This is picture is Henry Arnold Toesning (my grandfather) and Nora Henrietta Larson Toensing (my grandmother) and the darling little girl is my mom - Nona Etta Toensing Johnson. It was taken in 1916 when my mom was around a year old. This is the only picture my mom ever had of her with her mom. Nora died in early 1917 before my mom turned 2 years old. I love that my grandma is looking at my mom in this photo. Mother's day was always one of those days that mom would say, "I wish I had gotten to know my mom". In her later years, she talked so much about seeing her mom when she got to heaven.
Mother's day is like that....hard for many people. Those who want children and don't have them. Those who have lost their mothers. And those who have lost a child. My family certainly know that missing and loss.
This is Susie and Doug with Lucas Jacob, right after he was born. The joy and love in this photo was shaken when he died just 10 days later. And there were some really tough holidays for the next couple of years. I can't begin to imagine how hard Mothers Day and Fathers Day were for Doug and Susie. What I know is that in the midst of that loss, there was hope. And there was peace in knowing that Lucas was with Jesus.
This year, Doug and Susie are celebrating with baby Grace Rae. But that does not lessen the loss of Lucas. He will always be missed, cherished and loved.
Recently (and I know that I am really, really late for this) I read the book "The Shack". The movie of this book was released this spring and most all of my friends went to the movie - some several times. They strongly encouraged me to see this film. Several of them had read the book when it was first released. Some had never read the book. Gwen was in the exact position that I was. Never read the book and hadn't seen the movie. Her friends encouraged her to read the book. Within a day or two, she was telling me that I had to read the book!
Timing is always everything. I believe that I read this book at exactly the right time. If I had read it several years ago it might not have had the same impact on me as it did. As I was thinking of writing this blog, I knew that I needed to share what I experienced reading The Shack. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, my testimony will not effect your ;reading/viewing of it.
I had to put down my Kindle and stop reading after one very small line in one of the beginning chapters.....The Holy Spirit was collecting tears in a bottle. Tears being shed for a lost child. The verse that Susie and Doug chose for Lucas' funeral was Psalm 56:8 - "You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in a bottle. You have recorded every one in your book". Suddenly there was such reality to that verse. Reading the words in that book, being drawn into the story, it was if the Holy Spirit just touched me and said, "yes, I am doing that for you, for Susie and Doug and for all your family." It wasn't a past tense thing. This is an ongoing and forever thing. The tears we shed for Lucas, for what could have and should have been, for the ever present hole in our family, on Mother's Day or any day, are important and know by God. I found great comfort in that. As sometimes happens, I didn't even know how much I needed that comfort from the Great Comforter.
The second place that I got stopped in reading The Shack was a scene with the main character walking through a garden, talking with God. I immediately was back in a very long ago dream. My life - my walk with Jesus - really began with that dream. I was four years old but I remember that dream with great clarity. As a matter of fact, even today I can recall how I felt in that dream. It was really simple. I was walking with Jesus in a beautiful garden. It was more than my four year old brain could explain. There were flowers of every color and the trees were amazing. We were on a winding path. Jesus held my hand as we walked along. He told me who he was and that the Easter story was true. He told me that I should tell everyone that it was true. He had died on the cross, but he had risen from the dead and he was alive now in heaven. If I close my eyes I can still feel his hand holding mine. I have shared this dream many times. As I read the book, it was as if the author had stepped into my dream. I felt my heart begin to race as I read those pages. It put such a confirmation stamp on my spirit. My dream was real. Jesus is real. The Bible is true. I didn't even know that I needed that assurance, but I know now that I did.
If you have not read The Shack, I encourage you to read it. Or see the movie. I am anxious now to see it! I believe that it will touch every person who reads/sees it, with the exact message that they need. Ignore all the controversy over this book and movie. Just let Jesus speak to you through this.
So today, on this Mother's day, I can picture my mom with her mom in that beautiful garden. I am so thankful that I will see Lucas again. I will see my mom and finally meet my grandma. And there will be so many others. And it is all because of Jesus.
Thank you Jesus for sending the exact right messages to us, exactly when we need them. Thank you for pictures and memories. Thank you for new books and movies that share your story. Thank you for my children and grandchildren. Thank you for The Shack!