Hope Thrives with the Little Ones

smiley-kids-stand-up_23-2147490130She reached out to touch my hand, her pudgy little toddler fingers soft and warm. Dark brown Hispanic eyes twinkled with joy as we played peek-a-boo around her mother’s shoulder.

I would have given her mother $20 to let me hold her precious daughter, but then maybe the spell would have broken.

We waited in line at Arby’s, still teasing each other for at least ten minutes. The baby grinned at me, two tiny bottom teeth standing like white sentinels in her perky mouth.

Then customer service took over. The child and her mother moved away from me, and I ordered my own meal.

Unlike most of my friends, I do not have grandchildren – yet – and I rarely get to see my great-nieces. So when I’m in contact with a little one, it is a special moment for me.

A time of revived hope as I see the future in a tiny life, untouched by the cares of the world. That little girl has no idea yet of the stresses she will someday encounter nor of the need to pay a gas bill and keep a roof over her head.

She is years away from deciding on a career and thankfully, her choices will be much more varied than mine ever were.

Her grin is free from any emotional baggage – yet even as I played peek-a-boo with her, I begged God to protect her. Statistics prove that one out of three little girls will be sexually assaulted.

Oh God, oh God – may that statistic burn in hell.

As I reflected later that day and remembered the beautiful child, I marveled at how she had increased my hope:

  • Her youth – so much potential ahead of her
  • Her innocence – may life allow her to remain pure
  • Her freedom – in a country that offers so much promise
  • Her gender – with more opportunities for women than ever before
  • Her beauty – who could resist those brown eyes and black hair surrounding clear baby skin?

No wonder God tells us to become like a little child.

No wonder Jesus said, “Let the little ones come unto me.” Perhaps the little ones of his culture also gave him hope.

No wonder our hearts burst with joy when we are accepted and loved by a little child.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Image attribution: www.Freepik.com

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Stage 6 of Alzheimer’s – Back to Childhood

As told by Reverend G …

My mother came to visit me last night, and we made sugar cookies together. Then this morning, she was gone and Chris told me it was a dream.

I think he is wrong. It was too real to be a dream.

Psalm 56-3-4When I was a child, I thought like a child. Now that I am an adult with Alzheimer’s, I still think like a child. I would give anything to start my life over and be a child again – a real child – not this fake, pretend sometimes-adult-sometimes-child personhood.

Chris brushes my hair and tries to braid it, because I have forgotten how to weave the strands in and out, up and under.

My mother does the best job with my hair and tonight, I will ask her to fix it for me.

When I was a child, just yesterday I think, I wanted to stand in front of people and tell them about God. I’m not sure if I ever did that, but that boy, my son – he said I used to preach.

I hope I did it well as I cannot remember any subjects I might have preached about.

The only thing I do remember is what I am reading now in my Bible. It is from a book with a funny name, Psalms. The numbers are 56:3 and 4, “When I am afraid, I will put my confidence in you. Yes, I will trust the promises of God. And since I am trusting him, what can mere man do to me?”

The nurses do funny things to me as they bathe me and try to coax me to eat. I don’t like those little brown cookies with vanilla pudding on top. Too mushy. I like little blue rocks…some kind of berries…on top of Chunky Monkey ice cream.

But no matter what they feed me, somewhere inside me is the God I trust. And since the Bible says I don’t have to be afraid … then that’s what I will hang on to.

Even when I cannot brush my own hair, I will keep my confidence in the God I can trust. He will not let me down.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books – http://bit.ly/1RH27AT

Hope Beyond the Just

musing-girl-silhouette-1122905-mLast week, I met another creative who said, “I’m just a beginning writer.” I understood what he meant, of course, but I wondered about that little word “just.”

How many times do we use “just” to describe ourselves, not realizing that in the process – we are embracing shame.

“I’m just a beginning writer.”

“I’m just a housewife.”

“I’m just the receptionist.”

To be authentic persons, I believe we should eradicate this use of “just” from our vocabulary.

None of us are “just” anything and when we put ourselves down, we throw ourselves into the trash bag of a “less than” mentality. Any type of emotional trash bag will suffocate us.

“I’m just” is another way of stating, “I’m not enough.” Not rich enough. Not smart enough. Not accomplished enough.

