4 months, 4 funerals. 2 Johns, 2 Toms.

John #1 was my father-in-law, and after losing him, we determined to spend more time with our extended family.

Tom #1 was a man who added on to his house using materials from buildings he tore down. They asked me to play and sing the hymn, “Mansion over the Hilltop” at his funeral.

There were many items on my prayer list that were improvements on my house. After singing, “I’m satisfied with just a cottage below . . .” over and over, my attitude changed. I touched up the paint on my kitchen cabinets, painted the hardware, and then scratched “Remodel kitchen” off of my prayer list.

Tom #2 was there for me when I lost everyone. I became housebound in 2008. As the years went by, my friends stopped calling. I totally understood, but I was alone most of the time.

David started attending a satellite church in town and Tom was the Care Pastor. He called once a month and would talk to me for an hour. He prayed for me and told me over and over that this would not last forever. 8 months later, the doctor decided my immunity was too low and I had to get out a few times a week to build it back up.

Tom kept calling! Finally, I told him it was unnecessary because I was playing for church twice a week. It was a few years before I actually met him in person. His funeral was a reminder to seek out those who are alone.

John #2 is my hero. He volunteered to lay down his life when he signed on the dotted line to join the service. He proved it when he deployed to Iraq.

I was sick the week before his funeral and ended up watching war movies. I saw the men who sent our boys to the beaches of Normandy struggle and grieve over the many who would die. I saw them go over their strategy again and again to find ways to reduce casualties.

I saw the least-likely soldier take the most dangerous job and become a hero. I saw a group of men who put aside their own self-importance to work for the greater good of the group. I saw men die for oppressed people they had never met. I saw men obey orders they didn’t agree with or understand.

At John’s funeral, I saw a dozen soldiers carry on even though their hearts were breaking. The hands of the soldier, who folded the flag that covered the coffin of his buddy, were shaking as he presented it to John’s wife.

I learned how to be a better team member, that it is not all about me; to take orders I don’t understand and to do my job no matter how difficult it is. Many avoid funerals, but they are missing an opportunity for God to give them direction and to evaluate their priorities.

Ecclesiastes 7:2,3, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind; and the living will lay it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for with a downcast face the heart considers the good.” Modern English Version

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