Seeds of life

*Thanks to Mary Agrusa for sharing her thoughts on Mother’s Day with us.*

Sometimes it’s the simple things we share with our children that have the most dramatic impact on their lives. Prior to and for a few years after the birth of our daughter, my husband and I were avid gardeners. Back in the early 70’s we faithfully read Rodale’s Organic Gardening and applied the lessons learned. We planted a wide variety of vegetables in the garden at our home and maintained an additional plot at a community site, specifically for growing corn. A move overseas followed by years of Florida living ended our gardening adventures.

Mikael's garden

Mikael’s garden

Our daughter grew up to be a confirmed urban dweller. She prefers the city to a more laid back country atmosphere. She surprised us two years ago when she shared that, along with a few friends, she had ventured into canning. Last summer she and her husband took the next step and secured a plot in one of Boston’s communal garden sites. Next, a request came for any canning supplies still in storage. We packed up our thirty-something year-old Victorio Strainer and sent it off to serve the next generation of family gardeners. She was ecstatic, and our old friend got a new lease on life.

Patriot’s Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts. It also marks the running of the Boston Marathon and the unofficial beginning of the gardening season. My daughter’s usual routine was to grab breakfast and head to the finish line to cheer the wheelchair and elite racers. Last year she called us all excited. “Turn on the TV and find the race coverage. I’m on the Jumbotron at the finish line.” We scrambled and searched sports channels and internet feeds, but alas, we missed her debut on the big screen.

This year, instead of being at “their spot” at the finish line, my daughter was at the garden. When I called to check on her, I was unprepared for the sound of her tearful, frightened voice. She couldn’t reach her husband. Her calls to his phone went to voicemail. She didn’t know if he had gone to the race, but if he had, he would have been at “their spot,” the scene of the first bomb explosion.

My heart sank. Thoughts of “what if” bombarded my mind. Fear attempted to grip my soul. Suddenly her voice changed. A text from her husband confirmed he was at home safe and sound. For our family, the day had a happier ending.

As a mother I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. Our son-in-love is the son we never had. To lose him would’ve devastated all of us. Daily we pray angelic protection around them both, and the angels did their jobs that day. I wouldn’t have guessed that the seeds of gardening planted in our daughter’s life so long ago would bloom and not only produce a second generation of gardeners, but also one day save her life.

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Perfectly enough

 

 *Thanks to my friend Marti for sharing her thoughts on Mother’s Day this year!*

Marti with her mom

Marti with her mom

This Mother’s Day will be new for me; you see, my mother died in January of this year.  Last year for Mother’s Day I planned a special day – something she really enjoyed. This is a product of the program of recovery that has taught me new ways of thinking.  This program has taught me to do things for fun and for free.  To give fully from my whole heart.  These things don’t come naturally; in the natural I am fearful, fearful that you will reject my gift, that my gift isn’t good enough. Really what I’m fearful of is that I’M not good enough and that the rejection will bring shame and pain. 

Through others sharing their experience, strength, and hope with me, I’ve developed courage to try something new.  To not depend on the outcome but to trust the process.  Not everything I try will be successful, but not trying is a guaranteed failure.  In learning from others, I’ve come to believe that there is a Higher Power Who sees around corners and is preparing me to handle whatever comes my way.  I have learned that just for today, I can be a lady of grace and dignity.  And if I “act as if” long enough, I become the lady of grace and dignity that my Higher Power can be proud of. 

Through the gifts of Al Anon, I’ve learned that acceptance is the key to true happiness.  I did my best to accept my mother as the person she was and not the person I wanted her to be.  I accept her as a child of God on a journey similar to mine.  I can accept that I was not the perfect daughter, but in the last few years, we had a kind and gentle relationship that wasn’t always easy but was always worth it.  As I look forward to this Mother’s Day, I am glad to say thank you to the God of my understanding for giving me the mother I had and for giving me the understanding and peace that comes from the love we shared.  Not always perfect, but perfectly enough.

