Thankful for Forgiveness and Healing



Today I want to say how thankful I am for the grace of forgiveness. Forgiveness flows out of God’s heart of love. Undeserved but needed, it flows freely to me. It then lodges in my heart and changes me, overflowing to others.

Like a river of unconditional love, forgiveness washes into rocky spaces in relationships, cleansing away debris of bitterness, bringing newness and life.

Forgiveness is often a key to healing in relationships.

Mental Illness and Relationships


, , ,


Suicide has touched us all in some way, even if it’s seeing the stories and feeling the sadness of a celebrity suicide such as Robin Williams’.

For me it’s more personal, since in the past year my husband and I lost both a relative and a friend to suicide. There are still hurts and unanswered questions.

Much is being said about mental illness, addictions, and suicide by both secular and religious pundits and bloggers.

In her story in the book, Journeys to Mother Love, Ardis Nelson tells of the pain of having a mentally-ill mother. Ardis writes:

“Mom was given shock treatments and she was never the same after that. … Diagnosed with schizophrenia [she] was in and out of mental hospitals. For my own sense of sanity, I kept her at a distance. I didn’t trust what she told me. I pretty much wrote off my mother. It was just too painful to be her daughter. All I could ‘see’ was that she was crazy. … Growing up, I internalized the subtle messages that my emotions were not something I should share and in fact, that if I did, there must be something wrong with me — like my mother.  Fearful of becoming crazy, I learned to shut down my emotions and not share them with anyone.”

Ardis goes on to tell how the opportunity came, at the end of her mother’s life, for healing in their relationship. This opened the door for even wider and deeper healing in Ardis’s life.

In the isolation and pain that depression, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts can cause, what is needed is openness, communication, honest words.

God, help us be bridges of mercy to others.

In her blog two days ago, Ann Voskamp expressed this need — and her own experience with a mentally-ill mother — eloquently. You may want to click there and read her words, and open your heart to grace, and beauty, and hope:


The “Facts of Life”


, ,

Two people in love

My mother and father when they were engaged to be married – 1948

My mother once confided in me that until she got married, she thought you could get pregnant by kissing. This led to unnecessary feelings of guilt and fear. I’m sure her wedding night corrected this faulty information, because nine months later I was born!

By the time my sister and I had boyfriends that we were kissing, she worried whether she had told us all we needed to know to keep from getting pregnant before we were married. For sure, she hadn’t told us much. She had bought a book for teenage girls written by a recommended Christian author and told us each to read it. She never talked with us about it. Maybe she thought if we had questions, we’d come to her. The basic explanations in the book did clarify some things but also got my imagination going and made me more curious; but somehow I couldn’t bring my questions to my mother.

As you can tell from the photo above (of my mom and dad just before they were married), she was a fun and loving person. But I doubt if her parents had taught her much about the “facts of life.” Maybe folks back then assumed the kids would pick up the necessary facts by being around farm animals. And maybe the adults didn’t want to “put ideas” into the kids’ heads. Or maybe, in their own shame, discomfort, and lack of information, they were too uncomfortable to talk about “it.”

I can’t say I did a whole lot better with my children. And now they have children who are preteens and need loving explanations and guidance. There’s such a fine balance between not wanting to give them more information than they’re ready for, but giving them the answers they need at each stage of their growth.

When it comes to teaching children about sex in marriage, I think the best teaching parents can give is by example. As a teenager, lying in my bed with my bedroom door closed, sometimes I could hear my parents down the hall of our small house, in bed behind their closed door. And they would be laughing, murmuring, giggling, obviously enjoying each other.

That didn’t sound like anything to be ashamed or afraid of. It sounded like companionship, mutual affection and pleasure, something right and good. And I knew that was what I wanted.



Imperfect Relationships


, , ,

Water lilies

Rubbing shoulders (or petals) with others

Are any of my relationships—is even one—really pure? Unmixed with even the tiniest amount of self-interest, misunderstanding, impatience, emotional baggage, regret, frustration, neglect?

