My eyes are filled with tears as I sit down and write this.
How do I write this.
I love meal ministry…you know I do. Not only does it remove something off of a tiresome daily list during difficult days, it’s an outward motion of love. It says “I’m here for you, I care, and I am doing something to show you that I am walking this walk with you.”
But the past few months, my typical “go to” way of loving someone didn’t matter.
She couldn’t eat.
Now I’m crying even harder…breathe, Janelle.
Some of you might know my beloved Mother-in-Law went home to be with the Lord on December 17th, 2014. She was an amazing mother to my husband, outstanding grandma, and truly…I mean truly, one of my very best friends. At 55 years old, her life was cut too short, yet she lived it more fully than anyone I know. She passed away from stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer.
Being that she only lived 7 minutes away (yes, we timed it) I was there quite a bit to keep her company. One of the hardest things I had to wrestle with was how I could serve her. My typical meal ministry wouldn’t be a help… she couldn’t eat. She lost a total of 140 lbs… It pained me so much to know she couldn’t eat, I felt so helpless. I even found myself not wanting to eat…
At the beginning of her end-days, her friends and I would bring over slushies (Burger King- Cherry, or Taco Bell-Dr.Pepper at her request) or even a “Mickey D’s” sweet tea. But, as she progressed, nothing ministered to her in the way of food or even drink.
Being the hands and feet of Jesus meant something different- it meant ministering to her in the way she needed, not the way I wanted.
There was a day she asked me to help her over to the computer to draft a list of songs to be placed on a CD for her memorial. She also wanted more CDs to be made for her friends and family. Kathy loved music, especially praise and worship music. So, we spent that day on You Tube…(smiling) when I say we spent the day, I mean we spent the day… This dear woman cracked me up- she would name a song such as, “It is Well with My Soul” and we would go through 10 versions of it to find “just the right one”. Sure enough when she found “the one” it was always my favorite version too.
One song in particular was very important to her, but she couldn’t put her finger on the name of it…she said, “Ok Janelle, it goes like this…I’d rather be in grave than live in a house of cards.” I remember googling her words-because this song was important to her, I was determined to find it, regardless of the odd lyrics. But, I have to say (as I was guessing in my head)…a bunch of gambling sites came up.
We honestly looked for a good hour.
“Kathy, are you sure it’s House of Cards? Who sings it?” I asked. She always had this look when she was thinking…she would kind of move her mouth to the side and look up. She replied, ” Look up Gaither’s and House and see what comes up.” Sure enough, we found the song… House of GOLD!
We laughed so hard. It actually became an inside joke to both of us throughout the days to come.
I turned up the song she so loved to celebrate it’s discovery. It had a groovy little swag to it so I stood up, danced and clapped to the beat. She laughed so hard, started clapping and singing too…it was just the two of us. We weren’t thinking about cancer or medicine or death…
Laughter, joy, humor and praise filled the living room. That room saw some pretty dark hours …but in that moment, we were having fun.
This is just one memory I have of that precious time with her. This blog isn’t big enough to list everything, but I do want to add…
I witnessed Kathy’s friends also minister to her in a way that touched me so deeply. They too felt helpless, but it was their time, prayers, laughter, concern, loving hugs, and genuine help for basic needs that ministered her. As I watched many of them by her side, it put friendship into a very real and new perspective for me. These women weren’t having a girls night out, they were sacrificing themselves for her. Whatever she needed, whenever she needed it, however long she needed it- they were there. It was beautiful.
So friends, the reason I haven’t been blogging very much is because I’ve been ministering in a way that meal ministry just didn’t matter….I’ve been lucky to even cook for my own family. In fact, many people have been cooking for me.
Thank you for your grace….