Incredibly blessed

If someone were to ask me how I felt on mother’s day and the days leading up to Bennett’s birthday, I I would have to say incredibly blessed. The last few weeks a series of events has allowed me to feel Bennett’s presence in some very special ways and to very consciously feel God working in my life. I hesitate to write about it, because to anyone just reading these words and not experiencing it themselves this will be easily dismissed as a coincidence or just wishful thinking on the part of a grieving mother. But I know in my heart in a way that simply cannot be shared in words, at least not with the language we use on an everyday basis.

My mother was visiting us over mother’s day weekend. One thing I thought a lot about was that I was incredibly blessed to have a mom who truly loves me unconditionally. No matter how many times I am ungrateful, unloving, or royally screw up, my mom continues to love me beyond words. I really feel that there is absolutely nothing I could do that would change that.

The Saturday before Mother’s day I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. I dashed out of bed to get the phone. “Hello,” I said in a groggily voice. “Hello, I am calling on behalf of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope. I am happy to say that you have been selected for the National Tour of Hope Team.” Needless to say, I thought I was dreaming for a minute or two. In fact later that day, I was glad that I had taken notes from the conversation as proof that it actually happened. I was really surprised. By Friday night, I figured that since I had not received a call that I was not selected. The first thing my mom said when she heard the news was what a wonderful Mother’s Day present. Not for me, but for her, because she was so proud that I was selected. And I had to think; yes this is a great mother’s day present. And it probably helped make my first mother’s day without Bennett survivable.

All my skills, interests, and life experiences, really seem to have shaped me perfectly for being on the Tour of Hope team. It seems like a perfect synthesis of all my divergent parts. So really I should not be surprised that God is using me this way. While I feel honored to have been chosen, I am mostly excited about how God might use me in this leg of the journey! I feel incredibly blessed.

My first earnest training for the Tour of Hope started Thursday. I planned to do a long ride west of my house over the mountains and through a really beautiful valley towards State College, Pennsylvania. It really started early in the ride. Swallowtail butterflies kept popping up, and I thought how pleasant this is. Then as I climbed over the mountain, clusters of more than a dozen swallowtails would swirl up around me on the bike. They were everywhere, and each one was like a special gift reminding me of my love for Bennett. The feelings I had are very difficult to explain. I was elated. I was amazed. I felt incredibly blessed.

The Swallowtails visit John behind his workshop

Along with all these happy blissful moments, I also feel like I am at the edge of what I can handle personally with all my obligations and responsibilities. The monster called stress has been trying to creep back into my life. On several occasions, I have found myself simply praying, “God please surround me with your love because I don’t know how I can do all this.” And amazingly, I get a sign that Bennett is with me. The Canada geese started honking like crazy in the middle of the night while I was having a dream in which I was really stressed out. I woke up and knew that Bennett was with me and everything was okay. A few days later, I was racing to Bible Study on my bike because we lost the keys to one of our cars. I think I had a momentary stress attack, and I started crying. I turned the corner, and there in the middle of a pond was a Canada goose swimming alone. Every time, I start to feel sad or upset about something, either a butterfly or a Canada goose comes into my life. For those of you that do not understand the Canada goose connection, when Bennett died I predicted that Bennett would return to me often flying on the wings of a Canada goose. As he took his very last breath, a Canada goose honked overhead. I have this very vivid image of Bennett riding on the back of a Canada goose waving good-bye. And now when I see or hear a Canada goose, I stop what I am doing, smile, and say (sometimes yell), “I love you Bennett!”

The timing is working out suspiciously in tune with the rhythms of Bennett’s life and death. On Tuesday, May 18th (six months after Bennett’s death), Bennett would have turned 2 years old. I remember last year being so happy that we got out of the hospital after being in for a month, in time to celebrate and have a real 1st birthday party. Even then, I knew that there was a chance that it might be his only one, and I am so grateful now that we did have a birthday party.

Mostly, I am so happy that God loves me so much. I realized on Mother’s Day, as I considered how much my mother loves me. No matter how many times I am ungrateful, unloving, or royally screw up, God continues to love me beyond words too. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that some of us learn about unconditional love through our parents or our children. This is God’s gift to us so that we will have a glimpse of the love He has for us. He will always pick us up and kiss us when we have fallen. He will always give us what we need to get through anything we face. Through Him we can always have HOPE in a brighter tomorrow. This amazes me. I am living it. I am so absolutely aware of God’s love for me. And I feel so incredibly blessed.


“He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.” –Psalm 126:6

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” –Ephesians 5:13


“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” –Willie Nelson


Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for picking me up over and over again. Thank you for making your presence known. Thank you for giving me a loving mother. Thank you for giving me the chance to be a loving mother. Thank you for continuing to shine your light even in the darkest moments of my life so that I might always find my way into your loving arms! Amen


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