Monday, August 28, 2017

My Beautiful Aunt Linda

Today, we laid my Aunt Linda's earthly body to rest after a beautiful memorial service. As grieved as we all are, I know we all have peace. Just as the angels had declared that Jesus wasn't in the tomb, but had risen, we know that Linda has been raised to life. It's a beautiful comfort to know that she is with our risen Savior!
I snapped this at our Christmas get-together in 2009. 

The following words are the things that the Holy Spirit put on my heart to share at the service today. It was my honor and joy to be able to minister these words to others just as they were ministered to me when He had me typing and crying up a storm: 

As I have attempted to recall to mind the memories of my Aunt Linda, I realized that I didn't have the kind of memories everyone else would be sharing. Many of us who are gathered here have lived with her or near her while most of my interactions with her has been through family get-togethers and social media. I don't really recall many moments of one-on-one quality time. However, there are two prominent memories that stick out in my mind that I believe can speak for anyone who knew her no matter how much or how little they got to interact with her.

My first memory is of when I was a young child and I was told that she was going to have a baby. I remember that there was a strong emphasis on what a big deal this was. Every baby is a miracle, but her baby was that much more of a miracle child. If anyone ever had a mother's glow, it was her. The mere mention of her son, Zach, would immediately put the biggest smile on her face. She had once told me about how her co-workers had gotten her a doll that was made to look just like him. She adored that gift because it reminded her of her most precious real-life gift; her living "doll" with his Daddy's bright blue eyes. She truly treasured her husband, son, and family. Sometimes, people don't cherish their loved ones enough or as deeply as they should; but she did.

My other memory is about my necklace. It's a cheap two dollar necklace that I bought at a souvenir place while on vacation many years ago. It became a favorite of mine that I wore quite a bit. One day, it accidentally got broken. There were beads everywhere and I reacted with the kind of shock and sadness that Pocahontas did in that Disney movie scene where her mother's necklace was broken to bits. I hoped that maybe I would figure out how to fix it...if I ever had the time and know-how to do it. Realistically speaking, I knew I would probably never get around to fixing it myself. I can't remember how the subject came up (or if someone had just mentioned that Aunt Linda had the jewelry making skills to repair it) but she was more than happy to take a look at it and see what she could do with it. I don't recall how long she had it, but just like her mom (my Grandma) she was able to eventually get it done and get it back to me. Like Grandma, she apologized that she didn't get it finished sooner and tried to explain how it probably wasn't "quite right" or good enough. Again, just like with Grandma, I could never quite figure out what the supposed flaw was because it looked like new to me. I didn't care about any so-called imperfections or how long it took. All I knew is that I was loved because time was taken out for me and my problem. Aunt Linda was just like Grandma (and even looked so much like her too). They both had such willing hearts to love and serve others; always making sure things got done. They happily invested in their family and friends. Love, laughter, service, faith, and joy was a natural part of who they were and is why they are both so beloved and missed. 

I feel that these two memories summarize the Linda we all knew. We all love and miss her because she poured so much life into everyone around her. Since the day she gave back to me my remade necklace, I've never seen it as the cheap two dollar souvenir that it started out as. Every time I have put it on, it's felt like that Disney moment where Pocahontas also got her necklace back. What was so precious had been made precious and new once more, but it was more than that. Immeasurable new value had been added to it because someone cared enough to put the time into re-making it. That's what love does; it rebuilds, restores, renews, and heals. What was once broken is restored and what once was shattered is I made whole and new again. That's what I think of when I wear my necklace: "My Aunt Linda fixed this for me." That's
My re-made necklace
who she was. She modeled the healing grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ. She walked in love and poured it into everyone and everything around her. It pained us all to see life being drained and robbed from her after everything she did to pour life into everyone else. Our comfort is this; she has been remade! In heaven, she has been healed and made new. The body that had been broken is now restored, and what cancer had shattered is made whole and new again. Jesus fixed everything; right on time (His time) and without any flaws. She, her mom, grandma, Sherryl, and all of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us are eternally healed and whole. We will also experience this same joy if Christ is the Lord and Savior of our hearts. Until then, we must continue the legacy of faith and love the way they did. In this way, we will truly celebrate and honor their lives by paying forward all that they have poured into our lives.

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I'm including her memorial video at the bottom. Also, here's a link to one of Aunt Linda's favorite songs: I Can Only Imagine (I can't wait for the movie!!). The one thing I'm imagining right now is Aunt Linda and Grandma being with Jesus in heaven. In three days, it will be the 5th anniversary of Grandma's passing. It's so strange and beautiful that they both went to heaven during the same month, at around the same time, and because of the same reason. I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will get to experience this eternal paradise. The only way is through Jesus. If you haven't accepted Him as your Lord and Savior yet, don't wait another day! You never know when it will be your last!