Thursday, September 4, 2008

Niina's Story : A Daughter, Mother, Sister & Wife's Reflection

Words by Niina Salo

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Proverbs 31: 30 & 31

As I look over this past year it amazes me to think of all that has happened. Small things or rather common things like, Christmas, rearranging the furniture in my house, baking a pie and big things or once in a life time things like, Hadassah's 2nd birthday, the birth of our second daughter Kate and the moment my mom passed away just one year ago today. The memories, the changes and the growth that have occurred over this last year are tremendous.

There are so many specific times I remember. The Saturday before my mom past away Hadassah and I were down in Knappa visiting her and my dad. Mom wasn't feeling all that well but thought it best to just relax. I remember every hour or so she would get up and come out to the living room to play with Hadassah. She adored her. Hadassah was her first grandchild and she was elated to have a beautiful little girl running around the house. Two weeks after we were married, Shane and I became pregnant. I remember feeling sad that we wouldn't have much time to 'be married' before starting our family. As I look back today I believe God new exactly what he was doing. He wanted my mom to experience, on earth, the joy of having a grandchild. Hadassah brought her so much joy. I do believe today she is looking down from heaven and is experiencing perfect joy as she watches both Hadassah and Kate grow.

That Saturday night my dad took my mom into the emergency room. 3am Sunday morning we found out she had stomach cancer. I remember laying in bed crying, thinking, how was I going to clean out the basement, paint the house and get the pool up and running. How would all this get done with mom sick and at that moment, very distinctly God spoke into my life "be still and know that I am God." I almost jumped at the sound of His voice. God had spoken to me in the midst of my pain and grief. This would not be the last time God would speak to me over the coming months.

The next morning we drove in to see mom. I remember walking into her room and melting into tears as I saw my strong, rock of a mother lay there. She grabbed my hand and said "this is where our faith comes in." Mom always spoke wisdom into the lives of others. Over the next day she, with little strength would remind me how she loved me, that she was proud of me and that God was going to work all things together. She was transported to St. V's in Portland. That Sunday night they prepared her for surgery, we had a chance to talk with her again. I can so vividly see Hadassah jumping up on the hospital bed and mom saying "I love you Hadassah" looking to Shane to tell him she loved him and was proud of him and then hugging me and telling me she loved me. Had I have known that would be the last time I would be in my mom's arms or that I would hear her voice I am not sure I would have let go.

Monday morning at 7:15 my mom went to be with her heavenly father. The pain, fear and loneliness that I felt all at that moment still, at times, overwhelm me. But along with those feelings are the feelings of peace, joy and the reassurance the one day we will walk together on streets of gold.

Several hours after my mom passed away, my aunt Rita's mother also passed away. Aunt Rita tells me of a vision she had. My mom was standing there, in heaven saying "welcome Addy". That would have been my mom. I find so much joy in thinking of my mom in heaven with my grandma Salo, with Addy and so many others. I believe they are preparing that feast that is talked about in God's word. They are helping Christ prepare a place for us.

My mom taught me so much about life and a relationship with Christ. She was the ultimate host. She loved having people into her home. She welcomed anyone with opens arms. Every holiday was open to anyone we knew who may not have a family or a home to go to. She taught me the importance of being a help mate and the privilege of being a parent. I remember over the 30 years seeing my mom on her knees lifting her children and her husband up before the Lord. She loved her children and to her last breath she was selflessly thinking and caring for them.

As I think of what I have learned or how I have grown over this past year two things stand out in my mind. The peace that Christ brings and the importance of family. Moment by moment, through grief, pain, fear, joy, sadness, happiness and every other emotion I feel I also feel Christ right by my side. His word has spoken into my life over this year. Sunday night my mom was in surgery and Pastor Scott Gilchrist was sitting with us at the hospital, I remember the blanket of peace that lay over me as he read these words from the book of Psalms;

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such Knowledge is to wonderful for me,
to lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become the night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day.
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them
they would out number the gains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:1-18

Over this last year I have grown to love my family more everyday. Shane has been a refuge and a comfort to me as I grieve my mom's death. As my husband he encourages me daily, loves me and lifts me up before the Lord. He has been a rock and a leader in our home. God truly new what he was doing when he brought Shane and I together.

I am so blessed to have two little girls with spunk and a joy for life. On days when I feel overwhelmed by sadness I look at Kate or Hadassah and see the pure joy that radiates in a child. They comfort me with there laughter and their tears. Just weeks after my mom passed away Hadassah looked at me and said "I love you" for the first time. God knew I would need those words to sooth my hurting heart.

Since my mom's death Brenton, Lukas and Derek have become such good friends of mine. It sounds silly in a way to speak of my brothers as friends. But they have encouraged me, comforted me and shared grief with me. Each week we have 'family dinner' in order to continue being a close knit family. It's what my mom would have wanted. I believe she smiles each time she sees us together as a family.

As I sit here sipping my coffee, in my red cup (my mom loved the color red) I have such good memories of a loving mother, a devoted wife and a caring Mummu (grandmother). I will honor her by loving Christ, by nurturing my family and by putting others before myself. One day when we walk hand in hand I will tell her of the impact she made on my life and that of so many others. When I tell her these things she will point to Christ and Christ alone. For He was her rock.

I miss you, mom and I love you.

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