I consider each relationship as it comes to mind: interactions with my husband, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, in-laws, relatives, step family, friends, church people, neighbors, acquaintances, even the strangers I meet.

Many of these relationships and interactions give me life and consolation. Almost all the time, I appreciate and enjoy them. But in both the give and the take of each two-way relationship, there is imperfection. Even in my relationship with the Lord, only from His side is it perfect.

“Help me, Lord, as I stand in relationship to others, to open my heart to you as a flower opens to the sun; to look for you every moment; to see you in others; and thus to find life and bring life into each relationship and interaction.”





No Regret Wasted


, , , ,

MorePhotos 023

My friend, Jasona, shares wise words that we mothers need to heed. Being a good mother isn’t about having no regrets. … Read on and find out why.

The Deepest Love

This week I listened as two anxious people said to me in separate conversations, “my goal is live so that I have no regrets.” I’ll bet you have heard people give voice to the abbreviated form of this mantra: “No regrets.” Maybe you have even said it yourself.

Though people often mean by this phrase that they want to live with no fear, seizing life at every opportunity, I sensed as my friends spoke that, rather than bringing the joy of freedom, the “no regrets” mantra, ironically, crushed the hearts of my friends under an impossible weight. One spoke of parenting small children, wanting to be so attentive, playful, and present to her children that she would not regret her parenting when they were raised, and the other spoke of making choices in ministry, desiring to risk for God to the degree that she would look back on her life with no regrets.


View original post 702 more words

A Letter on Leaving the Nest


, , , , , , , ,

He’s gone…my firstborn child graduated from college last month.  Then we packed up his belongings and settled him into an apartment 500 miles from home.

The last several weeks have been a frenzy of activity, including his 21st birthday.  I had glimpses of the emotion that I knew would come.  But none was as surprising as the wave that hit me when my son returned a letter to me I had written him when he left for college almost four years ago.

We were cleaning out his room, sorting what to take with him, what to keep at home, and what to get rid of.  He isn’t the sentimental type and asked me if I wanted to keep the letter. Naturally I agreed. While his focus and attention remained on sorting his belongings, I snuck away to read the letter…and the tears came.

I was surprised by the things I told him. I recalled the timing of the letter and what was going on in our lives. The events that led to my writing “Walking My Mother Home” in Journeys to Mother Love were just starting to develop: Pedro had returned to Spain after his first summer with our family; my communication had started with his mother Rosa; we had found out that Carmen, Rosa’s mother, only had a few months to live; and my mother was on hospice care back in Illinois.

Yet there in the midst of the pain of my aching mother wound I took the time to write a beautiful letter to my son. It seems my heart was already changing. The Lord was directing me to make a connection to my son in one of the few ways I felt comfortable—by writing him a letter.

I wish I’d done that again now. Maybe I still will. Or maybe this is the start of a season of occasional Skype calls and Facebook chats.

In any case, I’m sharing excerpts of that original letter here. Much of it still applies to my son’s post-college launch as it did to his move into the dorm. My hope is that it inspires you or gives you ideas on how to also write or connect with your son or daughter who has left the nest.

Dear Evan,

I don’t suppose that this note will tell you anything that I haven’t already conveyed to you in some way.  As you know, I am a person of many words.  This is my way of giving you a keepsake as you ‘leave the nest’ today.  Please keep this note and re-read it when you are feeling low, frustrated or confused while away at college…

…Your success in life is not based on what college you attend or the grades that you achieve.  It is based on your ability to integrate life’s disappointments and failures into your character and grow from them…

…Living on campus will present new challenges and exciting times for you—making your own decisions, meeting new people and learning to live with two roommates.  Sometimes it may seem like there are too many choices or not enough time.  You will need to sift through those choices.  If something doesn’t work out well or is not what you expected, it isn’t the end of the world.  You can still pick yourself up and move on with your head held high.  You can choose to forgive others and you can offer forgiveness to others too.  And remember, it’s not about being right.  Sometimes it’s about the greater good or the bigger picture.  It is hard to humble ourselves.  It is even harder to admit we were wrong.  Sometimes those simple words, “I’m sorry” can mean so much…

…The main thing I want to convey to you is that we trust you and that we are here for you.  We want you to explore your independence and to make your own decisions realizing that there will be some stumbling.  We hope that you will come to us for advice, to vent your frustrations and to rejoice in your successes.  We want to be here for you in whatever way we can as you transition to life on your own.

