We gather this morning to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Evelyn Mae Carter. We also seek to affirm the teaching, promises and comfort that come from the Lord in the Bible.
In the Bible we read these helpful words from the Apostle Paul,
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:18-19,22-25,28]
The Bible tells us that the course of life is one of waiting for that which is ahead. In that time of waiting our job is to “Trust in the Lord with all our heart, lean not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge Him and then He will direct our paths.
Today we look forward in hope trusting in the Lord to bring comfort, and direction.
Let’s pray together.
Gracious Father, we turn to you in this time of sadness. We know you alone are God. You are the one who gives us life and who also gives life beyond the grave. We acknowledge our sin and our weakness even as we embrace and cling to your love, mercy and grace that we find in Jesus Christ alone.
Help us as celebrate and give thanks for the life of Evelyn Carter. She has left a positive imprint upon our lives and for this we are grateful Help us to grieve but to also temper that grief with hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Evelyn Mae Carter, was born June 9, 1923, in Durham, IL, the daughter of Charles Conrad and Ora W. Lowe Rodeffer. She was a 1941 graduate of Dallas City High School, and went on to attend Southeastern Community College where she completed classes in accounting.
She married Norman Kingsley on May 12, 1945. Norman was in the military so they moved around some and eventually settled in Oklahoma. They later divorced. She married James Milton Carter in 1972. It was a good match. They seemed to really have a connection with each other but he died much too quickly in 1974.
Evelyn loved her daughter Judith dearly. She worked hard to provide for her. At times she worked as many as three different jobs. She never complained. She did what she needed to do to provide for her family. When Judy was sick Evelyn would work all week and then run to be with her on the weekends. She drove her to treatments whenever possible. She hated to see her daughter suffer. She couldn’t do anything about her pain but she could make sure she was not alone in that pain.
Evelyn worked hard all her life. She worked as a bookkeeper for Norm’s Koestner Electric for many years.
She enjoyed reading, cooking, playing cards, sewing and making crafts. She made all of her own clothes, and traveled around the country to attend craft shows. She was a former member of the ABWA and volunteered for the SHARE program.
Evelyn died on Friday, October 28th. She was 88 years old.
She is survived by her two granddaughters,
Brenda (Pat) Tincher of Antigo, WI, and
Angela (Scott) Snyder of Ames, IA;
eight great grandchildren; Kirsten, Katelyn, Ben and Alyssa Tincher and Noah, Miles, Kiah, and Liesl Snyder;
three sisters, Wilma Jean (Herb) Voigts of Dwight, IL,
Virginia Rich of LaHarpe, IL,
and Betty Olson of Carthage, IL;
and several nieces and nephews.
Besides her husbands she was preceded in death by her parents; her daughter Judith Lynne Brinkman; three brothers, Wayne, Kenneth, and Richard Rodeffer and one infant brother.
I must be honest and say that I really didn’t know Evelyn very well. I knew her mainly from her time at the Nursing home. Most of our interaction came from the Thursday afternoon Bible Studies when I was leading the study. I always brought a few pages of jokes with me to start the study. Evelyn often sat right across the table from me. She participated in the study and seemed to have some knowledge of the Bible. However, what I remember most, was her laugh. She loved the jokes and would giggle freely. She seemed like a woman who had a big heart.
I have learned a few more things about her this week. According to Evelyn she was a “corn fed baby”. I don’t know exactly what that means but it meant something to her. She used to tell the story about how when she was a child she would be pulled in a wagon by a goat that she was real fond of. She told the story that when she was a child they would warm rocks in the fire and put them in bed to keep the bed warm. Evelyn would tell you that she always needed two rocks because she was always cold.
Evelyn grew up in a home with seven children and was actually gone by the time some of the younger ones came along. She always worked hard. She was a proud woman. She wasn’t one to complain or to ask for help. During the time of Judy’s treatments she slept in her car at least once because she couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel.
She was a wonderfully generous woman. She always had some kind of a garden, even if it was just a little row along the side of the house. She was known for her applesauce which she made from the apples off her apple tree. She took a class on how to make Lingere and her Grand-daughters were always given handmade underwear from Grandma. She made lots of clothes. She made sure each of her Grand-daughters had a sewing machine. She thought of it as an essential tool for homemaking. Since she usually couldn’t afford to give big gifts, she looked for ways to give creative and thoughtful gifts that she could make rather than buy.
