Sunday, July 31, 2011

Welcome home, Grandma

Last Wednesday, my dear, 94-year-old grandmother was freed from her earthly bounds and taken home to join her husband and her Saviour in heaven. Cora Bell Hollingsworth was born and raised here in Lincoln. She lived for 73 years on a farm south of town. The first 67 of those years were shared with the love of her life, Robert.  I could write every day for a year without adequately conveying all Grandma & Grandpa have meant to me or done for those who knew them, but their Christ-like example is what most impressed me.

I was fortunate enough to grow up right next door to Grandma & Grandpa on that same farm. I watched how they lived day in and day out. Everything about them was caring, generous, and faithful. As our extended family gathered at the farm for what may be the last time on Saturday, I was reminded just how completely those traits permeated their lives. They spent their lives giving of themselves to other people, whether it was driving me on my paper route every morning, or making Wednesday night dinners at church, or housing college kids away from home.  They were always encouraging to each one of us, regardless of our interests or abilities, and they so enjoyed experiencing life through each of us.

Bob & Cora embodied Christ in everything they did. They ensured that each one of their 3 kids, 11 grandkids, and 14 great-grandkids understood what God has done for our family and how faithful He is. The result has been a family that loves God and loves each other more than any I've ever seen. Their example has reinforced in me the importance of teaching the next generation of God's love.

More than anything else, they were prayer warriors.  They prayed daily for each one of us, and the results of intercession were visible over and over. They knew what was important in life, and they kept their focus. Everyone who ever met them could see that. People sometimes say that it's unrealistic to expect to live your whole life the right way. I disagree, because I've seen Christ first hand, living through an old couple on a little farm in south Lincoln.

Seven weeks before her homegoing, just a few days after she'd moved into the nursing home where she would finish her time on earth, Grandma summed up the motivation of her life to my Mom:

"When the time of my life is over, I want it to be that what He wanted to say was coming out... and, that it was plain."

It was, Grandma. It was.

As our out-of-town relatives plucked their special mementos from her house and parted ways Saturday night, I was really struck by the magnitude of the job remaining.  No longer am I just a kid, two generations removed from our family patriarch.  The patriarch mantle (in my line, anyway) has now been passed to my dad, as it will eventually be to me, hopefully a good 30 years from now.  The next generation is watching -- I hope -- and I have a great responsibility to show Christ to them.

As a local, I watched the slow decline in physical health of both Bob (six years ago) and Cora.  I was fortunate enough to record two videos of Cora in her final six months describing her thoughts on visiting heaven sooner than later.  I hope I can stay that focused when the end of my earthly life is in sight.

I just have to share one more video.  Given Grandma's newly restored body, my brother Casey wanted to play a more fitting tribute than the stodgy, old version of "Amazing Grace" that you typically hear at funerals.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did and I know Grandma would have.

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