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A Ring of Grace – Ring of Hope April 19, 2017

Memories of my mother’s extraordinary love flood my mind. Though death has made a temporary claim upon her, I cling to resurrection hope through the power of Jesus. I cherish the bond we share through time and eternity.
I loved going with Mom every weekend, when I was young, to the Laundromat. We would use an entire row of machines, loading them with clothes, soap and money. Then we went shopping at a variety store nearby. We went back to load all the heavy wet clothes into enormous dryers, putting in a pile of dimes. Then we went to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream. Then we folded the laundry together. Every week, we went through the laundry process; she made it fun and a time of joy for me. I learned to enjoy life and cherish the moments with her. It made an indelible impact on my life.
In my school years, Mom took all of us kids on yearly berry picking outings. We walked the wild fields that were lined with huge blackberry mounds and I ate too many berries. I marvel at her patience with us; we didn’t pick many berries. She shouldered the burden and we reaped the benefit with the jam we enjoyed year-round. Mom taught me the immense value of friendship by her lifelong commitment to help an elderly lady who was blind and almost deaf and a family who had no car and needed help with shopping. The life my mother lived was truly remarkable; she blessed many people and modeled selfless love.
As an adult, I began to see the hurt my mother carried in her heart. Tragedy scarred her soul; yet she clung to Jesus in a childlike faith. The day that gnawed at her heart was two years before I was born, the day my brother died in a huge fire that burned their three-story house. My mother was able to get my sister out and break the fall of my aunt, who was seven months pregnant and had jumped from a second story window. The fire-fighters had to hold my mother back from going back into the flames herself to save her son. My mother shut down a portion of what her life had held as a young wife and mother. Only a few years after the devastating tragedy, my sister was severely burned in an electric heater accident and was in the hospital more than a month. My mother almost lost another child to fire. I think that God protected her with giving her that childlike faith.
Mom taught us so much about love; her example of selfless commitment to loving and being family. Sometimes it took me a little while to learn, for she taught not by words, but by deed. With words, all you have to do is listen and absorb or discard; with watching someone live the Word of God in loving example, it takes a lot of effort to really absorb. There is no way to refute the absolute love of God that is displayed through one who believes in Jesus so completely with a childlike faith.
One day I wrote a loving card to my mother, sharing with her how much she meant to me. I loved her so – and asked her to choose one thing that she might give me, to be a remembrance of our love, and also of the love of my grandmother, her mother. When I gave the card to her, we shared a tearful moment, for she was deeply touched. Several weeks later, we were visiting and she gave me what she had chosen, a beautiful diamond wedding ring that my grandfather had given to my grandmother, and then later, my mother had worn on her hand for years. I was to learn in coming years, the tremendous significance the ring held for both of us.
Too quickly, our time of receiving had gone and we needed to learn a little of the giving Mom had modeled so well. A very rare complication of surgery occurred; she had a major stroke. Our world as young adults turned upside-down. Over the next few months, every tiny step of healing came as a miracle, borne of prayer and deep love for her. She was in a coma for several months; slowly she awakened and began to focus upon us. She needed a feeding tube, but carefully learned to swallow liquid. My fun-loving brother brought her a strawberry. My, she loved strawberries. He placed it in her mouth and she sucked the juice, choking some. But in time, she was eating lots of strawberries. We appreciated the smallest moments of fun with her.
Her quiet, childlike faith continued to be an example of the deep love of God. Her body was left partially paralyzed from the stroke, but the fullness of God brought brightness to her life, as if she was still a five-year old child sitting on the Lord’s lap. The wheelchair was only a temporary limitation and she was at peace with her body. She was always happy, though she suffered much physically. The Lord gave her that peace and continuing love to teach us eternal truths.
We were given several more years to enjoy my mother, to take in the love she had given us and return it to her. Then, all too soon, she was severely ill. After being stabilized from terrible bleeding, her first words to me were to ask if I still had the ring. I assured her that I did and would cherish it always. I realized that she understood that this illness would take her life and just how meaningful the gift of the ring was to her. It was indeed a bond of love from her mother to her, and now from her to me. The grace of God’s love being shared through generations, bringing its blessings to cherish, has changed my life intrinsically.
Within just days, we knew Mom was dying. As my sister had for several nights, I stayed in the hospital room with her; I knew I needed to be with her. I prayed with my mother and she received God’s grace. She was approaching the Throne of Grace and it was so wonderful to see her at peace. Throughout the night, I prayed and talked quietly with her and dozed some. In the early morning, I was awakened with a start. I realized that my mother’s breathing was very shallow, even though she had an oxygen mask. I prayed once more, releasing her to the care of the Almighty God, and then quietly shared with her she could go with God.
If I could have toned down my physical senses a little more and looked with my spiritual senses, I would have seen beautiful angels, at least four or five, lovingly taking her spirit to be with the Lord. How beautiful it was, sensing the presence of the holy beings, and their holy work! Then she was gone; it was awful, cold and hard, as if Satan had his way in the room. I had to leave, quickly. But I will hold the final moments with her and the angels in my heart forever. I want to honor her life, remember the spiritual power in her death, and cling to the resurrection hope, in the gift of Jesus, our Lord. I hold on my finger the ring which she entrusted to me, and in my heart the love she taught me. The bond of love between a mother and daughter is eternal and is blessed by the Eternal One. I am so very thankful to have had her as my mother.

Submitted by: Freda Emmons, GSM contributor

Bethany Stroup

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