Friday, October 7, 2011

To everything, there is a season.....

It's been a tough day for me. My Mom seems to continue to go downhill, and although I am believing that the Lord can heal her, if He so chooses, I'm facing the fact that maybe her healing isn't in His master plan and that's a hard pill to swallow. Only God knows the number of our days, and I continue to pray for His will to be done--no matter what. But, if it is time for Mom to go home to be with the Lord, I know she will have an unbelievable reunion waiting for her, and she'll get to see her Mom and Dad and her 2 brothers who have passed. And I know she'll love her new improved body and gorgeous young face! I can already see her dancing around up there in heaven, and she hasn't even left us yet!

We all have to die. None of us get out of here alive. My Mom has lived a long, wonderful and full life. She is 84 years old now, or should I say 84 years young. Even though her body has faded over the years, Mom's lively spirit remains intact. Even though she has Parkinson's and battles Alzheimers as well, the old Mom still shines through from time to time. As I've been thinking about my Mom's amazing life, I have many fond memories that have brought tears and some smiles to my face today.
I was reminded of when Mom taught me to drive my new yellow VW bug, my pride and joy. Buttercup was her name, she was my very first car and I loved her so. Of course, she was a stick shift, and I knew nothing about driving a stick shift. Mom and I headed out to a very hilly Cameron Mill Road area up by where I went to elementary school. We picked out the tallest incline of a hill and we began. Around and around the block we went, trying for me to learn how to hold a clutch on a hill. We would start out, I would go backwards and we would start laughing. We spent the entire afternoon, going around that block until I learned how to do it, laughing and having the time of our lives together.

Mom and I have all those terrific years when worked together at Mill Pond Press. I worked there first starting in 1974 shortly after graduation. I worked there for 3 years before falling in love, moving to Michigan and marrying my sweet husband of 33 years, Steve. Then we moved back to FL in 1982 and Mom and I began working together.(She had joined MPP in the years I was absent.) It was fun to work with my Mom -- although a bit nerve wracking. I always felt like she was eyeballing everything I said and did. But I guess it was good, cause she kept me in line.

Luckily for both of us I think, we worked in different departments, her in sales and me in the production end of the company. In the years that followed, Mill Pond grew and thrived and my Mom was a big part of that. She brought a tremendous amount of energy and passion to the sales team. The girls in the department just loved her and she was really great at what she did. She was so very personable with everyone. She was known as the voice of Mill Pond to our huge art gallery network.

                                       Carl Brenders with wife Paula at MPP with Mom in 1990

She and Dad traveled and met so many of the artists, going to Alaska and all over the country to their various gallery art shows. She represented herself, the company and our family with much pride, and I was so very proud of her. I never quite felt like I measured up to her high standards. She was always dressed impeccably, her hair was always gorgeous, her nails, jewelry and handbags were always perfect and her shoes always matched every outfit. She was the Imelda Marcos of her time! She was and still is a big bling girl. She was a "diva" before they became popular. My Mom has always been a class act, stem to stern.

                                   Mom at her desk at Mill Pond. She was in her element, that's for sure....
                                                      Mom with her beloved sales team at Mill Pond, those were the days!
Yes, Mom has always been a hard act to follow, that's for sure! But dressing up and being the Liz Taylor type as never been my thing, and as hard as that was for her to accept, she finally did, I think. I was always a tomboy at heart, and my theory was and still is that every outfit does not need to match. I can remember Mom being mortified one time when she saw me wearing jeans with my BIG diamond wedding ring as she called it. "Nicki, you shouldn't be wearing those horrible jeans with that gorgeous ring," "Sorry Ma, there's nothing wrong with these jeans, they're brand new. I'm not changing, it's not gonna happen, deal with it." She would just shrug her shoulders and give me one of her "Humph." sounds that she still does today when she doesn't like something. A sweeter sound I can't remember. Of late, we were talking about the dress I was going to wear for Biff's wedding. I told her that since I don't drive I was going to buy something over the internet and return a few things until I found what I wanted. She said, "you can't buy a dress on the internet Nicki, that won't work." Then on my last visit to see her, I showed her some I was considering. Mom always loved buying things on QVC TV over the years, the internet shopping experience peaked her interest, even though she's not computer savy, she wanted to know how I would do it show I showed her every step of how you would order. She was fascinated and it was fun for both of us. I was so sorry that her and Dad couldn't attend our son Eric's wedding. She would have loved being part of it, and I hope she would have approved of my dress. When I go to see her next week, I'll be taking pictures for her to see.

