The entire week has been surreal. We were talking with her on facebook one moment, then she was fighting for her life the next. All week my newsfeed was filled with images of Jackie's vibrant smile as friends requested prayer for her recovery. Thursday those messages turned to prayer for comfort for the family.
I've been trying to process my own grief for this lady who has personally challenged me at different times. When she spoke, she spoke with intensity. She was a woman on a mission. When she had something to say, she said it! Her words from the past have been echoing in my mind throughout the week, while praying and awaiting the latest news. She has spoken some very specific words to me to encourage me...and even to nudge me for a future pathway that I might take. Through all the memories came the image, time and again, of this candle, one of my photos that popped into my facebook memory to share for the day the morning after she walked into the arms of Jesus.
Jackie entered my life through a group of homeschool moms I met on-line. Through the Secret Sister program, I got to know her as she blessed me with encouragements. In 2009 I received a box from her, filled with a bit of Germany, which was her home at the time. In the box, she included the card with the candle on it that you see above. She had mailed the box from California. Her mother was not doing well so she flew from Germany to the states, then her husband joined her when her mother passed. While her husband was packing, she asked him to find such and so box to pack as well, because it contained her Secret Sister gift. He brought that to California. Before she shipped the box to me, she went through some cards her mother had made, and chose this one with the candle to write a lovely note and slip into the package. This candle SHINES because of the irridescent paper from which it is made. So beautifully crafted by her mother, I love to put it out on the piano every Christmas to catch the reflective brilliance of the lights from the Christmas tree.
By 2013 Jackie had moved to Tennessee...and another box found its way to my doorstep during yet another Secret Sister season. This time she packed Tennessee into the box for me, which was fun! She also indulged my love of history by sharing a word of encouragement for me, inspired by a famous first lady of Tennessee, the wife of Andrew Jackson.
Here lie the remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife of President Jackson, who died December 22nd, 1828, aged 61. Her face was fair, her person pleasing, her temper amiable, and her heart kind. She delighted in relieving the wants of her fellow-creatures, and cultivated that divine pleasure by the most liberal and unpretending methods. To the poor she was a benefactress; to the rich she was an example; to the wretched a comfortor; to the prosperous an ornament. Her pity went hand in hand with her benevolence; and she thanked her Creator for being able to do good. A being so gentle and so virtuous, slander might wound but could not dishonor. Even death, when he tore her from the arms of her husband, could but transplant her to the bosom of her God. -Andrew JacksonAfter Jackson's quote, she added her own prayer for me and our friends...
"To be remembered like this, by those we love...that is my prayer for you, your daughter, and all our sisters in Christ. I pray your 'garden' grows immeasurably, that your heavenly flowers of grace under pressure, timeless beauty and devotion to family serve as a lesson to the rest of us, and that you feel cherished and loved all the days of your life." -Jackie, SS 2009 and 2013
As I reread this, tears fall. Jackie exemplified this as well as Rachel. She had a way of SHINING as she lived life to the full.
Oh, she was always encouraging me. We never met in person, but on facebook she'd pop in and leave a word, or two, or three, encouraging me. Lots of people encourage, but she had an extra touch. Jackie nudged us to raise the bar.
Last October during a disappointment I experienced, Jackie popped in to leave an encouragement for me and raise the bar in a different way:
"Laurie...this is flying out of my head so I may get a couple details wrong but you have talked about what you should do next, where your path lies, what is your niche? Now you get pushed (quite literally) by a few (in the words of my grandmother) mean ol bitties. You are a gifted and talented seamstress, quilter and historian! You are a wonderful writer...therefore speaker! I think you should strike off in that direction...spend your time teaching the techniques of a dying art to the next generation. I think you should start with youtube videos on your own channel and share your wonderful talents, treasures and time with the world. We can't all be in the room with you (although we secretly long for that) but we can all watch you over and over...until ...oh who am I kidding...we will never duplicate your beautiful work but it would give us something to strive for!!!"-Jackie, October 2015
In a word, Jackie always encouraged us to SHINE. As I've seen a brilliant photo of her, that my friend Patti took of her pass around facebook, (because the photo is that gorgeous) you can see SHINE glowing from Jackie's face.
Our only hope to SHINE is because of Jesus, and allowing Him into our lives, accepting Him as Savior and Lord. Every act of service that we do should be "of Him, through Him, and for Him." Romans 11:36
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light SHINE before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
When I was in college, involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, we were often asked what would our epitaph be when we passed into heaven. It wasn't meant to be a morbid statement, but one to make us think about our choices in life. What were we living for? The dot or the line? Now or eternity? Me or Jesus?
As many of us have shared our grief on facebook, reflecting upon various words of encouragement that she gave us to motivate us to raise the bar, I think we can all agree that Jackie's epitaph is SHINE.
What will our epitaph be? May we all be candles to SHINE for Him.