We love you regardless of the circumstances.  More than that, God loves you.  I hope and pray that you will use His Word and His Spirit inside you to guide you in your difficult decisions and your daily walk.


Reading that again even now, I have the overwhelming sense that these words were not just meant for him (or our children), but they were meant for me (and other adults) who didn’t have that kind of encouragement poured into them.

I know that today as I embrace this new season of motherhood and close the door to my son’s empty room, I need just a bit of encouragement too. How about you?

~ Ardis A. Nelson



, , , ,

flowers, mountain sillouette, and sunset

flowers, mountain silhouette, and sunset

The four of us sat in the dining room of the nursing home. Two of us had cars in the parking lot; we were free to leave any time. The other two occupied wheelchairs because their legs would not support the weight of their bodies and their minds would not support a plan as simple as how to exit the building.

I was one of the ones who would be leaving. Usually I am the only non-resident who is sitting at my mother’s table in the dining hall, but this day the daughter of another lady had come to visit. The two of us carried on a conversation between the bits and pieces of attention that we gave our mothers, those bits and pieces being all our mothers could receive.

Then, out of the blue, the other daughter made a statement. “This one,” she said, as she gestured with a sideways nod toward her mother. (“This one”! Had she just called her mother “this one”? I thought.) “Kept a perfect house,” the other daughter continued. “Beds had to be made every morning. Twice a year we had to clean everything from the ceilings to the floors.”

I looked at the woman’s mother. She is younger than my mother by 15-20 years, but oxygen tubes trailed from her nostrils. My mother, who is now 99 years old, was going strong 15-20 years ago. The lady with the oxygen tubes was oblivious to her daughter’s comment. My mind scanned its reservoir of information, searching for an appropriate response to the other daughter’s comment. (My knee-jerk reaction was, I wish my childhood home had been tidier; but I did not tell her that. My next thought was, I wonder if my children think I cared too much about the cleanliness and order? But, of course, I didn’t air that question either.) The moment passed for lack of feedback, and the conversation moved in another direction.

Soon the visit ended. It was time for my mother’s nap. I exited the building to my car in the parking lot. In the car on the way back to accomplish the rest of my list of errands, my thoughts were drawn back to the table in the dining hall. Is there anybody who wishes his or her childhood was different, and therefore, better?

It is impossible to make a perfect home, to be a perfect mother, or to be a perfect child. But that’s what our minds seem to be set on: Perfect. We really think we can accomplish perfect, or we can go through life “bent out of shape” because our childhood home was not the version of perfect we were longing to have. I know there are varying degrees of imperfection, and some people have huge hurdles to overcome.

However, we have a heavenly Father who covers us in grace. After Adam and Eve sinned, God covered them with the skins of animals. Those animals were the first creatures to know death. That act of love was a foreshadowing of the supreme act of covering with grace by the death of God’s Son, Jesus, on a cross.

God’s grace is the only way we can break the cycle of hurt—anger—hurt—anger—hurt. We might not be able to control very much in our lives, or accomplish a long list of achievements. But, we can accomplish—I believe—the greatest achievement. We can be the generation in our family that chooses to break those negative cycles for our family. We do this by forgiving and “covering each other with grace.”

~A.R. (Alice) Cecil

Can we Talk?


, , , , , , ,


My two sons. The younger one always looked up to his older brother.

I feel an incredible urge to sit and chat—to talk with my close friends and to talk to my mother. But none of that is really possible these days—especially since my mother passed away over three years ago.

I am in a rush, rush, rush to the finish line. No, it’s not the race for the prize, the eternal crown, that is referenced in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. It is the finish line to the day my oldest child moves away from home to another state—only six more wake-ups.

Yesterday started my internal mother clock with the memories of what my son has gone through to get to this point in time. His first college graduation ceremony was last night. (He is attending a large state university where they hold separate ceremonies for your major as well as the all-school ceremony in the stadium.)

