We gather this morning to mourn the loss but also to remember, celebrate and thank God for the life of Lillian Palmer Woods.
This morning we find our strength in the Lord. In the Bible we read,
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not made by human hands, Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed we will not be found naked. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:1-3,6)
Then there is this most fitting passage that seems to be written with Lillian in mind. It is from Proverbs 31, from the New Living Translation,
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship; she brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm£clothes. She quilts her own bedspreads. She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth. Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council meeting with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. [Proverbs 31:10-31]
Will you pray with me?
Father, we bow before you this morning in this time of sadness. We new that Lillian was getting older and more frail, but we weren’t really ready for her to die. Comfort us in her loss.
Father, for the past several years Lillian has been limited by physical problems. Consequently it is hard for us to remember her as a vital person. Please help us to remember today.
I ask your blessing on our time together. Please grant that we might remember appropriately and that in doing so, we might be drawn to You for You are our comfort and our strength. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Lillian E. Palmer Woods was born on September 22, 1910 in Scotland County, MO. She married Luel Palmer on December 15, 1930 in Schuyler County Missouri. The couple had four children together. They moved to LaHarpe in 1940.
Lillian worked at a number of jobs. She worked at the Lomax Canning factory, the Iowa army Ammunition Plant in Middletown IA. And she served as the cook for the Terre Haute High School in Terre Haute Illinois and also cooked for Hensley’s Café in La Harpe and Terre Haute.
Mr. Palmer died on June 15, 1962. On January 11, 1969, Lillian married a lifelong friend, Andrew Woods in Memphis Missouri. He died on March 1, 1988.
Mrs. Woods was a member of the Coffey Christian Church near Downing, Missouri. She died on Friday, May 18. She was 90 years old.
She is survived by,
- Three sons and their wives: Hollis and Donna Palmer of Burlington IA. And Harley and Rusty Palmer and Boyd and Joy Palmer both of LaHarpe.
- One daughter and her husband, Lois and Leland Bennett of Valrico, Florida
- 13 Grandchildren
- Several Great-Grandchildren
- Nine Great-Great Grandchildren
- Two stepsons, Lowell and Darlene Woods of Baring MO. And Larry and Kathy Woods of Lithonia, Georgia.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, two brothers, one sister, two grandchildren (Randy Palmer and Richard Bennett), and one great-grandson (Chad Palmer).
Lillian Woods was a steady old fashioned woman who worked hard, and provided for her family in many different ways.
Lillian was a great cook. Many of you if asked would talk about her rolls, her chocolate pies and the great family meals. Lillian loved to cook a big breakfast that was ready at 6:00 a.m., a big lunch which was ready at noon and a big supper which was ready by 6:00. And when Lillian made a meal you were expected to be on time. There were many memories of her announcing dinner time with the words, “Get in here and eat!”
Lillian was known for her pies. She made cakes but didn’t care for cookies at all.
As a mother and Grandmother Lillian wanted her kids to learn to be responsible. She had jobs for you to do and you were expected to do them. She wasn’t afraid to whip you or to bring you back in line with a firm, “Here Now!”
She told her kids, “If you get into trouble, don’t call me.” She expected them to behave and if they chose not to behave she wasn’t going to rescue them.
Lillian was economical with her use of words. She could get her point across without a great deal of elaboration. She loved to watch Wheel of Fortune and enjoyed her chocolates.
Lillian liked to crochet and was forever making things for her children, grand-children and Great-Grandchildren. She loved her family. Every summer she used to enjoy having the Grandchildren come down two at a time, for a couple weeks at a time. During those two weeks you could be sure you would be kept busy, eat well, and be able to play some Pitch or Kaboom.
Lillian did not like snakes and could sense a snake from quite a ways away. One day the boys had picked up a snake and were bringing it home. They had the snake behind their back but it didn’t matter. About a ¼ mile from home she yelled, “You boys put that snake down, now!” One day someone let a snake go in school. Lillian went home and the kids had to find somewhere else to get their lunch!
Lillian was a woman who worked hard. When Luel was sick she carried the load for the family. When they were hungry she fed them. When they were ill she took care of them. In fact, whenever she called Dr. Mueller, he always came right out because he knew that Lillian only called if she really needed him and had exhausted all other options.
Lillian wasn’t a mushy kind of person. She wasn’t real demonstrative in her love in the way that we usually think about showing love. She showed it by the care she gave. She expressed her love in practical ways.
Her faith was much the same way. She didn’t preach, she just tried to be faithful. She’d serve in the kitchen and help with all the church meals. That’s what she was good at, so she did it to the glory of God.
These last years had been hard for Lillian. This independent woman was slowed by osteoporosis and by a loss of her eyesight. It was difficult because this woman who always cared for others now had to rely on care from others. But even in this state she kept her pride and wanted to do whatever she could for herself. She wondered, what purpose she served since there didn’t seem to be anything she could do. She continued to come out for the worship services at the care center and I’m sure she was at some of the Bible Studies. What Liliian may not have realized was her mere presence was providing a worthy example to her family. She was the leader of the family. And she will be missed.
