We gather this afternoon as family and friends of Marcia Blythe to celebrate her life, to rejoice over her faith and her eternal blessing. . . and to comfort each other in this time of loss.
In Proverbs 31 we read this very appropriate tribute.
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 gets up before dawn to prepare a breakfast for her household . . She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night…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 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.”
Today we stand and call Marcia Blythe “blessed”.
WILL YOU PRAY with me?
Our Father, we bow before you. Today we affirm that there are things in life that we don’t understand. Marcia’s death is one of those things. Today we seek to rest in your wisdom and your love and trust there is much more to the picture than what we can see.
Today we ask for your help. Help us to deal with our grief. Help us to draw strength from each other. Help us to remember. Help us to hope in You.
We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Marcia Blythe was born January 7, 1926 in Media, Illinois, the daughter of Clarence and Myrtle James Kern. In 1943 she graduated from the Terre Haute High School and was Valedictorian of her class. She attended Gem City Business College in Quincy, IL.
On April 18, 1945 she married the love of her life, Lowell Blythe near Terre Haute, Illinois. Six children were born of this relationship.
Marcia was a member and past president of the D.A. R. and was currently serving as chaplain. She served in a number of different capacities while she was a member of the former Disco United Methodist Church. She was a member of the D.E. Club, the Union Church ofLaHarpe, where she was currently a member of the Church Council, and was active in the Kum-Join-Us Class of the Church.
She is survived by her husband,
Linda Comstock of Springfield Illinois
Donna Jo Lydy of Loveland, Ohio
Julie Jarvis of Mahomet, Illinois
and 3 sons
Gary Blythe and
Robert Blythe of LaHarpe
Brian Blythe of Miami, Florida
One sister, Dorothy Walker of Foley, Alabama
One brother Robert Kern of Burlington, Iowa.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
We’ll speak a great deal about the kind of person Marcia Blythe was . . . but I give the microphone first to a couple of the grandchildren . . .sometimes simple words convey the most compelling truth.
ODE TO GRANDMA AND GRANDPA
My Gramp and Gram are special as can be
to you I come ever so happily
My visits here are very worth my while
Without you I think I’d become senile!
I realize I don’t tell you guys enough,
I love you from the bottom of my heart.
You two have done so very much for me
I know you tend to think so differently
Near or far you’ve showered me with love
With open arms; peacefulness like a dove.
You two are great, to that no one denies
Anyone who opposes are speaking lies
No amount of words can describe how I feel about you two
My love for you I know will always be true blue.
Gretchen wrote this piece about her grandparents. You have to understand that it forms an acrostic that spells Grandparents.
G randparents are great
R really Geat
At their house they bake, bake, bake,
Nothing is bad
Do be glad
Plays with me so I won’t be sad
Always good to me
Really, really don’t you see
Especially at a party
Never say no,
The used to tickle my toe
So I guess I’m just a lucky Moe!!
My grandparents let me bake,
sometimes even cookies and cake
They help pick me up,
but more so when I’m in a rut
They let me clean the dishes
and make reality of my wishes
They give me all their love,
and let me feel what’s up above
For them, I like to do chores
Although I’m not that great at cleaning floors
They let me have sweets
and offer me goodies and other treats
They give me all their care
as if I were a cuddly bear
They are very proud of me,
so can’t you see . . .
I have Great Grandparents.
Marcia Blythe was an incredible lady. She wasn’t flashy, she didn’t desire the public spotlight . . but everywhere she went she changed people’s lives.
Marcia was a talented lady. She was a fabulous cook, a talented musician, a student of Gem City Business college, a keeper of the farm books, a skilled farm hand, a wise counselor, an active part of the church, and the finest wife, mother and grandmother.
Marcia Blythe had a wonderful relationship with her husband. She met Lowell on a bowling outing with the Terre Haute church. Marcia was only around 15 at the time but Lowell had found the girl he wanted to marry. Even when she went off to college in Quincy Lowell didn’t give up. It was surprising the kind of demand there was for Turkey eggs in Quincy. When Marcia went to Champaign to work Lowell couldn’t stand it, and asked her to be his wife. And over the years the two of them became partners and the best of friends. Later this month they would have been married 54 years.
