We gather this morning to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Beulah Howell. This morning we turn to the Lord for our strength and comfort.
In the Bible we read these words,
The Psalmist says, (NLT)
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
2 Cor. 5 (from the Message)
We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven–God-made, not handmade–and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move–and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead, He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.”
May these wonderful promises draw our attention to the hope that is ours today.
Let’s Pray together,
Our Father, we turn to you as the source of our comfort and strength. We give you thanks for the life of Beulah Howell but we also confess our sense of sadness and loss at her death.
Father, help us to grieve freely and to hope fully. Help us to celebrate her life as well as to remind ourselves of the promises you have given. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Mrs. Beulah M. Howell, age 77, of LaHarpe, Illinois, passed away Saturday April 3, 1999 at her home.
She was born April 5, 1921 near Fountain Green, Illinois, the daughter of George & Frances (Duffield) Carle. She married George Fecht in 1938. He passed away in 1954.
She later married Richard Howell in 1955 in Pleasant Hill, Illinois. He passed away December 21, 1983.
Beulah grew up near Oak Grove and Fountain Green. She attended school in Fountain Green and graduated from Carthage High School.
In the 1940’s she managed the Benner Tea Grocery Store in Carthage. She then worked at the Sears & Roebuck Catalog Desk in Carthage, then in the 1970’s she worked for Hull’s Jewelry Store in Dallas City.
She was a member of the P.E.O. and the LaHarpe Union Church.
Beulah is survived by
1 son, Carle W. Howell of Macomb, Illinois,
1 daughter, Susan Howell of Quincy, Illinois,
2 step-sons, Richard H. “Holly” Howell of Dallas City, Illinois and Cary F. Howell of Rockford, Illinois,
1 step-grandson, Richard Howell and
1 step-great-grandson, DaleHowell, both of Fort Bragg, South Carolina.
2 brothers Louis Carle of Riverside, Ca.
George Carle Hemet, Ca.
She was preceded in death by her husbands and one brother, Joseph Carle.
Beulah Howell was a very special person. I believe we met when we were taking piano lessons from Susan. And my family has known her the entire time we have been in LaHarpe. We’ve shared many things over the years. I the difficult time when there was a fire in their home, there was Dick’s sudden death, and there have been several other difficult times.
Beulah was like a part of our family. She used to babysit our son every Thursday afternoon when he was real little. We’ve had many dinners with her and she was a favorite with my parents and my wife’s parents. My father-in-law like to talk about how she made one of the best pecan pies he had ever eaten. We shared many laughs together and more than a few tears together. Beulah Howell was my friend. It was difficult watching her deteriorate from cancer.
Beulah was a strong and determined woman. She grew up in hard times. She was 4 years old when her father died. Her mother then went to work and left Beulah (still 4) to care for their 16 month old child in the family. Her family was out in the country and Beulah would walk 3 miles to school every day no matter what the weather. Part of her journey involved fording a creek. In the winter she would often be able to walk over fences because the snow was so deep. During some flood times her family would tie a rope from the barn to the house so Beulah would have something to hold onto as she crossed the flooded area walking on a log. . . yet she generally had perfect attendance. She was an excellent student.
Her Grandmother used to hire her out to cook chickens and bake pies in order to help raise money for the family.
During the course of her life Beulah managed a grocery store (where she had to unload trucks . . including 100 pound bags of potatoes .; she cleaned houses, took in laundry and at one time was doing 67 long sleeved white, starched shirts a week.
During the war (in which her brothers served with distinction)she managed the Sears store with distinction in Carthage.
Beulah had a difficult first marriage but she was never the one talking about it. . . . she worked hard to keep food on the table.
While she was married she had met Dick and Idel Howell. Beulah worked for Idel’s sister, Stella and used to take her to see her sister. Sometime after Idel died and Beulah’s first husband, George had died, Stella thought that Dick and Beulah ought to get together. Stella invited Dick and his boys over and also invited Beulah over to dinner. Neither knew the other was coming.
When dinner was over Stella and her husband invited the kids to play canasta. Since Dick and Beulah had not be invited to play, Stella suggested that the two of them take a drive to Keokuk. (Subtle, huh?). When they were going over the bridge Dick asked Beulah if she had a dime. Beulah, thought he must be pretty cheap to ask her for a dime. When she said she did . . .he said, “I don’t want one, I have one too, I just wanted to know if you had one.” I suppose he wanted to make sure they had “two dimes to rub together” between them. The “do you have a dime?” line because a regular part of their relationship after they were married.
