She’s About Much More Than Red, Raspberry Jelly and Rings!

YIKES! Perhaps this should’ve been included in my book Lily Pads. Oh, well, the good news is I remembered writing it awhile back, tried to locate it today and finally found it! PHEW! Yes, it was composed a few years ago, but  I’ve tweaked it some and wanted to post it today because Mother’s Day soon appraoches. Dear reader, it’s a bit long, longer than a typical blog post, I hope you don’t mind. I wanted to dedicate this to my mom because she’s the best! (I hope it will encourage you about your mother as well.)

…Today is a day of celebration and joy, yet it is a hard day too… I was in my friend’s home, she was seated in the living room corner, her laptop open, as she worked to write her mother’s eulogy. What a special and precious gift a mother is. Oh, boy! How difficult it is for a daughter to put into  brief words the impact a mother has made. I thought.

“You had such a special mother, you know?” I commented. Immediately I thought of my own mother. She has always gone by her middle name, Lorraine.  I watched as my friend typed the eulogy and struggled with the desired brevity. What would I say to an audience standing before me about my mom? The question played in my mind over and over, as if I pressed a repeat button. So what would I say about my mom? Well, my mom is still very much alive and I’m truly thankful. This is not a eulogy, rather a sweet remembrance of my mama and my growing up years.

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Hmm? Think Rachel. What over arching thing is true of Lorraine?  Easy.  My mom, Lorraine loves! Oh, maybe it is not so easy to pinpoint because my mom serves too!  I thought. It’s like a chicken and egg thing for me. She loves and she serves. She serves as a way to show her love.

My Mom, Lorraine loves her family. She has loved us through her servant’s heart consistently. I never really put it altogether or fully appreciated her when I was young. But as a mom, I now know how important it is to love and care for your family in simple, ordinary and practical ways. My mother did all the cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping, ironing, laundry, washing of dishes -because we never owned a dishwasher, she even sewed many of my clothes as a young girl. (see below)IMG_3297

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She made matching outfits for all of us. My three older sisters Barb, Sharon, Joyce and me. I have this, humdinger of a photograph, of my mother and all four of her girls modeling our newly sewn, matching dresses. (It may have been for Easter). The dresses were all the same pattern and fabric, light baby blue with polkadots. (Black and white does NOT do this baby justice!)  We all posed beside her in descending height and birth order. (I’m the baby on the end. I’m naturally distracted AND it is clearly too bright for my sister Joyce’s liking!) My mom smiled proudly in her new dress. She was probably wearing high heels to top it off. Man, she was stylin’! And… she loves.

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Lorraine loves! She loves flowers and has beautifully colorful gardens on every side of the house. Plus, for decades she also tended a large, vegetable garden. I recall stooping down between the rows of lush, green leaves, feet carefully positioned on the soil, to pick the green beans or sugar snap peas with her. Her hands were skillful and quick, mine rather small and clumsy. Raspberry bushes lined our backyard’s perimeter.

These red, raspberries have been the fruit for hundreds of jars of my mom’s homemade jelly and jam, each jar as sweet as she.  The hands that have selected which red, ripe berries to pick, have also rinsed, mashed, boiled, stirred and strained them through a screen. Her servant’s hands have also boiled the canning jars, extracted each hot, dripping jar carefully with tongs, placed them upside down on a tea towel to dry, melted paraffin wax and filled each jar first with the mouth-watering liquid’s, fruity delight.

Each jar she then topped with the hot wax, metal seal secured with a tightened ring. Finally, every lid is then crowned with a paper label, written with her personal script and taped to the top. I have grown to love the labels too. They are personal, handwritten, not mass-produced.  The same hands that made the jelly, hand delivered each jar with love.  Yep! She loves!

