Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Forever Friends in a Flat World

Courtesy Christina Jones Hooker

When Son #1 was in high school, Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat, was released. That book captivated me, and we spent not enough time discussing it. I do remember saying that my son's  world of work was going to be far different than anything his dad and I could imagine. In fact, I said, "Your waking and sleeping hours may be affected because you find yourself doing business with people half a globe away."

Hello? God must have been laughing up a storm because he knew that, in less than 5 years, I'd be skyping with my son while he sat in his hotel suite in Australia. Before he left, his waking and sleeping hours were adjusted, so he could do business with colleagues there. Sometimes, God makes you laugh.

Sometimes, God makes you cry. Tonight is one of those nights. My heartache began way back in 2008 because the US economy had crashed. We were soon to be on the road again because my husband managed to snag a good job in a bad economy. Being the proactive homeschooling mom I am, I started looking for homeschool resources in our new area as soon as we nailed down the location.

Courtesy Christina Jones Hooker
I looked over the various homeschool support groups and found one that looked like it might fit my needs. I opted into their loop with a short explanation to the moderator about who we were and why we were headed that way. In not too long a time, my world had become flatter. I was making friends in advance of our move. One thing did NOT lead to another as you know by now. So, we ended up not moving after all.

A funny thing happened on the way to not moving. About a dozen of the friends I never got to meet face-to-face gradually became a part of my day-to-day existence thanks to the wonders of the internet. Via Facebook, email, and this blog, we developed relationships that transcended distance. 

They make me laugh on days I feel like crying. I cry with them when life takes its toll. I am often humbled and ask, “Why? Why do they hold me close in their hearts even tho' we never got to share life's journey up close and in person.” I am humbled to tears sometimes when I think of it.

Courtesy Christina Jones Hooker
Perhaps you heard it tonight? A collective gasp that rose from our little corner of the cyber world. One of the ladies that adopted me as her own and would not let me go, is gone. Gone too soon. For the 3rd time in less than 3 months, I am stunned anew by the fragility of life. She was only 35.

Christina captivated me when we first 'met' because she was the mother of 5 girls who ranged in age from infancy to tweens. She had goats, and oh the stories she could tell about those goats. I would tease her that I wanted to be a country girl. Since I had too much city girl in me to carry it off, I was living vicariously through her and her goats. Most recently, I chided her for posting pictures of a snake in a tree in their yard. I am a fraidy cat, ya know? 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Invariably, she would post some picture of a project she had completed: item of clothing sewn, piece of furniture made, the list went on. I'd tell her she had inspired me to tackle my kitchen overhaul. Some days I thanked her. Other days I blamed her.

We prayed for each other and cheered each other on. If one did not hear from the other in too long a time, we'd do a 'status check'. I came in from class last night to read the shocking words that she had been rushed to the ER clinging to life. As today wore on, the news grew more grim. While I was in class tonight, the phone call I had dreaded all day came. I did not want to take the call.

Like all her friends, I am asking God what I have so often asked this last few years: why? I cannot imagine checking Facebook again tomorrow and not seeing something from her that will make me laugh. I cannot imagine not seeing another picture post. I cannot imagine that I never got to meet her in person. Grief echoes off these quiet walls tonight and ricochets into my heart like a bullet.

I am humbled, and I am thankful to have called her my friend. What would I have lost had not this flat world of ours allowed me the priceless gift of her presence in my life? I am thankful that, for the Christian, death is not the end. This momentary goodbye is more than I can bear tonight. But, in the expanse of time, it is only momentary.

When I was young, the concept of heaven was a scary, foreign thing to me. The older I get, the more I think of it as a grand family reunion in which there will be no awkward moments, strained feelings, messy agendas, or any of the other things that complicate life on earth.

Christina finished the good plan God had designed for her to complete on this earth. I cannot get my head around that fact tonight because all that is in me cries, “Why?” for the sake of her family, especially her beloved husband and treasured daughters.

