May 9, 2016

Can a woman forget her nursing child
and not have compassion on the son of her womb?

Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.”
Isaiah 49:15,16

In the past, each time I read this passage, I thought: “That’s a good example, but there’s NO WAY a mother can ever forget one of her children!” Being the mom of three, I considered “surely they may forget” an impossibility.

Then Mom’s Alzheimer’s worsened. Each time I visited her, she would ask who I was, and my introduction was always the same: “I’m Kath, your baby.” Questions always followed: “Are you married?…Who to?…Do you have children?” Then she’d repeat, “Who are you again?” and she would proceed to ask the same questions over and over.

As I saw Mom’s memory fade, this verse that Isaiah wrote centuries ago became very comforting to me. Realizing that she really did forget me, this passage became very real to me. I embraced the truth of it. “Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you in the palms of my hands.” Those nail scars that He has on the palms of His hands give me the assurance that He loves me with everlasting life, and He will never forget me.

It is comforting to know that our heavenly Father will never forget any one of His children, and I praise Him that we can rest in that truth.

(Join me every Monday on my quest to know God better)


May 11, 2012

Why 100 years? Because 100 years ago today, baby Helen was born to Mathias and Susan Pamer. Helen grew up to marry my Dad, and become known as “Mom” to my five siblings and myself (in that order).

Last evening I was talking with one of our daughter-in-laws, who is expecting her first baby – a girl – in August. Of course, as women do, we talked about pregnancies. I mentioned to her that I marvel that we never had all the tests, sonograms, vitamins, restrictions etc. twenty+ years ago, yet our kids had “normal” births. (Mind you that a “normal” birth for two of our three children took place in small rural towns in Argentina….making it all the more of a marvel, given the conditions.)

Since our conversation last evening, I’ve been thinking how prenatal care and childbearing have evolved in the past 100 years. My grandma probably never even heard of prenatal care. Like most farm women of her era, she probably kept on working from sun-up to sundown, washing clothes by hand, hauling water from the pumphouse, hoeing the garden, gathering eggs, baking bread and feeding the animals. She already had 2 little girls, tagging along and hanging onto her long skirt. Nothing about her life was easy or comfortable, and much less when it was time for the baby to be born; no running water, no electricity, no phone, no central heating or AC. No medical professionals; just the neighborhood midwife. Complications were common and often fatal 100 years ago. What a stark contrast to today’s conditions!

While childbearing circumstances changed so dramatically in 100 years, I realized that some things have not changed, and never will: a mother’s love for her child; the sacrifice a mother is willing to suffer for her child; the protection, provision and care she gives her offspring. Those things haven’t changed. Grandma was a godly woman, and I’m sure that she prayed often for each of her eight children, experiencing God’s peace in the realization that He loves them far more than she ever could. I’m positive that her prayers for baby Helen – and all her children – were the very same prayers that godly moms today offer on behalf of their own children – no matter how old they are!

One hundred years later…some things changed, but some things didn’t.


May 7, 2011

One of the last pictures of Mom and I

No doubt most Moms have a variety of favorite phrases and special bits of advice that are frequently repeated during their children’s growing-up years. These are “catchphrases”. According to Wikipedia, “A catchphrase (or catch-phrase) is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance.”…. . If we liked them or not, we heard Mom’s catchphrases often…and little did we realize that they would play an important part in molding us into who we are as adults, and be engrained in our memories forever.
In our case, Mom relied heavily on the wisdom of King Salomon, and repeated certain Proverbs so often that we almost knew beforehand which one she would shoot at us in any given situation. Here are a few of those Proverbs:
“He who diggeth a pit falleth in”…she knew very well that sometimes siblings can be very conniving!
“A soft answer turneth away wrath”…that one was a handy one with 6 kids in the house!
“Pride cometh before a fall”…all we can say to that one is “Ouch!”
Mom also had some other favorite catchphrases:
“Now say 10 nice things about him (or her)”…that was hard to do after complaining about someone!!
“Be good”…EVERY time we walked out the door.
It’s easy to serve the Lord when you’re not worried about getting the credit”…and Mom joyfully served Him till she was 90+ years old!
I can’t thank God enough for having given me a Mom who worked hard at reiterating her catchphrases, diligently instilling Biblical principles in my life through them….yet what I’m even more thankful for is that she not only repeated them, she lived them! Happy Mother’s Day!


