Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thanks, Praises, Slideshow

Thank you to everybody who has supported us through this past week or so.  It has meant so much to us whether you were among those who gave something tangible (sent note, e-mail, card, or flowers; provided food), or those who were simply there for us even if you didn't know what to say or do to help (actually present at the viewing or funeral, or just available for us if we needed anything), or if you were among the many who were praying for us.  You have been a great blessing and encouragement to us, and God has answered many prayers!

Let me just share a few of the things that God did over this past week.

All six of Grandma's kids were able to be here as were all of their spouses excepting just one.  Twenty-three out of her thirty grandchildren were able to come, as well as their spouses and children.  Of those seven that couldn't come, some just couldn't get away for one reason or another, and some were able to get away, but just couldn't actually get here - some sick, some not able to get transportation, some having the car break down on the way to the airport Thursday morning.

Having this many of her kids and grandkids able to come was an answer to prayer!  There are quite a few of us!  In fact, the last time that many of us were able to all be together was for Grandma & Granddad's 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration - over 10 years ago!

It's been a long time!

Friends from our church and friends from Grandma's church sent/brought over lots of food, so even with all the family in, we didn't have to worry at all about feeding everybody.

There was room for all of the out-of-town-ers with one or another of the in-town-ers, so housing all worked out.

Here are some of the cards that were sent to our family. 

Every time I walk downstairs I am greeted with the aroma of the love and care of friends and family (for Grandma, and for the ones she left behind) in the tangible form of many flowers.  We re-arranged most of the floral arrangements after we got home so they would be more consolidated and so it would be more convenient to send some of them home with other family members.

Here are some of the flowers at our house.

This isn't directly related to the rest of this particular blog post, but I had mentioned in the last post that Grandma loved to stitch special blankets for her great-grandchildren as she heard of their expected arrival.  I came across this picture the other day and thought I'd share it - She did this blanket about a year-and-a-half ago for a great-grandson out in California and even flew out there for the baby shower to deliver the gift to her expectant granddaughter in person!

Here's Karis using the blanket Grandma did for her.

While we're on the topic of stitching special blankets, one of the last things Grandma did while she was here with us was to stitch her love into a baby blanket for another coming great-grandchild.  That's what she was doing for most of that last evening.

Grandma took her role as Grandmother very seriously and invested as much as she could into the lives of each of her grandchildren.  A few things that came to mind are these blankets I've mentioned, making it a point to remember to send cards for birthdays and anniversaries, giving Christmas gifts each year (even when it had to be sent half-way across the United States), loving to talk and listen and just spend time whenever anybody was able to come and visit with her, and she loved giving and receiving hugs (She even cared enough that she wouldn't force a hug on a grandchild who didn't like it....I am among the few who can speak on that one personally - I hugged her for it!).  Her greatest investment was love, and I think the funeral this past week proved that, though we didn't always express it very dramatically, her grandchildren all loved her a great deal too.  Love is a great investment.

The funeral was simple: a couple of specials by two of her grandchildren; a few songs sung together; some of her husband's, sister's, children's, and grandchildren's memories shared by her pastor here, Pastor Steve Rogers; and a short message shared by her pastor from the church she had been a part of before she moved up here to live with us, Pastor Paul Thomason.

The service at the cemetery had to be very brief between the chill in the air and the fact that there were some twenty-eight other ones scheduled for that day (It was a military cemetery.): Pastor Rogers read a passage from Ecclesiastes 12, and then Pastor Paul prayed.

 One of Grandma's flowers on Granddad's walker.
A few of Grandma's grandsons were the pallbearers.

Here is a short (five minute) slideshow encapsulating Grandma's life as best I could in about 150 pictures.  We had this slideshow playing during the viewing.

