Wednesday, June 08, 2011

In Memory of My Mom

Eight years ago today I was sitting in my grandma's living room looking at my mother's life less body with tears flowing down my cheeks. Watching her body be removed from the house was almost unbearable. My brother, who was barely out of high school at the time, spoke confidently even though his voice was tight and quivering as he choked back his own tears. He reminded me that what we were witnessing was an answer to our prayers.
For years we had prayed that my mom would come to know Jesus Christ as her Savior. We shared the gospel with her many times. She knew she was a sinner. She never denied that she had made mistakes in life. But like all of us, at some point in our lives, she was unable or unwilling to put her faith in Christ. She tried many times to better her life, to become a "good" person. I remember times in which she called me with questions because she felt like God was speaking to her, but didn't know how to respond. I would share with her that we in our human nature are not capable of being "good." We are sinners. We deserve death and punishment, separation from God. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace sent his son Jesus to pay for our punishment. He took our place on the cross and died for each one of our sins. We need to put our faith in Jesus and trust HIM to take away our sin and surrender our lives to Him. As it is for most believers, it was difficult for my mom to place her faith in Christ. She was living her own life and it wasn't the kind of life that honored God. So we prayed. For years, we prayed. I wish I can say I always responded the right way, always showed her the love of God, always remained patient. But I didn't. I'm a sinner too.
Then God chose to bring other Christians into my mom's life to share their faith. Her neighbor was a young man named Shawn. I still remember my mom saying to me, "Kelly! This guy talks just like you! He keeps sharing with me and I'm starting to understand." I met Shawn, and sure enough, he was a follower of Christ. God used him more than he probably knows. A lady from my church, Nancy, also spent a great deal of time talking and sharing with my mom. One of my c0-workers, Belinda met with her and our pastor's wife, Norma, also ministered to her. God used all of these people, and others, to show my mom His love for her. She was starting to realize that her three kids were not religious nuts. We simply had a relationship with Jesus that anyone can have. And more and more she met people who she admired and respected who also have this same relationship with Christ.
In November of 2002 cancer was found in my mom's liver. Had this tumor not been removed she would have not lived to see Christmas. Since it was removed, her quantity of life was extended but we knew that this cancer was still going to take her life in just a matter of months. My mom was a strong woman. She might be the hardest working woman I've ever met, and she never complained about hard work. She was in good physical shape and was very active. She loved animals and spent a lot of time racing with her horse. Unfortunately, cancer attacks people of all walks of life, including a young 45 year old, healthy woman like my mom.
While I hate cancer, I am thankful for what it did for my mom. Even she acknowledged that the disease drew her to God. He used her condition to soften her, to draw her to salvation. The cancer was also in her eye so she had a difficult time reading but I distinctly remember her wanting to hear the Bible read aloud. She wanted to listen to Christian music. She even wanted our pastor to visit with her and sing to her - none of these things are things she would have requested before cancer! She knew she was a sinner that made some serious mistakes. I was in awe as I learned of the number of people she called and met with to ask for their forgiveness. She wanted to make things right with those people she had wronged. She showed such humility. This was the grace of God, no doubt about it. This was the transforming power of Christ. My mom became a new person, just as the scriptures teach. Was she perfect? Of course not, none of us are. But she was growing. She was such an example to me in those last months of her life. She asked our pastor, Pastor Saunders to share the gospel at her funeral. She wanted all of her family and friends to hear that she had accepted Christ and to hear how they too could accept Him. She told me on multiple occasions that she wanted to share her faith with her family, but she just didn't know how. She didn't know what others would think or say. But she did want to share, she did want others to hear her story. And so by her request, her story was beautifully shared at her funeral.
The older I get the more I miss my mom, the more I admire her, the more I want to be like her, the more I wish I could just hear her voice and ask her questions. But for eight years I have remembered what my brother said as we stood by her bedside. We would rather her live a short life here and spend eternity in heaven then to live a long life here and die separated from God. So while her death was certainly my loss, it was her gain.

"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21
My mom was very athletic and she and my dad coached many of our teams together. Here I am with my parents. We lived in Arizona so I was at the most 10 years of age in this picture.

Kim, Jeff, me, Mom and Korey

She loved her animals! And she loved to race!

This picture was taken just a couple of months before she was diagnosed with cancer.

Mom and her horse Di.

Mom's last Christmas with us. Christmas 2002.

My mom (in the middle) with her two sisters

Mother's Day 2003, our last Mother's Day together. I'm so thankful Ben was able to meet my mom. He didn't know her for long but he often comments about the similarities between she and I. She passed away six weeks before our wedding day.

If you have any questions about my mom and her journey to coming to Christ, I'd love to share.


TwoMuths said...

Kelly, this is a beautiful tribute. I'm so happy your mom is in Heaven! What an awesome answer to prayer. I'm praying for you today as you remember and miss her.

Kelly Glupker said...

Thanks, Jenny. You think time makes the pain go away and in some ways it does. But today has been surprisingly difficult.

Janeen said...

Kelly, im praying for you today! I can only imagine how hard it is to not have your mom. I remember many times we prayed for her when we were roommates at Northland. Im so thankful she is in HEAVEN and I cant wait to meet her when we get there. Praying for you!

Ronda Edmunds said...

What an amazing story! As difficult as it is for you and your family, I am thankful for the work God did in your mom's life. Thanks for sharing. I know he will use this to reach others.