We gather this morning to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Lil Anders. We view her passing as a graduation from this life to the eternal home that the Lord Jesus has prepared for her. Though we grieve, we understand that Lil’s body has worn out but her soul, her life, is more alive than ever.
In the Bible we are told,
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT)
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26 NLT)
And we draw comfort from the familiar words of the Psalmist,
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23:4-6 ESV)
Please pray with me as we ask the Lord to help us take these truths to heart.
O Lord, we bow before you this morning recognizing once again the temporary nature of life in this world. We grieve even as we renew our confidence and hope in your promise.
Father, we ask for your help this morning. Help us to remember, appreciate, and give thanks for the blessings that gave us through Lil Anders. We thank you for her spirit, her energy, and the life which she possessed. Help us as we remember her, to more fully embrace the truth that is embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Grant us You unique comfort. We ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Lillie R. Anders, was born June 29, 1926 in LaCrosse, IL, the daughter of Clinton and Helen Johnson Dunn. On December 11, 1948 she married Ray Anders in Carthage, IL. He preceded her in death on February 22, 1993.
Lil graduated from LaHarpe High School in 1945. She worked as a waitress at several restaurants, including Dunn’s Café, Traveler’s Inn, Sugar Daddy’s, and the Mystery. She did childcare for many families over the years. She cleaned homes. She worked at the Newstand. And she worked at the Flower Shop for a time. She loved animals, especially her cats. Even up to the very end she was concerned that her cats were being fed.
Lil had a mother’s heart. She loved her children and adored her grandchildren. She also was an active member of the LaHarpe Union Church where she always sat in the same spot, the last row.
Lil died on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 9:28 a.m. at Great River Medical Center after courageously battling a number of different problem.
She is survived by two sons, Jerry (Shirley) Anders of Monmouth, IL and Tracey (Cindy) Anders of LaHarpe, one daughter, Christy Vincent of LaHarpe, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, one son, Kelly in infancy, two brothers, Dale and Donald (Alf) Dunn and one sister, Betty White. Lil was 88 years old.
Lil Anders was a strong, energetic, and spirited lady. She grew up during the Depression so she knew what it was like to work hard (and could be why she tended to stash money in various places). She always had a job; sometimes more than one job. She was active even when at home. She would get down on her hands and knees and clean the linoleum floor twice a day and she would vacuum every day. When she washed clothes she always hung them on the line to dry . . . even in the winter (you would have to let them thaw before you could fold them!). And speaking of folding . . . she would let you know that there was a right way and a wrong way to fold things.
Lil was organized and disciplined. She had a routine and she didn’t like to mess up that routine. She also didn’t like her hair messed up.
In many ways Lil was a single parent. Ray worked out of town and was often gone all week long. Lil didn’t complain. She worked hard to raise and care for her children. Even though she was busy she knew what they were doing and made sure they behaved the way she expected them to behave. All the kids learned that you didn’t stick your tongue out at mom. There was no “first warning”. When you had a curfew you were expected to keep it. She expected her children to show consideration and to be accountable. When you arrived home (no matter how late it was) you didn’t go to bed until you first came in and gave her a kiss. She wanted to be sure that she knew you were home. In many ways it seemed like Lil lived for her children and grandchildren. It seemed that everything she purchased she purchased for her children. She would give any of them her last dollar if it meant they would not have to go without.
Lil loved being a mom and Grandma. She always wanted to know if you “needed anything”. Many people other than her family had a meal at her dinner table. Not only did she love her family, she loved all the friends of her children and grandchildren. I think it can be said that they loved her as well. She regularly picked up the grandkids from school and made snacks during homework time.
Lil loved to play cards. Her favorite game was 4 point pitch. She was competitive. However, she also loved to play Rummy and Uno with her Grandchildren (where she was not always as competitive). Truth is, she loved doing anything with her Grandchildren. She went to all their school events and all their games (as she did with her kids). She was always eager for the kids to stop by and see her. When they would come over to work or play in the yard, Lil was always watching them.
Lil liked all kinds of people. She never knew a stranger. She enjoyed going to restaurants or shopping malls and just watch people. As the years went by she often felt quite comfortable sharing her commentary on those people. She always wanted to know about the weather as if she always had plans to do something.
Lil had a big heart. She loved her kids and she loved her grandchildren even when (or maybe especially when) they made mistakes. She didn’t believe in beating people up for things they already felt bad about. Lil was about encouraging people to pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes
Lil had numerous cats over the years and enjoyed the family dogs (as well as the other dogs in the neighborhood). Animals loved her.
Lil loved life. She stayed up every New Year’s Eve just to watch the ball drop. At Christmas she enjoyed driving around to look at decorations. She loved to dance (even at Summerfest with her Pastor!) Trayton talks about how Grandma liked to Jitterbug. Lil loved sunsets and enjoyed looking at the moon. Amber says when they talked on the phone they would often both go look at the moon so they would feel connected.
Lil loved an adventure and was always eager to go somewhere. When she drove, she (how do we say this?) made good time. When Christy was going somewhere she was always eager to go with her wherever she was going. However, Lil was pretty quick to tell people that since she could survive Christy’s driving, she could survive anyone’s driving. (Christy makes good time when she drives too!) Lil liked the times she went to St. Louis with Tracey and the family to see Cardinal baseball games. We think she kind of enjoyed the special treatment the organization gave her.