Mission & commission

*Thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing her thoughts on motherhood, and happy early Mother’s Day, Debra!*

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

My commission in this life is to be an advocate and a caretaker, e.g., a peacemaker.  I know this with every fiber of my being.  It is an inherent part of me.  It is the way I perceive things; it’s the way I feel about things, and it is the way in which I am compelled to construct the days of my life.  This task involves many dimensions, and can sometimes be exhausting, but when presented with a situation, I have never backed away from the opportunity to replace chaos and confusion with peace and harmony, if it is at all within my sphere of influence.

My mission on this earth is to be the mom of Adam and Rachel.  This I know.  I am humbled and honored.  I have not taken either entrustment lightly. The greatest honor in my life was to be given the incredible opportunity to be the mom of Adam and Rachel – precious gifts, perfectly given. 

My two children are the best things that ever happened in my life.  They are both amazing and outstanding human beings, with extraordinary strength of character, possessing kind and loving natures and caring, giving spirits.  Being incredibly gifted and accomplished people, my children leave a positive and lasting impression in whatever they do.

As a young person readying my life to go out into the world, although I had lofty dreams of being a missionary and serving the masses in a foreign land, I’m sure that I would have ultimately chosen to be a nurse, or if not that, a teacher – one, because those were the typical options open to girls, and two, because that’s who I am.  But things conspired in such a way that instead of pursuing more education, I found myself working in a public school setting, and I absolutely loved it!  Yet I still knew that there was more to be done, but how, where, when, and was I the one to accomplish it?  I wrestled with those questions for a long time, while filling my life with people whom I could serve on a smaller scale, and simultaneously creating friendships and memories that have lasted throughout my life.

Then, I had children.  All those lofty dreams of foreign lands (I did get to travel!), those choices of being a nurse or a teacher (I spent lots of time doing both!), that holy commission of creating peace and harmony as advocate/caretaker/peacemaker (worked at that every day!), questions about what more needed to done (no doubt about how much needed to done!), and was I the one to do it (who else?!?! absolutely and positively!), it didn’t take me long to realize that I was accomplishing all the things on my list, just in a different way, with a different audience, and with the very best of educations. My children have taught me so much and have shared so many insights, and their own wisdom, knowledge, joy, and courage with me, that I cannot begin to imagine a life without the richness and boundless depths of essence and purpose which only they could have made possible. 

In the words of a friend and mentor, “No matter what else happens, I have already done my best work.”

 

Godmothers

Godmother

Henry with his godmother and mother after his christening

*Thank you, Henry Petty, for serving as today’s guest contributor!”

My Godmother, Dr. Estrella Aesjo, had a major influence on me and my cousin (her daughter).  She is a pediatrician in Southern California, but she exhibited such warmth and kindness that it resonated in my being.  Like myself, she is also Filipino.  I guess us Filipinos are made that way.  I also have her to thank for having me Christened and Baptized as a Catholic.  While It took 31 years to fulfill the requirements to become fully Catholic, I thank her for influencing my grandma, who was predominantly Baptist, to go the Catholic way.  Not knocking Baptists, but it means a lot that she had a vested interest in my faith as an infant.

While I write to her and my Godfather regularly, and she has friended me on Facebook, I haven’t actually “spoken” with her since the last time I saw her when me and grandma visited there in 1992-3ish.  There was even a time when I almost was adopted by her, but luckily it never came to that.  I must believe that if I, God forbid, lost everything and had no place to turn, she would still take me in with open arms, or genuinely tell me,”You’re a grown A man – here’s the classifieds, you can crash here while you’re figuring that out.”

So let’s remember the moms around this time, of course, but also remember the other “mother figures” in our lives that aren’t just mommies by bloodline.

Mother’s Day every day

*Thank you, Stacie deKlerk, for serving as today’s guest contributor and for sharing your gratitude for your mother with us!*

Mom in 2007

Mom in 2007

I am grateful for all the things my Mom does day in, day out, year after year to make my life easier, better, and more sane.

I’m sorry that I don’t always fully appreciate her efforts until I’ve viewed them with hindsight. I hope the joys of motherhood vastly outweigh the pains. Putting aside self for child seems like a sacrifice to me, yet I’m certain that any mother would say it is not so.

