Well, my faithful reading friends, I hate to make my first 2016 appearance about this post, but it is timely in that 8 eight years today my Dad died. The ripped edges of my heart have healed into a dad sized scar and I miss him. The tears have subsided but that will never minimize the fact I miss him, but so many precious memories remain. Happy Tuesday and hopes for a brighter post in the coming days...I promise! I'm not sure where to even begin this post because it is about funerals and death. Because this post that has been ruminating for a long time, I may ramble. But you will follow along in my rambles won't you??!!! In the line of work I am in along with my pastor/husband, I see death far too often. Since early December we have had three people from our Church pass into eternity. Shortly after the very sudden and shock filled death of a 60 year old man in mid-January, I asked my resident "theologian"(my pastor/husband) why every.single. time. I am shocked when I hear of death. He simply said death is our very last enemy. I also think of the world I live in, which includes the recent killing of Christians by ISIS. Death should not come as a surprise but it does. It has reminded me to live for today, to take in each moment and yes, make the most of the day. Death usually leads to funerals where the loved one that has passed away is remembered. A practice done in our Church by our pastors is the opening up to the group a time of remembrance where anyone can speak about the person that has passed away, any words of encouragement to the family or a memory to be shared. I find this time a highlight of a funeral, if there is a highlight, because you hear how the person lived, how much they were loved and how they lived their life. The question eating at my heart is why do we wait until someone has died to say out loud what they meant to us? Why do we not love wildly, throwing caution to the wind letting that person know how they have inspired us? Why do we wait until they can't hear it to say it? Maybe I'm making assumptions here and I have asked these questions over the past few months. Do those who mean the most to me know how I love them? Have I told them how they have inspired me? Do I live today like I may not have tomorrow? (Matthew 6:34) When I go home to be with Jesus, I want it to be said of me I loved God, family and my neighbor. Not because I said I wanted to live that way but because those I loved so much knew it because I told them in word and actions. And may they say she loved God with all her heart, mind and soul which was displayed to not just those she loved the most on this earth, but to anyone who came across her path. A simple smile, a small gesture, a hi, how are you? will change a stranger's day.I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds my tomorrows how ever many they will be. Today, I am choosing to live life joyfully and finding who I can love lavishly!!
Late last night, my eyes were burning and my legs were sore from exercise I had done with a friend who had said, 'how about a fourth loop?' We were walking at the local park...each loop is almost a mile!!! As I laid in bed, trying to sleep, my favorite group of people came to mind; moms. I almost got up to write this post, but knew if I put myself in front of the glaring computer screen late at night, I would regret it. It's that time of year again, when children of all ages leave the nest...and Jody gets back to writing. School has begun for some of you and Lauren will head off to begin her junior year next week. Two years from now I will be sitting at my desk and she will not be in her bed in the next room, but in a college classroom...that's the goal! Early this summer I saw a frazzled mom walk across a parking lot. It was apparent she had just come from work. With a teenager in tow, who was doing her best to help her mom carry loads of dirty clothes into the laundromat, but dropping towels all over the pavement. I recognized 'the look' mom was giving daughter. I wanted to jump out of my car and give her hand, but I might be considered a crazy lady. (Yep, this post began a long time ago.) This mom could have been me many years ago as I wanted to be the best mom to four children and do it all. Because that is what we do isn't it? We pour our lives 110% into the children God has given us and then they leave. But that's the goal too, isn't it? Unless you want them to live in your basement!! Some of my favorite moms will put their children on yellow school buses, some will send them off to high school driving for the first time and some have driven their college age kids many miles away from home and left them there. It's never easy to let them go. But as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us, there is a time for everything. I've also learned more times than I like to admit, that Justin, Hannah, Kelsey and Lauren are not mine. When they were only a few months old, we stood before our congregations and dedicated them to the Lord to do whatever He wants with them. They weren't mine then and they are not mine now. I surrender them to my loving Heavenly Father on a daily basis. I am reminded of the verse God gave me out of no where during my college days. God knew I would need this not so gentle reminder even thirty years down the road because of the four children He knew I would have, and the conflict I would have at times to keep Christ as my primary love.
The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son our daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn't take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:37-39I think of two other mothers who have done the leaving this summer. Leaving family and children at home, they went to Africa to get to know children who do not have moms. They went to love on the least of these, orphans. I am struck by the fact their hearts and lives are big enough for children who need love. I know it wasn't easy to leave six children with their father or for one to leave a mom who wasn't feeling well. But they also knew God had called them to this task and they followed their Savior this summer very far from anything familiar. Sometimes children do the leaving, sometimes the moms do the leaving. But will I follow Him not matter what?(Matthew 4:19)
To my faithful readers, this post may meander since I am recovering from a bout with food poisoning. I'm hoping it was food poisoning, I wouldn't wish my last 48 hours on anyone and certainly don't want my family to get it. I think I'm swearing off food..forever!! Today, one of my favorite ladies from our church is celebrating her 92nd birthday. To look at Ruby you wouldn't guess she may be that age except for her beautiful white hair. I spent the afternoon with her on Tuesday as we worked in the kitchen together for a funeral dinner. The funeral was for a 94-year-old mother and grandmother and charter member of our Church. As Dorotha was eulogized by sons, a daughter, grandchildren and great-grands, I didn't hear anything about how she worried about her weight or how she looked. I didn't have the privilege of knowing her, but my guess is she may have struggled with these areas of life as we all do, but they didn't characterize her. Don't get me wrong, I try to eat right and spend a lot of time exercising at our local park when it isn't covered with 3 feet of snow. I firmly believe we should take care of the body God has given us, so I do my best to take care of my physical body. But I don't want to be marked by continually gazing in the mirror or wondering how much I weigh. I'd rather be a woman who fears the Lord. Both of these women could be characterized as godly, beautiful women. In fact Proverbs 31:10-31 was read at the funeral, emphasizing
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Proverbs 31:30In our culture it is harder and harder to turn our back on the mirrors and scales that get so much attention in our bathrooms. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with the ideas we're too skinny, too fat, too many pimples, too much sugar, too much white bread...you fill in the blank. And it's easy to catch our reflection in every window and mirror and I won't even start with the 'selfie' craze that our smart phones enable us to take. Ruby and several other senior saints I know and admire, are beautiful women because they decided a long time ago to love God and their neighbor and serve others. They looked away from fleeting beauty and gazed upon their Savior. Even though they have achieved senior saint status, they continue to eat right, exercise and spend their energies helping others. I am in awe of this woman who decided this past year to 'enjoy God.' I could ramble on about what it means to enjoy God but you'd probably get a better answer from her..she's got a 40 year head start on me. Maybe I will ask her and write another post on her answer. In the mean time shall we all turn our backs on the mirrors that show oncoming wrinkles, white hair and flabby arms and look to our Lord who is worthy of all our praise. Happy May Day!!