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The grateful recipients of these jars of jelly are her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. We all love my mom’s delicious jelly and are spoiled because of it.  None of us likes store-bought jelly. I only buy it when the supply of “Grandma’s homemade jelly” runs out. When this had occurred, I’d hear something like this exclaimed from our kitchen. One or any of my children, whose head was first deeply inserted inside the refrigerator glancing, then frantically searching, was lastly flung outside the refrigerator, with hand still on its handle. “What? Are we all out of Grandma’s yummy jelly? Mom, do we have any more in the cabinet or downstairs?” they’d ask. I’m positive the appreciation for the jelly will never equal the love that goes into each jar’s contents. She loves!

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I remember learning how to do many things while living under my parent’s roof, but most of my needs were met until I left home. Because my mom did so much! My mom not only cooked, cleaned, cared for her beautiful flowers and vegetable gardens, but she was my chief taxi driver too. She ran me all over town both places near and far.  She’d be the taxi for my guitar lessons in the neighborhood, she’d drop off and pick up. Then came winter basketball practices and spring track practices at the junior high. YEP! Drop off and pick up. She’d pick me up at friends’ houses for other gatherings, parties and after sleepovers.  Drop off and pick up. My mom would debrief with me as we rode home. She was a practical servant. She loves and she serves!

I fondly recall “Heggen family nights,” during which we made homemade pizzas. I’d helped knead the dough or topped pizzas with ingredients. I liked to place on the green olives. Even now, over forty years later, I can still picture the yellow box of Chef Boy Ardee dough mix on the grocery store’s shelf and in the cupboard at home, it is fondly familiar. One other sweet memory which snaps me back to my formative years included how easily our aluminum, rectangular cookie sheets were transformed each Friday night into portable trays offering piping hot homemade pizzas, accompanied by chilled RC Cola drunk from glass bottles. We would get to eat pizza in the basement and watch TV together, it was delightful!

We’d sit on home-made furniture, designed by my dad, with foam cushioned seats sewn by my mother, eating, drinking and watching TV. The Brady Bunch being my personal  Friday night favorite.  A bit later in the evening mom would deliver hot popcorn in the round metal, roaster pan, topped with salt. We’d drink Kool-Aid from plastic multi-colored Tupperware tumblers, served atop a, now an antique, green floral tin tray. She loves and she serves.

I picture my mom mostly in the kitchen. When I walked home from elementary school, she’d either stand, with the door opened to greet me or be found there. I feel really blessed to write that. I loved knowing she was there for me and always present. We would talk casually about the day’s happenings as she stirred batter, wiped her hands on her apron, or stood at her mixer adding things to its big glass bowl while I rapidly rattled on and on about who knows what. I’m sure she was mixing her famous flat, golden brown, homemade chocolate chip cookies or blonde brownies. If not those, then chewy cinnamon snicker doodles or monster cookies, ALL of them my favorites. Golly! I still love cookies!  

Lorraine worked magic when she baked homemade cinnamon rolls with caramel topping that was buttery, sticky and perfectly chewy, a wonderful memory of my winter Iowa mornings.  As a young girl, I remember often my mother would make a meal and take it to a family in need. She knew who was unable to leave home and who couldn’t come to church activities.  So she would bring folks a meal and I would be in the car as she dropped them off. What an excellent example of servant hood my mother has been.  She loves and she serves!

I also remember my mom hosting “circle.”  What that means I don’t really know. Women from the church would come to our home and sit in a circle, I guess? From time to time she’d host it. The women would pray together or do a Bible study and eat. Mom served yummy, grownup dessert and had a large punchbowl with glass cups that suspended from it. She also had rectangular glass dishes that she used for “circle” meetings, family gatherings or special events held at our house, like bridal and baby showers. My mother has given each of us four girls part of her set to use as our own.

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I had a group of my friends from Bible study over to my house, so I used my mom’s plates. A few of the women commented, “Oh, Rachel these are so lovely! Of course you would have these beautiful dishes to use. Some were sort of teasing me for having fancy stuff. I just chuckled because my mom used them often, not just for special occasions. She used them, the way we use disposable dishes. I didn’t let the ribbing bother me, I was excited to pull them from my lower cabinet, wash and dry them because they brought back a vivid memory of my mom’s true hospitality, because she cared for other people in a way to make them feel special. She serves! She loves!

