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Loss is never easy. When people leave our lives, whether through moving or loss of relationship, it’s tough to process.

When someone leaves because of death, the grief takes a new twist. The reality of not seeing that person again in this life speaks with a finality that hurts deeply. Things left unsaid, gestures left undone can’t be resolved here. Grief is the result of when we’re forced to give back that which we were never meant to keep in this world.

Which is why I have such gratitude for the knowledge and hope of seeing friends again who knew Jesus.

My friend, Michelle, has been struggling with cancer for years. A disease that is so debilitating and uncaring, it stripped her of many of her abilities to do for herself and to cope with the busy life she’d maintained for years.

But it couldn’t detract from who she really was. A woman after God’s own heart.

I got to know her when she began working with my kids when they were in high school. Leading them in Bible studies. Being a listening ear when they couldn’t–wouldn’t–talk to Mom. Encouraging them in truth. Tender in her exhortations. Always pointing them back to the gospel.

She encouraged my heart continually. My parenting, my writing, my relationships. She was a woman of great discernment who could see past the exterior and value what was truly inside.

I’ll miss her smile. She led with it. It was that smile that spoke loudly of how glad she was just being with whoever was in her presence. She enjoyed life and people.

She enjoyed Jesus most of all.

I’m not deifying her. Not only would that be wrong, but she’d laugh at someone thinking she ever thought herself as all that. She had her limitations. As we all do.

She had a gentle, compassionate way about her that helped those who knew her to feel loved and valued. She celebrated uniqueness and individuality. She cherished people for who they were. Authenticity meant something to her. She valued it. Lived it. Expected it from others.

Though never given the gift of biological motherhood, she cared for, nurtured and loved scores of students as if they were her own children. They knew they’d hear truth from her, but they never questioned whether or not they’d be accepted. Michelle had a way of extending grace to others that made her a beautiful reflection of Jesus.

Michelle, you are and will be greatly missed. I celebrate with you your wholeness and joy in the arms of our Savior. Cancer was not the villain. It was merely the means that God used to bring you home. A rough yet glorious journey, and an unbelievable destination.

Thank you for impacting my life and the lives of those I love. Thank you for giving of yourself so selflessly that I could see the light of glory in your face. Thank you for being Jesus with skin on for so many people.

I can imagine the angels rejoicing as you arrived.

You know how to party, girl.

 

18 responses »

  1. Oh Dayle, this is a beautiful and honoring tribute to a woman who surely honored Jesus with her life. I’m so sorry that you have to miss her for this time on earth, that she has left much sooner than those she loved.

    • daylerogers says:

      And there’s the beauty of heaven. It’s coming. We’ll be there. And He has all the time He needs to get the rest of us ready–and bring those on board who see their need for Him. Lovely.

      • peggy tikson says:

        Dayle, Michelle was one of the major high lights of my 2 years at Marquette. Those were tough tough tough years. But Michelle….what a joy. She came to a talk I did in the Dorm At Marquette , I can still ” see” where she was sitting and soaking up every word, as I talked about all our worthy is from Jesus. She grabbed hold of a relationship with Christ and walked with him with Gusto many of us will never experience.

      • daylerogers says:

        Thanks so much for sharing this, Peggy! I didn’t know her way back when–but when she grabbed hold of that relationship with Jesus, she did it for an eternity. Never letting go. This really ministered to my heart, my friend.

  2. Randy says:

    Very well said Dayle. You’ll be missed Michelle.

  3. mackeylois says:

    Dayle, I know many people, also, who are like busy, encouraging, Michelle – JESUS with SKIN ON!! I hope I can keep those angels rejoicing – like she did – when I ARRIVE!!!

  4. Mary Graham says:

    Great perspective, Dayle. Thank you fo writing. Don’t ever quit!!

    • daylerogers says:

      Thanks, Mar. Losing people isn’t something we do well culturally. Not even well as believers. But it does make me realize how amazing it is to be able to walk with God and KNOW that we will some day be with Him. Forever. Your encouragement is so precious to me, my friend.

  5. Alice Fredricks says:

    I didn’t know Michelle personally but wish I had! What a trail of grace and love she left behind. We’ve prayed for her for years once we heard of her illness and now rejoice in how she lived up to the last hour! Oh, that I should die with such dignity and grace when Jesus calls me Home! Thank you for this tribute, Dayle!

  6. Bethany says:

    This is all so true. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. Michelle’s humility came from honoring the broken sinner in light of Christ’s forgiveness. Here’s one account of this: https://fatherskingdom.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/saying-goodbye-with-joy-and-tears/

    • daylerogers says:

      Beautifully written, my friend. I love how Michelle touched so many people just being herself. Just allowing Jesus to love others through her, being who He’d made her to be. A woman of exceeding value because she saw exceeding value in everyone else. Thanks for sharing your perspective, my friend. We are that, aren’t we? Friends because we are connected by and through Jesus. Heaven will be a hoot and a holler. And Michelle is there, waiting for the rest of us to come home.

  7. Mary Graham says:

    Hi, honey bunny. I love you, I love your husband, your children and now your Blog. I love it! I’m wondering if I knew Michelle? She seems familiar. What was her last name?

    Keep writing. You are FABULOUS!!! And I am very particular!!! (Ask your husband!)

    >

    • daylerogers says:

      I’m sure you did, Mar. She’s been in Student Venture leadership for years. You two are a lot alike–both gracious and God-focused and kind and reflecting the love and kindness of Jesus. We’ll have a hoot and a holler in heaven when we’re all together. Love you!

  8. Dayle–I read this post again about Michelle. Thank you for writing it. I am missing her today, and I love the word pictures that your piece on Michelle brings to mind. I can almost see her again through this–so thank you!! Typing with tears streaming down my face. (By the way, I’m really impressed that Mary Graham reads your blog and is a friend of yours!! You know all the important people!!)

    • daylerogers says:

      The reason Michelle was such a beacon of light for so many of us was that she chose to reflect God in ways that put others first. The whole Philippians 2 mentality. I miss her, too, my friend–she was a reminder that focusing on others is worth my time and energy. And it takes the focus off me. And I’ve known Mary for a bazillion years–she and John worked together forever on CSU programming, which is how the relationship started. Thanks for the encouragement.

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