All Things Beautiful

All Things Beautiful

    At the very end, her skin grew pale and thin, like the veil that separates here from There. Her eyes sparkled clear hazel. She saw things. Things that didn’t make sense to us, but she understood because she was already breaking loose and leaning soul into eternity. The afternoon they brought my mom home so she could spend her final days in her own bed, she was unusually alert and talkative. We had just gotten her settled, pillows fluffed and quilts tucked, when she grinned and reached out a shaky hand. “It’s gone.” She was staring beyond the bookcase. “What’s gone, Mom?” I studied her face. The hospice nurses had warned us that dementia was common in end-stage cancer. But Mom was all there. “The wall. It just disappeared. There are trees, so tall and so...

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Old Lessons New

Old Lessons New

    “What is that you’re afraid of?” Marty sits cross-legged on her couch, leaning toward me. I’ve had several invitations recently to speak to women’s groups, so I’ve come seeking her advice, knowing she has much more experience than I do teaching large groups of adults. Genuine friend that she is, she cuts to the heart. I drop her gaze and squirm in my seat like a four-year-old. What am I afraid of? Tears well and my heart gallops. Obviously something. Minutes tick.     Breathe, Beth. “I’m scared,” I whisper, lungs tight, “I’m scared of being known. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, giving the wrong impression, doing something that will damage my credibility and message.” And a familiar dragon, long sleeping, raises its deadly head. You see, for a lot of my...

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An Open Letter to My Girl-Going-on-Woman

An Open Letter to My Girl-Going-on-Woman

Dear Daughter of Mine, In a couple of days, I will be thirty-six. This means that you have been with me, a part of me, for a third of my life. I was not much more than a girl-child myself on that day almost exactly twelve years ago when your daddy held my hand in a chilly little room, and we saw our first glimpse of your tiny face on the blurry ultrasound. The best birthday gift I’ve ever received was you, my healthy baby girl, kicking and rolling there on the screen. Aunt Faith and I made a cake covered with pink and yellow flowers to celebrate. As the time came near and you stretched my skin and pressed my lungs, I dreamed of the way it would be and what I would say. But when they laid you on my belly, you were so beautiful, you stole my words. All I could...

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To Hear and Be Heard

To Hear and Be Heard

    She stood in the parking lot between me and the JAARS library door. I had come to our mission center to run some errands, but I could see by her expression that she wanted to talk. A small, quiet hello. A smile that didn’t touch the liquid pain in her eyes. Her kids are in our youth group, and I know parts of their story. Like nearly all our families, transition and loss, grief and turmoil have been part of their reality. We’d had several conversations about these issues recently. Now was not a good time. Mentally scrolling through the list of things I needed to accomplish, glancing at my girls waiting patiently in the car, I forced a smile and tried to remind myself that this is why we are here in this ministry. To listen. And normally I love to listen to...

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