As a young girl, I remember my mom praying over me often. In multiple circumstances and situations.  She’d always pray after placing a cool, moist, folded washcloth on my brow when fever consumed my body.  I recall her gentle touch as she would rub my tiny, bony chest with Vicks VapoRub to relieve my terrible croupy cough or chest cold. She would haul a portable steamer into my room at night.  She’d bring warm, wet wash cloths for me early in the morning when I had eye boogers that mattered so that the lids were sealed completely shut. Perhaps it was pink eye? These are some tender memories of my servant mom. Serving and loving me. She would bring me to Jesus while being Jesus to me.  He came not to be served, but to serve. She followed His example. I hope I follow them both.

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I know I take after my mom in this.  I observed my mom changing her clothes frequently for all sorts of reasons and occasions throughout the day. I do too. For example, I wear only work out clothes and tennis shoes when I’m going on a walk or exercising.  However, I do not wear the same outfit to the grocery store. Instead, I will change my clothes before going to the store. I will wear something different if I’m going to lunch with ladies or if I’m headed to church. My mom changed often too.

I vividly remember her in the garden wearing culottes which is like a one piece suit including combination of both top and shorts that are like a skort. She’d wear those while gardening but change into something different for running errands. She would change into beautiful skirts with high heels when she headed out the door for church.

I also remember my mother’s beautiful beehive hairdo. She would go to the beauty parlor to get her hair done every couple of weeks. Anyway, she would return with this huge stack of teased or ratted hair piled high upon the top of her head, the beehive. To lengthen the duration of the trends beauty, and preserve its style she would wrap her entire head in toilet paper every night before bedtime. I guess laying her head directly on the pillow would be a disaster and ruin her investment. So she wrapped it just like a mummy. She also had little pieces of pink semi-sticky tape that was made specifically for taping down side curls to her cheekbone area. That was long ago. Now she is crowned with a head full of wisdom and white/grey hair.

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I love jewelry!  I remember loving to look at my mom’s necklaces as they hung inside her bedroom doorway or the rings that she had in her small jewelry box. To this day I love to adorn myself with jewelry and bling. As I leave the house I don’t feel dressed if I’m not making some jingling noise.  I feel naked without jewelry.  If I am on my way to a meeting or an event and I look down and don’t have rings or bracelets or earrings on. My family laughs at me because I’ve often gasped, “Oh, no! I forgot earrings!” No worries, I now keep an emergency set in my purse, a neutral silver necklace and earrings just in case. RINGS! Bring them on!  At least three on my right hand.

Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments?” ( NO, I cry!) “Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.” 

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I vividly remember my mom’s topaz large ring that she wore often. The setting is so artistic, chunky, lovely. My mom and I both have topaz as our birthstones, born in November. I’ve always liked having my birthday month be the same as my mom’s. Even when I got married, my mom would visit around both of our November birthdays to celebrate together.

Okay, back to rings: I remember that my mother used to speak to people on the telephone, at the conclusion of her conversation she would usually say,” Okay, sure, yeah. I will give you a ring later. Bye” My mom is a very honest and righteous woman, but as a little kid I remember being disturbed at the end of these calls. It bugged me because I never ever witnessed her give anyone a ring. Sometimes I would wonder if my mom was giving people rings, but not when I was around.  I remember thinking, I’ve never seen my mom give that woman a ring? Took me a while to understand that means a telephone call…she would “ring” their number!fullsizeoutput_ae91

My mother, Lorraine was a great example of a woman who understood hospitality, she cared for her family and her neighbors as well. I recall going to visit neighbors or bringing food items to them. We’d often go to Mary’s house, she lived next door as we grew up. Mary died when my kid’s were young, but even with them along we would go visit, Mary.  Mary had four kids also and had MS. Her later years made it difficult for her to get around.  Her house had a big front deck that had a wrap around ramp exit so she could leave in her wheelchair if needed. We would go visit Mary and chat with her. Sometimes by ourselves when my kids were young sometimes with my mom too because she loves and she serves.

