On Planning My Own Memorial Service

Surprisingly, when my pastor, Hilario, his wife, Lois, and my second daughter, Katie, sat with me today to map out a memorial service, after my departure, I felt a weight had been lifted. Yes, I cried my way through some of it – I hate leaving loved ones. Truly, I love my people and wish never to say goodbye. However, before I knew it, I was laughing at the idea of joy and celebration (with Indian and Italian food and festive international flags) being the over-arching feelings during the service. Additionally, I sat with profound gratitude that these three dear ones would take the time from full and rich lives to do the hard work of helping me prepare my own memorial service.

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Joyful Dancers, Marcia Carole, acrylic on canvas

It was actually fun reviewing Scripture I wanted my two older grandsons to read. I could just picture them, taking a break from Legos, snacks, and their Seahawks shirts, only to don their khaki pants and nice shirts to honor their Gigi. They are both about to be baptized, so I know the Words they read will mean something important to their hearts. Those who gather that day will hear that “I have been crucified with Christ; it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…and, there is no longer any condemnation for Marcia because she is safely in Jesus – right into eternity.” Marcia has Jesus as her Rock and her redeemer for this life and the next. My young grandchildren will lead my people into these truths.

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Katie with her boys – my grandsons!

My friend, Judy, calls my departure, “Going Off Planet.” My friend, Gretchen, has reminded me, more than once, that when we get to Heaven, we will see that life on earth has been living in the low-rent district in contrast to the speech-defying beauty, goodness and glory we will be a part of in an Eternity with Jesus. By me remembering these sort-of jokes, coupled with my cancer, I am helped to press on in making my final plans.

I think we long to not die, on planet earth because, aside from the unknowingness of it all and the lack of control we possess over dying, I think there is a part of us, deep in our souls, that remembers the Big Story and how life was in our first Garden, our Home. There really was a beginning point in time when there was no death. Somehow, we know. There was just beauty, fearlessness, a vibrant garden, a totally transparent, loving couple, a tree filled with life, and rich community with God. However, the enemy of our souls snuck into our perfect Home and snarled, lied (God’s holding out on you), robbed and darn near destroyed us and everything around us. I think, we have this deep, unfulfilled longing for that Home. An angst. I’m just saying it’s there.

So, I got to do some planning today – important planning. As I was encouraging Pastor Hilario to really preach the Gospel during the service, my heart was gripped, my tears flowing, because my passion since nineteen years of age has been: there is a God, He faithfully loves you and me, He proved it by coming to earth as God with skin on – Jesus. He lived a perfect life. He died in our places for our evil thoughts, words, deeds. We can be forgiven for all our just plain darknesses of hearts and for believing that first lie that God was holding out on us. How? If we turn from trying to find Home apart from God and run to Him. I want Pastor Hilario to be sure to let everyone know; we are given Jesus’ righteousness when we run to Him, when we reach past our doubts and faint remembering of Eden. When we run and reach out to Jesus, and HIS palpable love, in faith, then Eden, Home is won back in our hearts. It’s a gift – a gift of being eternally Home with God.

And that is where I will be when the celebration of my life happens.

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Sunflower, Marcia Carole, watercolor

One song I hope to have at my memorial service: Give Me Jesus, by Fernando Ortega.

 

Beauty In Brokenness Revisited

After a wonderful day with my daughter, shopping and preparing for her June wedding, I returned to a piece of art I have been processing for quite a while. What a contrast in my day – going from great joy over a new marriage to great sorrow for the women and children who are trapped in the sex traffic industry. This is a piece for a specific call for work – beauty in brokenness – responding to the sex traffic industry through art. I printed out photos from my travels where I cared for women and children in difficult places. Yes, even children. I wove those photos into the piece, along with hand made painted papers.

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My photos became a part of the story I am trying to tell. The stories of these children and women are important, and their lives are of great value – contrary to what they have been told and how they have been treated. I want them to see themselves as beautiful in God’s eyes – and that they are worth rescuing and worth restoring their innocence and true womanhood.

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DSC_0010DSC_0005I pray it is a piece that will make people think, maybe start a conversation, and bring hope to many enslaved and trafficked. Really, it is a picture of all of us. We are prisoners of our own idolatry and false gods. Only when we drop our idols, including our own pride, and surrender to Jesus, our healer and redeemer, can we be free to be beautiful.

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I’ve gone back into the piece, and I have added the word “safe.” I’ve found in my own life, and in the lives I have cared for, one needs to feel safe before healing may begin. Are you, in your lives, a safe place for others to share their hearts and their stories?

Art Cards – Beauty In Brokenness

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Front of Beauty In Brokenness Art Cards, from Marcia’s original art.

I have ordered these cards from my printer, and I’ll have them available within the next two weeks. I’ll be having them available for purchase in the “bookstore” at my church. Also, as I can, I will make them available on my website.

 

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Back of the art card, with an explanation of how the art was made.

I am so thankful for all of you who continue to cheer me in in the work God has called me to combining art, story and faith in Jesus.

The absence of suffering in my life is not my good. The nearness of God is my great, great GOOD. – Kara Tippetts

Beauty In The Brokenness

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Beauty In The Brokenness, Marcia Carole, Mixed Media

My current church, Village 7 Presbyterian Church, is really supportive of the creative arts. The most recent call for work, at the church, is for pieces created from previously used materials. That assignment got me thinking about all the beautiful cards I received while I was dutifully going through chemo for stage 4 breast cancer. Maybe I could use those cards for a large collage, and make something beautiful in response to my own brokenness?

As I carefully looked over the hundreds of saved cards, notes, Bible verses, prayer cards from former students, hand-made cards and original art given to me at that time, my heart was flooded with gratitude for so many dear family members and friends who prayed for me, cheered me on, comforted me and pointed me to Jesus, my only source of true healing. It was like opening bouquets of flowers all over again.

The cards got me thinking. Of Jesus. I thought of Jesus’ own broken body on the cross, dying so I, and all, could have eternal life, if only we believe His brokenness is our redemption. I thought of the beauty of His brokenness on the cross. Beauty in the sense that He perfectly obeyed The Father, God, and died in our place. Giving us Heaven. That’s beauty. The most perfect beauty in brokenness. Big beauty.

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So, I ripped up all my get well cards and made some big beauty. (Well, on a much smaller scale than what Jesus did.) All the little pieces of the many cards created a spray of cheery flowers. I included encouraging words and prayers here and there, because they help my heart to soar, just as the bright colors do.

Why not make some beauty today? We all have brokenness. Yes, we ALL have brokenness, but I encourage you to try to bring that brokenness to Jesus, and then, let’s just see what beauty He makes with you!

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Close-Up, Beauty In The Brokenness, Marcia Carole, Mixed Media