Friday, February 19, 2010
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I just wanted to come up and say a few things if I can get them out.
My mother was a beautiful woman. She was a teacher, a counselor, an enduring friend, a caring sister, a loving daughter, a faithful wife, and a mother designed by God especially for Shelby and I.
For months we have grieved Mom's passing. We walked with her down a difficult and often ugly path. We watched as she struggled for each breath. We watched and did not look away as her body began to deteriorate until it was only a shadow of the beauty that had been. And now, after that horrific struggle, our mother is home. She now rests comfortably in the arms of Jesus, glorifying our Lord beside dad. I can wish for nothing better for all of us than that we too will one day enter into paradise to finally be at rest and celebrate eternally with our Savior, and our God.
Aren't we sad? Don't we miss our mother's sweet smile and the way her eyes lit up when she looked at us? Yes. We miss her, but our missing compared with the glory she now knows are incomparable.
Even though we miss her terribly and mourn the separation we now endure, we are so thrilled with her eternal victory that we cannot suppress the joy overflowing from our hearts. The sorrow we feel is overshadowed by our joy at her success. Mom is not only no longer suffering, she is now rejoined with her beloved husband to dwell eternally in Paradise.
As this family knows all too well, Death stinks. Having completed that wretched journey, we who say we believe ought to act like we do and celebrate through our tears the success of those we love. In our grief, real as it is, we must not forget the hope of heaven. Paul wrote that if heaven is not real, then we are to be pitied most among all men. If, on the other hand, heaven is real, we have won a great victory. Live in light of that hope knowing that all of these trials have their purpose to perfect us into the image of Christ. The best is still to come.
When Teri looks down and sees us here I do not think she will appreciate any self-absorption. I think she would like to see us honor her memory by continuing her legacy. We have good to do today.
God is sovereign over life and death. Our ‘plans,’ ‘ideas,’ and ‘goals’ for the future ultimately imply an element of human control which contradicts the truth of God's sovereignty as portrayed in scripture. It is error to take life when it has been given, and it is equal error to demand life when it is taken. God gives and He takes away, blessed be His name because He knows better than we do what we really need. He knows and directs what is best for us, which can sometimes be very difficult for those of us planners to accept.
I want to leave you with this story. It is such an example of God’s grace and power and the simplicity of something we struggle so hard to grasp. My five-year-old niece, Emma, has been able to get to know mom throughout the past year-and-a-half. She has watched and observed the slow decline of mom’s health with a grace and understanding far beyond her years.
About a week ago, after a pretty difficult day for mom, Emma and her family were able to discuss mom’s prognosis. Mom was getting weaker and we were unsure of just how much time she had. The following has been retold for us by her parents, with some help from Emma, who gave her permission to share it with you today:
The last time I saw your mom, I could see that she was suffering. My heart ached to see the pain etched in her face, and so that night after the kids were in their beds, I went to my room to cry. The kids were concerned, so Steffen brought them into my room to ask why I was crying. I said I was sad because Miss Teri is so sick and will go to heaven soon. Emma said with eyes as big as saucers, "I didn't think it would come to this. I knew it was bad, but I did not think it would come to this!" She went on, "I just can't believe it. I thought she would be here longer, and now she has to go to heaven!" After a couple of minutes, she stopped, and said, "We better pray." I couldn't pray, I hate the way that illness contorts beauty and leaves only ashes, and Steffen was silent. So, Emma started in on her lengthy dialogue with the Lord of Hosts. (Emma doesn't pray out loud often). Before she started to pray, she asked me if Teri knew Jesus and loved Him. I said she did. Then, Emma prayed with confidence, “Dear God, please take care of Miss Teri in heaven. Keep her safe in heaven and love her in heaven. I hope Miss Terri will be okay in heaven; I hope she will be happy. I hope she will see us too in heaven at the gate. When we get to heaven, Germy will be happy and I will be happy and especially Germy and Miss Terri will be happy. Keep her safe too. Please, God."
After she was done praying, she said, “I will be right back. I have to go and get something.” She came back with her well-worn Bible (you know the one without a cover) and started thumbing through it. Neither Steffen nor I had the stomach to help her; we know which story she thinks is perfect for death. After fumbling for some time, she rejoiced, "Here it is!" Sure enough, she had found the story of Jesus dying on the cross for sins. Steffen obediently began to read. Emma interrupted the reading to comment that it must really hurt to have nails put through your body. I keep thinking about those nails because in the face of real death, Jesus' death becomes all the more tangible and grotesque. We finished the reading, snuggled up, and went to sleep.
From the mouth of a five-year-old came the simple understanding of how the Lord has overcome death. The cross, and our sovereign Lord’s death upon it, has given us eternal life. She understands that with death comes a new life, and in that Truth we find Hope. How glorious that our God came to conquer death and the separation it embodies so that one day soon we can be reconciled to Him one holy church, a bride without blemish. Perfect unity awaits us. No more separation. No more pain. No more sorrow. Perfect joy in the harmony of Christ's redeeming love is our destiny and our hope.
God is good. He gave mom a good, fulfilling life here on Earth. She lived life to the fullest. Her radiant spirit impacted everyone she knew. We have been blessed through her, and the love of Christ that flowed from her. Mom, I will miss you. Blessings and goodbye until we meet again on the other side of sorrow, in that beautiful place where there is no suffering, no pain, and no tears. Now to the King Immortal, Invisible, the One True God, be all glory and honor forever.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
On November 17, 2009, Teri Shelby Brown (57) died as she lived her life, with grace and dignity. Her loving children, Shelby, Jeremy and his wife, Naomi, accompanied and cared for her through the challenges of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and were with her during her final peaceful moments.
Teri was happily married to Scott J. Brown for 32 years until he preceded her in death in 2006. Throughout the marriage they were faithfully involved with the Grace Church family, they delighted in their children and their activities, and, oh yes, Lobo basketball.
Teri graduated from Manzano and received her BA and MA from UNM. During a 25-year career with APS she taught at Truman and Inez. Her leadership ability inspired others and she became an APS District Math Leader and an Instructional Coach at Mark Twain. In 2003 she won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics.
Along the way she played softball, made posole, led Bible studies, and shared her husband’s joy in nature. She is also survived by her father, Joe Shelby and his wife, Marge, her sisters and their husbands, Janice and Lucky Sells, Lynn and Chuck Colberg as well as caring nephews, nieces, and extended family.
A celebration of Teri’s life will be held on Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 10:00 at Grace Church, 6901 San Antonio Dr. NE 87109. Memorial contributions may be made to:
Young Life – Albuquerque and sent to Grace Church or to A.P.S. Foundation-TLS Math Fund 6400 Uptown NE Ste. 420 W. Albuquerque, NM 87110 Flowers may be sent to Grace Church.