SONG “He Leadeth Me”
At a time of loss it is easy for us to focus on the wrong things. For example,
- We focus on our personal loss
- We dwell on any suffering that was endured
- We focus on things we wish we had done, said, or not done or said . . . in other words we become swallowed up with guilt
And as we think about these things we lose sight of some very important things. In dwelling on the moment of death we forget to celebrate the years of life a person had. In dwelling on suffering we lose sight of the fact that this suffering has been gladly traded for the glory of Heaven. And in focusing on what we wish we had done we miss out on the chance to learn for the future.
We have already tried to remember and celebrate Lillian’s life. So, let me remind you of what has happened to Lillian Palmer Woods. In John 14, Jesus said,
1“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. 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. 4And you know where I am going and how to get there.”
5“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Let me draw your attention to some important things Jesus says in this passage. First, He tells us that His house has many rooms. Jesus doesn’t say this because He is interested in architecture or in producing a promo piece for Better Homes and Gardens. When Jesus says there are many rooms, He wants us to understand that there is plenty of room for you and me.
Second, he tells us that these rooms are prepared for us. I like the familiar phrase; “Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.” God has made a special place for all those who trust Him. It is a place that will be more “home” than home.
Third, Jesus will bring us to this place. The promise is, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you.” No believer dies alone. At the moment of death (maybe a moment before) Jesus reaches out His hand to take the Believer home. It is not a journey we take alone.
Fourth, This Prepared place is with Jesus. In other words, it’s Heaven. May I remind you about what the Bible says about heaven?
In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us that the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
Practically, the Bible tells us that the weakness and infirmity that was a part of Lillian’s life these last years is gone. She has a new, perfect body. She has been set free from suffering and frustration.
But that’s not all we are told. In the last book of the Bible we are given some glimpses of heaven and this is what we are told,
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun Light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:16, 17
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4
Do you get it? Heaven is not loss . . . it is gain! Heaven is not the end but the beginning. It is not a matter of trying to find Christ but a time of enjoying Christ. It is the time for the curtain to be pulled back, for questions to be answered and glory to be revealed. It is the time when faithfulness is rewarded and heartache is replaced with joy.
It hurts when someone we love dies. But we need to remember that our hurt is for OUR loss. The believer who dies has lost nothing. To the contrary, they have been introduced to the glory of Heaven and have realized the magnificent love of Jesus in a way they never imagined on earth. Lillian is home with the Lord! She can see, walk, dance, run, and sing to the glory of God. She has been reunited with her husbands, her siblings, her grandchildren, and just try to picture Great-Grandma and Chad dancing in Heaven!
When you love someone you will miss him or her when they are gone. That’s the price of love. But we must never conclude that the one who died feels just as sad as we do. Suppose you take your child out of school to go to Disney World. Your child may wonder what their classmates are doing. They may think occasionally about some of the things they missed . . . but for the most part they are consumed with the wonder of Disney World. They have too much to see, too much to enjoy than to mope about what they are missing.
I think that is the way it is in Heaven. Lillian is with Jesus and she isn’t looking back with regret. She is enjoying the present and all the wonder that it holds.
Finally, notice that Jesus tells us that not everyone ends up in Heaven. We like to think that anyone who dies goes to Heaven, but that is not what the Bible teaches. The same passage that teaches us about mansions, rooms, and Christ’s “coming to get us” also teaches us that there is only one way to get to Heaven Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.”
Lillian Palmer Woods is not in Heaven because she was a good woman (though she was) she is in Heaven because she trusted a great Savior. She is not in Heaven because she was baptized (though she was) she is in Heaven because Christ gave His life to pay for her sin. She is in Heaven because Jesus really is the Lord who died and rose again for our sin.
It is important that we face this crucial issue today. We need to ask, “Have we trusted this Jesus? Have we placed our confidence in Him?” I believe that would be the issue Lillian would want to stress now that she has seen glory. I believe she is looking forward to that future reunion and is hoping that everyone will be there.
There are many lessons we can learn from Lillian Woods,
1. Hard work and discipline are good for you.
2. If you eat three good meals a day you won’t need to snack much during the day
3. It is always a good time for chocolate pie
4. People should learn to take responsibility for their actions.
5. The best way to influence others is to spend time with them.
6. You don’t have to be in the spotlight to make an impact
7. You can live your life just fine without ever having to get close to a snake
8. True faith is practical
9. Jesus really is all you need for Heaven
10. A godly mother impacts many generations
May God grant us a measure of Lillian’s spirit even as He welcomes her into His kingdom.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, help us to see beyond the present. Help us to gain a sense of the joy and the wonder that now floods Lillian’s soul. Help us to see with the eyes of faith.
I ask also that you keep the pictures of Lillian’s life fresh and clear in the hearts and minds of these who loved her. Grant that her absence might not dim her influence. Lord, we ask that you convey to Lillian the love of her family. Give her a hug for us.
Lord, I pray now for these who remain. I ask that you comfort them in their sadness. Fill the void in their life with the fervent hope of future reunion. Draw them together that they might find strength in each other.
And, Our Father, we ask that you help us to learn the lessons you meant for Lillian to teach us. Grant that we might learn them. We ask this in the name of Christ. Amen.