~By: Susanna Kozlow~
As we come to a week since we gathered to celebrate the life of my mother, I felt a need to share my heart and my words to her that I shared with all my family and friends that day.
This past week, I reflected on her life and her homecoming to Heaven. I thought of how much we pray, as mothers, that we are a reflection of Jesus to our children and to those around us. I reflected on my beautiful mother’s life and how she truly ran her race well. I know her life now is one that is beyond anything we could imagine as she sits with Jesus.
Today, I miss my mom more than ever. I want to hug her and feel her warmth. I want her to wipe away my tears with her hands. I want her to come over and take over like she always did. I want her to ask me 50 times if my kids ate, and in turn remind her that yes, they ate mom. I want her to hold my hands and tell me, “We just need to pray. Let’s pray.”
What a gift Jesus gave us - the hope to see our loved ones again. The hope is because of Him. I don’t think that reality sets in quite like when you lose someone you love so much, or when your own life on earth is coming to an end.
We come to a surrendered life to Jesus for the purpose of eternal life. But, we rarely think of that eternal life until that day comes. It brings a completely different appreciation for our King Jesus, and all He did, for us to have that hope.
There is hope in the midst of pain. There will be hard days and better days. There will be questions and answers, with time. There will be memories that will come in the midst of happy times and not so happy times. But...there will always be hope in the midst of it all.
A Life of Obedience, Hope, and Love in Jesus
March 24, 2019
Today we celebrate a woman whose strength, love, and faith are the attributes that pierced our hearts in one way or another.
A woman that I was honored to call my Mother.
As I sat down to gather my thoughts for today, I remembered how I had prepared for this day. That’s just who I am. I prepare. But, I was reminded that I couldn’t prepare for this. What I had to say would come from my heart as I cried. What I would say today would come from the grief that gives me enormous pain, because grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness. Grieving is His great gift to us. It is a necessary part of our journey and our healing. It is where we look to Him to give us hope that this pain shall pass and all the beautiful memories will come.
My mother came to this country alone. She didn’t speak any English, met my father, and began her life as a mother and wife. She had five kids in her life on earth. One child she lost between my sister Maria (eldest) and I. It was a loss that almost took her life at the time. She shared this story of pain but hope with all of us. But, as you see, God had other plans. She had three more kids after that.
My mother lived her life taking care of her family. Most people would think she was alone raising four kids. But she wasn’t. She raised her four kids with God. This is something she would gladly share with anyone she spoke with.
As a child and an adult, I always remember watching my mother pray day and night. She prayed all her life. And when I needed advice, she would always turn my eyes back on Jesus, even in the days that I didn’t walk with Him, and I really didn’t want to hear it. She never stopped praying for me. It was a gift I didn’t deserve at times, but she did anyway. I could never say thank you enough for this gift.
Today, I look at my children and see how my mother’s love has been an example to me to raise my kids. I think of all the love she had for my kids, and how excited she was to spend so much time with my daughter. I remember the day I shared that I was having a girl and that my daughter would share her name. I remember how proud she was and how she shared the news with all her friends.
Then came the day I told my mom that I had surrendered my life to Christ Jesus and with that surrender I would serve Him until my very last breath. I remember her words. She said, “Susie, I’m so proud of you.” I thought about how my mom had said those words to me before through life’s accomplishments, but that day was different. I could see in her eyes that she saw an answered prayer. She knew, from that day forward, she didn’t have to worry. She knew my strength would come from my Heavenly Father, and with that, her grandkids would see and know that strength as they grew.
I remember one night recently, coming home after visiting her. I cried out to God to please stop her pain. I didn’t understand why she had to suffer so long. I put my head down and opened my phone. A friend had posted a tribute to her mom who had passed away on Christmas. Her passing was quick. She talked about how she just had a chance to open up her mother’s bag after bringing it home from the hospital three months earlier. She talked about how hard it was to go through her mints, pens, and receipts from Christmas presents she purchased. She went to bed because her pain was too much to bear. But, she woke up to flowers her husband and kids put on her nightstand and felt so much hope at that moment. As I wiped away my tears, God reminded me that night how much time He had given us and that there was great purpose in my mom’s suffering. He reminded me how we all had time. As the great Father that He is, He gave us what we needed.
We had time to share moments with my mom this last year. We had time to pray on behalf of my mom. We had time to allow those around us who love us to pray with us. As a servant of Christ, my mom’s suffering came with purpose. I’m most positive my mom cried out to God many times and said, “Father if you can stop this pain, please do, but if it’s not Your will, then allow me to fulfill Your will.” These are words I know my mom said.
As we honor a great woman, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, we must also honor a disciple of Jesus Christ and a servant of God. Because that is who she was on earth. My mother was a humble servant of God all her life. She touched so many lives with her love and faith.
As I look at my siblings today, I see a great part of her in all of them. I see enormous strength and love, but most of all, I see a love and dedication to King Jesus. I see answered prayers my mom never stopped praying for. This year has brought enormous healing in all of us. We watched God’s hand move in us all. We have come together as a family, with strength and faith. We saw an entire body of Christ come together in prayer. The head, feet, and hands of Christ moved around us all.
A beautiful friend told me months ago, “A Godly mother will teach you how to live, but she will also teach you how to die.” I didn’t understand that until recently. But now I do. As we take on the role of a mother, we begin to understand the unconditional love we feel for our children. We teach our children how to live, and we pray that they will remember it all as they grow and have kids of their own. We sacrifice our lives for them. We endure all types of suffering that comes with this role because of this love. And some of us will teach our children how to die, and maybe suffer through the process, all because we know there is a greater purpose. Those words make sense now.
Today, I know my strength and healing will come from one place, from my Heavenly Father. He tells us in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” and then again in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Mom, I know you are in your true home today. I know this life on earth is just a life we pass through. I know your celebration in heaven is one of the biggest ones yet, and I know you are not alone. I know you will wait for all of us, because I know we will all be together again. I miss you tremendously, and my heart wonders how long it will take to heal. I wonder how long it will take for this pain to go away. But maybe it’s okay, because in all suffering comes great purpose - purpose of great refinement. With weakness comes God’s strength. With that strength comes hope. Hope is a gift Jesus Christ gave us all - a gift Jesus Christ paid a great price for. May we never forget that gift.
Today, I will not say I lost my mom. When you lose someone, it implies you don’t know where they are. Today, I know exactly where my mom is. She is dancing with the angels in her perfect form, watching down on us all as we laugh and cry and honor her.
I love you, my mama. I will see you again.