Five Seven

img022Five Seven. An unforgettable date. We may not remember Three Twenty-Three (her birthday). I don’t even know her wedding date (the year was 1945). But this day, oh I know Five Seven. The calendar starts fomenting emotions around the third or fourth.

I revisit my last goodbye as I trotted towards the car, facing forward out the front door, head turned on the final step as I sing-songed my farewell: ♪♫♪ Bye Mom! ♪♫♪  I see my father waiting for me at the edge of the school grounds, and I hear the deadly quiet when we entered the house.

Last night when I read about Kara Tippett’s family’s first event without her I burst into sobs. Have you followed Kara’s story? Her shimmering grace, her honest struggle, her big love. I look at her kids and I know a small piece of their story. The oldest girl, who will mother her siblings the rest of her life. The girl and boy in the middle whose grief might get overlooked, who will consider their dad’s cares. The youngest girl, the focus of concern for all, the girl who turned six this week.

Although Five Seven can never be the second Sunday in May, it is always in the suburbs of Mother’s Day. Sorrow scoots over and makes room for gratitude. For too many, the grief of Mother’s Day is the ache of having had a mom who couldn’t or wouldn’t, but clearly didn’t express love and kindness. Their focus is on breaking the chain of affliction, expunging the critical words, watching others to figure out how to be a good mom.

I learned the goodness and kindness of God through Mom. Sure, she taught us and corrected us; but she sang while she laundered, she cheerfully plowed through sandwich-making every school day morning, she wrapped her long arms around us, she prayed. What didn’t she do? She never gossiped, she didn’t complain, she didn’t worry, she didn’t fear. Sometimes she sighed, and I know she groaned. But she lived a simple, authentic life, a small life really, that influenced many for good. And she loved me, this I know. To know your mom’s love is a gift of unfathomable magnitude.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

Nellie Arlene Stover Harper
3/23/1920 — 5/7/1968

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Someone You Love Will Get Cancer

Or have a heart attack.  Or a stroke.  Someday one of us will be diagnosed. 

I’m not trying to bring in the new year with doom and gloom.  I’m not instilling fear. The point is, we need to prepare our minds before the crisis

We used to listen occasionally to James Montgomery Boice preach, late Sunday nights as we lay in bed in the dark.  His voice was deeper than the ocean and full of gravel.  That voice! I honestly pictured a huge black man like James Earl Jones.  The first time I saw a picture of Boice I about choked.  He was as white bread as could be!  Where did that voice come from?
  
Curt and I will never forget hearing Pastor James Montgomery Boice’s announcement that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer in 2000.  We were driving in the car and I can remember reaching over to turn up the volume of the radio.  I can see the very farm we passed on our right when I heard these words. 

Boice’s response has been my model–the definitive practical application of the sovereignty of God. Over the years I have searched (and found) the text of his talk.  I’m writing this post so I have a quick way to find it when it is needed. 

The entire text is here.

A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is, pray for what? Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition. A miracle has to be an unusual thing. […]

If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things I would stress. One is the sovereignty of God. That’s not novel. We have talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by. […]

Everything he [God] does is good. And what Romans 12, verses1 and 2, says is that we have the opportunity by the renewal of our minds—that is, how we think about these things—actually to prove what God’s will is. And then it says, “His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Is that good, pleasing, and perfect to God? Yes, of course, but the point of it is that it’s good, pleasing, and perfect to us. If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you’d change it, you’d make it worse. It wouldn’t be as good. So that’s the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?

Boice died a little more than a month after he said these words.  Wow.  Thank you, Lord God, for your servant, James Montgomery Boice.

Please pray for my friend Sonya who mentioned in the comments that her husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

Related post:  After the Diagnosis