I thoroughly enjoy ministry...serving the Lord in what I have always called my joy-job.
I'm never more fulfilled than when I get to do what the Lord has called me to do...or to watch my husband do what God has called him to do...
There have been those moments when I'd have liked to have cloned myself so I could be in two places at once.
The first significant moment was the morning we got a phone call, while serving in Africa, that our niece, Caitlin had been born.
It had been hard enough to leave our two little nephews that were only months old.
However, now, we were missing the GREAT ARRIVAL of a precious new life.
And, I hadn't been so homesick as in that moment following that call.
There have been other arrivals we've missed since then.
And, of course, other significant events...
Currently, we are in Arizona.
Arizona is not Africa (by a lonnnnnnnnnnnng shot)...
However, we've had to make a decision with serious repercussions.
We're in the state for a number of reasons -
Our grand-treasure, Ethan's baptism
Speaking in a church and a university chapel...
(where some 50 students gave their lives to Jesus yesterday!)
And, soon, the Cuba ministry
We find ourselves torn betwixt and between:
The longing to be in one place that is not this place, and yet knowing this place is exactly where we are supposed to be.
On Saturday, Bay's mom had a significant stroke.
It took her as far as the pearly gates...but for some reason, the Lord has allowed her to rally, and she's doing a wee bit better, as of yesterday.
She still doesn't remember much.
She asks about her sister, Grace...often...and when she hears that Grace grew up, got old, and went on to heaven one night, she is shocked. The look on her face is priceless (from the pictures and videos we received).
When she asks for her daughter, Dorothy Kay, and DK says, "That's me, Mama. I got old..." She just shakes her head.
We called via the technological wonders of FaceTime yesterday.
She knew Bay.
I wasn't a blip on the radar (and I was sure I had always been her favorite!)...
In those lucid moments, Gramma insists, "Yes. Go."
When she's told where we are and what we are doing, she makes it clear, "GOOD!"
So, we're still planning on the go.
However, back home, we're missing the living-celebration of Gramma's life.
We're missing sweet family time.
We're missing the family singing around her bed
We could be missing the moments of her last final breath on this earth...and, seeing her graduate to Jesus' arms.
I'll be honest, it's a bit difficult.
But last night, before sleep finally claimed me, I thought about all I had learned from Gramma.
So, bear with me, as I wind this up, and celebrate, in my own little way, the life of the woman who became my other-mother.
I wasn't even in love with her son, then.
But, LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES (ha! we all know it was God's Sovereignty), put this family into my world, and I just knew how loved and accepted I was by her...unconditionally, so...I could see it in her eyes when she looked my way...
...Even though my life was a mess!
...Even though I was a rebel-child,
...Even though I had no clue about a relationship with Jesus.
Dottie's smile and encouraging words were Jesus to me.
I'm not sure but that those two things weren't instrumental in drawing me to seek more of Him.
I saw something...
Of course, it was His-Spirit-in-her!
After I became a follower of Christ - and began to date her son, she welcomed me with open arms into her home...
Not many moms think any girl is good enough for their son...but she seemed OK with me...
I learned what hospitality looked like from Dottie...
There was always a place at the table for one more...
I learned what it looked like to be a woman who served...endlessly....
I learned how a Christian wife and mother lived, loved, and cared for her family...
I learned just how precious it was to live behind the scenes doing for others and never seeking the limelight...
She was always our biggest cheerleader - literally, in the stands as Bay played basketball, but metaphorically, in whatever we were called to do (sometimes those things that didn't make sense, like turning down an NBA contract to play for Athletes in Action...even Grampa Nelson raised his eyebrows at that)...
After Bay and I married and started a family, she often served Jesus by caring for our kids...they'd have sleep-overs on Gramma and Grampa's floor, while we were off at some youth event, or another, with someone else's kids attempting to speak and live Jesus for them...
I'll never forget seeing her standing at the fence, watching us all board the flight to Africa, when we left to serve at Rift Valley Academy. She was clinging to it, tears streaming down her face, but I learned what "letting go" looked like from her willingness to open her hands and let us fly so far away...
She taught me practical things: to cook (no question about this - for which Bay is grateful), to garden, to sew (even though I still made her do Bay's mending), and how to grow old, with grace and a myriad other small things...
I'm forever grateful.
There's no telling how long she's still destined for earth...
She could still have years...
But, the hole in my heart that misses the-woman-that-was is large.
OK...this is a longer than normal post. If you've stayed with me this long, you're wondering if there's a point, or if I'm just pontificating for no reason.
There is a point. There are a couple.
1) Relationship is not about the GREAT ARRIVALS or the DEPARTURES, it's all about what has come in between - that messy middle. It's all about what each person brings to the table of our lives, and how they leave us better versions of ourselves. As you can tell, Gramma Dottie served up a whole lot more than just food in my world. When she goes, she is leaving me better: a better wife, a better mom, a better woman, and most of all, a better follower of Jesus.
So, I'm asking myself...am I doing the same?
Will there be others who can say the same about me...
How about you?
2) In one of the little videos Steph sent to me, my sister-in-love is reading Psalm 103 to Gramma from The Message. These verses (1-5) caught my attention:
O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.
I don't know if it registered with Gramma, or not...but she has longed for heaven for the last couple of years, especially since her sister Grace beat her to the punch.
Why? So. Many. Reasons.
But, among them - THE GREAT REUNION!
To see all those who've gone before - and to see Jesus face-to-face!
Also, there is the hope of this: Her youth will be renewed. She will be young in His Presence....and filled with joy.
I have always needed to have something to file away in the filing cabinets of my soul for every decision I make. I want to know that when I look back there will be no regrets.
Yes, it's hard to be away while Gramma is entering into this final stretch of her journey toward her HEAVENLY HOPE.
But, this is also why we go...
There are others who need that same HOPE that Gramma has.
That she has passed on to us!
And, Gramma wouldn't want to keep us from that mission.
So, I'm putting this in my pocket...
It is with joy I can open my hands and "let go," just as she did with us so many years ago at a fence at an airport in the middle of nowhere.
I wouldn't want to keep my sweet mother-in-love from her GREAT ARRIVAL, even though I might miss her DEPARTURE.
Thinking of Gramma "always young in His Presence" is total comfort and consolation.
Knowing she would want the same for others is compelling.
So we will "Go" and be "Good"...come what may!