Although I wanted to be there, I made the difficult parenting decision to attend my other son’s final school band concert. It was also his 17th birthday—more memories surfaced there as well. My husband attended the graduation ceremony.

What I am struck with is how significant these events are in my life and my strong desire to have time to reflect and process them. Since there is no time, I am writing them down here in the hopes that other mothers will resonate with the pull of my heart.

Where has the time gone? How do we let go of our children? How do we parent the one left behind who is also aching over the time lost with his brother? He had just reached an age when they could relate to each other more and become friends. I have to process my own loss, and be vulnerable, yet strong, and encourage my youngest son too. This is hard to do—especially when this kind of parenting wasn’t modeled for you by your own parents.

If I droned on about how proud I am of my son, or how I wish I’d been there more often for him—the missed baseball games, chess tournaments and math competitions—or how I wished I was a more attentive mother at the early stages of his life, would you tune me out or think I’m just too sentimental?

That is the risk I take in sharing with you now—mother to mother. Maybe you have already been down this road. Or maybe it lies ahead for you. But rest assured, if you have children, you will reach a point when it is time to let go and say goodbye.

The tears will come and it will feel like a part of your heart has just been ripped out.

That quote describes what I am sensing as I write this. The day is not here yet, but sitting here chatting with you about it helps me face and express the feelings. And ultimately that was my goal—to get a chance to slow down and let my emotions surface instead of rushing through the day—to connect with myself and with you, dear Sister.

Thank you for letting me talk my way through this. I just got a text message with a request to help my son pack up his apartment at school. I’m off to the races again. I’m grateful that I can do these last things for him. I’m grateful that he asked and that he needs me just a little bit more.

Time to set aside my emotions and run.  Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for listening. It was nice to talk. I hope you’ll stop by again soon.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

What Was Written in Father’s Eyes


, , , , ,

Ships on the Sea

Today on Father’s Day I’m thinking about family relationships. I believe we all have a strong desire, perhaps a need, to know and be known by significant others in our lives. But so many things can get in the way of really knowing someone (and letting them know us). I’m talking about knowing who we really are inside: our dreams, our disappointments, our hopes, our memories, our beliefs, our motivations.

Even the people we live with, including those who gave birth to us and raised us, and have lived with us day and night for years, can remain largely a mystery. The pain that comes from being practical strangers to those we are closest to, is a pain that people can carry even into old age.

A.R. (Alice) Cecil describes this type of relationship with her father and mother when she was a little girl. In her story “Run, Run as Fast As You Can” from the book, Journeys to Mother Love, she writes:

In recent years, I have learned my father saw unbelievable atrocities while overseas and came back a different man than the husband of four months, who left when Pearl Harbor became his call to bear arms. He never spoke of the war, but its effect must have been what was written in his eyes. There was a far-off look that I noticed when he thought no one was looking. Was the look in his eyes a result of what he left behind on the front or what he returned to find?

In my mother’s heart were sorrows he could not have understood. My parents belonged to a generation that did not talk about their feelings. So, my father did what he could and lived by reading seed catalogs in the winter and planting tomatoes in the spring. My part was to simply trail along, not asking any questions or breaking into wherever his thoughts had taken him. As I was my mother’s companion for TV’s “Guiding Light,” I was my father’s silent confidante, ever ready to pour out words of encouragement and comfort whenever he chose to turn and acknowledge me. If he ever had, I would have told him, “I know you work really hard and you don’t have time for fun, but I just want you to know how much I love you.” Instead, all I could do was trail along behind him…

Instinctively, I knew my role in life was to be good. How could I possibly add to my mother’s or father’s pain?

It’s not too late. Today let’s “turn and acknowledge” those around us, listen to them, find out what makes them tick. Let them know “where our thoughts have taken us.” Take “time for fun.” Say “I love you.” And let them see windows into our souls.

