In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
but the Lord determines his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9
During my quiet time this morning, Proverbs 16:9 struck me afresh. No matter how much “predictability” I may feel life has, no matter how much I have structured things, it is actually God alone who has things completely planned and figured out.
I had no idea when I read that this morning, just how this would flesh out.
Knowing that my mom has been lingering, rallying, lingering, rallying in various stages of health, slowly heading toward a transition out of this life, yesterday, at church, a good friend suggested I write a letter to my Mom. She suggested that if I had the chance, I could then read it to her, even as she sleeps.
I liked the idea and knew I needed to carve time into my overly-stuffed schedule to do that. How would I find the time? Mom’s condition, I was told, could last a long while…and there were things on the calendar that had to be done.
I got up early this morning, having arranged to take our family dogs to meet a lady in Fair Oaks (about an hour away) who would be their “sitter” in when we take Daniel to college in Montana. I knew this was likely a half-day project.
I went to bring the Yukon XL up–the only vehicle we take the dogs any place in–and the tire was as flat as a pancake. I couldn’t figure out how that was possible, given we had used it for a Father’s Day family outing just last night!
Upon close inspection, my husband found a screw in the relatively new tire. LSo, the schedule had to be rearranged (thankfully, the dog sitter was flexible!)—I needed that tire fixed. I would have to go “down the hill” about 40 minutes’ drive for that to happen.
I was reminded that Proverbs 16:9 is TRUE. I can plan my day out but the Lord, in His wise sovereignty, is going to order my specific steps.
Hubby used some “Fix a Flat” and an air compressor to get the tire safe enough to drive down to Roseville. While I waited for the terrific guys at America’s Tires to repair the flat, I had time to type up my letter to Mom on my iPad. It was a great exercise, reminding me of many blessings that have come to me through my mom.
After the tire was repaired, I had no doubt what I needed to do. I just “happened” to be only 10 minutes away from where my mom was staying. The letter just “happened” to be written. Thanks to a random screw in a brand new tire, I just “happened” to have enough time to be able to visit her. Seems like something other than “chance” was at work here. God was definitely ordering my steps.
Off I went.
When I arrived at my mom’s place, a hospice nurse greeted me: “I am so glad you are here. Your mom is close to the end.” To be honest, I was surprised. But then I realized that this was precisely what God had ordained for this day, this time.
|Rosalie Gianino Hattersley, February 5, 1926-June 18, 2012|
So, I entered her room and with tears and laughter I shared my letter with a sleeping Mother.
I came here today to be sure you know this one thing: It is ok to leave this life if you are called. This world isn’t your real home…heaven is! If you are having a hard time letting go, I want to just tell you some things that might make you feel better about letting go.
First, Mom, I know you have felt guilty for a lot of the things you did in your life…as we all do. I know a lot of these have to do with mistakes you made in raising me. I want you to know…these things are forgiven. Not only do I forgive you, but more importantly, Jesus forgives you. GOD forgives you. All of the things that you have regrets about and even those things you may have forgotten…no one else is holding on to them, so please don’t you hold on to them either. Let them go! Break free from those things!
Secondly, there is so much I am thankful for that I haven’t told you about previously. I want to do that now. Thank you for loving your grandchildren the way you have. You took them fun places, let us swim in your pool all the time–they have only happy memories of being at Grandma Rosalie’s house! They loved the adventures you took them on to Capital Aquarium (like you did me when I was little!) and to the park. I got a much needed break any time you took them for a couple of hours and for that, I am very thankful, too. I know you didn’t agree with some of the things I did to raise them, but your own mother didn’t agree with the way you raised me, so I guess that is par for the course! J
Daniel and Michaela have wonderful memories of special dolls, car play sets, videos and books, that they got to enjoy *only* at Grandma’s house. They appreciated the ice cream bars and hugs and kisses most of all. Thank you for being one of the best grandmas in the world to my babies! They are going off to college now and may just meet their future husband and wife. I can only hope that I will be as wonderful and fun a grandma to their babies as you have been to them!
Mom, I want to tell you some of the happy memories I have about my own childhood, too, so that you know that I have positive things that I am pondering today. I remember playing with “Goop” and “Creepy Crawlers” out on the back patio. I remember long swims at Lake of the Pines (before there were many houses there!), hikes in Desolation Wilderness, fun at Stanford Sierra camp and singing in choirs when I was still in 3rd grade.
I loved holidays at our house–the extended family gathered for Christmas and fourth of July. You were such a great hostess. I loved Tiny Tots preschool…it is amazing that I still remember it and Virginia Young, my preschool teacher. I had a great education at Sacramento Country Day school, even though I know that the cost of a private education came only with many sacrifices you had to make. Thank you for that. You raised me knowing that God was real and even though I didn’t understand Jesus provided life for me by dying on the cross for me until Leslie told me about that part when I was 15, I nevertheless had a rich foundation because of the early years spent at Sunday school and church. I have had a love for the bible ever since I can remember and even in third grade, at Calvin Crest Camp, I bought my own copy of Good News For Modern Man…must be because of that foundation you gave me!
I know I gave you a hard time about practicing piano–I hated practicing, but now I am so thankful for that musical foundation as I understand chording and harmony and what notes work in different keys. Gosh, I can read music—so many aren’t so blessed!—and it is because of those early piano lessons–first with Mrs. Lang and then Mrs. Carver. Thank you for that. There were drama lessons and ballet lessons (which I hated, but I am still appreciative of you having me try it out) and tap dancing lessons. The recitals and shows all through the years I grew up, the carpooling and driving me all over to Rio Linda for horse lessons. Thank you for all of that, Mom. So much of who I am and what I value today is rooted in you having gone an extra mile (or many) and made sacrifices of time and money so that I could have opportunities to learn and enjoy new skills.
I know there are many things I have forgotten…oh! Like the horse camp I went to for two weeks and I loved going to Washington to stay with Caral Beaver and her family for two summers. And all the different sports that you always encouraged me to be involved in. I never doubted that I could be an athlete! Even as a girl! How could I forget! The tennis lessons that you paid for and chauffeured me to! Thank you for that. Gosh…when I think of how important tennis is to me today and how much joy I get out of it…thank you so much for those early tennis lessons with Bob Mitchell and then with Mike Reid. What ever would I do now without tennis!? J
See? There are so many things that I am thankful for about you. So, Mom, I hope that these are the things you ponder as you drift in and out of sleep now. Just like it says in Philippians 4:8…
Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
I hope these wonderful memories are the ones you turn your mind to, Mom.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I am going to be ok if you let go to the embrace of Jesus, Mom. He will greet you with peace forevermore! I also believe the animals you have loved will be there to greet you as well. And lots of people that you have loved and have missed. Phyllis, Bob’s mom is there…and bodies are whole…yours will be, too! It will be great!
A couple more Scriptures I want to encourage you with, Mom:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV84)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
-Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV84)
Mom, I love you. Be at peace. Fare well in the arms of Jesus.
After reading this to my mom (and some added commentary), I kissed her and left. I called my sister about 11:00 am from the porch at Sunrise Senior Living in Rocklin—a wonderful place to live, by the way. I drove home and within moments of posting to Facebook, my sister called and told me mom had died just an hour after I read those words to her.
I am in awe of the gift that God gave me…that he determined my steps today would be different than the course I had planned ahead of time. I can’t tell you how loved and cared for I feel by a wonderful, intimate God. How he cares about the small details of my life. It boggles my mind. Most of all, I am thankful that my mom is now at peace in his embrace as he delights over her with singing.