And when we shame ourselves, we become our own judge by comparing our worth to another person.

God never shames us. He never says, “You need to be like that person over there.” Instead, he promises he has a good plan for our lives, for each of us, based on who he created us to be.

Sure, we creatives strive to learn more about writing and become best-selling authors. That’s one of my goals. But even if that never happens, if my words touch ONE heart, if even one person finishes my books with a lesson learned or a nugget of joy intact – that’s success.

Being a housewife, keeping the home operational and raising the children is one of the highest forms of work because it influences the next generation. Just a housewife? Not possible. Wouldn’t it be more uplifting to say, “I am so privileged to be a housewife.”

Anyone who works in an office knows the receptionist is the first line of defense. This important person schedules the daily activities, keeps everything going smoothly and greets customers with a smile. He or she may not earn the salary of the person in the corner office, but just try operating a business without a front office person. “Just” does not begin to describe the value of an efficient and welcoming receptionist.

So instead of thinking of ourselves as “just” anything, let’s look in the mirror and say, “Hey there, Wonderful! God has a good plan for you today, and you’re the only person in the world who can do it. You are enough. March forward with hope for an even better future.”

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Image attributed to www. sxc.hu.

Hope Sits With My Child

Because of our busy schedules, we rarely see each other. This boy child who has become a man in such a short time – my only living child, my son.

Yet each time we are together, the emotional bond feels as strong as if we had never experienced a separation. We sit in the living room, watching the news or a rerun of Blue Bloods. We switch to ESPN and cheer for the Jayhawks.

sitting on sofasAcross those few feet in my living room, the emotional umbilical cord stretches. We are content to merely sit and be.

A certain joy exists when the child becomes an adult and the two of us can share the same space without the hormonal conflicts of a male teenager and a menopausal woman.

This peace indeed is a palpable blessing.

When I visit my mother in assisted living, we share the same bond. Though the roles are reversed and I am now the child – still we find a peaceful coexistence in the moment.

We watch television or not. We read or not. We sit silently without conflict, knowing that just being together is precious.

Until I sat with my child, I did not realize the pure treasure of sitting with a loved one.

No need for conversation. No stress to finish a chore. No desire to fix a meal or hurry anywhere.

Just the quiet assurance that we are together. Each of us knows a time will come when we cannot share such a physical space.

A sacred communion. An extraordinary gifting.

On either side of this juncture, I cherish the bond. Knowing my child will one day leave, certain my mother will graduate to heaven.

And I will be left – to savor this fragile breath we have shared and find hope that in the future – we will sit together again.

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope in Autumn Blooms

mumsIt is the season of mums – that glorious coloring of perennial happiness that I plant and nurture each year. These are the plants I prune in the spring when everything else yearns to bloom. Because I know that when late September and early October creep onto my calendar, these will be the plants that greet me with tiny buds and then full blooms.

Rust, purple, red, yellow – I love to fill my garden with these spots of color. Yet even within the enjoyment, I feel a chill of remembrance. Mums were the plants that loving friends brought to me when my babies died – Ryan in 1981 and Rachel in 1983.

Such promise those pregnancies brought. After years of infertility, sharing the joys of friends and family who so easily bore children while I waited with empty arms. It was finally my turn.

Waiting, hoping, praying for the lives of my little ones. Yet both of them – each life ending at 12 weeks.

How does a mother reconcile the image of her own womb becoming a coffin? She cannot. I could not.

Numb, then raw, then screaming out my grief to the God who watched my babies die and did nothing to save them. Was he not supposed to be a Savior?

Why? No answer. It is in the silence of our griefs that faith best grows. Faith – the evidence of things not seen. The babies never held yet somehow carried to heaven where I believed with certainty they were safe and loved.

Friends who provided no answers brought mums to plant, to nurture, to prune back and wait until autumn brought them to life. The hope of this mother that another autumn might bring another child – a living babe I could hold and kiss and sing to.

Again with divine silence came only the belief that somehow God knew a time and way to bring life to my womb just as mums somehow know when it is their time to bloom.

My Caleb – third born yet my only living child – delivered in 1985. Did ever the screams of a newborn sound so sweet?

Still, each year in late September and early October, I seek out another mum plant and gingerly plant it. Some unresolved grief so deep I can no longer weep cries out for a tangible reminder of the babes that were taken. Miscarried babies receive no funeral, no cemetery plot where mothers go to grieve. So I honor my children by planting mums as my personal cemetery token.

