Reflections On Our Mom

About a month ago, my healthy 59 year old mom went into the hospital for chest pains. What was initially diagnosed as pneumonia, quickly became known as pulmonary fibrosis, and she died from it three weeks later.

Today we had her Celebration of Life service, and it was so very sad and so very good. Though I couldn’t help my steady flow of tears, I was so incredibly proud of my parents and my siblings. God was glorified and Mom was honored-and I couldn’t be more proud. Here’s what us kids had to say 🙂 IMG_3234.JPG

David:

Our mother died on August 1st 3:30 p.m. during her life she was a fairly unique individual whom we love very much she had the odd habit of watching the same thing on TV over and over again one of her favorite things to watch was the Christmas carol I don’t know how considering she could barely keep track of the remotes but somehow she got the VCR to play that darn cassette over and over again without having to ever get out of her bed soon as it reached the end it would rewind itself and start over again

The movie is about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge he’s rejected by family goes through  the loss of loved ones lose his people’s respect  friends  and what’s important and only by taking a personal inventory and scrutinizing his life and the way he lives does he realize his mistakes  he sees the horrible harmful things others have done to him he sees the horrible harmful things he has done to others he sees how others choose to live how they have overcome their own adversities and he is forced to see what is life could end up being

Our mother was a wonderful person despite all of her faults she experience loss of loved ones rejection by family she battled addiction struggled in her own personal hookups and doubts with God and faith but she found salvation she became as good a wife as good a woman as to be found anywhere and it could be said she truly understood the blessings of God not just in church on Sunday but everywhere and all year long the final words of actor Alastair Sim as Scrooge are I don’t deserve to be so happy, then with raucous laughter and joyous tears he exclaims I just can’t help it

Our mother died on August 1st at 3:30 p.m. and in heaven she will now know uncontrollable joy and eternal laughter and she just can’t help it.

Betty: 

Hi, I’m Betty- the middle child-please don’t hold that against me.

Mom, was wonderful in so many ways. She was strong. She was selfless. She was humble. She took us on walks and talked through things with us, she helped us with homework, she did countless crafts with us (some of us were worst than others), she was mom. A mom who cleaned up bloody knees after we crashed learning how to roller blade. She was a mom who volunteered in our schools and brought in snacks and taught us how to do chores and how to decorate. She took us on vacations, and shuttled us to soccer games volleyball practice and shows. She cared about who we were friends with. As we grew she talked with us about sexuality (often times a LITTLE too explicitly), and about the value of education and being a life-long learner. She invited us into her work world and vice versa showing us the value of loving every human being and of hard work. She taught us about finances, and wise decision making, and the importance of being responsible for my own emotions. She believed in us-and thought that we could do anything we put our minds too. We know that she loved us deeply. And I know I can speak for all of us when I say, we are extremely thankful for her.

As many of you know, and as David alluded to, Mom also had some really hard things in life.  But here’s the beautiful, wonderful things about her life and legacy. She fought and she won and by the power of God her life ended with SUCH GRACE. She fought through the mental illness of depression and anxiety. She fought through the addiction of alcoholism. She fought for faith and for family and for relationships. It was not easy. And transformation did not come overnight. It took a long time-but I will forever remember Mom’s legacy as one of perseverance and victory.

The song of Mom’s life ended beautifully. The melodies she and God wrote the last few weeks, months, and years were among the most beautiful of her entire life. Mom’s story is a reminder that you are never too far, and it is never too late to grasp a hold of God’s loving hand. And when you do—thought it isn’t easy-oh my goodness is it good.

I am heartbroken that mom is gone. I hate that she won’t see my wedding day, and I’ll never be able to laugh at her over FaceTime for being distracted by the filters. I hate that dad’s alone, and that there is no one to defend David now when we all gang up on him at family functions.

But even with the heavy sadness, I have peace knowing that she ended with a grace that makes me so incredibly proud to be called her daughter, and right now-even as we meet here today- she is in heaven, and happier and more fulfilled than we can even begin to imagine. And that is a reason to celebrate.

