Friday, October 26, 2012

In Celebration of Life or Mourning the Death?

It's melancholy me returning to my blog.  I have another happy post--a picture of the last completed project. I finished it last week, took a picture of it and life has moved on at a crazy pace since then.

Death seems to come in groups.  Four more people that I knew of have passed away; only one in what you could call a timely death.  (Meaning he was old enough that it doesn't surprise you)

The one that has touched me most deeply has been D's first cousin, Ruth Leatherman.  She was 31 years old and died in her sleep.  How do you reconcile that?  People that young do NOT die in their sleep.  She was athletic, had just run a marathon 2 weeks before that.  How does your heart just not keep doing its normal thing?  Why does it choose to stop functioning correctly?  She left behind a husband and 3 small children.  You want to cry out and say, God, why?  But as her mother said, "God must have needed her more."  That's the only way to really look at.  I didn't have the privilege of knowing her--had only meant her one time briefly at a wedding; but she impacted a lot of people.  The church was full.  The thing that came through in her life was: she had time for people, she loved people, she loved her family and she loved her children.  Most of all she loved her God.  What a testimony to leave behind!!  Gone!!  Now the family is left to pick up the pieces and carry on.  Pray for them if you think of it.

The other death was expected, but still too young.  I will miss her.  I will miss her coming up to the secretary window at work with a new picture showing off her 2 little grandbabies.  I will miss keeping up on her life and her family.  She had a wonderful husband who supported her and stood by her in sickness and in health. She was a sweet lady, who, while I think she battled frustration at her lot in life, didn't have a whiny personality.  She didn't complain that it wasn't fair, she tried to accept and move on.  She leaves behind a void.

How do you process all of this again?  It's a challenge for me not to become fearful of each day, but it's also a challenge to live life fully and with vim and vigor.  What do I want people to say about me after I am gone? Was I there for people?  Did I reach out and touch the lives of those around me?  Sometimes, I think my job isn't much of a mission field.  I work with Mennonites/Amish most of the day and yet, can I encourage someone by being me, by being real, by caring about their lives.  Can they see Jesus in me and be challenged to walk more closely to their Savior.  I want to live each day, to treasure each moment and to make a difference in my world by being me.  I don't have to go get all flashy and do something big; that can flop.  I just need to be me; shining my light right where God has called me to shine.

So the question is: do you celebrate the life or mourn the death?  I think some of each.  I was very blessed at the funeral on Wednesday and the praise songs we sang.  We sang about God's victory over the grave and over death; we praised him for the blessing that come like raindrops sometimes.  God is good and while we mourn the loss of a friend, we can celebrate the impact their life made on us and the fact that they are so much happier now.

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