July 17, 2010

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

According to www.dictionary.reference.com , REWARD is defined as “something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc.” We live in an age of REWARDS. Many of the big retailers have REWARD programs to recompense purchases made at their establishment. We see handwritten signs offering a REWARD for the person who finds a missing pet and returns it to its owner. Some employers REWARD certain employees for excellence in productivity or service. When our older grandson was being potty-trained, he got jelly beans or M&Ms for his REWARD when he was at our house. (or was that a bribe?…not sure about that one…)

ADRIEL - the reward I got on July 17, 1979

For a long time, I expected a REWARD for having raised three children to adulthood. I interpreted this Psalm to mean that somewhere, someday (probably when I’m very old) I would be rewarded. The loooooong pregnancies, hard labor and deliveries, sleepless nights, childhood illnesses, teen issues, uncertainties and countless prayers and tears on their behalf made me wonder, “When will I get the reward?” Sometimes I even wondered if I ever would…

Today, when I finally read the passage the way it was written, I realized that I was quite mistaken thinking that I would one day get a REWARD. I’m not a Bible scholar (officially), but I think my understanding was rearranged and God showed me a truth that I wish I would have known many years ago: the children themselves ARE THE REWARD! THEY ARE THE GIFT! THEY ARE PROOF OF GOD’S FAITHFULNESS and blessing when we place Him in the center of our home. I’m not waiting anymore to be rewarded sometime in the future. I have already been rewarded! Three times!

The second of my three rewards made his earthy appearance on July 17, 1979, in Basavilbaso, Entre Rios, Argentina. We named him ADRIEL. I didn’t realize he was a REWARD then…but I do now!  And I thank God every day for having rewarded us with him.

No one can deny that there are times when our children challenge us, stretch us, irritate us, worry us, cause us to throw up our hands in despair, and drive us to our knees in prayer. BUT, as a mom, my advice to every mom is: keep Christ as the center of your life and your home and you will enjoy the REWARDS God has given you! Be thankful for them, and appreciate them! Love them and treat them as valuable gifts from our loving Father “who gives us richly all things to enjoy”! (1st Timothy 6:17)


May 24, 2010

The school building loomed incredibly huge. It was the first day of school in a new city, and as our second-grader, Adriel entered, he seemed to get lost in the sea of his peers, all dressed with their crisp, white school uniforms. We were living in Argentina, and just moved to the city of Rosario del Tala that day. Since we lived only 4 blocks from the school, I walked him and Denise to their first day of classes. Denise was starting third grade, but I wasn’t concerned about her, because I thought she could handle it. I watched as our little freckled, blond son blended in with teachers and classmates he didn’t know, and walked back home. My mother-heart was very heavy and fearful. It was hard to hold back the tears, knowing that he was facing this new situation without me. Unpacking our moving boxes, I kept thinking that he was so little and didn’t know anyone…

When classes were out, the two of them came home together, and bursting through the door, he flung his backpack across the table happily announcing: “Bien, ya me hice amigo de todos!” (“Well, I made friends with everybody already!”) He was totally oblivious to my fears and excess concern. Instantly, I realized that the problem was mine, not his! I made a mountain out of a molehill that he didn’t even know existed! I found out that he really could function without me! He wasn’t afraid; I was!

Since then, I often thought of the lessons I learned that day. As a mom, it’s not easy to let our children handle their own situations at any age. In our fear, we are good at making huge mountains out of something they don’t even consider to be molehills. If our fear is left unchecked, it evolves into worry and control; neither of which are healthy for parent-child relationships. I’ve learned that my concern and fears turn into peace in the measure that I trust God with our children’s lives. The Psalmist David summed it up in very few words in a prayer in Psalm 56: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (v.3)

I’m thankful that God turned Adriel’s first day of second grade into a day I’ll never forget. He probably doesn’t remember what he learned that day in his new school, but I know what he taught me when he got home!

My Mom Gave Me Back!

May 21, 2010

“Your kids are not yours. God owns them. Quit stealing!”

When our three children were growing up, I found this statement in a magazine. Because I wanted to remember it, I cut it out and taped it inside my weekly planner. Those of us who are parents know – in our head – that our children don’t belong to us. We have to remind ourselves of it all along, but that reality takes on a new meaning when our children are leaving the nest. That’s when our hearts understand it.

My Mom’s heart understood that very well, and her attitude towards my leaving her and Dad when I was engaged to marry Jorge – whom I had never met – and move to Argentina left a lasting impression on me. I can still hear her words…

There was a dear elderly man in our church for many years who we all affectionately called “Uncle Pete”. When he was young, Uncle Pete Krstch left “The Old Country” and immigrated to America. Having lived here for so long, he came to appreciate everything our great country offered him, and he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to live anywhere but here, in the Good Ol’ USA. Knowing the plans Jorge and I had to live in Argentina, Sunday after Sunday Uncle Pete would try to convince me that we should live here. The conversation would go something like this: “You should get Jorge’s papers fixed up and live here in the US.”   I would invariably reply, “No, Uncle Pete, we’re going to help out in the church in Argentina.” He just didn’t get it until one Sunday when Mom happened to be standing there. After our “You ought to…” and “No, Uncle Pete…” routine, he turned to her and said: “Helen, you tell her to get Jorge’s papers fixed up and then they can live here.”

