34.

23 years ago today my Mom, Mary Miller, died suddenly of a heart arrhythmia. She was 34 years old.

This Friday is my birthday. I will be turning 34.

I’m going to be very honest here and admit that I’m struggling with turning 34.  It has nothing to do with aging and I’m not one bit superstitious so the number itself doesn’t bother me. I guess what bothers me is the realization of how young my Mom was when she passed away. This realization sits with me differently at age 34 than it did at age 10.

I always knew she died young. I heard that comment from grown-ups over and over in the months after her death. I also knew it was such a sad thing that she left my Dad with two little children, ages 10 (6 days shy of 11) and 6. I was sad because I’d lost my Mom. My Dad, brother, and I grieved her loss and I could perceive, even as a young girl, that many people were brokenhearted for us. But now that I’m turning 34 I see her death through a different lens. The glass was never rosy, but it was somewhat tinted with the eyes of a child looking through it. Now I’m not a child….I have children of my own. I see the loss of my Mom through my own Mommy eyes. And it has changed my perception.

My Mommy eyes see things around my house now, like rubber darts stuck to light switches and Barbies in the refrigerator, and I realize that my own Mom missed seeing a lot of things. She missed my middle-school years, my AAU basketball games, shopping for my prom dress and planning my wedding. She didn’t get to see my Dad walk me down the aisle toward the most wonderful man. Boy, she would have loved my husband! And it’s so sad that her grandchildren will never meet her this side of Heaven. It makes these Mommy eyes cry at times…

But, as I’ve become one of those grown-ups who realizes how young 34 really is, I’ve wiped my eyes and often recalled a story my Dad told me once about my Mom. He told me that his beloved church secretary, who was like a mother to him, had passed away while my Mom was still living. I was aware, but oblivious at the time. My Dad, however, had been sad to lose this mentor and he had gone to visit her grave, depressed and grieving. He was having trouble moving past the grief. But he told me that my Mom looked at him and asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” She was quoting Scripture. Luke 24:5 to be exact. It’s the passage where after Christ’s death and burial the women go to Jesus’ tomb and when they arrive angels greet them and remind them that Christ said he would rise again! It reads:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

I like how it says in the last verse that then they remembered his words. Before that they had been so caught up in their grief that they didn’t remember Jesus’ promises. The angels helped give them perspective and helped them look for a living God.

I know my Mom is no longer living on this earth and she never will again. However, when I allow Christ to change my perspective I can remember that she is living in Heaven. She is happy and whole. She didn’t want my Dad to be overcome with grief and lose perspective on life when he lost his secretary. And I know that she most certainly wouldn’t want me to sit and mope often for her.

Yes, I do sometimes mope and there is no way to get around the fact that it’s heartbreaking. She missed so much. Yet I try to focus on what she did see and more importantly… WHO she is seeing now.

It makes my Mommy eyes sparkle along with the tears. It makes me want to embrace every day with my children and direct their eyes toward our loving and living Heavenly Father. I try to live by the motto: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I don’t know what my own future holds or what will come in my life but I want to enjoy this moment. Now. Today.

And when thinking about the future I want to be like the woman described in Proverbs 31:25 who is clothed with strength and dignity;” and  “can laugh at the days to come.” I say I want to because I certainly haven’t mastered it yet. You’d think that after having such a hands-on education about God’s provision and love in a worst-case scenario that I’d have graduated from this lesson already. But unfortunately I have to go over the notes again and again. God is living, active and unchanging. He has proven faithful in the worst and He’ll be faithful no matter what is to come. I study these thoughts often and feebly try to teach my own children these truths.

I miss my Mom. I wish I could talk to her now. Mom to Mom. Woman to Woman. But I don’t have the luxury. Instead I hear her echo the angels words in my mind. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Live life today, Christy. Yes, do remember the sorrow-because God uses all things for the good of His people and in sorrow we grow so much in our faith… but don’t stop there. Look to the Living God today… and live.

I am trying to look all around with those Mommy eyes. I see pigtails and peanut butter stained fingers. I see toys and shoes and crumbs on the floor. I see smiles and innocent sweet little eyes on my children’s faces. I see grace and blessings heaped upon the sorrow. I see now. And now I’m turning 34.

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11 thoughts on “34.

  1. Christy Engbrecht says:

    Wow, Christy. Loved your blog entry. So much truth and so much insight. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your heart. It was tender, moving and encouraging to me.

    Love to you and your sweet family,
    Christy Engbrecht

  2. Deanna says:

    Christy – that was wonderfully said! Thanks for sharing your heart. I am so happy that you are able to view the loss of your mom with such a great perspective. I’m also thankful that God blessed you with an earthly father who helped you learn to grieve through your loss. I’m also thankful that God blessed you with a second mom whom you have been able to share so many things with. God has honored your family because you have honored Him.

  3. Genna says:

    Christy, your post made me cry. God is certainly using you in ministry, both in the Church and in your family! Your kids are so lucky to have you as a mom! Miss you!

  4. pastorpatjones says:

    Christy, we vividly remember those days 23 years ago. In sweet innocence and wisdom you reflected your Mother then. And you reflect her even more today. In fact I see glimpses of her in you often. She would be so proud of the Mommy, wife and godly woman you are. And I agree, she would love that man of yours. We love and are so grateful for you guys and the wondrous ways you share life with us all.

  5. Becky says:

    Christy,
    Thank you for the reminder to live in the day. I wish I had known your mother. She would be so proud of the Godly woman and mother you are. She would have admired your strength and christian example.

  6. Jean says:

    Christy:
    What a beautiful tribute to your mom and the God who has sustained you through the years and continues to do so. May you enjoy a blessed birthday.

  7. Michelle says:

    Christy,

    I didn’t realize you lost your mother at such a young age! given you, I have to admit this brought a tear to my eye. What an inspiring story of strong faith in believers mourning the losses of loved ones. I’m sure turning 34 does have a much different meaning to you than most of us. Any mother would certainly be very touched by this beautiful tribute. I will pray that the Lord will Bless you and your family abundantly in your 34th year of life!! ❤

  8. Rhonda says:

    Christy, thank you for sharing your heart. Your mom was a very special and godly woman and you most definitely take after her in that respect!

  9. 2BlueEyes says:

    Reblogged this on Ten Blue Eyes and commented:

    In honor of Mother’s Day weekend, I am sharing this post from four years ago about the struggle I felt as I turned 34- the same age my mother was when she passed away.

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