How can we know who we truly are? We have to know what God says about us first! Thankfully, our identity in Christ – that is, who we are as followers of Jesus – can be found rooted in the foundation of Scripture.
So many voices compete for our attention. It can be easy to hear other voices above the voice of God. For some, it’s falling into a social media stupor which can often leave us feeling like we’re seriously missing the mark. Why can’t I prepare organic farm-to-table meals for my perfectly-dressed children, who are doing age-appropriate crafts…happily? For others, it is the constant bombardment of opinions, whether good or bad, from friends and family. It may be negativity from a spouse or a discouraging work environment. We may even think that we define our own identities. At times, it may be tempting to conform our thoughts and views of ourselves to what we see and hear from others – good, bad, or indifferent.
In a sea of confusing voices and opinions, there is only one voice that offers the true and right answer to the critical question: Who am I?
Follow the Scripture readings. Take note of who you are according to God’s Word, and what is yours through salvation in Jesus!
1 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day longPsalm 25:1-5
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.John 1:12-13
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:3-14
I begin this post by talking about never taking your parents for granted, not because I did or that I ever will, but because there are so many out there that believe or think that because they’re “all grown up now” you don’t have to pay attention to your parents. So many believe it’s a burden to visit their parents or look after them in their old age. They are quick to get irritated with them if they call too often or become too demanding.
One thing I can promise you, if you do not spend as much time as possible with them, love them, appreciate them, call them often and never ever take them for granted now while they are alive, you will regret it – one moment they there, the next they gone. A moment you will wish you never have to experience. Just because you are too busy with your own life, or too ashamed to be with them, too ashamed because they “old” or because you did’t feel like they needed your love and respect, is no excuse to complain about them or abandon them. Trust me, you are always their child no matter how old you are. You will always need your parents. Always. When they gone, the hard truth is, it’s too late.
Too little, too late
If you knew that this was the last day your mom would be alive, you would climb onto your mother’s lap (I did that every night until I was at least 7 years old). Would you tell her about all the times you wanted to carry her cross for her? You would want to take away her pain. She often cried herself to sleep wondering how do I raise these 3 children on my own? You’d, crawl beside her to hold her. You would feel her pain in the pit of your stomach and the deepest parts of your heart. Your presence would make her smile though. She’d forget her many troubles, her losses. Today, you’d hope for that again and again and again and again…
You’d give anything, absolutely anything to have her back for one more hug, one more conversation, one more I love you, one more piece of mommy advice, and then you could watch her leave, in a bright white light as she returned to Jesus’ side.
My mom loved Christ. She loved spending time in His presence and His word. She left this earthly world on 27 April 2019, in South Africa that is Freedom Day, and on that day, mom, you were set free of your pain and suffering in this world and set free to sit at the right hand of Christ.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Mom loved teaching the grandchildren from the Bible too. Here is a video of her teaching her eldest granddaughter, Sharon-Leigh, from the Bible. And guess what? It’s Psalm 23.
Everyone is welcome
Mom’s home was not only our home, but home to all our friends too. She never had a problem with having a house full of people, in fact, she loved it. She would always make sure we’re having fun and that we’re fed. Our humble home truly was everyone’s home.
Mom’s home in song
At Mom’s funeral we played a song from Newsboys – That Home. It really catches the beauty and character of my Mom. It catches me in the heart every time I hear it and I shed a tear.
Jealous of my Mom :o)
I miss my Mom every single day. Some days are harder than others. Another song we played at Mom’s funeral was Donna Taggart – Jealous of the Angels. I miss her so much that I made a video montage with this song. The photos in this montage only show a small glimpse of the life she lived. She wasn’t one for the glamorous life, as long as her family was always around her.
Final words for Mom
I’m a mommy’s boy. There, I said it, publicly. It seems like I spent much of my early years trying to avoid that label, but the least I can do is publicly acknowledge that fact right to the end. Mom was the person most responsible for shaping who I am. I used to fall asleep on my mom’s lap every night until I was 7 years old and mom would carry me off to bed.
Everybody thinks they have a great mom, but as kids, we knew we had the best mom because everybody else told us so. She mothered all our friends who came to the house, even those with perfectly good mothers of their own, but her home was a humble sanctuary where all our friends and family loved to come to.
Mom had some bad luck with cars. Had a brown Ford Cortina stolen, 2 Fords Escorts, one that was bumped on a dare by one my siblings that shall not be named, the other Escort so heavy on fuel you’d be better off pushing it.
“Don’t bumpa da gate”
We have a running joke that is decades old and is still used today… she bumped the gate reversing out the driveway when I was about 5 years old. I immediately said to Mom “Don’t bumpa da gate”. Ever since that, she’d stick her head out the window while reversing and we’d always remind her not to bump the gate, sometimes she still did. She also had some very creative words when someone cut her off in traffic.
