For the last many months (Hellen) Lucille Rodeffer has been fighting one health battle after another. For the last three months she has been in the hospital. She fought those battles just like she lived her life: with faith, strength, determination, and grace.
Anyone you talk to will tell you that Lucille was one of those people you just had to like. She was interested in your life without being nosey, supportive without being insincere, and had a way of making you feel better about yourself and your circumstances.
Apparently, Lucille was this way all her life. She enjoyed her brothers and sisters and always used to kid about her hand-me-down clothes. Her fellow classmates respected her. She liked to be involved in activities but didn’t want to be out in front of people. In class plays she was more than happy to work back stage. She graduated as the Co-Salutatorian of her class and all she remembered about her speech was the fact that it was short.
She met Bud when they were still in high school. Lucille had to be “won over”. Bud was from Dallas City and Lucille wasn’t too sure she wanted to date a “Dallas City Boy”. After getting to know each other at the Traveler’s Inn they eventually decided to get married. They were married on July 8, 1944.
Lucille followed Bud as he served in the military for two years. They began the process of raising their family. Bud and Lucille’s five children were a handful over the years, but Lucille loved them more than life. The kids always knew they were in trouble when mom said, “I’m going to tell your Father!” They also knew that if they wanted to do something, their best bet was almost always to ask mom. If she said “yes” they wouldn’t have to ask dad.
Bud kept Lucille busy. He wanted “real” food for all his meals. In fact, Lucille never ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because Bud would have never eaten one. He might announce he was going to town in five minutes and it was up to Lucille to get herself and the kids ready in five minutes or be left behind. She put on many a pair of hose in the car! Bud always told Lucille that he would take her anywhere she wanted to go . . . as long as he was sleeping in his own bed at night! For the holidays Lucille never knew what she might get from Bud. One year she was given a manure spreader! Bud wasn’t a romantic, but Lucille loved him and took good care of him.
The fact is, Lucille loved to serve all her family. She usually cooked three big meals every day. She would cook a big breakfast, do the dishes, cook a big lunch, do the dishes, and then a big supper and then do the dishes. Lucille always had a feast on the table. She made variations of her dishes for the different tastes in the family. For example, she would make chicken, potatoes and macaroni and cheese, macaroni without the cheese, and macaroni with tomatoes. (Lucille didn’t eat macaroni or any pasta). Amazingly, her meals were always hotter at the end of the meal than most meals are at the beginning of the meal. Often the feast would be followed with her White Cake with white sauce and White cake with chocolate sauce or her graham cracker pie. She made everything from scratch (Although in honesty we should confess that she made Bud instant potatoes later in life . . . but she always hid the box!) Her rule for the children was simple: it’s OK if you don’t like something, but you did have to try it before reaching that conclusion! And there was no laughing at the dinner table!
Everyone knew if you went to Rodeffer’s you were going to eat well. Among others Rich Hensley and Roger Kerfoot were always willing to help out at the Rodeffer farm because they knew a meal was included. Lucille’s children and grandchildren knew they could stop by Grandma’s anytime and she would make them her special pancakes and homemade syrup or anything else they wanted. If she knew you liked something, (chips and homemade dip, olives, cookies) she would always have your favorites on hand.
Lucille made many of the clothes she and the kids wore. She made all the Grand-daughter dolls. She did some crocheting and made one quilt. She also found time to work outside the home. She sold Avon for years. Many people remember the Avon lady who would pull up to their home in her Rambler Convertible and visit with the family. She was the representative for the entire LaHarpe area. She owned the Tastee Freeze for two years and also had worked at the Disco Elevator. In each job she made it a point to get home to fix lunch for Bud and the kids. In fact, rumor has it, that they bought the Tastee Freeze just so Terry wouldn’t have to eat lunch in the school cafeteria! No matter what she did, she was always home for the kids.
To Lucille, family was her life. She and Bud went to all the ballgames the kids played in. She loved to hear what the kids, grand-kids and great-grandchildren were doing. She always had time for you, never forgot a birthday, and she always seemed to be tuned in to your heart. When a family member was hurting, she was hurting with them. When they were celebrating, she was celebrating as well. Her family knew they could come to her and talk to her about anything. She was always upbeat and never seemed to have a bad day.
Lucille was always glad to see her kids and grandkids and they were always glad to see her. Maybe that is because she was such a good listener. She loved playing Skip-Bo and having a good time. She enjoyed the Mondays at Aurelio’s and the Fridays at Hotel Nauvoo. She enjoyed her trips to Florida and loved traveling to watch Matt play ball. Last year she had a great time on her trip to Colorado. Lucille just loved life.
You can’t think of her without remembering her giggle of a laugh. It didn’t take much to get her laughing. She had a sharp wit and didn’t miss much. Even in the hospital she still was giving people a hard time and enjoying the hard time she got back in return. Lucille never seemed to get mad; she was kind, good, gracious and loving. We’ll always think of her when we hear someone say, “Well Forever More!” or “My Land!” or hear someone tell us, “The grass always seems greener on the other side, but it generally is not.”
Lucille always thought of others before herself. Even while in the hospital she was still asking about the needs of others. She was concerned that she hadn’t called people, or hadn’t sent a birthday card. She had always put Bud’s needs above her own. She knew she had sleep apnea but never did anything about it because it was more important to care for Bud. Consequently she spent much of her life tired. She might fall asleep in the middle of a sentence . . . and might finish the sentence when she woke up!
Lucille was a faithful woman. Her faith mattered to her and she wanted it to matter to her children. Even after Bud stopped going to church, Lucille continued to attend the Durham United Methodist Church. When they moved to LaHarpe, Lucille started attending and later joined the Union Church. She enjoyed the times when she sat in church next to her children and Grandchildren.
