Who Am I?

This past week I’ve been tackling the job of changing all our joint accounts, closing some, reopening others in my own name, reporting Tom’s death to those who need to know and in general, figuring out what my new budget will be and constructing a much simpler management style than Tom liked. He’s the “number” person—I am most definitely not. Nevertheless, I’m dusting off my math skills and plunging in as a matter of necessity.  I decided I couldn’t live with ugly green folders stored in dreary brown containers, so that was a matter of great importance. I feel much better about numbers on papers now that they are beautifully arranged in color coordinated pink, blue and purple sparkly folders. Color is therapy.

As I’ve poured through files and papers, I hear Tom’s quips and wisdom regarding money, and sometimes it makes me chuckle. Like, “Money is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.” “If you don’t rule it, it will rule you.” He loved to tell our kids growing up, “It’s true God feeds the sparrow but He doesn’t throw the food into their nests.” In his instructions to me about paying attention to funds he would often add, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Translation? “Balance the checkbook, know where the money is going, and make it work for you. Don’t eat it.” I think colorful folders rank up there with necessities, like food for the flocks…

I’ve been handed papers to sign all week and on a number of occasions I’ve noticed they state my marital status as “widowed.” Kind of a jolting reality to see it in print. As I was driving home from one appointment where I had to check the “widowed” box, I laughed, remembering the popular recommendation in current grief counseling that widows should refuse to think of themselves as widows. Right. So what box do I mark?! The popular theory is that referring to one’s self as a widow hinders establishing a new identity. Just so you know, I happen to think this is nonsense. I’m widowed—it’s my marital status. I wholly embrace it and I am not afraid that admitting it will somehow warp my sense of identity or keep me in some kind of dark hole! The last thing in the world I want to become is a walking bruise that yelps every time someone mentions the word.

First of all, I am the same person I was when my husband was here, and I have the same identity now that I did a month ago. I did not become a different person the day Tom entered Heaven. One’s identity does not change when one’s spouse dies or when one matures and grows throughout life. I propose to you that a believer’s identity stays exactly the same. I am, above all else, a child of God—and that never changes. It’s the one constant in life that steadies the ship no matter where it sails. What may change throughout my life are the titles that describe what I do, where I live, my marital status, my accomplishments, education or talents that I may be known by.

For instance, one day I may be employed and another I might be retired. One day I am a mommy with baby in tow, and another I am grandma. If I sing solos in my youth, but not in my old age, I am no longer a soloist, but I might be a choir member. Yesterday I had a student ID card—today I carry my senior advantage card. See what I mean? Life is constantly changing the titles by which we are called. And that’s quite normal. The description of “widow” simply identifies my marital status at this moment in my earthly life— it does not have anything to do with who I am. But the baby boomer title? Well now, that’s another story. Once a boomer, always a boomer. (just kidding)

How do I identify myself? I am much more than the titles by which I am called on this earth, the relationships I enjoy or the accomplishments and talents I have developed. These things mean nothing in comparison to who I am in God’s eyes, for I am, above all things, a beloved child of God. Let’s make light of the word “widow” and remember, instead, the descriptions that reveal who we truly are. Repeat after me . . .

1. I am created in His image.
2. I am redeemed,
3. I am His workmanship
4. I am forgiven,
5. I am accepted
6. I am justified, innocent by reason of Christ’s imputed righteousness, clean, washed
7. I am, holy, set apart
8. I am a joint-heir with Christ
9. I am royalty, a daughter of the King
10. I am an eternal soul temporarily living in a mortal body
11. I am the temple of God, united with His Spirit forever, one with Christ
12. I am a citizen of Heaven – a pilgrim on earth
13. I am a victorious conqueror, free from the bondage of sin
14. I am an ambassador of Heaven – I am a light
15. I am known and loved by God

As a closing note . . . I finalized my decision for the wording on Tom’s headstone. I thought of writing, as have others, “beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend,” but the list could go on and on. I think “Beloved of the Lord” would be most fitting for a child of God. But then, I decided Tom isn’t the kind of person who likes titles at all. He’s more the engineer and less the artist. So his headstone just says, “Tom Pryde II, 1951 – 2018.” The rest of the space on the plain bronze plaque is filled with God’s Word, which says, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:26a) Now, just so you know. . . when I’m gone, I’d appreciate it if you would sprinkle some glitter on my headstone and maybe add my grandmother’s famous advice, “Don’t get sick—it’s not good for you.”

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)

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What’s Next?

EkqIu3WIR%CYaf1Gj+2zsAI have learned that dogs grieve, too.