Glenda:

As we gathered around Mom’s bed to say our final goodbyes we all cried a lot. It was so sad to see her like that and to know that going forward she would not be here.  We sang and cried and prayed and then the nurse asked each of to tell her about mom and before long in true Pompell fashion we all started laughing.  I can almost hear mom saying “Cry just a little bit for me, maybe a few tears but then be happy” So that’s what we did. And while we miss her greatly there are so many awesome and fun things to remember about her….

Like she loved dessert! So much so that she more often than not ordered it as her main meal! She love to take naps any time of the day and anywhere! She loved coffee, especially coffee with her daughters! She loved Stargate, Star trek and LOTR. So much so that she named her dog Arwen…whom she also loved. She loved to eyeore. She loved pepsi maxx (never ever coke) she loved watching the christmas carol over and over again. She loved her sisters and the time she spent with them. She loved her church and Jesus.  She loved our dad and how he loved her! She loved us kids and all her grandkids and spending time with each of us. And she especially loved it when we would take a nap with her!

If you ever spent anytime with Mom you know that she had a quirky and dark sense of humor. Sometimes she would tell jokes that only she would get but her laugh was so contagious that she then had us all laughing! I will definitely miss her laugh! She was sweet and thoughtful and when I think about how she loved each of us kids it was different in that she was able to see the differences in the three of us and love us the way we needed to be loved.  One of the last gifts she gave was to say thank you for something. When I told her she didn’t have to get me anything she said “i know but i also know that gifts is one of your love languages.”

When I was 15 or 16 mom spent several months reading Pride and Prejudice with me. Each of us taking turns and reading it allowed to each other! It is still my favorite book and that is my all time favorite memory of me and her. Mom claimed a children’s book for each of us that she felt represented our relationship. Our book was I’ll love you forever. It’s a tear jerker! But it is so true to life! Life wasn’t always perfect. We had our ups and downs…I was a teenager once upon a time! And we both did things over the years to make each other angry and we made decisions that the other one didn’t agree with.  But at the end of the day I knew that I was her daughter and she was my mom and I never doubted her love for me!  And the last paragraph of that book has never been more true “ I’ll love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living my mama you’ll be”

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Our little favor:
Mom's Favor.jpg

Before You Go to Church-Do These 3 Things!

My thought for today is simply that prepping our hearts and minds for church is an important part of a Sunday morning routine.

You’re going to dress up, be greeted by strangers and friends, sing songs, pray, listen to a sermon, maybe take communion, and a few other things specific to your congregation. Sometimes we go into this beautiful opportunity tired, unengaged, irritated, or distracted. But WOW-Sunday morning church is so much more fulfilling and spirit-stirring when we take the time to think about what we are doing and why. 

#1-Remember that you sing to declare who God is. We often need to remember how BIG he is, or how KIND, or how POWERFUL. We need to sing to remind ourselves of truth about him and thusly our circumstances. Worship music also allows us to respond to his AMAZING characteristics by praising him and thanking him. Through song, we elevate him to where he should always be in our hearts & minds-supreme.

#2- Remember that you listen to the sermon to know God by his word. When you’re in love, you want to know every single detail about that person. You want to know what makes them laugh until they cry, what they are like when they are mad, what they were like as a kid, and anything else you can learn about them! Let’s pray for that sort of eagerness in knowing our Savior, King, and Good Father.

#3- Remember that when you talk to people at church-it’s not because it’s a social gathering or some kind of club where you’re just supposed to be nice-but because you’re a family. You are supposed to know each others victories and defeats. You’re supposed to do life together so that we can rally around in the good times and bad and point each other to Christ.

I am more quickly able to worship with true reverence, awe, and without distraction when I’ve already prepped my heart and mind to be thinking about WHO God is. I delight in and retain the message better when I’ve engaged my mind with the truth that knowing God is the greatest gift and privilege known to man, and I am receiving part of that gift this morning. I am able to engage with my church family with the proper motivation, mindset, and vulnerability when I see them as brothers and sisters that I am supposed to invest in and be loved by.

So before you set foot inside your church this morning–maybe in the van ride there, or over your breakfast cereal bowl–pray. Pray that God will help you in these three areas this morning–that he will give you a mind that understands him and a heart that loves him and his people. Oh, and feel free to let me know if it makes any sort of difference in your Sunday morn! 🙂

With Love,
Betty

 

 

Birthday Bloggggggin’

First of all-I just want to say thanks to everyone who is reading 🙂 I’m excited about this month of writing! My sister complains that my blog is “too serious” 😛 so I decided to start out the month on a lighthearted note (and then be intense for the rest.) (JK!) (But maybe I’m kind of serious…) So here goes!