They worked the farm together, they dressed turkeys together, they raised their children together, they served in the church together. But even with six children and busy lives they still made time to date. They made trips to Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Hawaii, Jamaicaand all over the continental United States.
At night the two of them would go to bed and just lay there and talk for an hour or so . . . they just enjoyed each other’s company. They knew what true love meant.
Marcia was a good manager. She had a seemingly superhuman ability to be able to balance several things at once. She could cook meals, (remembering everyone’s favorite dish), remember who was involved in what activity throughout the family, manage the farm books, serve on committees, and still have time to sit and talk with you as if she had nothing else to do. Marcia had the same hours in a day as everyone else . . . she just seemed to get more done during those hours.
In the Blythe household there had to be a lot of cooperation. There was only one bathroom so everyone had to take turns. And it seems that the only problem had something to do with the carcinogenic effects of Aqua Net.
Family meals had a simple rule: “Take what’s closest to you . . . and only take one!” Cooperation between the kids depended on a simple creed: “If you don’t tell, I won’t tell.” And family discipline often was prefaced with the words, “Wait until your father gets home!”
Everyone in the family was expected to try to play a musical instrument. And everyone was expected to pitch in around the house . . . whether it was setting eggs after Red Skelton on Tuesday night, folding laundry, cleaning up after dinner, or being a part of the canning production line . . everyone was involved. Marcia kept is all organized.
Many of the family activity centered around the Disco church. They worshiped there, went to Sunday School there and had most of their friends there. When the family moved to the Union Church we were richly blessed.
They had lots of family get-togethers. The holidays were spent together. They would often be oyster stew and chili with the family on Sunday evenings. And every fall there was a picnic at the Mississippi river with Marcia’s parents. These simple pleasures were cherished times (except for having to sit on laps while traveling).
Marcia was a wonderful cook. She made the best Turkey sandwiches, always seemed to have something fresh baked at every meal, and had a knack for substituting in a recipe so that it made it even better. She was such a good cook that the children always wanted to know what mom made when they went to a church pot-luck.
When the guys were working in the field she would send out five course meals to the men. It always included pie and ice cream (somehow). And when hired men were around at dinner time they were welcomed as a part of the family.
For Marcia, cooking wasn’t a job . . . it was a labor of love.
Marcia Blythe was a caring woman. She was always willing to take a second position to someone else. If someone wanted an extra piece of pie, she would give up hers. When they had chicken she would say, “That’s o.k., I wanted the wing anyway.”
Marcia sought to give people the benefit of the doubt. She looked for the best in others and usually saw what others overlooked. You wouldn’t hear Marcia talking negatively about anyone.
She welcomed the people her children grew to love with open arms. They became a “part of the family.” She loved them. Each Christmas she shopped with as much care for them, as for any of the other children.
She always stopped what she was doing to ask her kids about their day (whether little or grown) . . and continued that practice with her grandchildren. She was eager to take care of the grandkids for any reason . . even when they were sick. She was never too busy to read to one of the kids, or play a game (sometimes over and over), or listen to a story. She never felt she was wasting time when she was with a member of the family.
Marcia made the effort to get to all the kids’ activities: sports, music and special days. Even though many of her grandchildren were a long ways away, she made that effort to be part of those special times. She’d travel to be with her children and grandchildren at special times. She was there for the birth of babies, for graduations, for special birthdays. Holidays were special because they were spent with Grandma and Grandpa.
She shared in their lives but also let her children make their own decisions. She would tell them “Do whatever you think is best” and then would support whatever decision they made . . . even if she disagreed with you. She didn’t answer questions or solve problems that her children needed to solve on their own. She didn’t solve her kids problems, she taught them to solve them.
Marcia was an unselfish woman. Her thoughts were generally of others. In her time of sickness she always asked about my father. When you would visit with her she would always be concerned about your life and what was going on in it.
When the tornado ripped past their house, Marcia and Brian saw the tornado coming. Marcia’s first thought was not for her own safety . . . it was to notify as many people as she could. And while they huddled under the pool table in the basement her chief concern was for the rest of the family. When everything was over, Marcia was not primarily concerned about the power being out, or the damage that was done. . . she was concerned that the celebration for Bethany’s birthday not be dampened by what happened that day. She was always conscious of the needs of others.
