Ruth’s Song

(Grateful and proud of the adult, woman, mom my daughter Ruth has become! Tomorrow is her birthday)

Like Hannah in the Bible promised long ago
If she could only have a child, she’d give him to the Lord,
I prayed that God would give to us a baby girl to love
And promised we would care for her and teacher her about His love…

So God, in love, looked down on us and brought you to our lives.
I’ve thanked Him ever day since then and I’ll thank him all my life.
I pray that you will know Him too as your Savior and your friend,
Because, little Ruth, Jesus loves you with a love that has no end.

Lord, I give to you this child that you have given me —
Please help me mold and shape her into what she’s meant to be.
Keep her safe throughout each day-keep her in your tender care.
No matter what may happen, let her know you’re always there!

Teresa Norman May 1986

Hand Lotion in the Afternoon

(My mother has been gone for three years now, but as mother’s day approaches tomorrow, I am reflecting on her strength at living her whole life with mental health challenges in a society and a time where those were often neither talked about nor treated effectively. One of the times she was hospitalized, a nurse explained to me that there was nothing we could have done that would have made it easier. She said it was a biochemical malfunction and she cycled between episodes too quickly and unpredictably for medication to have been effective. I will always be grateful to that nurse.)

Tired hands
Dry from weeks in a hospital
In a coma
Heavily medicated
Restrained…
Life and death fight for preeminence
Life wins
Her eyes open
As I am rubbing lotion on those hands….
Instead of words of assault, criticism or disgust
She speaks coherent words
Words of appreciation:
“for angels like me….”
She’s back, and she is aware
Wondering what happened
Wondering where she was for “all those years”
(in a coma six weeks but “gone” so long before that)…
A new stage in her life begins
One where, for brief periods
She does not fight the universe and all that’s in it
Brief periods where we talk
Only God knows why, for her
Normal was never an option
Grateful she came back
No matter how short the time.

Teresa Norman Nov 2019

Pajama Feet

It’s 3 a.m., here she comes again –
That little sleepy head is sneaking in my bed.
“I want you, Mom.” That was all she said
As she snuggled up as close as she could get to me.

“Rock me, hold me, cozy me, ” her favorite words…
Her thumb pulled out just long enough to say,
I need to know you love me – that I’m special to.
She says it in her very special way…

Little one, the day is going to come
When times like this are but a distant memory
So for tonight, I’ll hold you close to me
So thankful that you’re here and everything’s alright.

Lullaby for My Unborn Child (Poem)

Written for my unborn child….1/25/1984

My child, God loves you as a father
You are the clay-He is the potter. (Is 64:8)
You are the work of His hands–
Let Him shape you as He has planned. (Jer 18:3-6)

He knew you even before He formed you. (Ps 139:13-14)
Before you were created, He called you.
He set you apart,
He had it planned from the start.
It is for His pleasure that you were formed. (Rev 4:12)

He even numbered the hairs on your head. (Matt. 10:30)
All your days are written down in His book. (Ps. 139:16)
His angels have charge o’er you (Ps 91:11)
To keep you each day.
Surely He who sees the tiny sparrow fall (Mt 10:29)
Will help you find your way. (Ps 37:23-24)

(This was written while I was pregnant with my son, and I’ve prayed it over his life for years now. But recently, God reminded me this is how He feels about each of us every day, even when we don’t feel too lovable or valuable or successful or….fill in the blank with your favorite self-accusation. Grateful for His love.)

Like Water for the Thirsty (Poem)

Lord, you know there’s times I’ve tried to run
But now I come to give You thanks for all You’ve done.
I don’t know why it is I couldn’t see before
That the hands that were reaching out to me were Yours.

I guess that sometimes pride gets in the way—
We turn aside to try to hide the pain.
So much is lost I know You gave Your life to gain,
So now I come to give thanks in Your name.

Now when my little girls ask how to see You,
How can they really know that You’re around.
You’ve given me an answer I can share with them—
They can see You in Your people—
That’s where You’re found.

