Friday, November 9, 2007

To live is Christ, and to die is gain

Paul wrote a letter so some Christian friends in Philippi, and used these words, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!" Philippians 1:20-22

The other night I wrote that a neighbor of my parents had passed away. This morning when I woke up (we were still at my parents' house) my dad said, "We got a call that Richard McRae died last night." The McRae's are family friends from Georgia that we have known most of my life, since I was about 4 or so (nearly 40 years ago). I told my dad he shouldn't answer the phone anymore! Then, the phone rang. He learned that the wife of a man at their church had died last night. Also, the sister of another couple from church died last night. My heart has been heavy for these families. Yet, there is joy in knowing the lived a long life with those they loved, and while I do not know some of them, I trust that they knew the Lord and are with Him now.

We arrived home this evening, and had several things to do before I could go through our pile of mail from the past few days. In it was a letter from Montana. I hesitated to open it. Our friends who now live in Montana and minister to the people in their area are the ones whose daughter had the baby in October with Trisomy 13, the one I blogged about recently. Tommy & Sue don't send letters out that close together. I suspected I knew what was inside, and I was right. Baby Effie went to be with her Father in Heaven on October 30th. My heart aches for this sweet family. Yet, in the midst of this, you simply must read what Joanna, Effie's mommy, wrote in her memorial album: The little girl in the picture is their first daughter, Corinna. Joanna counts it a privilege and blessing to have been able to hold their Effie and have her at home for a few weeks. They had not expected her to ever leave the hospital alive.

For me to read what Jo has written is one of those every emotion rolled into one kind of experiences. When we met Tommy & Sue it was 1993. Joanna was their older daughter who was "away" at college in Austin (we lived just about a 30 minute drive from Austin). They had 3 girls in high school at the time. Jo was their "rebellious" daughter. She was the one who defined the stereotypical "Preacher's Kid" reputation. She is a brilliant woman. When I read her words of how "intelligence is not as important as we all are inclined to think," I am reminded of how much weight we daily place on knowing things. She is a very intelligent lady who also wrote, "I was shocked into the realization that life is short and I had better wake up and get busy spending time with my other daughter, training her, loving her, enjoying her. And, I have learned that my parents were right all along – God really does help us through everything he gives us to bear."

My heart is aching for Jeff & Joanna, for Tommy & Sue, for Jeff's parents, for all the aunts & uncles who have lost this precious family member, and for little Corinna who will never know her sister. Yet, my heart rejoices in knowing this sweet one is with the Lord and is complete. I am humbled as I read the words of a young mother & wonder how much time I spend just enjoying my children. And I am left wondering if I truly trust God to help us through all He gives us to bear. I'm encouraged as I know that what Tommy & Sue invested for all those years in these girls is coming to fruition. And even IF we go through a rebellious stage with our girls (I am hoping to skip that part!), we might see the fruit of our labor years down the road. I am also left realizing I do not spend enough time in God's Word. I don't read and devour it like honey.

I feel like my emotions have been through a whirlwind, and it is only going to get windier with things coming up. I will post separately about all the activities to come.

Go hug your kids today. Or your husband. Or call your mom or dad if you have them. Find a friend you can help and love. Life is short.

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