I don’t know how long it was after that, but Dick and Beulah got married and Beulah became an instant mother of two boys. Dick and Beulah later had two children together.
Due to the huge medical bills Dick had after Idell’s death finances were tight. They worked hard to pay their bills and to provide for their family. When they bought their current home, the house was in Beulah’s name and paid for with the money she earned.
Dick and Beulah had a great relationship and loved each other very much. When Dick died suddenly in Beulah’s arms it was a devastating time for her. It was a sadness that hung over her to the day of her death. Dick died at Christmas time and the ground was too cold to bury Dick right away. So Beulah sat in the funeral home over Christmas to keep him company.
Beulah Howell was good at just about anything she did . . . and she wouldn’t settle for being anything less than the best she could be.
She was a great cook. She made a “firm” cake and was very particular about her sugar cookies. She had a particular way she wanted everything done and when you understood why she did what she did . . . you realized that she was right!
She was a tremendous seamstress. She made Susan’s clothes until she was 30. She could tell a fabric just by feel and she could make just about anything. She even made Carle a tuxedo at one point.
One of my favorite memories involved a bridal dress and a fire. Beulah worked for months on a bridal dress for an upcoming wedding Susan was in. She got just the right material, figured out the pattern and sewed with great precision this beautiful dress. Right after she finished the dress there was a fire in their home and the dress was ruined. Since the wedding was just a little while away, Susan assumed she would not be in the wedding. Beulah was not about to let that happen. She quickly (but not easily) secured more material and went to Fort Madison to a sewing shop where she could work non stop on their machines (her machine had to be cleaned from the fire) and she worked non-stop until she duplicated her feat in time for the wedding. It was a task others wouldn’t have even attempted. But as anyone who knew her was aware of . . . Beulah would do anything for her children.
Beulah was an intelligent woman. She was very good at book-keeping and all things financial. She was a learner and you could tell that her mind was always going.
She was the driving force behind the musical skills that Susan and Carle have. Dick wanted the kids to have some musical ability. Beulah insisted on practice for an hour a day, found the best teachers, drove the kids to competitions, made whatever sacrifices needed to help her children develop their skills. She would take them and expose them to different musical styles and encourage them to try different things. Beulah believed her children could do whatever they set their minds to.
Dick and Beulah encouraged faithfulness in their children. Her children grew up knowing that they should give your best to God. Beulah always wanted her children to be dressed properly and respectfully.
Beulah was proud of what her children were able to accomplish. She was never happier than when they were visiting. In fact, the day she died she had put together a family dinner.
She listened to every Quincy Notre Dame game and always watched the news for news on Notre Dame. When she’d see someone she knew she would call those people and tell them she saw them on television. She enjoyed the many friends Susan was able to introduce her to.
Beulah was always calling down to Quincy to remind Susan to:
rotate her tires
wear her scarf
put her boots on
and so forth . .
She was a very loyal woman. She believed that if she could buy something in LaHarpe . . she should do so.
She was a great friend and neighbor. She appreciated those people who were her friends. She was frequently baking pies and cookies, and sometimes even breakfast to share with others. She was a great listener and always shared in the joys that others had. She could keep a secret. She freely shared her heart with those she cared about. She was the ideal friend.
Beulah was a gracious woman. She was always quick to compliment someone, she was good to acknowledge special days with a card, she appreciated a kindness . . . and never once did I stop by her house when she didn’t offer me coffee, cookies, cake or some other baked item. She was quick with a smile and compliment. I know some of those times she really didn’t feel well . . . but she insisted on being a gracious host first of all.
Over a year ago she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in her life. Immediately she made the decision that this was going to be a private issue. She hide the fact from her friends and family for months. She endured rigorous chemotherapy treatments. And finally, when the treatments had diminished her body almost to the point of death . . . she said, “that’s enough!”
Beulah knew she was making a choice that could end her life. But she had peace with God. She worked hard to get to church as often as she could physically endure. She listened to tapes from the church and had just recently begun to listen to our radio broadcast.
