Saturday, May 12, 2012

Get your Kleenex! (I'm finally announcing the winner of the "Kind and Brave" giveaway.)

I received over a dozen beautiful nominations for the "Kind and Brave" giveaway.  They were all so moving in different ways but something about this one emailed from Melissa about her mother, Kay, resonated with me for many reasons.  I don't know either of these ladies well.  They attend what I call my church but where I rarely attend because of my illnesses.  Here is the nomination:

I hadn’t thought about how the words “kind” and “brave” applied to my mom until I started to write this, but they are so true… She inspires, blesses, and encourages so many people. All from the lower level of a house, from the confines of a wheelchair, from a body that is in daily, hourly pain, still she praises the Lord and finds way to serve him.

My mom’s bravery is an unparalleled example in my life. About 30 years ago, she found out that she “only” had multiple sclerosis. This was a relief, compared to the alternatives: a brain tumor or a tumor on her spine that would leave her paralyzed. But since then she has been in a battle for her health and each day has been a fight. She fought each downturn in her health, from giving up walking unassisted, to giving up a cane, to giving up her walker, and now finding herself in a wheelchair. She has daily intense pain that most of us can’t even begin to imagine. She faces difficulties that I couldn’t even begin to name. But still, she gets up every morning, she praises the Lord, and she asks what she can do for others that day. And this is where her kindness comes in. And this is where my mind is totally blown that such courage and thoughtfulness can exist inside one person. Because I can’t help but think that most people would give up, or at the very least think, “All God can ask of me today is to survive, so I will do that and only that.” But that’s not what she does. She lays her abilities in front of the Lord and says the equivalent of, “This is what I have to offer. I saw what you did with the loaves and the fishes. Multiply what I am setting before you and let it be used to serve you.”

People know my mom. She’s hard to miss. She’s the only one in our church with a wheelchair. But still I think many people look over her. I mean this as literally as I mean it figuratively. But I will tell you that she misses nothing. She is watching, and she is looking for people whom she can reach out to. And these are not the most obvious choices to others. It’s the ones most people would never even notice. It’s the woman in the corner who slips in and slips out and no one has ever asked her name. It’s the woman whose husband is not a believer, but she comes anyway, but doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. It’s the woman whose been hurt by churches in the past and is scared to commit, but she’s willing to put her toe in the waters and see if she can stay on the edge and not get hurt again. These are the types of ladies that my mom reaches out to. And she can connect with them like others can’t, because she’s not threatening, because she must have felt pain, must have been through so much, so surely maybe she would understand. And she does. And it’s not just ladies, but families and other individuals. She seeks out the unnoticed, she learns about them, she cares for them, she misses them when they aren’t there, she follows up on them when others might not even notice their absence, and she brings them before the Lord in her prayers. This is part of my mom’s kindness. This is her using her gifts and letting the Lord multiply them.

I could go on and on. I could tell you about her ministry of encouragement, the many cards and notes she has written to so many people, because, as she says, that is something she CAN do. I could tell you of her and my dad’s bravery in letting go of the house that they built and carefully picked out everything in, to live in the lower level of a house with us, so that we could be there for her, and so they could be there for us. I could tell you about the hundreds of hours she has invested in homeschooling my children, the individual plans she comes up with for them, the learning games she has made for them, even through pain that I can’t fathom. But I will summarize it in this way: My mom is kind and brave and so few people really know how and why. It is so far beyond what is on the outside. And I think that is the most admirable kind of bravery and kindness. When you are brave and you are kind and you aren’t doing it publicly, but privately and rarely are you going to get a pat on the back or attention for it. But someday you will hear the most important words of all: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I am so thankful this kind and brave woman is my mom.

