Monday, December 12, 2016

On losing and gaining and continuing on...

As I sat on the bed with my youngest son one night, a ritual I cherish every night before he goes to sleep, he said her name, "Mrs. Theresa," the name of one of my dearest friends who was called home to be with our Lord almost two weeks ago.  As soon as he said her name, meaning to have said another friend's name, he had an apologetic look on his face and diverted his eyes from mine.  "I'm sorry," he said.  No child, don't be sorry, don't ever be sorry, please say her name to me.  She has been a huge part of your life since day 1...literally, she was there in the moments just before and just after you were born.  Don't ever be sorry, how could you not continue to say her name, it has been a part of your everyday conversation in some shape or form all of your 10+ years.  I know his "I'm sorry" was an attempt to avoid seeing his mama cry.  It touches deep places in a son's heart when they see their mama cry and they would do just about anything to stop that pain.  

Please never stop saying her name.  By saying her name your not reminding me of her passing, her physical absence in my life is felt and remembered with every second that ticks by.  There is not one task, not one errand, not one minute that passes by that her and her family are not on my mind, on my heart or in my prayer.  From the most simple to the most serious, we shared it all between us.  Who will I talk about our favorite show "Survivor" with?  Who will I share all my epic parenting fails with?  Who will I call when I am irritated with my husband (that's just a "for instance" Chad, that probably never happened, insert winking emoij here)?  Who will come over and have lunch with me when Sophie Kate and I are homebound?  Who will I go eat at food trucks with?  Who will I go to football games with?  Who will I play games with?  Who will I call when Sophie Kate is admitted to the hospital again?  Who will I call when...

Thankfully it is not possible to sum up 17 years of friendship, it will never be summed up it will only be remembered and cherished and relived over and over in my heart and my mind.  Doing life with my dear friend Theresa and her family and all our friends is a privilege and will continue to be a treasure to me.  There is no summing up or wrapping up of a lifetime there is only continuing on.  Life has a way of continuing dare the sun have the audacity of shining on a day such as this but it does and it's a beautiful picture and a visual reminder to us of the light of God in our darkness.  When the satan wants us to dwell on our loss or on the finality of death, we know with certainty that it is a is not our truth.  We grieve for our earthly loss but we grieve with hope.  Our friend is with our Savior and Lord, she is healed and is with her Creator, her body no longer suffers from the cancer that she and her family have lived with for the past 6 years.  We cry our tears because we will miss her so so deeply, but we have hope.

As followers of Christ, as people who have chosen to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we know that we will see our friend again one day in Heaven.  Our suffering for Christ is never in vain and our Lord will use every tear, every day of suffering to bring about good for the Kingdom of God.  What satan has intended for harm, what satan has intended to cause despair, what satan has intended to destroy families, what satan has intended to cause people to turn from God will instead turn people to Him.  Theresa's life and legacy will point people to God. Her influence and her example to each and every one of us will have an influence for the Kingdom of God.  He is the author and perfecter of her faith and she is seeing that revealed to her in heaven.  Praise be to God!

I want to leave you with something I wrote just days after her passing when I was asked to give one word I would use to describe my you will see there is not just one word...

Teaching...Theresa never stopped teaching and I don’t just mean her class I mean all of us.  She never stopped teaching.  Whether it was in her 1st grade Sunday school class or in her Bible Study or in a backyard Bible club or on mission trip or even there from her home and more specifically her bedroom when her time got small, she taught us.  Less than 6 months ago she was in Greenville, South Carolina teaching 2 and 3 times a day for several days in a row because of her love for Christ and for the children she and her family have been serving there for 6 years.  Even as little as around 6 weeks ago she was at church teaching those precious 1st graders in that room that has been her's for so long.  There are not many of us here that have not been personally affected by her faithful teaching of our 1st graders.  As one of our friends said, ”She thought she was just teaching children, but she taught all of us.”

She was real and it was that realness about her that bonded us so tightly as friends.  There was never a time you didn’t know how Theresa felt about something.  There may have been people in your life that you couldn’t get a good read on but Theresa was not one of those people.  She was for her family and friends, she was for fun and games and good food and good times, she was for playing tennis and for going camping, she was up for an adventure just about any time, she was for catching up on her favorite TV shows and for staying caught up with friends, she was for laughing until our sides hurt, she was for listening and sharing and crying with us and for us when things got hard.  She was for sharing parenting successes and fails in such a clever and funny way.  She was for people.  She was for Jesus.

She loves.  Scott, Benjamin and Emily never have to wonder how their wife and mother felt about them.  What a wonderful gift to her family and friends it is that we know exactly how she felt about us.  She expressed it both in her words and through her actions.  Equally comforting is that she knew how deeply she was loved as well.  Through conversations, text messages, meals, and running errands…through all the going and doing, laughing and crying…through the big gatherings and celebrations and in the still quiet moments…we knew and she knew…Scott, Benjamin, Emily, and Mr. White knew…there was always love.

She would be so uncomfortable with all this attention, but it is her legacy, it is real, it is sure, it is strong and it is all for His glory.

My dear friend, we will see each other again one day in heaven, until that time I will smile and laugh sometimes through tears in my eyes upon every moment we shared and it will be my honor and privilege to continue to love on, share with and do for your family. 

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