Dear Judy: a tribute to a beloved friend

Judy always loved a live Christmas tree.
And she loved sharing what she loved with the people she loved.

Dear Judy, 
There are very few people who would open their homes to a young couple with their infant son, but you did that for us. Not that it was out of character, you'd welcomed a  young lady with three children before, even built the little boy a room of his own. I cannot express to you how much your love and open hospitality --even to the point of sharing your kitchen with me--means. From you I have learned that my life is not my own, that God rewards those who share, that cleaning your dishes before you go to bed really is worth the effort, that a dog can be a welcome friend, that giving is a blast, that sour cream and/or cream cheese make the best meals, and that Judy's house is always home.
Micah with Judy's dog: Sophie.
There's a small rocking chair in the baby's nursery. I will always remember what you told me about how it was the one thing your parents gave you, how they worked hard and there weren't many vacations, but that you knew they loved you. It is a visual reminder to me about what really counts in a child's life, and that it's not all about what money can buy. 
In loving memory

I cannot imagine the trial God is taking you through right now, and even though I have not communicated all that I wish I could have, I want you to know we've been praying for you, missing being with you, loving you. Being confident of your future hope, I am praying that God will give you the grace to keep on believing, to count even this as a joy if it means seeing your Savior soon, and that in the end there will be peace. You've worked so hard all your life. Rest is near. Give my little girl a hug and kiss for me. Talk to Jesus about us: pray that we'll be faithful here until He returns.
Sleep well. I will always think of you as a dear friend. Thank you for everything.
With love,

Judy went into the presence of her Savior this morning after a battle with breast cancer, a battle she'd actually won um-teen years ago. Ruth, a dear friend who stayed with Judy to the end, read my letter to her last night. Here is what she told me:
Michelle, I was able to read your email to Miss Judy last night before she passed. She was not able to communicate very well but she did squeeze my hand several times and I think I caught a very faint hint of a smile. I am so thankful that she is now free of pain.
My kids called her Aunt Judy. She was like family to us. Their prayer was that God would either do a miracle and heal her or that she would fall asleep and wake up in heaven. 
Miss Judy entered the presence of her heavenly Father this morning at 4:03. She went peacefully in her sleep. 
Please pray for those whom Judy touched--family members, neighbors, volleyball officials, shuffleboard friends, coworkers, as well as church family members. Many will be reflecting on Judy's life and testimony in the upcoming days and months. Pray that God will use the funeral as well as memories of her to draw souls to the same Savior she loved and lived for. For those who expect to see her again, pray that God will make our faith strong, our hope sure, and our lives a shining light like Judy's. 

With love, 

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