I am having a hard time blogging lately. A sweet friend is transitioning into her last days, perhaps hours, and my usual nonsense seems unimportant. We are surrounded by the effects of sin in our fallen world and no one gets by unscathed. Death is something that falls on the righteous and unrighteous equally.
All loss of life is difficult, but some losses are much harder to personally deal with. This is one of those.
Certain stages of life bring friends together quickly and motherhood is one of those stages. I met Michelle at a previous church when our daughters were in the nursery together. We changed churches and reconnected again when we ended up living in the same neighborhood and our kids went to the same elementary school. What really brought our hearts together were the years we spent praying for our children in our Moms in Touch group. Praying together knits hearts.
I have seen Michelle live her faith for many, many years now. She and her wonderful husband Mark have raised their children in the way that they should go, and those kids are all on their way, loving and serving the Lord as they have been shown.
I have seen her be the hands and feet, and the eyes and ears of Jesus to many souls in need, myself included. She excelled at knowing exactly what to do, just stepping in and meeting a need. From watching your kids, to lending a willing hand, to organizing meals or anything else one might need, to support at the hospital, to prayer, to feeding one of 4 premature babies when tired parents needed a helping hand, to opening her home to moms and groups and kids and even taking in a friend’s family for a time when their house burned down. Other things, too numerous to count.
She was a Creative Memories consultant for many years, blending her love of family and preserving and archiving memories. It was one of her great joys. I now see the Lord’s hand of mercy and favor here, He used something she loved to do so it could be handed down as a treasure and legacy to her family. That is so her, and that is so God.
One of the phrases that I have heard Michelle use so many times in prayer time and in life was “buckle down and get it done”. I have associated that phrase with her ever since and I am reminded of it now. After 3 months of excruciating pain she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Lungs, bones, mass on her liver, and possibly more, they just stopped looking. Her first diagnosis said 6 months to a year. After a little further testing they changed it to 3 to 6 months, she is now at the end of 3 months. Those words would have stopped many right where they were, but not Michelle. She had things she still wanted to complete. When hearing the words of limited time, she did not just stop her life and wait, she got busy and buckled down and got some things done.
She did devotionals with her husband, they told Honey and I it had been some of their richest times of devotion together as a couple, reading through Streams in the Desert by Charles Cowman. She continued meeting with her ladies small group, studying The Armor of God. I’m so thankful for that, she more than likely used some of those words to ward off the enemy in this difficult time. She came to church each week, laying in the back of the room on a special lounge chair with a memory foam pillow on top for comfort from her continuing pain. She made special presents for her grandchildren, five at the moment, one on the way, more to surely follow. She kept a file box of all the verses friends and family had sent her for comfort., She wrote letters to each of her 4 beloved children.
She and her husband slow danced their last dance at a family friend’s wedding. They travelled to her wonderful parents cottage Up North, one of her favorite Happy Places. She saw many old and dear friends and family at a gathering her children put on, graciously giving everyone a chance to see her and love on her and them as well. They did some things together with family, Mackinac, the park, the fall festival, a slow ride on a wave runner, took their grandsons to their first movie. There is never enough time to spend with those you love.
When I saw her last Sunday at church, we told each other Happy Birthday. One of the many things we have thought funny and coincidental over the years. I did not know it would be the last time I saw her. She told me this is hard, it hurts and she is so concerned for her family. We hugged and cried. The next day she took a turn for the worse.
We are all just waiting now. Her time is very short, her family has been there constantly all week. I’m sure it has been grueling and they are so weary. God can use all things, even the waiting.
She is finishing strong and well, which is every Christian’s heart desire. She is confident of who she belongs to and where she is going. We are praying for a smooth transition to her heavenly home and peace and comfort for her family. We know they do not grieve as those who have no hope, but grief is a heavy load to bear and the Lord promises to help us in our heartache.
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
You know the way dear Friend, praise God, you know the way. We will meet again.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4