During a visit to a medical facility a nurse told me she is not creative. This was after I spotted an odd shape in a tree across the street that looked like ET’s face. She said, “Give me math and science, but ask me to see a face in tree bark? Not my thing.”
Maybe she hadn’t thought about nursing as creative expression. I’m thankful she uses her talents to help bring hope and healing to people. She works to create a new way, her way of doing that.
Earlier this month Jerry and I watched The Chosen, a new series about the life of Jesus. It is a remarkable retelling of events in the New Testament, but what sets this version apart is
it’s a series. I’m sure these stories have never been presented as a series before, and
it’s crowd funded. I have never heard of Christian shows being funded this way.
We don’t own a TV, and I don’t like watching videos on my cell phone, but we can view them on our laptop. Viewing TV shows on a computer screen is another thing that was once a “never been done” idea.
The challenge I’m issuing is this: Let’s stop shrinking back from seeing, tasting, making, hearing, and learning new things. We might just open the way for the miraculous.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
A few days before she died, with the room full of talkative family members, Mom cracked a line that made my jaw drop. Befuddled, I didn’t know whether to laugh at her joke or cry. The conversation was about buying more Christmas gifts, but her remark silenced everyone.
At that point Mom only wanted to lie still and observe her family. No more therapies, no more interventions or procedures, fewer pills to swallow. She’d asked for a place of rest and peace, and that’s what we provided for her. The hospice center had quiet halls, gentle caregivers, beautiful scenery, and space for her loved ones around her bed.
As talk of Christmas preparations continued I watched my mother’s face. Too tired to smile, but not to engage, she said
“Well, you don’t have to get me anything.”
It could have been an incredibly sad moment, realizing that my precious mother was lying there in a hospital gown she didn’t own. The bed wasn’t hers either. Her photo albums, china, jewelry, mementos from her travels. Her iPad, her comfortable chair, her favorite foods at home in the refrigerator. She’d never enjoy them again. They were nothing to her now.
Yet, in Mom’s gentle yet powerful way, she’d spoken volumes. She didn’t want any gift except our love. She lay there content in the middle of her family until she followed Jesus out of our sight.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7 ESV
The day after Mom passed I went into my bedroom and pulled my cell phone charger out of the wall. She didn’t need me to be accessible in the night any more. Mom didn’t need anything from me, and never would again. She had instead given me the most valuable gift, a legacy of love to share with the world.
Beloved, let’s love one another.
An unedited version was shared at the memorial service for my mother, Delores Sheldon, on January 4, 2020.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 ESV
In Mom’s passing from this life she was surrounded by love, her most cherished treasure. Upon entering eternal rest it is with her still.
Have you thought about your influence continuing even after you’ve passed away? My grandmother’s legacy lives, her existence leaving a lasting impression that still speaks to me today.
Grandma Kocher left her mark in many ways. Her first husband, my grandfather Chester Sheldon, taught school in Prosser, Washington in the late 1920s. One of our family heirlooms is a photo of him with his students lined up on the schoolhouse steps. Two of the children have x’s penciled above their heads, my aunt and uncle. Years later Grandma deepened the x’s with a ballpoint pen.
We also found Grandma’s marks on used envelopes, receipts, paper bags, and in the margins of ancient Grit newspapers. It seemed whenever she found enough white space she’d fill it with verse, sharpening her pencil stub with a dull kitchen knife. She added a poem to her recipe for making soap which attests to its ability to remove dirt from most anything—the last sentence pointing the way to Jesus for cleansing from sin.
Until I searched through her Bible, I didn’t know she’d marked it so much. This surprised me. Grandma was careful with her possessions, a habit she learned from living decades with scarcity. She saved everything, clipping zippers and buttons from worn out clothing to store for later use. Empty, hand-washed peanut butter jars lined the shelf on her back porch. One of the few toys she had in the house was a plastic surprise from a cereal box, which we played with for years. As much as Grandma loved God and learning, it’s incredible that she would add wear and tear to her beloved Bible.
But now I understand. I, too, study the most wonderful of books, applying what it’s saying to my heart, underscoring the parts I most want to remember.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
Did Grandma know that her Bible would be appreciated by others after she was gone? Probably not. I do know that I never felt more closely related to her than when I pored through her Bible, seeing which scriptures she dwelt on the most, finding a love note and a photo of my father.
Here are her thoughts in her own words (taped on an opening page):
I know the precious old Bible is just about outworn. For many words are dimmed, and many pages are torn.
But to me ’tis very precious. It came from friends most dear; when days seemed dark and cheerless, has bro’t me hope and cheer.
God says to read his word, to store it in the heart. Then thro’ life’s long journey He never shall from us part.
So I thank God for my Bible, and for the dear class friends who presented this Book to me. We shall be reunited when this present world shall end.
Ina E. Kocher
Grandma’s Bible is also full of unreadable scrawlings, dimmed with age like the x’s in the school picture. She wrote new notes over the top of them, always learning, probing for understanding. There are tears encircling the book, probably from being bound by a rubber band to hold in its detached pages and other treasures. Her last picture taken with Grandpa is one of them. She wrote on the back, “Sam and Ina Kocher. Our last one taken together, in 1972. It is very precious to me.”
It’s sad to think of pages and photos deteriorating, Grandma’s story lost from memory. But her legacy lives on, not of paper and leather, pencil and ink. It lies in the words she hungered for, giving her strength to live as she did, leaving marks in my life that will not fade.