My mom has tried so hard to keep things fair for all four of her girls. I’ve chuckled thinking why did she do this? For example, while growing up she would say something like this, “Joyce got to go on a ski trip to Minnesota, so you get to have guitar lessons this year. I never understood those comments or why she made them. Until years later, she told me a story about when I was very young. Earlier that day she had been shopping and had purchased my sisters all shoes.

Apparently, that evening as she was putting me to bed and tucking me in, I looked up at her with my  sorrowful brown eyes and asked or made this comment, “ I didn’t get any little red shoes!”  That must’ve pierced my mother’s heart because to this day she tries so desperately to be fair and equitable.

In all of my years I have never truly felt neglected slighted or disadvantaged in any way shape or form. My mother has loved me fully. My mother has loved Barb, Sharon and Joyce also.  The only way I can think that it has NOT been fair is that she has tailored her love in the way that we have each needed it. I think that is truly the sign of a great mother. Precious Lorraine has been my encourager, she has been my prayer warrior, she has been my companion and she has been my example. I am so grateful for her in my life. She is a good and perfect gift from God.

Another vivid memory I have is my mother praying and writing in spiral notebooks. Even still when she comes to visit here in Milwaukee, she will have these spiral binders along with her. These binders contain all of her notes of the things that she prays about and all the people for whom she prays. These are personal things about me, my husband, my children, all of my sisters, their kids, plus information about missionaries from around the world, people at church, and people whom my parents support financially and through prayer all over the world.

These prayer binders no longer have crisp covers, but are well-worn from use and are held together and wrapped with brown rubber bands. She has prayed and prayed to the only God who hears and answers. This life long example has been a huge testimony to me. She loves, she serves and she prays.  She is a good and perfect gift to me!

My mom has also been an example of a very submissive and caring wife. She is from the generation who totally serves her husband. My mom waits on my dad like he is a customer in the local diner. If he wants a plate, she gets it. If he wants toast with peanut butter spread on it, she gets it.  If he wants a little bit of hot cocoa only half a cup in a ceramic mug, she gets it. If my dad requests a little bit of margarine and some peanuts with a salt shaker, she’d gather all of those items and set them before him and calmly say. “Here you go Richard.” Until my father retired, which was many years ago now, I don’t think he knew where any food items or plates, bowls, pans or cooking utensil were located. She delights to be his helpmate.

Other memories:  not in any particular order:

  • my mom singing at church- she loves to lift her voice to her Savior and King, Jesus!
  • getting into it-tapping her hand on the pew in front of her in worship.
  • her high-pitched ,sorprano voice, joyfully exclaiming from memory hymns like: Bringing in the Sheaves, Showers of Blessing, Trust and Obey, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder and He Lives.

 

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Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Well, that is me. I had to stand to type these last sentences because I am proudly, willingly and with great honor standing up for my sweet mom, Joyce Lorraine, I rise and call you blessed!

James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I’m grateful for the good and perfect gift of my mom, Lorraine Heggen, who loves and serves and prays. She’s about so much more than red, raspberry jelly and rings!

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Dear reader…What is a sweet memory you have of your mother? Share one or two with us. Whether your mother is still living or not, I’d suggest you thank God for her and for the memeories you have of time spent together. Such a gift – a good a perfect gift!

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I noticed her immediately, seated alone in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying in. She was a beautiful woman talking on her iPhone, her voice was smooth a silk, her blonde corkscrew afro spouted like gorgeous wheat from her head. This beauty wore cute zebra print leggings and a loose sweatshirt. Michael […]

via When You’ve Lost It All — rachel inouye

When You’ve Lost It All

I noticed her immediately, seated alone in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying in. She was a beautiful woman talking on her iPhone, her voice was smooth a silk, her blonde corkscrew hair spouted like gorgeous wheat from her head. This beauty wore cute zebra print leggings and a loose sweatshirt. Michael and I were visiting the Nashville area last weekend for a wedding and stayed in Murfreesboro. We started eating our breakfast at the small table beside hers and after she finished her phone conversation, I struck up one with her.

