Sunday, July 01, 2007

Real Freedom

I saw on the Foxnews that the last survivor of the flag raising at Iwo Jima died and was given a nice memorial. Such a price so many paid for our freedom and the privilege to live in the USA. I am sooo grateful. I’ll write more about that kind of freedom another day, but tonight I am thinking of freedom in another way altogether.

My beautiful sister, Gail Kathleen, died 12 years ago today, and we buried her on the 4th of July. I spent all afternoon today looking at family photos trying to find the perfect one of her, and decided this was my favorite even though she was just 17. Though only 58 when she died from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she accomplished what she was placed on this earth for. She raised 3 beautiful, intelligent children, and took great care of my dear mother. She had a green thumb and grew beautiful flowers and she taught me to sew. I was crazy about her and thought she was incredibly beautiful with her green eyes and black hair. She made the best cup of coffee and pot of red beans and rice this side of the Mississippi, as well as sweet ice tea and cold slaw. Her pecan pie was this side of Heaven. She was fun to shop with and chat with about the days events over coffee on a wintry afternoon while stew simmered on her stovetop. Her home was warm and inviting, and she always had her stereo on playing gospel music or Tijuana Brass. She loved music and that loved was passed down to her daughter.

The best gift Gail ever gave me was the gift of Jesus Christ. My mother taught me about God, how he cared for me and read the Bible, so I believed in Christ when I was 9 yrs. old. But it was only when I was 17, did I realize while spending time with Gail that I came to understand what that really meant. Gail loved the Lord and told me that Christ died for me, and that when I died, if I believed in what He had done on the cross, then I would live eternally with Him and my loved ones in Heaven and never die. I was attending a little country church during that time, and after reading much scripture for myself, a great joy burst in my heart when I read, “For God so Loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in Him, would have everlasting life.” That’s it! The truth was very simple. Soon I was baptized and started on this wonderful journey of being a believer, or Christian, as some would say. Gail was the one that lead me to my faith.

Now, I was incredibly sad when she died so quickly after receiving the “cancer” news and surgery, but I believe it was the gift of peace from the Holy Spirit that kept me from crumbling at that gravesite and of course, the prayers of my praying friends. Her Freedom came in the wee morning hours of a terrible thunderstorm of which she had feared all her life. How ironic that God would send his Angels to carry her home to Heaven at that exact time, exemplifying to her that she would never have to fear anything again with no more suffering, but one day a new body! We celebrated that 4th of July after her funeral by doing what she loved—going down to the beach on Hwy 90 in Gulfport to watch the fireworks. How appropriate to celebrate her life and freedom with the freedom that we cherish today as fireworks exploded against the inky black sky!

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