As many of you who know me in real life know, my aunt Julie died a week ago Monday after a fifteen month battle with lung cancer that had metastasized into her spine and shoulder. Jewel lived a rough life and although cancer was, by normal standards, a death sentence, for her it was a reprieve. That fifteen month gave her time to “put her house in order.” She was granted something that many of us, caught up in our day to day struggles never recognize, she was given a time of reflection. Like the season the Jewish community recognizes between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, she was given her “time of Awe” to look back and make peace with her family; she recognized her past and came to terms.
I will not defame Julie’s testimony by setting her up here as a saint. She lived a life fraught with heartache and wrong choices. Haunted by addiction, cancer brought her to her knees and ultimately to Jesus. I have learned something from Julie’s life and death and that is this: life is preciously short and flimsy. It can be snatched away from you in a moment or it can be wrested out of your grasp by a long debilitating illness. I do not mean to lose the focus of this blog or to totally stray from our mission statement but I will tell you this; a more “God centered” life is not just a pretty turn of phrase for Fred and me, it is the ultimate goal of our lives. Julie made the most of her last fifteen months, she tried, she gave it all over to Christ and she did her best to make amends.
I do not want to spend the last fifteen months of my life scrambling to “live right.” I want to do it now. Part of that for both Fred and me includes doing more to be self sufficient. It behooves us to be better stewards of our lives' and world's now instead of scrambling in the end to make right things that have been neglected. That said since last Monday I have neglected a lot. Short of the chickens, and Fred and Sarah’s stomachs, which refuse to be neglected, I have pretty much gone into zombie mode. I have mindlessly and numbly auto piloted my way through daily activities.
Do not misunderstand I was not shocked by Julie’s death, it was expected. Nor am I in abject mourning. I know that Julie no longer suffers and that it was better for her to die quickly than to linger painfully in the hospital, just like it was better for her to die in a state of grace than one of turmoil. I do not think I have vegged out of life due to some overwhelming grief (although I do admit the amount of loss and death in the last few weeks has been staggering) instead I think that loosing Julie has forced me into a state of reevaluating my life, our goals and focus. I know, many of you probably think, “good grief does she do anything but introspectively reflect?” but I promise I do not sit around contemplating my belly button everyday (the blog just seems like it).
Ultimately, what Fred and I are trying to do, in all of our “green” endeavors, is to simplify our lives. You may think we are taking on way to much work to make things simple but even in hard work there is peace. There is a satisfaction in removing the middle man and of holding a finished product in your own hands, something in which you have a vested interest, not just a buck ninety-nine from the grocery. I can happily say that there are now more eggs in my refrigerator that I can use and I find myself trying to come up with creative ways to slip eggs into every meal. The satisfaction of holding something that represents our goals, as tiny as an egg is, fills me with such joy and gratitude that it is hard to express. I tell you, the pleasure of having a finished product is more rewarding than any career in which I have ever participated. This is a big statement for me, I can honestly say in my career as a firefighter I had a part in actually saving lives, and as rewarding as that was you still went home at the end of the day feeling tired, sometimes let down and often disappointed.
I said all of that to say: I want Julie’s life to be an illustration for myself and others. I want to do it right the first time. I am sure if Julie could tell us all one thing from heaven that would be it. Do it right the first time, do not spend your end scrambling to repair relationships and to atone for things, take your time to slow down now. Be kind to each other. Be kind to the world in which you live. Live each day with meaning and do not let your life become bogged down whether that be with possessions or unimportant details. Live fully and live well.
Jesus told us, "I came that you may have life and have life more abundantly." That is what I want "life more abundantly." What about you? I challenge you today, examine your life. If you knew you were down to fifteen months what would you do? Who would you make amends with? What would you change? What would you live without? Now live like that, live more abundantly!
I would like to make you promises about being back in the blogging saddle but the last few weeks have been so hard I am promising nothing but my best effort. I have lots of things to catch up on here on the “homestead” so the blog may be pushed to the bottom of the pile for now. I want to thank everyone who has prayed for my family and who has supported us in this time of struggle and need. Thank you.