How do you make ripples with no splash? //My mother did it. She resisted attention. She loved being at home more than anything else. She did not want to be noticed. She never considered herself to be gifted at anything. No splash, but lots of ripples. 100’s of tributes ~ testimonies of lives impacted by her love, generosity, caring. My mother was a true servant, but always felt she received far more than she gave. She valued people over things. She loved stories of people. She was a model of faithful living, loving the Lord and loving others. No splash, but lots of ripples.
After my father died 25 years ago, she adopted Prov 21:7 as an expression of daily amazement: “you never know what a day will bring forth.” Hundreds of times I’d call and she’d say, ‘guess who stopped to visit’ or ‘guess who called’ or who she heard from. It was always about people. She didn’t care so much about a new thing or a good meal, although she was appreciative of that too, but her passion was people. You think you were the one blessed when you would visit or call my mother, but that isn’t how she thought ~~ you were a blessing to her.
She asked me dozens of times over the passed 25 years, “why do people care if I’m there,” “why do they fuss over me.” She was sincere. I gave a lot of answers, some silly, but I think my best answer was the last few months: “because they crave stability, in a crazy uncertain world people are blessed to be around content people. You have been a content person, a stable person.” Even in her failing days the last week she often asked why she was still here. I heard one of us answer at her bedside, maybe one more person needs to meet you.
Today a simple service for a wonderfully simple woman. 40 years ago today was her father’s funeral service (and Jed’s birthday ~~ how she loved her grandchildren) I’m not going to tell stories from her past (not many, shhh), she didn’t want it. You can invite me to your house and I’ll talk all day, but not in public. No open mic, she’s let me know that for decades, but feel free to tell me stories later…
The chronology of her story is not complex: born in Pasadena, her father was a pastor, moved to Seattle middle years of growing up, then grampa accepted a 2nd call to the Pasadena A.C. Church. Went to Aurora College. Met Dad. Married in 1949. honestly, I am not a perfect son, so let me sneak in a story of how she met my father. She was from the west and dad was from the east and they met in Illinois. My mother went to an evening service. The school band was playing including my father on the French horn. She was in the middle of a row of chairs with an empty seat next too her. After dad finished playing, he went to sit down and started making his way down her aisle and she wondered what he was doing. Then he stopped and sat down beside her. And the way my mother told the story, she thought to herself, “oh my.” …
When it was time to move from Aurora several churches extended invitations, including Sumas. Mom remembered trips from Seattle as a girl to visit the Canadian relatives. Her father was Canadian by birth (shout out to Canadian relatives online) . She remembered going through Sumas. She told dad, Sumas seemed nice, so they came and never left.
A significant hardship in 1960 shaped mom’s life, a month or so after I was born: Polio. Only as an adult do I appreciate the strength of my mother. To us kids, she was who she was: walking with a limp, her shoes wore uneven, problem feet. That meant dad took us hiking, played physical games, not mom, but she did some things, the canoe trip to Bowren Lakes, family camps to Sand Point on the Peninsula. I say wow.
In 1961 the people of the church gave a special gift to Mom & Dad, they filled out the good flatware. I have the card, signed by many people of my childhood, most gone, probably more than half buried here… the card reads after the printed verse, “sincerely and with Christian love from the members of your congregation who have received more in spiritual guidance and Christian fellowship, as well as community leadership than we can ever repay.” Guess what. You did repay. My parents would tell you they received far more from all of you than they ever begin to give… you, past and present, were the blessings nobody deserves.
My father was a great man. He made a big splash through his tireless acts of service, community involvement, a one man food bank, chaplain to all…[he liked making a splash] IMHO, only one person I know greater than my father: my mother. She made ripples without the splash. And the ripples turned to waves. My mother was there day in and day out, loving us, watching tv, hanging out. No splash, but my mothers ripples became waves… She filled in where needed. She never thought of herself as a singer but she sang for countless weddings and funerals because Dad volunteered her. She never thought of herself as a teacher, but she taught the beginners for over 50 years. I have read hundreds of notes the past few days… thank you…. One man wrote, “I was one person changed by your mother.” The teachings of faith made an eternal impact, and the love she gave was life changing.
