Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For Young Mothers Everywhere

I remember being a young Mom who felt like she wasn't accomplishing enough when "all" she did was hang out with her children. When the house was a mess and supper was sandwiches and the laundry wasn't folded and and and ... I remember. On those days, I would sometimes go back my "Favorite Quotes" binder to remind myself that what the world called success and how I had prayerfully decided to define that term would always be at odds with one another.
Here's one of those reminders (a gift from my mother-in-law).

I Took His Hand and Followed
Author unknown

My dishes went unwashed today,

            I didn’t make the bed.
            I took his hand and followed
            Where his eager footsteps led.

            Oh, yes, we went adventuring,
            My little son and I …
            Exploring all the great outdoors
            Beneath the summer sky.

            We waded in a crystal stream,
            We wandered through a wood.
            My kitchen wasn’t swept today,
            But life was gay and good.

            We found a cool, sun-dappled glade
            And now my small son knows
            How Mother Bunny hides her nest,
            Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

            We watched a robin feed her young,
            We climbed a sunlit hill …
            Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,
            We plucked a daffodil.

            That my house was neglected,
            That I didn’t brush the stairs,
            In twenty years, no one on earth
            Will know, or even care.

            But that I’ve helped my little boy
            To noble manhood grow,
            In twenty years, the whole wide world

            May look and see and know.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Poem for those who Grieve

by Stephanie Grace Whitson

A lifeless shell (to earthly eyes)
Can open, freeing its surprise
To dance on a garden leaf.

Gossamer wings gently hesitate
To fly. And then, as wind abates,
It flutters toward the sky.

Out of sight, it yet exists,
And, dancing on, its wings persist
To unseen garden leaves.

No less alive, though out of sight,
It testifies to each man’s plight;
A common destiny.

For each of us must leave behind
A lifeless shell. And earthly-minded
Men can think, “Life’s done.”

It isn’t true. Although unseen,
We flutter on to gardens green
With joy, alive in Christ.

Alive in Christ, whose dead cocoon,
Though buried in a garden tomb
Arose to give new life.

Here’s hope for all in facing death:
A lifeless shell (to earthly eyes)
Precedes the birth of butterflies.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I was at home alone. My husband had died the previous February, and so learning to be alone was part of my new job description. Not one to watch much television, I had gotten in the habit of having it on "in the background" ... just so there'd be noise in the house. So now I share the collective memory. Those images live alongside my memory of the day JFK died.

But I have one more personal memory that lingers of 9/11. My daughter crying for all those people "who have to feel like we do ... because they lost their Daddy."

Contemplating and remembering today has turned my thoughts toward heaven, thanks in part to author friend Randy Alcorn's morning e-mail, which shared a list of quotes on heaven.

My husband once told someone who was expressing sympathy at the concept of his "terminal" condition, "You're terminal too, you know. It's just that I'm more aware of it than you." He'd already turned his heart toward heaven.

So today, in remembrance, I thought I'd do the same. The verse below was one of my mother's favorites. She died in 1996, and when my husband entered hospice care early in 2001, our nurse shared it with me. Both versions said "author unknown."

If you are grieving a loss, today, I hope it brings you comfort.

I am standing on the shore. A ship at my side spreads her sail to the breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand and watch until she hangs like a speck of cloud where the sea and sky meet. Then, someone at my side says, "There! She's gone."

Gone where? Gone from my sight is all. She is still as large in mast, hull, and spar as she was when she left my side. Just as able to bear her load to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

Just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

... And that is dying.

I'll post another poem tomorrow, one I wrote back in the 1980s.