My sister handed me a small package I’d received in the mail. Earlier, I’d been given a heads up to expect its arrival. I didn’t know what it was, but knew it was a special gift for a special event.
Quickly, but gently, I opened it to fine a little net baggie encasing a business card and note along with a beautifully decorated fob. It was designed with a hook-clasp attached to a ring. From the ring dangled five embellishments.
I was relieved I’d opened it alone. Holding it in my hand, looking at each aspect of its design, the tears began to flow--a small river of both happy and sad ones.
They reflected both the joy and ache in my heart I’d been experiencing since the sudden illness and subsequent loss of a loved one.
Each of the five accents marked common ground I shared with one of my closest friends, Glenda Hosch Brackeen.
The blessing of friendship
She was excited about getting it put together and finished as quickly as possible. We worked late into the night, getting as much of it squared away as we could, and agreed to go at it again the next morning at 11.
We both participate in prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings. When I returned from mine, and got situated at my desk, I began squaring away other tasks while I waited on Glenda. I left her a Google Hangouts message, letting her know I was in place and ready to work on her project soon as she was.
Her acknowledgement never arrived. I was puzzled because, like me, she has her mobile devices equipped with the two messengers we used for work and personal relay and it was out of character for her to not show up to an appointment we’d set with each other.
Later that afternoon, I learned Glenda had collapsed in her home that morning. She was found without any life signs shortly before she was due to meet up with me online.
Paramedics revived her but she never regained consciousness. A few weeks later, life support was stopped. Later still, many people gathered at Glenda’s church (and online via a Facebook live feed) to celebrate her life. People whose lives she had ministered to were present, from around the globe, to be together in honoring her and the impact her ministry had made.
During the service, loads of tears flowed, but again, the joy far outweighed the mourning. God is just ever so good like that.
“...to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 KJV
Through the years, Glenda and I had enjoyed countless hours of discussion. We talked about business, literature, challenges, achievements and goals. We talked about where we were and where we wanted to go. But more than anything else, we talked about the goodness of Jesus Christ. He held, and holds, center stage for both of us and countless numbers of our friends. He is our common ground. He is what made us family. We both were intimately familiar with Him and it was His presence that enveloped me in comfort, producing joy and hope and confidence in His perfect will during those days of Glenda’s transition from this life to her brand new one--the eternal one with Him, that we long and strive to obtain.
“7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8 KJV
The day the gift arrived, I held in in my hand and through a steady flow of tears, I spent some time in prayer giving Jesus Christ thanks for the friendships He’s blessed me with. As well, I thanked Him and asked for the same rich and indescribably goodness of His presence and favor to be present in the life of the artist who’d made the piece, Vera Maze, an independent artisan in Indiana, and for my longtime friend and colleague, Prof. Maria Jordan of marcoujor’s musings.
While examining the piece I had to smile at the significance of each embellishment. I’ll give you a quick explanation for each.
✝️ A circlet engraved with, Forever in my heart
✝️ An outline of a horse profile
✝️ A round white bead, much like a pearl
✝️ A cluster of shiny diamond-like beads
✝️ A set of silvery wings. Each spoke of significant aspects of my friendship and sisterhood with Glenda.
✝️ The circlet reminds me of the Long Home, where many of my loved ones now reside with Christ. No more sickness. No more goodbyes. No more tears. Just Jesus and His people, enjoying the limitless goodness of His presence to thrive in for the rest of eternity.
“14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14: 1-3 KJV
✝️ The horse profile reminds me of a shared passion for horses, and even other animals.
✝️ The pearl-like bead speaks of Jesus, the most precious aspect of our lives, our pearl of great price who is the great provider of all good things.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV
✝️ The cluster of diamond-like beads speaks of the many gems God has placed in my life’s treasure chest. Friends and family who are precious to me, whose names I lift in love to God daily, requesting His divine protection, revelation and favor to be with them wherever they go.
✝️ The silvery-wings speaks of the supernatural presence of the host of Heaven that both Glenda and I have encountered on occasion. In their presence we’ve been blessed with assistance, even healing, and were grateful to testify of it to others in need of encouragement when facing challenges.
“11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11 KJV
I was also thrilled the piece was made as a fob. Although I wear small, titanium rings in my ears, they’re not highly visible and are solely for the purpose of migraine prevention and otherwise am not one to wear jewelry.
In consideration of a special place to attach the fob, I thought of the many endeavors Glenda was enthusiastic in her support of. A recent one came about on Christmas when my sister’s family gifted me my first violin. I intended to learn to play it and take it with me on outings to visit and encourage folks with challenges.
The violin’s case is black and has a zippered pocket on the front of it. The fob stands out beautifully against it, and will be a beautiful accompaniment to the silver wings I plan for my sister, Nee, to paint higher on the neck area.
A tool of testimony
Glenda was passionate in her love for Christ, sharing the Gospel and sharing with anyone she could. She was a consistent witness about the unsurpassed benefits of of blessing, favor, hope and love that encompasses and flows through a life lived in Christ.
The fob is easily noticed and it’s my hope that when I’m out with my violin, people will catch sight of it and ask me about it. Once that door is opened, I’ll be jumping right through it because of all the things I might be able to do or give for others, the very best thing I have to offer anyone is the good news of Jesus Christ.
Christ was the best thing that ever happened to her. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. He chose to live and give His life to be the best thing that can ever happen to any of us.
“6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV
All of these things combine to make this gift extraordinary and is yet one more gem in my life’s treasure chest that I am grateful.
After receiving the piece, I quickly (perhaps too quickly) sent off a note, via my mobile, to my friend Maria, thanking her for the immediately, cherished gift.
Later, in reading it with dry eyes, I realized I had scads of typos in it.
Here, I'd like offer my sincere thanks to Vera and Maria for the gift. It is a deeply sentimental piece, reflecting a life well lived, whose influences, through me and countless others, will continue to benefit those God places in our path.
I thank you for your visit. If you knew Glenda, or if you'd like to learn more about memorial gifting, please leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you about either.
Memorial gifting makes so much more sense to me than buying florals. Every time I see my violin case, I remember my friend and thank God for the time He gave us together.
Until next time,
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