Friday, November 8, 2013

Someone Walks Beside Me

It’s not an unusual thing for me to think about my parents throughout the day, particularly my mother.  There was a time that I was embarrassed to be seen with her.  Can you believe that?

As a teen I would walk way behind Mom so no one could tell we were together.  She had skinny legs and would wear short tight leggings with her ankles exposed.  Her over sized shoes, oh those black flat shoes … and don’t get me started on her strands of wild curled hair that would bounce as I followed behind.  Fashion statement, I don’t think so. 
Today is Mom’s birthday (November 8th) and with that in mind I’d like to share a little of our walk together.
What I have discovered is that her so called “unfashionable” wardrobe has somehow gravitated to my closet.  Even worse, flat black shoes are the staple of my attire.  What would she think if she were to walk along side me right now?  Would she want to pretend she didn’t know me?

She Called it “Visitation”
I don’t know why, but I seemed to be the one that my mother took with her on outings, or as Baptist’s say visitation. 

You remember those don’t you?  Places your parents would drag you to while you waited in the car for an hour believing that she would be right out like she said. 

How about the times you sat quietly in the living room so you wouldn’t overhear the conversation that was going on in the kitchen?  You know you heard every word, but never confessed it to her.

Then there's that "older couple" she visited where you balanced a cup of tea on your lap while holding a piece of cake on a napkin in your other hand.  You listened as the gentleman played the piano, while his wife proudly showed off photographs of her family from the last 50 years.

My husband and I were discussing this recently. The only thing I could come up with is that I was on split sessions in high school, so there wasn’t anyone else available for visiting the sick, elderly, lonely, depressed or widower. Unbeknownst to me, it was like I was in prep school resigned to learn what would become my future counseling career and ministry. 
Sometimes Mom would make her fabulous roast with all the trimmings, and then we would take it to someone else while we ate fish sticks for dinner.  What was that all about?
Over the course of my teen years I had many adventures with mother, some weren’t always to places I really wanted to go.  Protesting in Washington against abortion was one of those times. What did I know then? Thinking back, I would love to go on those outings with her one more time with a new outlook on the situation. 
Little did I realize that every time I went with Mom, she was planting seeds of compassion, love, mercy and favor into everyone she encountered, while demonstrating what it meant to be called the “Righteousness of God through Christ Jesus.”  We walked together, with me by her side and she wasn’t embarrassed to call me her child.  How about that?

Mom, who is that in our kitchen?

When I was in eleventh and twelfth grades my classes were finished by noon and I would get home around one o’clock.  Many times Mom would be sitting in the kitchen entertaining a guest. 
Now these weren’t ordinary guests, but strangers ... sales people who had come to do business with my parents.  You never knew who would be sitting in those chairs at the table. What you did know is that there would be food.
Dad was usually unavailable, so my mother would take care of business matters and then feed them as she shared the gospel.  I remember her telling with me why she would invite people to stay and get a bite to eat.
When Mom was a child, she said that her “fully French” mother would bake or always have a pot of something cooking on the stove.  Nanny, as I called her, was ready for company at all times extending a hand of compassion to anyone who graced her kitchen.  This was a tradition that my mother carried on and has passed down to her children (most of the time). 

Coffee or Tea?
There were times when a circle of friends would be gathered laughing and discussing practically everything over the course of the afternoon. 
I would stand behind the island counter observing them as I grabbed some lunch.  By then I wasn’t made to leave the room.
Each individual sipped away at their piping hot coffee or tea.  A few would take that second piece of cake as they confessed, “I shouldn’t have this” and then placed it on their plate.  Nobody would reach for the last piece of cake, pastry or few remaining cookies.  Boy if I could grab something before she gave it away.  It was if she wanted to remove the evidence from us.
As they were about to leave, Mom would get up from the table and quickly pack some of the remaining treats for her visitors to take home to their families.  The things that “us” kids never got to eat!  Scrumptious pastries that come in a box from Pfeffer’s bakery were a luxury we children didn’t get and seemed to be reserved for the special individuals who gathered in our home on occasion.
Insisting that they take the goodies she tucked them in their arms as she walked alongside them to the door.

Prayer Fests
My mother loved people, and she didn’t focus on denomination when it came to praying for families. 

Everywhere my Mom went she made friends, so when she was invited to a special event at another church mother would go if possible. 

Several times I can remember tagging along (by her request) to an all-night prayer meeting service, because my Dad didn’t want her driving at night by herself.  You could say they were like prayer fests, with ladies of faith united under one roof to blast through it with their declarations over the works of the devil.

These services weren’t held at our church, but at other places of worship where ladies would ask their friends to join them for a night of intercessory prayer.  It didn’t matter that most of the time the ladies only knew the person they invited to join them.  We would leave our church and go directly to where the meeting was being held.  By now it was already 8:30 PM.
From what I remember, it would start after a Sunday evening service (when there was no school the next day) with everyone housed nicely in their pews dispersed around the sanctuary of the church.  Everyone was praying aloud, but they were far enough apart so as not to disturb one another. Over the course of a few hours you would see them making their way to the front of the room to kneel at the altar.  Although it was quiet, you could hear their sobs as they wept before the Lord over some situation emptying their all at the foot of the cross.
Mom never asked me to pray nor did she give instructions as to what I should do to keep myself entertained. Being the middle of the night, I was sprawled out on a pew trying to get some sleep.  Every now and then I’d pop up to see if they were done.  
With dawn about to break I arose to take note where everyone was.  A few ladies had gone home, but the rest of them were on their knees side-by-side in the front of the church.  I was the only one in the room still in a pew. Mom would often have her arm around another woman she did not know, praying as she encouraged with Words of faith.
Making her way back to me, Mom would softly say, “It’s time to go”, and she walked beside her praying buddies escorting them to their vehicles.  How those ladies could pray for hours back then amazed me ... now I do the same thing.

