Remembering Christina

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about when the unthinkable happens. That was just a couple of weeks following the unexpected death of a homeschool mom in our support group.

I had no idea, at the time, that two short weeks later, we would face the same tragedy a second time or that this time, it would be one of my dearest friends.

Christina was one of my very first homeschool mom friends. She, two other moms and I were in an email group together when my family first began homeschooling in 2002. We realized that we all had girls about the same age, so we arranged to meet at a local park. The girls and the moms hit it off right away. Christina’s daughter is still Brianna’s best friend, nine years later.

Christina’s death is one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. Not only is there the deep sense of loneliness that comes from knowing I’ll never see her again. Not only is there the heartbreaking thought the crushing grief her husband and children are facing. Not only is there the overwhelming sadness thinking of the milestones that are going to pass without the girls’ mom in their lives, but losing a dear friend so suddenly and unexpectedly at the young age of 35 also has a way of bringing the reality of your own mortality crashing into your personal space.

Losing Christina has shaken me to my core and caused me to reevaluate my life and my priorities. I’ve spent a lot of time letting the unimportant take precedence over the truly important. I keep thinking of a quote by Steve Jobs that I read recently:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?‘ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

There are lots of things that we have to do that we don’t want to do, but that have to be done – like work, school, housekeeping, paying bills – but too often we get caught up in spending all our energy on the “have to’s”and letting the things that are truly important take a back seat.

My friend Christina loved her family and she truly enjoyed them. She spent the majority of her time with them and didn’t let all the typical American family busyness intrude on family time.

Christina enjoyed her friends. She made time for them and, as another friend said recently, she had a way of making each person she came into contact with feel appreciated and treasured as a friend. She was a giving and genuine person.

Today I’ll be attending a memorial service for Christina. I think she would be so pleased with the way her husband has arranged it. There will be a message from their pastor and a eulogy, followed by a prayer of remembrance for Christina and ending with a time of food and fellowship, listening to her music and sharing our memories as we all celebrate her life.

Her husband concluded the announcement with the comment that the memorial will be “absolutely casual.” Another friend thought this was completely fitting as she recalled a conversation she and Christina had a few months ago in which they discussed hating events where people were expected to get dressed up because it made the two ladies so uncomfortable.

This friend concluded by saying that she’d already decided to wear blue jeans because she knew that Christina would absolutely fine with that.

Yes, she would be.

While I don’t think I’ll ever understand why someone so genuine, humble, giving and loving as Christina was taken so early with a young family depending on her, I trust in the fact that God loves her and her family more than we do.

Christina’s legacy will live on in the kind, sweet, caring, witty, loving daughters that she raised. I also want her legacy to live on in me. As I said, her death has caused me to examine my life and I’ve come to some conclusions.

I want to get over myself. No more not doing something for someone else because it might inconvenience me. No more not taking the time to invest in relationships and make time for my friends. I want to cherish my friendships and let my friends know that I value our relationships.

I want to fully, deeply enjoy my family. No more letting the unimportant and temporary take precedence over the truly important and eternal. I want to make memories with my husband and kids. If I die tomorrow, I want them to remember the fun that we had together and to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loved and cherished them and that they were more important to me than Facebook and blogging and whatever else I let consume my time.

I want to live life to it’s fullest because there are no guarantees. Everything that we hold dear can be taken in an instant. If I’m not living each day the way I’d want to live my last, then maybe it’s time to reprioritize.

Life is fleeting. I want to know, when I die, I have served my God well, loved my family deeply, and enjoyed my relationships fully.

I also want to know that, when my friends and family die, they know that they’re going to spend eternity with Jesus. Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior? Do you have a close and meaningful relationship with Him? If not, I would encourage you to rectify that right now. There is no promise of tomorrow.

The Bible says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that:

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

If you haven’t already, admit to God that you have fallen short of His plan of your life and that you have disobeyed him. Believe that He sent His Son as the one and only eternal sacrifice for your sins.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Finally, trust in Jesus as your Savior.

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13

“The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” – John 6:29

I’ve always quietly lived my faith, not wanting to push it on others, but I heard a story one time about two ministers who were standing on the road holding a sign that said, “Turn back! Turn back!”

Everyone ignored them until they finally turned to one another and said, “Do you think we should change the sign to ‘The bridge is out?’”

It was a joke of course, but the truth is, if you were driving down the road at 55 miles an hour and I knew the bridge was out ahead, I’d do everything in my power to stop you from plunging to your death.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as Savior, you are barreling ahead toward certain death and an eternity in Hell. I don’t want to shove religion down your throat, but I do want to introduce you to my Savior if you haven’t met Him.

