Lindsay Ryan Heimkes

Readings: Isaiah 40:28-31 and Mathew 6:25-33

When experiencing grief and deep emotion, it is often hard to find words to fully express what we need to express, or hope to explain. Today is a day in which many of us may find ourselves in this space – fully aware of our turmoil, while simultaneously helpless about how to deal with it. Words stop making sense, but our heart speaks. And when it comes to Lindsay, our hearts have so much to say.

What a gift she was to so many of us. Her presence alone was such a gift, but there were so many gifts she had to share – through her friendship, her faithfulness, her fiery-feisty spirit, and in her love for her family. In looking back over the course of her life, it is easy to see how she not only took each moment as a gift in and of itself, for herself, but also as a gift to be shared with others. So, I would be remiss if I did not take time to share the gift of her own words with you today.

What you do with your time is a choice. Whatever it is you are doing, make it worth it, live it, and love it. Don’t take things for granted, even the small things in life. It is important to know that unexpected things happen in life, good or bad. It is more important for you to make the best of every moment in your life and make the best out of every situation you are faced with. Be strong. Be positive. Be optimistic even if it is hard to do. Moments don’t last forever, enjoy each one. As a team, be there for one another, pick each other up when someone is down, think positively, and come together. Before I was injured, basketball was my life, I lived it every day. It was my passion. Some things change in a blink of an eye, just like my life did. I never knew my life would change so drastically but it has. I stay positive, hopeful, and determined because that is my character. Tough things don’t last, tough people do. I hope each of you can gain a little from just the few things I have said. Embrace life and each day you are given. Live each day to the fullest.

I think it’s safe to say that today is a day none of us in this room would want to have to go through. Yet, knowing Lindsay means knowing how fully she not only believed in living each day to its fullest, but she truly lived and modeled this understanding as well. And as she modeled this way of life, she offered yet another gift for each of us who knew her. It’s almost as though it was whispered all along through her life… This is what it’s all about. Being in the here and now, embracing it all.

Even with this perspective, Lindsay knew that each moment would not be happy or easy. She knew that to fully embrace the gift of each day was to also embrace days like today. Because, though today is a day churning with a myriad of emotions, it is also a day that we recognize a beloved child of God and the ways she touched our lives. This is really what embracing each moment is all about, the realization that nothing is completely one thing or another – either all bad or all good. Life, the true gift of life, resonates in the tension of both/and. So today, it’s okay if you are sad. It’s okay if you can’t stop crying. It’s okay if you want to be alone, or just don’t know what to do. And it’s also okay if you laugh as you remember a funny story. It’s okay if you are happy to be with so many people you care about and haven’t seen in a while. We can live in this tension together because that is what it means to live in the moment.

The next step to living in the moment is to celebrate it. In each moment, Lindsay celebrated the gifts that filled her life – her family, the view from the deck, puppy cuddles, her passion for sports and fantasy teams, a sip of wine with friends… the list goes on and on. She knew how to celebrate the moments of her life. So I want you too to look around, squeeze the hand of someone next to you, take a few deep breaths, and acknowledge the gifts that are filling this moment right now. It’s okay if you can only do one of those things right now. Acknowledge that one thing. It is a gift.

Lindsay’s belief in living each day to the fullest was not a simple antidote about doing whatever she wanted or feeling good all the time. Rather, this belief was rooted in her faith in Christ. When Lindsay reminds us to enjoy each moment or not take the things of life for granted, she is making a proclamation of her faith – that her God is a God of abundant life, an everlasting God that is not held back by our conditions, weaknesses, or bound by the limits of our understanding. Lindsay also knew, that for all of God’s greatness, God meets us where we are, knows us at our most fragile places to hold us up and walk us through every turn of our life. At any given moment, none of us are alone, and as we reside in the faith that God is with us through it all, we are strengthened to face every moment that lies ahead.

As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, do not worry about tomorrow. And, I will add, do not wrestle with yesterday. Live for today, strengthened by the knowledge that you are not forgotten to your grief. You are not alone. God is with you. God loves you.

Living in this promise puts everything into perspective. It helps us realize that everything – our strength, peace, joy, and hope are all rooted in the eternal promise of Christ. This is the abundant life of resurrection. This is the true life that Lindsay is now living. With such abiding faith, Lindsay trusted in the Lord, she let God guide her life in such a way that I know that she is now living in the freedom described by today’s reading from Isaiah, “those who wait for the Lord shall… mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

This is a freedom promised for all of us. When we learn to live and stay in each moment, we are made more aware of the immense gift of it all, a gift we have done nothing to earn but is instead given by God to all of God’s beloved creation simply because that is who God is. To stay in the moment is to remain buoyed by the love of God, so that no matter the waves of life, we are loved, we are forgiven, and nothing – not time, not even death – will ever separate us from the love that holds us together, one family in Christ.

Let’s close in prayer together, using a prayer that Lindsay had saved on her phone.

Heavenly Father, help us to remember that our peace, joy and hope shouldn’t be dependent on our earthly circumstances but should be rooted in Your eternal promises to Your children.  When we experience trials and suffering, remind us that You love us so much that You sent Your Son.  You always work for our good and Your glory, and we are grateful.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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