~Catherine Lawton

Journeying Together: A Group Interview


, , , , , , , ,

Meadow-flowers-sillouette copy
All nine of us participated in this group interview, answering questions about our stories in the book, Journeys to Mother Love. We’ve enjoyed getting to know each other better through this process, almost as if we were sitting around a living room and sharing round the circle. Pull up a chair and listen in!


1. Did you laugh or cry, or both, while you were writing your story?a pink butterfly

Ellen Cardwell: Surprisingly, I didn’t do either. Rather, writing the story released something inside that needed to come out. I feel lighter now whenever Mom comes to mind.

Treva Brown: I completely did both. I also felt anger, but was able to fully release it quickly.

Ardis Nelson: I went away to a secluded camp so I could focus on writing and prayer. I cried at times. Now my tears are tears of joy.

Kerry Luksic: In writing this story, I had plenty of tears. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago. It was hard to accept that there’s no cure and that it’s progressive–Mom would only get worse through each heartbreaking stage. But in sharing this story, the tears I shed were healing for me.

Loritta Slayton: I don’t think I did either, but I felt the emotions again–the upset, the struggle and the joy of what God accomplished in me that I couldn’t do for myself.

Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton: I always cry when I write about God’s grace in giving me two beautiful adopted children. It reminds me afresh of his mercy and love.

a pink butterfly2. What do you especially relate to in one or more of the other women’s stories? 

A.R. (Alice) Cecil: I can relate to all the other authors in JOURNEYS TO MOTHER LOVE. We all found the only way to healing is through Jesus Christ, and we all want to help others by sharing our experience.

Catherine Lawton: Treva Brown tells of how her mother died even younger than mine did (and by much more violent circumstances). I relate to her regret over some of the words she had said to her mother, and wishing she had said certain other words before it was too late.

Ellen: The last part of Loritta Slayton’s story, “White Knuckles,” took me back to when my mother needed my help and our roles were reversed. God encouraged and enabled her to let go of hurt feelings and journey down the path to love.

Treva: In “Walking My Mother Home” Ardis Nelson wrote, “I was embracing the parts of my mother that were in me.” I am currently doing that now, so it really touched my heart.

Ardis: I think I was the most moved by Loritta’s story. I felt her pain with each decision she made along her journey with her mother. The ending to her story was a fitting ending to the book—very encouraging.

Loritta: The emotional process of their hurts being released to God and their journeys of walking it out with Him speak to me. I was moved by Treva’s descriptions of this process.

a pink butterfly  3. In what point in your relationship with your mother or child did you realize you needed relational healing?

Alice: My mother was always closer to me than any of her other children; I sensed her unhappiness and wanted to try to be there for her. Then in my early twenties I left home for the city to work. Transported into the world, I began to see not all the ways in my childhood home matched the ordinary way of going about life.

Catherine: The need in my heart became evident when I was going through grief over my mother’s death. As you can read in the book, the Lord has ways of healing our relationships even when separated by distance, disease or death.

Ellen: When I was a new Christian and learned how important it was to forgive others. Also at that time, the relationship with our mothers was a topic of discussion with my close friends, all of whom felt they had emotional gaps that their parents, especially their mothers, hadn’t filled.

Treva: Years after she died. It was a hard journey because I was unable to talk to my mom and hear her respond. But I wouldn’t change a thing, for that is where I truly encountered God.

Loritta: I knew most of my life that it wasn’t what it should be. But when I read A Daughter’s Journey Home, by Dr. Linda Mintle, some of the pieces of the puzzle came into focus. I began to pray about my relationship with my mother and ask God to work in us. And my journaling with God and the listening practice opened the door significantly.

4. What makes the mother/child relationship so significant? a pink butterfly

Ardis: I think the mother/child relationship is a mirror of the love our heavenly father has for us.

Kerry: I never realized until I had my own children, but at the end of the day, a mother’s love for a child is the strongest bond that exists.

Kyleen: I think that, since I wanted children and was unable to have them, it has made me appreciate what so many women take for granted. I envy the blessings of being pregnant, of giving birth, of seeing your features in your child’s face, of knowing they came from your body. But God has taught me that he is the maker of families, and I am blessed knowing that Jesus, too, was adopted (by Joseph). So my children are to me the very face of God. To me they represent all that he is – his goodness, kindness, and love.