If you accepted Christ today or would like to, but aren’t sure, email me. I’d love to talk to you. There are no promises of tomorrow, so I’m putting my discomfort and dread of confrontation aside and asking you to examine your heart and see if you’re sure about where you’ll be spending your eternity because it could come sooner than you think.

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35 Comments

  1. Kris, I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend! I thank you so much for writing your thoughts about her death in such detail. I am 35. I have 5 little boys and a precious husband, and I homeschool. BOY did your post open my eyes. I DO trust Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, thank the Lord for that! I don't know Christina, but her life and death is already impacting the future of a young family in the UK – I know that I need to make changes, and the questions you asked yourself in this blog post are ones I am asking of myself in light of Christina's death, and things are going to change here. I am on the laptop while my kids play (and bicker) instead of doing something fun with them and enjoying every moment with them as though I might only have today to do that. I'm so grateful for Christina, and for you, and will be praying for her dear little girls and her husband as they struggle to find a new normal without her presence.

  2. Bless you, Kris, for putting it out there. I have had you and Christina's family in my prayers all weekend–unfathomable how hard this must be.

    Thanks for sharing your heart and the truth here.
    ~april

  3. I am so sorry to hear of your friends' deaths! It is very sobering, for sure! Your blog post was so well written and heartfelt. I, too, am re-evaluating things in this season. Your sentiments are right on time! Blessings to you!

  4. Kris, this was a wonderful post! You have encouraged me in so many areas by reading this.  I wanted to applaud you for your boldness at sharing the Gospel.  I need to be more open about sharing the Gospel with others and bringing them to Christ.  I want my life and everything I do to represent my relationship with God and who He is to me.  Thank you for posting this.  Praying for you today as you attend the memorial service.  May you feel His presence and His peace. ((HUGS)). 

  5. I just wanted to offer my prayers and sympathy in the loss of your friend, and prayers for her family as well.  A few years ago I lost my closest and dearest friend to an aggressive brain stem tumor one day before her 44th birthday…just a few months after she was diagnosed.  We were friends since kindergarten.   It surely has an impact and I thank you for your post.  As I said an my friends funeral, because we shared the same hope in our Savior I will see her again so this isn't goodbye, but see you later.  May God continue to comfort you as you treasure your memories.  

  6. This is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for your loss and for Christina's family….I simply cannot imagine. 

    "If I’m not living each day the way I’d want to live my last, then maybe it’s time to reprioritize."

    I am going to remember this. I've been having the hardest time with Daniel lately. All I see is the worst of Autism right in our faces. If I died today…or tomorrow, I don't want these awful struggles to be what he remembers. I want to find the patience and the _____??____ to help him and build our relationship better, find what is truly important and stop all this conflict…

    <3

  7. Kris, what a tough time for you are your family.  Christina sounds like a great person to know.  It's funny how the death of a loved one can make us really see what's important.  May He carry you through this time!  Praying for you all!

  8. {Kris}, I am so sorry for your loss.  I didn't know your friend, but your tribute brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you for sharing her with us and for prompting us to examine our own lives.

  9. A beautiful tribute to your friend!

    I wish I didn't know the grief you are experiencing, however, I lost my best friend (43) to cancer in 2008, and then lost my sister (40) 9mons. later in 2009 from an unexpected illness . Each left behind four and three children, respectively.

    To lose TWO people who I shared everything with in less than a year was such a severe blow to me. The phone doesn't ring much anymore, and its silence is deafening…. It is obvious that you have lost that kind of friend. Know that I am praying for you today…..

  10. It's hard when God walks with us out of our comfort zones, but knowing He is with us makes it easier. You walked courageously through this blog post, and not alone. There is more treausre for you in heaven now than there was yesterday. This may sting, but I will step out a limb and share it anyway. Our lives here aren't about US at all – they are about serving God and sharing Jesus' love with others, introducing them to Him. If Christina's death brings even one person to faith because her death gave you the courage to write this, then, I believe, that in God's eyes it was worth it.  I'm not saying that is the reason she died so young, please don't misunderstand me. What I am saying is that it is His desire that EVERYONE will come to know Him. He used her in life and He will use her death to further glorify Him. You are a good and faithful servant to see His goodness even in your grief!

  11. This is a beautiful post, made all the better by your heartfelt plea to all those who don't know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.  I hurt for you and this family yet I trust a God who makes everything beautiful in some way and this post, to me, is just one of the no doubt many, beautiful things that God will make from this terrible sadness.
    Sarah

  12. I'm also praying for their family.  When you shared about her passing the other day, I felt a fear grip my heart and realized, thankfully, that what you shared today is the whole point!  We need not fear!  Just glorify the Lord in all we do; every moment of every day, and with all those that he has put on this earth to share our lives.  Thank you for sharing your grief with us.  I wish I'd known her!  Some day I will!

