Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Celebrated Life

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
Flavia Weedn

This quote is so true of Laura Black... Today I had the privilege to go to her celebration service at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, here in Birmingham. It was truly that... a celebration of her life, and oh, what a life she lived...

The congregation sang,"Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine" as the service started. Scripture was read, then... the program read..."Remembering Laura", so I knew there would be people speaking, but when her husband got up to make his way to the pulpit, I thought to myself, "WOW, how can he do that?"

He started by saying that his friends told him he didn`t have to speak today. No one would expect him to speak today. But he wanted to do it to honor his Laura. He said that speaking wasn`t  his gift, but Laura`s gift.  After he finished, I would have to disagree with him.

He told of their life together, her faith during this journey.

He spoke of how Laura would check her facebook and Caringbridge daily, and how much all the comments meant to her and how they encouraged her.  (She has over 544,000 clicks on her caringbridge page!!)

 He mentioned how Laura couldn`t stand to hear people say, they would do something for God, but they didn`t have the resources. They would do for Him if they had more money or if they had a better house, and if they were in  a better situation. He told how she would say that you don`t need any resources but the ones He gives you. Whatever is in your life, that is your resource... Her resource? her cancer.

A book was mentioned titled, "Don`t waste your cancer"  That book was Laura. She didn`t waste a minute of her cancer. She always said, "God is good and I know He loves me"

When people say that they are sorry to hear of their losing Laura, Bill  wants to say " No".
" Am I sad? Yes, but you cannot lose someone when you know where they are. "
"We know exactly where Laura is. As we celebrated her life today, we know she is right there with Jesus, celebrating at His feet."

"Once upon a time, a plain and ordinary girl was asked by her God she so desperately loved, to walk through a long and hot fire. He was with her every step of the way." Laura Black

As her Bill finished, he looked at their children and said, "Will, Gracy, Caroline, I want you to know that your Mother was not ordinary, she was extraordinary.".. With tears through his words, he walked slowly off the stage and sat down right next to his Gracy. For the rest of the service she was snuggled really close to him, with his arm around her. Caroline and Will were on the other side..

A friend of Lauras, spoke after Bill then her brother spoke...... She spoke first of how Bill needed to give lessons to other husbands about how to love your wife. She said no one had ever loved more than he had with Laura. What a love story they had, and what a gift God had picked out for them,  15 years ago, when they married.  Bill  promised "in sickness and health" and truly meant it. 

She told how Laura decided that she wanted to make it her mission to make new friends, especially after she found out about the cancer.  She always had that beautiful smile, always made you feel like you were her special friend.

 Laura had her last chemo last Wednesday, even posted on her facebook to pray for her with her chemo that afternoon. Friday, she posted that there would be  no more chemo and hospice had been called in.  The chemo was making her so sick and looked like it wasn`t working like they had hoped and prayed.  Her friend said, we might wonder how it happened so quickly from chemo to death in the matter of a few days.... On Friday, they talked to her to see if she wanted to continue her fight or call hospice in. She said if the Lord was not going to heal her, then it was time to call hospice and finish her race. Even when the hospice nurse came, she said that Laura was not showing the final symptoms and it looked like she might have a few weeks left.

They joke now, that the hospice people did not know the connection  between Laura and the Lord! On Saturday, she was still getting up and walking around but by afternoon, she was tired and went to lie down. She was surrounded by 7 of her closest friends, singing, "It is Well with my Soul".   With Bill beside her holding her hand, and the girls singing, she took her last breath and entered into His kingdom to hear Him say, "Well done, my true and faithful servant".

The preacher added the last thoughts for the celebration. He said that she did not change her "vocation", just the "location" of her work. Now, she is in His presence, singing His praises, just as she did here on earth. She has never been more "alive" than she is right now as she entered into the Kingdom with God. He said that death is not a "termination", but rather a change in "destination".

He told us that one day, we all would be in a service like this one, but we would be the "Guest of Honor"! Preachers cannot preach you into Heaven, you have to be ready, be prepared. The last enemy on earth is death, but Christ has overcome death for us. He won the victory and now, Laura has won her victory, her race! She would want us all to know about her God, and His saving grace...
 If she had not had the hope that she had in God,... if she had not used her cancer as her resource to speak for Him, she would have just been another young lady with cancer, who was walking her journey but not making the huge impact for His Kingdom as Laura did with Him on her team.

She was wise beyond her years. At 37, she lived a lifetime... letters to her children that will be forever engraved on our hearts.... She spoke just two weeks ago at a Bible Study for the opening as she read her letter to her children on "Dying". She felt like God had given her an execution stay... time for her to use to write these precious letters to her children, that she had wanted to do, but hadn`t had the time...  it gave her time to love on her family for a bit longer..

She asked the Pastor on Friday night after the decision about no more chemo had been made, if she had run her race good? He told her that she had run her race better than most. Was she a saint? no, but did she make the decision to use her resources for God? absolutely... Did she finish her race strong? Did she reach people for His kingdom? Absolutely...

I only recently got to know Laura. .I wish I had know her years ago, but she made you feel like you did know her through  her smile, her hugs, her writing, her letters...

We all are  blessed to have had her in our lives....


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