I have been asked what I was intending to do with this blog now that Tom has completed his earthly life. My plan is to follow up Tom’s lung transplant journey with closing thoughts for a few more months and then go silent. I will leave it posted, however. Until then, I will continue to post closing remarks, and end with an overview of the past ten years so I can pass along information that may be of help to others passing this way in the future.

How am I doing?
I am finding the Lord’s comfort and love to be my sustaining strength even as I deal with the pains of grief and the prospect of continuing my own journey without my life partner and dearest friend. It is hardest when I am alone and when I lay my head on my pillow at night. And although I cry when I remember Tom and the things in life that we shared, it is a strangely happy kind of tears, as my memories are filled with thankfulness and thoughts of joyous times. Although sorrow is, at this time, my constant companion, I am encouraged by God’s promises and the knowledge that weeping may endure for a night but joy does come in the morning. Truly we do not need to sorrow as those who have no hope in God’s promises and goodness. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, declared that he would have given up in despair if he didn’t believe he would see the goodness of the Lord in this life on this earth. I, too, believe God, and rest in the assurance that He can and does heal the broken heart. In this life.

What am I planning to do in the future?
Tom and I talked about this starting the moment he was diagnosed with IPF a little over ten years ago. We asked ourselves how we wanted to live with IPF and the prospect of a transplant, what we wanted to change in our life going forward (or not change), what we could do to prepare for the uncertain future, how we could best serve the Lord during this time and what we could do to prepare for his departure and my widowhood should the Lord guide us down that path. Finances were adjusted at that time and Tom worked diligently to prepare for the possibility of an earlier than desired death. He was a firm believer in the biblical principle that a wise man works in summer to prepare and provide for winter.

At that time, ten years ago, Tom also asked me what I would want to do and where I would like to live if he were gone. My reply was that I would like to continue doing what I was doing, living where I was living and serving in the church that I was serving. His arrangements and prayer focus from that time until his death were to make my desires possible to the degree he was able, and to encourage me to speak and write as the Lord opened doors. So in answer to questions about my plans for the future . . . Until the Lord directs me otherwise, I will continue exactly where we left off. The rose pruning begins next week, Lord willing, my speaking engagements will resume in April, my writing and counseling will resume during summer break, I will continue teaching the TLC class on Sundays (beginning tomorrow) and I will use the time I spent ministering to Tom, ministering to others, as we have done throughout our lives. I want, as a widow, what Tom and I have wanted as a married couple—to live with eternity in mind, for the glory of God.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalms 27:13

 

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Livestream URL

Here is the livestream URL for the Memorial service for Tom that is at 7:00 PM PST this evening, Friday, January 19.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3CuLGldvL8vO87ECLBMm9g/live

How am I doing?
I’m doing well–no distress. Just the expected deep grief in adjusting to such a great loss. Tom and I enjoyed a very loving and sweet marriage and our lives harmoniously intertwined, so it will be a long time of healing. The Lord has been sweet and comforting since Tom’s home going. God’s Word has been such a source of peace and comfort.

I know it’s hard for people to know what to say at such a time as this, but I think the most comforting words to my heart right now are the things you say about Tom and what he meant to you.  Tom would want us all to give all praise and credit to the God he served and knew so well.

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The sum of Tom’s life – He laid down his life for the Lord and others!

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

 

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Yes, the Service Will be Live Streamed

Yes, the memorial service for Tom will be live-streamed on Friday evening at 7:00 PM Pacific time. You will need to go to the Lighthouse Baptist Church in La Verne You Tube channel. I will post a URL tomorrow.

Tonight I am missing my partner in ministry, my best friend and my beloved sweetheart. I know the only way through this is through it, but I cherish your prayer as I adjust to a separation that is profoundly deep.

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My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. (Psalms 119:28)

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Update – Funeral

Just need to clarify for some folks . . .

Memorial service for Tom will be held at Lighthouse Baptist Church, on Friday evening, at 7:00 PM on January 19. The address is 2600 N White Ave, La Verne, California. There will be an informal graveside gathering on Monday morning at 10:00 AM at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in West Covina Hills. There will be no viewing.

Memorial donations may be made to Pacific Baptist College. Tom taught at the Bible College and labored to see it succeed. Donating to the school or to any alumni student who is on the mission field or planting churches would thrill Tom’s heart. He was also a deacon at Lighthouse Baptist and had a particular concern for the building fund there.

