Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Bittersweet Birthday

Today I digress from Mom's daily journal entries. Today is my 58th birthday. Mom passed away when she was 58, a few weeks before she would turn 59. She was way too young and full of life to be taken from me. She was my best friend, the most important person in my life, the one who would love me unconditionally through every trial, through every mistake I ever made. Every day was an adventure to her and she lived each one to the fullest. She loved her friends and family and was the one person they could confide in and receive wise advice. She loved to travel and explore new places, something I inherited from her. Perhaps that is our Swedish inheritance.

When Mom was diagnosed with cancer I was devastated and I grieved for days. My brother Gary encouraged me to come down to Southern California to visit with her so she could make ME FEEL BETTER! She did not feel sorry for herself, and yes, she did make me feel better with her determination to overcome this obstacle in her life and her assurances that everything would be fine. I do not know why God took her so young. What I do know is that God promises in Romans 8:28 that He will work all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. God called her home early. She was ready to go. She was completely at peace, knowing she was going to meet Jesus. I wanted that assurance for myself, and so began my spiritual journey after her passing.

The first month I attended a Hospice support group for adults who had recently lost a parent. They also had groups for those who had lost a child, a spouse, a friend. It is a wonderful organization that I have supported financially ever since. I admire those who volunteer their time and energy with both patients and with those they leave behind.

A few weeks later I began my own journal, but with a career and 2 small children to raise, life seemed to get in the way of finding time for that. When my second baby was 7 months old I started attending a small church that met in a warehouse in my hometown of Windsor. I enjoyed hearing the message every Sunday and learning about God's word. I had accepted Jesus as my personal savior as a teenager at Van Nuys Baptist Church and was baptized there in 1968. I was very involved in the youth group throughout my high school years, but after graduating from high school, I quit attending church and my spiritual life was put on the back burner. Now I felt a great need for God in my life to fill the void left by my mother's passing. When that church dissolved several years later, I sought a church where my boys could get involved in a youth group like I had experienced as a teen. Derek was 11 and Ryan was 8. Up to this point they had not attended a church, although Derek did go to church summer camp a few times. In 2003 God lead me to Spring Hills Church in Santa Rosa and my faith began to grow. Even though the church was large and I did not know a soul, this church encouraged small groups and bible studies throughout the week. Church was not an activity I did on Sundays, but became my second family, my sanctuary. I began to dig into God's word through the bible study groups. I met other believers who encouraged me in my faith walk, and I found that praying with others was a deeply intimate experience. God became my strength, my comfort, my peace. He is the one who loves me unconditionally, just as Mom did.

Often God will bring us to Him through our pain and grief. I know for myself that Mom's death was the catalyst that lead me back to Him. I thank God for Mom, for my health, for my family, my friends and my church. I am thankful to Mom for leaving behind her legacy in her journal. Reading her journal and writing this blog makes me feel like she is here with me again.

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