Tender Mercy #9: Specific guidance or direction

There are many experiences I could relate here. I see prayer as an ongoing conversation. When I have asked God a question, I have received an answer, in time. Sometimes I feel clearly guided right away; more often clarity “emerges” and I begin to feel more peace associated with one particular course of action. The chance for divine direction doesn’t erase life’s challenges, but does make them easier to navigate.  In motherhood and in all areas of life, we need this help!

Two years ago, after complications from an emergency surgery, my mom was on a ventilator. While on the ventilator, she had a massive stroke. The doctors were questioning whether we should continue in providing life support. They asked, “What will her quality of life be? Surely she would not want this!” My sister and I deliberated to know how our mom would define “quality of life” and prayed about the decision. At the time, we were in process of cleaning out her home so our family could move back there with her. That very day I visited the house and found a piece of paper in her handwriting. It said, “Happiness is:” and she had listed “Family” and “Music.” It was our answer. We decided that as long as there was the possibility for her to experience and enjoy these two things, quality of life for her would be achieved. We decided to pursue continued medical care and rehabilitation. She came off the ventilator and my sister and I were able to care for her at home.

Though my mom required a great deal of care during her last two years of life and my sister and I stretched ourselves nearly beyond capacity providing it, this was a sacred time. Though my mom’s communication was very limited, even to the last few days of her life she could sing songs with us. She demonstrated awareness of us and her grandchildren as they bustled around her. Sometimes several weeks went by without her being able to say a word, but then suddenly she would speak. A few weeks before she died, I asked her, “Are you doing okay, Mommy?” I didn’t necessarily expect a reply, but (despite enduring two years of requiring total care and tube feeding), she said, “I am doing okay. I’m doing just fine.” That confirmed to me that she did have a sense of well-being and that we had represented her wishes accurately when, two years before, we had prayed to know what to do.

When has God guided you? How can you be guided now, in your current situation?


Tender Mercy #8: A special comfort given

Sometimes before going to bed I make rounds and pull the covers up over my boys’ shoulders. I think all parents have done this at some point, though their kids sleep on unaware. Similarly, how often is God stepping in and making things a little better for us, His children? Perhaps more often than we could ever know.

When I completed my first full draft of Faithful Nurturing, I needed to find readers to provide feedback. The reality was that most of my friends were busy moms–they had snippets of time to read a good or useful book, but not necessarily time to pore over one that was in process. My own mom had recently had a stroke and could only communicate in a very limited way. Though she had always been so wise, articulate, and supportive, I could no longer ask for her input or opinions. Though the book was influenced by her and even partly about her, it was too late to share it with her as I would have wished. With this sad realization, I had to go forward relying on what my memories and past experiences taught me* about what her input might have been. Also, God blessed me with two wonderful friends named Sharon and Pat.

Sharon and Pat are in their eighties and knew my mom for several years. They are spunky, educated, wise and faithful, and they generously gave me hours and hours of their time. They had no little kids to chase around or put to bed, but still they had plenty of things they could have been doing besides reading my book. These ladies stood in for my mother in surrogate. It was almost uncanny how much they did and said things like my mom would. I was noting this to myself one afternoon when we had met at Pat’s house to discuss the book. I almost cried then when Pat announced that it was time to break out the Dove bars. Though Pat had no idea, these delicious treats were my mom’s favorites. It may be impossible to eat a Dove bar without feeling comforted in some way, but that day it went beyond ice cream and chocolate. It was as if God Himself tucked a blanket around me.

*This reminds me of the song Wanting Memories by Sweet Honey in the Rock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW2TpW4gCt8

What special comforts have you received from God? Pray to see them. . .