|Christina looking forward with her Auntie Jen|
Christina went to be with Jesus six months ago today. In many ways, it seems like yesterday and yet it seems like so long ago, we were wondering how long she would be with us. We were walking day by day with no idea which day would be her last on this earth. Her last day came on June 13th, 2013.
After many delays, Christina’s memorial headstone was put in place this week. I have visited the cemetery so often and hoped every day that I would see that stone in place. Finally on Wednesday, it was completed. I got the call and burst into tears. My sister, Jennifer and I bundled up Isaiah and drove quickly to the cemetery and met my husband, Doug there. More tears. Finally. The remembrance stone that tells her story.
I have loved walking through cemeteries for as long as I can remember. Not because I am morbid, but because I love people and their stories. I love to honor those that have completed their lives on this earth by standing for a moment and wondering—
What was their life like?
Did they love life?
Why did they die so young?
How did they live so long?
Does anyone still remember them?
Did they know the One who made them?
I love headstones that tell a story. Of course, not all the details but enough to know the essence of the life lived.
Doug Nevill, Doug Ahmann (too many Dougs) and I labored over this stone. We wanted Christina’s life to be understood by those who stop to read. We wanted it to reflect her joy, her courage, and her wonderful God. We wanted Isaiah to understand a bit of his heritage as he grows. We thought it important that “mother of Isaiah” was part of her permanent history. Little Isaiah will see his name there and know that he had a mom who was proud of him. It is the only other name on this stone besides her own.
The tree on the front is an artist's rendering of the tree on our bluff that Christina loved so much. She had a drawing of that tree on her wedding invitations. It is a bit of what she loved in this world.
And we have her life verse. Timid by nature, she learned to trust God with her whole self because, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but of power, and love, and a sound mind.” Because God spoke that verse into her heart, she chose courage over fear many, many times. She faced cancer with courage. She faced marriage with courage. She faced motherhood with courage. She faced death with courage. All because she knew the One who gave her power and love and a sound mind.
Her joy is represented by the statement—
The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength
Anyone who spent just a few moments with Christina could see her joy. She met often with Jesus to talk about trusting Him and living for Him and He freely gave her His amazing joy. The miracle of her joy is that even when she was placed on hospice care with just weeks to live, her joy increased. To watch her worship, you would never have guessed she was facing death. That is the miracle of God pouring out joy and it becoming our strength.
On the back of her headstone is a quote from her first few months into her cancer journey. It is there so that people can understand in her own words that her faith was real, her life is not over, and she is very excited to be with Jesus.
It says--I am okay because my life is not my own. I am okay because my joy does not come with the 'joys' of this life. Philippians 1:21 says, "for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I am excited to live in Christ joyfully and with full abandon as long as He has me on this earth, and then for goodness sakes, I'm excited for eternity too!
The eagle is a constant symbol to all of us that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
I pray that everyone who stops for a moment to wonder about this 31 year old woman will be able to piece together enough of her life to see her courage, her joy, and her faith in a very great God.