Sunday, May 14, 2017

Giving Honor


‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16


I wrote this article back in 2004, it was published in the county newspaper. It still holds true today...

My mother's positive influence in my life has helped me so much in the past years. Through many events and phases in my life I have the blessing of remembering how my mother handled herself through some of the same experiences. Whether it was child rearing as a young mother, parenting a teen, experiencing an empty nest, caregiving for a sick husband and even widowhood; my mother’s example stood as worthy footsteps to follow. She poured into us all that she had and with God’s strength she did it to the best of her ability.


Each time that I reflected, "How did Mom handle this?" I remembered that she was strong, resilient and determined.
Strong through sorrow, resilient through trials and determined to live her life to the fullest.

My mother did not have an easy childhood, she grew up in a small southern town as the daughter of sharecroppers during the late 1920's and the 1930's. The south was deep in segregation at the time and life for her family was hard in so many ways; and yet with all that she experienced, she never allowed it to deter her from becoming a woman of distinction and character. She married young and became a stellar wife and confidante to my father. It may be understandable to use your negative childhood experiences as an excuse for not living a positive lifestyle as an adult, but my mother used her experiences as a "ladder" to take her higher where her dreams could be fulfilled. Her childhood experiences were hard, but she made a choice as a child to have a better life. By making that choice with God’s help, she nurtured and encouraged us as a family to succeed in life.

She never allowed me nor my siblings to ever feel that we were less in
some way to anyone. She taught us that we could do or be anything that we wanted to be if we tried hard enough and that we, ourselves were the only people that could keep us from achieving our goals.

She encouraged in us good esteem that gave us the ability to be comfortable in the presence of all people, no matter what race, level of wealth, education or social status. We were God's creations and in His eyes there is no special preference.


The love of a mother is a wonderful thing. Throughout history, many mothers have given up their own happiness, careers and even their lives for their children. Whether if it was during the years of slavery in America, the Holocaust in Europe; on every continent and from times past until now, there are stories of women that sacrificed for their children. These were mothers who by the Grace of God were able to gather the strength during great trials to protect and preserve what they believed to be precious and priceless.

Some of you reading this may say, "Well I never knew my real mother." or "I never experienced a mother's love." Well look at it this way, the fact that you are alive to think that thought is proof that you had a mother that loved you enough to give birth to you. The situation surrounding your birth may not have been ideal, but you're here! You couldn't get here by yourself...someone thought enough of you that they carried you inside their body for 9 months, and endured the pain of delivery. There was another option, but they chose not to go that route...and here you are! Praise God!


No matter the circumstances of your conception, your biological mother chose to give you the ultimate gift...life. Surely that is something to thank God for.

My precious Mom went home to be with the Lord February 2000, and I miss her so much. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She loved and honored her parents and taught us how to honor our elders and to show respect to all people. On the day of her funeral, so many people came by to give their condolences, people of all races, social and economical strata.There were many tears and stories, but one thing in common, they all said that she was their "Friend". She was always there to listen, to hug, to encourage and to love...she let her light shine!

This year (2004), 4 years after the passing of my beloved mother, I adopted a Mom. I firmly believe that women should have a least one elder and one younger female friend...to me it just brings about balance in life. We can both learn from as well as deposit into both friends. It's a win win situation.

This precious elder woman that I adopted lived in a nursing home for many years and seldom had any visitors, because her only daughter lived many states away. My visits to her may have seemed as if I was there to encourage her, when in fact she was the one that encouraged and comforted me.

For about six months we would laugh and talk together and when I would leave the nursing home, I felt somehow that the void of not having my mother was filled. Eventually her daughter made arrangements for her to come and live with her and that season was over, but I will never forget how the Lord put me and my adopted Mom together. I needed a Mother's love and God in His mercy fulfilled that need.

This Mother's Day, if your Mother is alive, cherish and honor her. If you never knew your biological mother, reflect on how blessed you are to have been given the gift of life. If your Mother has passed, remember her love and count yourself as blessed to have had her for the time that you did.


My Mother ran the race and has passed the torch to me, may I be faithful to God's calling to be a light in this dark world, to be a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend that listens, hugs, encourages and love with the love of the Lord. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Letter to my Mom (repost from 2012)

This was a blog post from Mother's Day 2012, I thought it is worth repeating...

Dear Ma,
Well, another Mother’s day has rolled around; this is the 12th one without you.  But your passing from this life to eternity seems like yesterday sometimes. I miss you so much.  And it seems that the older I get, the more I understand you…does that make sense?