Beulah told me just a week ago that she spent most of her time now reading her Bible and other devotional books. She said the television no longer held any interest for her. She said she prayed constantly . . . about her situation, for her family, for the church and for her friends. She said her greatest regret was that her swollen knees made it impossible to get down on her knees anymore.
Beulah died that way she wanted to die. She didn’t want to be in a helpless state. She had always been a helper and wasn’t very good at being a “receiver.” She told me she wished she could just sit down and die quickly. And God graciously granted her wish.
I suspect there are several things Beulah’s life taught us:
if you’re going to do something, do it right when life is difficult you have a choice . . . you can throw up your hands in helplessness or you can get out and do whatever if necessary to take care of yourself and those you love.
- no matter what difficulties you face God is always there to see you through
- keep confidences
- people are more important that things
- family are the most important people
- believe the best about others
- appreciate simple kindnesses.
- die with dignity and faith
Beulah Howell was a woman of grace, dignity and honor. She gave her best to any endeavor she was involved in. She lived well and died with faithful confidence. Those of us who called her our friend, will miss her greatly.
I draw your attention this morning to a familiar passage in John chapter 11:25,26. The account is of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus and Lazarus were friends. Lazarus dies and is buried before Jesus comes to pay His respects. When He arrives, His friends, Mary and Martha were a little distressed by the fact that Jesus did not keep Lazarus from dying. But Jesus, uses this as a “teachable moment.” Of course, He brings Lazarus back from the grave but what He says before He does so is what is of the most importance to us today . . . it is important because he talks about all those who die . . . not just Lazarus.
25Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.£ Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. 26They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?”
Now I want you to see the two key statements Jesus says,
1. There is life beyond the grave “Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.”
This is the practical result of Easter. Because Christ has overcome death . . . those who follow Him are promised a similar fate.
The promises are many:
John 14: 2There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. 3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5
1For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
And of Course there is John 3:16
16″For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
This is our hope . . . eternal life. There is the assurance and the confidence, based on the resurrection of Jesus that there is life beyond the grave. This life is not all there is.
But before we get giddy with excitement we need to hear the other statement in the passage in the story of Lazarus.
2. The promise is restricted “They are given eternal life for believing in me.” This promise of eternal life from Jesus is not extended to everyone . . . but only to those who believe in Christ.
This belief is not just a belief in the historical reality of Jesus . . .it is the confident faith and trust that He is the one who died as our substitute and rose as our Redeemer. To believe in Jesus is to put confidence not in our efforts but in Christ’s work on our behalf. Real faith in Christ results in a changed life. Those who claim Christ as Savior and Lord but do not follow Him as such are deceiving themselves.
Many people will not live forever with God. Many will face judgement rather than bliss. Who goes where is based on what you do in response to Jesus.
Beulah Howell trusted Christ. Beulah had placed her life in His hands. She did her best in life but ultimately rested in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. These last months she especially was focused on resting in the arms of the Savior.
It is because of the promise of God and the true faith of Beulah Howell that I can proclaim that Beulah is in Heaven. She has been released from her burden and her pain. She has seen the face of the Lord she has trusted all her life. She is in glory.
Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Today . . . Beulah Howell is with her Lord in paradise.
So that leaves us. And we are left with some important questions,
1. Are we giving life our best or are we coasting . . trying to do as little as possible?
2. Are we trusting Christ or our own schemes and devices?
3. Are we headed to eternal life or eternal destruction?
4. Can we face our own death without fear?
This is a sad day because we have lost a friend . . . but it is an even sadder day if we have not grown from our relationship with our dear friend, Beulah Howell.
O Lord, we are numb with sadness as we think about not being able to visit with Beulah again on this side of the grave. But, O how we thank you for the time we have had together. Keep those memories fresh in our hearts and minds. Help us to remember the things that you taught us through Beulah.
Father, I ask your blessing upon this family. I pray that you would draw them together in love. I pray that you would fill their emptiness with Your love. Grant them wisdom as they work through so many things in the months ahead.
Lord, place in us that genuine faith that leads to life. Help us to trust you and not the stuff we possess. Help us to rest in you and not our schemes. Help us O Lord to be faithful . . . like Beulah.
We ask in the name of Christ. Amen.
Now may the God of Life comfort you. May the Lord who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, so guide you and empower you that you may know that sure hope of life everlasting . . . for Beulah, and for yourself. Amen