It is amazing how a death can affect your outlook on life.
I was pondering about why I kept reliving the passing of my husband’s niece, Rebecca Hogan, in my sleep. I suppose it must have a meaning. Well, I’m here and now she’s gone, so I felt I should speak.
To tell the story I have to get a little personal. I hope that it will not be offensive to any who read.
Let me go back a few years to the small city of Beattyville. My husband, Eddie, three of his brothers (and as the years went on – our son, Myron) comprised the Hogan Brothers’ Band. They performed mostly country and old-time rock. Becky’s father, David, is the oldest brother and was the one who started the band. All the cousins (including our children) were close and enjoyed all the time they got to spend together.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law have 13 children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. With a big family there are usually plenty of family reunions and such is the case with them.
No matter where the reunion or gathering, the family tradition was to end the time together with an old familiar song, “Family Circle”, as all joined hands in a circle and helped sing the song.
In case you haven’t heard the song, or don’t remember the words, I thought I’d share what I remember of it.
(1) Memories of my childhood days I recall them now and then, When at home with all the family there. But the circle has been broken It’s not the same anymore. But we’ll meet again on heaven’s golden shore.
(2) Will Daddy be there waiting When I cross the chilling tide? Will Mother be there sitting by his side? I pray the family circle will be together by and by In a land where our souls shall never die.
I wonder if the family circle Will be together once again Over there on heaven’s shining shore? There’ll be no more to separate We’ll sing around God’s throne. I wonder if the family circle Will all be home?
As a child, Becky attended Sunday school and talked about God a lot. I recall her telling us about a dream she had. In the dream she and family members were in heaven.
As time progressed and she became a teenager, she allowed herself to be drawn into making some unwise choices, which included the use of illegal drugs.
A few weeks ago she was arrested and remained incarcerated for several days. We got word she had been moved to a jail in Rockcastle County. We wondered why she was taken there. We would soon find out.
A young minister, Ray Owens, and a few members from his church visit the jail there each week, sharing a message of salvation.
He spoke during the funeral service on December 22nd and shared Becky’s testimony with all.
While at the service at the jail, she gave her life to the Lord. The minister said she was so excited and told him she didn’t know why she hadn’t accepted Jesus into her life sooner. The following Sunday she was allowed to visit Owens’ church and was baptized.
The next week she was released from jail…just in time to get home to her children before Christmas. Saturday evening they put up a Christmas tree and she went shopping and bought them each a new outfit of clothes complete with shoes for church the next morning.
On her way to church Sunday, December 17, Becky, age 26, passed away as her life was taken instantly from injuries sustained in a car crash. Her three young children were hospitalized in the University of Kentucky with injuries from which they are recovering.
Out of the large number of family members, Becky was the first one to leave. None of us in the family ever would have dreamed she would be the first one to break the close family circle.
Why was she allowed to go at this time? We can speculate but will not fully understand in this life.
I was thinking about what Becky would want everyone to know about her today – if she were able to deliver a message. Well, I’ve not been there…to heaven…but I have heard and read about it.
What God has planned for people who love Him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds! (I Cor. 2:9 CEV)
He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever. (Rev. 21:4 CEV)
Scriptures also tell us about mansions; no shadows or darkness, a lamp or sun will never be needed for the Lord God will be the light; nothing or no one dies; streets of pure crystal gold; a river that is crystal clear comes from the throne where God and the Lamb are seated, flows down the middle of the city’s main street and its waters give life. On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. This fruit gives life and the leaves are used as medicine for healing.
Becky’s face would light up as a child when she laughed…so full of life. I can only imagine how much greater the smile and laugh now…and how great the excitement would be if we could only hear her tell what it’s like being in the presence of the Lord.
I know there are a lot of people suffering grief from a recent loss. I have talked with many.
Things that happen in this life can make us ‘bitter or better’. Those were the words I heard a minister repeat over a period of time until they were branded in my memory.
Another person once told me, “The past is the past. It is gone and is no more. Where could you go to find it?”
Sometimes things that happen in this life have the tendency to make us feel very out of control. Many search for a feeling of power and control, determining never to be vulnerable to familiar pain. But, it’s just a deception. After all, we are in control of a most important power…the freedom of choice that is given to us. Our every day choices shape our destiny.
As long as there is life it’s never too late to make a fresh start.
Live for today and continue to pray that each member in our family circles will be together again.
I don’t know who wrote the following, but I feel it deserves being shared.
This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I’m exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; leaving something I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, not loss; good, no evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.
Have a blessed 2007!
We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don't last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That's why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen. (2 Cor. 4: 16-18 CEV)
It is amazing how a death can affect your outlook on life.