John shares his mom’s license plate message as a reminder that shows we must have hope and that the best is yet to come and plans to prosper.
In the midst of managing the complexities of life, what we often need most is a reminder that there is reason for hope.
Recently, I needed that reminder and received it from someone who may have needed it even more than me. Let me explain.
As a result of repeated falls, several weeks ago my amazingly tenacious Dad required a total shoulder replacement. At any age, it’s a difficult surgery and recovery to endure. But at 75, and after three decades with Parkinson’s disease, recovering has proven especially difficult.
After a few days in the hospital we brought my Dad home. Even with two people assisting with his transfers, feedings and supporting him through the day, the intensity of care proved more than we could imagine. Not only was he not improving, he was simply no longer safe at home.
So we made the difficult decision to move Dad out of his home and recover at a skilled nursing facility. He would receive daily in-person therapy and a trained caregiver to support him throughout the day. Although it was the right thing to do, it was incredibly hard to share with Dad that he had to leave his home for at least a month.
In the midst of layered personal struggle, she was given hope and faith by this Bible verse which she chose as her license plate so she’d have a daily reminder.
As we prepared Dad to leave, a gentleman from a pest control company we’d hired came downstairs and shared with Mom that there was a family of raccoons living in her attic. He went on to share that these raccoons, incidentally, were generous enough to share their adopted home with a family of squirrels.
Soon after, one of the grandchildren came running up from the basement and asked why there was a pool down there. [Turns out the sewer line had backed up and needed replacing.]
Mom, coping with her own sorrow and sleepless nights, lovingly navigated my Dad’s wheelchair
between the plumbers and the pest control experts. She guided him from their beloved home and carefully got him into their car.
Following behind her car as she pulled away from the house, I noticed Mom’s license plate. I’ve seen it for years, but rarely considered the significance of it. It is, after all, easy to take something for granted when we become too familiar with it.
If you are in the midst of struggle, remember this truth from my mom’s license plate.
And yet whether Mom had pulled up to my office to say hello, joined for a family dinner at our house, parked near a ball field to cheer for a grandchild, there were always three things present:
1. Mom always had my Dad riding next to her in the car. They were a team.
2. Mom always had a beautiful smile on her face. Life was good.
3. Mom always had the same personalized license plate on her car. And it read:
It’s a reference to Jeremiah 29; Mom’s favorite verses are 11-13:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Through seven decades of living with life’s complexities, Mom has held fast to that promise. Through more than five decades of marriage, she has believed in it. Through childhood tragedies, house fires (yes, two house fires!), financial struggles, a debilitating disease impacting her husband and personal struggles she never complains about, she remains comforted by that promise.
Mom knows her bible well enough to realize this isn’t some prosperity teaching suggesting life is easy for those who are faithful. She knows that her faith doesn’t protect her from suffering. Instead, it reminds her that God is with her in it and has even better things planned for her tomorrow.
Plans to prosper; and not to harm.
Plans to give hope; and a future.
With a backed-up sewer line and a growing zoo in her attic, that’s a nice reminder.
If you have challenges, this reminder will help you prosper and see the good to come.
With the incredible sadness that comes with loving a husband who is slowly succumbing to late-stage Parkinson’s disease, that’s critical to know.
And as we look away from my parents, and closer to our own reflection in the mirror, it’s vitally important for us to understand. Because while avoiding a life without problems is simply impossible, a convicted belief that there is a purpose in the struggle and hope for an even brighter future is absolutely liberating.
In fact, it’s powerful enough you might consider believing that promise for yourself. In doing so, you’d be free as you drive through life and arrive at each event with a beautiful smile on your face, too.