Please continue to pray for us.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Grandma - Eleanor Carter

Eleanor Carter (84), passed away in her sleep on March 18th, 2013, apparently because of a heart attack.  Eleanor is survived by her husband, Bruce, of 60 years; her older sister, Marjorie Wilson; her 6 children: Eileen, Alan, Paul, Sandy, Linda, Steve; 30 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.  Eleanor was a believer in Christ, trusting in His finished work on the cross to pay for her sin and grant her everlasting life in Heaven with God Himself.  She rested in His promise: "I will...receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."  (See John 14:1-6.)  Eleanor loved her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  One of the things she loved to do was to stitch special blankets for her great-grandchildren as she heard of their expected arrival.  Another thing Eleanor loved was to play the organ, which she was still doing when she was able to go to her church.  Eleanor was loved by many and will be greatly missed.

The viewing will be on Thursday, March 21st, from 4-8 p.m. at:
Nelson Funeral Home
410 E Countryside Pkwy
Yorkville, IL 60560

Entrance is on Route 47 just north of Route 34.

The memorial service will be held at the same location on Friday, March 22nd, at 10 a.m.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We were sleeping last night, but our God doesn't sleep.  Early this morning, God's appointed time came in which He would fulfill in Grandma's life one of the promises He has made to all of His children.  "I will...receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."  (See John 14:1-6.)

Today my family and I are grieving because we have lost our Grandma.  It is a joy and blessing to know that she is now in the presence of her Saviour, praising Him for all eternity, and finally free from all of her pain and struggles.  Nevertheless, we will miss her.  She is the only Grandma the younger half of the family ever had, and she has been a part of our daily lives for the past four years.

Grandma passed away in her sleep early this morning, quietly and quickly, apparently from a heart attack.  This is a blessing, as hard as it is.  Grandma had always said that she hoped she passed away in her sleep, partly because she didn't want to suffer through it, and partly because she remembered how hard it was for her family when her own grandmother had struggled, weakened, and suffered so much for so long before she died.

God was gracious even in His timing.  Mom just returned late Saturday night from a visit out to her sister's in Arizona.  Yesterday, we had a potluck lunch followed by an afternoon service at church, so we were home in the evening, gathered around the fireplace as a family.  Grandma was there too, making good progress on a blanket she was lovingly making for one of her great-grandchildren.

Grandma & Granddad have been strongly considering taking a trip out to visit their eldest daughter in Arizona in the very near future.  One part of Mom's trip was to see if it would be do-able for them with some of their physical limitations and health concerns.  It was sounding like Grandma was really looking forward to the trip, should it work out.  Little did she know that now was the time God had already scheduled the trip to which she had been looking forward for years!  The destination is infinitely superior!  The fellowship, as much as she loved her family, could never be sweeter than that which she is now experiencing!  I think it's safe to say that she is not disappointed to miss that trip to Arizona.  My grandma is with God!

Pray for us all as we miss her and adjust to our lives without her.  Pray for us as we learn how we need to change some things related to Granddad.  Though they've become more and more limited in what they could actually do in recent years, Grandma and Granddad have always looked after each other, even after they moved here with us, and they communicated with us when they needed more help.  Granddad spends a lot of time in his room, but we need to learn when and how often we need to go in and check on him...often enough that we don't miss it if he's in there and needing some help or attention, yet not in such a way that he would find it to be an annoyance.  Pray for Granddad.  Pray as well for Mom & Dad, Mom's siblings, and Granddad as they make all sorts of decisions regarding the funeral arrangements, burial, etc.  Please pray also for those who are/will be traveling to be here for the funeral.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some pictures and memories

Bruce & Eleanor

Eleanor and Marjorie

All of Bruce & Eleanor's children were able to come in for their 60th Wedding Anniversary celebration in December.  Here is a picture of all six of them together:
        Steve                 Alan              Paul
Sandy           Linda                Eileen      

Bruce & Eleanor with Eileen and her husband, Dale

Eleanor with Eileen and her daughters and one of her grandsons:
                Eileen          Cathy    Heather    Adam
Theresa     Eleanor          

Bruce & Eleanor with Alan and all of his family:
Larissa, Phil, Jill, Alan, Amanda, Kati, Micah, Jamin, Eric,
Parker, Bruce, Eleanor

Bruce & Eleanor with Paul and a few of his children:
Cole, Sean, Drew, Kelly, Paul,
Bruce, Eleanor

Bruce & Eleanor with Sandy and the majority of her family:
Brian, Julie, HollyBeth, David, Kimberly, Bill, Sandy, Heidi, Adam, Valerie,
Zachary, Bruce, Eleanor, Lisa

I don't seem to have a picture of Eleanor with Linda except for the one above with all six of Grandma's kids.