                                         Me and brother Mike dancing at Eric's wedding 9/24/11
I've lived away from my Mom and Dad for many years now. We were apart in my early years of marriage, and then back together for about 15 years until she and Pop moved away this time to be near their first granddaughter, Stephanie, when she was born. It's never been easy being apart, but it's been part of our life and we're used to it. As hard as it was not to have her around, (especially in the early years after my diagnosis with MS), I'm so grateful that Mom and Dad had those wonderful years living next door to my younger brother Robert and his family. I believe they had some of the most joyful times of their lives watching little Stephanie and then Michael grow up. They lived right next door to them, and the kids were a huge part of their lives. They brought so much excitement and wonderment to both of them. Every phone call I got was all about what fun thing Steph or Mikie were doing today. You would hear the pure delight in their voices. I was so happy that all of them had those enjoyable years together. Then my older brother Mike and his wife Linda retired and moved up to be near the family. Then my nephews both moved up and got married. The whole family was back together, except me. I was sad, but I was also happy that Mom and Dad had everyone around them to really make their golden years memorable. My brother moved away when he changed jobs for a while to South Carolina and nephew Ryan and his family bought their house, so again for another 7 years, family was living right next to them and they were able to enjoy the benefits. These were their retirement years, and they weren't stifled by work schedules; they could just relax and enjoy. They've been blessed to meet their great grandchildren and have delighted in having family around for dinners and holidays. I think they've really enjoyed the last 15 years of their life together, and I have my amazing brothers and all of my family to thank for that. They have filled my parents lives with many joyful moments they will never forget.

                                     Mom and I on one of my trips to visit her, Pop and the family in TN.

Some of my recent conversations with Mom before she became so ill, brought a chuckle to my heart. Sometimes she would tell me all about long conversations she had with this MPP dealer or that dealer, and how she was worried about making sure that certain customers would get the prints that she had promised them. Then she would go on to tell me about her and Pop going to a Robert Bateman or Carl Brenders show and how the audience just loved it when they did their presentations. Then she would get mad at me because I didn't tell her something she needed to know about whether the print would be done in time. It was pretty cute.

All those wonderful thoughts and dreams she had were just her reliving some of the best memories of her life. She was in her own little world. She was talking crazy, but she was enjoying every minute of it and I let her go on, going right along with her. She was in her happy place, and I wasn't going to spoil that. Every now and then, she would catch herself and begin laughing, knowing that what she was saying wasn't making much sense, then we would just have a great laugh together.

                   Rob threw me a birthday party a few years ago in TN, here's the Beagle clan, minus the Watts half

I spoke and cried with my husband tonight about my Mom. It's especially hard being apart from him right now. As he comforted me during this terribly difficult time, he reminded me of my strong faith and the wonderful verse in Ecclesiastes 3 about there being a time and a season for everything in life. He's right, of course, as he usually is. I know the Lord is there with my Mom. I know she is resting in His loving arms. I know that only He knows what's going to happen in the coming days. He knows the future, we do not. I am at peace with His decision, whatever that might be. There truly is a time for every season under heaven, and God Almighty knows everyone of them.

Mom, I love you and I'm continuing to pray for you to be healed from this sickness. But, I am also praying for the Lord's will to be done, knowing and understanding that you are completely ready to meet Jesus and finally be home, where there is no more sorrow and no more pain. I am thanking God that He blessed me with you as my mother and a wonderful mother you have truly been.

