April 11th is a day that is etched in my mind for two very special reasons, one that is joyful and one that is very sad. The joyful part is it’s my wife Kathy’s birthday, so I make sure to never forget today. Second, she and I (and the Love family and many others) will never forget today because it is the day the world lost an incredible woman: my cousin Barbie.
Kathy and I were driving home that day from Sedona, AZ we were picking up some of my paintings from a gallery show and celebrating her birth day when we received the call from my dad. We were shocked, as was everyone. At the time I was just finishing my book Life Palette, Barbie was the perfect example throughout her life of the very thing I was writing about at the time; relationships and their importance for us to live life as the masterpiece God created us to be. In honor of Barbie today here is an excerpt from chapter 6 of Life Palette called A Letter From Christ:
Excerpt A letter From Christ:
I’ll always remember the day my first cousin Barb (she’ll always be Barbie to me) unexpectedly passed away. We were close in age; she was just three weeks older than I am. Our families did a lot together when we were growing up, and both moved from Ohio to Colorado around the same time. We kept in touch throughout our high school years and did the occasional family gathering. It was important for me to make the trip to Colorado Springs for her funeral.
As a pastor, I have attended and officiated many funerals, but I’ve never been to one like Barbie’s. There were nearly 1,000 people in attendance, many of whom were under the age of 30. She was a high school math teacher. She made such a positive impact on every student that entered her classroom, they not only attended the funeral, but hundreds wrote letters of appreciation and thanks, all with a similar theme. “I looked forward to going to your classroom.” “You were always there to cheer me up.” “You made a big difference in my life.”
Her coworkers spoke as positively of Barbie as did her own children. In fact, to have met Barbie was to have loved her. She was passionate about people and her relationships with them. She genuinely cared for others. Her life was lived as a masterpiece. It was clear during the few days we were with family and friends at the funeral that the colors on the canvas of her life were the people she impacted.
How does one person make such an incredible impact on everyone she meets? Barbie’s greatest passion was that she was a Jesus follower. Everyone who spoke of her life or wrote a letter thanked her for taking the time to pray for them and to share the love of Jesus with them. She was, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:3, “a letter from Christ.” The more you live your life as a letter from Christ, the more you will add color to your Life Palette for God to paint your life as a masterpiece.
My Thoughts Today
I fear that Barbie will never know the impact she made on my life. We continued to communicate occasionally, (thank goodness for Facebook coming along) especially praying for one another as we were both followers of Jesus. Although I loved her and being around her, I never completely realized the impact of her life on mine until she was gone. Interesting, my wife did. Though we had not seen Barbie in several years, when we received the call of her death Kathy broke into tears and shared with me that just that morning as we were celebrating her birthday she had wondered if Barbie was pleased with the woman I had chosen to marry. The answer is yes. I love you Kathy and I miss you Barbie – thanks for living your life as God’s masterpiece!