October 21, 2009

Into the Arms of Jesus

Yesterday Jesus called home our dear friend Kirsten.

Surrounded by the love of her husband, daughters and our pastor, and covered in prayer, she passed from this life into the embrace of our heavenly Father. A moment filled with overwhelming sadness, but also incredible beauty.

During her lengthy, but dignified battle with cancer, her church family, neighbors, long-time friends and many others surrounded Kirsten and her family with an outpouring of love shown through home made meals, prayers, visits, child care, hand holding, hugs and tears. All these actions stand as vivid testimony to her joyful, generous and grace-filled spirit. She loved freely and laughed often (long before these phrases became cliché). Though her time with us was cut short, Kirsten leaves behind a legacy of a life well-lived and well-loved. She was a friend to all, best friend to many.

Kirsten battled this dreaded disease the same way she lived her life—with grace and dignity. And by her, and her husband John’s, courageous and faith-filled example, showed us how to do the same. A lesson we’d rather not have learned, but one that will likely serve us well in the future.

I feel so blessed to have known Kirsten and call her friend. I'm humbled to have been invited into the sacred spaces of her last days. And I am overwhelmed that God prepared my heart, bolstered my faith and allowed me the privilege to enter into this experience because several years I couldn’t have. It would have been too much.

Death is unfamiliar territory for me. As the reality of loss began to sink in this morning, I thought about her husband and young daughters. I wondered how the sun had the audacity to rise. How could birds and squirrels forage for food? People scurry about their business? Life continue on? Don't they know?

It is the beginning of a new normal. We will never know this side of heaven “Why?” But I have faith that even this God will redeem for His glory. I have seen glimpses of that already.

Kirsten’s passing leaves a hole that we will forever hold dear—a space of joy and laughter and love. I’m sure she entered the gates of heaven and found Jesus waiting to welcome her home, “Kirsten, my child. Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Analisa said...

Loss is a hard one. Yet we don't grieve like the world does. I hope knowing you will see her again gives you comfort in the pain of it. You and her family have my prayers. My God's peace surround you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelli,

I have been so busy I am just catching up with your posts. I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend. What a gift it was for her to have you and others by her side; loving her and comforting her with your words.

I hope this poem gives you some comfort and am recommending you check out my Grief Lift website. I think At The Kiddie Table will bless you If you have time to read it.

Sending you love, comfort and hugs and pray you see your friend's Spirit all around you now. She is as near as God since she is with Him.


Through Heaven’s Door

Lift up your hearts and rejoice for me!
Loved ones greet me with joy
As I walk through Heaven’s door.
No more limitations or fears to confine me.
Filled with grace
And surrounded by God’s abiding love,
My heart, light as an ocean breeze
On a summer’s day,
Overflows with love for all of you.
Just as our Lord is, I am with you today.
Life is eternal!
And we are forever in communication
Through our hearts.
For love is eternal too!

Donna Teti 2/08
Copyright © 2008 by Donna Teti


Sue J. said...

Today, I found myself E-mailing a man who lost his wife to a brain tumor this spring. I was asking him for help in securing a nanny for another man who lost his wife to cancer last month.

I hadn't asked the first man, but he offered to give up his contact information to talk with the 2nd man--and share some referral info. I realized that God was working out something good where there appears to be nothing but heartache.

Grief is important....it's necessary. God didn't put us in relationships with people so that we could forget how valuable and wonderful they are when they're gone. You celebrate Kristen's life in your reflection, in your continuing on--even when it seems the sun shouldn't be shining.

Her earthly life may be finished, but God is hardly finished using her life, her legacy, as a blessing to others.

Prayers for you, friend!

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, my heart feels heavy for you and your friend's family as you wade through these days of loss. It's hard to imagine such times without the comfort of our Heavenly Father. He will carry you all.

My Sunday post had to do with loss -- a quote by Elisabeth Elliot. When you get a chance, you might want to check it out. I hope it brings a measure of comfort to you.

Love & Prayers,

Peggy said...