There’s a running joke in my family that my mom doesn’t know my birthday.

Now, in her defense-I was adopted, so it’s not like she was THERE, but still. Come on Mom. 😉

My birthday is the last day of July-July 31st (just like Harry Potter’s!) and FOR THE LIFE OF HER she can never remember if there are 30 or 31 days in July. How many insurance documents, school papers, and random things during my childhood had the wrong birthday date of July 30th filled in? Juuuust enough to allow us to tease her about it for the rest of her life. (Love you, Mom :D)

 

We also are notorious for not being able to celebrate birthdays on the actual day. Or month sometimes. I’ve had a handful of August celebrations, a few September ones, and one October one. We are busy people, the Pompells.

One of the BEST things about birthday celebrations-of course-is the cake! Every year I ask for an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen-the fudgey cookie crumble crunchies middle is a manifestation of everything that is good in this life. Okay, that’s a bit much-but seriously it’s DELICIOUS and I love it. I only have it once a year, so it’s a special lil’ treat yo’ self moment.

Also, let’s take a pause and appreciate how true this post is:

Oh my word, I love it haha. But actually I still get money every year! My younger brother, David, gives everyone $25 for their birthday. Without fail. Last year I convinced him to give me $2 extra so it’d be one dollar for every year I had been alive, and some how it worked! I’ve told him I expect that for the rest of my life and he seems VERY adamant against it–like it was a one time deal/miracle. I don’t know…it seems like a special tradition to me. I’m going to remind him that this year he’ll need an extra $3…I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Here’s the take away for today’s ramblings by Betty: In James, the Bible says that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. So when I enjoy the laughter of teasing my mom, the utter delight of the taste of ice-cream cake, or the sweet satisfaction of getting an extra three bucks from my little bro (fingers crossed)–how do I respond? Who do I thank? Our heart’s response for all the little & big joys in life should be praise (thank you God!) and worship (you’re AWESOME!!!). Our God-the Father of everything that is good in this world, who is constant, steadfast, immutable, and so incredibly kind- gives countless wonderful gifts to us. We so often forget to say thanks for his graciousness.

My mom engrained in me to write thank you notes after receiving gifts-it was rude not to! What gifts from God are you enjoying today that you haven’t thanked him for? I know many of you reading may be in a season of deep suffering, and it may be SO difficult to see anything with color in the midst of your very gray days.  I want to encouraged all of us to take some time today and thank God via prayer or journalling for good gifts in our lives-they are there-and I know He will forever cherish your little thank you note <3.

Marvel at the Gift of Adoption

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The Pompell Family

I was born Betty-Catherine Carolyn-Michelle Widenhoffer. It’s a mouthful-I know. Fortunately, eight years later I was adopted and my name changed to Betty Catherine-Michelle Pompell. I was so proud of my new name. I told anyone about my adoption who would listen! I remember leaving 3rd grade for an appointment with the judge in my “Sunday Best” gleefully exclaiming to my classmates-“I’m leaving to get adopted!” My aunt mailed me a card with my new name on it and I pinned it to my wall and kept it there for years, and years, and years. I love the family that God gave me. I shudder to imagine what my life would be like without the Pompells. Apart from my salvation, adoption has been the biggest blessing God has given me here on earth.  It is neat to think about and reflect on the gift of earthly adoption, and compare it to our gift of heavenly adoption.

My name was hardly the only thing that was changed-that was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, my whole world was morphed into a new one.

