"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Beautiful Day for a Funeral

I don't like funerals, never have liked them. As a Christian, I know that the passing of someone who is a believer is an exciting time because of the whole heaven and eternal life bit, but it still didn't seem to make me feel any better. Through the years, I have always preferred to play for the service because I could remain a bit distant from the whole thing by having to focus on music rather than what was being said or done. It isn't that I am reticent to weep in public, au contrare', I get quite weepy during many times of worship and praise, at many movies and in the privacy of my car when a song or sermon is touching my heart. It's just the whole grief thing and the public stuff that has always bothered me.

Today, however, I attended a Celebration service for a man in my church who has gone to be with God. Brian was in his forties with a wife and two great teenage kids. He led his family in the Lord, was a true servant of God and always had a smile for everyone he passed. He loved God, his family, his church, sports and life in general. The celebration factor came in because for a number of years, Brian had been stricken with Lou Gehrigs disease and was wheelchair bound and unable to speak, but very rarely missed a service at church. He always sat in his wheelchair by his wife in the pew, would smile at the music and during the message and you could just tell that he was praising God in his heart and wanted to just shout out loud or clap his hands. But, he could not do it physically.

He and his wife were adamant that when this time of transition of life came, that any service was to be joyous, uplifting and a celebration that he was no longer wheelchair bound and could run and shout and praise God with the voice he had lost in recent years. And, as his wife told me yesterday, Brian just went ahead to make sure that heaven was gonna be fun and help prepare things for the rest of us when we come.

I experienced a time today of pure joy and celebration that Brian had lived and died, but is now complete. He touched my life and the lives of all he met and we are better for it. As the family came into the sanctuary we began singing "Victory in Jesus" and the family was singing almost louder than the congregation. His wife had her hands raised in praise when we sang "Shout to the Lord" and would stand in reverence and praise when "No More Night" was sung at the conclusion.

Were there tears today? Yes. Were some of the tears mine? Definitely so. Tears of sadness? No, but tears for the eternal hope I and other believers have for our future of eternal life with God in His heaven. I realized today that I will see Brian again, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, my boyhood friend Larry, my little pal David and his mother Linda, other men and women who helped to raise me in the faith before their passing and so many other loved ones from my 52 years of life. I guess in my sorta quirky view of theology, I like to believe I'll even see Murphy again; running across the fields of heaven to give me doggie kisses once again. Aw, there come the tears again.

I grew today. No longer will I dread funerals as much because I have come to see them as the true Celebration. If you don't know where you would spend eternity if you died tonight, then let me encourage you to seek out God and His Son, Jesus. Email me privately or comment back and I'll help you and there are so many other readers who can also encourage you.

Thank you, Brian, for your life and what I learned from you today. Thank you Kay, Justin and Kalina for standing firm on a true Celebration of Life and not just a time of sad, slow songs and stories.

Dear readers, please keep Kay, Justin and Kalina in your prayers as they adjust to a life without a husband and father. But, I know they would want you to pray for your own lives as you attempt to find God and live your life for Him each day.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thanks and Updates

It's far too hard to try and thank folks for their kind words and support about things about which I have blogged as well as for their prayers and support for my family during my dad's illness. So, I thought I'd take this post to do the best I could.

Paul, thank you for your always faithfulness to read my sometimes trivial posts and find something in which to compliment. You've got a great gift of encouragement.

Dabbling Mum, even though we are new in blog-visits, I appreciate your visits and comments. Upon looking at your blog and websites, I realize that you certainly are one amazing dabbler and that you would spend the time at "Being God's" is a great compliment.

~Tey~ - hee-hee, I love those little symbols. Thanks for your frequent visits and keeping me accountable to get this book finished.

Mountain Mama, you've been a frequent visitor for quite awhile and I always feel blessed by your comments and your stories. I look forward to keeping up with you.

Present Storm, I've followed your site for a long time and have prayed for you and your family during illness and tough times. Thanks for returning the favor for me and your encouraging words.

Suzii, I also appreciate your constant prayers and complimentary words. It's always a joy to see your name pop up and also to visit your site when I can.

JoeB, what can I say? Since I retired from downtown and you moved from down the street, it has been more difficult to get together. But, I am glad for being in the same church as you and for the times we do get together. Promise that we'll do a Varsity run soon.

DamianQ, still haven't gotten that LCD tv in the bathroom, huh? But, I'm still working on the nerve to get the motorcycle and if the holes in my ears hadn't grown up, I'd stick that earring from my 20's back in.

Shannon, Vicki, Jan - my friends from the beginning of my blogging days. Words are not there to thank you for all the encouragement, all the prayers, all the advice, all the friendship you have given me. Never have we met face to face, but God has blessed me with you three women of God. You have helped me through crises of faith, through the passing of Murphy, and shared the joys I have also experienced. I only hope I could be the same encourager and prayer warrior for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I know that in a post like this, I run the risk of leaving people out, so just let me say that to all who read and post here, thank you....even if you do not comment. Carmen, Melisa, Karen, Debra, Julie (from the vet office), Tara and others. Thanks for keeping me accountable.

Now, as far as updates go -
My dad is halfway through with his chemotherapy and the doctors have been fairly encouraging about the results in his bloodwork. He still has a long road ahead and has plenty of down and out days from the treatments. Please continue prayers for him and for my mom and brother as they help him during these weeks.

The book is still 'in the works', slowly and surely. I'm working with a proofreader and editor that is helping me make it better, yet still allowing me to keep my personal touches and nuances in place. The cover (front and back) has gone to the publisher along with the copyright page, acknowledgements and the introduction. Most of the main manuscript is ready to go, but it almost scares me to punch that send button because it is such a final sending of something that is such a personal thing away to people who don't really know me. But, I'll get the strength to do so before long.

For now, I'll sign off with one more Thank You. I've got a newspaper article to finish today and a couple adventures to get blogged for your amusement and reading pleasure.

Until later, - Be God's!