Welcome Home!

This morning when I opened my facebook, I saw a picture of my friend’s parents when they were much younger. The news was both heartbreaking and joy making. Nita Hargrave had gone home to her heavenly father and to those who had reached heaven before her, including her husband.

My heart aches for her children and grandchildren who will miss her dearly. But my heart also rejoices for them — because they have the privilege and joy of knowing she loved God and them with all of her heart.

I met the Hargrave family when I was a young 17-year-old college student. I roomed with their daughter, Debby, for many of my young adult years. I do not think they will ever know the full impact they had on my life.

Watching the Hargrave family interact was a whole new experience for me. The first time I shared a dinner with them, it was sheer chaos, with lots of teasing, laughter, and love. Seeing Don and Nita hugging their kids, laughing and joking with them, and telling them “I love you,” made me envious for what they had.  The richness of their faith, the willingness to embrace others, the wise counsel from Nita–all of it made me a better person and showed me an example I had never seen before.

Nita had no qualms about making me a part of the family during my young adult years, even including me in their family vacation to Branson one year. I learned so much being around them. Just watching the way they incorporated their faith into every day life and their joy in knowing Jesus, gave me an example that impacted my life.

I grew up in a tight knit family and knew I was loved, but there were no prayers together, no hugs and no “I love you” until well into my adulthood. While my mother taught me good values and work ethics, I had no role model for a godly mother who was totally in love with Jesus. Nita gave me one.

Nita taught our “Christian Womanhood” class (and yes, there was such a thing back in the early 70s), but more than that she cared for the women on the campus of our college. Her kindness and caring (and sometimes gentle chastising) made an impact on the lives of everyone who interacted with her. She loved Jesus and she was never shy about proclaiming him in her words. But she mostly proclaimed him in her deeds. And for that I am most grateful.

So welcome to your reward, Nita! I can only imagine your homecoming and seeing you hugging the Savior you served so long.

And for Dave, Kay, Debby, Dan and Doug–keep on holding out the light of truth, so richly taught to you by your Mom and Dad. Blessings on you during the days ahead.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:45 (ESV)

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