Thank You, Lord, for all You’ve done.
You gave me friends that brought me hope again.
Their kindness and their mercy
Were like water to the thirsty.
I’ve seen You in my friends
And I thank You, Lord.

Teresa Norman 1988

A Practical Savior (poem)

A Practical Savior
As Jesus hung on the cross
Son of God and son of a woman
Bearing the weight of our sins
He looked at his mom. He saw her.
She, who knew before anyone
That he was not an ordinary child;
Knew he would not be an ordinary man.
She who nurtured him, taught him,
Sang over him, prayed for him
And followed him, could not be left alone.
He told her John would be a son to her
He told John she would be a mother to him…
John took her into his home.
It mattered enough that even as He died for the world,
He took care of the practical needs of a Jewish mamma
Not to be left alone.

Teresa Norman 2020
(thoughts on John 19:25-27 from The Passion Translation)

A tribute to my mother (reposted poem)

You taught me the power of words-
You made me a poet.
You taught me compassion-
To see and to love those who are in pain.
You taught me to value diversity-
Helped me understand how it felt to be different.
You taught me the value of community-
Helped me learn to notice the lonely and left out.
You taught me to love mercy-
To treat people how I wanted to be treated.
You taught me to love my children-
To value who God made them as individuals.
You taught me to listen with my heart-
To hear the wounds of others that were hard to express.
You taught me that you don’t always
Get to choose how the lessons come
But to keep my heart open to God
And try not to miss them.
You taught me to value humility-
And to seek to do justice.
You helped me learn to look for the “jewels in the ashes”
and light in the darkest of places.

 

(Today or tomorrow may be her last day….she was exhausted, sick and in pain this afternoon but knew we were there).  The call where I was asked to confirm it was OK to give her morphine, avatar and just keep her comfortable and let her failing heart fail came today……praying you find peace, Mom.

Afterflash (a poem)

No longer helpless, unloved or alone—
A woman with choices.
Redeemed to the bone.
I’ve come through the fire-
Felt the heat of the flame.
But I am God’s daughter,
Called by His holy name.

Empowered by His Spirit
By grace I can stand,
My face towards the future
Fulfilling His plan.
A channel of mercy,
A bearer of light
Redeemed by His goodness-
I will not fear the night.

The God of creation
Walks each day by my side.
I will trust in His mercy-
There is nothing to hide.
Though chaos surround me
And angry winds roar
I am safe, I am strengthened
For He is my Lord.

The Lamb is a Lion,
The servant, a King.
He is my shelter.
Of His grace I will sing.
He will lead me and guide me-
I have nothing to fear.
Jesus is victor.
He loves me…He’s here!

5/21/93

You Never Quit Being A Mom….(poem)

For my unborn child….1/25/1984

My child, God loves you as a father
You are the clay-He is the potter.
You are the work of His hands–
Let Him shape you as He has planned.

He knew you even before He formed you.
Before you were created He called you.
He’s set you apart,
He’s had it planned from the start.
It is for His pleasure that you were formed.

He even numbered the hairs on your head.
All your days are written down in His book.
His angels have charge o’er you
To keep you each day.
Surely He who sees each sparrow fall
Will help you find your way….

(there’s scripture to back up each line and thought of this prayer, written a long time ago…so grateful that God does not forget His promises, and that He helps Moms remember them on days we need hope)

Betrayal and Job’s Friends (poem)

One of my favorite relatives sent me a message last night that it was her cousin whose ex-husband  killed her at a church in Federal Way this week.  A mom with three little kids….a big loving extended family in SO much pain….what can you say?

If one of the lessons in the Book of Job means anything, it might best to not say too much.  Not think there is an answer to why, or what it means, or how this could happen.   Job’s friends came to “comfort” him and ended up making him feel worse.  They talked too much.  Said things they had no right to say.  In the end of the story, God toasted them for misrepresenting His heart.  The only time they really did Job any good was when they sat in the ashes with him as he grieved.  There is a lesson there about presumption and talking way too much….there is a time to talk and a time to listen.

