Sunday, May 17, 2009

soul food: YOU are important

I've already written about how important my mother is in my life.

She means the world to me.

This past week has been very difficult for mom.

Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Thursday and the following Tuesday, mom went in for a full knee replacement. This past Friday she was transferred from the hospital where she had the procedure completed to a rehabilitation facility where she will recover and receive physical therapy for the next 20 days. This morning was the first time we've really had the opportunity to talk for the past week and I could tell that her spirits were down.

Mom told me that on the day of her surgery, she had requested that Jim just drop her off at the hospital and then go home so he wouldn't miss a dentist appointment. While mom was getting prepared for her operation, she was feeling very sad about a number of issues. Many issues that she just can't seem to shake.

As the nurses began to wheel her in to the operating room, she heard someone ask for her. And there, was an interim pastor from her church. An elderly man that she really doesn't know very well, but who had felt inspired at 6:30 in the morning to climb out of bed and drive to the hospital to see my mother before her surgery.

When the pastor asked my mother where Jim was, my mother told him that she had sent him home because she didn't want for him to miss his dentist appointment. So the pastor told my mother that he was going to sit and wait for her to come out of her operation. Mom tried to tell him to go home, she didn't want to be an inconvenience - but he gently told her that he wasn't going anywhere. Several hours later, when my mother opened her eyes, there was the interim pastor from her church, waiting to see her again.

Since that day, the interim pastor has come by to visit my mother everyday that she has been in the hospital. My mother is so touched by this gesture of compassion. I told mom that the prayers she had whispered to God early that morning - were undoubtedly heard - and this man was a messenger.

What my mother is going through, this valley of sadness in her life, makes me think of a service we attended last week at church. Because it was Mother's Day weekend, the service was led by our minister's wife. She started her message out by saying, "Women are the Human Resources department of the world. We keep things running smoothly. We soften out the rough edges." She followed that up by looking around the entire congregation and adding, "You matter a lot more than you might think."

People receive reward and recognition at school and they receive reward and recognition at work. But they might not always receive reward and recognition at home. As a result, anyone who stays home to raise a family might feel like they have lost their sense of value. And if they compare themselves to people around them - people who might seem to have more than they do (i.e., children or grandchildren nearby) - they feel discontent.

Comparison is the seed of all discontentment.

Exhaustion, erosion and depletion rob of us our sense of value. We don't get the rest that we need. Our resolve and patience are eroded. Our bodies and spirits are depleted by continuously giving. We don't feel like we are receiving. I tried to tell my mother all of this, but I got so choked up I could hardly talk.

My mother matters a lot more than she thinks.

We all matter a lot more than we think.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand. (Psalm 129:1-6).

We need deep relationships.
Even the best relationships come with constant challenges. It is very difficult - especially for women (in my opinion) to move forward if there are issues that need resolution. But if we find that we are in a difficult situation in a relationship we need to:

1) Pray for guidance.

2) Assume the best.

3) Break the hurt cycle because hurt people will hurt people.

4) Talk about it one-on-one.

5) Get help.

6) And sometimes, you need to make the decision to move on. Because sometimes, there really isn't anything you can do to mend a relationship except find your own peace with how things are.

YOU have a unique assignment.

You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand. And when I wake up, you are still with me. (Psalm 139:13-18)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8).

Are you listening to your heart?

Are you doing what you are meant to do?

YOU can choose a new direction.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the past of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24.)

It doesn't matter what your gifts are, so long as you are using them. And you never know how a kind word or gesture, can absolutely turn someone's world around. So, thank you interim pastor.

Thank you.


Family and friends, if you are interested in sending my mother a card, please send me an e-mail ( and I'll forward you her mailing address at the rehabilitation facility.

I know she'd appreciate hearing from all of you.

Although, there are no guarantees that she'll have any space on her walls to hang up your greetings ... since we're planning to wallpaper her entire room in art.


  1. Hi there,

    This is beautiful and I thank you very much.


  2. This post was beautiful. First of all, I loved every scripture that you used-- favorites since I was a young child. I learned them in King James version!)

    Thank you for telling of that pastor. That was Godliness in shoe leather! How precious for your Mom to have had him there.

    Trusting your Mom's recovery will go without incident.

  3. That's a lovely story of your mom and her pastor. If that minister hadn't been listening to God your mom may not have realized that God was listening to her! Beautiful.

  4. thank you - you made me cry

  5. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I pray your mom will have her spirits lifted. Knee surgery is tough and it is easy to get discouraged especially if she is in a nursing home (my grandma had to recover in a nursing home and it was so depressing for her) I loved your photos. I am new in my walk as far as trying to read the Bible (trying being the key word!) God is amazing and I am just so moved and encouraged by the ways He speaks to all of us.

  6. Thanks, Jenna. I'm so glad that we've remained friends.

  7. Jen, you are a beautiful writer. Does you church keep its sermons online? I'd love to hear that one. So uplifting and practical!

    I'm sorry about your mom. Praying for her right now. I'd love to send her a card. I feel like I know her a tiny bit - through you and through your stories of her.

  8. What a beautiful post Jen.
    Let your Mom know there's a lot of prayers and positive thoughts heading her way from Minnesota!!

  9. Wonderfully said... You have a great way with words.

    I will be praying for your mom.

  10. Very pretty beautiful post. I hope your mom a speedy anf ull recovery.

  11. Is it possible to love your blog a little more everyday? I sure do. I'm saying prayers of healing and peace for your mom.

  12. this was really lovely, and so what i need to hear (read) today. thank you.

  13. You are an amazing writer and a gifted photographer. And, I'm sure you are absolutely fantastic mother. You have to be, based on your posts -- I wouldn't expect anything less. I hope your kids realize how lucky they are! Or, if they don't now, that they will when they are older.

    Best wishes to both your mom and to Jim. My husband's mother passed away from pancreatic cancer. It's a horrible, horrible disease. I'll keep your family in my thoughts.

    --Laura from Indiana

  14. All I can say is thank you for this post. I am a stay at home mom & the past few days have been a challenge...this post shook me to the core.

  15. Jenna
    I would be very happy to send your Mom an encouraging card. This post really touched me. This weekend the neighbor girl I used to babysit called me from the county's mental health facility under a 72 hour hold. (I friended her on facebook a month or 2 ago, but have had no real contact with her for years.) Originally, I thought we'd be meeting for lunch later this week after she got out and I have really been searching/exploring/thinking about the best way to be a friend when one is "called" to be a friend. This is where I've found your post absolutely beautiful and poignant. Found out today that her stay has been extended to a 14 day hold. I think she is bipolar and in alot of denial and has strained relationships with her family. I figure that if my child was in a psych ward having troubles and had totally shut me out, I'd appreciate any and all postive influences and encouraging words....
    again...thank you for your post!

  16. You have no idea how I needed this post. I am a stay at home wife and was thinking, mere minutes before reading this post, about how worthless I feel. I don't always feel like I matter to my spouse, but I know I matter to God. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    I hope your mother and Jim both the best and will put them in my own prayers tonight.

  17. I don't know your mother, except what you've wrote about her. I would love to send her a card. And if all the space isn't taken a few pictures for her AND Jim from my daughter and her preschool class.

    My email is Cristy

    This was a great post, thanks for making me feel better.