We have gathered this morning to mourn the loss and to remember and celebrate the life of Nancy Pennock. We do so seeking the comfort and perspective that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Bible Jesus said
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:15,26)
The Apostle Paul wrote,
55“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:55-58)
The Bible give us perspective hope and strength in our time of heartache. Let’s pray together.
Lord, Nancy was such a strong and vibrant person. It has been hard to see her grow weak. We are grateful that the struggle is over and that you have released her from the earthly burden. However, the sense of loss is deep. Today we ask you to give us perspective as we look back on Nancy’s life. Help us to see with perspective and faithfulness. Help us to focus on the blessing with hope that tempers the pain. Help us to find you today, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Nancy J. Pennock, 75, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, formerly of Anamosa, Iowa passed away Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 7:25 p.m. at her home.
She was born January 3, 1935 in Aledo, Illinois, the daughter of Elmo and Hazel Brown Osburn. On September 26, 1970 she married Herbert Pennock in Lomax, Illinois. He preceded her in death on September 28, 2000.
She was a graduate of the La Harpe High School. Over the years she worked at the Lomax Canning Factory, IRC in Burlington and as a waitress at Pat’s Tap in Dallas City and the Arion Restaurant in Burlington. She worked for Rockwell International in Cedar Rapids for 23 years, retiring in April 1995.
She is survived by one son, Kevin (Teresa) Thompson of Lomax, four daughters, Rhonda (Steve) Foley and Andrea Thompson all of Cedar Rapids, Melanie (Rick) Evans of Lomax and Leana (Karl) Yard of LaHarpe, 17 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, one step-daughter, Audrey Queen of Alexandria, Missouri, one step-son, Anthony Pennock of Fort Madison, Iowa, one sister, Vesta Carey and one niece, Charlette Hamilton both of Letts, Iowa.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, one granddaughter and one niece.
I was acquainted with Nancy but I cannot say that I “knew” her. It sounds like she was a woman who worked hard, loved life, valued people, cheered for the Hawk Eyes, and considered herself to be a blessed woman.
Nancy was a good student as she went through school. She had a number of spelling awards to prove it. She grew up in La Harpe and had many good friends. She started working early in her life and did whatever she could do. She was blessed with five children and two step children. She had children, step-children, grandchildren and step-grandchildren, children that were born in the family and children that married into the family. She never drew any distinction between them. They were all her family, she treated them equally and she considered herself richly blessed because of them.
Nancy was also blessed with friends that were like family to her. The Jacobs and Englebart families were people she relied on help. She enjoyed watching their families grow up. The kids called her Grandma and she thought of them like her Grandchildren.
When Nancy was divorced her children were young. For a while she worked several jobs trying to make ends meet to take care of her family. Meeting Herb was a wonderful blessing. They had a good life together and watching him die was one of the hardest things she ever had to do.
Nancy had struggles but she enjoyed the journey. She had a good sense of humor and was eager to give people a hard time. She enjoyed playing games (Pinochle, and Scrabble), she loved reading mysteries and watching mysteries on television. She enjoyed watching sports. She and Andrea enjoyed going to games at the University of Iowa. When Nancy was at a game she had no trouble being very vocal. Everyone learned that you were not to call or stop by while a game was on TV! Even the last day of her life she wanted to know what was going on at the girls’ basketball game.
Nancy loved parades and enjoyed taking the kids to the Park and the Pumpkin Fest in Anamosa. She liked pointing out the upside down bridge and the other sights in the park.
She loved her pets. She had her dog Sasha cremated and put her in an urn on the coffee table. She made lots of friends in Animal “Communities” on the Internet. When her friends heard she had cancer they sent her cards and gifts from all over the world. She enjoyed watching Dog Shows on television. She liked collecting Slag glass items.
Nancy enjoyed cooking (she liked making her rice pudding with raisins). And she liked to eat. She enjoyed Catfish, and liked to go to Red Lobster. She liked Puff Corn right up to the end.
She was proud of her son and other family members who served in the military. She was grateful when she was given the chance to keep in touch via email. She felt they were making a significant contribution to the world and was very proud.
Nancy could be stubborn. One thing was sure: she was always in charge. Because of this she never resigned herself to her cancer diagnosis. She wasn’t afraid to die but she wasn’t going to give up….it wasn’t her style. She pursued treatments aggressively. She refused to have people do something for her if she could do it for herself. She intended to put off being “bed-ridden” and remain independent al long as possible. (She ended up in bed for around an hour before she died). Did I mention she was a strong, independent, and faithful woman? Even when she knew the end was getting near she wasn’t going to get in bed until her Grandkids arrived. They all got there. She was then ready to go.
You can see the kind of person that Nancy was by the way her family rallied around her to take care of her. She loved her family and her family loved her. She felt she had lived a good life, and she had made her peace with God. She entered eternity the same way she lived her life: with confidence and with joy.
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 to God. He 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. Christmas reminds us that this life is not all there is. There is a God who loves us.
Sadly, Nancy Pennock was let down by the church. When she was hurting and needed support after her divorce, the church turned their back. The good news is that Nancy was able to distinguish between God and His people. People may have turned away from her, but God did not. Nancy never turned away from God. She was faithful in saying her rosary. She was interested in spiritual truth. She wanted to honor God. She believed.
We see not only her spirit but also her faith in the way she handled her cancer. Some people give up in such situations. Some get angry. Some fight death up to the very last second. Nancy didn’t do any of those things. She fought hard, kept a positive attitude, and when her body gave out on her, she rested in the arms of the One whom she trusted all her life.
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. (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. 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 Nancy believed because I never talked to her about these things. Truth is, she was a private woman in many respects and since faith is intensely personal she may not have talked about it. However, it seems to me that her life was lived sincerely for something more than what this life has to offer.
If this is the case, 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. Nancy is with Jesus. What was hidden is now clear. Her joy is pure. The peace is sweet. And for the first time – Nancy knows that she no longer needs to be in control; and she’s OK with it.
Teresa is going to read a fitting poem for us.
[Alan Jackson Song]
As we depart from this day I hope you will keep vivid pictures in your mind of Nancy. Think of her
- Whenever you see her favorite color: purple
- When you see a red Subaru,
- When you see a Murder Mystery on television
- When you see dog treats that look like chocolate chip cookies
- When you gather as a family to play a game
- When you see a Hawk Eye game
- When you see a pet cherished by its owner
- When you see someone who lives confidently in the midst of a trial
- And whenever you wonder if this life is all there is.
Remember Nancy and put your hope in the Lord.
Let’s pray together,
Father, you have deeply enriched our lives through the life of Nancy Pennock. Thank you for her spirit. Thank you for the family she raised. Thank you for the example she provided. Thank you for the people who brought such joy to her life. You have blessed us through her, and we give you thanks. Please welcome Nancy into the place that you have created for her through the work of your son, Jesus.
Help us to see beyond the mountain of death so we catch a glimpse of the beauty that stands on the other side. You have given us a way to know that life personally in Jesus Christ. Help this family to embrace you as lovingly and devotedly as they embraced Nancy. Help them to be as passionate about the next life as they are about this life.
Keep our memories sharp even as the years take their toll. Deepen our faith so that we might have an anchor in the time of trial. Lead, protect, and keep us until that day when we see Nancy again . . .in your house. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.