5. What events, sensory experiences, etc., trigger your memories of a pink butterflyyour mother?

Catherine: My mother had a quip, saying, or song for every situation or occasion, it seemed. Those sayings and songs pop into my head often and remind me of her. I still “hear” her voice.

Ellen: Going to the farmer’s market, smelling apple pies baking … sewing, bringing flowers into the house … Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Treva: A certain Dolly Parton song, camping and eating spaghetti. My mom loved spaghetti.

Ardis: This may sound strange, but I think I am most reminded of my mother in my writing and speaking opportunities. I feel that she would be proud of me for who I am finally becoming, and that gives me a great sense of her presence with me. In a way, this makes up for not having her there when I was young.

Loritta: She enjoyed flowers and colors in shades of purples, aquas, violets. Just this week I walked past orchids in the grocery store that are tinted in those tones and thought of her.

6. Do you ever see your mom in yourself?  a pink butterfly

Catherine: Every time I make the choice and the effort to be positive, to engage with other people when I feel like pulling away … I think of my mother who modeled those attitudes to me.

Ellen: Yes. She had an authoritative way of speaking. She would make pronouncements (not always based on facts), pontificate, and discourage discussion. I still find myself sounding like her, even though I’ve tried for years to overcome it. When I notice myself doing the same thing, it lets me know how ingrained her attitudes were/are in me. I feel frustrated that it’s still there inside my personality. Then I’m motivated to revisit my efforts to change and make it more of a priority to do so.

Treva: At times I do. I used to despise it. But God was able to bring me to a place of embracing those characteristics and bring me more understanding of my mom.

Verna Hill Simms: I remind myself of Mother every time I sit in the living room and watch for the mail carrier. Mail means a lot to me as it did to her.

Ardis: This question hits to the core area of my personal healing when my mother died. I was able to integrate and embrace the parts of my mother that I had been rejecting all my life. Thanks to the Lord’s work in me, I am no longer embarrassed by our similarities.

Kerry: Yes. I especially see my mom in myself when I’m faced with a tough challenge. My mom never gave up on anything and she leaned on her faith during the hardest times. When I’m going through a tough time, I think of mom and follow her example. Whenever I feel like life is a bit too hard, I remember my mom’s example and immediately feel stronger.

7. In what way is mother love a journey?   a pink butterfly

Alice: I wonder how God would have brought me along without children! I know there are people who do not have children and who have a deep relationship with God, but God knew I needed children!

Ellen: For me, mother love grew from an unrealistic ideal to a reality based on experience. Each stage of our children’s growth, from elementary school to junior high to high school has challenges of its own. As I journeyed along with my children, my love was tested, strengthened and developed through the ups and downs they experienced. My love grew from the tenderest feelings for our infants to caring for their needs while juggling other responsibilities, to tough love as they tested boundaries. Mother love survived the smooth and rocky places along the path because, I believe, it originates in God’s love for us all.

Ardis: I am seeing this theme poignantly in my life now. Just today I had a conversation with my 15 year old son about this. We had connecting time while attending a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t have any of that with my parents. I am embracing the journey of learning how to mother anew, be a “sister” to Rosa, an “aunt” to Pedro, and a daughter to my stepmother. This journey is connecting me with my heart and allowing me to share it with others.

Kerry: Mother love is a journey because life is a journey. There are ups and there are downs; there are moments of joy and moments of sheer pain; but through all of it, love is the foundation. My mom has progressed to the advanced-stage of Alzheimer’s and this is the final destination in our journey. Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease, but I have peace knowing that at the end of my mom’s journey here on earth, she will be rewarded for her lifetime of love. faith, and determination–the gift of Heaven.

Loritta: You can’t understand everything from one vantage point. You have to climb that mountain and look back sometimes, and other times you just have to put your hand in God’s and let Him talk to you about what you need to know that only He can reveal in a way that you can receive.