And then it happened. I found out that Mom gave me back. She firmly and unwaveringly said: “Uncle Pete, God gave Kathern to me for 23 years, and now I’m giving her back to Him.” Needless to say, the conversation never came up again with Uncle Pete because Mom intervened on my behalf. I recalled the incident often since then, but I never truly appreciated the concept until our children left to be on their own. I’ve learned how freeing it is to give our children back to God, and to trust Him with their lives. I understand now that our kids never were ours. They always belonged to God, who loves them infinitely more than we ever did and ever will. Thanks to Mom, I’ve learned that one of our responsibilities in raising them is…to give them back to Him!

“What’s Follow?”

May 17, 2010

Denise around the time when she asked "What's follow?"

The walk home seemed endless and hard for little Denise as we returned from getting groceries in our small town in Argentina. With no sidewalks outside the immediate downtown area of Basavilbaso, our choice was to walk either on the dusty (or muddy) gravel road or on a foot path parallel to it, through high weeds. Both of my hands were laden with full grocery bags – my own re-usable ones, of course, since at that time the stores there didn’t have bags to give their shoppers. As we were trudging through weeds that were knee high to me, Denise, who was nearly two at the time, was overwhelmed by them and trailed behind me. The weeds I was trampling down were nearly as tall as she.

            I don’t recall the exact words Denise used as she expressed her discouragement; but I do remember  how the conversation continued. I simply told her “Follow Mommy”, not realizing that the word “follow” was not yet in her limited vocabulary. She innocently questioned: “Follow?”… Of course, my prompt reply was, “Yeah, FOLLOW!” When she asked “What’s follow?”, I realized she never dealt with that word before and had no idea of the concept of following. So I answered her with words she was familiar with. “You go where Mommy goes.” Satisfied with that, the conversation was dropped, and we continued our trek home.

            Right then, those words that I spoke hit me over the head like a hammer. I realized the tremendous responsibility that God entrusted me with. It wasn’t just about forging a trail through high weeds; it was all about me first following HIM, so I could mark the right path for HER in all circumstances, including the “high weeds” of adversity! She didn’t realize it then, but Mommy could see farther ahead; Mommy would be with her every step of the way till the end; Mommy would make a way and trample down all the weeds that were so overwhelming to her; and if need be, Mommy wouldn’t hesitate one second in scooping her up and carrying her – grocery bags and all!!…But most importantly, Mommy was also following Someone: the One who promised: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8)

            Following God, we also get overwhelmed at times. Sometimes those “weeds” seem WAY too big to trample down; we get tired, and can’t see the end of the road, much less know how to get where we’re trying to end up…we might be so discouraged that we don’t even remember that He is with us 24/7, forging the way, so that we can safely follow Him, and even picking us up and carrying us as He did his special people in the desert: “The LORD your God who goes before You, He will fight for you…you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way you went until you came to this place.” (Deut. 1.30, 31) In times of discouragement, we can securely follow the One who loves us, makes a way for us, and guides us with His eye. He’ll never let us on our own to walk when the way seems to hard for us. We simply need to follow Him.

            Denise understood in an instant what it means to “follow Mommy” with the simple definition she was given. But even after all those years, Mommy is still learning what it really means to follow the One who knows the way, tramples down the weeds, has the end in sight, and picks her up in His everlasting Father arms when her strength is gone. Sometimes the road is long and hard; but God is faithful!!! … And that’s why Mommy can follow Him!…and we did make it home – groceries and all – without incident!


May 15, 2010

Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus just finished predicting His death and resurrection to His disciples. It may have been a very somber moment for all of them. We don’t know how much time elapsed, but the next event that Matthew recorded was of the mother of James and John, kneeling down and asking something of Jesus.  She was approaching the only One worthy to be approached in a worshipful posture, and it was the correct way to get what she so longed for from Him. So far, so good! She got the “HOW” right! When we intercede for our children, worshipful prayer is the correct approach!

