Tonight I went to a prayer service for a woman named Renee. I knew her from church – and I had all 3 of her kids in my youth group. I always loved Renee’s family – and to hear of her passing really had me (and has me) worried for her kids. They are good people and I crave for them to find strength through this wickedly tough time.
I remember –almost 10 years ago – venturing up to the airport in Fargo on a wickedly cold December day. Renee was working for the Make A Wish Foundation…and someone’s ‘wish’ was to come to see snow. And I recall thinking how odd of a wish that was – and yet, Renee masterfully organized a weekend getaway for this sick child. Fargo is certainly not DisneyWorld – but she was convinced that we were going to make this the happiest place on earth for that precious child. And as I helped greet that child & their family – I watched Christ shine through Renee. It was quite special.
And at Renee’s prayer service – I saw a familiar face from yesteryear. In walks this glowing woman named Emily. 8.999 months pregnant, Emily is about to welcome her 2nd child (in less than 13 months) into the world. She was radiant with life…even in the funeral home.
I couldn’t piece together how she knew Renee. And so – since I’m not afraid to admit my naivety – I had to come out and ask (I asked Emily’s mom). It was as though I had forgotten – because life and time had passed by – and Emily is bursting with life.
When she was a high school student, Emily fought a pretty serious battle with cancer. And although I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Emily until after she was sick – I became enamored with her resilience and disposition on life. Thanks to the power of Facebook, I have seen Emily from time to time and I am blown away with how much life has changed for her in the last 10+ years. God has redeemed her life and helped bring new life to this world. Incredible stuff.
Renee’s passing doesn’t look so glamorous or storybook-esque, however. In the end, her life was ended far too soon. A hard life led to a short life. She leaves behind 3 kids who are far too young to lose their mother. These kids have dealt with quite a bit – and life only gets harder…
But the story doesn’t end there. It can’t end there.
I believe in a God of redemption and grace. I believe that the redemption Emily received on this earth – Renee is now receiving in heaven. It’s not too late for her…as God can take even the smallest of faiths and move mountains with it. Faith was a part of Renee’s life – and I know she deeply wanted her kids to experience the glory of Christ.
I pray that God’s redemption happens both on this earth and also after we take our last breaths. I pray that we have the strength to help others find joy, peace, and solace – amidst our own personal struggles. I pray that our decisions in life are positive and full of redemption for the downtrodden and lost.
Today I am thankful for the life that Renee led. She brought joy into this world..
Today I am thankful for Emily – and the life she gets to lead.
Finally, I am thankful for Renee’s 3 kids. I pray that redemption finds them here on this earth and that they know the love of Christ.