I knew the news would likely not be good when a second prayer concerns E-mail came from church. It was the one I knew was coming one day but still wasn't ready to receive.
A friend in ministry, Kate, passed away yesterday afternoon. Kate had joined another woman and I in leading the kids' worship ministry last fall. I still remember the evening when the three of us were chatting before it was time to begin our program. One said that I really should do something about that dark spot on my arm. I had already made the appointment, though I hadn't known it was melanoma at the time.
Meantime, there was Kate, a two-time survivor of breast cancer. Two of her children came out to sing and play handchimes in the program, and Kate was asked to accompany us on piano. She shared that she was having trouble swallowing, like something was catching in her throat. Seemed minor at the time--cold or allergy-related or something?
But, no, as she shared a few more weeks into the program. The doctors found cancer--lung cancer this time. Didn't seem possible. Kate talked about it with disappointment but not with fear. She had amazing composure and peace.
I remember her apologizing for not being able to continue playing with the program into the New Year--with treatments and trying to keep up a healthy immune system. This was Kate. So willing to give...all the time!
Here is a link to a story about Kate that ran in the local paper recently.
What the article doesn't tell you is about Kate's passion for God and for her love of traditional Christian music. Her coming on board with the kids' worship ministry last fall was such a gift--not only to the kids, but to me. When you get caught up in contemporary praise songs, you sometimes forget your roots and the powerful lyrics of the hymns that came before.
Kate brought that love right into the program, suggesting the kids sing "Jesus Loves Me" along with whatever praise songs we were singing. So simple--kids voices with handchime accompaniment--but so beautiful and powerful! We continued to pull out the traditional, teaching kids words we hoped would stick, as they learned not only about music but about how amazing God is--and that what those folks said back then was still true...and always would be. I keep all this in mind, now, as I prepare selections for the adult handbells and our outreach to older adult communities. It's the music that "sticks."
Even with Kate's love of the traditional, there was one song she really wanted us to do with the kids. Very lovely piano. Moving lyrics. It was a song we sang in Vacation Bible School that summer; and it made lots of us tear up! I was glad when we were able to work the song into the play that the kids had written that spring. That occasion was the last that I saw Kate at church, and I knew it took a lot for her to be there, to see her kids perform and praise.
Lord, thank you for the blessing of Kate to the lives of so many, for her passion for You, for her gifts that she shared so graciously, for the Light that she shared with everyone. Comfort her family, especially her children, and may we all choose to walk as she did--knowing that even when life on earth is failing, that life in You is never over when we walk in faith.