Monday, November 3, 2008

Other People Said it Better

Right before the wedding Melody, the singer we had lined up, got a sore throat and couldn't sing as loud as she needed too. It turned out even better because to make up the volume she got her daughter to sing with her. Check out her daughter's blog and her post on October 30th:

Jess was a member of the Young Survivor's Coalition and went to one of their annual conferences. Because of the incredible women she met there, it was an life-changing experience for her. On their site they have a Remembrance board. Important: click on the topic Remembrance Board and then on Jessica Kaylor

This is what our dear friend Shannon said at the memorial Service:

Isaiah says “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock (25:4). He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces (25:8).

I’m not sure when I first met Jessica. I know we went to church together for about 10 years. We worked on marriage retreat committee together, did Sunday school fellowships together, and hung out at church college events where both of us were serving. I had a baby shower for Bryn at my house called a “sip and see” where we sipped punch and got to see baby Bryn. We did lunch at each others’ houses, went swimming with all our kids in the summer, did a monthly Girls’ night which we dubbed “The Birthday Bunch,” and even though there were only 6 of us we figured out how to meet every month of the year anyway. We did Bible studies together and our friendship just grew. When Jess was diagnosed with cancer in March of 2005 I remember thinking that if anyone could deal with this in a godly manner it would be Jess. Several of us friends met regularly to pray for her healing, and I never would have learned so much about our God and His Word had I not walked with Jess over these last few years. Jake and Jess joined our homegroup this last year and, I had the privilege of getting an inside peek at the challenges, fears, victories, and walk of faith that they both had. It is my privilege to share with you today a little bit about my sweet friend Jessica.

When Jake asked me to speak today I began to pray. I typically have the emotional control of a broken fire hydrant, but I really want to honor Jess as her friend. Jessica would not want us to worship her today and make her seem better than she was, but because she loved Jesus so much His work in her life is what I have to tell you about. I used the letters in her name to do an acrostic and verses that I think exemplify who Jessica was.

Psalm 21 says, “For You make us joyful with gladness in Your presence. Because we trust in the Lord, and through the loving kindness of the Most High we will not be shaken.”

So J is for Joyful. Joy is not happiness based on circumstances, but it is a choice and a discipline. Jessica’s joy was based on her relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus filled her with joy that emitted a sense of peace and trust in her Savior that circumstances couldn’t touch.

I Thessalonians 5 says, “Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you are doing.”

So E is for Encourager. Jessica was genuinely interested in what was going on in my life and the lives of her family and friends. She wrote it down to pray about, prayed about it, and then checked back in to see how things were going. The last time she was in the hospital my son, Jay, was in a football accident and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance.
As I sat there in the emergency room my cell phone rang. Jess had heard that he was hurt and called to check on him and as she put it, “just to hear my voice.” That’s the kind of friend she was. There she was in the hospital with such great pain of her own and she was calling to check on me! Oh, to be that selfless! She was a great encourager.

Exodus 15 says, ”The Lord is your strength and your song, and He has become your salvation; this is our God, and we will praise Him…”

S is for Strong. When Jess found out she had cancer she did not sit back and accept defeat. She researched her disease, talked to doctors, endured many aggressive treatments, and fought as hard as is physically and spiritually possible. She continued to go to all her kids’ sporting events and school programs. She worked hard in physical therapy to be stronger to make transferring easier after her back was broken. She endured tremendous pain without grumbling. All along the way she prayed to the Lord and testified to anyone who would listen of God’s presence and enabling in her life. In the 3½ years she had cancer I never once heard her dishonor the Lord. The Lord was her strength and her song.

I Peter 1 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, that even though now for a little while if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This S is for Suffering. Jess did suffer…as though by fire…but she didn’t use it as an excuse to complain or wallow in self-pity. Instead she used her suffering to proclaim the glory of the Lord. Did she ever question “why?” or feel pain and anger. You bet! But she never stayed there. I remember vividly one of our girls’ weekends away when we had settled into our beds in the hotel and she opened up about the storm she was in. I’m going to finish with what she wrote in her blog about that, but she said so beautifully that this whole cancer thing was a struggle for her that she didn’t understand, but she did trust God anyway. She chose to look at her suffering with an eternal perspective. She chose to trust our Sovereign God whose understanding and ways are so far beyond the comprehension of our finite minds. And she gave Him glory and honor and praise in the midst of her suffering.

