Saturday, January 22, 2011

A life well-lived

"I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight.  I have finished the race.  
I have kept (firmly held) the faith." 
(2 Timothy 4:7, Amplified)


This past Thursday, we celebrated the home-going of my precious Dad.  He fought the fight well, and finished the race on January 14th.  Over the last 8 days, I have processed many things about my Dad . . . memories I have with him . . . and the over-riding thoughts are of a man who lived life well.  I picture him running a life-long race, and sprinting to the finish line!  His contentment and joy increased through his final days, even in the midst of tremendous physical difficulties.  What an example to me and to all who knew John Broadman Ware!

The memorial celebration of my Dad's life was held on Thursday morning, January 20th at 11:00 a.m. in Fayetteville, NC at his beloved place of worship, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.  Many family members traveled from Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and North Carolina to honor Dad and their relationship with him.  My Dad was one of 4 brothers.  Two of the brothers have been with Jesus for many years.  His brother, Weston Ware, drove 20+ hours from Dallas to Fayetteville, along with his wife, Charlotte and their son, Cameron.  Weston and Charlotte's daughter, Keren, also flew in from Maryland to be with us.  What a gift to have their family there!  Weston spoke at the service and gave a heart-felt tribute, as he shared Dad's favorite psalm, Psalm 8.  My aunt, Allison, flew in from Texas and beautifully sang a perfect song for the day, "Finally Home".  Allison is the wife of Dad's younger brother, Connie.  Dad's older brother, Browning, was also represented by the presence of Suzanne, his oldest daughter.

My brother, Todd, and his wife Julie flew in from Texas.  My sister, Missy and her husband Jonathan flew in from Nashville.  Our brother, Jeffrey, who lives in a state school in Goldsboro, NC was brought in to be with us.  Kelsey, Zach, and Charis came over from Georgia, where they were visiting with Zach's family.  And Dick and I drove from Nashville, accompanied by two dear friends who graciously came to love and support us, Jan Hayes and LeAnn Simmerman.  (We affectionately called them "Bildad" and "Eliphaz", naming them after two of Job's friends who cared for him in his sorrow). We all joined together with Nancy, Dad's loving wife of 30 years, to remember a man who had touched each of us in ways we will hold on to forever.

The service consisted of several other components that painted a wonderful picture of Dad's life.  We sang 3 hymns he had chosen for the day ~ "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" and "How Great Thou Art".  My dad had requested that Dick play the piano for the memorial, and Dick opened with a beautiful prelude of hymns, accompanied the congregational singing, and played for Allison's solo.  I was privileged to share one of the eulogies, focussing on my Dad as a songwriter.  His music defined who he was.  From out of the abundance of his heart, he wrote lyrics and melodies that spoke of his desire for others to know the Lord, God's faithfulness, and his longing for heaven.  Before Dad passed away, he had given copies of all his lyrics to my sister and brother and I.  I drew from these words to share a glimpse of who I knew I my Dad to be.  Dad's pastor and friend, John Cook, continued that theme and eloquently gave one of the best memorial sermons I think I've ever heard.  It was such a snapshot of the man who we knew as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather,  brother, uncle, and friend.  Dick was complimenting Pastor John on how he truly captured Dad's life and John said, "Some people's lives just preach their own sermon."  So true.

Here are some of the precious moments from this day . . . 
The family, joined by Pastor John Cook
Dick and Mel, Kelsey, Zach and Charis (sleeping soundly)
Mel and her sister, Missy

Mel and her brother, Jeffrey
LeAnn Simmerman and Jan Hayes (Bildad and Eliphaz)
Mel and cousin Suzanne
Nancy and Charis, sharing some sweet time together
Precious baby Charis
4 generations

So much of God's word came alive that day . . .
". . . we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him."  (1 Thes. 4:13-14)

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

How precious are God's promises!  There is such comfort in knowing that He has ordered every day of Dad's life and that now Dad will spend eternity in Jesus' presence.  One insight that God showed me through this was that when we say or sing the words "I will praise you forever", that doesn't mean we praise the Lord until we take our final breath on earth.  After that breath, we begin a new chapter.  In heaven.   How much more will we praise the Lord then!

We grieve with hope, because we know that we will not only see Dad again, but we will spend FOREVER with him.  Can't wait to hear him singing with all his heart in the bass section of the heavenly choir!  

"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

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