Everything we need

My friend Karen passed away recently.  Her death felt so sudden and so jarring.  The cancer I thought she’d overcome came around again and took her quickly.

Karen lead a group at church of the neatest ladies.  They are crocheters and knitters and when I showed up one day wanting to learn to crochet, Karen happily sat me down and in no time flat had me working on a little hat.  We laughed later because I failed to mention that I’m left-handed and when Karen taught me the crochet stitches, she taught them to me right-handed.  It worked out well though because most patterns are written for right handers anyway.  I have loved my new hobby!  It’s the coolest thing ever to create something with my own hands.

When I walked into group this week, the long boardroom-style table was covered in yarn.  Boxes and bags and balls of yarn everywhere.  Karen’s daughter had given all her yarn and supplies to one of the girls to bring to group for us to have.  It was such a special, but emotional, time to be able to select some of her yarn to use to make shawls and hats to give away.

There were also a few knitting projects that she had started and had been unable to finish.  But let me tell you something about Karen.  Ya’ll she was one organized lady.  All those unfinished projects were there on the table in large Ziploc bags.  Each bag had the shawl or scarf that she’d started, along with the extra yarn to finish, the needles she was using the make it and a copy of the pattern all right there together.  So some of the girls in the group that knit took them all home to try and pick up where Karen left off and finish those things she started.

I get so choked up thinking about how precious it is to be able to carry on and continue doing the thing she loved with the yarn she chose.  Her legacy lives on in us.

In the book of John, starting towards the end of chapter 13, Jesus and His disciples had just finished their last Passover over together on this earth and Jesus begins the difficult task of telling them that He will be leaving them soon.  Of course they’re all freaking out wanting to know where He’s going and you can feel the panic in Peter’s words as he pleads his case to go along with Jesus with He leaves.

But starting in John 14 Jesus responds and tells them not to worry because He’s coming back for them.  He’s only going to be gone a little while and then He’ll be back for them all.  And then He says this profound thing in John 14:12:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Jesus is telling the disciples here that even after He is gone, they will continue to doing the work He has done, and even greater.  And then further down in versus 26, Jesus gives them the promise of the Holy Spirit, who would come after He was gone and guide them, reminding them of all that Jesus had taught them.

I can only imagine what was going to their heads at this point.  Their teacher, with whom they had walked for these three years – what probably felt like a lifetime to them – was leaving.  He was going somewhere they couldn’t go.  Instead, they would stay behind and continue doing the things Jesus had taught them.  But He wasn’t just leaving them helpless and alone.  He was sending the Holy Spirit to come and be their guide.

Jesus gave them everything they needed while He was here and when He left, He gave them exactly what they would need to continue on without Him.

And even more, now we have the Scriptures…the whole story from start to finish.  And while we may have those moments of stumbling around trying to figure out what on earth it is we are supposed to be doing, we are never without God’s pattern to look to for guidance.  We might mix up a stitch here and there and it might not always look like we want it to look, but we have been given everything we need to run our race through to completion.

And the beauty of it all is that God has not only given us the pattern and supplies, but He’s surrounded us with brothers and sisters to walk along with us and help us make sense of things when they don’t make sense.  We are not alone.

I miss Karen terribly and I will be forever grateful for her.  She lived her life for Christ and even in death, she continues to point me towards Him.


A legacy of love

I attended the funeral or life celebration or home going (or whatever the “PC” term is nowadays) for a very precious lady yesterday.  I’ve known her for probably about ten years or so…and have loved her for every single one of them.

Her name was Myra and she was an incredible woman of God.

Mrs. Myra was the epitome of Southern refinement and Godly humility all wrapped into one.  She greeted you with a warm smile and a “hey dah-lin'” and a sweet pat on the cheek.  She was dressed to the nines and that beautiful silver hair of hers was always right in place.  In fact, on more than one occasion I thought to myself how 80-some year old Mrs. Myra was way more hip and stylish that 30-some year old me.

And oh, how she loved Jesus.

I had the honor of having Mrs. Myra at my table in Bible study a couple of semesters ago.  Sometimes I felt almost silly as the table leader talking through our homework, sharing the things I’d learned from my own study time – in my eyes she was absolutely a spiritual giant, a mighty prayer warrior – but I’d look over at her and there she was listening intently to me, 50 plus years her junior.  See, she was never so foolish in her faith to think that she still didn’t have more to learn, and never so haughty as to ignore opportunities to learn from someone who may or may not have as many years at Jesus’ feet as she did.  I loved that so much about her.  She never made me feel beneath her.  Whenever I was able to sit and chat with her and share what I’d been learning, she’d listen and smile and her eyes would just light up.  She was just as excited to hear as I was to be able to share.

But thank goodness I had the sense enough to not always be the one doing the talking because as much as I loved telling her about what Jesus was showing me, I loved even more hearing about what He was showing her.  Her child-like faith was simple and sweet, yet deeply profound and wise.

I wish so much that I had the words to write her a proper tribute.  She was a mentor, a spiritual leader, a sister in Christ, and a dear friend…and my life was better for having known her.