Holy Ground

Many of you follow me on Instagram for which I’m very grateful. You’ve seen in the last year several photos of my mom and me; the most recent was four days before her departure from us to her Home on February 5, 2020. I’ve been very preoccupied in the last six weeks with caring for her as much as I could.  Gratefully God gave me many days with her. 

In the days since her last breath I remained present in my brothers lives both in person and via email, text and calls as we planned two services to both honor my mom and her wonderful life and to bring hope to our combined 15 children plus spouses and 26 grandchildren who were greats to my mom. We felt eagerness and urgency to turn their eyes to Jesus. Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting for this is the end of all mankind, and the living take it to heart,” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

My mother was as fallen as we all are. She had her doubts, her faults, her guilt-tripping, her fears, but she believed in Jesus from an early age, got my father going to church again and kept all of us there regularly without fail until we were on our own. And then she and my dad continued to attend and invest in God’s people in their small town. 

For her memorial I wrote a poem to share a peek into our lives, to honor her legacy and to point those in attendance to Jesus. I’d like to share it with you, my friends. In addition, I’ve added below the words of my sweet husband who really loved my mom, calling her the kindest person he ever knew. You might want to read what he wrote if you are or will be one day a mother-in-law.

We fixed the pillows
tucked her in
“are you warm enough?”
“Yes.”

Then,
“I want a drink of water.”
The pink sippy cup
in my hand, to her lips,
she swallowed a few sips.

I prayed for her,
requested from God above
restorative sleep, peaceful dreams, abated pain.

Like so many times with my kids,
I thought for tonight we were finished,
it was way past her bedtime already.

But her soft voice interrupted my intentions …
“A song?”
“Sure. What would you like?”
Eyes closed … two words … “don’t know.”
“How about Dad’s favorite?”
“Yes.”

We sang, my sister-in-law and me,
It Is Well With My Soul;
neither have singing voices,
but it was lovely enough
for my sweet mom.

I walked from her room,
asking in my heart,
“I don’t understand, Lord, why …
why must she suffer such indecencies,
endure discomfort, multiplied pains,
swelling, nausea;
becoming a child again
almost completely dependent … again?”

No answer.
I will trust Him.

Mom has become small.
Jesus blessed smallness
told all adults to become like children
pronounced humility the path to greatness
to honor in His kingdom.

My Ashley spent the night with her one night.
Mom loved it, loved not being alone,
so every night after, someone was present
on the little pallet we made
with memory foam and quilts
next to her bed.

Her confinement
our steady presence to serve every need
produced precious … holy … moments
as we went near heaven’s doorway with her.

Not all moments were sad.

One day she fussed that my shoes were too loud
on the old yellow pine floors.
On another she demanded with feisty authority
“bring your conversations in here”
her greatest desire was being with … us.

Sounds like my Emmanuel.
Jesus came here to be near me always
to be near mom forever.

On the morning of her departure
she asked me, “where is everyone?”
It was 5 am.
I was sitting on the side of her bed
hoping to soothe, calm her,
her body was shutting down and everything hurt
every fiber deprived of nourishment and water.

Who was everyone I wondered,
then realized she meant her family.
So many had come to be near one more time.
Why weren’t they all here … now?
“They are all sleeping,” I said.
Her eyes closed.

That day, like many before,
she had talked in disjointed phrases,
but with a steady theme,
“God, please take me Home
I’m ready.”

Now we who are left
wonder at her invisible-to-us transformation.
She is gone from our sight
but more alive than ever because she believed in Jesus.

Calvin Miller wrote,
Living is a temporary art,
dying is getting dressed for God.
Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

We stood there on holy ground.
Still … today … we are standing on holy ground
because He is always near.

A Tribute from Dennis:

Grandma Peterson/Mom/Jean

I have no idea what it’s like for a mom to give her “only” daughter away to a young man, but I do know that it couldn’t have been easy…at least,  I’m sure I didn’t make it easy on you. But I want you to know that you sure made it easy for Barbara and me to start our journey together more than 43 years ago and I want to express my profound admiration, appreciation, and affection as you celebrate your 90th.