Evelyn was an active woman. She was always doing something. Sometimes it was something as simple as taking a ride with Bud and Lucille. Sometimes they simply drove to the mall to sit and watch people. She loved to fish. She liked to go to the Riverboat. She would talk about her winnings but never what she lost. Even when she was in the Nursing home she always came out for activities. She liked to be doing something.
Evelyn loved to cook (even though she was not particularly good at it). She enjoyed watching the Paula Dean show (but I gather it didn’t do her much good). When she went to resident meetings at the Care Center she always made the same request, “When can we have some Cherry Pie?”
Evelyn was “Green” before it was popular. She was a person who was always looking for ways to reuse items to save money.
Her home (though small) was always open for visitors. She loved showing hospitality. She would a good hostess and always offered you something to eat and do her best to make you feel like a very special guest . . . because that’s exactly what you were to her.
Evelyn used to say “If anything happens, it will happen to me”. She was mugged once coming home from the Riverboat. They hit her on the head and stole her purse (but her money was in her “fanny pack”). On another occasion she launched a pie when she opened the trunk of her car (she forgot she had placed the pie on the trunk). One night she came home late, walked into the house and tripped over her neighbor who was asleep on her floor. (He had been drinking and came home to the wrong house). I assume he survived! When Evelyn was in the care center somehow she ran herself over (and broke her leg) with her electronic scooter! Evelyn was forever taking her teeth out and putting them somewhere and then could never find them! I sense that if Evelyn was here she would tell the same stories. I’m sure they would have been much more entertaining.
Let’s simply say that Evelyn was not the best driver. She was always running into something with her car. She took out mailboxes, dented garages, and even once tried to outrun a deer (and lost!). Let’s just say people were not eager to drive with Evelyn.
Evelyn was always looking for a man. She was not too proud to ask people if they knew of a good eligible man. Even when she came into the Nursing home she was sizing up the various men who came in and out of the home.
Evelyn had her opinions, and it was useless to argue with her because in her mind, she was always right. The people at the Nursing home all said the same thing: “You never knew what she was going to say . . . or do!” One day one of the residents kept playing with the blinds. Evelyn told him to stop. He either didn’t hear her or he was ignoring her. She maneuvered up behind him and give him a swift kick in the behind. He left the blinds alone. When she didn’t like what the nurses were doing to her she would say, “Stop! You’re Killing Me!” The staff discovered one day that Evelyn knew the code to get out of the main section of the Nursing home into the office area! You just never new what she was going to do. That fact alone made her endearing.
Evelyn was a loving woman. Her grand-daughters and her Great-Grandchildren enjoyed Evelyn because they knew she loved them. It was not always convenient but she worked hard to be at every significant event her Grandchildren were in. When they came to see her they knew they would be met with lots of hugging and kissing.
When the kids came to Evelyn’s home they knew there would be lots of card playing and usually some coffee (which sometimes was half cream). They played “Spite and Malice”, “Kings in a Corner” “Rummy Cube” “Black Jack”, and Uno. Even when she was alone she played lots of solitaire to keep her fingers nimble. You always knew there would be cookies in the green Tupperware container in the freezer, candy in the candy jar, and Doublemint Gum. She wanted to know what was going on in your life.
Evelyn was deeply invested in family. She loved her siblings, her daughter, her Grand-daughters and her Great-Grandchildren. She was never happier than when they were around.
She was a resilient woman. She went through a divorce. She buried a husband and a daughter. She never had much materially. However she was a woman who refused to dwell on the negative. She was always looking forward. She focused on what she could do instead of what she could not. She didn’t compare herself to others she simply strove to be the best person, mom, Grandma, sister, she could be. I have the feeling that in spite of all the heartache and trouble, she counted herself to be a very blessed woman. She had a wonderful family, she gave herself fully to whatever she was doing, and she enjoyed the journey. When you think about it, what more could anyone ask from life?
I don’t know if this was truly a motto for her life, but it could have been. It is the great prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen. [St Francis of Assisi]
Evelyn Carter was a memorable agent of love, joy, and generosity. We will miss her.
We have spent our time so far focusing on the past. It I important to look back at the life of Evelyn Carter because it reminds us of how blessed we have been and how grateful we should be. However, we also need to ask the BIG question: What now?
