Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Victory in Jesus!

We had a busy and blessed weekend celebrating the life of my mother-in-law, Alberta. She would have loved the whole big, loud, messy group of us, sharing laughter and tears, as we remembered the lessons she taught us. Lessons that we will continue to carry with us as we strive to live by her example.

We hosted the family gatherings at our house, and received this beautiful arrangement from the Purdue President's Council and Mitch Daniels.  My father-in-law was pleased to be remembered by the university he served for many years as a Trustee with flowers in honor of Alberta.

I think we had around 25 here for a spaghetti dinner on Friday night. I do seem to find it a bit difficult to take my usual number of photographs while hosting a large group for dinner, so the photos are few, but the memories are precious.

I did manage this one of Connor eating his Dilly Bar. Or holding it. Or maybe wearing it. :)

Saturday morning, we had brunch for around 30. The guys were busy consulting their electronic devices.

And Carol was anxious to see if Barry and Kevin would make it in for the graveside service.

Saturday was a beautiful, crisp day as we gathered at the graveside for the burial of ashes. A group of extended family sang, and prayed, and shared scripture together. Brian P. sang In the Garden to begin, and we closed with Amazing Grace. And as the pastor read words of comfort and promise from scripture, the wind blew on cue like an assurance of God's presence:
"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--" Psalm 10:11-17
Later, we gathered back at our house for a delicious meal provided by the ladies of the church, a ministry that Alberta helped establish and worked with for many years. We probably had 50 or so sharing food and fellowship in honor of a special woman who touched our lives.

Lucy and the little girls shared a moment on the steps.

There was jumping, and wrestling,

and gaming, and giggling.

And the big kids enjoyed some cousin time playing a rowdy and competitive late-night game of Taboo.

The Sunday afternoon Celebration of Life, was a beautiful service of worship, just as Alberta would have wanted. There was a slide show of memories as we gathered, beautiful music by choir, organist, and soloist, and the singing of hymns. Pastors gave meaningful, scriptural thoughts about Alberta and the promises of the Bible. Family members, including a great-granddaughter, two grandsons, a daughter-in-law, and a son, shared heartfelt and personal memories. I was especially proud of our son, David, who spoke from Ephesians, chapter 2, relating it to his grandma's life and challenging each of us to follow the example she set for us. (I'm his mom, and this is my blog, so I'm allowed to be extra proud of him.) They all did a wonderful job, and I know Grandma was proud.

Following the service, we gathered for a reception to greet those in attendance, share stories, and just be together as family and friends touched by the life of Alberta Stewart. I think it was just the kind of day that she wanted, as we celebrated all that God has done for us, and the promise of eternal life. As David said in his talk, "The last words of Grandma's obituary, which she wrote herself several years ago, are, 'there is absolutely Victory in Jesus'."

David, Jonathan, Jennifer, Adam, and Andrew celebrating that Victory.
David closed his talk with the following paragraph:
"I'd like to challenge everyone here to do two things in memory of Grandma. First, if you haven't already, consider asking Christ into your heart and accepting the free gift of grace God has given to each of us. And second go out and be God's workmanship. Strive to live like Grandma lived. Give, Share. Help. Pray. Love. Be an example of Jesus just as Grandma was, and show the world God's love! Amen!"

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