This is the message I gave, I Hope on Ma’s behalf, at her Memorial Celebration.
When Walt told me Ma wanted Carla and Bethany to sing here today, it came as no surprise. Walt also asked if I wanted some time to say something to you. I told him I could probably intro Carla and Bethany and say all I needed in 2 minutes, but that he’d better give me 5 in case I was not as tough as I thought. So, to help fight that, I wrote it down, and it takes about 9. In a couple of minutes, Carla and Bethany will pass out a copy that includes the appropriate photos.
As I said, Ma wanting Carla and Bethany to sing made perfect sense. After Ma’s back surgery she stayed with us for the months she was required to go to daily rehab. While we were in rehab mode we hit it all, including Ma’s voice, and it turned out the best rehab for that physical attack was something spiritual she loved to do… sing. This meant every day, for months, Carla and Bethany sang with Ma. Ma chose the songs, and 2 she always chose were “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.” Another of Ma’s favorites, “Mansion Over the Hilltop,” Carla just sang, and, in a minute, Bethany will sing “How Great Thou Art.” Also, every day on the way to and from rehab, Ma and I sang. As Ma’s voice began to get stronger, she asked to practice another song, a song she wanted to sing for Pa to show him her victory. The day came where we were riding back from therapy with Pa in the front seat and Ma in the back, and Ma began to sing her song. Pa, practically deaf and pre-hearing aids, began to look around and realized it was Ma; her face was just glowing, a glow that quickly spread to Pa’s. This was one of those moments you look back at and wish you had on video. Carla and Bethany will sing that song, for Pa, last.
The idea that this story represents has been reiterated to me in several forms over the past week. One was the night Ma died. As I am sure most do, when I laid down to go to sleep and all was quiet, my mind began to run and sadness began to build. At that moment I prayed that God would help me defeat my personal, physical sadness, because I was so spiritually happy for Ma. You see, Pa called before the paramedics were even out of the house. He told me what had happened, and I immediately felt 2 things: my heart broke for Pa and my spirit cheered for Ma. That night was filled with various dreams centered around empty crosses, and a line of a particular hymn that pointed to the same answer. I awoke with the Peace and Joy I had requested. The message was clear! God had fulfilled His promise! Mom had received her reward, her salvation, the salvation she had reserved a blink of an eye and a lifetime ago.
The next form was Pa. We hung out on Saturday and he pointed out that in looking through pictures there were ones in recent years he wouldn’t use. He wouldn’t use them because their physical representation was not Ma. I understood, but this saddened me a little, because regardless of the physical image those pictures depicted, they represented weeks of wonderful interactions with what was Ma… her spirit. And Ma and Pa were not just Husband and Wife in the physical; like Eve was to be to Adam, they were spiritual companions. So, I wanted to share with Pa and all of you the peace God gave me.
Everyone here knows Ma had battled disease for a long time. But the disease is not what you think. It was not neurological, it was not cardiological or respiratory; it was a virus! Mom, before she was “Ma,” was identified as a threat to this disease, and it spent her whole life trying to defeat her. Ma had a lot of physical tragedy in her life, and this virus always sought to exploit these events for spiritual victory. Norma Jean lost her mom when she was only 9. She lost her dad before she was married. Her first born son, Walt’s twin, went to be with God only moments after being born. She lost most of her siblings and her surrogate Mom, my Grandma Caughel, before I got out of high school. But, while these events left her battle worn, they were not victories for the disease.
If you looked at the pictures in the slide show we played the last couple of days, you saw pictures of a physically healthy twenty-something, Norma Jean. A twenty-something that needed Valium to help her fight this disease. What Ma, a seventy-something, wanted you to know was this, it was one of her favorite sayings. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Ma wanted you to know, that while she had made her reservation with God at a very young age and fought this disease hard ever since, that that twenty-something had nothing on the seventy-something. Decades ago she tossed the Valium in the trash and On December 28th, 2017, Ma, the spiritual warrior of God, accepted the unconditional surrender of the disease, the body that it had used to try to defeat her, and the physical world it was a part of, and joyously went to hold her first born, dance with her mother and father, hug Grandma and stand in victory with God.
You see, that was Ma! This body was merely the housing that battled against her… not the other way around. Ma was the strongest not when the picture of New Years of 1964 was taken, but on December 28th, 2017 New Years, when she was lying on her bed, working out, fighting back the attack of her body. When Pa checked on her and she said she was fine; Ma was strongest when Pa left the room and the spirit that is Ma struck the final blow against the physical body that sought to enslave her. The disease that Ma fought and defeated, if you have not figured it out yet… was Evil. And the politically correct thing to say here is, “you knew Ma, so you know Evil didn’t stand a chance.” But Ma knew that wasn’t true. Evil always has a chance unless we stand vigilant.
In early November, I printed shirts for Carla, Bethany and me. I honestly wondered the significance of doing so at the time. I decided to give Carla and Bethany theirs for Christmas, 3 days before Ma’s victory. The significance is clear now. This past year we have taken up a phrase in our house, “Truth Is.” For example: Truth Is, God created everything. Truth Is, the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. Truth Is, God is Truth. The front of all the shirts quote Romans 5:1 “We can all choose Truth for ourselves, and, in so doing, reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Well, Ma knew what is on the back of my shirt… Truth Is, God had already Crushed Satan (the disease) under her feet. Ma knew, Truth Is, Faith is confidently walking in that Truth, and that if she walked in that Truth, God would guide her steps as it says on Bethany’s shirt. Finally, Ma knew that if her spirit stood firmly in these Truths, what could the physical world, which included her body, do to her? Ma knew that Truth Is, following these steps would put her in God’s Favor, and that through this place of Grace, as is printed on Carla’s shirt, “in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will be abundant in every good work.”
Truth Is, this is what Mom wanted you to hear today. That she believed in spiritual life over physical life. That if you stand in Truth, Faith and Grace, you too can defeat this disease. That in receiving Christ and making your reservation for Salvation, you will receive the Anti-viral. And that the Truth Is, Romans 16:20 didn’t just apply to her. That before creation, God planned to “Crush Satan under your feet.”
© 1/6/2018 Scott A Caughel