The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree – Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today my Mom is celebrating her 98th birthday in Heaven, as we remember her special day with a mixture of joy and sadness here on Earth. I was looking in the mirror this morning, and I saw my Mom’s features in my own face – the way her face would crinkle with lines etched by life’s trials complemented by the wrinkles engraved from a lifetime of smiles. How her eyes would squint a bit when she smiled – one more than the other and with a twinkle in her eyes. I felt joy shoving my grief back into its corner. I am my Mom’s legacy!

Funny thing about the aging process. I am finding this season of life has challenges my younger version could not begin to fathom, but also blessings that I am very grateful for. I remember Mom’s jovial disclosure of her age on every birthday – “I’m 29!” I have chosen to keep my hard-earned wisdom highlights visible, whereas she had chosen to keep her red hair for several decades before letting go of her fiery crown. Either way, she was, and is, beautiful.

Mom had a hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. She lit up any room she was in and she took much joy in music. I love this video of Mom singing while Phil and I dance in our kitchen after coming home from a Christmas eve service.

When I look back on the impact she had on my life and her steadfast love, I feel so grateful that God gave her to me to be my Mom. Cheerleader, teacher, confidante, nurturer, she was always there with a smile, a hug, and a word of wisdom. She was also there through every bump I experienced, even when they were the results of my own poor decisions.

Mom had a strong influence in my life. She would often say: “You have to have trust and faith,” “Don’t worry twice,” “Take some honey,” “Think happy thoughts,” and always in times of trouble – “It’s not a forever thing,” and “Lord, grant me the serenity…” So when asked to speak at a ladies ministry event at Living Word Global Church last year – Mom came to mind and I knew it was a great opportunity to share with others the wisdom my Mom had garnered throughout her life. She leaves a beautiful legacy in all of the lives she has touched, which I was able to share in the video below:

Our time on Earth is short, and while we think we will have the opportunity to be with our loved ones, the truth is, the day the Lord calls them home will always be sooner then what we would want, even if we know that day is coming. Romans 14:8, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” gives me much comfort – but I do miss her daily.

Don’t neglect time with your loved ones – because tomorrow is not promised to any of us. The cherished memories of our many times together provide comfort until we are reunited again in Heaven. I also hope you can find time to listen to Mom’s wisdom – her words have carried me through some difficult times and I think they will bless you, too. And when you are going through those hard times, tell yourself an important truth that I know my Mom would tell you: “It’s not a forever thing.” You will get out the other side to a place of blessing. It might take awhile – but stay strong and hold onto your faith. You will get there. And when you do that, I am quite certain my Mom will be smiling down from Heaven.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Love and miss you so much!!

My Sister’s Legacy: Helping a Friend

Even when we know those we love are finally out of pain and in the presence of our Savior, saying goodbye is hard. I wish I could pick up the phone and hear my sister’s sweet soothing voice and ready laugh once again. When I think about my sister Lynn, I think about somebody who was very gifted in the creative arts. I remember from a very young age that she was always doing beautiful drawings. I also remember that she loved to sing and that music was a very important part of her life. But the one thing that I remember the most is the love that my sister had for the Lord and what that looked like in her life. She loved people and she was always taking younger people under her wing. She had a huge generosity that was displayed in many different ways. She had a passion for both life and for worshipping the One that gives us life. She had a great deal of enthusiasm for celebrating our family’s Jewish roots which are the roots of Christianity that culminate in Yeshua, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The very last text that I received from Lynn, she was thinking of me and not about her own situation. She knows that I love horses and she sent me this picture of these two horses. She wrote that the picture really touched her and when she saw it she thought of me. Her words were “This is so beautiful. The blind horse is being helped by a friend.” I wrote back, “It is very beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. Maybe someday I’ll write a story about the picture. Love you so much!” Her last text to me was her reply, “Love you so much too!”

I think the reason it resonated with her so much is because it was also a picture of who she is. The story I decided to write is her story. My sister would be the horse holding the feed bucket so that the other horse would be able to eat. I didn’t get to live very close to my sister, so I’m not sure of all the things that she was involved in, but I do know that whatever she devoted herself to, she did it with great enthusiasm and her legacy is the many people that she invested in with that enthusiasm. I am one of those people and I am so grateful that my sister was always an encourager to me throughout my life, even when she was journeying through her difficult illness. She was my cheerleader and she was one of my best friends. She would hold the feed bucket so that I could eat from it. She was the person who would look around and see what she could do to make someone else’s life better.

My sister modeled what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. She experienced much joy and did so many things during her lifetime. Lynn was also a nurse, an actress, a teacher, and a singer. She was so blessed to have two sons, Danny and Matt. Her wonderful husband Brian loved her deeply and accompanied her through the trials of this life, of which there were many. She faced each situation with incredible grace and she persevered, running the race laid out before her with courage and trusting the Lord every step of the way.

Lynn always called me Little Sis and I called her Big Sis and I’m very grateful that God gave me such a wonderful big sister for the time that I had with her. Somehow the increased frequency of our phone calls and texts made me feel better because we had some wonderful conversations, more than we have had in years, but also worse, because it makes her absence more profound. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but our hearts will always be connected and someday we will have eternity together. In the mean time, I will follow her beautiful example and do my best to hold the feed bucket for others.

I love you, Big Sis. I’m sure going to miss you. I have the feed bucket ready.