Although Mom’s style of mothering has changed over time with what she felt my sister and I needed, she is consistent in love. Patient, loving and kind are how Mom describes her grandmother. I am glad that my great-grandma was able to instill all these qualities in Mom. Since Mom has started having trouble doing her normal activities, I am more aware and grateful for each day with her.

Don’t just celebrate Mother’s Day, but instead make each day one to celebrate your Mother in many small ways.

Big inspiration

 

*Thanks to my friend Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing as today’s guest contributor!*

ElephantI’ve been a long-time fan of elephants! It’s taken me a while to figure out exactly why. I only knew that they were regal, majestic animals, dignified in their bearing, who have such expressive eyes that allow you to see into their very beings, and that they are excellent mothers who are fiercely protective of their young.

So by doing just the simplest of research, some of the admiration I have always felt for the magnificent elephant was put into very meaningful context. I’ve confirmed that:

• Elephants form deep family bonds.

• Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment.

• They are quite peaceful if left alone; typically very affectionate animals.

• Elephants are extremely intelligent and have memories that span many years.

• The matriarch and other senior females carry within their memories the wealth of knowledge gained from their life experiences. This is vital to the extended family’s well-being.

• They also display signs of grief, joy, anger, and play.

• Recent discoveries have shown that elephants can communicate over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that can travel over the ground faster than sound through air. Other elephants receive the messages through the sensitive skin on their feet and trunks.

• The elephant is not thick-skinned, but actually has a very sensitive outer dermis.

• The elephant’s feet are an amazing product of genetic engineering making them unsurpassed as a means of traversing saturated ground or marshland. (An amazing, but nevertheless accurate, fact is that an elephant’s height at the shoulder is twice the circumference of his foot.)

• Different herds can come together at favored water holes or grazing sites. There is never friction between the groups, and observers have reported that often these appear to be joyous reunions. (Peace holders!)

• Although they are the strongest of animals, they can truly die from a broken heart.

• Elephants have no natural predators; however that doesn’t mean they are always safe out in the wild.

Strength of character, unconditional love, quintessential sensitivity, together with rich knowledge and abundant understanding, family-oriented, peace-loving souls, also possessing essential tools which enable them to negotiate perilous ground without misstep, fault, or waver – yes! Not only are these the same traits that I seek to find in myself, but these are also the beautiful characteristics that I find demonstrated in the wonderful array of fascinating, gifted, talented, and caring people in my life. Now I absolutely understand the reason that the elephant has always held such a high degree of regard and attraction for me!

As an aside, I have also noted that the elegant elephant expresses positively no self-deprecation about being gray, wrinkled, and completely devoid of an hourglass figure . . . yet she still exhibits an abundant supply of confidence and self-esteem. Such a resplendent, stately creature. Who of us wouldn’t admire that?

New names

*Thanks to Amy Driskill for pitching in as today’s guest contributor. Happy spring time, everybody!*

009Spring time is a time of growth and renewal.  I look around me now, and I see wildflowers popping up all over my yard.   As I sit here, I think about how God has changed me.  It made me curious about how God changes people.  In particular, I became curious about name changes.  Every year for the past four years I’ve volunteered at Royal Family Kids Camp.  We have a song that sticks with me throughout the year.  The words are:

 

I will change your name.  You shall no longer be called wounded, outcast, lonely, or afraid.

I will change your name.  Your new name shall be confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one.

Faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks My face.

 

This song resonates with me because I was so wounded lonely and afraid.  I was all of those things.  I was all too familiar with the hurt look in the eyes of the children at camp.  I had been where they are.  I spent years in that dark lonely place.  It took the light of God and the renewing power of His grace that transformed me into one who is confident and joyful.

In the Bible, God changed Abram into the faithful servant Abraham and Sarai into Sarah, which means princess.  It is fitting considering that she would be the mother of the tribes of Israel.  Paul had a significant change in his life as he walked down the road.  Saul was a man whose goal in life was to kill Jews, but after an encounter with God he was a changed man.  He became the great apostle Paul bringing many into the family of God.

You see, he doesn’t just change our names.  He adopts us into his family and makes us new.   That which was lost and broken was brought into his presence and was not only restored, but we are made into a new beautiful creation as a child of God.