Let me state from the outset that I grew up in a home with both parents. My Dad never missed a game, took me fishing, hunting and is still a great Dad. My Mom; however, was the spiritual lead…even for my Dad, as he has readily admitted in the days since her physical death. Her ability to hold Dad to Christ’s standards is the thing I believe he feared losing the most.
It was embarrassing at times as it seemed Mom would try to make some forceful corrections in our lives by introducing uncomfortable elements of faith, or in correcting the actions or words of a friend. Mom wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but in the end she loved Jesus and she had little problem letting people know. About 10 days before Mom left the hospital for the last time she had emergency surgery to remove a tumor on her spine that had paralyzed her from the waste down. The following afternoon after the surgery, and after receiving the first in a long line of bad news my Mom asked for her purple iPod Nano, unplugged the headphones, and played and through tears attempted to sing Matt Redman’s You Never Let Go. It is a memory that moves me to tears as I write. At it’s conclusion she then asked for hugs from every family member and pronounced a blessing over every single person with some words of wisdom and encouragement as she embraced them. She knew the end of this life was near for her, and she used the platform of her impending physical death to point my four cousins, my uncle, two aunts, my grandmother, my sister, my brothers, a soon to be sister-in-law and her mother to Jesus and His ways.
It was an episode that she repeated with every new visitor. Even when she could not stay awake for the visit she would wake up and pray over people before they left. Only time will tell of the fruit Jesus bears from those moments. Her moments with me have already born much fruit.
In the age where more and more families are broken and more and more fathers are absent the faith of the Mothers will be the primary guiding influence in the lives of children in America. While it is tragic that so many men have failed to be a Christ-centered spiritual guide for their families we cannot ignore supporting the mothers in their struggle to raise their children while trying to stem the tide of divorce, unwanted pregnancy, co-habitation, and the absence of men in churches. We must never let go, because He won’t.
August 11, 2011, the day after Mom died, was the 20th anniversary of my marriage to Kristi Lynn Lobitz. It was unlike any other anniversary before it, FULL of Grace.
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The events leading up to this anniversary left me little time to plan a celebration, buy a present, or select a card. I have typically been a very creative planner of special events that have included surprise trips, weekend getaways and thoughtful or sometimes handmade gifts. I have often begun to plan some events months in advance, but there have been a few, for sure, that just never hit my radar until too late. In years gone by the obviousness of my oversight would have been bitterly received as if I cared little for her as a person, a special creation, an image bearer of the Most High God and are burned into her memory…and mine. I admit now that my previous oversights that included card and present shopping on the day of the event had more to do with my selfishness than my circumstance, and the hurt it caused was real.
But this time, it was FULL of Grace.
In a way this anniversary was the best because it allowed me to see just how far we have come, and gives me hope for just how far we will go. There were no demands or expectations outside of just being with me in my grief. We have journeyed a long way since those early days of dining at the buffet of selfishness.
Kristi, you are God’s greatest gift to me.
You have shown me forgiveness beyond what I could have expected.
You have held me to a higher standard.
You have made me a better father…a better man…a better person.
You are the mother I dreamed my children would have.
You have grown into a compassionate woman full of wisdom and grace.
You are a radiant bride whose gaze can still make my heart race.
You have been and continue to be a tremendous friend.
We have danced in minefields and sailed into many storms.
I am thankful you keep promises.
I am glad God gave me you to dance, and sail, and walk through this life.
By the way, Andrew Peterson, thanks for this song!
[singlepic id=51 w=320 h=240 float=]When parents are alive we kids tend to reflect on many of the negatives. I know I have tended to relay how much I didn’t necessarily appreciate some of my childhood experiences. However, as my Mom courageously battles cancer with my father always at her side I have been regretful of how little I have recounted the very good times, and most of them were very good.
In reality, my parents did what was most important for me and that was expose me to and encourage me in my faith. Through their influence, especially Mom’s, we children were at just about every church function possible. Mom continually volunteered, and often drug us along. I can remember being drug to the homes of the elderly to deliver birthday cakes and sing happy birthday to those long forgotten. I really didn’t want to go and couldn’t wait for it to be over, but now I relish the memory and the woman who made me do that.
I remember my alcoholic little league football coach taking jabs at me about being a choir boy. Mom picked me up early every Wednesday from football practice so I could attend the children’s choir practice at church. I hated it then, but now, I’m very glad she did it. I’m glad my football coach took some shots at me too. Others remember her compassion as well. A childhood friend reminded me earlier this year of the chocolate chip cookies Mom baked for him right after his mother died of cancer when we were in Middle School.
That’s my Mom. Like a bulldog she seldom backed down from her convictions or in her protection of her children. She also never wavered in her care and while she hated we were all grown and in less need of it she has always been ready to offer plenty of advice on how to take care of ourselves, our spouses, and our children. She has been a great gift.
As her first born she understandably has some regrets in how she raised me as I do and will with my first born. Nothing can erase the memories of those events, but nothing is better than to be forgiven. And today I publicly pronounce that I forgive my parents for anything that they might have done wrong. In the end, they got the most important thing right. They gave me a legacy of faith in the matchless Son of God, Jesus the Nazarene, our King, who in the end will bring her home when He desires and who will most likely receive her grand children, and her grand children’s grandchildren.
I love you Mom, and I’m thankful for the privilege of being your son. I hope Jesus does a miraculous work and lets you stick around a few more years, but if He doesn’t I’m glad we have a hope that this is not the end.