Kyleen: Learning to love unconditionally, to bring out the best in your children, to be their cheerleader and to guide them with kindness is not always easy, especially when your own relationship with your mother was strained. Still, it is a noble and worthy endeavor. This is the journey God asks us to take as mothers.

All the authors and their stories

Mediocre is for Sissys ?


, ,

mother watching kids board school bus

So this has been the year when I have had to face the fact that my daughter might never be “academic.” I always told myself that a “C” grade was okay, as it meant my child was average, and average means, well, normal. However, being an overachiever myself, I have struggled with making that sentiment a reality in my attitudes. The truth is, I don’t want my child to be “average.” I want her to be extraordinary.

This year, during parent and teacher conferences her teacher presented my daughter’s rank in the class. 17 out of 20. Ouch, that stung. First I got angry. Then, I felt embarrassed. I had trouble concentrating through the remainder of the conference. “17 out of 20?” I kept repeating it over and over in my brain. Then a slow but definite dislike for her teacher started to swell within me. “What a horrible thing to show a parent,” I thought. “What kind of a teacher are you?”

Truth is, the problem was mine and not her teacher’s. I was having the issue with my daughter’s ranking. My daughter quite happily goes to school and thinks her teacher is wonderful. If she is aware of her academic struggles, she doesn’t seem to notice. She is certainly not hung up on her class ranking. Should I be?

~Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton

Grief Came One Day


, , , , ,

My father and sister after Mother's burial

My father and sister after Mother’s grave

I’ve found it true for myself and for other people I know — that when we go through a period of grief and loss, the deep feelings that need expression may bubble to the surface in the form of poetry. This helps our hearts heal  and helps us minister to others in need of healing.

After my mother died, my dad started writing poetry. Losing Mother so young she was 48 was hard for me. But it was also devastating for my dad. Here’s a poem he wrote five months after Mother died. Maybe these lines will help someone going through their own deep grief and “dark night of the soul.”


Grief came to visit me one day
And soon I found he’d come to stay.
He lived with me both day and night
Through darkest gloom and in the light.
He lay his hand upon my heart,
To bring it pain and tear apart.
He cast a shadow on my mind,
He put my reason in a bind.
My inner pain was so severe,
I thought, Could this just last a year?
God send sweet comfort to my soul;
I bid my heart His love extoll.
But still old Grief to me held on,
I hoped in comfort he’d be gone.
Sweet friends poured in affection’s balm.
Still on me was his clammy palm.
He walked along the path with me,
Such dubious, doubtful company.
At meals he took my appetite
And slept with me alone at night.
I longed for love ~ could it dispel
This hold on me so much like hell?
But how could I find love again
With heart and soul and mind in pain?
Will he some day depart from me,
God’s Presence give tranquility?
When will I end my walk with Grief,
And find at last a sweet relief?
I asked God, and He said to me,
“I sent him, for it had to be
To bring you through the purging fire
So that your life can all inspire.”
I said, “O Lord, your way is best;
In your own time you’ll give me rest.”
~ © George Herbert Cummings

Mother Loss and Connection


, , , ,

Cemetery - near where my mother was buried

A resting – and remembering – and rising place

I have only visited my mother’s grave site a few times. It lies on a hillside, near sheltering trees, overlooking a river valley, facing the rising sun, three states away from where I now live. But those visits have reassured my soul and spoken to me in some mysterious way. I know she isn’t really there, not her spirit, not the essence of Mother. However, her body lies under the ground there in that grassy, flower-strewn slope. And when the Son of Righteousness appears in that eastern sky, she will rise there to meet him. Just being in that blessed place where that meeting will happen, and seeing her name engraved on that stone, touching and tracing her name with my fingers helps me feel a connection to her.

The loss of a mother, and the lasting connection to her, provides a theme that runs through literature and poetry. Reading these works can help us carry the burden, embrace the mystery, and release the emotions of the loss of Mother.

I just finished reading one such novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street by Jordan River. In this book, the main character, named Nehemiah, returns to his hometown and visits his mother’s grave. There, surrounded by trees and flowers and gravestones, he stands before his mother’s burial place.