On Thursday evening our church hosted an annual "Mothers and Others" event.  I had planned to decorate a table for my own grandmothers, mom, new sister-in-law to be and her mom and my girls.  By the time my dad took me to the hospital for some lab stuff and to the church to get my table ready I was so very sick and in great pain.  I knew there was no way I could attend later that evening.  I was sad but still so excited that Melissa was going to be able to publicly surprise her mom, Kay, at the program by reading her nomination and presenting her with all the goodies.  Yesterday I received this sweet "thank you" email from Kay.  I hope she doesn't mind me sharing here, but it tells even more about her struggle and her heart's response.

How do I begin to say thank you to a wonderful woman who is struggling with healing in her own world, to take the time and energy at this point in her (your) life, to think of others? What a surprise and blessing last night was for me. As Terry announced that someone in our church had written the chosen nomination, and that someone in our church was the one written about, I thought how wonderful that was, and how great a time that would be for her. It’s amazing how many people one can think of who deserve such a nomination. Then, even as Melissa arose, I thought it was so sweet of her to write about someone whom she knew who was "kind and brave". Monica, it never occurred to me that it was going to be me! Although all the glory goes to our Lord, I pray, it was such a blessing and encouragement. And, the amazing thing is how many people came to me last night to share their pain and struggles! What a blessing that God would use this honor, for me to encourage more people! I love to see the way God works! What a joy to be able to be used by Him because of my wheelchair! What an awesome God we serve!

Although it was delightful to dig through my pack of goodies, it was also a joy to learn more about you! I could bore you with the many thoughts and responses I had to each little item. For example the earrings on the library catalog card brought back old memories of my hours in the library. I was just teaching Marah about the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalogue method of finding books in the library in "my day", so what an object lesson this was, and will be. We took turns trying different ways to use that beautiful scarf last night, also. I could go on and on. What a window into your life and heart Monica! What a blessing the sacrifice of your treasured items is to me!

I also want to take this opportunity to share a beautiful moment I saw Sunday night. This sweet, loving mother came into the worship sanctuary and sat in the back row. I could see she was in great physical pain. She glowed as she watched her daughter get her AWANA awards. She was able to be the mother she longs to be (and is), as she excitedly brought her award to her. Yes, Monica, it was a joy to watch you lovingly giving of yourself, in your own pain, to joy in your daughter's special moment, as God enabled you. I wanted to come up behind you, and give you a hug, and let you know what a joy it was to see you, but I didn’t want you to try to even turn your head, or feel you needed to see who was there behind you. So, I thank God again today, that you were able to come and sit in that back row, in great pain I can only imagine, and that He gave me a chance today to share with you what I was blessed to see from my wheelchair.

I was talking to Karen Kemp this morning and we were saying what a blessing God gives us, as we are able to share with others about our wonderful Lord and Savior, because of the adversity He graces us with. What a blessing He gives me, as He allows me to share my joy in Him, because of my wheelchair! I know you too have been a blessing to many, as you have journeyed through such painful days. Your love bubbles over into those who know and love you. Though your days are harder than I can imagine Monica, I thank God for the lives your are touching because of the journey our Lord has set before you.

Monica, I can’t thank you enough for your gift of encouragement last night, as you once again gave of yourself to others. My prayer is for your continued healing, and for God to use Melissa’s testimony for me to reach others for the Lord! May God bless the ministry with which He has graced you! I know He will give you the strength you need to serve Him, each time He opens a door of ministry to you! What an awesome God we serve!

close this thank you Monica, with Melissa’s quote, "…She lays her abilities in front of the Lord and says the equivalent of ‘This is what I have to offer. I saw what You did with the loaves and fish. Multiply what I am setting before You and let it be used to serve You’." I know this is your prayer, too. God bless you, Monica.

On a day when I was feeling neither kind or brave these words reminded me of the Truth about my own suffering and broken dreams.  It encouraged me to be faithful and do what I can with what I have where God has put me.  Only eternity will tell how the few loaves and fishes will be multiplied.  Soli Deo Gloria. 

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing to be there and hear all this unfold as I watched you write about it online! Monica you are God's tool and you have found ways to honor Him in ways that bring joy to others. I am thankful to call you friend and blessed to be in your life!