Till we meet again my forever friend, Godspeed – and may his loving arms surround your family in ways too sweet to describe.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NIV)
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 

In honor and loving memory of Christina Jones Hooker.



  1. There are no real answers for us on earth, but this letter is a great reminder that God's ways are not our ways.....

    Letter to the Editor- The “Why?” (By Luke Lillard - guest writer for The Bryan Triangle)

    “Why?” may be the most fundamental human question. It sums up our inquisitiveness, as well as our twin needs for justice and purpose, in one surprisingly eloquent syllable. So when the dust settles around the sudden and seemingly pointless death of a classmate, that most basic of questions inevitably finds its way to the front of our minds.

    Many of us have asked “why?” more desperately than usual in the wake of Meaghan Jones’s [died suddenly due to acute Leukemia] passing, and the answer we crave has nothing to do with whatever biologically caused her death. While the diagnostic question is an interesting one, the far more important issue in our minds is that of purpose. We want to know that there is some reason for her passing — we want to know that the “why?” has an answer. And some of us simply want to know that God hears our lamentation.

    The problem is that we often feel that our questions —especially the “whys?”— go unanswered. Though we crave an answer, we do not honestly expect one, resigning ourselves to a few words of comfort and a long wait for the pain to subside. Or, in some cases, we stubbornly demand to know why, inwardly fearing that we will despise the answer we are given, and then shake our fists at God when it does not come. Our need for justice and purpose, clouded by our own imperfection, prompt resentment at both the event itself and what seems to be God’s ensuing silence.

    C.S. Lewis articulated this struggle eloquently in Till We Have Faces. The largest portion of the book centers on Orual as she brings a lifelong complaint against God. Orual has led a miserable life; her only joy was rooted in the raising and caring for her beautiful, younger sister Psyche. Yet God ripped Psyche away as a young woman, leaving her older sister to suffer intense loneliness, heartache and bitterness for the remainder of her days.

    Orual struggled mightily with the “why?”, and for most of her life she allowed bitterness to overwhelm her. As Orual approaches death, by her own admission a bitter, ruined soul, she has an opportunity to publicly voice her charge against God. She comes before Him naked and unable to hide anything (she wore a veil for the majority of her life), and the question underneath all of her bitterness and anger suddenly is laid bare for all to see. The greatest beauty of Till We Have Faces, however, lies in the fact that God does not provide an explicit answer. Rather, as she voices her complaint, Orual realizes that she needs no answer. “The complaint was the answer,” she says. “To have heard myself making it was to be answered.”

    As we grieve the loss of our classmate Meaghan, we have an opportunity to voice that question. Grief lays bare our hearts, and God is present in that grief. He will listen to our cries, and he will hear our questions, and he will understand our grief more keenly than we do ourselves. When he does not utter an answer, however, we should not respond with bitterness. We must cling to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see in a mirror dimly; then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

    In the closing paragraphs of Till We Have Faces, a redeemed Orual enters eternity with these words: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

    We can be comforted knowing that one day we will see our Savior face to face. Perhaps then we will know the purpose behind Meaghan’s death, or perhaps we never will. But it will not matter, because in that moment all questions will fade away. We will not need to ask “why?” because he is the “why.” Love the Lord, my friends, and though it may take a lifetime, you will find the answer you have been seeking all along.

  2. and may it be so for all of us as we wrestle with losses like these....

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Christina. I will miss her funny posts about the girls and her life. I, too, grieve for her family (and we will all miss her) mostly. I am sure Christina is rejoicing, having seen the complete picture.

  4. I love it. All of it true. I am working on a tribute to Christina as well. I love her, and will miss her. We should treasure our relationships. I do treasure ours sweet twin. Not sure why things worked the way they did, but I am glad to have you in my life. God has a plan. :)

  5. Nekey and Donna, you know how much my Chattanooga "family" means to me. I am so thankful for all of you. As deeply as I feel my loss, I know you feel it so much more deeply. She was simply incredible. I say it over and over again because it is true.

  6. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. As you may know, a fund has been set up for Christina's children. Here is the link.