There are some people who believe this life is all there is. They don’t believe in God and they don’t believe in Heaven. They say that those who believe in an afterlife are empty headed and use their belief as a crutch.
If they are right, we have every right to be miserable. Not only is death the end . . . life itself is meaningless. We live, we work, we sacrifice . . . for what? Life is futile. King Solomon looked at life apart from God and concluded, “Meaningless, meaningless, it is all meaningless.” Solomon looked at education, pleasure, status, material gain and concluded the same thing: life is meaningless, apart from a belief in God.
Some people say we are reincarnated. After this life we are brought back to live another. But It seems to me that is futility to the tenth power. Like the movie Groundhog Day we are forced to keep enduring the futility over and over again.
Deep down inside each of us believe that there must be more to this life than what we see. There must be a reason we have values and try to live well; there must be a reason we feel love; and a reason we cling to the hope of life beyond the grave. Is it delusion or is it a truth that God has built into us. I believe it is the truth.
The Bible, rather than being a crutch for the intellectually weak, is instead something that makes sense of life. We were created to know and enjoy the Creator. We rebelled and as a result became lost in our walk with God. Jesus came to earth to show us the way back home. He gave His life to build a bridge back so we could come to God. Jesus taught us that there was life beyond the grave. For those who found it hard to believe, He verified it by rising from the grave Himself. There is a God who loves us.
This belief changes everything! The apostle Paul wrote,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10;16-18)
The Biblical perspective is simple: we are living now to live again. Whatever price we must pay in this life, whatever obstacles there are to overcome, there is a purpose. Doesn’t that sound like the perspective that Evelyn had?
The trials of life are meant to get us ready for that which is yet to come. This life is but the title page of the real book called Life. What is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
The Bible tells us plainly that those who are willing to admit their helplessness and turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and new life will live even though they die. The people who truly believe are those who dare to trust Him even when life is hard and when things don’t go smoothly.
Now I don’t know for sure what Evelyn believed because I never talked to her about these things. What I do know is this: She came out to Bible study, she seemed to be interested in spiritual things and those at the Nursing home said she seemed to have a good knowledge of Scripture. I draw hope from these facts. To many people (especially older folks) faith is private. They don’t make a big show or a bold profession . . . they simply follow the Lord and trust Him in the trials of life. I am hoping that this was the case for Evelyn.
If it is, then even though this is a day of loss for us, it is a day of reward and victory for her. Instead of being the end of her life it is really the beginning. Evelyn is with Jesus. What was hidden is now clear. Her joy is pure. The peace is sweet. And for the first time Evelyn knows she can truly relax. For the first time she will feel truly secure and taken care of. And I hope this truth helps you to look forward with hope and with faith of your own.
I encourage you to do two things. First, remember well. Think about her
- When you see a deck of cards
- When you see Doublemint gum on the shelf at the store
- When you eat Cherry Pie
- When you pass the Lingerie section in a store
- When you see someone in a motorized cart
- When you have an unexpected visitor and are tempted to complain rather than rejoice
- When you hear a good joke
- When you consider whether or not whether to make the effort for a family gathering
- And when you face difficult times.
Remember, smile and draw courage for the journey.
Second, I encourage you to consider the important question of what happens when we die. Instead of pushing this question off to another time, face it squarely. Listen to what Jesus said. Consider the evidence of His Resurrection and then surrender your life to Him so you might find the forgiveness, new life, peace that passes comprehension and the strength for the times of trial that sustain us even after we die.
If we will do these things we will view this day not as much as an ending, as one more transition that must be faced in life. It is a time of changing our focus; of looking forward to what God has in store for all who trust Him.
Father, we thank you for Evelyn. Thank you for her spirit, her sense of humor, and her example of contentment, hard work, and exuberant love. Keep her memory sharp in our mind. Help us not to forget.
Lord we commit Evelyn to you now. Please welcome her into your Kingdom. We entrust her to your mercy and grace. Help this family as it grieves.
Help us to see Jesus clearly and to follow Him fully in our own lives. Grant Lord, that we might live faithfully in the good times, the hard times, in the years of vitality and in the years of weakness and decay. Take our hand and help us as we seek to honor you with our lives and even in our death. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.