The community thanksgiving service meant a lot to Mike. He believed it was important for the churches in this community to come together in corporate worship to give praise and thanksgiving to God. We may come from different denominations and have different traditions but we all have the same God. We all worship the God who created all living things, brought the Israelites out of Egypt, gave David strength to battle a giant, gave Joshua strength to march around the walls of Jericho, and sent His own son to us as a baby so that he could walk among us and one day die for our sins so that we could be forgiven and live in eternity with Him.
Mike was a wonderful husband and father. We met in 1993 and got married in 1995. He was a perfect mate for me. He always put God first and family second. That is the way it should be so that he could lead our family as the spiritual head of the household. He also always took out the trash, changed the litter box, kept the car full of gas, helped clean the house and helped to cook. He was a great example for Hannah and she definitely had him wrapped around her little finger from the moment she was born. We did everything together as a family and those memories are what we now hold on to forever. We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in August and we had considered renewing our vows on the 25th anniversary. He loved football and was an avid Dallas Cowboy fan. He would have been so happy today that they finally won a game after a much too long losing streak.
Mike celebrated this time of year because he loved to give God praises for all the blessings that we have. Mike loved to preach and teach others about the Word of God. As his wife, I often saw him experience sleepless nights before delivering a hard message that God had given him. I always would pray for him during the service that God would be with him and deliver the words that he should say. Some Sundays he would come home after the morning service physically and emotionally exhausted because he had poured himself out to so many through the message or just through talking with someone afterwards. He was always ready to go back on Sunday night and teach through a book of the Bible. It was truly his passion to teach others how to break down a verse or chapter, understand the context but ask questions so that they could apply it. He was teaching through the book of Philippians and he would always put his Bible marker where he left off. His marker was left in Philippians chapter 3 and 4. Philippians 4:13 was a verse that Mike held close and one that became a favorite of our family, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
It didn’t matter what age someone was because he always found a way to deliver the message to them. He loved the little children and sharing the gospel with them throughout the year but especially during Vacation Bible School. He always created his own hype with them and they loved to see Pastor Mike around the church. He loved working with our youth and always supported them of their ideas and helped them when they had hard questions. He loved missions so much and always made sure that the church had a mission focus, which wasn’t hard to do because there are so many mission minded people at Meadow Heights. Mike always tried to go on all the mission trips. While he was gifted in preaching and teaching, he may have not always known how to do construction but he was always willing to learn and he learned so much from our talented construction crews. Whether it was putting up drywall, building a deck ramp, clearing out overgrown brush, or just helping a church member save a level that was about to drop from his hands. He loved to be with his church members and lookedfor “God things” as he called them. These were special encounters that God places in your life at any moment. No matter where you are, you should always keep in mind those people that cross your path each day that may need a word of encouragement, a hug or just have someone listen to their need. They experienced them as they were working at the mission sites and even when they took an afternoon to go sight seeing. One of the most meaningful times was when they went to help rebuild in New York after hurricane Sandy. They were on a beach on a sight seeing trip and ministered to someone who had experienced a loss of a family member. He also had an opportunity to pray with someone in the subway of New York with a lady who just needed someone to pray for her. These are the “God things” that Mike wanted each mission team member to see and anticipate.
He also loved seniors and truly enjoyed getting together with our senior adults with their luncheons and outings when he could. He loved talking with the senior adults and sharing with the godly Sunday school teachers that this church has.
When we made the decision to homeschool Hannah a couple years ago, I asked Mike if he was going to mind having her with him 3 days a week. We had worked it out with my office to allow me to work from home one day and he would have her the other 3. We both were off on Friday which made for a perfect family day. He never minded and I think it was a special time for him to share his day with her and allowed her to see what was going on in the community as well.
On October 7, 2015, our lives changed permanently forever. He went to sleep and woke up in heaven. God decided that Mike had completed his mission on earth. The grief we experience right now is unpredicatable, sometimes solitary, and one that can’t be healed in a moment or month but takes time. Sometimes it is like the ocean, we experience the ebbs and flows. One moment, you remember happy times and other moments you experience the waves of sorrow. It is almost like a fog where you can’t see the end of the road. Loss can open your eyes to see the same world from a different viewpoint, with new scenery. It is a journey of life where things that may have mattered before suddenly become miniscule and unimportant.
As we celebrate this community thanksgiving service, I have definitely seen a community in my life. People have surrounded me when I needed it most and I know that I could not have made it without the my church and this community. For that I give praise and thanksgiving to God. I have always believed that God brings you through trials of life so that he may build the testimony in your life and so that you can be there for someone else that is going through the same things. For me, it is important to continue Mike’s legacy because he never would have realized the impact that he had on so many.
Today, I received a card from a loving church member. I have received so many and each one have the perfect words for what I need right at that moment. Today, those words were:
This time in your life isn’t easy, but you’re walking through it with such a clear reflection of God’s grace. Still there must be days that are harder than others, when you feel like this is more than you can handle. In those moments your heart is in a perfect place – a place where God’s strength will be there to give you everything you need.
My identity as a pastor’s wife may be completed but I am still a mother to a wonderful and strong daughter that has her father’s strength and soft heart for others. Most importantly, my identity now is still as a child of God and I know that I will be with Mike again one day, because of my faith in Christ. Mike and I had the honor in visiting Israel in the year 2000. As we walked along a mountainside in Jericho, it was a dry and rocky path that went straight down and had no rails to protect us on the path. Psalm 121 became very alive for us that day.
Thank you all again for being here and may God be with you as you leave this place. Be a light to this world that sometimes seems like darkness. Show love to everyone that crosses your path. Look for the “God things” that come into your life. This is Mike’s legacy for us for us to live the life God has for us until God calls each of us to be home with Him.