You left us so much earlier than we expected. When you said the doctor gave you a year, maybe months... it was only a few short weeks ago. Part of me wishes we could have said goodbye. But God knows best and it's only a temporary separation anyway- we will see each other in eternity!
Your good friends found you kneeling at your bed. You had been praying- for what, we don't know. You could have been asking God to take away the tumors, or take away the pain, or to strengthen your friends and family. I can't imagine what it would be like to be talking to God and then... BAM! TALKING TO GOD FACE TO FACE!!! What a reunion you had with your Heavenly Father and your earthly father who went before you. You've sort of set the standard for dying among your friends, and I really doubt anyone will be able to top that.
You also set the standard for living, and for that I thank you. Thank you for your consistent kindness, generosity, steadfastness, and courage. Thank you for leading our Life Group with humor, grace, and commitment to truth. You showed us how to read and study the Bible and how to deal with life in a broken world. You longed for heaven and taught us how to long for it as well. Thank you for not giving up a dozen years ago when you were first diagnosed, and thank you for staying on chemo even when it made you feel awful. Thank you for making Jesus the main thing during Bible study and not drifting into sidebar discussions about politics, sports, food, or any other faddish topics. Thank you for reminding us to care about and pray for persecuted believers around the world. Thank you for letting our children use the back room while we adults wrestled with the concepts in the Word in the front room. Thank you for sometimes covering the cost of our babysitter when some of us forgot. If it wouldn't have been for the ability to bring Abby, I doubt I would have stayed in the Life Group.
Thank you for also caring for children around the world and for getting so involved in the shoebox ministry of Operation Christmas Child. I hope our Life Group can continue contributing- maybe even surpassing our usual number of boxes!
Your memorial service was well attended. There were about 600 people there- and about a third of those were people who knew you from work- from Colorado and DC even! Others were friends and family who flew in from North Dakota, California and Arkansas. That's the kind of impact your life made. There was a great big portrait of you up front. Everyone joked about how you would have hated that, but other than that it was not so much about you, it was mostly about Jesus and how you allowed Jesus to be the center of your life. So I don't think you would have hated the service.
Afterward, your wonderful sisters invited both Life Groups to your house for food and conversation. It was a feast! You were always talking about how God's people should celebrate, and we did. For 2 hours about 60 of us celebrated your life and God's goodness and you would have had a ball. It didn't feel strange to be in your house without you because so much of you was in those people.
Your atheist neighbors came to the feast as well. They were so broken up at losing you. You were a wonderful neighbor to them and even though they have not allowed a Bible in their home, rumor has it that they have accepted the gift of one of YOUR Bibles! Your life opened the door to them, and your death has caused them to moved toward the threshold. Some of us from Life Group are working at keeping that relationship alive and getting them into the Kingdom one day!
I found this poem on your website last week. You wrote it 6 years ago, but it feels like you are talking to us now from beyond. I hope it is ok with you that I post it here. Maybe others will appreciate it.
Departed for Glory
We love you dearly, we miss you deeply, and we long for the day when we see Him (and you) face to face.
Me and Abby