Friday, September 2, 2016

Peace Brother

So quickly life can change (just so you know, heartfelt personal post ahead).

August 12 found our family heading back home after a family reunion with my husband's siblings.  There were 24 of us there with 3 generations together, it was important time with family.  Driving back home means about 24 hours of driving time and we were about three hours from our house when I pulled out my phone and opened my email to learn that one of our dearest friends had suddenly passed away from a heart attack.  His name was Randy and he was just 54 years old.  He leaves behind a beautiful wife of 30 years and a 15 year old son.  I actually wrote about him in this gratitude post HERE in February as he spent the weekend with us at a conference at our Church.  After we found out the news of his death it was a whirlwind the next several days as we got kids where they needed to go and flew back down for the funeral.  

Randy's life impacted our lives in such profound ways, and his loss has shaken us.  I know that as we walk authentically through grief that God will meet us there, and more than anything else, as we do that, Randy's influence will live on.  I want the life he lived to continue to impact me, propel me, challenge me, deepen me.  But right now, we just miss him so much.  

So, even as I show you the card I made for his wife and son that we love, I'll tell you more about what made Randy so amazing, and how blessed we feel to have known him.  

Randy lived a life that engaged people to be authentic and deep.  He had this way of asking a level of question that was both challenging, encouraging and would have you pondering for days.  He chose to listen and value people and their stories, their journeys, and the experiences that made them unique.  When you were with Randy you felt like you mattered, your story mattered, your calling mattered, your future mattered, and not only that it mattered to him, he reminded you that it mattered deeply to God.  He was so willing to speak truth and hope, and also to get under your skin and make you uncomfortable.  He believed in us and mentored us, and walked this very real life in front of us at really significant moments in our lives.  He was an author, a runner, a coffee lover, a goofy and good friend, and built an leadership organization that put three important questions in front of thousands of people around North America through curriculum he wrote.  They are,  "Who is God', "Who am I", "What does God want to do through my life"...prompted by Ephesians 2:10; “For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Randy lived out love because he knew he was loved by Jesus.  

I wish we had more time.  I'm not ready for him to be gone.   And in the midst of it all, we feel so blessed for the time we had.  

So, that's why it's been quiet over here on the blog.  We're pondering and wrestling with a lot of things.  All good things, but they are hard things too.  

Randy had lots of signature phrases he'd use.  Everyone knew them, and they made him goofy and fun and real.  One of them was how he'd say "peace" and hold up his two fingers in the peace sign, it was sort of his little blessing he'd extend to others.  So, when I was putting together this card I had to include that word on it.  He extended peace to others, he dwelt in peace with God, he knows the full measure of peace now, and I know his wife and son are comforted by peace in these days.  

This was Randy running a marathon just 6 weeks before he passed away.  Look at that smile!  We sure loved him.  

Here’s the rest of the Power Poppy team bringing you inspiration today:

Christine Okken (you are here)
Cindy Lawrence
Julie Koerber
Katie Sims
Stacy Morgan

Stamps:  Power Poppy - Soothing Sympathy;  Paper:  XPress it Blending Cardstock, SU Pool Party, SU Barely Banana;  Accessories:  Copics:  Y11, Y21, Y23, Y26, BG11, BG000, YG41, YG45, YG00, MFT Scalloped Circle Die, Firefly Embossing Folder, Satin Ribbon, Corner Rounder.  


Nancy Thomas said...

A beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your dear friend Christine.

Julie Koerber said...

Blessings sweet friend. After reading this and seeing that contagious smile, I can't even imagine how your heart hurts. What a beautiful outlook you have however, knowing that even though he is no longer here on here on earth, his mission, his message and his way of life will continue to touch your hearts. Love you girl! Beautiful card to honor your friend!

Leslie Miller said...

Just looking at his face I can see what a beautiful person he was. What a terrible loss to those left behind, and this is when faith and love come to help you through the confusion and pain. I'm so sorry, Christine. You've made a beautiful card in remembrance. Oh, how your heart must hurt.

Kathy Johnson said...

Love it!

Davi said...

I'm So sorry for your loss Christine! The death of a close friend is always a hard thing to understand especially when so young and I pray that the Lord comforts your family's hearts as well as his during this time. But wow what a blessing to have known Randy and what a legacy he left behind that challenged others to seek a deeper relationship with the Lord and inspire those around you! Your card is really lovely and very comforting to his family Im sure! Hugs to you :)

Patti Willey said...

Phew! He looks like a bill of health there! thank you for sharing Randy's story and I'm so sorry for this great loss in your life. Peace

Stacy Morgan said...

Christine my heart goes out to you and the family. It sounds like Randy sure was loved and made others feel Jesus love. I am so sorry for your loss. This card is beautiful with the yellow blooms. Great texture on the background. Hugs...

KarinsArtScrap said...

gorgeoussssss Christine
Gr Karin

JoAnn said...

So sorry for your loss. A heartfelt tribute to Randy.
Love your gorgeous card.

CherylQuilts said...

Oh, precious Christine, my heart just ached when I read about this precious friend and mentor. I remember reading the post you did earlier this year and now wonder why I didn't comment. I was deeply touched at how this wonderful man of God had touched your lives and the lives of so many...for generations to follow, I'm sure. I am praying for Randy's beloved wife and son and know that only God can comfort in this great time of grief and loss. And I am praying for you as well, Christine, and your family. I absolutely love your beautiful card and know that Randy's family will be touched by your card and especially the "peace" you've added on the front. What a beautiful man and legacy, and may we all remember that we leave behind a legacy, so what will ours be? Blessings and prayers to you...along with tender hugs, my friend! xoxo

Conniecrafter said...

so sorry for you loss, he sounds like he was a very special man that has touched many people's lives, it is so hard when we lose someone at such a young age too. Prayers for peace not only for his wife and son but for you all too.
The card is just lovely, such a pretty idea for the background and I am sure she will be very touched by it