Monday, 10 November 2014

My Relationship Reminder

     How does one write when they do not know how to put their heart into words? That is how I feel right now, and the only reason why I'm blogging is because it is high time to write something, anything, for this little corner of my world. Perhaps another reason for infrequent blogging is the simple fact that we don't have wifi at home, so if I want to blog, off to the library I go. Please bear with me, friends. Maybe someday we will have internet at home. Until then, thanks in advance for your patience.
     We recently traveled to my home area in New York state for the wedding of dear friends, and the funeral of a beloved cousin. The trip for the wedding had been planned weeks ago, but we hadn't been planning to attend a funeral. I feel so grateful that God worked it out for us to be there with my entire family, as well as my uncles, aunts, and cousins.
     When I first heard that Michael was home with Jesus, I was in shock. I truly thought he was going to pull through this illness and be our good ole' Michael again. My husband's comforting arms were such a blessing to me, but I still felt so alone and far away from my family, and I felt as if I needed to be with my family.
     Did a trip home ever take so long? I don't know. This one seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. It was wonderful to see the Empire State sign whiz past as we drove along the interstate, and I loved to see a few brave sugar maples still hanging on to their colorful leaves.
     There was nothing like finally being in my Mama's and Daddy's arms and just letting the tears fall. We walked up there together, and that man in the coffin didn't even look like him. Somehow, it still seemed as if Michael would come bouncing into the room, wearing his goofy grin, and ask you how you were doing.
     That evening we, his cousins, his aunts and uncles, his grandparents, a few close friends, and his immediate family, gathered around his coffin and sang hymns. We sang about heaven, and about how God is so good as we wept and wrapped our arms around each other. It was raw, it was painful, but I know it was one of the most beautiful sounds the Father has ever heard.
     The next day was the funeral, and the morning dawned cold and cloudy. We meditated in silence before the funeral began. A friend of Michael and his family led the worship, and even now as I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. If one could ever call a funeral beautiful, it would be this one. Hands were raised in worship and surrender as we sang " for all Your goodness I will keep on singing// ten thousand reasons for my heart to find// bless the Lord, oh my soul// oh my soul// worship His Holy Name// sing like never before// oh my soul// I worship His Holy Name". I saw that deep faith and trust in God as my aunt and uncle and cousins worshiped their Father. Like Job, they chose to say "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Such trust and devotion in the midst of deep anguish is only possible through the grace of God. My aunt Ruth and my uncle Sam, Michael's parents, are my heroes. They never left his side during the weeks that he suffered in the hospital, and their faith in God never wavered. Even in their deepest pain, they still declared God's grace to be sufficient in their struggles.
     The man who preached at Michael's funeral shared an incredible sermon, and I especially liked the part about how he likened Michael to a tree. This tree may be cut down, but its roots are in all of us who knew him and loved him. There were hundreds of people there who had been touched by Michael's life. He loved kids, he loved Jesus, he loved good coffee, and he just loved life in general. What a challenging legacy he has left for all of us.
     Michael's life and passing are a stark reminder to me that relationships are the only thing that matter in this life. If you want to make an eternal impact, then invest in the lives of people. The rewards will be never-ending. You never know what may be your last goodbye with someone, or your last chance to hug them, or tell you that you love them or appreciate them.
     In Michael's honor, I want to put a renewed effort into relationships. I want to treasure my friends and my family more, and learn to be more encouraging. I wish that I would have treasured the relationships more that I had before I moved away and had to start all new relationships. I wish I would have treasured my relationship with Michael more. The past is the past, but I can do something about the future.
     In this light, it has made it that much more difficult for me to leave my family and come back here to what I have dubbed "The Arctic". With God's grace, I will treasure the relationship I have with my husband to the fullest, and keep working on the new relationships that I've been building since I moved here. Building new relationships everywhere, all the time, is absolutely exhausting, but thankfully, I have a few friends here who have moved past the exhausting stage and are now enjoying the hard work we put into making new friends.
     I'll share two pictures as I wind up this post. This is Michael, Lyndsi, and I a few years ago, at a birthday party for our grandpa. I remember some fun times from that weekend that I will treasure forever. I miss you and love you, Ev!  
     These people are the ones that are dearest to my heart. I have treasured them and the relationships I have with them, and I love seeing where God is taking all of us. My Dad and Mom, my four brothers, my sister, and my husband, are the ones who know me better than anyone else, and the ones who have put up with a lot from me. I wish we didn't have to live so far away, but when I'm not with you, then I remember all the memories we've made together and think about how much I love you each one of you. You're worth the tears I cry when I'm homesick for you all and for home. God has blessed me tremendously in each one of you! (This photo was taken this summer on our family vacation to the Black Hills in South Dakota.)
     Please keep Michael's family in your prayers. The pain of losing Michael and the big hole he leaves is a lot to work through.
~Mrs. Loewen


  1. Marissa, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking time to share your heart. When you lose a cousin so young, it really has a way of causing you to dig deeper...and to let go of petty expectations in relationships. I wish we lived closer and could do relationship together on a practical level. Hugs to you, my friend.

    1. I wish we could too. You have inspired me so much with your beautiful spirit. Hugs back to you!

  2. Dear Marissa, thanks for sharing your heart. I know so very well of what's it's like to loose a precious loved one. I said my final goodbyes to my beloved Grandpa in Jan He passed away very suddenly while in surgery after a heart attack. It was very painful, but the good thing was is that we got to go to Mexico and cry and hold the funeral with family! May God give you strength, grace, and courage to go on in life and find healing from this painful loss. Blessings to you! Loretta Bartsch

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Loretta! I'm also sorry for your loss... God's grace is truly amazing.
      Hope to see you sometime soon! :)

  3. Yes, yes. You said it so well, sista. When our hearts are crying and we just want to wake up and find it a bad dream, then we praise God and treasure the relationships we have TODAY. I know that Michael's legacy is living on already in the mending and tending of many MANY relationships. Thank you for writing even though it was hard! It was truly miraculous how the Lord worked it our for us all to be there to grieve together. God is good.

  4. Your words spoke an absolute truth: we need to keep reminding ourselves to actively building and maintaining relationships. With the Lord or family and friends alike.
    I am very sorry for your loss, but am confident that Jesus will ease your pain.

    1. Thank you for your gracious words, Alice. God is always good, all the time.

  5. Darling!
    Alli told me you had posted but I waited to read your post until I had finished mine. I knew I needed to write mine first and get out what was in my heart, and then read yours.
    And wow, we basically wrote the same thing. Must be sisters at heart or something. =)
    I love you! I loved how we could mourn together at the funeral, so heart wrenching though it was...I am SO THANKFUL for the loving arms of family and the way we could just grieve together without even saying a word. It was beautiful, in spite of the raw, aching pain.
    I'm thankful today for YOU!! Hugs from an Iowa winter wonderland!!

  6. I have no idea why or how I spelled my name with an ea. completely unintentional. =)

  7. godly-young-widow30 November 2014 at 17:22

    Thank you for this post. I can't imagine having your life SO far away from the familiar at such a time! But I know what it's like to lose a loved one when they're young. My husband was 32 when he also died of cancer.
    I LOVE that song 10,000 Reasons. One of those beautiful reminders of living for and worshipping God in all our phases of life. Praying for you.
    Hey; today in church we edited a line in This Is My Father's World; to fit the snow we're now experiencing, Hope it's working all right for you.
    Hey, is it your wedding anniversary tomorrow? Early December sounds right. That can be the focus of your next post, if you're able to get to the library without getting caught in snow.
    Take care, sister