On Weddings and Funerals

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who lived 26 full years of life even before my arrival to this earth. My Dad said he wanted me to share but with one stipulation: I couldn’t say “pissed off”. I asked, Where have you EVER heard me say that?” He informed me that it wasn’t only my Mom who had listened to my radio show several years ago, but he did, too, and he heard me say it. I assured him, “Dad, don’t worry…I won’t say ‘pissed off’ at Mom’s service…but I’ll probably drop an ‘eff’ bomb…” (*if you could only be a fly on the wall of our family’s inappropriate sense of humor…at all the inappropriate times…hey, laughter is good medicine.)

Except I didn’t drop an ‘eff bomb. The problem is, whenever I speak publicly, no matter how many hours of preparation and rehearsal are poured into it, I still get nervous out of the gates, then warm up after a few minutes. And my Dad said I couldn’t cuss, and it wasn’t a wedding where I had already had half a glass of wine to relax, so my usual alternative is a joke to lighten people up… (*Hello!? remember WHY people have asked me to speak publicly over the past 8 years…because my son died…and people always think it’s going to be sad, even though it’s not…I need a new platform…just sayin’…) But it was my Mom’s memorial service, so without cussing, wine, or a good joke, I awkwardly fumbled and barely scratched the surface to only ONE of the angles I wanted to go in sharing about my Mom and her impact on my life.

Then, of freaking course, I left my computer in the other room with all of my notes and ended up winging it…but whatever.

After I worked out my nervous kinks, I was so glad to be sharing at my Mom’s service. I’m very comfortable not only sharing my heart candidly but sharing about death. I think funerals, (and talking about dying and death) are kind of important, I mean, especially since everybody dies and all. Yet we avoid the topic like the plague, as if that keeps it at bay, and don’t even plan services until a person has died.

You see, I don’t think weddings and funerals are really all that different. In both cases we celebrate a sacred love shared between two key players. Weddings are a blissful time where there is all the time in the world, seemingly. Funeral are the bittersweet reminder that God holds the number of our days in His hands…life is short this side of eternity, living with intention is key, and that even though those of us left over will be sad, it’s momentary, and the gathering of people to celebrate the one who has died is truly an opportunity to share joy! And, baby, my Mom loved a good party, especially the pretty decorations! Music, stories, food, and tears are present in both scenarios…and if it’s a funeral, there is most certainly dancing going on, too, though we just aren’t able to see it.

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...a friend made the "It is well with my soul" placard for my birthday earlier this year...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…a friend made the “It is well with my soul” placard for my birthday earlier this year…

Anyway…I can honestly say, I’m not sad for her. I don’t grieve without hope. There is a vast difference between grief and despair. Grief is a true emotion meant to be expressed over great loss, and for me, the loss of my Mom’s physical presence in my life is great because I loved her dearly and was loved unconditionally by her, but I’m not sitting in the corner of my closet, hopeless and in despair. I know it’ll hit me in the thighs in a few weeks when things “wind down”, I realize I can’t carb-load anymore, and the reality hits that she’s not on a trip with my Dad, out of cellular range, so that’s why she isn’t calling…believe me, I’ve already wanted to ask her something specific and the answer is gone, with her.

photo 3

photo 2

The little Dutch house is part of a canister set she put flour, sugar, tea, and coffee in over the years.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn’t pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

God gave me a vision of my Mom while she was alive but on her last full day of life, and this as I sat behind her ailing body, rubbing her back as she tried to breathe…she was sitting on the edge of something and had her head turned, looking back at me over her shoulder. She was alive and young and vibrant and her smile was one so wide and beaming, I had never seen one quite like it captured in any photograph. Her eyes were bright and so alive and the look on her face was that of anticipation and excitement for what was before her, more glory than she had ever known…and then she danced with all of her might, and I could no longer see her…

Because apparently dancing takes place not only at weddings, but also in the midst of sacred encounters…

Time: My Love Language

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

My number one love language is time…and I think that’s why this grief is so incredibly profound.

My Mom was too young to be as old as she was when she died. She wasn’t an “old” soul. She was wise and discerning beyond her years, basically with enough God-discernment to qualify for a lifetime, but as far as spirited, she was young and vibrant…

Did you know that just 8 weeks ago the docs said if nothing else worked our Mom had about a year to 18-months left? We planned a family trip to Glen Lake, Michigan, and Traverse City, to attend the Cherry Festival and take in lots of Lake Michigan sunsets, our family tradition while growing up that we hadn’t done in over 20 years. Did you know that just 3 weeks ago they told us 4-6 weeks, at best?

What THE HELL? #$%^&*

I’m no mathematician, and I’m also not one to listen to one human dole out a life and death time-frame to another human, but the numbers just don’t add up and I’m grieving TIME!

