Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shelly Howard's Memorial

On behalf of Shelly's family I would like to thank you for coming to help celebrate Shelly' life. It's not a mistake to use the word "Celebration" even though this is clearly a sad time. I want to give you permission to smile again and to laugh and to rejoice. Today you're going to hear some stories that will certainly stir your emotions and I say let them be stirred. If you knew Shelly at all, you knew that she was a passionate woman. She was a lover AND a fighter! Right Anthony? Today our purpose is to honor Shelly with our laughter as well as our tears.
In 2 Sam 12 David wrestles with the death of his son. For 7 days he wouldn't eat or sleep .. he probably didn't even change his clothes! He PLEADED with God not to take his son... but on the 7th day, he died. David's servants were all freaking out wondering what the king was going to do when he heard that his son was finally dead. David got up, washed up and worshipped God, then he ate. He explained to his servants that he didn't know what was going to happen while his son was alive but now he does know... the son was NOT going to return to him, he was going to go to his son. Now this is just a narrative about an imperfect man. This is not a prescription for our behavior necessarily but maybe a good model. It seems that David had a GREAT understanding of God. So today we are going to celebrate, we are going to worship, and we are going to eat! Let me invite David Shaffer up and lead us in worship!

Today is a day to remember Shelly and the awesome woman that she was and our purpose for being here today is to honor her. I believe the best way to honor her would be us to reflect on our own lives and the significance we each personally strive for. In honor of her I would like for all of us for the next few moments to reflect on our own lives and on our own hearts. Some observations about the Human Heart -We describe a person without compassion as "heartless" and we urge him to "have a heart"
our deepest hurts we call "heartaches"
Jilted lovers are "brokenhearted"
Courageous soldiers are "bravehearted"
Saints have "hearts of gold" If we need to speak at the most intimate level, we ask for a "heart to heart" talk.
"lighthearted" is how we feel on vacation at the beach.
And when we love someone as truly as we may, we love "with all our heart"
But when we lose our passion for life, when a deadness sets in which we cannot seem to shake, we confess, "my heart's just not in it" Sometimes the heart in your chest speeds up. Like when you exercise, your heart rate goes to 120 beats per minute, you start burning fat, your body releases endorphins, your blood vessels expand and your body is full of life. This also happens when you fall in love... like on the 4th of July about 20 years ago... when Anthony met Shelly and he KNEW within minutes... this one is different! When your heart is pumpin, you can feel EVERYTHING and it's GREAT!
Now sometimes your heart slows down... in life there are lots of things that are downers... it starts when you're a kid... when other kids say mean things like "you're fat!" or "why do you have so many freckles?"... It get's worse... when you go through that first break up or you lose a job or your investments fail or you can't pay the electricity bill yada yada, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks here. Sometimes it gets so bad that you want to numb your heart... to slow your heart down to the point where you don't feel anything.
Shelly's physical heart grew weak and quit beating a couple weeks ago but her spiritual heart... it was huge! It was the size of a giraffe heart! It kept beating strongly all throughout her sickness! She discovered she had cancer shortly after Shelby was born almost 4 years ago and through the ups and downs of treatment and sickness and health she opened her children's eyes to see the faithfulness of God.
My question for you today is "what is the state of your heart"? Physically you could probably stand to exercise more and maybe eat more vegetables but you are completely missing the point if you think that's all I'm talking about here. Shelly knew with her whole heart that she was about to meet God face to face and she did it with grace and confidence! She knew Jesus personally and intimately and she knew Him as her savior.
Why was she a woman of grace and dignity? Because of her relationship with JesusWhy are her children beautiful and sweet? Because of her relationship with JesusWhy was she confident in her last days? Because of her relationship with Jesus
The true source of vitality in ones heart is Jesus. Jesus 2000 years ago invaded history and took the wickedness of the world upon himself. He took the sin of the world upon himself. He paid the penalty of sin with His life and He conquered death so that death for us is no longer death but a transition into eternal life with God.
Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you have the same confidence that Shelly did? Like it or not your body is going to experience the same fate. The question is what is going to happen to your soul? Do you know in your heart of hearts what the status is of your spirit is? Do you want to know this Jesus that I've been talking about? He wants to know you! He wants to have a relationship that is personal and intimate with you and he wants to begin right now. Are you ready?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Heart Hurts!

I met a young woman about 14 years ago... and she's leaving. Her name is Shelly and she is the reason my heart hurts so badly right now! When we met she was so full of life and so ready to tackle all of life's challenges. Her husband was a drunk but she loved him anyway. Her friends all told her she should leave him but I was opposed cuz I saw in her that she still loved him and wanted to make it work. One day, all of a sudden, he wasn't drunk anymore and although life wasn't instantly all roses... the journey started along the right path... again. You see God had a track record of faithfullness even when times were tough. When I met Anthony I could see why Shelly loved him, he was a good man. If you know me you know that I don't believe any man is good, by nature, but this man Anthony was good because he realized that God loved him and had a plan for his life... and along they went.

Chapter 2

Little Taylor was born! How did that happen? (of course we all know) but really... How !!!? The medical staff gave up all except that wonderful nurse who kicked everyone out of the hospital room where Shelly was with her incompetent cervix and all. That nurse said "if you believe in God you better start prayin!" Pray we did... and again all of a sudden, Taylor is 11 years old and just a beautiful reflection of your mother.

Chapters 3,4,5, and 6

Sydney, Anthony, Jaden, and Shelby... children 2 through 5. So much for struggling to get pregnant!

Now what? Breast Cancer? F(bleep) YOU! Shelly beat you once... no twice! Yeah yeah, life happens... ups and downs, houses and jobs, dogs and electricity bills and yada yada. It's all good though right? A beautiful family and friends who truly care... Shelly why are you leaving? Just a couple weeks ago we were all hanging out having hawaiian bbq remember? WTF!

I believe in God, I believe His Word. I believe death is just a transition into life eternal... But it still hurts. It hurts it hurts it hurts.