My verse for this evening if from Ecclesiastes 3: 
 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

My prayer for tonight:

Dear Lord,

You know what is in my heart. Heal her or take her home to be with you, whatever you feel is best. Please don't let her suffer Lord Jesus. Be with my brothers and my Dad. Give them comfort during this tough time. Give me comfort Lord.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

God's faithfulness in the midst of trouble

I posted this on Facebook this morning, but also wanted to add it to my blog so others may see it: Be blessed my friends:

The Lord woke me up early this morning. Buck, my son's loveable German Shepherd, was pawing at my door. Unusual for him,I thought, so I got up to see what was going on. He wanted to go out and ran to the front door. I opened it, and he tore out, barking and obviously chasing after some "critter" that had stirred him. OK Lord, I'm up, now what?

I decided to head outside to catch the early morning sunrise, one of my favorite things to do while up here in the mountains of western North Carolina. As I stood there in the very cool, crisp air, surrounded by the quiet and God's beauty, I opened my devotional and immediately knew why God had come knocking so early this morning. If you take time to slow down and listen, God's voice comes through loud and clear and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My focus turned from my problems and the problems my Mom was facing, to the Lord and His awesome Power.

                                      Sunrise on Rocky Knob Mountain this morning

Surrounded my God's incredible beauty, the awesome sunrise, and beauty of the autumn leaves beginning to turn, I was struck by the faithfulness of God. Every morning and every evening, He paints a new picture in the sky. Every fall, the leaves turn just like clockwork. It never changes, you can count on it- just like you can count on the seasons of the year. They happen as they always should. God is faithful. You can count on Him. He will never let you down. And so it is for everything in your life if you will stop trying to control the situation and let Him have the reigns.

                               The leaves are beginning to change, just like clockwork!

As I read my devotional as the sun came up, it was about things being impossible with man, but totally possible with God. Of course, I immediately thought of my Mom and her current health situation. It's amazing how the Lord will put the right words in front of you to meet you right where you are at that time. He truly is amazing. Here are a few words from the devotional:

"We’ve all experienced times when our backs are to the wall, our problems seems to have no solution, and we don’t know what to do. When that happens, we need to remember that impossible situations are opportunities for the Lord to teach us valuable lessons that we’d never learn any other way."

Boy, isn't that the absolute truth? Our God is so awesome. It is our own human weakness that gets in His way. If we will just trust and obey, the Lord can do unbelievable things for and through those who love Him. 

My Mom has been through a few rough weeks. She's been pretty darn sick.The doctors have said at one point to call in the family because her kidneys were failing and she wasn't going to make it. She was incoherent and seemed to be slipping away from us. But my Mom is a fighter and my Mom is a believer. She is holding on tight and trying to fight her way back to us. I know that Jesus is right there with her and she knows it too. He will never leave or forsake her. It says so in His Word. He is her refuge and her strength, of whom shall she fear? Of whom, shall anyone of us fear? God is in control of every little detail.

I know in my heart that Mom is hanging on with everything she's got and trusting in the Lord for His will to be done, as we all are. Hang in there Mama, we're with you in thought and prayer. Your sitting in Jesus lap right now, as He heals you and comforts you.

                                                  Forever and Ever by Greg Olsen
As I stood outside in the early dawn, I thought about when Mom and Dad came to spend a week with me up here on this mountain a few years ago. It was a wonderful time we had. Early morning coffee's outside, trips into town and rides around the Blue Ridge Parkway. They absolutely loved it here. I will never forget that week they spent with me. It was a real blessing from the Lord. A time of togetherness that I'll never forget. A very fond memory for me to savor.

In closing, let me ask you a question? Do you have a problem in your life that seems to be insurmountable? Please don't give up! Turn to the God of the Universe for your answer. He made you and he knows everything about you. He knows your heart and only He knows every thought in your head. He wants to help. Turn to Him for your answers. He will not disappoint you.

Have a blessed day everyone. Thanks to all for your continued love, prayers and support for my Mom. I know she feels the love, cause I sure do. Here's a great verse to hold onto today:

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for my Mom and her life. Be with her during this difficult time. Help her to feel your loving arms of comfort surround her at every moment. Heal her Lord. Give her doctors and nurses wisdom and compassion as they tend to her. Comfort my brothers and my Dad as they deal with Mom's sickness. We know that YOU are the Great Physician Lord, if it be thy will, heal my Mom and bring her back to complete health. 

In Jesus Name I pray,