IT’S GONE. TIME WITH MY MOM IS GONE. And she was one who spending time with was priceless…a gift, worth every minute…

Yes, I get that she was “diagnosed” with cancer just shy of 3 years ago, but she was a Mother of the Faith, a Superhero, a Spiritual Force to be reckoned with in the earth…she wasn’t solely the love of our Dad’s life and our Mom and friend to many of you, she was a friend of God and the thought of her dying never occurred to me…because apparently I’m slow or, maybe, rather, I chose not to “go there” so I could be present in each moment, one day at a time.

My grief runs deep because her love ran even deeper…and time was cut short.

There. I said it. I’m not a fan of God’s timing or answer. Sure I have peace that my Mom is dancing her heart out with the Lover of her soul, seeing family and friends, meeting people who have been family all along…she is in the presence of Almighty God, her Creator and the Love of her life, but I miss her and this can’t be “real.”

I have gone back to the mortuary twice now to pray for my Mom to be raised from the dead. This whole “great commission” thing from Matthew 10 is difficult to follow, the part about “healing the sick and raising the dead,” when the dead person is enjoying the presence of God so much that the very thought of returning to earth life isn’t even an option…Was it so bad here? Hey, a bit of cooperation would be amazing…

Come on, Mom! I get it! God’s presence is awesome! Clearly! But you have eternity to hang out there…come back here so we can love people as a family and share God’s love with everyone we meet…let’s go! The world is lost and wallowing, they need to know God’s unconditional love…

To visually see our Mom age at an exponential rate over the last few months was a bit Benjamin-Button-esque. It was unreal and surreal and I could curse chemo and cancer for all of it, but nothing, nothing, nothing is outside of God. Nothing. My Mom prayed before, during, through, and after EVERY SINGLE step of this disease, treatment, etc, and confirmed to my heart, NO MEDICINE, NO CLEAN EATING ROUTINE, NO NATURAL OR TRADITIONAL MEDICINE OR TREATMENT WOULD EVER RECEIVE THE GLORY FOR HER HEALING OR DEATH, but God alone would be her Healer, whether it was with us here on earth or with Him in His presence…and this is what I trust. God really does know the number of our days. He showed my Mom while she was struggling to breathe that it wasn’t the Pharisees or the Devil who finally took His life on the Cross, but God alone said when it was finished…

He holds time in His hand, says life is “but a breath” that it’s a “wisp”, short, and that He is coming back soon, yet my limited earth-mind is here, steeped in earth life and earth perspective and though the hope of heaven is that much richer with more treasure there than just days ago, eternity’s time and my interpretation and physical experience with it aren’t quite lining up, and as a result, the loss of time aches like a mother…


A Matter of Obedience

Here’s what obedience looks like…

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Bedside with Bebe, Literally

This is a hand I've held for 42 years...

(*I started writing this the morning of June 19th) It’s all surreal, carpet burns on my knees as I position myself to be helpful to my Mom, rubbing her back while playing worship songs in her ears, reading Scripture over her, telling her how very grateful I am that she would call me her own, […]

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Why Wait?

“I’ll run a marathon when I lose 50 lbs.” “We’ll travel when the kids are out of the house.” “I’ll go back to school once my kids are through school.” “When I’m feeling better I’ll do such and such…” “When I have more money I’ll be able to do (whatever ‘it’ is…)” You and I could sit […]

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How do I Pray?

Sometimes I pray like this: (*closing my eyes as I type so it’s prayer and not prose…excuse typos…) Father, I love you! You are good and holy and lovely! You are BIG and I’m NOT! I’m grateful for Your grace each day, thankful for Your love, in awe of Your mercies, humbled by Your constant […]

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Have you ever been disobedient? It’s a word we like to throw around with our children, not even throw it around but use it with firm voices and wish for it with all of our hearts. We camouflage it with cooperator, team, make a good choice, blah, blah, blah. We think it’s worse at: toddler age, preschool […]

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Bucket List

Bebe & Bobby in Fiji, YWAM, renewing their vows, 2007

This entire post is prefaced with this truth: God is good, He knows the number of our days, death is nothing to be feared when we trust God’s love and word over us, the only ones hurt by death are the ‘leftovers’ aka, us, the Devil really does exist and his whole purpose is to steal, […]

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Update on My Mom

There is cancer in my mom’s body. Though I am her daughter and will/would fight for her to make it go away, over the past 3 years I’ve been spending much time in prayer and observation, watching helpless at times, sharing tears, laughing when the very thing may seem disrespectful and out of place…but I’ve […]

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A Sort of Interview

We may need one of these for Ryan. Photo courtesy of: http://www.onemoregadget.com/carry-on-luggage-you-can-ride-on/

  Many friends and family members have asked us questions about our pending “adventure” if you will. I thought I’d post some of the questions and my answers, or lack thereof, in case you may have wondered the same… Jason got a great job, so are you going to stay in Colorado?   He did […]

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