Unfortunately, the “WHAT” is where her intercession went off-key. Jesus asked what her wish was, and she expressed it: “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” (v.21) That seems like quite a noble desire. She was concerned about their future. What Mom wouldn’t want that honor for her children? Yet Jesus’ reaction was not exactly what she hoped to hear. He didn’t give her any assurance that her plea would even be considered. He even went so far as to say, “You do not know what you ask.” (v.22). She came to the right Source and approached Him in a worshipful posture, yet her heartfelt petition was motivated by pride. We know this by the reaction her petition caused in the other ten disciples. They were understandably upset! They may have been thinking – or even commenting among themselves – thoughts such as: “What makes her think that her sons are any better than the rest of us? Why should they be the privileged ones? Are they more special than we are?”

This mother didn’t get the answer to her “want”. But what she did get were two lessons that Jesus knew she needed to learn:

  1. That true greatness in God’s kingdom is a result of first becoming a true servant.
  2. The real reason Jesus came: “not to be served, but to serve”.

She did not get a “yes” answer to her prayer, but she got something far better, because He saw into the depths of her heart and discerned her needs. Instead of granting her “wants”, He gave her something far more valuable: She learned about true greatness, and more about Jesus!

How about us? We can get the “HOW” right: approach Jesus (The right Source) in the right posture (Worship) and sincerely ask Him for something for our children. (If we don’t plead on their behalf, who will??)…but we can be way off on the “WHAT”, and our prayers for them end up being categorized as “unanswered”. There were times, there are times now, and always will be times, when God chooses not to answer our prayers for our children. Jesus seized the opportunity to teach this concerned mom a lesson instead of answering her selfish prayer, and sometimes He does the same with us. He uses those unanswered prayers to teach us more about Himself….and isn’t that what really matters in the end? Wouldn’t we rather have Him reject our “wants” and give us what He knows we need instead?

Lord, open my ears to what You want to teach me when You choose not to answer my prayers for our children. Forgive me for those selfish petitions for them that don’t line up with Your plan for their lives. Open my heart to allow the Holy Spirit to apply what You want to teach me through unanswered prayer, and let me submit to Your perfect will and purposes for them. Help me to trust You, even when the prayers seem to go unanswered. Be glorified in my life, and in the lives of each of our children. That’s a prayer that You will never say “NO” to, and I praise you for it! Amen!

“Life is Short, But Beautiful”

May 8, 2010

"Life is Short, But Beautiful"

For many years, when we lived in Argentina, my Mom – being a very avid reader all her life – would send us “book boxes”. She would send goodies like Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping and other magazines for me, and a variety of children’s books for our three kids. We spent countless hours reading and re-reading the content of those boxes! One day in 1984, among the Dr. Seuss books and other treasures, I found a short, very meaningful article in a ladies’ magazine. It was titled “Life Is Short, But Beautiful”. With tear-filled eyes I very carefully cut the page out and place it in one of our children’s baby books. Throughout the years, each time I re-read it, my eyes bleared over with tears. Because this article is so meaningful, I decided not to keep it hidden in a baby book, but to share it with you. Not wanting to post something I hadn’t written, I looked up the author, Linda Andersen, on www.whitepages.com. I finally found her, and explained my intention. Very graciously, Linda consented to my sharing this life-changing article that she wrote so many years ago, and I am very grateful to her for that. Here is what she wrote:

“It was summer, and the morning was sprinkled with sunshine and dew. But as the day wore on, the incessant bickering of my three children began to gnaw at my already limited patience.

By 11 a.m. they had annoyed me to the point that I had to get away. Since driving has always soothed me, I went for a drive, and ended up in a tiny, shaded graveyard just a few miles from home.

A slight breeze stirred through the pines, and my edginess subsided as I strolled around the aging tombstones. I had asked the Lord to “Please do something” as I left the house, but I really didn’t think He would. I wasn’t even sure He cared.

I walked aimlessly at first. Then one of the tombstones caught my eye. The stone was so old and weather-beaten I could hardly make out the engraving. I knelt down for a close look, tracing the words with my finger.

“Children of C. and A. Arndt,” I read.

Stepping to the side, I read, “Charley, Died June 6, 1883, aged 5 years.”

Another side of the stone read, “Ricke, Died May 22,1883, aged 6 years, 19 ds.” Two children in a month! I exclaimed. Those poor parents.

I was in for yet another surprise as I walked to the fourth side of the simple tombstone and read:

 “Francis, Died May 18, 1883, aged 3 years, 4 mos. 15 ds.”

At this I sat down in the solitary place and sorrowed for the unknown parents of 100 years ago. They had tasted death three times in 1 month. An epidemic, no doubt.

I wondered if the parents of those children had ever had days like mine. I wondered if they’d regretted every impatient, angry word they’d ever said once their children died. I would, I knew, and I was sure they had.