You make this tribute a privilege and easy to write.  Read Dennis’s tribute here.

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27 thoughts on “Holy Ground”

  1. Barbara, my sincere condolences to you and your family. I came across your blog on Facebook and was mesmerized by your DIY candles. As I then read this post, I was so profoundly moved by your beautiful God-given words. My mom is getting closer to her day of departure. But praise the Lord that she has a relationship with our Lord, Jesus. We know that absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and He always gives us the peace that surpasses all understanding. May our Lord continue to strengthen you and your family as you go through these difficult times. God bless you.

  2. Barbara, I am so sorry to hear of the tremendous loss of your precious mom. God blessed us both with mom’s who loved the Lord and us. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you walk through this year of firsts. I’m praising the Lord along with you that your precious mom is now safely home in the arms of her beloved Savior!

    1. Thanks you Laurie!
      Kind of you to reply and fun to see your name in my inbox!
      I miss my mom of course. Heaven is richer for sure.
      Hope you and Rob are doing well.
      Barbara

  3. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. It somehow brings us close, even though we’ve never met. I appreciate the love you have for your Mom, even now, with your compassionate and kind words spoken from a daughter’s heart. God Bless you and your family.
    Joan

  4. Loved this. I just love when we get pictures of what the end is to look like. It gives me a better idea about what my parents and what I will experience someday. Thank you for this tribute and for the honesty.

  5. Thank you for sharing! How amazing to be dear as she was ushered into the presence of the Almighty! No more tears, pain or suffering. In your pain, there is such great hope visible. Much love and peace to you and your family. May God be your comfort as only He can in these times.

  6. Rebecca Allender

    Dearest Barbara,
    Thank you for giving us a glimpse of this holy time with your mother’s final days and passing. Thank you for your poem which allowed tears to fall. I loved reading about her and seeing the family photos with the church in the background.
    I will be praying for you during this grieving period.
    Love,
    Becky Allender

  7. Love and prayers to you all. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” is what our pastor said at my Mom’s home going. Such a precious tribute to your Mom, thank you for sharing with us.

  8. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts about your mom. She seems like a lovely mom who loved her family. I will be praying for you and your family.

  9. So sorry for your loss, Barbara. Thanking God for the hope we have in Him. I can relate so much to this beautiful poem as we just sat with my husband’s 95 year old grandmother, yesterday while she is waiting to go be with Jesus any day now. Saying a prayer for you and your family.

  10. Dear Barbara,
    I’m so sorry your mother’s presence is no longer on earth – but also rejoice with you that she is in heaven – waiting to reunite with her family. Your tribute to her is lovely – such heart-felt, encouraging words drawing our eyes up to glimpse heaven. Dennis’ tribute spoke volumes – and is such a great exhortation to all of us who have mother-in-law as part of our identity. Your mom is an enduring example of what we all hope to grow into.
    Much love and prayers,
    Nancy

  11. Dear Barbara,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your poem was lovely and reduced me to tears. We had lovely services at church yesterday and that song was one that we sang. It is Well with my Soul. Many could not sing for choking back tears of emotion. I pray in the coming days that you sense Gods presence and that blest assurance.

    Lori

  12. Dear Barbara and family, so sorry for your loss here on earth but so blessed with your poem and sharing expressing reality and precious hope. You resemble your beautiful Mother so much. My husband and I have been listening to you and Dennis for many years on Family Life. Thank you both for giving of yourselves in so many ways. May you all experience God’s comfort and love.

  13. My sincere condolences to you and your family on the loss of your Mom. It is very comforting to know that you will see her again eternally. God’s loving peace and comfort to you and your family.

  14. What a wonderful tribute to your mom- yes you were on holy ground! We had the privilege of caring for my father in law in his last days in our home and I count it as such a holy time, though it was very hard.
    May you rest in the knowledge that she is healthy, whole and with her Savior-
    Much love and prayers for you and your family,
    Sue

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