Years ago, I was present at court while a young friend told of her step-dad’s crimes against her humanity. Going home from that experience, I was struck silent by the depth of his betrayal of her and of her mother.  As a person of faith, I wanted to encourage, but words seemed so USELESS!  This poem was the result…..

The Betrayal

The night is dark and stormy
There’s a cold wind in my soul
Seems like I’ve been torn apart
And never will be whole.

The suffocating weight that rests
Upon my broken heart
Holds me in my silence–
Lord, when will the healing start?

I cast about in frantic hope
That there might somehow be
Someone who can reach out
To break these chains and set me free.

But who can know the torment?
Who can really comprehend
Unless they too have been betrayed
By lover or by friend?

As I cower in desperation
And in fear of what shall be,
A picture comes to mind
I know that You have given me…

I see you hanging on a cross
In agony betrayed,
Naked, torn and bleeding
So from sin we can be saved.

The one who lived and walked with You,
With whom You shared Your soul
Was the person who betrayed You—
All my agony You know!

©Teresa Norman 1988

Baby dedications

A couple of weeks ago, there were two baby dedications/baptisms at church, and I was surprised how spun out I got watching this.  I always love those moments, watching people make public the commitment that they will seek to raise this precious child to know God.  SO important!  But watching this from the perspective of  being brand new grandma, it impacted me at a whole new level.

The first thing I noticed this morning, was that the mom and dad and cute little bundle didn’t have any family present for this event.  There could be many reasons for that (work schedules, living in a different city or continent, family issues, not Christian….and many others), but my mind and heart contrasted that to some of the other times where we have seen the podium filling up with grandmas and grandmas who have come long distances to witness this moment.  It made me sad for the parents (whether appropriately or not), and made me take it very seriously as a member of the church who would be saying, “Yes, we stand beside you and pray for you and are so glad you are choosing to walk the path of faith as a family.”

It also took me back to when we dedicated our children, and I never realized til then, our families were not with us.  Mine wouldn’t have come (our church at the time was too “expressive” for them), and my husband’s family was not familiar with why we would be doing this in the first place.  It was our church we were counting on at that point to help us learn to do this amazing privilege of raising our kids, surviving new parenthood, and teaching them to know God.  There were some amazing “adopted” grandparents in our church who were there for me in ways I want to be there for our grandson.

This service made me rejoice, but also made me incredibly sad for those who do not choose to be part of a faith community,  and therefore, do not have this incredible resource of potentially mentoring, praying, supportive people to draw from. (Ya, I know sometimes a church is a little like granola-you get fruit in with it, but also some nuts).  If they are not in a church, it made me very conscious of how much young parents need their family to walk in faith around them, to spend time loving, giving, listening and praying….

As a grateful new mom, a long time ago, I wrote this poem for our first daughter…

“Like Hannah in the Bible promised long ago
If she could only have a child, she’d given him to the Lord.
I prayed that God would give to us a baby girl to love
And I promised we would care for her and teach her that He is good.

Lord, I give to you this child that you have given me.
Please help me mold and shape her into what she’s supposed to be.
Keep her safe throughout each day-keep her in your tender care.
No matter what may happen, let her know You’re always there.

So God, in love looked down on us and brought you to our lives.
I’ve thanked Him everyday since then.  I’ll thank Him all my life.
I pray that you will know Him too as your shepherd and your friend,
Because, little one, Jesus loves you, with a love that will not end.”

*******************************************************************

PS  It also made me very grateful that even though the church I grew up in had some very toxic people running rampant over the lives of children, God’s Word can still take root in a young life willing to trust Him.  A child hearing that God loves them, has a plan for their life, and has a purpose bigger than the valley full of shadows they may live in, can still believe and find hope even when life is hard.  (Yes, circumstances for that child need to change, but God is unchanging).

