Update: August 10, 2017
I’ve been thinking about Carol often this summer. I miss her. I think of her when I see my flower bed and my “pot farm” as she would call it. I think she looks down on my “pot farm” (plants in pots instead of a garden) and laughs. I think I think of her more because she didn’t get to meet my baby. I really hadn’t thought of it and now that I am I’m weeping.
She would have gotten such a kick out of her. Maybe she’s watching and getting a kick out of her now. Maybe she and Josiah are talking about the silly things she does and the amazing things she will do. I’m sure God has let them get a peek into the future.
It’s crazy. I don’t know how I would have made time for her this summer if she were still around. I certainly don’t want her to still be here in the pain and suffering she was for the years I knew her.
Yet I cry.
Original post: January 28, 2015
God loves each one.
It’s a truth I’ve been told. A truth I repeated and taught. Not one I always believe, especially for myself.
I saw this truth in a new light yesterday.
My neighbor Carol has become very dear to me over the past few years. It started with my husband plowing her driveway. He never charged her. This confused her.
“Why would you do that?”
He always said it was because he had a snowplow and she had a driveway that needed to be plowed. God loved her and so he loved her.
On one of these visits about four years ago she told him she had been diagnosed with stage 3-B breast cancer.
That’s where my story with Carol starts. I went to find out how I could help. We prayed. We helped her pack and winterize her house as she decided to go to Washington and do a special diet and other alternative treatments.
She came back to Alaska in the spring. Over the years my family and I helped with food preparations, cleaning, moving, and gardening. There were doctor visits and trips to the airport.
Carol lived a lifetime of adventures.
Mushing the Iditarod trail with a friend. Teaching English in China. Always studying and learning. She and a friend were planning a summer long float trip on the Yukon river when she was diagnosed. I only got glimpses of her adventures, they were often overshadowed and forgotten by the battle to stay alive.
She had a wonderful sense of humor. Most days she made me laugh, all the way to the end.
She was full of paradox.
Carol was almost always cold yet one of her favorite memories and places was in the Alaskan interior with only her dog team at -40.
She didn’t want to be around people but she loved them, and as I recently learned was well-loved by many.
She had issues with everything in her life being someone else’s fault. She seemed to alienate people. She didn’t trust easily. She denied the existence of God.
She became so dear to me.
On many days of trying to help her – and her not allowing me – there was no reason for this love but the love of God Himself for Her. There were many days I didn’t want to go do another seemingly pointless task. God repeatedly reminded me I was serving Him, obeying Him so it didn’t matter if I thought it was pointless.
She went into hospice Thanksgiving weekend. God had been breaking down her isolation. The people serving and pouring into her were beginning to connect, to find out the others existed. Going into hospice really brought everyone together.
I was astounded to see the faithful believers God had placed in her life – for her whole life. I used to think, “How has she missed it all these years?”
Now I see something else.
God loved her all along.
I would have told you that was true. Now I see more clearly how it was true.
It took her weakened physical state for her to gain spiritual strength and healing. People come to see her, send her cards, and call. New friends have been made, many of whom share God’s love for her. She has come to know God’s love for herself. She has finally been able to forgive and let go of bitterness that she has carried for decades.
Carol dreamed of having a home. Through complicated details I won’t explain she started one this summer. When she went into hospice they moved her to a friend’s house. She wanted to get her house finished enough she could go home.
When she accepted Jesus’s forgiveness I realized God had a home for her. He hadn’t just started on it either. He knew she would be coming home.
I guess it is a living illustration of Romans 5:8. While Carol was denying His existence He was loving her. He was sharing with her the beauty of His creation. He was surrounding her with people who loved her with His love. People to love her and show her truth while she denied His existence for over 60 years.
I think it is His love that did not let her live in regret for wasted years. She is in heaven and knows only good and beauty. She can’t “what if?” or “if only”. She has no pain, no sorrow. She is at peace.
I choose peace. I will celebrate.
Pictures for Carol
One summer day she was talking about her life, everything falling apart. I saw God holding out His hand catching every piece. He was holding them to make something beautiful.
At an informal service for Carol a pastor shared the verses he read to Carol just before she died.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
King James Version
by Public Domain
Another picture I saw was of the beautiful aspen trees over her house being God singing over her. She enjoyed the breeze in them so but could never tell it was Him.
My son had this picture for her. He told her the message.
This is a picture I was given for you. You are in a black cloak. The black cloak is sin, unbelief, anything bad you have done and everything bad that has happened to you. The cloak blocks the beams of light, God’s love and forgiveness, from reaching your heart.
The man in white standing next to you is Jesus. He is waiting to take your cloak. Before He can take your cloak and give you His white robe of righteousness you have to ask Him to take it. He won’t ever force you to take it off. As soon as you are ready to take it off He will help you.
Removing the black cloak and putting on the white is submitting to Him without necessarily understanding it all.
She said, “Thank you for telling me but I don’t believe that.”
Now I wish I had drawn her accepting Jesus’s offer. The reality that happened the Sunday before Christmas – her finally giving Him her guilt and shame. His glory shining in and transforming her. Transformation she felt during her last three weeks.
Transformation that went beyond her. Sisters who hadn’t talked in years reconnected. A neighbor was blessed to minister to Carol while her own sister suffered with cancer thousands of miles away, ministering to her heart where she had felt helpless.
I was so blessed to know Carol, to meet some of the people who loved her for years and for days, to love her myself.