Lil also enjoyed going out to eat. She especially enjoyed going to Tink’s in Blandinsville because they treated her so well and would cook her whatever she wanted to eat. She loved watching the sunsets and there was no way, in her mind, that you could plant too many flowers. She told her family: “Give me flowers when I am alive so I can enjoy them.” Jaden gave her flowers just last week and Lil made sure they stayed close.
Lil was a good cook in her own right. Her creamed potatoes, beef roast and carrots were favorites as well as her seven layered salads and green beans. She always enjoyed having Tracey (and sometimes the kids) stop over for breakfast and reading the paper on Saturday. Lil was a selfless person who derived her joy from giving to those around her.
She did have a few flaws. Lil was not particularly punctual. She was also a little stubborn. Her family would tell you that they couldn’t tell her a thing.
For many years Lil went out to the cemetery every day. She had a strong faith and a solid set of values. When you would try to make an excuse for some behavior Lil would say, “just take that out of the dictionary (the excuse) – things are right or wrong; black or white.” She believed you should face up to your choices. She would say, “Having a baby doesn’t make you a mother!”
When she became frustrated with someone she might say, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it myself.” And if you tried to correct her in her old age she would say, “You’ll be old someday too . . . if you’re lucky!”
I had the wonderful privilege to have Lil as a neighbor for all of my years in LaHarpe. I too benefitted from her love and her great spirit. My children were loved by her. We loved giving each other a hard time. More than once she gave me one of those “O get out of here” waves. I always felt loved by her. Boy will we miss her!
Lil Anders was a remarkable woman. Her legacy is not in the property she owned or the stuff she possessed. It was not in titles she wore or awards she was given. Her legacy is the hundreds (maybe thousands) of lives she touched. Her legacy is her love.
It is difficult to say goodbye to someone you love. You know that you will miss that person, and you mourn the fact that you will no longer be able to enjoy their company, their laugh, or some of the things they said. That will certainly be true with Lil Anders. But while we mourn today for our loss, we do not mourn for hers, because she has lost nothing.
In the Bible we read these words
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. (Romans 8:18-21, NLT)
In other words, the Apostle Paul tells us that this life, with its disease, decay, and death is not how God intended for us to live. And he reminds us that there is a better life that is ahead for those who are true followers of God. For those who trust in Jesus Christ, death in this life results in a freedom from death and decay once and for all as we spend eternity in heaven with God.
I believe that today Lil Anders is experiencing that freedom we all long for. Today she is experiencing life without pain and life without the limitations that come with old age. No longer is it a struggle for Lil to dance—she can dance for hours if she so desires!
This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. The reason I know this is because Jesus Christ told us. He said,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3, NLT)
The reason I believe what Jesus says here is because Jesus died, but he came back from the dead. When Jesus rose from the dead, he proved definitively that he had the power to bring those who trusted in him into a new and everlasting life. I find it fitting that the day that we commemorated Jesus’ rising from the dead (Easter Sunday) is the same day that Lil died, and finally got to go to the place that Jesus had prepared for her.
The reason I believe that Lil is in Heaven today is not because she was a good person (though, I think most people would say she was). She is not in Heaven because she went to church most every week (though she did). The reason she is in Heaven is because she trusted in Jesus Christ to save her from her sin. Lil knew that she wasn’t perfect, but she also knew that Jesus died in order to make it possible for her to be forgiven. She trusted and followed Jesus, and as a result, she is now with Him.
You, too, can spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus and be reunited with Lil when you die, but the only way to do that is to trust in and follow Jesus now. None of us knows when our last day on earth will be, so the decision of whether to follow Jesus or not is one that is of utmost importance—and something we shouldn’t put off until later. If there is ever a time we are more aware of the importance of our relationship with God, it is standing at the grave of someone we love. It reminds us that trusting in Jesus is not merely an academic exercise, it is immensely practical and important. So I hope you will take the time today to ask yourself where you stand with God, and whether you are a follower of Jesus Christ, or whether you are going your own way in life.
I will miss Lil. I will miss her laugh, her playful spirit, and the twinkle in her eye. Yet I look forward to the day when I will be reunited with her in Heaven. Until that day, I think there are some things we can learn from her life.
- Hard work shouldn’t be feared, because there is satisfaction in a job well-done (and a freshly mopped floor)
- There are few things in life that are more important than family, so you should make time to show your family how much you love them
- It’s better to enjoy the things you do have rather than complaining about the things you lack
- It’s not nice (or wise) to stick out your tongue at other people
- If you continue to keep a playful spirit, you will never get old, no matter how many years you have lived
- You can have a tremendous impact on people just by making your home a place where others feel welcome
- Faith in Jesus is of ultimate importance, so we should make sure we know where we stand with Him.
It is hard to say goodbye to someone you love, and in the coming days, weeks, and even years, there will be times when the pain of loss will be great. But in those times, it is important to remember that we mourn because of our loss, not hers. And we should also remember that for the Christian, a funeral is not so much about goodbye as it is about “See you later.”
[Song # 3]
Will You Pray with Me?
Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for the life of Lil Anders and the privilege that we each had of knowing her. We thank you for the years that she lived and for the way that she impacted so many around her. Yet it is difficult to think about living without her in the future.
I pray that you would comfort this family as they grieve in the days, weeks, and months to come. Help them to treasure many of the fond memories they have of Lil, and to bring those memories to mind often. And remind them of the truth that this life is not all there is. Help them to cling to you, to follow you, and to one day see you (and Lil) face to face. For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen