God has the ability to make beauty from ashes, and that’s just what He did for me and for my sisters and brother, and it is most certainly what He did for my beautiful mother when she walked into His presence…
When I was a teenager I chose to pursue the world, rather than a relationship with my Lord and Savior, though I had been saved, and baptized, I made a conscious decision to walk away. In doing so, there was a very defined rift in my relationship with my family.
My sister Anna is 18 months younger and only one grade below me. We basically avoided each other in high school. I only talked to her when I had to and I was unkind to her a fair amount. She didn't deserve it, she was selfless, and sweet to her core, and I abused her.
My brother annoyed me at every chance he could and he was a pest, but I loved him.
My baby sister I adored, and she adored me. She would try to protect me and I did everything in my power to protect her. She was 7 years younger than me, but she was my sweet girl, and I mothered her. I still do.
My mom and I had a good relationship. She was patient and kind, she trusted me to her Heavenly father, and she knew there was nothing she could do other than pray for me. Pray for me she did. I still have people come to me and tell me how they used to pray with my mom for me during Bible study, it makes me smile that her prayers have been answered.
My relationship with my dad was bad from the time I was 13, until I was 21 years old. A lot of ugly, ungodly things were said and done on both sides, then it was a gradual change for the better… only by Gods grace and my mom’s prayers. Mom was our protector from our dad when things were bad, she was the rock of our family.
She was our everything. All of us kids felt the same and and all of us looked to our mom for encouragement and love, the thought that she wouldn't’ be there someday never crossed our minds.
During my senior year of high school, we got some pretty devastating news about Mom. She had gone to the doctor with some weakness on her right side, and her vision was changing and a few other symptoms. Hoping for a pinched nerve, she found out that she had a brain tumor. It was benign, but it was behind her optic nerve on her brain stem, it was inoperable, and it was growing.
Her original prognosis was bad, we were told she had 6 months to live, but within a few months and after surgery and radiation, we were given a much more hopeful, but vague, amount of time. She suffered a stroke during her surgery, which limited some of her ability to talk and walk and she had no use of her right arm, but she was alive and we were thankful to have her with us.
Her disability did give us more to do for her. For a time she couldn't shower or shave, dress herself, or go to the bathroom alone, so my sister Anna and I really were given the hard but wonderful job of helping her with all of that while we lived at home. She did regain the ability to care for herself, with only a little bit of help needed, so Dad was able to be her caregiver without the help of nurses.
When my mom had her stroke a part of her was lost forever. She was not the same mom I called every day from work to tell about my day. She wasn't the mom that made us dinner, and took us shopping. She changed and because of that so did we.
The relationship between my dad, my sisters and my brother changed because it had to. We needed each other. We needed to stop fighting and being selfish and we needed Jesus more than ever.
I started calling my sister every day while she was in college and we talked about everything from boys, to classes, to friends to food, I knew she needed someone to talk to while she was 6 hours away at college, and I needed her too. Our relationship started and it has only continued to grow since then.
I stopped fighting with my dad, and I eventually went to him and apologized for my part in our issues. There was healing and I know now, that when my mom got sick God had a plan, not that she would be sick but that in her sickness we would as a family be restored.
My brother was tough, he was wounded by some things that happened at home, and he was angry that mom was sick, we all were but he might have been the most angry. He withdrew. It was sad and hard but I loved him and prayed for him every day. Our relationship drastically improved when he saw me being a part of his life, going to hockey games and working in the youth group to be a part of his life.
My baby sister was shielded from a lot. We did our best to protect her. She had/has a strong relationship with the Lord, and she had faith that my mom would be healed, and that everything was going to be ok. She is the baby of the family but she was the source of strength a lot of the time. She always knew what to say and how to encourage us. As much as I wanted to encourage her, she encouraged me more.
The year my sister Sarah Graduated from High school, was the year after I had my first son Taylor. I had found out we were expecting again, and so I quit my job as a nanny to stay home, and decided we may just have to live on love for a while. Just after Sarah’s graduation my moms health started to decline rapidly.
After about 6 year of no changes, she was declining and it was scary. She had seizures all day, she started wetting herself, she could no longer care for herself in even the smallest ways, and the doctors told us there was very little they could do, but that surgery one more time could help and maybe give her a few more months. My mom wept, she was ready to go home, she didn’t want the surgery. She wanted us to let her go home. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.
She was placed in Hospice on my 25th birthday. When she died, I was 7 months pregnant with our second son Jacob, She was surrounded by her husband, 4 children and her sister. It was hard but we had each other. We held each other up, we wept with each other, and we laughed with each other. We worshiped together and we prayed together. How thankful I am for that day, that time that we could all be there with her, together. Beauty for ashes... remember that verse? The love we have for each other is the beauty.. and it is beautiful.
What I love about my sister Anna- She is steady, she is calm. She is patient and kind. She is Good and she loves the Lord. She is a better wife than most, she is tolerant and loving all the time. She is stronger than she thinks and humble. She amazes me all the time. She is one of my best friends, and I am beyond thankful for her example in my life. She is beautiful inside and out, she is a fantastic mother and a faithful friend.
Stephen- This guy is so funny, He makes me laugh all the time. He is still a pain in the butt sometimes, but I wouldn't’ have it any other way. He is steady and calm, (I didn't get that gene so it amazes me) He is strong, patient, and I love his quiet spirit. He is the most Loyal person I have ever met, He is handsome and way past humble. He is always there for me, and I’m thankful to God for giving him to me and my boys. BEST UNCLE EVER!!
Sarah Beth- I cry when I talk about her. I adore her just as I always have. God gave her to me as a friend, and a sister and I don’t deserve her. She is my closest friend, she is trustworthy and secure in her faith and in who God has made her to be. She does not budge no matter what unless it is by the Lord's leading. She is faithful and loyal, she is honest and loving. She knows what she needs to work on and does it.
My relationship with my dad is very good now. I love him and am able to see the past as the past and focus on today and God used losing my mom to help to show him where he needed to change. There have been countless healing conversations and apologies and I am happy to say that he is very much a part of all of our lives and is the best dad and Pop-pop that we could have. God is good.
I know a lot of people don’t have great relationships with their parents and siblings. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but I did. God made us into a beautiful family, that LOVE each other so much and so unconditionally.
My siblings are my best friends, they are a part of my mom, and seeing her in each one of them, and myself is so incredible. God made our family, covered in ashes, beautiful. He took broken relationships, and he made them better than new. When my mom died, it hurt, it still hurts, but God gave me a wonderful gift in my sisters, and my brother. I am thankful and can't wait to all be reunited with Momma someday.