  • My birth certificate changed. That’s right, the official document now says that my adoptive mom, Karen, gave birth to me on July 31st 1989 when she was 34 years old, and that the father is her husband, Robert, who was 38 years old. I know that may seem little to you, but to me, that was the coolest thing. To me it brought comfort that people couldn’t look at my past and dig up, “oh look who you were the first 8 years” no, according to the State of Virginia, I am now, and have always been a Pompell.
  • So I got a new birth record, a new name, and not just new parents-but a new family.  Bob and Karen had a daughter, so by default, she automatically became my sister once the adoption went through. I am so glad she is-what a gift God has given me in her! Though not flesh and blood, our bond is deeper than our DNA.  Bob’s mom became my grandmother, and I had new cousins and new aunts and uncles too!
  • Also, when I was adopted, my birth mother had certain restrictions placed on her. She could no longer be within so many miles of me; she could not ever take me back. She forfeited all of her rights to Karen and Bob, and could do nothing without their consent and approval.  The adoption was permanent; I was safe.
  • Lastly, I love that I played no part in my adoption-except to joyfully receive it! Mom and Dad were not “impressed” with me, or excited about what I could bring to the family. They didn’t see excellence in me, or hope of a comfortable retirement from me in their old age. No, no, no. They saw a broken, difficult, neglected young girl with a dulled sparkle in her eye and spirit. They saw a child whose innocence was taken too young, and whose life begged for attention, love, and direction. Despite being warned by psychologists, counselors, and the like of my high probability for leading a life of disaster, my Mom and Dad in faith, took me in, loved me as their own, and breathed a joyful hope into my young, fragile spirit. Since they didn’t choose me based on my good behavior or because of hopeful expectations they had for me, but solely because of their love-I had no fear of  them getting rid of me if I didn’t “measure up!”

Can you see how this mirrors our salvation? 

Your spiritual birth certificate says that you have ALWAYS been Christ’s. He knew and choose you before the foundations of the world. There has NEVER been a time where his eyes have not been on you and his heart has not been for you.

You not only received a new Father, but also a new family. You are a co-heir with Christ. You have a family of sisters and brothers in the Lord that are stronger binds than any earthly relationship.

Your birth mother of sin has no hold on you. You don’t have to worry about the adoption being retracted or her coming back to get you. Nothing can happen to you without your Father’s approval. You are a child of God! Sin no longer has a hold on you! No one can ever pluck you from your Father’s hand.   

And lastly, 17th century Presbyterian theologian John Flavel says, “As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so he will not forsake you because you are low.” What comfort in our adoption! God did not choose you because you were really bringing a lot to the table, or because he thought you would be a great asset to the kingdom. No. He chose you solely based on his perfect grace. Thankfully, since that is what it is based on, you can do nothing to earn it and you can do nothing to end it.  

Our gift of being adopted as God’s own child is something that we should all marvel at and rest peacefully in more. Think about the true implications that your salvation has in your own life. What does it change? What fears vanish in light of who your Father is? What lies dissipate knowing whose child you are? What gratitude is brought forth knowing what your life would be like if you were still with your “birth parents”?

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Romans 8:14-16 – For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

You Might be the Answer to Your Own Prayer

There are some people in my life that I pray for pretty consistently. And I pray for them about the most important thing I can pray for anyone about-their relationship with God. Often times I say something like this:

“Lord I care so deeply for ________, and I know you care for them even more. Please Lord, I know that they will only be whole if they stop trying to live life on their own and they run to you. I so badly want them to find purpose and joy and in you. I want to be able to talk to them about how amazing and faithful and fulfilling you are. Father, please, do whatever you have to in their life to bring them back to you. Do whatever it takes for them to see their need and find their meaning in you. Help them see the truth. I love and trust you. Amen.”

And I pray that and I mean that. But I am still surprised when it starts to happen.  We God starts to allow things in their life to unravel to show them that HE is more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. That HE is the only true love, real friend, steadfast peace, and eternal hope that they can have. But they can’t always see it on their own. Not past their own tears, confusion, and pain-they are blinded by it. So again I pray “help them see the truth”.

Then I realize that God has been preparing my heart for this. That I am not supposed to stand idely by and watch them grapple with purposelessness, but instead I need to be ready to help them see what God wants them to see. I don’t want this opportunity to come and for me to miss the role that God wants me to play in it because I am too afraid to “offend” or “make things awkward”.

I guess my point to all of this is to say, that if you have someone in your life (like I do right now) who is hurting badly, I think that you might be the answer to your own prayer. If you have been praying for them and God allows trials to come, maybe through the power of the Holy Spirit it is YOU who is supposed to be breathing truth and weaving the beauty of the gospel into the tapestry of their story. Pray for words of wisdom, the perfect mixture of love and boldness, and divine appointments to know when to be silent and when to speak to help them see the truth.