I passed by a mirror the other day and wow I could see you in me so much…your mannerisms and movements! If I am becoming even a fraction of the woman of grace that you are I am so thankful.  I know, I know…during my turbulent teenage years I wanted to be anything but my mother. But now Ma, I am so thankful that you hung on to me during those times. Me with my smart mouth and “always having to say the last word” self; you hung on to me, even when I’m sure I broke your heart a few times.  Thanks Ma…only a Mother’s love can do that.
I can think of a lot of things I’m sorry for; like the time I missed your 50th wedding Anniversary; and the time after Dad had passed, I should have had more compassion, instead of trying to rush you through your grief. And even the time I never got around to trimming your hair for you on one of my visits. But I know Ma you wouldn’t want me to feel guilty about any of that stuff, because not once  have you EVER made me feel guilty about anything while you were with us on earth. You only showed unconditional love.

You gave birth to me with God’s help on a hot day in July after you discovered my older brother had splattered mud on your clean laundry hanging on the clothes line! (I love when my brother tells me about that day).  And from that day on you have been the most excellent example of what a real woman should be; strong, smart, giving, loving, graceful, a cute dresser and on and on.  You taught me how to be a good wife, even the part about “in sickness and in health”, when I watched how you took care of Dad during his illness.  Who knew that I would be following in similar footsteps?  And you taught me how to be strong and resilient during times of sadness.
You Ma gave me the gift of humor and laughter!  Oh the times we’ve shared laughing so hard that I literally crawled on the floor, because I was laughing so hard I could not get up from the spot where I’d fallen! I still laugh out loud when I think of some of the things we laughed about and your gift of humor has spread from generation to generation.  Thanks Ma!

I won’t be sad this Mother’s Day, because I know you would not want me to be.  You would want me to be happy and enjoy the life God has given me. You always would say to me “Roni, enjoy every second of your life.” And that is what I now say to my son and daughter-in-love, “Enjoy! Enjoy!
Thanks Ma for being a wonderful mother to me, and I pray that somehow God will let you know how much I love and appreciate you.  I miss you like crazy, but know that one day we will see each other again and Oh! What a day that will be.

With much, much love,
Your middle daughter,
Roni

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Beauty for Ashes

Years ago on one of my trips to the West coast during the Christmas holidays, as a gift, my son and his sweet wife took me on an excursion up the Pacific coast. I’ll never forget the beautiful scenery. At some point as we traveled it was clearly the expanse of the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. We stopped at rest stops and admired the beautiful views. We even stopped along the way to visit the luxuriously opulent Hearst Castle and also saw the elephant seals come up on the beach to rest, it was awesome!

The other surprise of my gift was spending Christmas and several days in a beautiful rented house in walking distance to the beach, in fact you could see and hear the beach from the balcony off the main living area of the house.
It is there that I sat early one morning with Bible in hand and inwardly speaking to the Lord about my life. So many things had changed for me personally as well as my family. We, my son, his wife and I had all been through a series of losses and brokenness that felt like a never-ending avalanche of inner pain . My energy was spent on trying to understand the “whys” and “what ifs” that left me sometimes staggering under the weightiness of sorrow. We loved God and knew He loved us, but in our human frailty I admit, we hung on with a diminishing hope.

There was a stillness in those moments as I sat admiring the view of the ocean and the mountains, smelling the early morning sea breeze, with only the sound of the waves gently crashing against the large rocks on shore. Then in my peripheral vision I saw movement. When I turned my head there stood the most beautiful majestic deer, it was just a stone’s throw away. The deer held its head high and proudly walked even closer and just stood there as if in a pose to make sure that I had full view of his beauty in all its grandeur.
The moments seemed holy, so much that I was afraid to breathe less I dissipate the presence of God that I sensed and felt. I have seen many deer before, but this was different, this was true beauty that I was allowed to witness...

After a few more moments the deer darted off into a wooded area, but I still sat in awe of what I had just experienced. I believe God used those precious moments to speak to my shattered heart that even in the midst of pain and brokenness, God STILL has beauty; and if we trust Him with that pain and brokenness, He can make something beautiful out of it. Even when the ashes of our lives are so thick that we cannot see nor have the strength to search out the beauty, He will help us to gaze upon His beauty and find the strength to go on. We may not know how or when He’s going to do it, but He’s our Father and He WILL.

As we celebrate “Passover” and “Resurrection Day”, let us remember that Jesus became the sacrificial lamb to be crucified for our sins. That He did not come to just “fix” us, but to redeem us”; and He was the only one that could pay the price. His suffering and death were terrible to look upon, but out of the horrendous ashes of what satan thought he had destroyed, arose God’s beauty of His True love...His love for you and me. Isaiah chapter 61:1 reads:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus in the book of Luke chapter 4 read aloud this portion of scripture in the synagogue and then said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
He came to do just what He said He would do...He died, He arose and He is alive...
“To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3


“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living Just because He lives” -Bill Gaither

-Veronica Y. Brayboy