“So are you from around here or are you just visiting,” I asked.

“No, I’m actually from Atlanta. We’ve moved up here recently for work.” She continued, “But just last week there was a fire at our apartment and we lost everything. So we are lodging here temporarily ”

“Oh, my!” I responded.

She continued. “When they told us there was a fire three doors down, we didn’t think it was going to be such a big thing but the fire ran across the attic and they didn’t realize it until the roof went up in flames. People were yelling, ‘there’s a fire get out!’ We never got to go back in.  The only thing we have left is what we walked out with.  Luckily, I grabbed my car keys!”

While she was describing the event of losing it all, I couldn’t help but notice her countenance.  She wasn’t troubled, defeated, depressed or even angry. She spoke  a bit about her son’s recent birthday. He had valuable gift cards in his wallet.  “Gone!” She continued, “Everything will need to be replaced, but I don’t even know what all we had! So I’ve been on the phone asking people who have been to our apartment to send me pictures they’ve taken. I’ve asked them, ‘Remember the time you took that picture and posted it on  Facebook…Can you send it to me? I’ll need to see the things in the background so I can have them replaced one day through my insurance.'”

Then she recalled this request from her kids, when they first moved to Tennessee, she chuckled and told me they’d asked, “Hey, Mama can we get new beds?”

I told them, “Maybe one day.”

Then she lowered her chin, looked me in the eye with the sparkle she had in hers, tilted her head and said through laughter, “Well, now we’re all getting new beds!”

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(Photo Credit: Tyler Armstrong)

I remember she calmly testified about God’s goodness and people’s tangible care:

  • Folks from the church they had just begun to attend gave them helpful cash gifts.
  • The same group from her church, gave them a Walmart gift card.
  • The Red Cross were the first responders and took care of  all the members of the apartment complex so well.

Even when she spoke about losing everything, she kept repeating, “BUT God’s good!’ What struck me was she would say it when she mentioned the loss and when mentioning  any care, generosity, or provision. You see, it’s because God is good all the time.

This woman had nothing to testify other than,”God is good!” I asked if I could pray for her and we immediately bowed in prayer there in our breakfast seats. I thanked God for her life, her safety, her family and spoke His favor over her and declared how His goodness and mercy would follow her all the days of her life.

I sat and reflected on how she lost everything! Everything? No, not everything. You see, she had NOT lost her great attitude or her thankful heart. That could not be taken, stolen or even burned away. She is a beautiful, grateful woman who testifies to God’s goodness in the midst of hard things. She spoke only of God’s goodness in the hard things which truly ministered to me. I asked her if I could blog about her story and she said, “Sure!”

The following morning we saw one another again. We both milled around the breakfast area. It was bustling with multiple morning travelers, long-term dwellers and even a sports team all dressed in jerseys ready for their upcoming morning competition.  We smiled at one another then struck up a brief conversation. She mentioned , “My children are excited to read your blog.”

I darted to my car, quickly snatched a copy of  my book Lily Pads- Stories of God on Display and dashed back inside the hotel before she vanished. As I handed it to her I thanked her for telling me of the ways she had seen God on display in her own life.  I quickly sat back down, “I want to dedicate this book to you, will you please spell your name for me?” I asked.

Sure, It’s Ulanda, U L A N D A, Ulanda!” She declared.  I wrote a dedication and signed it quickly.

She smiled, “Thank you so much.” she said.

When I think of Ulanda I will think about how she is a beautiful woman who lives out one of my favorite verses. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT.  “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Ulanda lives this out, even when she seemed to lose everything, she didn’t loose her good attitude, joyful heart, the willingness to pray nor her ability to be thankful in all circumstances.  Let’s all pray for these displaced people and live out the above verse, what have we got to lose?

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*photos from the article in the paper about the apartment complex fire in Murfreesboro.