Posts Tagged With: faith

A funeral, a wedding, and a battle — one day’s three studies on love

Karla was truly a fixture in our town. She was born and raised there, got married and raised her own family there, helped all those she could, and served faithfully on the Sauerkraut Festival committee for decades.

One of her boys, Chad, was a classmate and friend of mine. He was always one of the most gracious and loving members of our class, and I remember often thinking how that was an extension of her overflowing love. She welcomed everyone to her home and table, even letting many stay a while as they needed, including many of her kids’ friends for a few days or weeks, and even some folks she’d not known much before giving them room. When I was a reporter and would visit her every year about that Sauerkraut Festival, she would pour out love and hospitality on me like I was one of her own kids.

She had so much love for all those around her that it was the overwhelming theme of her funeral Saturday morning. Cars were parked far down the street, and the church was packed, and love just filled that room and the many whose eyes welled with it.


Becky was long a coworker of Tracy’s at one medical practice and is again at another. Her daughter was a friend of ours at daycare, and although I have never known Becky well, I have always admired the love and dedication she demonstrated as a single mom. She always had joy, a friendly greeting, and a glowing smile whenever I saw her, and her daughter was always clearly well-cared for and surrounded by her mother’s love.

She and Selly married Saturday afternoon, and it was touching to see them show and others speak of how much they love each other and how that began. He seems a very good man, and we pray that their love continue to grow and deepen for many years.


Private First Class Desmond Doss was a man whose love of God made him promise to never touch a gun but whose love of his country caused him to enlist as a medic for World War II. His true story was told in the gritty 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge, which I watched tonight.

Harassed by his fellow recruits and the officers above them for his beliefs, he was nearly forced out but persevered.

“It isn’t right that other men should fight and die, that I would just be sitting at home safe. I need to serve. I got the energy and the passion to serve as a medic, right in the middle with the other guys. No less danger, just, while everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it. With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me to wanna put a little bit of it back together,” Doss said at his court martial for refusing an order to use a rifle at training camp.

Viewed by others as a coward, at Iwo Jima, he stayed on a battlefield to help the wounded who hadn’t been able to retreat. Working alone but for God’s help, he saved 75 men while Japanese troops continued to patrol the area, shooting everyone they found alive. “Please Lord, help me get one more,” he kept praying. True to his beliefs and his promise to God, he never harmed anyone and even treated three Japanese soldiers he encountered.

For his actions on Hacksaw Ridge, Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was the first conscientious objector to receive it.


“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”—John 15:9-17 (NIV)

 

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Missing a mother-in-law

Marty was a remarkable woman.

Born in Guam to an Army family, Tracy’s mom was the middle of three girls and often said that her Daddy was made to have daughters.  She always spoke adoringly of his great love for them; it was always clear how well he had raised them to be ladies who could take care of themselves.  She had a tremendous love for her family and her country, and she expressed those loves through loyalty, selflessness, attentiveness, and a passionate devotion to what she believed right for each.  She had an eager laugh and a comfortable humor, and she loved making people feel at home.  One never felt inadequate or low around her, and even when she disagreed with someone, she never insulted or demeaned the person.  She was a wonderful mother-in-law.

It was three years ago today that we lost her.  She’d been living with us for about six weeks, brought home by Tracy right after the cancer was confirmed.  Tracy had known it was terminal as soon as she’d seen the X-ray, but she prayed fervently for healing; God had other plans and brought her home to Him instead.  Her daughters were by her side, giving back the love and comfort she’d so long nurtured in them.

Those six weeks were such a blessing.  Given her devotion to America, it was no surprise that she cared deeply about its politics, and she and I had butted heads often over ideas, ideals, and candidates.  I always felt we disagreed more in degree and application than in outlook, but I could never seem to assure her of that.  In those last six weeks, though, those debates just weren’t important anymore, and I’ll always be grateful for the talks we had instead.

Talks about family, love, and faith.  About how much she believed in and supported our following God’s call to help others in Christ’s name, and how important He was in her heart.  About the peace and joy she had, and about ways that we could offer her a little more, like arranging a gift for someone or simply bringing her a little more broth and rearranging her blanket or pillow.  About how pleased she was by what she saw in me as her daughter’s husband, her grandkids’ father, and her son-in-law; nothing could have been more meaningful or treasured.

Karen was just 7, and Billy was not quite 5 while their grandmother stayed with us.  Karen loved going in and talking to her.  Billy preferred to just take his toys into her room and be near her.  Marty loved the time with them and talked about so much that she saw in each.

It was a cherished time of passing along blessings, easing sorrow, and leaving memories.  What a legacy she left for those she loved so well.

 

 

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Starting the day well with coffee

My Dad LOVES coffee.

Growing up, I always saw him having a cup with his brothers or other guests.  Just enough sugar, just enough milk, and just enough space left by the coffee for it to spill out of the mug when he stirred it.  Coffee with breakfast, coffee with lunch, and coffee with supper.  Even coffee at night when he couldn’t sleep.  Hmm… I woke up again… better have some more coffee.

For Dad, coffee was a source of energy, a joyful treat, and a ceremony of friendship and affection.

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Been through the water

It was 2004, and we rested in the home’s shady courtyard, as grateful to escape the hot sun of Kaffrine, Senegal as we were to worship the God whom we had spent days serving in medical huts.  We sat on the ground, sang songs in several languages, and witnessed something incredibly rare among the Wolof people.

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