Lucille Rodeffer was a grand woman. She was affectionately called the “matriarch of the family” because she was the rock that kept everyone together. We will miss her greatly.
In 1 Peter 1:3-9 we read these words,
3 All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. 4 For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. 6 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. 7These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So, if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. [1 Peter 1:3-7 NLT]
From these words I want you to notice several things. Peter talks about our “living hope” or “wonderful expectation”. When we lose someone we love, it is easy to feel that life is empty and meaningless. However, the message of the Bible is that death is not the end of life for those who put their faith and confidence in Christ. According to the Bible, those who rely on Christ (rather than themselves or their good deeds) are made new creatures who will live even though they die.
I believe Lucille Rodeffer was a follower of Jesus. Lucille was open about her trust in God. How many times in these last months did she say, “I’m in God’s hands”. She was eager to grow in her faith. She revealed that faith by the way she treated others, the way she cared for Bud, by her Bible reading, her involvement in Bible Study, her commitment to worship (either in person or on tape), and her desire to be obedient. A little over a year ago (November of 2002) Lucille wanted to be baptized. She knew baptism doesn’t get you into Heaven. However, she also knew that the Lord called us to declare our faith through the symbol of baptism. Consequently, it was important to her even at 76 years old, to be baptized. She was eager to do what she believed God wanted her to do.
Peter told us that our hope is anchored to the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. The resurrection verifies that the truth of Christianity is not just something made up to make us feel better . . . it is based on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection proves that Jesus was more than just a nice guy who wanted to be good to people. He was more than a moral teacher. He was God in human form. When he died on the cross He was paying for the sin of everyone who would believe. The resurrection proved that the death of Jesus was sufficient. The resurrection proves that there is life beyond the grave. This is our basis for confidence and hope today.
We are all saddened that Lucille did not have more time to do all those things she had wanted to do. She wanted to travel, she wanted to see the Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren in their various activities, and she wanted to get more involved in the church. There is a part of us that feels she was cheated. Peter however reminds us that the inheritance that we receive in Heaven is an inheritance that is far superior to anything the world can offer us. It is an inheritance that does not fade, spoil or diminish over time. We must remember today that Lucille DID get better when she died. She was freed from the pain, tears, and all her physical limitations. She has received what is better than anything this life has to offer. Though we ache . . . she does not. Though we mourn, she rejoices.
But, why did she have to spend the three months of suffering in the hospital? Why go through all of that only to die? Peter tells us that God allows suffering so that faith may be proved genuine. It is easy to say we believe. Faith is proved genuine in the hard times. Lucille proved the genuineness of her faith during the hard times. She trusted, she endured and she did it all with a loving heart and a warm sense of humor.
Last week Lucille and I were in her room alone. I asked her if she ever wished she could die. She confessed that at times she did. She was tired of the struggle, tired of being in bed, tired of seeming to take two steps backward for every step forward. But in the midst of her struggle she was willing to keep pushing forward. She refused to give in to discouragement. She was going to keep going until she reached the finish line. And that’s just what she did.
Let me add something else. During this time of struggle it was not only Lucille’s faith that was proved genuine. Your faith, the faith of her family was proved genuine as well. You remained faithful even though things were frustrating. Instead of cursing God, you trusted Him. You supported your mother very well. She was grateful for your love and appreciated the strength you gave to her. Every time I visited her she talked about how blessed she felt by the family she had been given. Your mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma loved you very much. It is a rare thing to have someone who can teach you how to die. That’s what you mother and Grandmother did.
Lucille has now received the goal of her faith. She is now with Jesus. She sees, she understands, and she rejoices. She has been reunited with those believers who have gone before her. She enjoys a family reunion more extensive and joyful than any she has experienced in this life. The journey is over and the victory is won.
Today I encourage you to do two things. First, I encourage you to focus on what Lucille has gained rather than dwelling on what you have lost. Share your stories. Learn the lessons off her life and example and let Lucille’s death make you more eager for Heaven rather than making you bitter on earth.
Second, I encourage you to make sure that your faith is genuine and your hope is sure. It’s not a popular message, but it is the truth: not everyone goes to Heaven. No one is “good enough” to earn Heaven. We gain eternal life when we are willing to humbly receive the gift of forgiveness and new life that Jesus offers us. “Saving Faith” is a willingness to put all your hope and confidence in Christ. In other words, you must be willing, to bet your life on Him. If you are willing to do this, you too will be given a living hope. You will have an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade. And you will see Lucille Rodeffer once again.
Until that day, let’s hang on to some of the things she taught us,
- There is something good to say about everybody
- Cooking food is a good way to show love
- You should always take your purse with you
- A sense of humor can get you through even the toughest times
- Family is to be cherished no matter what the family is going through
- You are never too old to stop learning
- A nap is good anytime.
- Sometimes the best advice is a listening ear
- A dress is the appropriate attire anywhere . . . including the beach!
- If you live your life concerned about others . . . your life will be filled with joy.
Please pray with me,
Our Father we thank you for the life of Lucille Rodeffer. Thank you for the blessing you gave to us through her. Help us to learn the lessons she taught us and to follow her example of character and grace.
We thank you today also for Jesus. Thank you for the forgiveness, new life, and sure hope that is ours because of our Savior’s death and resurrection. We thank you for your mercy and your grace. Help us to trust you and to follow you. Create within us a sincere faith.
Now, O Lord, I ask you to comfort and sustain this family. Help them in their time of sadness. Fill their hearts with expectation and hope. Help them with the many things that will need to be done over the next months. Help them to stand together. Deepen their faith, steady their feet, and help them to carry on the rich heritage that has been entrusted to them. I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our savior and Lord. Amen.