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“I Stand Amazed in the Presence”

The church was dim, with strings of white lights draped from the ceiling, chandeliers giving a warm glow. Vocal, guitar and violin music had been rich and sweet.

Bob stepped to the microphone to welcome us. “Dawna would be so pleased. While she is not with us in person she is here in spirit.” This grieving husband shared with us the unconditional love his wife gave him throughout their courtship and marriage. “Of the five love languages, Dawna had two–touch, and touch again.” If they were in an argument, Bob could always refocus the discussion by hugging her. Whether or not the argument was easily resolved, the touch reminded both of their love and commitment to each other.

Together, Dawna and Bob mentored young married couples, coordinated block parties, and participated in Bible studies. Dawna encouraged her children and their friends by filling closets with extra pillows and blankets for regular sleepovers, and bringing quesadillas on her car pool runs.  She volunteered in the classroom and the church nursery, where the babies she held were invariably calm. Dawna encouraged her two children to “choose each other as friends”; and their mutual love and affection were evident throughout the service.

Hannah and Ben both spoke with love, respect and depth of the mother who invested intentionally in their lives. When Ben wanted to try out for sports but was afraid, his mother said “You’re going, son. You’re loved. You can do this.”  These twenty-somethings who just lost their young-ish mother to cancer, spoke with wisdom, heart, and clarity about their faith in Jesus Christ, the One who carried Dawna throughout her life, her battle with cancer, and her death.

The following morning tears filled my eyes as we sang the words of this rich old hymn.

Hope Returns

 I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,and wonder how he could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.


How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

Dawna chose to live her life to the full–welcoming others into her life, family and home; giving “great hugs”; loving God and others. She lived well; she died well; and her legacy of faith and love will continue. I thought of Dawna’s transition into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the hope of all who put their trust in Him. We will one day join Dawna, and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, for all eternity. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I walked out of Dawna’s memorial lifted up with hope: the hope that Jesus brings because the end is only the beginning

What is the most uplifting memorial service you’ve attended? What made it hopeful?


  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    This is such a lovely tribute to your friend. I’m lifted up just reading it. And I’m reminded of how felt after Charles’ celebration of life. I missed my husband but I was so grateful to know he had gone to glory and all that Jesus promised.

    1. carolnl says:

      A memorial service is so different when we have the hope of glory ahead, isn’t it Karen. Charles’ celebration of life was also full of hope. Thanks for your comment.

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