Just A Jacket

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It arrived many years ago in a brown grocery paper bag with a string tied around the bulky package. My mom had found the winter jacket at a garage sale and thought of me. It was an extravagant gift. My mom didn’t have much money during that period in her life and had stopped buying gifts.

The jacket is worn out now with a tattered lining. I was at least the second owner and it is obvious that the jacket was loved and worn, even before my time. The jacket has outlived its purpose, yet it hangs in my closet taking up valuable space.

I know the reason why I keep it. It was unique. Whenever I wore that jacket, I could count on at least one stranger complimenting it. As soon as I arrived home from running errands, I would tell my husband that another person liked the jacket. It was a long-running joke between us because I loved everything about the jacket, the fabric, design and color, whereas my husband never cared for it.

I know the real reason why I keep it. It is a jacket that my mom lovingly picked out, touched, and sent to me as a surprise of her love. My mom has been gone for four years now. That jacket is still a connection to my mom in the flesh. I imagine my mom spying the jacket at a garage sale and remarking, “I know my daughter will love this!”

As we downsized houses and sorted through too much stuff, the subject of getting rid of the jacket came up over and over. I would put it in the donate pile one day and take it out the next day. My husband finally told me to keep it. We would make room for the jacket. Something as ordinary as a coat captured my heart.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the ordinary and then reminds us of the extraordinary beauty of Jesus Christ that captures our hearts.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2). But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5).

The ordinary became the eternal definition of love expressed. The unique gift from our Father in heaven is a garment of salvation that always looks beautiful and never becomes tattered in the hearts of His children.

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10.)

Jesus cloaks us with God’s extravagant love that transforms the ordinary and changes hearts with the extraordinary. We wear God’s love as a garment that holds us in His loving arms and never lets go. Make room. You are loved!

 

 

 

 

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The Last Picture

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This is the last photograph of my mom and me together before she died in March of 2013.  It is not my favorite picture from that visit.  My mom’s spontaneous laugh was captured in a different picture.  I would have picked that one, but I can hear my mom’s disapproval.  Her expression was more laugh and less smile and she would not have liked it as well.

But that wasn’t the last picture.  I spent time with my mom one month before her death.  Much to my chagrin, I realized I had forgotten my camera when I was halfway into the six hour trip to visit her.  I wouldn’t have wanted that time to be my last picture.  She was unsteady on her feet and she had a difficult time speaking.

But that wasn’t the last picture.  As family surrounded my mom in the hospital room, there was another picture etched in my mind.  My mom laid in the bed unresponsive except for the involuntary function of breathing, until even that became voluntary.  I watched my mom take her last breath.

But that isn’t the last picture. The last picture is the one I carry in my heart through my mom’s faith and mine in Jesus Christ. This picture of eternity in heaven is fuzzy with my human eyes, but I imagine my mom praising God and dancing on streets of gold. This last picture is my very favorite for I can clearly see my mom’s best smile ever.

1 Peter 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you,

Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.