While in Nuremberg, I took some pictures of unique doors. The trip was for research on a screenplay I had written, but the week before I left, my Aunt Sallie was admitted to the ICU. I had the opportunity to see her when she was first taken to the emergency room and listen to her voice one more time. I didn't know it was the last time I would hear her speak clearly. We all thought we had more time with her. I wrote out how we handled the news of her breast cancer here.
In Nuremberg, Berlin and Munich, she was on my mind. I remember walking the hallways of the hotel praying for her, after getting the latest updates on her condition. I flew back to the States on my fiftieth birthday, then drove to Birmingham the next morning to see her. Jet lag and memories of my mother's passing fought with my faith, but that's another blog post. She recognized me, but couldn't speak. I drove back to Atlanta in tears and went straight to bed. My husband let me know she passed that night. It didn't seem real, but there was so much to do. Auto pilot engage.
My Aunt Sallie was stunningly beautiful, inside and out. I always thought she looked like a certain Charlie's Angel. I had a vivid memory of tagging along with her and her husband, Terry, in their Trans Am listening to Paul McCartney and Wings' Let 'Em In song. Out of all the 70's songs played on the radio, this song is the one deposited into my memory bank. Now, I find it interesting that this door had ME marked on the outside. Didn't think anything of it at the time, but it relates.
I was honored to speak about Sallie's life at her funeral. With her first birthday in August, since her passing, I wanted to once again honor her and my promise. The following is an excerpt from her going home service.
"Anyone who would allow their future, talkative niece to come along on dates, must have a wealth of love and patience in their possession. I would basically perch myself on the arm rest between the driver and passenger’s seat and take in every cool moment of cruising Eastlake and Roebuck Parkway with you (talking to my Uncle Terry) and Sallie’s, Farrah Fawcett like, hair blowing in the wind.
To this day, I still think of Paul McCartney and Wings’ Let ‘Em In song playing over the radio. I won’t sing it, but the lyrics were very deep . . . Somebody’s knockin' at the door, somebody’s ringin' the bell (2x) followed by . . . do me a favor, open the door and let ‘em in. Somehow that, Let ’Em In, song is seared in my mind as I recall all the fun times I was allowed, tagging along, inside the forever cool, Trans Am.
When I first heard that Sallie wanted a small funeral, I didn’t know how that would be possible - unless we just didn’t tell anyone, knowing how many lives Sallie touched with her own. And I really don’t have an accurate number of how many lives that was or is, because she wasn’t one to boast. But I knew she had had an impact on many others, because she had such a HUGE impact of my life.
However, it made perfect sense that Sallie wanted an intimate type of service, because that’s how she was in all her relationships. She was down to earth and transparent about her struggles, and you could talk to her about anything . . . ANYTHING. And she would put you right at ease. She was relatable and had no pretense or false piety about her.
When I was praying about what to speak on today, the word REGRET kept coming to mind. I know if I could talk to her one more time, I would express some of the regrets that I am struggling with right now. When somebody dies this young and unexpected, it’s normal for regrets to mess with your mind. But here’s the thing, Sallie wasn’t a stranger to regrets and knew the only way to deal with those types of thoughts was to go to the Lord with them. She knew they were too heavy to carry alone, and she knew the Lord could be trusted with every one of our shortcomings. Sallie often spoke of God’s grace and how she wanted people to understand the deep love of God. I remember her coming to speak at my young ladies’ Bible class at Briarwood Christian High School back in the mid-eighties, and I still have classmates bring up how much her talk meant to them.
Three verses come to mind with Sallie.
The first one is from Psalm 150:6 - Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Even though she could hardly breath, her last message to me was that she wanted the Lord to be glorified through all of this. She is no longer short of breath and I have no doubt she is shouting and singing praises to the Lord in heaven. She left us with instructions to praise Him through this service. If you can take in a deep breath right now, give Him praise for it, because each and every breath comes from Him.
Isaiah 52:7 - How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns. The day she died, I brought anointing oil with me that our friends brought back from Israel. We anointed her head, arms, hands and feet with oil. When I saw her feet, I thought they were so beautiful, physically and spiritually. She desired for everyone to know the love and grace of Jesus. Even though her feet are now dancing on streets of gold, we remaining on this earth still have the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with those around us who are in need.
Which brings me to where Jesus speaks in Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. It turns out that Paul McCartney song might have been really deep after all. If you know that He’s been knocking on the door of your heart and you haven’t responded yet. Ask yourself . . . why not. The God of the universe, who created you and loves you with an everlasting love, offers you salvation once again today through His son, Jesus Christ. Why not open that door and let Jesus in. If you do, please tell someone today. Don’t do it for Sallie or someone else. Do yourself the favor and let Him in. You won’t ever regret inviting Him in to dine with you today."
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 (KJV)
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"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
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