I got away with everything (almost)
I am her last born, the youngest of 3 children. A mother pours a lot of love into all her children, but being the youngest, the rules were relaxed a bit for me, I got away with more than my siblings did. Except for one embarrassing night, I worked as a waiter during my high school years and, one night after a work shift ended early, I decided to go hang with friends at a nearby pool hall. Beer in hand having a great time, I looked across the room to see my mom walking toward me with intent. Before I knew it she was dragging me out, dressed in her slippers and gown.
Mom’s favourite animal was the Elephant. Just look around her home and there are elephant teddies and ornaments everywhere. She loved their gracefulness and how tight-nit elephants are as a family. We took Mom to the Elephant Sanctuary and as luck would have it the sanctuary had recently merged with the Monkey Sanctuary next door so the signage hadn’t been correctly placed yet, so it was a surprise for mom right up until the guide announced that we will be interacting and walking with elephants today. The absolute joy and surprise on her face was priceless. She loved every second of it.
Today I understand why she loved elephants so much and it’s because of how family orientated they are, how protective they are, just like mom was, and Mom’s heart was as big as elephant too.
Beating the odds
Marinda Christina Baragwanath, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, aged 60, passed away in her bed in Boksburg, at home surrounded by her family — as she would have wanted. Her passing came much longer than the 6 months doctors gave her to live, so she beat the odds. And that’s just how Mom has always been, beating whatever odds were stacked against her. This disease may have broken her body, but it never broke her faith and her spirit. Her faith and determination to beat this disease never wavered. Faith so strong we could all learn from it.
Dude, where’s my car?
When Mom first started on her medication, she felt a little high and was spaced out. She walked into our bedroom one night to say good night. She came and hugged and kissed me and then walked around the bed to hug and kiss my wife, Lou. On her way back to her room, we could see she was a little wobbly so I jumped up to help her. I took her, arm in arm, like a gentleman, we walked a little, stopped, and she looked up at me with so much love and admiration that only a mother could have for a son.
Mom had exceptional will power. During her illness, it became more and more difficult for her to swallow solid food. Mom had the will power to chew on biltong and drywors just for the taste of it and not swallow it. (She’d give the pieces she couldn’t eat to one of the dogs so often that the dog would outside her bedroom window for hours waiting for it).
She would never complain about the food she had to eat. She was always smiling through her gourmet meals such as mixed veg purity and ice cream, mixed together…delicious right?
Mom read her bible every night. And after having said good night, she would retreat to her bedroom and listen to gospel music with headphones on singing along, for hours, and in perfect tune of course.
We loved it. I remember one night, I went to check on her and she had fallen asleep while listening to music. I gently woke her and she awoke, and, with a fright she said: “I’m not sleeping.” I replied saying, “Mom, I think you should go sleep now” to which she said, “I’m not a child.” Oh, how we laughed.
One night, while having supper, Mom was eating a bowl of muscles. I asked Mom, “how’re your muscles”, to which she replied: “They good”, pulling her biceps. She had a sense of humour right through her illness.
If mom ever got annoyed or irritated with me, a simple “Love you Mom” and she’d smile and feel okay again.
Mom was always soft-hearted and the peacekeeper. Ask anyone. She’d always tell us not to fight. But, as kids, if she was cross with us, then the Afrikaans came out, and we knew we were in “groot kak”.
Everyone loved her
If you had the privilege of even just meeting my mom for 5 seconds, she’d have crept into your heart. I believe everyone loved my mom. She had a warm smile and made an effort to connect with everyone she met.
Mom held the family together and raised us under difficult circumstances. She always taught us to love and honour our father, but I always thought she would have preferred for us to love her a little more. Secretly I did. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to make sure we were cared for. She’d walk to work to save on petrol, sell her leave back to the company for a little extra cash, making sure we always had food in our bellies, beds to sleep in and in so doing, teaching us the value of earning your way in life, learning lessons from her ways that we could take into our own lives.
But everything that comes from the heart, the real essence of me, and pretty much everything important that I learned as a youngster, that’s from my mom.
She’s the one who made sure I never went through a day of my life doubting that somebody loved me or doubting that somebody was proud of me. She taught me to wear my flaws like armour, that way no one can use it against me.
As a parent, grandparent and friend, my mom had an extraordinary ability to make each of us feel stronger and more confident in our own identity, giving us our own sense of independence and mental toughness which, speaking for me has been such an asset in so many ways in my life. She will live in our memories forever. Mom will live in our hearts forever and I will always be extremely proud to call myself her son.
Mom, we may have lost you in the physical world but you are now in eternity forever. You may be gone, but you will always be in our hearts and memories.
The last words she spoke before she passed were “It’s so beautiful”. We believe she was given a peek into heaven just before she went home.
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever“.
Mom, you were a legend, the legend of all legends. An Angel in the shape of my Mom.
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