Tea with Me
After I got married my steps with my mother became much closer, and even at times side-by-side.  It didn’t matter which day it was, the routine was basically the same when my mother came for a visit.

The best memories I have with her are sitting at my kitchen table.  I’d ask Mom what she wanted to drink, and it would almost always be hot tea.  Being able to serve her made me feel good.
Resting the cup on the table she would hold the tea tag and bob the bag up and down two times.  We would tease her about how waving it over the cup would give her the same results.  The color was so pale it almost looked like plain water.  Using her spoon, she would pick up the wet bag and wrap the string around the end before placing it on the side of her saucer.  No sugar or milk, just a little lemon once in a while.
For hours we’d share stories, ideas and the Bible over our tea and a sampling of desserts.  Of course we both said we didn’t need it as we smiled at one another placing “just a small ... no smaller ... half of that ... that's good” piece on the plate. 
There were a few times when I convinced her to have lunch or dinner with us when Dad was away.  Those were even more special, and she loved spending time talking to my husband. (Secretly, I think she liked him better.)
Putting on her black flats that she left at our door upon entering the house, we continued our conversation as she was leaving.  No more did I walk behind her, but beside my mother as she made her way to the car.
Standing in the driveway I watched as she turned onto the highway and disappeared down the road.  When it was dark she would flash her headlights as a gesture of “see you later. She was always concerned about hitting the mailbox, so she drove really slow until she reached the end of the street. Each time she left it got more difficult to stay silent; funny … praying was all I could do.

The Favor of Salvation
I wish I could report that my mother received the same favor from others that she showed to them in her lifetime, but that wasn’t the case. 

However, her trust was in God and my mother’s relationship with Jesus got stronger.  During her time of learning to lean on the Lord, she wrote what I believe is her most loved song. 

God had visited her with the gift of salvation, and it was a message she would impart to others.  The psalmist said it best in this passage of scripture.

“Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation. (Psalm 106:4 NKJV)
My mother came to the realization of the favor one receives when walking beside Jesus as He did with her, and that's why she sang, “Someone walks beside me every day.”  God had given her salvation and forgiveness as He did with anyone who would ask for it; she now abides in the favor of the Lord as His child.

The Final Walk
Walking with Mom became something I was proud of and cherished. In her wisdom she knew that this time would come and continued to walk with me through the entire process.

With curls in my hair gathered by satin ribbons and shabby flat black shoes, somewhere in time I became this middle aged lady who amazingly resembles my mom (without the leggings naturally).
The last time I was with my mother was no different than any other time when we were leaving her home … she walked alongside me as I made my way to our van.  With long hugs and “I love you” she waved as we made our way onto the highway that was beyond the gate.  Both my parents beckoned for us to stay a little while longer; only that we had. We didn’t know that it would be our final walk together here on earth.
Mom’s declaration of the faithfulness of Jesus will always be the mainstay of her story.  Knowing that “Someone” who is Jesus, walks beside us is the Daily Favor we all long to have.  She understood that!
If my mother were here right now, she would invite you over for tea, pastries and fellowship.  While walking alongside Mom would compel you to return, leaving the door open for you to accept her invitation. Before you left, you would be toting the left over sweets and glancing back at her face as she watched you leave the driveway. 
The words of my mother are now fulfilled as she used to sing, “and I walk with Him above.  Jesus literally walks beside her every day, and forever she dwells in the House of the Lord because of His mercy (unmerited favor).
Jesus will never be embarrassed to walk alongside you, as I once was with my Mom.  As a matter of fact, He loves it and longs for that fellowship.
In the last verse of her song “Someone Walks Beside Me”, Mom invites all who will listen to walk with the Lord.  Throughout the course and pathways you take in this life, there is One who will never let you walk alone.  On behalf of my mother in the words she once wrote:

“Won’t you take Him as your Savior today?
 He wants you for His child right away. 
His blood was shed on Calvary, to pardon you from sin.
Please be free, come and see, just let the Savior in.” (Copyrighted) 
Forever Walks
With much love, gratitude and thankfulness to my Mom, I have that favor of salvation she described in her message in song:

Someone walks beside me every day.” 

My time walking with Mom may have been but a few years, but we will have eternity to share cups of tea, perfect sweets that can be eaten without guilt and forever walking in Divine gardens with our Savior, Jesus.
I am sure Mom is singing with joy this favorite hymn of hers, as she takes Heavenly walks like none she has ever known.

JIM REEVES – In the Garden

American songwriter C. Austin Miles  wrote "In the Garden" in a dark, cold basement in New Jersey that didn’t have any windows, much less a garden.  Like my mom, this gentleman understood the walk with Jesus was for eternity. Read about it here.
Happy Birthday Mom ...
By the way ... love the shoes!
Until next time, favor walks with you every day as God’s child!

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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Bible Hub.