Monday, February 25, 2019

2/25/19 Memorial Speech by Renée

Memorial Speech by Renée:

I have a piece of advice for all the parents in the room: try not to be too good of a parent. If you're an amazing parent, it makes this part so much worse for your kids.

So don't be a constant source of encouragement, wisdom, and unconditional love to your kids.

Don't balance your impressive career with your family life so that you can be at all of your kids' plays and concerts. Don't spend every weekend taking your kids on bike rides or hikes or showing them 90s thrillers.

Don't give excellent career advice to them and to many of their friends. Don't teach them about Roth IRAs or how to give a good, solid handshake or how to write a compelling cover letter.

Don't make your home a welcoming haven to all of your kids' friends.

And if your daughter comes out of the closet, don't put on a rainbow umbrella hat and feather boa and march in the Pride Parade with her, don't welcome her wife into the family like she's your own daughter, and definitely don't host an LGBTQ support group at your house or boldly advocate for equal rights within the Church.

Especially don't model faith and service to your kids, and don't pray for them every day.

My mom did all of those things, and that makes her absence so difficult for us to bear.

For thirty years, I had the most incredible mom. She had countless qualities that I hope to emulate, but if I had to name the one trait that most defined her, it would be courage. She liked the quote by Maya Angelou that said "I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. It is only with courage that you can be persistently kind and generous and fair." 

My mom didn't just know Jesus--she also had the courage to be like Him and share His love even when it was hard.

She was brave about speaking up for justice, even when she risked alienation. 

She had the courage to reach out and connect with countless people that she encountered, showing kindness and empathy no matter how crummy she herself was feeling at the moment.

She also had the courage to be introspective, to learn, to evolve in her theology, and to admit when she was wrong (though she wasn't often wrong).

She bravely leaned into her faith even when things got very hard; she courageously faced cancer with hope, humor, and remarkable joy.

But most importantly she was bold in sharing the source of her courage, writing in one of her last blog posts, "our Heavenly Father walks in front of us, the Holy Spirit is behind us, and Jesus is by our side."

She wasn't afraid of cancer or of dying. As she also said on her blog, "I know that what awaits me on the other side is more glorious than I can imagine."

One night when it was clear that she was in her final weeks, I asked her "Do you feel Jesus with you?" and she said, "Yes. I feel Him reaching His arms out to me." Then I told her "You've served Him more faithfully than anyone I know." And she said, "You too." She probably had to say that because she's my mom, but I hope I can live up to it.

I hope I can live up to her courage and her faith, and that, like her, I can be an awesome parent to my future kids--even if it makes this part really hard. 

2/25/19 Memorial Speech by Daniel

Memorial Speech by Daniel:

     On behalf of my family I want to Thank you all for coming today to celebrate my amazing mom. Thank you to Pastor Bryon, and Phinney Ridge Lutheran for this service and your service to our family. Thank you Jon and Allison for the music, thank you to everyone who helped prepare and serve food. And thank you to Maribeth, Auntie Marti for your words today, and to our scripture readers Riley and Sally.

     I want to tell you a little bit about what my mom meant personally to me—

     They say that nobody is perfect-- but these people never met my mom. My mom was perfect— at least to me, and I am so blessed to have her as my mom, and to carry her in my heart forever. You see, she was not just my mom— she was also my best friend, my spiritual role model, and my hero. Let me tell you why...

     My mom started life with a very difficult childhood, but she grew strong and brave through this. She excelled in school, sports, and had many friends. She met Jesus as a teenager and dedicated her life to Him- this had a tremendous impact on her life, and the lives of countless others. My mom was a devout follower of Christ and she served him with tremendous love and passion every day. My mom graduated from Queen Anne High and went on to Seattle Pacific University where she studied theology to deepen her understanding of her faith, and business-- to help her get a job! She met my dad on the Seattle waterfront, fell in love, and started the most beautiful, loving marriage I’ve ever witnessed. She and my dad served and loved one another faithfully for 36 years. She brought Renée and me into this world and she gave us the perfect home to grow up in-- full of love, God, joy, and laughter. You may have noticed Renée and I never left home the way many kids do— well my parents made our home such a wonderful place— you wouldn’t have wanted to leave it either! We never wanted to be far from it and the love my parents showered on us.

     My mom was an incredible career woman. She felt called to serve the Lord by working for non-profit organizations including local universities, and charities, the longest of which was at Seattle Children’s where she pioneered the major gift fundraising team— which If you don’t know, is how Children’s is able to provide excellent care for sick kids and families at no cost to families who don’t have the means to pay.

     While having a career, my mom always made time to be the best mom in the world-- spending time with us, planning fun adventures with us, exploring with us, teaching us, loving us, making us laugh, and sharing her love of Jesus with us.

     Additionally, my mom was a friend to all- and she struck up genuine conversations and friendships with anyone everywhere she went. My mom had a special place in her heart for marginalized people, LGBT people, and just anyone who was going through a hard time she would come alongside. Look around this room today and you see the evidence of the many deep friendships my mom had.

     My mom was a incredibly loving, compassionate, courageous, kind, intelligent, hilarious, sincere, and humble woman. She lived a beautiful, full life— I could talk about my mom’s accomplishments forever, but here are just a few of my favorites I want to mention today:

1.    My mom Gave birth to Renée and me without any drugs (ouch)
2.    My mom summited Mt Rainer
3.    My mom- just individually- raised over 100s of million dollars for children’s hospital. (Largest gift)
4.    My mom was invited to dinner at the white house and to meet president Clinton and Hilary Clinton.
5.    My mom had the best marriage- she was asked several times to give talks about this to church groups
6.    My mom saved her god son Jericho’s life. She loved him so much Trae and Monica.
7.    My mom fought cancer with courage, faith, hope, humor and strength
8.    My mom inspired and encouraged countless others through her journey- sharing God’s love and salvation through her actions and on her blog through her writing.

     I want to conclude with a short, encouraging note for my mom— the kind you might tape to the refrigerator. She wrote these notes almost every day for my family, in fact we went through so much paper eventually we switched to using a whiteboard. These notes my mom wrote us helped us get through the hard times.

Dear Mom,
     Thank you. Thank you for being the best mom in the world! Thank you for your unconditional love for us. Thank you for your life of humble, faithful service to God. You make it easy for Renée and I to understand and accept God’s love because of the unconditional love you and dad gave us mirrors God’s love for His children. Thank you for the big and small ways you made God’s love tangible through your service to others. Thank you for every adventure, smile, laugh, hug, and moment you shared with us. We are so grateful— and we cherish these memories forever. Thank you for everything mom. We miss you so much. Romans 10:9 tells us: “
if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. Well mom- you shouted these words from the mountaintops and you believed in and loved Jesus more deeply than anyone I know. I am so thankful you are with God now— in the perfect eternal joy of heaven. I can’t wait to be reunited with you in heaven— and to hug you again— but until that day comes, I promise to make you proud, and to follow your example of service to God through service of others. I promise to live by your motto: Eyes on Jesus. I will never fill your shoes, but I will do my best to follow your footsteps. Thank you for being my best friend, my spiritual role model, thank you for being my hero mom. I can’t wait to see you again. I love you forever.
Love, Daniel James