Pine Boxes and Brass Carvings

“Purchase burial plot” – Those three words remained on my to-do list from the time Clay was brave enough to speak them out loud, just days after his diagnosis, until I was brave enough to actually do them, just a few months before he died. I just couldn’t make myself actually do it.

Then, we finally met with the funeral home and I was so overwhelmed. First of all, do you know how much this stuff costs?! It feels like you’re being robbed. Clay was so simple. He didn’t want anything fancy and he didn’t want me spending a lot of money on this. He just wanted to be buried in a pine box. He would tell me, “Babe, don’t go out there and talk to me. I’m not going to be able to hear you. I’m going to be with Jesus.” He had a way of simplifying all of it so well.

We considered cremation. We considered the memorial boxes at Resthaven, in which you place memorial items. They are beautiful. He joked about spreading his ashes in Dodger Stadium. In the beginning I was open to ideas, but the closer his death came, the more I wanted everything to be very traditional. There is just something about knowing where his bones are buried. The Lord reminded me of Joseph saying, “Take my bones back to Israel when you go.”

So, you probably remember, we DID, in fact, bury him in a pine box.

My uncle, who is now in Heaven with Clay, built the most beautiful pine box for us. And, we buried him in a very traditional way. Somehow, it all gave me comfort. I remember following the casket to the burial plot and knowing that God was using that moment to strengthen me.

The next step, however, was much harder.

“Order headstone” – Those words!? Those words stayed on my to-do list for 2.5 years!

His name. His dates. It was all so final. It’s funny because it was already final. He was gone. The funeral was over. The grass was growing over the grave. But, I couldn’t bare to look at his name with those dates on the sample headstones. I couldn’t decide what words to say. I could have written a book about his life. How do you choose 3 lines? I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

About a year after his death, I finally told the kids I needed help. I asked them to go with me so they could express their opinions and desires. I learned a lot that day. I know the Lord caused me to wait because of what the kids shared with me that day as we walked through the cemetery looking at examples. Their view is so different than mine, and I was so thankful I slowed down to get their opinion.

So, three years later, after God has completed a very deep healing in my heart, I’m so proud of the final product. It may just be a simple pine box and a brass carving, but to me it is a memorial of his life.

The pain of seeing his name and dates carved so finally into that brass isn’t as sharp, now. Really when I see this, I smile. For one thing, look how cute he was!! But, more than that, I’m just so proud of the man he was. His life actually can be summed up in this one scripture.

“He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Luke 6:48

It’s beautiful. And, although I don’t go there to talk to him directly, I do go there sometimes to talk to the Lord. For me, it is a place of remembrance. It is a peaceful place for me to reflect and pray about the future. I’m so happy with all the choices, and I’m content that God’s timing was perfect in all of it.

What does the future hold? Only God knows all the details. But, I will tell you that He is beginning to allow me to see it. He has given me promises and dreams. Hopes and desires. And, I believe they are soon to be fulfilled.

Today, three full years after his passing, I am believing for open doors and realized dreams!

I challenge you today – is your life built on a firm foundation? When the winds and waves of this life come crashing onto you, will you stand? Did you dig deep enough? Are you built on the rock?

What will your family consider writing on your headstone? Will they struggle to find words that sound good? Or will they struggle to find few enough words to fit in the allowed space?

Will the summation of your life glorify God? Or will it just glorify you?

Will you leave behind hope and an expectation of a reunion? Or will you leave your family and friends in fear of total loss?

Live your life for Jesus. He is the only thing that matters. In Christ, there is such hope. Such purpose. Such life! Give yourself to Him today. Pursue Him with all your might. Love Him above anything else in this world. You will never regret it. I promise!