not caring.

Today my daughter is feeling much better and is on her way home.  As she leaves I ask God to take care of her and protect her.  This same God whom I scorned yesterday, today I have the nerve to ask for well-being for my family.  And yet I know I can.  I know He bids me to come to Him, to rest in Him, to find forgiveness and peace in Him.

May you know Him like I know Him.

Written 3/10/2015

Why Now?

Why did you have to leave when you did?  Why do you have to be gone this year?  I know that God knew all that would happen in the months following your death.  So why did you have to leave now?

In the first year you’ve been gone so much has and will take place.   Emily has graduated from college and will be a bride.  Why are you not here to cheer for her and walk her down the aisle?  Andrew has been ordained.  Why were you not here to pray over him like you did all those years?  And Christy will have our first grandchild in a few months – a grandson named after you.  Why are you not here to laugh with me over the cute baby clothes?  And who will help me spoil him terribly?

I don’t understand why you had to die when you did.  I makes me wonder if I should have fought harder for you.  If maybe I should have refused to listen when you chose to stop the care they were giving you.  Maybe I should have fought with you to somehow convince you to keep on going.  Was I too tired?  Should I have pushed harder through the tiredness of your illness when you could no longer push on?  I don’t know the answers.  I ‘m just left with questions.  I just know my struggles.

Why would God choose now for you to be gone?  Why would He not let you continue to mark these milestones and make these memories with us?  I know I will never have answers on this side of heaven.  And I know when I get to heaven I will no longer care about the answers to these questions.

For now, I occasionally have these moments of wondering “Why?”


You were not quite three years old that night.  We were at the table ready to eat supper when you asked to say the blessing.  We all bowed our heads and closed our eyes as you thanked God for our food.  But then you said “And please Jesus come into my heart”.  I must tell you that my eyes popped open and looked across the table, only to see your dad’s eyes popped open wide looking back at me.  With no prompting you were praying for Jesus to come into your life.  Now, I know your understanding was limited to that of an almost three year old.  But your heart was innocent and genuine – exactly the way God would have us to come to Him.  It was just a few years later that you wanted to be baptized, also at a very young age.

Sometime during your preschool years I remember feeling one day that God was telling me He would call you into full time ministry.  I didn’t tell anyone about it.  In fact it was over ten years before I even told Michael.  I think this is one of those things that a mother hides in her heart.  But as you grew I saw a change happen in your life.  As a teenager you began to really listen to others and pray earnestly for them.  You were not shy about telling others about God, yet you never forced your faith on anyone.

Through your college years I’ve seen time after time that word from God being developed as you live and grow.  Certainly there have been times of questioning, wondering which direction your life should take.  But with each passing year God confirms over and over again that His calling on your life was from a very young age.

Now you are ordained.  Set aside for God’s purpose as a minister.  Witnessed by family and friends in a ceremony to mark the occasion.  And yet the occasion was many years ago.  Those who could be there were.  Those who could not were certainly missed.  And yet all of them had a part in investing in your life along the way – pouring love, friendship and good counsel into your life.

I am so thankful for the way God has called you and provided for you and that He has allowed me to be your mom.  And I’m excited to see how He will use you throughout your life.  My prayer for you today and every day is threefold – that God would keep you from temptation, that He would help you to stay humble and that He would give you His wisdom.

Love you Andrew!