The Ashes and Beauty of Mother's Day

“… to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” -Isaiah 61:3    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version  . (2016). (Is 61:3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

“… to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” -Isaiah 61:3

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 61:3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

When I think about Mother’s Day there are two moments that immediately come to my mind. December 26, 1993 and December of 2005.

December 26, 1993 was the day that my mom, Katherine “Kat” Keahbone succumbed to the cruel clutches of cirrhosis of the liver. I remember those last moments with her vividly. She was forty years old. My heart was broken. That is a bit of an understatement, my heart was shattered into a million pieces. My mom died too young from a self inflicted disease. Her addiction to alcohol and drugs robbed us of beautiful memories. I met Jennifer (my wife) in 2002, she missed it. I married Jennifer in 2002, she missed it. I became a father in 2006, she missed it. Every significant moment beyond December 26, 1993 was missed. Ashes.

December 2005 led to one of the darkest seasons of my life. In November of that same year Jennifer and I were on cloud nine! Never had pee on a stick created so much joy! We were pregnant! It was a miracle. Doctors informed us, months before, that we were most likely unable to have children. We rejected their declaration and asked the Lord for a second opinion. We were elated when God intervened and showed those doctors who was Boss. We were pregnant! And then we weren’t. A few days before Christmas; Jen started to feel pain in her lower abdomen. The worry that covered her face moved me to rush her to the hospital. Once there it was confirmed; miscarriage. We walked through the cruel process of that miscarriage and I did not respond well. I was angry at God. I questioned God. I shook my fist at God. In my human heart, I could not fathom how a loving God could be so cruel. To give us a child and then take it away before we could even hold it. Ashes.

Eleven months before my mom passed away, a miracle happened. She was saved! Our relationship had been so broken over the years. So many pains, heartaches, and broken promises drove us apart. But, I always loved her and amassed an army of prayer warriors who prayed for my mom’s salvation. One day, out of the blue, my mom called me. She was sober. She asked if she could go to church with me! I was skeptical, but I did not want to miss an opportunity. We arranged the time and place where I would pick her up on Sunday morning and I prayed like crazy that she would really be there. She was. I had not physically seen my mom in well over a year. When I first laid eyes on her that Sunday morning, i just cried. Not because she showed up, but because it was then that I realized how sick she really was. Cirrhosis had stolen her color, her hair, and her strength. She was jaundiced from head to toe. Her hair was so thin. This former homecoming queen had been reduced to a shell of who she used to be. We made our way to church. For the first time in my life I sat by my mom in church! I was a part-time youth pastor at the time and when the invitation started that morning I was standing in front of the church prepared to minister to anyone who would come forward. Before the pianist hit the first key, my mom was walking down the aisle! She sped right past me and went to my pastor. He took her by the hand, spoke a few words to her, and then he called for one of our little old ladies to visit with her. I listened as that sweet angel of a woman led my momma to Jesus! Hallelujah! My momma was gloriously saved! She was forgiven! She was a new creation! Beauty.

On December 21, 2006 Hannah Elizabeth Keahbone made her appearance in this world! Almost a year from shaking my fist at God, I was now rejoicing with Him! At the peak of my anger and hurt over the miscarriage, the Lord broke my heart. My wife tricked me into reading my Bible again (that is another story for another day). While reading the Holy Spirit of God led me to that powerful moment where Thomas shook his fist at God and refused to believe (John 20:24-29). His unbelief and fist shaking are not the powerful part. The powerful part is when Jesus appeared to Thomas, showed him his scars, and said, “Stop doubting and believe.” Just like that, Thomas was broken and cried out, “my Lord and my God!”. As quickly as I reads those words, I was on my knees saying those very words, “my Lord and my God!” I repented and began a new walk with my Lord. Jen and I continued to pray and ask the Lord for children in His time and according to His glory, grace, and purpose. Hannah was the first of our three children. We miscarried in between the three, but God was faithful. Not only did He give us beautiful children, but He gave us a ministry with those who walk through miscarriages and infertility. Beauty.

Mother’s Day is a mixed bag of grieving and rejoicing. Grieving over what was lost or missed and rejoicing in God’s personal attention to our hurting hearts. Grieving over the inability to have children and rejoicing in God’s purpose in our season of waiting. Grieving in others having children while at the same time rejoicing for them and with them. It is hard, but one thing I have learned is that God is really good at bringing beauty to ashes. I love you. I do not know what you are going through or how your Mother’s Day was, but please know that i have prayed that every reader of this post would have their ashes turned to the beauty of God’s purpose.

Pastor, BlogMike Keahbone