Thursday, July 25, 2013

What will you gain, when you lose?

There is a commercial on TV for Special K cereal that asks "What will you gain, when you lose?".  The ad is talking about weight loss, but the phrase has been stuck in my head.  There is a lot of truth in that statement.  Sometimes when we lose something, what we gain is so much more or so much better than what we lost.  In the process, the losing is sometimes not fun.  I have recently experienced gaining some things after losing weight.  I've gained things like more energy, better results on my yearly blood work, and simply feeling better.  Those are certainly important and very real physical things, but today I've been thinking about the emotional and spiritual things. 

Okay... I confess... I started writing this blog post last night, but just couldn't finish it.  And this morning, I know why.    Last night I had a dream about my mom.  In the dream, I was sitting at a dining room table, drinking coffee with my mom and her Aunt Ann.   We were just talking and laughing.  It was such a wonderful dream.  This morning as I was thinking about this dream, I realized that one of the most amazing things my mom "gained" after she "lost" her mother, was Aunt Ann. 

This picture is actually from my mom's "scrapbook" photo album.  You can see her handwriting on the picture.  My guess is that this was taken when my mom was about 18 years old.  I never got to sit around a table and talk and laugh with Aunt Ann.  I have only very sketchy memories of Aunt Ann.  She died when I was two.   But the story is about Yahweh's provision, in the most terrible circumstances.  It is about the blessing and joy that can come out of a very bad thing.
Aunt Anna Toensing was my grandfather's sister.  She was three years older than my grandfather and never married.  When my grandfather moved his family from North Dakota to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1916, they lived with Aunt Ann.  My grandmother (Nora Toensing) was very sick.  The doctor's really didn't know what was wrong with her.  My grandfather hoped that, in the city, the doctors could help his wife.  They had 4 small girls that needed their mother.  Sadly, there was nothing that the doctors could do to save Nora.  She died in April of 1917.  The listed cause of death was Tuberculosis.  However, the family knew that she did not have TB.  (In the 1970's my mother received a letter from one of her aunts that told the story of what actually happened to Nora.  She had hit her back during a fall down the stairs and most likely fractured a rib.  She developed a large lump at that site and gradually got sicker and sicker and then died.  We assume that she developed a perforated lung that got infected and led to sepsis. But no one knows for sure).  Because of the fear of TB the government required that anyone exposed to TB was to be quarantined - and children were taken to an orphanage.  My grandfather wanted none of this.  He was determined to keep his family together and made plans to leave St. Paul immediately.  So his sister, Aunt Ann, agreed to go with him to care for the children and the household.  My mother was not yet 2 years old.  Her sisters were 4, 6 and 8 years old.  Isn't it amazing how Yahweh provided for my mother?   She was able to grow up with her family.  Aunt Ann was an amazing cook and seamstress.  As a matter of fact, her job in St. Paul was at a furrier making beaver and mink coats.  While life wasn't always easy for this family, my mom recounted many happy childhood memories.  Can you imagine being a "single dad" in 1917???  This just didn't happen.  Most times the children were separated and placed with various family members.  It was all part of God's plan that Anna was willing and able to step in and fill the spot left by Nora's death.  It was Aunt Ann that helped my grandfather start churches in the various small communities in which they settled.  While on a mission trip, Gwen and I actually saw the church building started by my grandfather, in Bemidji, Minnesota.  Aunt Ann was always having the visiting missionaries and pastors over for Sunday dinner. My mom recalled many happy times during the yearly "camp meetings" held outdoors, when Aunt Ann provided much of the food.  Hearing these stories help me to see and understand the gift of hospitality and service that flowed from Aunt Ann.   So, in spite of the great loss of her mother, my mom gained a wonderful relationship with her Aunt Anna - and also was provided with a substitute mother and was able to remain with her dad and sisters.  
I have determined that looking back on my family has been such a blessing to me.  It is allowing me to really SEE and KNOW how Yahweh has been blessing my family over the years.  This has been such a growth thing for me.  I have gained so much from writing this blog.  Jesus has been speaking to me and explaining some deep spiritual truths in ways that make them so clear. 
Thank you Yahweh for your great plan, your destiny for me and my family.  Thank you Jesus that you have a plan and purpose for each individual that reads this message.  You desire to bless us and prosper us, even when we can't see it in the natural. Jesus, help us all to see the "gain" in periods of "loss".  Keep our eyes on You when things are hard.   You are in the process of putting spiritual blessings into our lives.  Thank you for reminding me of my roots and all the seeds that you have sown into my life.  Thank you for my children and grandchildren, who will continue to be blessed by these seeds sown in the past.  Amen.

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