Pacific Baptist College
2600 N White Ave
La Verne, California 91750
909.593.0123

Thank you so much for your prayer and so many kind words about Tom. I’m finding those remembrances especially comforting. Lots of tears, but they are so good to hear. Our son is collecting memories written by others and we plan to read them when Tom’s brothers and sisters and family are gathered at our home on Saturday. If you would like to have a memory read, send to tpryde3@gmail.com.

From Heaven is a Place – Regular Baptist Press

There are more than 500 references in the Bible that refer to a place called “Heaven!” It is described as a place of incomparable beauty and delight, but most importantly, it is a place where the Lord Jesus Christ resides together with those who have put their trust in Him. Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) Christians throughout the ages have found tremendous delight, comfort and strength in the Bible descriptions of Heaven and the reality that we will one day see Christ in all His glory and live with Him forever in Heaven. True believers long for their heavenly home and openly declare that this world is just a place they are passing through. Heaven is not “pie in the sky” wishful thinking—it is a reality to be cherished and anticipated with great joy.

Matthew Henry was a profound Bible commentator and theologian who carefully pored over each Bible reference to Heaven, the sweet home of believers. Before his death, he wrote a statement that he wanted read after he had died. He expresses well the sentiment of countless other Christians who are already living in Heaven at this moment. Matthew Henry said, “Would you like to know where I am? I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansions prepared for me here. I am where I want to be—no longer on the stormy sea, but in God’s safe, quiet harbor. My sowing time is done and I am reaping; my joy is as the joy of harvest. Would you like to know how it is with me? I am made perfect in holiness. Grace is swallowed up in glory. Would you like to know what I am doing? I see God, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face. I am engaged in the sweet enjoyment of my precious Redeemer. I am singing hallelujahs to Him who sits upon the throne, and I am constantly praising Him. Would you like to know what blessed company I keep? It is better than the best on earth. Here are the holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. I am with many of my old acquaintances with whom I worked and prayed, and who have come here before me. Lastly, do you want to know how long this will continue? It is a dawn that never fades! After millions and millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now. Therefore, weep not for me!”

http://www.rbpstore.org/Products/5149/heaven-is-a-place.aspx

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Funeral Plans

I don’t normally stare at a computer screen and not know what to write—but here I sit, starring at the computer screen wondering what in the world I can say to convey my gratitude for all the beautiful comments and words of encouragement that have been sent. Thank you so much for your love, prayer, and comforting thoughts and words. They have been precious. And that doesn’t even begin to express the depth of my appreciation.

Let me confirm that we will have a memorial service on Friday evening at 7:00 PM at Lighthouse Baptist Church in La Verne, Ca. I almost laughed when the funeral home explained that they have a huge backlog and couldn’t have my loved one ready for a couple weeks. One of life’s inconvenient glitches that remind us we live in an imperfect world! Well, ready or not, we decided to go ahead with the service this week as there are many schedules we are trying to accommodate. I don’t think Tom is one bit bothered by the whole thing. He has never been fussy about doing things the way they’ve always been done. For more information, directions or addresses, just call our church office at (909) 392-4838.

My mind is still spinning in slow motion as I try to get a mental grasp on such a major change of life and deal with a world that is moving at a dizzying fast pace. I am comforted by the remembrance that Tom is having the time of his life in his new body that works. Imagine being able to run when you have been confined to a wheelchair and limited lung capacity for so long! It’s an amazing thing that the Lord knows the need of our hearts and gives such loving thoughts and the comforts of friends and family, even in the midst of profound sadness.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Someone asked if I had a video of Tom playing the trumpet on oxygen.  I have lots of pictures, but this was the only video I found.  Of course, I’m not real skillful at locating things on computers!

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Tom is Safe on the Other Side

At 5:05 PM, Tom left this earth and his broken body behind and entered into Heaven to be forever with the Lord.

Dying is not a beautiful thing no matter how much folks try to hide or disguise it. And truly, it is a terrifying thing without Christ. For God’s child, however, the death of our body is precious beyond all comprehension because it is then that we enter into the presence of God, in a very real place called Heaven, in a very real body like Christ’s resurrected body, that has been equipped to live forever.

Strangely, for the believer, death becomes as much an awesome thing as the birth of a baby after a long time of labor. Pain and sorrow are a part of childbirth, but joy is the final result. There is very great sorrow in my heart at the moment—but my sorrow is mitigated knowing there was great joy in Heaven today when Tom made his entrance into his sweet homeland, arm in arm with the angels of God and without an oxygen hose.

I find comfort knowing that I can trust an unknown future to a known God. The separation from my beloved is profound, and the grief very great, but His comforts speak peace to my soul.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalms 116:15)

 

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