Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Woman To Be Praised

Few things can cause us to stop and examine our lives like death. Last week I had many opportunities for reflection because of three precious people whose lives on this earth ended too soon…too soon, at least, from my selfish, human perspective. They are actually the fortunate ones, because as I sorrow over my loss, they are walking arm in arm with Jesus. Today I’m remembering Sherry.

Sherry was married to my husband’s cousin, which made us cousins in law, as far as I can tell. I would have been proud to have her as a sister. She was a “tough as nails” farm wife, as the preacher at her funeral repeatedly reminded us. She and her husband worked side by side on their farm, with Sherry often driving the tractor or combine. No task was too daunting for her, it seemed. She also loved Jesus, and prayed as hard as she worked. Her husband Wayne reported that the prayer list in her Bible contained the names of 65 people, and she refused to go to bed at night until she had adequately prayed for each one. This devotion to prayer for others continued throughout the months that she struggled against the cancer that eventually claimed her life.

Sherry was determined to live life fully to the very end. Four days before she died a doctor asked what her plans were. “I’m going to Branson this summer with my whole family,” she replied. She was speechless when the doctor asked what her “alternate” plans were. She had no alternate plan. God, however, had an alternate plan for Sherry, and in His grace He spared her a lengthy period of suffering.

The scripture reading at Sherry’s funeral was Proverbs 31, with a few apt modifications referencing hogs, soy beans, and grain trucks. We couldn’t help but nod our heads in agreement as verse after verse described her perfectly. “…Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” (Proverbs 31:29 NASB) Sherry lived a full life with few regrets, as evidenced by her ever-present beautiful smile and the joy that emanated from her. She served her husband, her family, her church, and her community well.

After the funeral we gathered at Wayne and Sherry’s sprawling farmhouse as we have on so many other occasions…weddings, funerals, and visits from far-off relatives. I wondered if any of us would feel like laughing as we usually do when we gather, but Wayne immediately put us all at ease with a story about the chair he was occupying.

It seems that one morning Sherry was feeling a little “frisky,” so when she came downstairs she sat on Wayne’s lap in their new recliner. As things started “heating up” the chair reclined further and further, until suddenly, without warning, it flipped over backwards, depositing them both on the floor. “I’m surprised you hadn’t heard that story,” he quipped. “I’m pretty sure all of Davis county has heard it, and I know it travelled all the way to southern Missouri!”

Of course the story had us all in stitches, and from there the stories and memories continued, punctuated as usual by much laughter…certainly the best medicine on such a bittersweet occasion.

Sherry’s life was honored that day, but more importantly, God was honored by Sherry’s life. She was a blessing to everyone she met. What an inspiration to those of us left here to live out our lives! “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31: 30-31 NASB
Since that day when we celebrated Sherry’s life and faced living the rest of our lives without her, I have pondered these questions:

How God-honoring is my life?
Would my family and friends find comfort, even joy and laughter in
recalling their memories of my life?
What passage of Scripture would best characterize my life?
Would my family and friends feel blessed to have had me in their lives?

Dear Father,
Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the blessings you have allowed me to enjoy in this life you have given me. Thank you for allowing me to know Sherry, and for blessing my life through hers. Thank you, too, for the questions you have laid on my heart. Help me to honor you all the days of my life, and may others feel blessed to have known me. May my life inspire them to love and honor You when they see what You are doing through me. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus, Amen.


  1. Beautiful tribute to someone I wish I'd had the privilege to meet. And wonderful thoughts - looking forward to meeting Sherry in heaven, of course. Thanks, Sharlyn.

  2. Those are pretty tough questions and well worth considering.

    What a joy to honor Sherry in such a way! I'm sure she was watching from heaven with a big smile.

  3. What a lovely tribute to your friend, and to the faithful God that she loved. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Beautiful. Sherry would be humbled, I'm sure. She sounds a lot like my mother. I asked that Proverbs 31 be read at her funeral also.

  5. Sheri set an example for those of us who didnt even know life to the fulliest each day with "no alternate plan of her own" knowing GOD's plan was perfect!!


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