Words from my precious Mother-in-laws funeral…She was there…

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My sister-in-law asked for me to share scripture at my mother-in-law’s funeral.  I typed it into Word press as I pieced together what God was putting on my heart to say.   This blog was started almost 5 years ago out of the grief of my father and it continues to provide tremendous healing as God helps me type through life’s journey.   Our Mother is and will be so deeply missed.

 

Proverbs 31 is the first scripture that came to mind when Lisa asked me to read scripture today.  God’s word eloquently describes a woman of virtue and noble character.  Jody fits so well into this scripture.

 

Proverbs 31:10-3110 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

There are so many memories and examples that can be shared about Jody.  Her love and care for her husband, children and grandchildren.  How she was always making something special from stained glass, barbie doll clothes, to crochet baby blankets.   She welcomed me as her own daughter into the Lucas family.  For the sake of time I  narrowed down to one special memory and lesson learned from Jody.

When Mike and I bought our first home the entire house needed paint and all the carpet ripped out.  It was disgusting.  She had a day that she could come and help me with painting.  She was the expert trim painter extraordinaire with her very special brush. (there are a few stories of her painting capabilities out there)   She chose the hardest room to work on with a deep, dark, dried mustard color with the carpet to  match no less.   She worked so hard and we shared several stories and giggles as the day went on.  My dad was also a painter and used tape.  Jody taught me the art of no tape just keep your wet rag handy.  Now my own painting is a combo of their teaching tips. As the time she had to help came to an end she kept apologizing that she did not get much done and felt like she didn’t help much.  She was 66 years old at this time and was a tremendous help.  The thing is looking back I really can’t remember how much she got done or even how “perfect” it was.  What I remember is that she was there.   Jody was there for all of us, helping, caring, and cheering what ever the need was she was there.  A true life lesson her life has taught me is that what is important is that we are THERE for our family, friends, and people in need.  The details aren’t so much important as our presence.

Parenting in so many ways, especially a parent like Jody, reflects that same kind of love our Heavenly Father has shown to each and everyone of us.  Despite our imperfections, despite our sin God sent His own Son Jesus into the world to give his very life for us.  AS parents we aren’t always happy with our children’s choices.  There are some pretty funny stories of times Jody wasn’t happy with her kids behavior, but she was there still loving and guiding. God desires nothing more than to welcome us all into His family  through His Son Jesus no matter who we are or what we have done.  He wants to be there for every single one of us.  Through the happy times and the sad times in our lives.  Most importantly He longs to welcome us one day into our heavenly home with him.

A mother’s love is a beautiful picture of sacrifice doing all that she can for her beautiful babies.  Jody’s love for her children was the very core of who she was.

I will close with a final scripture about the love of Jesus for us.

Romans 8:34-39

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is a Place in Grief I Can’t Allow Myself to Stay for Long

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What I am learning about grief is that there really seems to be no rhyme or reason nor any timeline it follows.  For the last year and a half or so when a memory would sneak up on me I maybe would get misty eyes, smile, and then go on.   The last few weeks the lonely feeling of missing my father is wanting to just hang around.  The way my brain works I always want to understand the “why” in everything.   There is so much happening in our country and in our world that would have deeply affected my father.  Everyday I see something on the news that I feel a thankfulness that God has protected my kind hearted father from seeing.  The day he was rushed to the Emergency Room I asked to go right in to see him.  As I entered that ER room and saw his lifeless body I felt an overwhelming comfort that God took him on home to protect him.  His face was completely relaxed, even with resuscitative tubing and wires he looked like there was no trauma, no pain, and only complete peace.  He was now home with Jesus.

A couple weeks ago I woke up feeling much like I am even again today.  I just can’t stop crying.  The desire to take a long walk and talk to my dad about so many things has been stronger than it’s been since he passed.   This particular day I actually made mention of how I was feeling on social media.  Sometimes I think we try to portray a false sense of what our lives are to the rest of the world and we don’t spend enough time being real.  Not a feel sorry for me type of real or negative.  Just a “hey I am human and life hurts sometimes” type of real.  As I sat watching our youngest daughter and her friends swim that day this butterfly kept coming around and landing on me.  It was gray underneath, but when it opened it’s wings I saw flashes of bright orange.  It kept landing on my hand and finally settled on my thumb for what had to at least have been five minutes.  I was actually able to capture several pictures using my other hand.  My thoughts were that this butterfly was a gift from God to bring comfort.  My father was always big on walking and holding his little girls hands.  He loved to hold my mother’s hand and each of his daughters hands.  This butterfly demonstrated the same gentleness.  I later posted a picture on social media and had friends who also had the immediate thought that this was my needed comfort sent straight from heaven that day.

