Friday, December 13, 2013

Six Months

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.



12 comments:

  1. Thank you, John. God is so kind and so glorious and my heart is full. I would love to sit and chat some time.

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  2. O how perfect that it arrived for this 6 month anniversary and as you explain the stone the picture of Christina's heart & her life just bubbled up. It is so perfect! wonderful gift.

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  3. I am eternally grateful to have been able to observe, learn from, pray for, grieve for, and rejoice with you all as you walk with the Lord. One of my foundational verses is in the Book of Isaiah: You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 I see this peace flowing from you, both of your amazing Dougs, and so many others who were deeply touched by Christina's life.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I have been reflecting on God's peace today. It is a gift from Him to carry us through all of life's circumstances. It is something we cannot manufacture. And His peace is a beautiful mystery. I cannot explain it but I treasure it.

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  4. I have read so many of your posts.. and have cried and been encouraged in my own faith.. my own questions about life and just reading the beautiful soul that Christina was. Thank you for sharing and for those who pass it along on facebook to share with the rest of the world.. I know there are so many people that you don't even realize that are touched by her story..I pray you and your family have a beautiful Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Penny, for reading and being encouraged--that is my hope. I have no idea about who is reading these posts but I write because God moves in my heart. I trust Him to accomplish His purposes. Much love, Jo Dee

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  5. And her courage and her joy was contagious! She is a treasure and her memory stone is beautiful. Your labor was not in vain, it captures her beautifully!

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    1. Thanks, Cass. There is another thing I am grateful for everyday---and that is Isaiah's joy. It is also contagious. Christina was a very happy baby but I think Isaiah has topped even that. What a gift he is:)

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  6. Thank you so very much for sharing Christina's story. I used to go to youth with Rebekah Neville as a teen. I never met Christina personally but her story never ceases to amaze, encourage and build my faith that God uses all things for his good. I was pregnant the same time as her, due a few months after her. when I was 8 months along, I had some tumors UN my thyroid biopsied. On May 5th, 2012, I found out I had cancer. I cried for hours, wondering what God was thinking. I was due with my older daughter on th 21st of that month. shortly after this, I saw Christina's story. it gave me hope and renewed my faith.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write, Cjandis. I am so thankful that Christina's life has been an encouragement to you. Please be assured that God is so very near in all circumstances. And He is powerful. And He is good. And He cares for you very deeply. Much love to you.

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