The past six months have stretched and grown me in ways I never could have imagined. As we begin to settle back into life at home, I've started to sort through some of Mom's papers. This exercise is creating an intense awareness of how precious the written word is, and how timeless one on one visits become.
Mom never wrote down her thoughts in a journal yet there is no mistaking what was of crucial importance to her: God's Holy Word and friendships. She loved Scripture, almost exclusively the King James Version of the Bible. There are several Bibles in the bins we brought home, most of them with personal reflections as she studied certain passages. But Mom didn't seek only "head knowledge" of Scripture, she passionately sought to apply the Word of God. Living for Him was a priority and it is clearly evident in her hand-written notations and devotional drafts.
Mom was a single parent raising two young children in a very large city. She worked full-time and travelled to and from work by bus because she did not drive. Her lengthy "to do" lists were also done in the same manner. Each moment of each day was precious yet she somehow set aside time to open her heart and hands to others often through a personal note written on a card. She had a good-sized box full of cards: Sympathy, Encouragement, Recovery, Illness, Birthday, Wedding, Holiday and "Just Because" cards. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember Mom reaching out to others in this fashion. She would even leave notes for my brother and I, and eventually her grandchildren--on the table or pillow, or through the mail.
Mom also loved to invite folks over for a cup of tea, complete with pretty tablecloth and fine bone china. Although a woman of humble means, she wanted folks to know how special they were to her and she delighted in this simple, yet very personal way of sharing the priceless gift of friendship and kindness.
We have been the recipients of many beautiful cards upon the passing of our Mom on Sept. 5, 2014. Most of these cards have hand-written notes on them as folks share personal reflections of their bond/relationship with Mom. My heart continues to learn even more about the impact my Mom's life of service had and those precious hand-written notes will hold the same sentiments and insight to who she was for generations to come.
Children do learn what they live. From a very young age I embraced my Mom's passion to make a difference in others' lives, seeking God's guidance for opportunities especially after acquiring my brain injury. Having recently been on the receiving end of friendship and kindness as folks reached out to us during very difficult months of Mom's last days on earth, I have an even deeper hunger to carry on Mom's legacy.
I'd like to encourage each one reading this post to set aside a few moments today to send a hand-written note to someone, be it a family member, a friend, or someone who could just use a little encouragement. My heart has often been touched by a precious e-mail, and hopefully I've encouraged someone else in the same way, but a special hand-written note somehow adds a little extra touch of the heart. It can be pinned up, hung on the frig or placed on the counter and it will offer encouragement or comfort every time the recipient sees it. Or, walk the extra mile and invite someone over for a cup of tea and fancy up the table. Pretty tablecloths and fine bone china can be found for an excellent price at a Thrift Shop, and your purchase would greatly help someone in need at the same time. I realize you can connect and share friendships at a coffee shop and that's super too, but there's nothing quite as special as sitting down in a quiet, specially prepared setting which silently whispers, "You are important to me and I want to spend time with you."
Life is busy, but I believe lasting, deep friendships are nurtured when we take time to write a note or shut out the busy world and listen to each other's heart. Even if it's only one hour, once a month. The roots of friendship grow deep and strong when cultivated and watered regularly.
"Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people." (Philemon vs. 7 NLT)
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it!" (Hebrews 13: 2 NIV)
Daylight slowly turns to dusk. The intoxicating fragrance of fall saturates the still, evening air. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, letting it fill my lungs. This is my favourite time of year.
Fog begins to settle in, and silence blankets the bay except for the muffled rumble of a tug boat as it pulls a boom of logs across the tranquil sea. Darkness shrouds everything visible....another day has come to a close.
This transitional season makes me feel so alive! The air is crisp, the buttery fields of grass sway with the whispering breeze, sunrises are more vivid and the leaves on the trees dance in their cloaks of burgundy, orange and yellow.
For some, this season of change triggers feelings of bleakness. The brightness and warmth of summer becomes a memory, and the promise of winter is evident with the cooler air and shorter days.
I believe there are seasons in our life which can trigger the same emotions: anticipation or trepidation. Cruising comfortably along in life, the sun shines brightly and our world is as it ought to be. Life is free of pelting rain (tears), stormy clouds (problems) and destructive winds (unwanted change). However, if something dramatically changes our familiar and well-balanced world, we tend to panic. Fog obscures the pathway we were cheerfully walking on and darkness floods our souls with anxiety and doubt.
I found myself stumbling miserably after acquiring my brain injury, and the fog wasn't just in patches...it was dense and menacing! I didn't like it, I didn't want it and I wanted to "be who I was before." Those were absolutely normal feelings, but they sure weren't going to help me move forward. God has sooo much patience and once I surrendered my own "wish list," He was free and clear to begin a new work in me. As I reached forward in faith, He took hold of my trembling hand. Sunlight began to radiate through the foggy mass and the pathway of life became well-defined once again. He has strengthened me in ways beyond comprehension.
Do I still have a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury? Medically and physically, yes I do. However, I choose not to continually "label it" or dwell on that term. I am still Kathie, and I now walk confidently along the pathway God is leading me on. A few weeks ago, while in Calgary, my close friend (who has known me since grade 2) said to me, "Kathie, I see you as you!" Do I still have limitations and a disability? Yes, I do. However, I have come to realize, and accept, that "limitations" and "disability" are terms of description only. They do not reflect my spirit, nor do they hinder me from seeking to honour God with the life He has deemed worthy. Seasons of life change just as seasons of the year change, but our Heavenly Father's Purpose does not change!
Let's embrace life and all that God has in store for us! May our mouths proclaim the joy of walking with Him, and may our hearts burst with Thanksgiving for the blessings He lavishes upon us!
"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." (Psalm 40: 1-3 NIV)
"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." (Psalm 40: 5 NIV)
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