Tag Archives: mother

Reflections on the Death of My Mother

Jonathan has been preaching through Genesis in the evening service and a few weeks ago Genesis 46:4 stood out to me.

“I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

Our modern world thinks so rarely of the task of closing the eyes of the dead, but it struck me that one of the great promises God granted to Jacob was the promise that his long-thought-dead son would be the one to close his eyes. The intimacy and beauty of that care touched me in a bitter sweet way. I realized that living roughly 1400 km (850 miles) from my parents and 5000 km (3000 miles) from Jonathan’s parents meant that we would likely not have that moment, real or symbolic, of closing our parents’ eyes in death. Three weeks later we received a completely unexpected phone call that my mother was dying of a brain bleed, and there was no way to make it to her side in time to say good bye. The Lord had so graciously prepared me for the situation I could not have known I would face.

There were so many moments of kindness in the journey. Our church session was quick to encourage Jonathan to travel with me instead of sending me alone. Our church congregation, my sister’s congregation (also in our presbytery) and the other churches of our presbytery, and my father’s church all expressed their care and love for us in so many ways. The funeral service was full with people from almost every part of my mother’s life, except her Australia years. We received flowers and phone calls and literally hundreds of emails and Facebook messages with such kind and genuine memories of my mother. The Lord was kind to sustain us, even when we were struck with the stomach flu the night before the funeral.

memorialfrontNow, after seven hectic, but blessed, days of funeral preparations, we are back home, and the chronic nature of grief is becoming real to me. I had not realized how many times every day I think “I must remember that for Mom.” or “Mom would love that story.” or “Take a picture of that for Mom.” I had often joked about hearing my mother’s voice in my head. Don’t we all do that? But I hadn’t realized how very often the every day tasks in my life incorporated a memory of something my mother said, or taught me, or loved, or hated. There are so many irrational moments like seeing my Scrabble board and suddenly feeling overwhelming sense of guilt that I hadn’t replaced the J as I promised her I would before her next visit. There are those gut wrenching moments like being the only member of the family who could disable her Facebook account. There is the reality, as I sit blogging, that I was always certain, no matter what I wrote, my Mom would read it. There is that sense of sadness that I carry with me, inside my chest, without really being able to express it.

My mother loved the Lord and was loved by Him. Her struggles with her health, her body, and her mind are now gone, and she is worshiping in a peace and joy she never knew here. I do not grieve as one with no hope, nor do I grieve as the one who knows the Lord and is certain their loved one did not. However, I do grieve. I grieve in the confidence that the Lord’s promises are true and that my mother is resting in the arms of our Savior just as my first child is. Still, I grieve.  I grieve because I miss my mother. I grieve because I don’t think my youngest daughter will remember her Nana. I grieve because death is the result of sin and corruption in God’s good creation.

People ask me how I am, and I answer “I am doing well. The Lord is sustaining.” It is true. It is not a mindless platitude or the socially expected statement from a minister’s wife. The Lord is kind and is sustaining me in my sadness, just as he prepared my heart for it weeks ago. Blessed is the name of the Lord.


On the Surreality of Being “The Preacher’s Wife.”

Just for the record, I will never look, or dress, or sound like this . . .

So technically Jonathan is not yet a pastor. He is preaching here as stated pulpit supply until he passes his final presbytery exams and can be called and installed as the minister of this congregation. In a direct correlation I am not a pastor’s wife. However, on two occasions in the last month, Jonathan has traded pulpits with other pastors in our presbytery. As we have had the joy of worshiping with other brothers and  sisters in Christ, I have had the strange experience of being introduced as the preacher’s wife.

The title brings with it a sense of inadequacy and not a little bit of anxiety. I found myself standing before a mirror in Nova Scotia psycho-analyzing what my hair would tell the congregation about me. Too elaborate says that I’m vain, too plain says that I’m lazy and I don’t want to look like a grandma, but I certainly don’t want to look like I think I’m still twenty. I put it in a bun, just like I do every Sunday because there is still a rational brain talking back to the crazy. On that same Sunday I employed the phrase “Suck it up, Butter-cup” while telling a story and thought to myself, as I watched the words zoom past me, “Probably not found in the “preacher’s wife accepted glossary.”

But in our travels around our sister congregations, I have had a wonderful realization. I am unlike all of the other pastor’s wives, and they are all unlike each other. There is no type or style or glossary, or wardrobe committee, or list of acceptable hairstyles. The way I am being introduced may have changed, but in reality I have the same job I did in St. Louis, and Columbus when I was just introduced as “Coralie.” I am Jonathan’s helpmeet and the mother of my children. I am married to a preacher. That is just an interesting fact about me, it is not a job description.

Not Exactly the Shores of Tripoli

Jonathan finished his last exam in the middle of May, and then, in an event unprecedented since the birth of our Cheesedoodle, almost three years ago, he had three consecutive days off work that weren’t devoted to things like moving, or having a baby. On the fourth day, as he was getting ready to go to work, he said “These past three days keep making me think of the Marines slogan: ‘the hardest job you’ll ever love.’ I mean, you spend all day working at the same things and they keep needing to be done and when you go to sleep you know that they will just have to be done again in the morning. The Marines can at least shoot at or blow up their hard job.”

It was sort of affirming to have my husband, who is working full time AND doing seminary full time, compare MY job to the Marines; but it isn’t exactly accurate. Our conversation turned very quickly to women who did my job, and didn’t have the option of asking daddy to take the kids outside so she can mop the floor. Single mothers have to do all of the endless tasks every day AND they are on call 24/7. They don’t have back up. A few nights later some other mothers and I got discussing military wives who are essentially single parents during deployments and the challenges that must bring.

I hope we blessed mothers who are able to stay at home and raise our kids with supportive, loving husbands under whose leadership we can rest and grow, take more time to thank the Lord for the blessings of our job than we do complaining about the daily grind of it. This may be a tough job without a lot of affirmation or task completion, but it could be a lot harder and for a lot of women it is.  The calling of homemaker is a God honoring high calling; but we need to keep it and ourselves in perspective. We’re not exactly storming the beaches ladies, and we need to remember that.



Just found out that the “Hardest Job you’ll ever love” slogan is for the peace corp, who do not storm beaches, shoot at or blow up anything and had nothing to do with the shores of Tripoli. Oooops. If you can look past that, I stand by the rest of the post.

These Are the Times When a Girl Needs Her Mother

I’m staying with my mom for 25 days to help her out while my dad’s away.  Got that?  I’m here to help her.  Well, . . .

Thursday evening I reached for a tin at the very back of her very top shelf.  I could almost get it.  I thought, “Should I get the stool that is one step away?  Nah.  One good stretch should do it.”  That’s when I heard the POP from somewhere in the vicinity of my left shoulder-blade, and for a moment I couldn’t breathe.

The children were tired and wanting to settle for bed.  I had just put the kettle on and it was beginning to sing.  I actually said, “Oh great googly moogly” when I got my breath back, because I didn’t know what to do.

My mom stepped in.  She handled my kids.  She took the kettle off the stove.  She got warming rub for my back and made sure I was looked after.  She prayed.  I couldn’t have handled the evening without her, and on her way to bed she gave me pretty strict instructions about what I wasn’t going to be doing on Friday to let myself recover.

Right now it hurts to type, so there might be a slow down here at the blog for a day or two, but I thought you should know that my mom’s looking after me well while I’m here “helping” her out.

And the tin I was reaching for?  In a painful irony, it ended up being empty.