When your cup of sacrifice feels like it’s overflowing


Sometimes it seems like your cup of sacrifice is overflowing. You want to hold your hand tightly over the cup, never mind that it’s spilling down your arm. You want to say, “When….when……enough already! Those who are caregivers, feel this. They live it daily. I see it. Everyday I see a daughter’s love overflow in terms of sacrifice. In terms of love that hurts.

I see the Walgreen’s bag and I think all these thoughts. I think that most people don’t know the backstory, but God does. He always does. I take the Lay’s potato chips and the Snickers and the coke and put them in their places until her next visit to her Mom in Room 8.

I see that bag and think of all it represents…….I think of about 100 bags just like that over the past two years since her Mom has been in the Alzheimer’s facility and I think of all the in-between years leading up to it. A best friend knows.

The back story. We all have one. Hers was a difficult childhood. I guess you could say that her Mom was pretty much emotionally and many times physically not available. Chicken-scratch poor and married at 17, she was ill-equipped for parenting. She says, “Mom did the best she knew how.” But when best is sorely lacking you grow up with some scars.

You see, her Mom didn’t deal in emotion. You learn early not to cry, to stifle emotion when you’re told “Crying never solves anything.” So you bury, and submerge, and try harder to not mess up, since everything you do is watched with a critical eye and nothing you do ever seems to measure up.

When all the good you do is passed over and the one mistake is brought out into the limelight, you learn to keep trying for that golden ticket of praise that never comes.

But that didn’t put a damper on the bright spark of your personality. Living with a mean brother meant there was always chaos. Yelling and screaming were the norm. It was a fight or flight existence. So you went out and got to know all the neighbors. Did their lawns almost from the time you could walk.

And all along, you dreamed of somewhere quiet, somewhere safe. A refuge to call your own.

Later in life you stepped in front of your older brother when he thought it was okay to start beating his wife and kids, and even his own Mother. You took the blows for that, then your Mom got mad because she couldn’t understand why you didn’t want to pick him up from jail.

When you were 17, before you graduated, they left for overseas and didn’t come back for 13 years. You took care of the bills and the house and the yard, and then got kicked out when your Mom said you had to make way for abusive brother and new wife to move in. After all, he had a family.

You moved into the condo they left trashed and then he had the nerve to ask for rent.

And then there was the money your folks borrowed for the house you both lived in, the settlement money from the terrible accident that broke your back. After the house was sold you never saw that money.

For years you walked around with all that past, until the day you went to that river and held it under along with a lot of other things. You finally found that quiet place of peace in the person of Jesus. Your Mom was there and your Dad too, wondering why anyone would be crazy enough to be baptized in a river. But they were there.

All these years later, I watch you give your Mom back her dignity day after day. You replace incorrectly matched shoes, and 2 extra pair of underwear. You cut her hair and nails.

You learned a long time ago that the best way to heal is by making peace with the past.

Please know this. This post of mine is by no means meant to downgrade or disrespect your Mom, in fact, the opposite is true. For in light of everything else, there is one very important thing which she did incredibly right. She had you.

She had you even when they recommended an abortion. She had you, even though she was sick and they gave her those terrible drugs, even with all the risk,  she still said yes to having you, to giving you life. And for that, I will be eternally grateful; for that she gets my praise.

As your best friend for 26 years now, I stand in awe and amazement at how you have lived your life all these years. How you have lived out your faith by taking care of your family and putting yourself last too many times to count.

I watched as you sacrificed by taking a lower paying job so you could be nearer your Mom and have more time to take care of her. You took that job and made it into a ministry of love for the kids you drive to school every day.

So this is for you Elaine, because you never give yourself credit, I will. It’s what best friends are for.

I dedicate this post to sacrifice in all its many forms. We have a duty, those of us who write, to tell the back stories. All those who died 14 years ago today had back stories too, and we must keep those stories alive for their children and grandchildren and all of us who remain. And to Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price so that we all might live.

Why it’s good to remember………


As I left this morning in the dark, I straightened my flag out and remembered. That day 13 years ago. Frozen in front of the TV, incredulous; watching the news in disbelief. I remember my Mom calling and weeping on the phone. And now I am in disbelief again that so many years have flown by…..It doesn’t seem possible.

As I walked into work I passed the security guard who was raising the American flag which I thought looked a little dingy. It would have been nice to see a bright splash of red, white and blue against the sky. It felt like such an ordinary day…….too ordinary. I guess that day started out pretty ordinary too. And that’s not a bad thing.

That’s what makes this all so significant. If 9/11 were to teach us anything, it is that each day holds within itself a wonderful capacity for complete normalcy and utter disaster. So we need to embrace the normal for what it is.

Ordinary life tinged with the miraculous.

In and around and through, each little insignificant moment of every day there is a thread of wonder. The thing we usually don’t realize though, is how fast it can all be taken away. I know, I’ve been there. I am one who stood at the edge of the great wide gulf of grief, wondering what I could have done differently, wondering how I would ever make my way to the other side.

We’ve all had loss, we’ve all had our times of wishing we could reel back all those little moments and see them for the small miracles they were. How clear it all seems from a distance.

Now I do my best to live in the moment. I don’t always succeed, but I am better at it than I used to be.

Set aside all the other lessons we could have learned that day 13 years ago. And set aside all the things we could be doing right now to prevent it from happening again.

The thing that matters most is that we live life with our eyes and hearts wide open. Knowing that each and every day we walk on Holy ground, and that person you wake up to? Ride that bus with? Work next to in that cubicle? They all have lives, hopes, dreams that matter to them. They all started out with a spark of Godness.

Tonight when you go home, go and sit beside the one you love, hold their hand and look into their eyes and ask them, really ask them how their day went. And then really listen. Who cares if they ask if you are alright. Thank God you still have them.

And in your reflection today, remember the ordinary heroes who died that day and the ones who tried to save them.

And everyday, remember the One who died to save you, for without Him nothing is possible.

With Him, everything is.