There Is A Time For Everything...

Nesting. It is a strange phenomenon. Often the result of an impending birth. Now, I can assure you that I’m not pregnant, but I’ve definitely been nesting recently. Is it the new year, or am I just finally caught up on sleep? Perhaps my need to sort, declutter and clean is just the reality of life post-Christmas? An inner need to get back to normal. Whatever the cause, not only does my home feel a bit more organized than it has for the past few weeks, but this urge to nest has also resulted in having the brain power and energy to tackle another project - one that both my husband and I had been putting off for way too long.

Like many projects, thinking about doing them often takes a lot more energy than actually getting them done. Which makes me wonder if you and your husband have beaten us in completing one particular task in life and marriage that we all tend to avoid.

What is it?

Well, it’s one thing that many pastors encourage everyone in their church family to take care of. In fact, it’s a gift of sorts, and the first steps are very simple.

1. Write down 2 or 3 of your favorite ‘inspirational’ songs?
2. Write down 2 or 3 of your favorite Scripture verses?

Ok. So, that doesn’t seem very hard, right? But, what if that list of favorites is then accompanied by your funeral wishes? Whoa! How did I make that jump? 

Well, even though my husband and I had sorted out many of our personal preferences on this topic over the years, we had neglected to put anything down on paper. He had even casually mentioned in sermons or conversations what his favorite verses were or what song he'd like sung at his funeral, but we had no record of those details and neither of us could remember the specifics if asked. Sound familiar?

If I had to guess, I’d say that very few of you reading this have taken the time to put your wishes down on paper for your family members either. You might even wonder if it is really important to do so when you’re young or when there are no obvious medical issues in your life or that of your spouse. Or, you may simply be banking on the fact that you’ve had the discussion with your spouse or your parents and believe all would be taken care of pretty closely to what you would like to see done. But would it?

A few months ago I thought my wishes were pretty clear, but then I found out that wasn’t the case. I don’t even know why we were talking about end-of-life things, but I discovered that day that my sweet husband totally thought my end-of-life wishes, regarding a memorial/funeral service, were actually nothing like I wanted. In fact, he thought I was adamant to have things done the complete opposite of my desires. (Yikes!) I don’t know how or when our wires got crossed. (Perhaps he’s performed way too many funerals in his lifetime?) But, the end result was that we found out that we weren’t on the same page at all.

So one morning last week when I woke up early, I simply started writing down a few details. It only took me 30-45 minutes to get both of our preferences down on paper. Of course, I did double check with my husband later that morning by gently introducing the subject with this phrase: “Guess what I did this morning?” With a sideways grin, and after a morning cup of coffee, he confirmed what I had written, made an adjustment or two and filled in a few of my blanks. Amazingly, as we kept working toward completing this unusual project it wasn’t morbid at all. In fact, it was actually almost fun to write down a few things about our obituary details as well. Sounds a bit crazy, huh?

Now, how did I get from writing down our funeral wishes to outlining the basics for our own obituaries? Well, I simply thought I’d better write down where our girls’ daddy had grown up - five different locations. My details were much more basic as I was born and raised in the same town. Graduations and wedding details were next - which are both classic things to list. Then came the places we had served in ministry. (I think our girls could have come close to creating an accurate list, but why stress them out trying to remember those details?) After that, I added a few more things that would likely never end up in an obituary but might make for some fun discussions with the grandkids – like what states and countries we’d traveled to and what states poppaw had hunted in.

Okay, back to business. Cremation or burial? Private or public viewing – or none at all? The different cities and locations where our family has burial places available. (Oh my! How would our girls have ever done this without a little help?) Check, check, check - and now we even made some pastor’s life a whole lot simpler! Speaking of that, is there a pastor or colleague you’d suggest officiating at your services? Yes, it is a lot to think about, and all the blanks don’t have to be filled in now. But, anything is better than nothing!

So, while my nesting in the new year certainly took on a strange twist, these urges have now finally prepared our family a bit better for the future. Understandably, most of us would rather ignore the reality of Solomon’s wise words in Ecclesiastes 3 that there really is ‘a time to be born and a time to die.’ The reality of our life here on earth is that if we die before Christ returns, something will have to be done with our earthly body.

Perhaps you have no preferences or any strong feelings at all and can totally relate to the one that says, “Do what you want. I won’t be around to care!” While there is a bit of humor – and truth – in that statement, there is something to be said about gifting your family with a few little extras to help them walk through the initial days on earth without you. That favorite scripture or favorite song may serve as a very special healing balm. A place for those who love you to snuggle, and nest, in the arms of God as they remember all the love that you have given them over a lifetime!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Bless my sisters as they consider life and death. Open their hearts and minds to what you might have them to do in the coming days and years as they prepare for the future. Take any fear away from their thoughts and discussions. Bring to mind their defining moments found in Scripture and song that they may pass onto their family and friends as a testimony of their love for You. May their transformed lives be ones of inspiration to others now – in this world – and even as they may pass from it in the years to come. May we have courage to gift our families with peace in living and dying. May we gift them with the example of preparation to leave this world and to enter our eternal home in heaven. We know our days are numbered. Help us each to make the most of them for Your glory and honor. Thank you, Lord, for life, for breath, for family and for our hope in You – now and in the days to come. Amen. 

"Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow." Psalm 144:4


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