Kristen’s visitation and funeral were on Friday, March 8, 2013, at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
I knew I would speak at her funeral. I didn’t know exactly what I would say, but I knew I needed to share what an incredible wife, mother, and Christian woman she had become.
Here are the words I shared in the presence of God Almighty and many loving people, family, and friends.
The book of Ephesians talks about husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, that he lay down his life for her. And I stand here because of God’s grace and your prayers. I want to tell you about my wife. What she meant to me as my best friend, the mother of our children, and I really want to talk about who she became in Jesus.
Kristen and I met in 2002 at Western Carolina University. We were Writing Center tutors, and the way Kristen always told the story was that she saw me and she thought I was cute, and then she heard me speak and she fell in love. Our very first date? We played chess. We were college sweethearts. I’d never had a girlfriend before her, and she never had a boyfriend before me.
Our love grew, and we would spend as much time as we could, as college students. We would go to the library. We would read the Bible together. We decided to wait until we graduated before we married, and so when we married in 2005…uh when we graduated in 2005, we got married that summer in June 18th. We didn’t have any jobs when we graduated. Uhm, we moved to High Point, and I was starting a master’s degree at UNC Greensboro, and I just assumed I’d find a job somewhere. She did not have a teaching job, and she just figured she’d find one somewhere. But the Lord provided, and we were OK.
Lots of things changed over the years. I finished my program and started teaching. Uh, Kristen, uhm, left teaching in 2010 so that she could pursue a graduate degree in library information studies. We, uh, we bought our first house, uhm, and we started a family. I don’t know if some of you know this, but it was actually supposed to be very hard for Kristen to have children for various medical reasons, and I look at my daughter and I’m just so blessed that, uh, we had Elizabeth in 2008 and Ian just a couple of weeks ago.
But as our family grew, so did our faith, and that’s what I want to emphasize. Our faith grew as man and wife. Uhm, Kristen loved telling the story about how we found this church. We started coming to this church in 2005, and we didn’t know this area, so we were just driving around one Sunday morning trying to find a church. And we looked at one church, but we were not really comfortable going there, and so Kristen suggested, “Let’s just keep driving around.” We came up to this stop light…wherever it is, over here…and Kristen literally said, “Hey, let’s go there!” and that’s how we found this church. We got involved in the Sunday School and various church ministries, and it was just so wonderful, as we drew closer to Christ, you know, our lives became so much more entwined and we were more spiritually connected.
As we had Elizabeth and as we became more, uh, involved in taking care of family, in 2011 Kristen really wanted to have gastric bypass surgery. That was extremely important to her. Uhm, she, she wanted to make that sacrifice for Elizabeth. Uhm, she wanted to be able to play with Elizabeth and run around and do things with Elizabeth. At, at Kristen’s, uhm, largest size she was over 300 lbs., and after she had gastric bypass surgery, after a year, she was down to 190. And, uh, I was so proud of her. I was so proud of what she had done, not…not just for herself, but for Elizabeth, for the family. She really wanted to do something, uh, to take care of the family. And I was so proud, and I was so inspired.
Then in 2012 we found out that we were going to have another baby, and we were very excited, uh, and we began to pray a lot. The last year of our marriage, we had a kind of spiritual intimacy that was greater than anything we had ever had. Uh, every single night we prayed before going to bed. Now we normally did that, but the difference this time was that Kristen would not let me go to bed until we prayed. Uhm, she was adamant that we pray before going to bed. And then after we pray, I was going to sleep, and she would be reading, and I would say, “Kristen, you’re pregnant. Go to sleep!” And, and she said, “I can’t. I have to read my devotional.” She got very involved in reading her devotionals and reading the Word. I was just so attracted to her. I’d always loved her, and I’d alwaysed…I’d always found her physically attractive. There was a spiritual attraction that really spoke to me. And I was just so drawn to her. It made me want to pray more. It made me want to, uh, read the Bible more and read devotionals more. And so, uhm, I’m so grateful to Kristen for the way that she made me a better husband, and a better father, and a better Christian.
Uhm, last Thursday night, Kristen and I were at the hospital, and she was in so much pain. I had been leaning over and kissing her on the forehead, and for whatever reason, she motioned to me, she wanted to kiss me on the lips. And so I reached in, and we kissed twice on the lips, and that was the last time she ever kissed me. That night, I read her devotional to her; it was so important to her. And I was with her Friday morning when her condition deteriorated rapidly. And I want you all to know it was my great privilege, it was my blessing that I was with her until the very end. For better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health until death parted us. She was my soul mate. I loved her so much.
One of the things that we did over the last year was we read the Book of Job. Kristen never really liked the Book of Job. She never really wanted to, uh, understand why God allowed Job to suffer so much, and so we made that a serious matter of prayer. We would read chapters every night, and we would pray about it, and we would read commentaries on the Book of Job, and we finally got to the point where Kristen didn’t…didn’t dislike it so much. I don’t know if she would say that she liked it, but she didn’t dislike it so much after that. And we began to understand better how, uh, how God has…God has a plan, and how even in the midst of terrible suffering, God is with us. If Kristen were here, uh, she’d smile, I know she would, when I quote the Book of Job and tell you, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
My children are here. And I want Elizabeth to know that Mommy loved you very much. And Ian is here, and I know he won’t remember any of this, but I want Ian to know that Mommy loved you very much. I am forever blessed that we had the time that we had at home from the hospital as a family. She made me a better person, a better Christian, a better husband and father. And I’m just so grateful.
Julie’s gonna sing a song, one of Kristen’s favorite songs, that really helped Kristen in some of her struggles in life, and I…I want this…this is my tribute…this is my tribute to my wife, to my second self and my best earthly companion.