A tribute to my Mom (poem)

You taught me the power of words-
You made me a poet.
You taught me compassion-
To see and to love those who are in pain.
You taught me to value diversity-
Helped me understand how it felt to be different.
You taught me the value of community-
Helped me learn to notice the lonely and left out.
You taught me to love mercy-
To treat people how I wanted to be treated.
You taught me to love my children-
To value who God made them as individuals.
You taught me to listen with my heart-
To hear the wounds of others that were hard to express.
You taught me that you don’t always
Get to choose how the lessons come
But to keep my heart open to God
And try not to miss them.
You taught me to value humility-
And to seek to do justice.
You helped me learn to look for the “jewels in the ashes”
and light in the darkest of places.

Today, I am grateful you’re still with us.
Out of CCU, still on the journey.
I love you, Mom.

Struggling towards the light (poem)

You never learned how to swim
But in my dream, I see you trying hard
Fighting your way towards the light.
Swimming for all you’re worth
Trying to get back to the surface
Of this somewhat murky pond.

Never realized how hard it was-
What effort it took to focus on the task
To collect the necessary resources
To be present for just a moment….

You’d be there for a while
But like a timer going off,
You’d be gone again
Decorating beautiful fantasy dwellings
(Which, sadly, only you could see and appreciate).
I’m sorry i was impatient.
I didn’t understand.

If you make it back to the surface,
I’ll try harder. Be more patient.
Visit more often,
I love you.
Be at peace.

It’s Not Your Fault….

When kids are little, and all hell breaks loose, it’s developmentally normal to think whatever just happened is their fault.  There’s all kinds of twists that journey can take….”Daddy wouldn’t xxxx if you weren’t a bad girl”….”Mommy wouldn’t xxx if you did/didn’t xxxxx“…  A powerful burden some kids carry in silence, trying to keep things together so the world doesn’t fall apart.  Sometimes acting out, other times acting like angels….

I was 30 years old when I heard the speaker say: “It wasn’t your fault-and, you didn’t deserve it.”  They spoke  to the kids/adults who kept asking themselves why; what they could have done different; what they did to deserve “it”.   I never realized before how I’d stuffed/packaged it, but I guess I always figured if I  tried harder, worked smarter, believed better, didn’t need anything , wasn’t a bother….it would have been different.  My logical/rational/non-emotion admitting side, resonated with it.  But  the hidden, reserved, removed, guarded part of me, fell on my face before God and tearfully said “Thank you.”  The questions remained as to why some things in life had been the way they were, but I could start letting go of thinking it was because I was defective or insufficient or had failed to measure up to the task.  

Today, in the CCU, an angel in a nurse’s uniform gave me an explanation I didn’t think I would ever receive in this lifetime.  She explained about the “elephant  in our living room,” that had lived there undiagnosed and nameless for so long.   It’s an illness- a biological/physiological malfunction.  There is no medication or treatment that would have controlled it for long.  The changing cycles were too rapid.  It wasn’t our fault, but it wasn’t hers either.  It’s just the way it was.  Nothing has changed, but everything is different, understanding that she really couldn’t help it.

Today, I give thanks, and explain to my kids how grateful I am they have learned to live with grace and tolerance and love a somewhat challenging person who has loved them the best she could.

When it’s all been said and done….

At the end of your life, what’s gonna matter?  I had quite a few hours to think about that one yesterday as I sat by my Mom’s bedside and held her hand, tried to keep her calm, and listened to her talk.  Her monologue made more sense than usual-was less combative and demanding, occasionally, even kind.  My sister-in-law commented on the different than usual theme in Mom’s monologue: yesterday, Mom seemed to value her family.  It’s not always like that, so for us, it was a gift.    She was able to admit wanting to die, and being scared.   Up close and personal real emotions, not the things she would normally have expressed.  She was grateful for a hand to hold, and to not be alone.

Today, she’s still hanging in there. Doctors say it could get better slowly or worse quickly.  So for today, I’ll be grateful for being present for that one day when it seemed she was present too, being able to be there for her.