  13. Alice, I could have written this comment. I have wasted way too much time on the unimportant. Thank you for your touching, heartfelt comment.

  14. I lost a dear friend when we were both 36, and I am not sure she was a believer.  I witnessed to her a lot, but I didn't know for sure if she'd ever really trusted Christ as her Savior.  I cried every day for six months.  At that point I called a friend and wept on the phone, "I just can't get over Kari's death."  She said, "Mindy, you don't have to."  She gave me permission to grieve.  Over 11 years later, I still grieve, but in a different way.  Just as the Lord told us to "be angry but sin not" I allowed myself to "grieve, but sin not."  As long as you are allowing your pain to turn you TO the Lord and not FROM Him, grieve as you need to.  Don't have any expectations of when you'll stop crying, when the pain will go away.  I never "got over" Kari's death, I had to learn to live with it.

    The recent blessing is that about a year ago, I discovered her daughter is now married, has three kids and lives less than an hour away.  We instantly became close.  An unbeliever, she once wept to me that she was worried about whether or not her Mom went to Heaven.  I was able to share with her what I shared with her Mom.  The Lord does work all things out for good.

    Praying for you and for the work of the Lord to continue with the death of a dear sister.  A seed has fallen to the ground, it will bear fruit.

  15. I'm an atheist and I'm not going to write what you think I'm going to.  No, I'm going to tell you to keep talking.  Though my path in religion differs from yours, you MUST follow where your heart leads you.  You may upset some, and they may say mean things and threaten to leave, and that's fine.  They have their own path, just don't let them sway you from your own.  Does your belief that I'll burn make me want to run back to church?  No. But there may be another needing help that church, and fellowship, can provide and you may be the voice that sends them back.  Don't hide from what moves you, and you will bring joy.  

    I'm so sorry about your loss, I can only imagine what the loss of someone so close would feel like.  I wish I had words of comfort, but when I lost my uncle it didn't seem as if words really helped.  I will just say that you are not alone.

  16. It was nice to meet you briefly today, Kris, even thought the circumstances were so sad. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to about a beautiful life. 

  17. Thank you, Jenn. You did not write what I expected you, too, and I really appreciate your words of encouragement. There really are no words of comfort. As the pastor at Christina's memorial said today, death is a tragedy. Period. I am so thankful, though, that I have the hope that this is not truly the end for Christina. Blessings to you.

  18. What a beautiful story of God's redemption. That's so wonderful that you got to share Christ with Kari's daughter. I agree that that is no getting over a death. You just learn to live with the pain created by the void your loved one left in your life.

  19. Thank you, Lisa. I, too, wish we had met under better circumstances. Christina was truly a beautiful person, inside and out. The memorial was a beautiful, loving, very fitting tribute to her life.

  20. Great post. May God help you to mourn and heal……and may you never lose the zeal you have for Him and your family in this very moment. My thoughts and prayers are for your friend's family. 

  21. Kris- I loved reading this.  I have to say that when I purposefully and gratefully put on my blue jeans today for the memorial service, I thought that Christina would have loved it.  It reminded me of her so much…. unpretentious.  ~Jackie

  22. Kris, I am so sorry for your loss.  I appreciate your reminders about what is really important though.  I learned the lesson in the same way you did.  A homeschooling friend of mine passed away unexpectedly in her sleep some years ago in her early 30s and last year, a high school friend passed away at the age of 34.  Both were shocking and after each, I spent more time with my kids (REAL time) and I said "yes" more when asked to go places with people, but slowly, the busyness of life crept back in and I slipped back into not cherishing the time I had.  Christina sounds like someone whose loss will be felt deeply.  I am reminded by her life and your words that I need to go back to cherishing again.

    I think it's really brave of you to be so bold about your faith.  It is something that I didn't use to do because I was afraid to offend, but I have slowly been realizing that the consequences of me not doing it (gently, as you have managed to do) could be eternal.  Your words here may have more impact on someone than you will ever know.

  23. Thank you so much for your kind, heartfelt comment, Sharla. I have been praying that the busyness of life does not let me forget this lesson learned in such a devastating way. I know it's easy to let that happen. I'm also praying that I can continue boldly sharing my faith in a gentle, grace-filled way. Thank you for your words of support.

  24. Ah Kris, this is beautifully written, and something I needed to read.  Too often I really do let the unimportant take over and then I wonder where all the peace has gone… thank you so much for sharing this.  I've been praying for Christina's family and will continue to do so. 

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