In the 80’s and into the 90’s my mother joined my father to lead the Jet Cadets children’s group. My father taught the lessons, led the singing, took the kids on activities. A splash. But over the years as I’ve run into those that went through the program what I hear more than anything else, “I remember the apple sauce.” That was my mother. She quietly made the apple sauce and that’s how she loved the kids. And she was so thankful to the kids for eating it up because that meant she found a way not to waste all the apples my father would pick and drag home. With my mother it was always a mutual blessing. Mom was a servant that felt like the most blessed person on the planet because of you.
My mother was not complex. She was the same person in her home and with family that she was with people in the community. That’s called integrity. I think I’m the only person on the planet that made their mother the happiest by NOT buying her anything on her birthday or Mothers day. “Don’t get me anything” we were told every year forever. I obeyed. I told Sally when we were married that she’d have to accept me as the world’s worst present buyer and it was my mother’s fault. My sisters and brother were far more likely to get her something. So figure that out: she was happiest with me for forgetting her birthday. She appreciated gifts, she was amazed at just about anything… yet she was equally as thankful when no attention came her way.
One more story I’m not supposed to tell... Dad had a Saturday night wedding and afterward agreed to return the white tuxedo to the shop on Monday. Dad decided to try it on, after all, it’s free. It fit. Dad told mom he was going to wear the white tux to Sunday evening Church. Mom told Dad, if you do that, I’m not going. So Dad wore it and Mom didn’t go. One of my parents liked to make a splash and the other did not.
My mother was a saint. the most common word I read to describe my mother from people’s very kind notes the past few days: “sweet.” I’ll add content, wise, loving, generous…She was most at home in her home. But her home included the church and being involved in a 1000 things. She knew everyone for decades at the Senior Center, too, so that was a safe place for her. She cherished the few overseas trips she took with Dad to Egypt, Turkey, and Israel, the Holy Land. She grew up with the conservative standards of the day of not dancing, playing cards, or going to movies. She lived those values her whole life, yet she came to realize they were random standards and not really a measure of faith, so she never imposed those priorities on us kids. There is a lesson in that…
My mother was the best. My first teacher in Sunday School. Love all of us unconditionally. She was proud of my father’s extroverted desires but loved being that behind the scenes person. She was content. She was smart. Funny. A few days before she died the hospice nurse took her blood pressure and said it was good. My mother, very ready to die, corrected the nurse, “oh, that’s not good news.”
My mother’s story is simple, did not move a lot, loved her home, her friends, children, grandchildren, greats…content, supportive, encouraging. What really shined about my mother is the strength of her character. That’s where the word “sweet” comes in. That’s why many people love and appreciated her because she was solid, faithful, a listening ear, fill in where needed. No splash, but she made ripples that turned into waves.
Devotional: For years she told me she wanted a devotional at her funeral based on the Fruit of the Spirit. READ. How fitting is that. Who we are is far more important than what we do. I believe God’s will for our lives is not as much about what we do as it is who we are as we navigate through this old world. Our character is the message and the method of living for Christ, to grow more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.
The last month Mom modified what she want me to say at her graveside: “Tell them to love another”. Love is really the essence of the fruit of the spirit: love is the first and the rest are expressions of love. Let me tell you as clearly as I can the message my mother lived and she wants to pass on to you: love one another. Amen!
At the end of the love chapter, 1 Cor. 13, the scripture reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” We all know that we cannot take any earthly possessions with us into eternal life… our wealth, our status is of little consequence. But what do we have in heaven that is also on earth? We don’t need faith in heaven because we will be living the fullness of life in Christ, same for hope because the future promise will be a reality. But love is different. As we love one another, as we listen to others, as we are mutually blessed by one another, as we serve others, which are all expressions of love, the same love will continue in the world to come. To love one another on this earth, is a glimpse of the greater perfect love we will live in eternity with Jesus Christ.
Promises of God:
We are called to live on this earth with hope. Our hope is based on the resurrection: 1 Peter 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
We are to live with confidence: Job 19:25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. ~~ Psalm 49:15: But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.
We are to live like Christ today because we know what is coming: Phil. 3:10-11: I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
The resurrection means what is coming will be better than anything we have ever known: Phil. 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
When Jesus comes again he will raise the dead: 1 Thessalonians 4:14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
The Resurrection is the basis for salvation: Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Eternal life is a pain free promise: Isaiah 25:8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.