James Christian Roth.
To some, his was a name well-known in Mennonite circles.
To some, he was the friendly owner of a little secondhand store in Woodburn.
To some, he was a dedicated pastor and a wise mentor.
To some, he was a well-beloved missionary and brother in Christ.
To some, he was a faithful friend.
To many, he was a kind and gentle man, one who took time for others, one who gave selflessly, one who was wise and understanding. A man who knew and loved God.
But to me, he was my grandpa. And I miss him. ...continue reading
We were reading in the last chapter of Revelation last night, and as I thought about heaven, I suddenly realized something. They're there. James, Orpha, Esther, Rhoda. . . they're all actually there.
And something about it just seemed unreal and unbelievable to me. I knew them here, in this world, in this life. And to think of them now living in a place I've only dreamed of. . . there is something about it that makes me ache to go home as well. ...continue reading
It was a busy weekend. Full in every way, sad in many ways, happy in many ways. There were endings and beginnings and continuations, smiles and tears, firsts and lasts.
I didn’t talk to Esther a lot while she was here, though I went to school with her boys and crossed paths with her many times. I do still remember though one short conversation I had with her after an overly rebellious stint of my own when I left home for a few weeks. Her words were of neither counsel nor condemnation. They were words of encouragement. She told me that she’d had a time in her life when she felt the same way I did and had perhaps even left home because of it. And that spoke to me more than any advice she could have given me. In a way, it gave me hope.
I also remember one time when Marvin’s were over at our house quite a while ago, and Mom and Esther got out the Maranatha Bible School book from the year they’d gone and were poring over it with many memories soaked in laughter. I remember thinking how beautiful they both were then and how even though time had changed them, they were both still beautiful.
Esther is more beautiful now than she ever was here on earth. How could she not be? She is in the presence of Jesus, and no more pain can ever touch her. She is made new, and as I think of her there with James and Orpha and Corinne and others, I wonder if friendships forged on earth will be remembered in heaven. And I hope they will be. ...continue reading
A barren hill, scraped by a listless wind, bald and white against the black sky.
A rabid crowd, garbed in grey, shouting for death but not yet knowing that for One death brings life.
A rough-hewn cross, etched in blood.
But I cannot look at the Man, cannot bear to see that skin blackened with blood, that body so tortured by countless stripes and merciless beatings.
So I wander through the crowd, and I search their eyes for any relief from the dread that is overpowering on this day, but I do not find it.
I see the children, with their huge, solemn eyes, and the echo of their late hosannas cracks like thunder through my mind. Their voices are stilled now. There is no joy left in their faces. I see only fear. Fear, and a numbing knowing. ...continue reading
Perhaps it's disrespectful to be sitting out here eating Jelly Bellies and contemplating life on Mary Ann McTimmond's grave. If it is, and if she would have minded in a former life, I know she doesn't mind now. She, and likely those she influenced, has been dead and buried longer than I or my parents or my grandparents have been alive.
In a sense, she doesn't matter anymore. All she's left behind her, to me who never knew her, is a mossy, faded gravestone and a story that ended too soon. She was only twenty seven when she died. Four years older than me.
I wonder if she knew she was going to die, if it was some kind of long illness that took her. I wonder if she feared death. Or perhaps she looked forward to seeing again her infant son whom she'd held and loved for only a day before he was taken from her. She was twenty five then. Two years older than me. Too young to lose a child. ...continue reading