Bruce & Eleanor with Steve, his wife, Cheri, and their granddaughter, Chloe

Grandma loved to be involved and know what was going on in the lives of her children and grandchildren.  She greatly appreciated when they would call her on the phone.

Grandma loved to laugh!  She could be perfectly serious, but I loved it when she would laugh, and I think her sense of humor was very helpful in getting over some of the bumps along the road of life.  Grandma enjoyed telling stories too...and she had an abundance of them between all the places she had been, people she had met, and raising six kids!  One of the things that she laughed at a lot was when her kids would spend time together because, when they did, they seemed to put aside their age and maturity and just be little kids all over again...and they all have a very corny sense of humor that invariably makes any family gathering burst out with a least a few series' of laughter!

Grandma loved to play the organ.  It's a ministry she's had at many churches all across the country as her life as a military wife kept moving her from one place to another.  When she would come home from the hospital after some of the different heart attacks and strokes she's had over time, one of the first things she wanted to do was to try and see if she could still play the organ...and she always could.  Even when a stroke caused some speech impairment for a time, her fingers still knew how to play.

The last time Grandma played organ in church was the last Sunday she attended church, March 10th.  She has played since at home, some for pleasure, and some practicing for a duet she was going to play on Easter Sunday.

Sometimes there were too many other noises to be able to hear herself play the organ without turning it up really loudly.  Grandma had no problem with putting on the headphones so she could practice in spite of all the rest of the noise.  :-)

Grandma liked to do whatever she could to be helpful, especially when she could sense that people were under stress that she might be able to have a part in relieving.  In this picture, she is helping to prepare things for the wedding of one of her granddaughters.

Grandma actually loved moving...which is a good thing since that was kind of the story of her life as a military wife.  At one point we tried to count how many times they'd moved.  I don't remember the exact number of times, but I do remember that it was literally dozens!  Grandma also loved packing.  When she got to where she wasn't moving as often, she loved to go and help her kids pack when they were moving.  In this picture, Grandma had gone to the great effort of going upstairs (a rather difficult thing for her by that time) because she wanted to help Julie pack shortly before Julie's wedding.

Speaking of weddings, Grandma wanted to be at all of the weddings in her family.  In some cases this meant traveling across the continent, but she still wanted to do it!  I might be corrected on this one, but there is only one of her nine married grandchildren whose wedding I don't remember her attending.

Here Grandma is pictured at the first of the weddings in my family.
Granddad, Grandma, Becca

Grandma wanted to be at all the weddings, whether she could walk down the aisle with a little difficulty...

...or whether she had gotten to the point where she couldn't walk that far and needed to be wheeled down.

 Grandma loved her family - all of it!

Here she is pictured with the last of her great-grandchildren that she was able to meet in person (to my knowledge) - Cody.

We will miss Grandma, but we rejoice because she is now in a perfect place, with perfect people, freed from the health issues she's had for a long time, and, more importantly, freed from the sin nature that plagues all who are born into this world!  In fact, while we must each await God's perfect timing and keep busy doing His will in the meantime, going home to Heaven is something all who have been bought with the blood of Christ should be looking forward to.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mueller Wedding Anniversary

"I pronounce you
husband and wife."

"You may kiss the bride."

"Mr. & Mrs. Joe Mueller

Yes, just two weeks after Adam & Valerie's wedding, we heard a very similar set of important and wonderful statements.  :-)  We rejoice with Joe & Mary as they celebrate their anniversary, and we pray that God would continue to bless their marriage for many days and years to come!

As I reflect on that major event, I remember some of the days leading up to it.  Illness struck.  Mom was down.  Several headed up a early in the week so they could help with the final preparations, but Mom had to stay back and try to rest up and get better.  I stayed back as her driver, with the hope that she'd at least get to come up for it, even if she wasn't really up to driving.  I remember wondering, hoping, praying that we'd be able to go.  I couldn't imagine missing my brother's wedding...or Mom missing her son's!  As each day went by nothing seemed to be changing.  God has a plan, I remember reminding myself.  I must trust Him.  It's so hard!  But what if...?  I MUST trust Him!  Just trust Him!