I felt that if these parents were alive and able to talk with me now, they would urge me to go back home and love my kids. I imagined them saying, “Learn to laugh with your children.” They would no doubt remind me, too, that life on earth is so short that It must be lived abundantly.

And I’m sure they would point out God’s commands to give thanks in everything – and to rejoice. Perhaps they would even tell me to live each day with my family as if it were my last. Some day, I knew, indeed would be the last.

But those parents didn’t need to come back to tell me such things. Their children’s tombstone had already done so. And all of a sudden, I couldn’t get home soon enough.”


May 5, 2010

For Mother’s Day, our country’s retailers are prodding both children and Dads to buy the very best for that wonderful woman in their life who deserves so much more than anything they could ever wrap up and put a bow on. Flowers, gifts, cards, or family gatherings all show their appreciation for that one most important and influential person: MOM. For most of my life, I assumed that Mother’s Day was an occasion for happy celebration in every family circle as it was in ours…then slowly, I began to realize the real truth: it isn’t always so. Anticipating Mother’s Day, I was thinking about various circumstances other mothers might be living: there are those who will feel loved and honored, and those who wish their Mother’s Day would be different, not having much reason to celebrate.

On This Mother’s Day

…there are moms who will be anticipating their child’s graduation in the coming weeks. Whether it is from kindergarten or with a doctorate, their hearts will be bursting with pride as their child walks across the stage. They will remember the effort that led up to this moment and know it was all worth it!

…some moms will be celebrating with their child’s new accomplishments; saying his first word, taking his first step, learning to ride a bike, purchasing his first home, getting that well-deserved promotion, or going overseas as a missionary. What could be more fulfilling than being part of that?

…there are moms who will be rejoicing in their child’s wise choices, mature decision making and willingness to hold on to the values she diligently instilled in him.

…there are moms who will thank God for their child’s physical health, spiritual maturity, emotional stability and His blessings on their life.

…there are moms who will feel the richness of their child’s love and appreciation for them, and realize that is one of the most valuable assets they could ever have! These moms are the Proverbs 31 moms whose “children rise up and call her blessed”. 

…These are the moms who will look at their child with awe and think: “What did I ever do to deserve such a wonderful child? He far exceeds my expectations! How God has blessed me!”

On this Mother’s Day, there will be another group of moms. Their situation will be different. They won’t receive bouquets, sticky kisses, bear hugs or gifts. No one will take them to their favorite restaurant, or even acknowledge the multitude of sacrifices they made as a mom. But it will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…some of them will be sitting next to the window in their room at the nursing home, wondering if their child will remember them, at least today. It will be a very long day for them as they wait in vain. It will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…others will be scanning the horizon for the return of their precious, yet prodigal child. Their hopeful eyes have done this umpteen times already, but their hope is intact, and even with chronic pain in their heart, they continue to wait. It will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…another group will be visiting their child in prison. It certainly won’t be the Mother’s Day they would have chosen, knowing that their child turned away from the wholesome values they were taught. Even behind razor wire, and within cold prison walls, it will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…some will be going to a rehab center to visit their child who is on the road to recovery from an addiction. It’s not where they would prefer to be honored as a mother, but it will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…many women will be carrying the guilt and shame of having chosen to end the miracle of life that began inside them before that child had a chance to call them “Mom”. Others will be mourning the loss of a miscarriage or a stillborn child, and some moms will meet with the funeral directors to make arrangements for the burial of their child.  It will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…there are those who will be selflessly caring for their chronically sick or permanently disabled child 24/7, just like they do the other 364 days of the year. Their years of selfless sacrifice may or may not be appreciated, but it will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

…some will be sitting at the bedside of their ill child in the hospital, both of them knowing all too well that this will be the last Mother’s Day they will spend as mother and child. Though their lips be silent, their hearts will be screaming out with searing pain. It will be Mother’s Day for them, too!

            God may have blessed you to be a part of that privileged group of moms who are proud, feel honored and loved, grateful that He allowed you to be part of something beautiful that was planned since before time began. It will be a day of celebration for you and your families; but please don’t forget that there are moms who are bearing unspeakable burdens, whose hearts ache, and have no reason to celebrate. Their pain is real, and disappointment permeates the very core of their being. As you enjoy this Mother’s Day, lifting up a prayer of gratitude to God for being dearly loved, please whisper a prayer for those moms who aren’t so fortunate. Reach out to them. Find a way to make them feel loved and appreciated, because IT WILL BE MOTHER’S DAY FOR THEM, TOO!

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