Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Big Life

I have not grieved much in my life so this past week was unfamiliar ground for me.  I’ve been sad over losses before but the heaviness and ache I felt this week was a stranger.  Throat closing, eyes stinging, tears spilling, words not coming, couldn’t come......filled my week.  As I sorted through all I was feeling, I realized I wanted to be with two groups of people.  First- those who were grieving this sudden death and second- those I loved who were still here.

On his third trip downstairs after being tucked Saturday night, Brighton said, “He can’t be dead, Mom.”  He stared at me for a bit because I said nothing.  Tears stung quickly. B had been with us all day~ early morning graveside and the funeral and “Aunt Nini’s” house. He had the obituary in his hand that he had found earlier on the kitchen counter.  He turned to head back up and resigned, “But he is though, isn’t he, Mom?”  I nodded.  Tears fell and, thankfully, he didn’t notice.  He went to bed, quiet.

Phones ringing or vibrating after midnight are about as scary as my life gets.  Insane things go through my mind in the eternal seconds of the unknown.  At 11:06 pm Tuesday night, June 21st, “insane” was trumped and Jeff and I and an army of others experienced a great loss for Scott led one big life.  There is a massive, gaping hole in Fort Worth.

I was 29 and a first time pastor’s wife when I met Scott.  Our seminary friends had moved away and Jeff and I felt a bit isolated in our roles.  We were praying through infertility and pastoring challenges and we longed for friends with which to experience life and ministry.  Our church was hosting~via satellite~a prayer and fasting conference when a stately couple, Scott and Janina, showed up from a completely different side of town {which makes perfect sense to me now that I know them}.  Jeff called me at work to make sure I would stop by on my way home because he really wanted me to meet this “neat couple”.  I had no idea ~ NO IDEA ~ what was going on that night, but as Christa Wells sings so beautifully,

 “A thousand things are happening in this one thing;  Like a thousand fields nourished by a single drop of rain.”

In 1999, a thousand things were happening that night in our small church plant’s sanctuary.

Because of their vibrant love for the Savior, we felt an instant attachment to this couple and tried to be with them any chance we could.  Unreservedly, they welcomed us in to their lives, prayed for us and with us, introduced us to all their dearest friends, counseled us and most importantly, loved on us.  The fifteen year age difference didn’t seem to bother anyone.

Scott loved to tease me about my “Southern-ness” -especially my accent which was much more pronounced~and annoying~ ten years ago.  When he found out my mom had attended an all girl’s college, Tift, and part of their motto was to train “polished cornerstones” (Psalm 144:12), that became another point of teasing.  And I loved it.  I remember calling their home right after 9 pm one night profusely apologizing when he answered the phone, and you can imagine, he ran with it and scolded me for calling “at such an ungodly hour”.  A month or two later they came over for dinner and he handed me a little box.  I opened it and found a small gold heart.  Inside the heart were three polished stones.  He didn’t say much when I rolled them around and fingered them in my palm but his smile and hug were enough.  The stones sit in a piece of their perfect “hand me down” furniture he painted and placed in my foyer one afternoon after we moved into our new home six years ago.

As God began to shape a ministry vision in my husband’s heart, He had already sprouted the seeds in the Walker’s heart.  It was a unique vision ~ one that still, after ten years, takes a few sentences to explain.  It takes a different mindset, a broader view of the Church and someone who was willing to take the risk. When, at 30, Jeff shared with Scott what he felt like the Lord was calling him to do, Scott, wholeheartedly, blew wind in Jeff’s sail with his words, his time, his profession, his prayers, his friendship and his checkbook. Even though I trusted Jeff’s decision, Scott’s enthusiasm, support and affirmation brought comfort to me, the “play it safe” one in the marriage, because I knew by then, Scott had a cautious compartment as well.  From the very beginning of Tarrant NET, Scott and Janina and many others we met through the Walkers, gave, prayed, GAVE, hosted dinners for us, GAVE and again loved us and included us in their lives.  They all went out on a limb with us.

Because of the Walkers, we have some of the most amazing friends on the planet.  They introduced us to a whole slew of believers that has blessed our family over and over again.  Because of the Walkers, my Julia was prayed for and celebrated greatly when she arrived in our home.  Because of this couple, we have a son because I prayed with his great aunt every Wednesday with Janina for several years. Because of the Walker’s endorsement in those first couple of years, Tarrant Net got off to a healthy start and is now a valuable network of churches, pastors, intercessors and ministry and community leaders.  In Scott, Jeff had a committed board member, a sounding board, an accountant, a prayer partner, a mentor and most importantly, a faithful friend.

When I turned thirty, with Janina and a few other’s help, Jeff threw a surprise party for me.  It was country and Southern and all about me.  It was in the Walker’s back yard and when I saw Scott that night, I was reminded of why I thought he was so great.  He had on overalls like my Daddy wore sometimes and he was quite comfortable.  I knew then he understood “country” like I did.

A few years later he turned fifty.  His party was much different than mine because it wasn’t all about him.  After dinner was served, he got up and went around to each person, stood behind them, put his hands on their shoulders and told the small group what that person meant to him.  I knew then that I’d never forget that and I told myself that I would do that one day.  It was a special, significant night because Scott had expressed his love for his friends.

Fast forward several years and many sweet memories.... Tarrant NET planned and executed a pastor’s conference.  With our small staff, it was an enormous endeavor.  Twenty four hours in, we broke for dinner and before Jeff and I could think of the details we needed to cover next, Scott and Janina had us in their car headed to a “surprise”.  We drove, we parked, we got into an elevator and we were promptly seated in a beautiful, quiet restaurant at a table set for four.  That hour and a half felt like a weekend~a reprieve from a sea of lists, a respite with dear friends, a place of rest.  They sensed a need and they ministered to us with food, peace and an easy friendship.  It’s who they are.  It’s who Scott was.

His closest friends would call him “Scottie” from time to time.  It’s endearing and intimate and familiar.  I always felt too young to call him that and I looked forward to the day when I felt old enough to do it.  Who knows if I ever really would?  But now that he is not here and because it is so endearing, I will do it.

Your one big life has nourished thousands.  We all thank you.
I will miss you, Scottie. I am glad you are home.

{Read obituary here. And my friend, TJ’s thoughts here.}


TJ Wilson said...

well, you did it - you captured him. what a big life.

Alyssa said...

Such a beautiful tribute for a life well lived. I know this will bless his family.

Sarah said...

I agree with TJ. And I might be crying right now, even though I never knew him, if it wasn't for those hilarious photos... seems his shoes are too big to fill, but will be remembered and mimicked to the glory of God.

Cyndi said...

Hi Krista (and Jeff),
Praying for you and your family. And Scott's. Much love to you. Cyndi

Kelly said...

Thank you for the reminder of how every day he just gets bigger. Even though a year has passed for us, God continues His good work in this great man that He calls child. He was an enormous light...thanks for the reminder.