Complain and remain
Praise and be raised
Three years ago, we got a new neighbor. At first, my family was very sad to see our old neighbor leave after it felt as though we had really developed a solid friendship with said person. Yet, once we met Kathryn and her boyfriend Ken, it was easy to see this neighborhood friendship was off to a very friendly start. Most likely because my parents are from New Jersey and Kathryn and Ken are from Boston. Northerners tend to bond on some unspoken level. Mostly because the way we perceive the world is similar, and we build a bond based off that.
Anyway, Kathryn went from being just our neighbor across the street from us to someone we held garage sales with, and then someone who gave us her extra fridge when our ten year old one crapped out, and my parents didn't have the financial means to get a brand new one from anywhere. Then, Kathryn started volunteering at a local church, and while there, she made friends with a man who worked for a grocery store and collected their leftover bread to donate to the churches food bank. Last summer, we didn't eat much cake but we had our own personal bread man. That was short-lived because Kathryn was volunteering a month or two ago and she ended up saying "crap" and "suck" too much for the taste of the high brow religious do-gooders of said church, telling her if she kept talking like that she wouldn't be welcome here. And the bread man blatantly told her that he wouldn't be giving her and her friends bread any longer. At the beginning of 2016, my family once again was in dire straights when our dryer crapped out, and Kathryn offered my parents her personal credit card so we could get a brand new one (she even said we should get the newest high-tech Samsung one). Kathryn was an active fixer of things she bought at garage sales, refurbishing old furniture and making it new again and she made the front of her house go from ghetto-looking to two green thumbs up. She even provided my sister a dresser when her old dresser purchased at Big Lots became a big pain in the ass with drawers that fell apart and all her clothes were exposed to anyone who walked inside the bedroom.
Then, shortly after the incident at the church, Kathryn found our one of her tumors was malignant and she would need to start chemotherapy right away because the cancer was progressing.
Yes, you read that right. Sweet, give the shirt off her back, active older lady with the Boston accent Kathryn, who became like another family member to me and my family had stage four cancer.
Then, like the butt of a really bad joke, Kathryn passed away on April 1, leaving us all a fool for the legacy she left behind.
Last Monday, I found myself in her empty house with free pass to take any movie in her collection that met my fancy, I ended up with a box of movies. Some of which I had wanted for my massive movie collection for years like childhood classic, Save The Last Dance.
Yet, it made me sad to find that some of her movies were still shrink-wrapped, some of her movies were opened but looked as though she had only watched them once or twice, and it made me realize the weightiness of death for those that stay living here on Earth.
My mom was given so much baking goods and ingredients that it struck a heavy minor chord on my heartstrings to see that she was planning to make her own personal chocolate molds, and even chocolate covered pretzels.
Kathryn was a kind and compassionate soul and as she neared death, my family not only prayed for her but my parents visited her multiple times weekly, my mom made her plate after plate from different dinners she made like St. Patrick's Day and Easter, and we even asked healing ministers to come lay hands on her before she left us. Yet, they were one day too late.
I share this story with all of you because as someone who experienced being at the brink of death herself, not knowing Christ as your personal savior and Lord, seems like such a quick and easy way to take the death out of dying.
Plus, knowing Jesus is there with you, and his spirit lives in you, can mean a world of difference when life seems to knock you down, and no one whether they are of faith or not is subject to a free pass on the trial front. Everyone faces tough times and seasons in life. Yet, having Jesus means I have someone who goes to work on my behalf and who has already overcome the power the world has to harm me (John 16:33). Today while doing a study on the Holy Spirit I found some verses that spoke to me, breathed new breath in my lungs, ridded me of feeling winded by the worries of life:
12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life -Romans 8:9-15, The MSG.
God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way. -1 Corinthians 2:12-13, The MSG
Until next time remember, though my story was a bit somber, I find glimmers of hope in the message it shares. Death is something we all face in this life but we don't have to allow the world's labels to define us but instead create a legacy that affects people and inspires those we leave behind to also make their life count, not by this world's standards but by God's.
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