Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Memory of Karen

We had a great, but very busy Christmas and New Year's. We went to Arkansas to visit Steve's family, SALT ( a conference for university students who love Jesus in Cincinnati), Weston home from college, and his friend Zach who came to visit. (We love you, Zach. Come any time!) THEN Conference on the Ministry in Traverse City where we were able to hang with friends, hold babies, and LOVE our church planting families.
In the midst of all that was a very sad day. One of our church planters wives, Karen Rabideau, suffered a heart attack and went to be with Jesus on Christmas Eve. A little over one year ago, Joe and Karen, along with their daughter Melissa, planted Michigan's first
Bikers' Church in Holt. The church is growing and seeing lives transformed in the Biker community. Karen was an integral part of that success.

Just to give you a glimpse of the lives she touched, let me tell you about her funeral...or as we choose to call it... "the celebration of Karen's life".

There w
ere between 800 and 1,000 people at the the middle of a major SNOWSTORM! It took an extra hour to get there, the weather was so treacherous. There were flowers from a local coffee shop, Michigan State University, and from SOOO many more people and places where Karen left a ray of sunshine.

She had such a big heart...always reaching out to the hurting, encouraging those who were down or struggling, had a smile on her face every time I saw her, a hug for anyone who needed one...and even some who didn't WANT one! BUT no one could refuse that loving heart and sweet spirit....and then each would admit they felt so uplifted because of that hug.

She always had time to pray for you....laugh with you...cry with you...just be your friend.

Karen impacted so many in her short time on earth with her life of servant hood and love. There was never an activity Karen was invited to where she didn't insist on helping.

Many shared that day about the impact Karen had on their life and in their walk with the LORD. She had a special way to let one know that they could MAKE it no matter what their circumstances and that Jesus loved them for who th
ey were NOW.

Joe and Karen's 19 year old daughter Melissa sang at her mom's Celebration. Joe shared. I don't know how they were able to do that...except for the peace in their hearts KNOWING without a shadow of a doubt that Karen was with Jesus. Celebrating with Him.

As I sat there on that snowy Friday afternoon, seeing Joe and Melissa, knowing the family had just moved into their dream home in November that they had been building this last year. Karen enjoyed it for a month then went to live in her mansion. Seeing Karen's Mom, Dad, and sisters... watching her young pre-teen nephew weep and weep through the whole service from a deep love for his Aunt Karen whom he was going to the hundreds of others in the pews...
I reflected on life. How short it really is.

Karen had just turned 47 on December 17. She and Joe would have celebrated 21 years on January 1st. (They were married at the stroke of Midnight on Jan. 1, 1987 so they would be the first one listed as married in 1987! How fun!)
Karen lived life to its' fullest.

Am I living life to its' fullest? Every day?
  • Loving my Jesus to the best of my ability.
  • Loving my husband, even when he wears my pants....
  • my kids...showing them and telling them with every fiber of my being how much I love them and how blessed I am to have them...
  • sharing Christ with my neighbors...
  • taking care of my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit it is...
  • acknowledging my friends and how special each one is in my life...
  • appreciating my mom and dad, and my grandma for the heritage of faith I have been given...for the sacrifices they have made for me so I can be where I am today...
  • for my brother and his family for what they add to my life (NOW...I didn't think big bro. added anything when we were kids and would practice those wrestling moves on head locks...and throw me in the swimming pool with all my clothes on...)
  • For my in laws for bringing Steve up to love Jesus, be a great provider, and believing in him when he felt GOD calling into full time ministry...
  • for my brothers in law and their families for the richness and completeness they have added to my life...especially in the form of my nieces and nephews. I LOVE THEM!
  • for my aunts, uncles and cousins who I dearly love but neglect to tell them that regularly...
  • for the church planting families in Michigan and how incredible they are for all the sacrifices they have made to plant churches so that people will come to be believers in Jesus.
Have I overcome SELF to lay down my insecurities, fears, frustrations of day to day living to let my actions speak louder than words...IN A GOOD the DIVINE HRT way of life...

To make JESUS the center of all I am and of all I do...remembering that
life is but a vapor...

don't put off until tomorrow what we should do today...

So, today, with me, acknowledge the LORD in all you do, in everything that you are.

Overflow with HIS love.

Hug a friend.

Write a love letter to your husband or wife.

Play with your kids.

Thank your parents for what they have done for you.

Pray with someone who needs some encouragement.

Show love to that Co-worker who drives you crazy.

Count the ways in which you are blessed.

That is what my friend, Karen, would have encouraged you to do.

PS...Karen's daughter, Melissa, left a comment about her mom. Be sure and read her thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Mary Beth,

That is so incredibley sad. I know there is celebration in heaven for the reception of Karen, but for those left behind there is a hole left where she was. Knowing she is with Jesus is of great comfort. I didn't know Karen, but she is our sister in Christ. Karen's family will need prayer in the days and months ahead. Thanks for sharing.

redheadrev said...

That was a beautiful post, Mary Beth. I had just met Karen recently at the Women's Ministry Conference last year at Fa-Ho-Lo. She and her team prayed for me. That was some amazing prayer. I was sad to hear that she had died. And it was especially sad to me because my father also died when he was 47 of a heart attack. I know my father is in heaven, as well, but that doesn't ease the pain of missing him. I pray that Joe and Melissa will be comforted by God and thrive through the experience.

Melissa Rabideau said...

My mom was an amazing woman... I couldn't have asked for anyone better to raise me and show me which ways to go in life. Her heart for God is something that she passed on to me and I strive to carry on her legacy. The lives that she touched in some aspects suprise me as to the numbers, but at the same time don't suprise me at all.
Her heart for people and to see them come to Christ is what drove her.
Her intense love for her family and her church family was a constant reminder to me as to why I am here.
To reach out and to help others.... that is what she trained me to do.

Ultimately though she was my mom and I miss her very much, more than words can say. But knowing that I will see her again someday gives me all the peace that I need for now.

Anonymous said...

"I'm really sorry to hear about your friend, Karen, but she certainly is in a better place. I'm not sorry for HER, just for those left behind.

Thanks for the reminder that life is short and we need to live every day to the fullest for God...good reminder."

Amy Fulkerson