Nehemiah doesn’t know what else to say except, ‘Hi, Momma’ and ‘I miss you.’ He thinks about all the times he has needed her advice, all the times he’s thought he’d just reach out and pick up the phone and call her, but then, how silly was that? How many times he’d wanted to call her from Washington and tell her something to make her proud. … If there had ever been a time that he needed her sage words, he felt that time was now….

I can relate to this fictional character’s feelings, as I’m sure other contributors to this blog can. Treva, for instance, lost her mom to a violent, tragic event when she was a teenager. Ellen’s mother died just before Ellen’s birth. My mother died of cancer when I was in my twenties.

We hold and internalize their love for us and the wisdom they left us. And we cling to the hope that has been given to us. We are alive and we must live and carry out our purposes here. That’s what our mothers would want us to do.

Someday it will be our turn to rest — and rise!

~Catherine Lawton

Inspiration for Your Journey ~ Only 99¢


, ,



You can buy our book Journeys to Mother Love on Kindle for only 99¢ during the next three days.

This is our Mother’s Day gift to our friends and followers. If you already have the kindle book, consider buying it as a gift for a friend.

Click to Journeys to Mother Love in the Kindle store here:

Blessings on your journey.

A Journey to Stepmother Love


, , , , , ,

Step-mother-love-01I was nine years old when my parents divorced. I’ll never forget that day. After hearing the news, I ran into the woods behind our house and cried my eyes out. “Why? Why? Why?” I cried to God.

Those repressed memories surfaced a while back in a therapy session as I got in touch with the little Ardis who was hurting from the trauma of this event. I’ve processed this before, but this time I remembered something new. I remembered that I told my father I hated him. It became one of those pivotal moments in my life when I decided I had to be a BIG girl and stuff my emotions.

I surfaced from those woods, calm and collected. I WAS a big girl. But try as I might, that anger at what was going on between my parents was still there. Both of my parents soon remarried. I lived with my mother and stepfather thousands of miles away from my father, who had retained our family home as part of the divorce settlement. The only time I got to see him was on summer vacation periods. His remarriage was so short-lived that I never met his new wife and never even considered her a stepmother.

When I was 13 years old, another woman came into my father’s life, and he remarried again. Inside I’m sure I was devastated, although I never talked to my father about it. I was desperately searching and longing for his love and approval. After they wed, my summer visits were spent at her home. My days were long, lounging around the house watching soap operas, and taking care of her dog—not much fun for a teenage girl. Yet I continued to worship the ground my father walked on.

My stepmother treated me fairly. I don’t remember being mean or unruly with her. I never called her ‘mom’, only by her first name.  But to hear her tell of this time in my life, I get a very different story. It’s a story about an angry, lazy teen that didn’t do much of anything, and made her wishes and demands known to all within earshot.

The healing of that turbulent angry young teen took many years of deep spiritual growth and recovery work. And when my father passed away two years ago at the age of 94, I had already forgiven him and learned to accept that he could not give me the kind of love I had longed for.

But it was the love of his wife, my stepmother, which really helped to fill that hole in my heart.

Over recent years, we have spent countless hours on the phone, talking about adult women issues, and sharing our hearts. She has been a big supporter of my writing and always wants to hear about what is going on in my life.

Interestingly enough, what brought us together was the empathy and compassion we both received from an understanding of what it was like to live with my father. They were married 38 years.

As I got healing for my father wounds, I was able to come alongside her more as well. She endured long suffering as she cared for my father the last several years of his life. She sacrificed. She toiled. And when he passed, she asked me to write his eulogy, and gave me and my siblings carte blanche on how to run his memorial service. It was a huge gift to me.

My stepmother celebrated her 80th birthday recently, with a huge party of friends and family. While I barely knew any of them, my family and I traveled the 150 miles to celebrate with her. She’s been a pillar of strength for me to lean on these past several years. I owe her that much in return. After all, while I didn’t recognize it much over the years, she has been to some degree the mother I never had.

We had a rocky start, but this journey to stepmother love has been worth the wait. Happy Mother’s Day, MOM!

~ Ardis A. Nelson