She was diagnosed in October. She fell, and there was too much pain in her that wouldn't subside. When the doctors looked around enough they found that unwelcomed guest, cancer. Her fight has been good. She has never stopped fighting. But cancer is a big thief and she lays in her room, restful while friends visit and family watches, grieve.
It's devastating. I have cried a million tears, poured my heart out to God begging for healing. Face on the floor I've cried, knowing full well that some of us have a shorter time here on earth, and hers might be a shorter story. It's devastating. But it's not a tragedy.
You see, her name is Joy. For every day of her life she brings it, to her family and friends. Laughter dances about her and they joke and tease, was she really worried about being too silly, too sarcastic with her family? Her home is full of laughter and fun. Smiles light her face as she tells us stories of the crazy, funny things her kids say, or a story of her and James' early years, or yesterdays silliness.
Her name is Grace. Grace and faithfulness for her sweet husband, grace for her three children growing like weeds that no mom really knows 'what to do with.' So she gives grace and love to them like crazy.
Grace all over her friends and our sweet little schooling community. She's been patient and handles the hard things with laughter and a light heart, and grace, willing to put the hard stuff aside, to forgive and to love.
Her name is Legacy.
In her years as a wife & mother she has chosen well. The job she took on didn't pay well. No big Christmas bonuses, no vacations or sick time. Her company car is an awesome retro stationwagon. But she clocked in 16 years ago and has been working hard since then.
She built a beautiful home that is no magazine cover. Her's are not shiny, tidy untouched rooms. The decor is every bit of who she is, cozy sunflowers in the kitchen, antiques everywhere, and books from ceiling to floor. Her home has a pulse, her family lives there. Laughter laces the hallways and family photos hang, photos taken over all the years for us to see the story of the Bennett family.
Her Legacy is pouring herself out, imperfect and fully knowing that she didn't really know the exact way how, but pouring herself out unselfishly to her family, and friends. Giving love, giving grace, always, always joy. What a measure of a woman.
Her life here hasn't been perfect, but she has trusted daily on Jesus' payment for every blemish and stumble. God's work has been to provide to pay for our selfishness, when Jesus was hung, naked and willing on a cross *fashioned of a tree, He took on the weight of our selfish choices and God looked away because it was so very ugly. Jesus took all the punishment that we deserve, all of it. It killed him.
But Jesus, he's also God. He has power over sin & death and He redeemed us all by taking a breath again, days later, breathing in life on earth and then, after teaching and loving his friends, He went home to his Kingdom. He is, after all, God. He left the Holy Spirit behind to teach us, to comfort, to lead us. And my friend, she knew all of that. She didn't just know it but she lived confidently in it. She lived a joyful, gracious, giving and forgiving life because of that great gift Jesus gave. She was so rich in love, so rich in grace, so rich in God's legacy for her she had plenty to give.
And that, is her song. It's coming to an end but we will forever be singing it, all about Grace and Love, Joy and Surrender. Out of joyful memories and love for her and our Savior both.
Walking through my house this morning and picking up another stray sock, making breakfast for my rowdy, mismatched crew will be a joy this morning. I reflect on the deep well from where my joy comes and the huge legacy that I can choose to leave. All the sweeping and face wiping and fights I referee, it's all an act of love and service to my family. The dinners prepared, beds made, hours I spend listening to their hearts and ironing for my husband, I want to do it with joy out of the great gift God has given me, and the hope that is eternity.
Her name is Kari Bennett. My sweet friend, my sweet friend. The rest of the story.... I will look for the redeeming work of God's hand in the echoes of her life. In her absence we will see the work of God, redemption's story never ends. Thank you for your life Kari, the way you have lived is a shining example of who I want to be, and it's shown me that all this seemingly tireless work does indeed amount to something beautiful. A story, a song never forgotten.
*Kari has been (my &) Joey's Grammar teacher for 2 years. 'Fashioned' was a favorite vocabulary word used in many papers read before the class. I was sure to do a few dress-ups, Kari!