Tuesday I attended a memorial service in honor of my mother, Kristy Dykes who died last July from a glioblastoma brain tumor. My mother was a pastor's wife serving 37 years in church ministry along side my dad. She was a published award winning author, speaker, writer, painter, pianist and so much more. A talented woman. Her grave marker reads Pizazz! Enthusiasm! High Energy! This describes her perfect.
I flew into Orlando without the kids on Monday for the short two day trip and my dad and Wanda picked me up. Julie joined us and we had a wonderful time together.
What is it like having a stepmother after the death of my own sweet and wonderful mother? Wanda is a comfort, a soothing balm to a wounded and worn soul. There is a spoken and even unspoken understanding and love that flows from her heart. She is a rare gift of hope and promise from God Himself.
Tuesday was the memorial service given by the Assemblies of God at their annual district council. It was in honor of all the ministers and spouses of ministers who have passed away in the past year. We sat in the front of a church that seats 6,000 and waited for my mother's name to be called and her picture displayed in a brief moment of honor.
Sitting there grief and disbelief grabbed hold of my heart. Waves of tears threatened to shake me to the core. Suppressed sobs and screams demanded to ring out of my heart and spill through tightly drawn lips.
"How oh how, will I ever be able to grab a hold of myself?" I wondered desperately. My eyes stealing fleeting glances at the many others who dabbed at tears with tightly wadded tissues. Their eyes rimmed red with tears that spilled in grief for their loved one. "Get control of your emotions, Jennifer." I shouted quietly to myself.
But oh how my heart bucked against reason and longed for once to be let loose in loud, long wails of grief and pain...
"Your beloved sweet mother is dead and you are all alone. You sit on a bench with only a rose to hold, instead of her sweet hand. She is gone...gone...gone...!"
Suddenly her name was announced, we stood in shock looking up at the picture of her beautiful smiling face. So full of love for life, passion and energy. And then it was gone. Blinked out and another face flashed on the screen. We sat down almost unwillingly as our hearts sighed for her to come back... "just one more minute...don't take her picture down..."
Crushed I felt. Defeated. Left feeling robbed, I sat with my shoulders slumped, head bowed and hid behind a curtain of my long brown hair. And then someone started singing. Something about Jesus the Savior.
I closed my eyes and listened to the music with my heart. Sweet images of my precious Savior Jesus started washing over my weary mind. My soul became silent and still with the knowledge that He is God.
I felt a gentle whisper into my heart calling me. Ever so quietly. Ever so sweetly. Ever so softly like a gentle flutter of a butterfly wing against my soul. A voice called... "Look Jennifer! Can you see? Can you see her, Jennifer? Can you see us? Look with your heart, not your eyes Jennifer! Look! See!"
Looking with the eyes of my heart, I strained against a cloudy and unclear vision. But I saw! A sigh of instant peace and joy washed over my soul.
For there in my minds eye was placed the beautiful and perfect image of my mother held tenderly in the arms of Jesus. And they were dancing! Dancing slowly to the same sweet worship music I was hearing! My heart sang: "Jesus, I see! I see her! She is perfect and made whole and smiling! She isn't gone! She's right there in your embrace, dancing with You!
Real or imagined, that image remains forever burned in my mind. Hope replaces broken despair! Peace replaces raging, unchecked grief! Joy replaces despondent sorrow!
Oh to have such eternal hope! Won't you too trust Him? Don't you too hear Him calling you? Whispering tenderly to you, "Look! See! Oh how I love and care for you!"
My heartfelt prayer: Dear Jesus, How sweet and beautiful You are! At times You take my breath away. I am speechless in front of Your stunning beauty. Just what is so beautiful about You, some may ask? Why, it is Your amazing selfless love! It is Your perfect love that is so stunning!