It has been eight years already since we buried my dear mother in a small, peaceful cemetery about 128 miles from where we live. And with each year that passes, I think about her, and somehow, I come to know her in deeper ways than before, even though she is no longer with us.
And with this knowing in deeper ways, comes an appreciation in even deeper ways than even before. I have always loved and appreciated her, but as I, myself, progress in years, I gain a more complete understanding of all that my own mother must have felt and experienced throughout her life. And I wish that I could talk with her again, and mostly, just listen as she talks.
For this is what we need to do most with those we love - just listen. And affirm them, encouraging and drawing them to express the things that matter to them the most.
And I am so blessed -
for I am continuing to listen ...
What we leave behind still speaks. It speaks volumes. It continues to speak after we are gone, and as long as the printed page exists, it keeps on speaking what is on our hearts.
One of my most precious treasures I have from my mother's possessions is a small notebook, filled with typed devotionals, thoughts, and favorite verses. I think that she kept this notebook close to her, so that she would always have at easy access the things that were most important to her. She no doubt used this notebook when she, as a missionary wife, shared with small groups of women, or even larger groups.
I discovered this notebook within this past year while I was helping my father settle into an assisted living apartment. Maybe I had seen it before, but to me, it was a new-found treasure. A glimpse deeper into my mother's heart. I am so thankful that she recorded these thoughts, and I am so blessed that my father passed it down to me.
There is much recorded in this small notebook. And now, at this eight-year mark, I'm listening to my mother, again ...
Treasured words, copied exactly as written, from my mother's notebook:
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 16:11 ...
Thou wilt show me the path of life;
in Thy presence is fullness of joy,
at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Very often when I hear the words "fullness of joy" I am reminded of an illustration of a man who said, "Suppose that I had an orchard full of the world's greatest varieties of apples - Delicious, Winesaps, Jonathans, Golden Russets, etc. The spicest, juicest, best flavored apples that there are . Suppose that I call all my friends and their families and tell them to come and get apples for a winters supply. So I call them all, Jim, Frank, John and all the friends that I love so much to come and get apples. So my friends come for apples. I ask "What have you in which to put your apples?" And they say, "I have brought my pockets, another says a paper sack, and another a bucket."
Saddened with so small an asking, I turn to them in loving fury and say "Why do you insult me by such small expectancy. Go and get your trucks, put on the sideboards, load in all the empty barrels that you can squeeze in and come and get your supply."
This illustration clearly shows us how our Heavenly Father wishes us to ask of Him. In Him there is fullness of joy, abundance of everything that our heart needs and longs for. So it sounds like its up to us. Are we going to take Him at His word? Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full. John 16:24.
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I am listening, Mother. This is how you lived ... never complaining, always with a smile on your face. Even though your life was a difficult, and challenging one in many ways. You were always full of joy ... you lived what this illustration speaks of. And I long to do the same ...
(Posting this on Oct. 22, 2015, exactly 8 years after Mom's Memorial Service on Oct. 22, 2007. The photo at the top of this post was taken just last week, as we stopped at Mom's gravesite on our way to a conference in Colorado Springs. A beautiful fall day, filled with sweet memories of Mom.)