Today we had to say goodbye to my beloved mother, Sue Camphouse. We weren’t surprised by her passing as she has struggled with her health for a couple of years now; and was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and just this week took a turn for the worst. But it’s still hard to know we’ve said our last “goodbye” and “I love you” (at least during our earthly life). As I’ve thought about my weekly e-spire, I’ve wondered whether or not to share about her. It felt crazy not to mention her death and yet a bit selfish at the same time.
Finally I decided I needed to share, not only because it’s the most pressing thing on my heart today, but also because I need to live what I believe. I believe that we are called to community as we follow Christ, and that means more than showing up and putting our best foot forward. It also means being honest and real with one another. It means letting people through the door when the house is a wreck or we have yet to shower. It means receiving a hug when we know it will only elicit tears (and maybe a snotty, sniffling nose). It means confessing our fears and our doubts. It means daring to trust even when we’ve been hurt before. It means accepting grace when grace is offered. It means all of that and much, much more.
So, today, I share, with tears streaming down my face, that heaven received a wonderful woman. I wish you could have known my mother. But since you won’t have that chance, I will share just a little about her. She was amazing. I couldn’t dream of capturing her in a few short sentences, but I will say, she was one of the most kind-hearted, generous, thoughtful, caring people I have ever known. She was always thinking of others. She wanted them to be happy, safe, provided for, and to know they were important and loved. She had a heart for the marginalized. She dedicated her life to special education and serving students with physical and mental challenges; in doing so, she also taught others to be kinder, more understanding, and more caring toward those same students.
She was outgoing and gregarious. She never met a stranger. She loved people—young and old, regardless of any of those things that get in the way of our relationships. She was creative, talented, and incredibly faithful. She taught me to pray publicly and over the phone. She modeled Christian disciplines, leadership in the church, and above all else, loving like Christ. She was incredible and played a huge part in shaping me into who I am today. For that I am eternally grateful.
Her service will be in my hometown in a few weeks. In the meantime, we will be here, supporting my father from a distance and working through our own grief. Please know we are grateful for your prayers. And know, even when my heart hurts, I am still here to be your pastor. I look forward to sharing the Word on Sunday mornings, to visiting with you and getting to know you, praying with and for you, and preparing for the beautiful ministry to which God has called us. I am here for you and am grateful for that privilege.
*While this isn't the most recent photo of her, it does capture her well: joyful, smiling, playful, and full of life.