I wait for spring to cut them back, then marvel at the first blooms of autumn. And in those orbs of color, I see hope that somewhere in heaven wait two children who want to meet me, throw their arms around me and whisper love words we have longed to share all these years.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Finding Mission in a Memoir

A few weeks ago, I finished the first draft of my memoir. While I know I will add more pages – when the future unfolds itself – I feel a sense of accomplishment.

I wrote it because I wanted to leave some type of legacy for my beloved son.memoir

I wanted him to know about a time in history when we weren’t afraid to leave our houses unlocked and our cars warming up without a driver – a time when life was rich and full even without the internet and all the gadgets that control our lives today.

I wanted my son to know why I do some things – what happened in my past and how that affects me today.

And I wanted a truth-telling of our personal history so that he can someday read it and understand more of his own past.

It’s important to pass on these types of books to our children and grandchildren. The history books will not tell them how their great-great grandmother’s house smelled of green beans cooked in homemade lard.

The experts of economy will not tell this generation how we lived with cash only and saved money by buying only what we needed.

Social media will not explain how we trusted in God through tornadoes, recessions and wars.

Our children can only hear these stories from those who lived them.

I want my son to know exactly how God has faithfully taken care of us throughout the years – the miracles that have happened to keep us fed and secure with a roof over our heads.

Through the pages of my memoir, I want him to walk with me through our personal history and discover more of the miraculous within the every day.

I encourage you, my readers, to transcribe your own memoirs – to write down the stories you want your children to know about, the tales that tell your history.

Savor them as you write them. They will remind you, too, of how God has blessed you and brought you through this earthly life.

Start writing your story and you’ll be amazed, as I was, at the richness of your own history.

Someday your children and grandchildren will be grateful that you presented them with the story of their lives.

And eternity will thank you for praising God through it all.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

5 Ways to Approach Mother’s Day – Part 2

The Woman who has Lost a Child

After those six infertile years, I suddenly found myself gloriously, miraculously pregnant. I bought tiny baby clothes at garage sales and fixed up the nursery. My husband wallpapered some Disney characters on a yellow background. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs danced around the border of the room. We bought a crib and my brother repaired it to make sure the individual slats were close enough to prevent injury. An antique walnut rocker waited in the middle of the nursery, ready to rock my precious child.

Every night I prayed for my baby. So it seemed the utmost cruelty after three months when that tiny life slithered out of my womb. The spirit of my baby boy, Ryan, floated immediately to heaven. My empty arms ached. The crib stood empty. My heart broke into a million pieces.

Two years later, another pregnancy surprised everyone. I fought the morning sickness but also welcomed it. This child represented God’s makeup plan for the first loss. Again I prayed and thanked God every day. Then my little girl, Rachel, joined her brother in heaven. Again, empty arms reminded me that Mother’s Day represented a cruel joke.

How should we approach this holiday with mothers who have lost a child? Whether through miscarriage, SIDS or some other tragedy – mothers’ hearts bleed each time a child’s voice is silenced.

  • Think before you speak. The mother who has lost a child is going through the grief process. She wants to hear about your growing family, but not yet. Do not, under any circumstances, repeat a Bible verse you think this woman needs to hear. Let sympathy be your first response and silence be your watchword.
  • Wrap this woman in your arms and weep with her. A comforting hug is a thousand times better than empty words.
  • Send a sympathy card on the due date or the birthday of that child. Even now, decades later, I remember the dates when my babies traveled to heaven.
  • Send flowers. Especially with a miscarriage, no funeral and no cemetery plot offers closure. After we lost Ryan, someone gave me potted mums and again, another mum plant after Rachel died. I planted those flowers in the yard. Every year when the mums bloomed, I thought about my children. Even now, whenever I move to a new house, I buy mums and plant them as a living memorial. Whenever I prune them back or cut blooms to take inside, I ask God to take special care of my babies until I join them in heaven.
  • Bake a nice casserole and wrap it with prayer. Especially with a miscarriage, nobody offers a funeral dinner. That mother still needs to eat, and no woman wants to cook while she grieves.

After you’ve done all or any of the above, go home and hug your children.