Marcia was a faithful woman. Marcia grew up in the church. She trusted God and wanted Him to be first in her home. At Christmas you could count on thoughtful presents but also a birthday cake for Jesus.
Marcia was a great person to have on a church board. She was always positive. She was always willing to try something new. She didn’t say a lot, but what she said was worth listening to. She wasn’t interested in wielding power . . .just is lending a hand.
Marcia dealt with life as it came her way. She trusted God to do what was right and good. Even as she faced cancer she faced it head on. She did what needed to be done and when she had done all she could do, she rested in God’s hands.
As we look around today we see her legacy. We see it in her children and grandchildren. We see it in her church, in her friends.
I think Marcia taught us many things, here’s a list of some of the things I can see…
· that though there are many things we can do with our time, we will never go wrong by investing in people
· that we can often do more good by listening than by talking
· that a strong marriage is not an oxymoron
· that laughter lightens the heart
· that the person who doesn’t stop to complain can accomplish much more than those who do.
· that family should come first
· that life should be fun
· that life is more fun with cake or cookies
· that the difficult times are best met with a faithful heart
· that death need not be feared
· that a life well lived will be remembered forever.
But we are not here today just to spotlight the life of a remarkable woman. We are here to proclaim that though Marcia has died, yet she lives.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Many of us, when we heard that Marcia wasn’t doing well, prayed that God would make her better. I know I prayed with confidence and was sure He was going to restore her to health.
What do we conclude? Did God ignore our prayers? I guess it depends on what you consider “getting better” to mean. The Apostle Paul wrote, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” To Paul, death was not defeat, it was the doorway to the life he was longing for.
The apostle Paul tells us that there is life beyond the grave for everyone who believes. He says, when the earthly tent we live in (our bodies) is destroyed, we move to a eternal body that is not fashioned with human hands (it doesn’t have any blemishes or weaknesses.) And as we read through the Bible we see that this future existence is one free of pain, frustration, disappointment or sin. It is a place where wrongs are righted and tears are dried for good.
So, maybe, our prayers WERE answered. God did make Marcia well . . . He just healed her more than we were ready for.
Marcia Blythe understood that this life was only the prelude to a life that is to come. This is why Marcia didn’t worry about a lot of things. She believed God was working and trusted Him to do what is best. Marcia was not afraid of death because she knew that death was necessary in order to get to Heaven. She knew that her hope of Heaven was not anchored in her goodness . . . but in the work of Jesus Christ on her behalf. Marcia wasn’t afraid of dying, because she knew there was nothing to be afraid of. Her spiritual house was in order.
Don’t misunderstand. Marcia was not eager to die. She didn’t want to leave her family. There were still things she wanted to see and do. . . but God had called . . .and she trusted Him.
I would feel very safe in proclaiming that Marcia Blythe is in Heaven today. But as I do I hope you realize some things,
First, this is not just psycho-babble designed to make us feel better in our pain. This weekend we celebrate Easter. The Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our hope. Jesus showed that there was indeed life beyond the grave. We are not in denial to believe in Heaven . . . we are expressing confidence in the one who proved life beyond the grave – Jesus.
Second, Even though Marcia Blythe was an extraordinary woman . . .we do not believe she is in Heaven because of her goodness. Even the best of us are not good enough. Marcia is in Heaven because she placed her faith in Jesus Christ who died in her place. She is not in Heaven because of what she did . . . but because of what He did.
Finally, I hope you see that the life that Marcia enjoys today, is a life that is available to anyone who will trust Christ. When we consider how prepared Marcia was for eternity we must all ask ourselves: “are we ready?” Have we established our relationship with God? Are we trusting Jesus Christ or are we simply “hoping for the best?
Marcia Blythe taught us a number of things. And perhaps the greatest lesson was the last one . . . she taught us how to live and to die, holding the hand of Jesus. As a family, you did well by your mother. You walked with her in the difficult times. You stood by her. You walked her to the door of eternity. And when that door opened, waiting for her was the nail-scared hand of Jesus. And we can truly say, that though we miss her greatly . . . she is in good hands . . . the best hands. May the same be said of you.