Another reason I am feeling sad I am sure is that another chapter of my parent’s life together is closing.  Since I was the age of five my parents have gone camping in a town where they use to live in the very early years of their marriage.  After thirty seven seasons and six different campers my mom has come to the conclusion that it is time to sell the current trailer.  It is time and she has my full support, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me sad.  My father loved to camp, fish, loved this campground, this town, and so many people in it.  There are shadows and shadows of memories there and echoes of hours of laughter.  My family and I just spent a couple days there as one last time to camp.  While swimming in the campground pool something caught my eye.  With a closer look there on the very edge of the pool was a butterfly just like this one.  Cora noticed it too and said “hey that is the same kind of butterfly that was landing on you!”  I smiled and said “yes, that is a Papa butterfly.”  With that the butterfly took off briefly landed on a towel and was gone.

God knows our every need.  If we are paying attention to Him we will see and feel our comforts sent straight from heaven.  Everything is in God’s hands and no matter what happens in this life my hope is in the Lord!!!   Psalms 30:5b  “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

One evening while there I went down to the dock on the lake feeling this looming sense of loss and sadness.  As I looked at the empty fishing boat my father spent hours in and the lake he had spent countless hours fishing in everything grew very still.  The lake was reflective as I too reflected on so many memories.  The silence and stillness God gave in that moment was yet again a precious gift and it was as if God said “it is ok the lake misses him too, you can miss him.”  Precious gifts sent from heaven…  One day I will get to walk with my father along the crystal seas of heaven.  Thank you God for the greatest gift sent from heaven Jesus, your Son, sent to die for a sinner like me.  He overcame sin and death by rising again!!  Because of Jesus there is hope even in sadness, loss, and death.  Joy comes in the morning!!

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What Would Your Fifty to One Hundred Pictures Be?

dad in mickey ears

When my father died this spring it was a completely unexpected death. One of the first things we needed to do when making arrangements for his funeral was to gather pictures. The funeral director we worked with has a picture video made up for the family of the deceased that plays during the visitation time of the funeral. He asked us to bring in 50 to 100 pictures with the maximum up to around 150. Immediately my mother, sister, and I started thinking of significant events and pictures that would most represent the life of my father. It was hard to narrow it down. His life illuminated joy in so many ways. Most funerals I have attended there are picture boards, albums, and/or a video to view to provide a small glimpse of the life we have gathered to mourn the loss of. The pictures often provide healing as they bring remembrance of the blessing this person’s life has been to us. Pictures allow the mourning to turn to celebration and reflection. Many times the pictures will bring a smile or laughter as the memories of the loved one come alive.

As I think of my father, other family members, friends, and church family who have gone on home to Jesus there are pictures that flash into my own memory. Not physical pictures, but the image of their smile, the sound of their laugh, the sound of their voice, significant acts of kindness given to a young girl, and kindnesses shared even into my adulthood. So many loving saints that have formed me into the person I am today.
The memories flooding my mind of loved ones who have passed have gotten me to thinking about these pictures. What pictures will I leave for my family? What joys and moments are significant enough to them to make up the picture board or video? What mental images will flood their minds when remembering my life?

Will the pictures of our lives be of joy, kindness, love, understanding, forgiveness, selflessness, faithfulness, peace, gentleness, self-control, and goodness? Or when others think of our life on earth will there be the remembrance of selfishness, hatred, bitterness, and anger? There are people who have gone on that the latter is what I remember of their life. To remember someone in this manner brings a tremendous feeling of sadness for a life wasted. Thankfully there are very few individuals that I have to remember this way.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

There is no better way for a life to be pictured than God’s way!! This is what I want my 50-100 pictures to represent. What are your 50-100 pictures?