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If I don’t see you here, I’ll see you in heaven…

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Today, as I sit in my office thinking, verbally, it’s hard to find the words. I just heard the news my Mom passed away this morning. It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming, but I feel like I’m in a fog. So, I do what I do and write it out.

I just visited her a few months ago as she was placed in a nursing home as a result of a stroke she suffered last summer. As I left her side that day, I recited our favorite exchange each time we would say goodbye. “If I don’t see you here, I’ll see you in heaven…” She smiled, and I left knowing it would probably be our last in-person exchange.

Last June, I remember the call as medical professionals urged me to fly back to North Carolina, as they believed she only had days to live. We thought that would be our last moments with her. That was Mom, always proving people wrong.

Rose Lamelza

Today, however, it was her time, and her race was over. It was Mom and God in those last hours with no family or friends standing with her as she passed. The Coronavirus made sure that she was isolated, but I know God was with her. It was this type of strength and belief that changed those who knew her. That God is with us, for us, and that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4. Mom demonstrated, even in death. Through the many trials of life, I have held close the gift mom introduced me too.

In Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

But it’s not enough to say she introduced me to Christ, but it’s how she demonstrated it with her life.

As a teen, I was almost always embarrassed as Mom would ask everyone we would come in contact if they knew Jesus and if she would see them in heaven. The boldness! It never stopped, even so, her leading people to Christ in her last months as she prayed with others dying around her.

If she had it, and you needed it, it was yours.

Sitting by her bed last summer, a drunk lady from the bar down the street came to see Mom telling me how much she loved Mom. No telling how they met, but I could see Mom reaching out to people, where they were, and not where they should be. It was like that all the time. People with no names, no money, nothing but Mom showing them the love of Christ.

Mom never graduated high school. She never ran a fortune 500 company, didn’t climb any mountains or sail any seas. She just lived day-to-day loving people and loving God.

The highlights of her life were her grandchildren, going to church, singing in the choir, acting in plays, leading people to Christ, and her one trip to Disney World.

Mom

She passed with nothing in her bank account, no assets to divide, only memories of grace and love.

No one of earthly significance knew her name; you wouldn’t find her on TV. She lived in relative poverty most of her life, yet she held tightly to the promises of God. She believed even when there was nothing physically to cling to. She hoped even when all hope seemed gone.

Today there wasn’t any Fox or CNN coverage of her passing. CBN, TBN, and the many Christian networks she watched and supported with her meager $5 a month didn’t mention her name. She wasn’t a Graham, a Myers, or a Furtick. She was on the frontlines taking grace and love to one person at a time, influencing hundreds maybe thousands for Christ.

My children’s children will never know Mom-mom. She, to them, will just be a thought, a question, a health history notation, but to me, so much more.

She taught me unconditional love. The kind that isn’t broken by doing something wrong, hurtful, or even by the rejection of the lover. She stood rejected many times, yet loved.

She taught unconditional grace. The kind we extend to others even when they don’t deserve it, want it, or know they need it.

She taught me forgiveness. How to let go and let God work.

She showed me what generosity looked like, giving all she had financially to help others.

She taught me that people weren’t just people, but eternal and time was short, and Christ was near.

There was no race, sex, addiction, or disability that escaped her love. She just loved people where they were. She lived out the new law Romans 13 speaks of, the law of love. She lived for Christ, receiving no earthy gain or recognition.

George Lamelza

The world won’t remember Rose, but heaven will. She ran her race. It wasn’t perfect, but she did it, loving and changing people for the kingdom. She has left a heritage through her children, and their children and the many people called unlovable or unchangeable.

She lived an ordinary life according to world standards, but an extraordinary celebrated one in eternity. Death allows us to see the culmination of life. As I reflect on Mom’s, I am recharged with hope and boldness to live the rest of my life fiercely and fearlessly.

So, I ask you, boldly as Mom would; will I see you in heaven?

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