It came to be...Thursday, I think it was.  Mom told me to start packing the things that had been left for us to bring when we came (Come to think of it, that might have been a little risky...but an exercise of faith, I guess.) into the van.  Mom was still very weak and still feeling quite poorly so it took a long time, but we eventually got on the road and headed up to Wisconsin.  We arrived, and Mom slept for a very long time - probably longer than I've ever known her to sleep without one interruption or another.  Many people were praying that she would get some good rest, that her health would be restored, and that her strength would be renewed.

Let me just insert a little note here before I forget.  A lot of the details of Joe & Mary's wedding are a bit more foggy than some of the others for me between the simple facts that the groom's family tends to be a little less directly involved in the planning and preparations, and my arrival was delayed, causing it to be more difficult to be as aware of and involved in the final details.

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Mom awakened on Friday looking much improved.  I headed over to the church with the things I had brought so stuff could get set up for the Rehearsal Dinner that night.  Mom took it relatively easy at our friends' house (trying to save her strength in hopes of being up to joining us that evening), working on making Zachary's man-sized vest work out for his 11-yr-old frame, enjoying some wonderful, therapeutic fellowship with her sweet friend, and answering all of our questions about how to do this or that or what she had planned for such-and-such for the Rehearsal Dinner.

Well, over at the church things were coming together for the Rehearsal Dinner.  Mom texted to ask when somebody would be able to pick her up and bring her over - We had all the vehicles.  This is a good sign....though I hope she won't over-do it as we really want her to be able to be a part of the big day tomorrow!  The Rehearsal Dinner went well, as did the Rehearsal itself.

Joe & Mary's Wedding happened to share the date with St. Patrick's Day.  Both families having a definitely Irish heritage, we had a little fun with that idea during the Wedding Rehearsal, coming in with green and white leas around our necks, and the fellas all wearing green hats.  Some wore other green/Irish paraphernalia.

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

In addition to the wedding itself, David helped to make the day exciting by blacking out mid-ceremony.  He never actually lost consciousness so, after a break and with the assistance of a chair, he was still able to be involved in the ceremony with many watching, concerned, and praying for him.  Two tips to offer: (1) Don't stay up to all hours of the morning finishing up final projects...Get yourself some rest!  (2) Do eat before the ceremony...even if you don't really have time for it!

If you are interested in seeing their wedding program, they have it up as a PDF on their wedding website, or you can just click here.

I'm sorry I only seem to have these two candid photos to share:


 Introduction of Mr. & Mrs. Joe Mueller!

Following are a few of the posed pictures that the wedding photographer (our cousin, Rob) captured.

Mary Jane with her sisters

Mary Jane with Joe's sisters...her sisters-in-law for a year as of today (and happy to be so, I might add)!  :-)

Joe with his sisters

Indoor photo of the whole wedding party

Outdoor photo of the whole wedding party

Bride and Bridesmaids

 Flower girl added - She completely dumped her basket of flower petals and caused us all to laugh.  :-)

The Bill Mueller Family with all of the extensions

Wedding rings (and engagement ring)

The bride

Some pictures of just Joe & Mary

For those who really want to reminisce, the video is stillavailable on Joe & Mary's website here.  This is not professional videography by any stretch of the imagination, just the live-stream we had available so folks who couldn't be present with us could still be a part of the special day.  (The sound doesn't kick in until about a minute and a half into it.)

Extra Info:

The siblings of the bride and groom surprised them with a nice getaway car.

Joe & Mary honeymooned in the Smokey Mountains.  They reside in Wisconsin.

Joe & Mary welcomed a sweet little addition into their family in January - my niece, Karis.

P.S. I know this didn't get out as promptly as my last anniversary post did, but I'll have you note that I did still get it out on the day I had announced as my goal publishing date.  I just wanted to get that on the record.  :-)