Monday, April 7, 2014

When death teaches about living

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. 
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 
{2 Corinthians 4:18}

We drive by the cemetery almost every day on the way to school, but the last four years we've actually only stopped to gather around the headstone on April 6. {2011. 2012. 2013.}

It's been four years since my father-in-law died unexpectedly. He was 58 and had very few health problems. He was involved and engaged in all sorts of community organizations. While his death left a gaping hole in the Taylor family, it has also taught us about living.

Gary believed in leaving a legacy and lived accordingly. He didn't hold grudges and was generous. He fathered his three boys long after they didn't live under his roof anymore. Those three boys who are now men and their momma, who I adore, continue to live out that legacy.

I think about Gary often, mostly how I wish my kids knew him. Cate had just less than three years with him and Ben was just 4 months old when he died. When we say "Granddaddy," they know who we mean because we tell them stories. They see pictures. And they know where his body lays.

Thankfully, they also know where his soul lives.

Gary left earth four years ago yesterday, but he still teaches us. So much of Cate's perception of heaven is that she believes her beloved Granddaddy is there. With Jesus. Now Ben is learning that too.

"Reality isn't restricted by the limits of our ability to understand. ... And heaven is real even if we have a hard time envisioning it. But there's good news -- God has told us enough that we can begin to do just that. ... We do have the necessary earthly reference points to gain a significant -- though incomplete -- understanding of heaven."
{From "In Light of Eternity" by Randy Alcorn}

Heaven goes far beyond Granddaddy, but I can't help but to be grateful for the lessons of living and dying that he continues teaching us from his eternal home. His death has given our family perspective. We gather at the cemetery each year because it's a good visual for the kids and prompts reminiscing, but we know it's only his earthly body there. His soul that loves Jesus is alive and well.

Joining Jen Ferguson's Soli Deo Gloria party, Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart with this post. 

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  1. Even though my youngest daughter was already in her teens when my mother died, I regret that she won't have many lasting memories of her, and none of her in her "good" years but rather mostly her Alzheimer's ones. But she hears the stories we all tell of my mother, and she knows that her soul is alive and well. A beautiful story, Kristin. I pray your kids will *know* their grandfather in ways that go beyond the physical. He sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  2. KristinHillTaylor4/08/2014 3:37 PM

    I'm so glad you're experiencing that same hope. May God continue to bless you and your family. Thanks for your comment here.

  3. KristinHillTaylor4/08/2014 3:38 PM

    Thanks, Lisa. I'm glad you understand that feeling of wanting to pass along those stories to our kids. It's definitely a part of parenting I wasn't prepared for, but, as always, God has provided the insights.

  4. Jody Ohlsen Collins4/08/2014 7:23 PM

    Kristin, our daughter and son in law lost their baby on Jan 31st after a difficult pregnancy (she was about 4 months pregnant.) They will testify to anyone who will listen how much their son taught them through his passing. Your father in law's loss must have been so very difficult (58 is very young) but you are wise to continue to make his death part of your lives. Wonderful post!

  5. KristinHillTaylor4/09/2014 7:58 AM

    Oh, I feel for your daughter and her family, but so thankful they recognized God's teaching through it. A friend told me the other day: God doesn't waste anything. It's so true, even though it's sometimes hard to see. Thanks for your comment here, Jody!

  6. Ellen Chauvin4/09/2014 4:13 PM

    Wonderful legacy that your father-in-law left! Thanks for sharing!

  7. KristinHillTaylor4/09/2014 4:38 PM

    Thanks for stopping by and reading, Ellen!