Ephesians 5 says, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
I is for Imitator of Christ. What does it mean to imitate Christ? Christ was a servant. He loved people without reserve, even people who were difficult to love. He forgave without conditions. He prayed to the Father for His will to be done in His life. Jessica imitated Christ. She served faithfully…in a preschool class at church, on multiple committees, and as the coordinator and originator of the weekend backpacks for kids. She loved without reserve. People were simply drawn to her and she accepted anyone and everyone...even me. She forgave without conditions, and she prayed for God’s will to be done in her life even though that included having cancer.

Deuteronomy 31 says, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble…for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

C is for Courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear but the determination to face what causes fear. There was fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of leaving the ones she loved so much, fear of being forgotten. But Jess knew that she was not walking this path alone. She knew that Jesus would never fail her or forsake her. So she faced those fears and others by calling on the name of the Lord, by seeking His face, by reading His Word, and by trusting in Him. For the last few summers we have done a Bible study at my house. This year she had Jake bring her even in her wheelchair. As the summer went on she began letting friends come get her and bring her.
It took lots of courage to let friends roll her up and down the steps and get her in and out of the car, but she came and shared what God was teaching her because she was courageous.

Psalm 91 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. He has said to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

A is for Abiding. Abiding means to stand fast, to wait, or to submit to someone. Jessica did all three of those things. She chose to stand fast in her faith in God’s purpose for her life. She chose to wait on Him for strength, answers, direction and peace. I remember when she didn’t have peace about her illness. She shared with me that as she prayed peace truly came from God straight to her heart. And she chose to submit to God’s plan for her life. And now, after abiding with the Lord here for 33 years, Jess is abiding with Him in heaven and I am sure that He said to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”

God promises in Psalm 112 that “The righteous will be remembered forever (v. 6).” I know Jessica will be remembered by each one of us as a godly woman, a faithful wife, a devoted and loving mother, and a friend who has changed my life forever. I want to end with Jessica’s own words from her blog on January 30, 2008…


Anonymous said...

Wow. Just noticed that the counter for this blog is 160,000.....

Kathy Welch said...

A mutual friend sent me the link to this blog, along with prayer requests for Jessica and your family about 3 weeks ago. I have read(and prayed) daily since then,and want you to know how much it inspires me to always trust in our Lord. Thank You for sharing her story. I will continue to pray for your family.

Pat Douty said...

Several years ago, after my father passed away, the Lord started giving me “words.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with these bits of poetry and prose. Today, I was reminded of a piece that I wrote called “The Journey.” I would like to share that with you.

When I walk the last mile of my journey,
When I take the last step on my way -
I will enter a place that’s called Heaven,
Where the night is as bright as the day.

On my Journey, I’ll not wander.
I will stay on the path that is so straight.
When my traveling days are all over,
I will see His dear face at the Gate!

When the gates of that city are opened,
And the glorious sights I behold;
With rapture my heart will start singing
Of that beautiful city of Gold.

In that Place there’s no sorrow or sadness,
There, no tear shall ever dim my eye.
There will only be peace and contentment,
When I reach my home in the sky.

When I come to the end of my Journey,
Please don’t bid me to linger here below.
I have yearned for so long to see Jesus,
So, with joy in your heart, let me go!

On my Journey, I’ve not wandered,
I’ve remained on the path that is so straight.
Now my traveling days are all over,
And I see my Saviour’s face at the Gate!

Jake, thank you for allowing so many people to accompany you on this “journey.” Now, as one journey has ended, another has begun. Your girls are amazing (between my husband, Mike, and myself, we have at one time or another had all of your girls in classes at church). You have an awesome extended family who will walk along with you on this new journey. But, most of all, you have Jesus to hold your hand and lead you. And, in the times when it gets tough, and you don’t think you can take another step, He will carry you.

Praying for you daily,

Anonymous said...

That acrostic poem is beautiful. We think and pray about you and your family every day.
Love, the August family

navyjustincase said...

Hi Jake, Katelyn, Jadyn, and Bryn :)

We just wanted to let yall know that we think about you all the time.

Love, the Farrell's

Anonymous said...

I think of you and your precious girls...I continue to pray for all of you.

Julie London