Dear Friend.....
I to have been filled with sorrow, but also great joy in knowing and being a friend to Kirsten and her sister in Christ.
Now I want to share a few words with you and your readers that leaves us all a lot to ponder.
These are words from "The Talmud"
In a harbor, two ships sailed---one setting forth on a voyage, the other coming home to port. Everyone cheered the ship going out, but the ship sailing in was hardley noticed. To this, a wise man said, "Do not rejoice over a ship setting out to sea, for you cannot know what terrible storms it may encounter, Rejoice rather over the ship that has safely reached port and brings its passengers home in peace," And this is the way of the world. When a child is borne, all rejoice; when someone dies, all weep. We should do the opposite. For no one can tell what trials await a newborne child; but when a mortal dies in peace, we should rejoice, for he has completed a long journey, and there is no greater boon than to leave this world with the imperishable crown of a good name.
May we all rejoice in the beautiful life of Kirsten and her family.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with her daughters today, and Kirsten's life and love lives on in them.
Blessings and Love to all....

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Tears are wanting to break out of me now. This post is beautiful, but death is so very hard for me to handle, especially when it's way to early with young children left behind.

Not knowing why, but trusting Him, is a lesson well learned, and the only way I can deal with such loss. I believe that if we allow Him, God will turn these losses into blessings somehow. I'm praying for all who Kirsten touched, to be blessed in some way by not only by her life, but by her death, too. May they be able to see the blessing when it arrives! Amen.

So very sorry for your loss, KelliGirl.

Sassy Granny ... said...

Such a rugged reality. My condolences for your loss.

Hard as it is, what a blessing to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death with one so full of life. You can be sure she's dancing at this very moment.

God bless and comfort you.

Saleslady371 said...

I, too, want to comfort you because I just went through this with a very close friend 2 years ago and experienced the feelings you wrote about. I was just thinking about Janine today and how glorious it must be in Heaven for her. So this is timely for me.

Kelly Combs said...

I am sorry for your loss, and the loss her family is experiencing.

The thing I love about Jesus, is that he did experience all we do. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. That means grief is a fully Holy and allowable thing. May God be with you in your grief.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the beautiful words Kelli and Peggy. Peggy, how do you have the energy to be so wise when you are recovering yourself?? Great woman. Great legacy. Kirsten is dancing in heaven.

Susan S said...

Thanks, Kelli, for this post and for the insightful comments. You echoed many of my thoughts...what a holy privilege it has been. Thanks be to God for His comfort and strength. Last night at church I was asked to discuss this with the children. They, in response, lovingly created cards and pictures for the family. What an outpouring of love and compassion from God's youngest children.

Anthony said...

Great job, Kelli. We also feel so privileged to have been able to share in Kirsten's life, the good times and the tough times. Part of me doesn't believe I won't hear the wide smile, "Heeey Yoooou" greeting anymore....at least not until I see her again. She was one special lady.


Julie Gillies said...

I'm so sorry, Kelli.

I can't help but think of the verse that says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." God yearns for us to be with Him...some of us sooner than others. It doesn't make the parting any easier, unfortunately.

After my friend's mom died last week, we sat together in my car (she was at the hospice house) and we just stared at each other and said, "She's there! She's there now!" Then we wondered what she was doing. Best of all, we KNEW her mom was finally healed.

Terri Tiffany said...

Having experienced the death of a young BIL and a good friend, I feel your pain and know exactly the emotions you feel. It's hard and we wonder still why God would choose to take them home so young. I know He knows why and that's when we have to accept his knowledge despite our wondering.
Praying you make a continual difference to them.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Death strikes us in the deepest places, calling forth our emotions and our "thinkings" regarding its worth.

There is worth in it; immeasurable worth, but to get there, we've got to wrestle here ... with loss and with joy and somewhere between the two, we find peace for the journey.

Jesus is that peace. Praying for your comfort and some answers this week.


Runner Mom said...

Sweet friend! I am so sorry about your loss. Kirsten left an awesome legacy to her family and friends. This was a beautiful post. What a tribute to her. Thank you for your precious words on my post about Mama. Please continue to lift her up :).

Love you!

Tea With Tiffany said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. Kirsten lived well. I know she heard the words you shared at the end of your post. I pray you will feel the comfort and peace and love of God as you walk through this grief. Wish I could hug you. You are not alone.

Justin said...

Not sure what to say to this besides thank you for sharing your heart on a topic with which all of us wrestle.

God bless you, Kelli!

Psalm 73:25,