Several weeks ago I texted Jason: We’re having a Memorial Day BBQ—hope you and the kids can come!
But they would have already left for their big trip—you know, the big summer trip after Mom died in which Dad went a little nutso? (Jason’s words, not mine!) Their huge, fun, sad, happy, memorable trip.
Their presence is sorely missed. Every Sunday morning, I miss them in the pew in front of us. I got used to missing Kara the last couple months of her life, but I texted her constantly so she didn’t feel like she was completely missing out. I would send pictures of Von “rehearsing” with Aaron before the service. Her kids treating each other kindly. Story Jane sitting in a Bible box off in the side aisle. Jason preaching. Baptisms. Communion. Anything, really. And I’d text her who did the Scripture reading or prayer and all the awesome points of Jason’s preaching that were piercing my heart.
The Sunday after her Homecoming, Mona brought donuts with Fruit Loops on them—a tribute to Kara by way of a sweet dream of redemption she once had. I snapped a quick picture and then remembered that Kara wasn’t lying in her bed at home waiting for my texts.
This time that the Tippetts has been away has been hard for Westside. Hard for the staff, hard for the congregation, hard for their friends. Hard for all of us, for our hearts. But we have the promise that they will be back. And soon!
In the meantime, life goes on. We continue trying to build community, to strengthen friendships. We fellowship together, worship together, clumsily love one another. We laugh and cry. We wonder if we are loving well. My husband always reminds me that loving others well means loving them on their terms, not ours. Am I doing that? Am I loving my neighbors and friends in ways that make sense to their hearts?
And despite the Tippetts’ temporary absence and Kara’s permanent absence, we find pockets of deep joy in the love of others, for relationships remind us of the love and joy that is to come. Kara is experiencing it now! So are both of my parents. Relationships are a chance for God’s love to be demonstrated and reflected in our lives, for us to understand God’s love for us, Grace, forgiveness, patience, kindness. They warm our faces like a sunbeam—a reminder and promise of the heat and radiance of the sun in its whole.
So our Tippettsless BBQ—we missed them, but we were met by Grace in the love and community of our friends who reflect so well the unconditional love of Jesus.
Who is reflecting God’s love in your life? Do you love them on their terms, in a way that makes sense to their hearts? What is a way you can gather people together to enjoy the promise of the love that is to come?