Anniversaries and Funerals and Legacies

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 “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

Alan and I are celebrating 10 years. It’s a big accomplishment for anyone. It’s an even bigger one if you knew our history. God has been so gracious and merciful. He gives and he takes away and we’ve seen firsthand the giving and the taking in our 10 years together.

Several years ago I wondered if we would make it to 10. I wasn’t sure we would make it to 8. When I realized we were “okay” and going to make it I started dreaming about what/how our 10 year anniversary would look like. We talked of returning to the DR for a family vacation with Iris in tow. When we realized that was an unlikely plan we changed our mindset and pondered a stay in the mountains, or a staycation here in Vegas playing the tourist life. I never imagined I would spend it at a funeral.

In many ways, spending our anniversary at a funeral was a holy space for Alan and me and truthfully God taught me so much more and poked my heart in such a way that would not have been had we done anything different.

It’s hard to unpack something you are currently walking through but I’ll try anyway because this is just the type of important message I don’t want my heart to miss.

My best friend’s dad died. But he wasn’t just any guy. He was Scott Pettingill. I’ve known their family since I was 20. In fact, my best friend Nikki was one of the first Christian women I met when I decided to follow Jesus. She showed me what it meant to love the Lord and to love others. I spent what seemed like years of Sunday afternoons at her parents’ house. My own relationship with my parents was splintered and as I worked to repair and reconcile relationships in my life, her parents were a steady constant influence of what a Godly marriage looked like, what Godly parents look like and how to love in grace and truth.

Scott was also the Captain Scott Pettingill on the Henderson Fire Department and my favorite days were when I could tag along to “family day” at his station. Even Thanksgiving at the Fire Station was magical. Scott had a soothing voice, he gave deep fatherly hugs and listened more than he spoke. You knew Scott loved Jesus because of how he loved you. We all loved him and we all knew we were loved. I was struck by how many shared at his funeral and at the reception afterwards in conversation how their lives had been changed because of Scott’s deep love for God and others.

When Nikki called me to tell me of his passing I was crushed. The first Godly father I knew was gone, and while I don’t understand why God would allow this to happen or why he would allow this good man to no longer be with us I can’t help but also think that God knew through this tragedy that so many more lives would be impacted by Scott’s love for God.

I listened yesterday during Scott’s funeral to people talk about the Grace love he had for his wife, kids, grandchildren and every stranger he ever met. Nikki spoke of legacy and the grace love we might be for someone in our lives… and I got it. Deep in my heart I could feel God doing something. My heart has slowing been thawing out these last couple of years. Tragic circumstances can do that to you. You either grow bitter or better. I’ve experienced both. At the funeral I felt the tangible bitter cold of my heart gently thawing and a vision for what could be ahead. I so want out next 10 years to be defined by love. Our big girls are 8 and in 10 years they will leave us adults. Alan and I will have 1 darling daughter left at home. We will be celebrating 20 years. There’s nothing I desire more than tolive a life of love. To stand on street corners throwing love and joy around like it’s confetti. To right wrongs, to let love permeate and motivate every action. And if for some reason, I don’t make it to our 20th anniversary, I pray and hope that my children will have a fraction of good things to say about their Heavenly Father because of my faith and love for Jesus, as I heard yesterday. 

One moment, one instant, one conversation, one year can change everything. The funeral changed a lot for me and I plan on spending the next season digging deep and unpacking tangibly what this looks like. It’s the greatest way I know to honor a man who sodeeply impacted my life in my early 20’s. His legacy of love and grace will live on through those of us who knew him and knew his love for Jesus.

See you in Heaven Scott.

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Scott loved babies so much. Pretty sure Vicki only held Iris for this photo when they came to see her soon after she was born.

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This is my best friend Nikki. She is a treasure. I thank God that he would consider me worthy of having her in my life. I love her fiercely.

“None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:39 The Message Translation

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