My beautiful Aunt has gone to be with her Savior. The thought of her being face to face with Jesus makes my heart smile in ways that I cannot even express. Knowing she is free from the body that bound her, free from the pain and suffering of this world, free to be who she was made to be is more awesome than I can even imagine.
The family spent the last week at her side, loving on her, rubbing her back, stroking her hair, reading to her, singing to her, trying to make her comfortable. And on Sunday (her favorite day) March 29, 2009 she slipped into the arms of Jesus. What a bold and courageous woman she was, a light to the world around her. She loved Jesus with all her heart and truly depended on Him for everything….what an example she was to me and all those who knew her.
As a tribute to her, I want to share my testimony. Because she was the tool God used to draw my heart completely to Him.
I grew up in a wonderful home with two very loving parents. Both my parents grew up in church but as life often does, it pulled them away. We occasionally went to church on Sunday, and Easter and Christmas Eve. And even though Christ was not taught in my home, I have to say that I was always drawn to “Christian” things. I had a need for Christ that I didn’t understand but searched for none-the-less. In high school, I would attend youth group at our church, even though my family was not going regularly. I tried Young Life and Navigators. My heart was searching for a relationship, but my flesh was just looking for fun. When I look back, I realize that it was only the hand of God on my life that kept me from a really bad path. If you had asked me then if I was a Christian, I would have told you that “yes, of course. I believed in God and Jesus! ” I didn’t understand the difference in just believing in God and having a relationship with Christ.
My Aunt really began to focus on my family while I was in HS. She lived in another state and would send books and tapes and tracks in an attempt to bring my father to Christ, my mom was already a believer. My brother and I jokingly called her “the Jesus Freak” of the family. I think all the things she sent went in a box somewhere, I don’t know, I certainly didn’t read or listen to any of them. When I graduated HS, my mom made a quilt for me. She had each of my friends and family make a square and she then had it quilted all together. When I was presented with it, I immediately saw my Aunt’s square, right in the middle, with scripture embroidered on it. My thought? “that is just like her!” I was embarrassed by it.
My first few years in college were very fun and wild. I was away from home for the first time and thoroughly enjoying the freedom. My freshman year, my parents flew me to my grandparents in Waco, TX for Thanksgiving. Because of weather, I got stuck in Dallas and I couldn’t get to Waco until later in the week. That landed me at my Aunt’s house. What a wonderful time I had with her!!! We laughed and talked and I found that we were actually very much alike. It was really the first time I had spent any quality time with her.
Fast forward to my junior year. I was home for the Christmas break and my parents and I were headed to our cabin in northern Arizona. My mom and dad cautiously approached me and said they wanted to listen to a tape Aunt Mary Nelle had sent them….it was The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay. I begrudgingly said “that’s fine, but just keep it tuned to the front” As we drove, the tape captured my attention. Pretty soon I was asking them to turn it up. Then asking them to turn the CB radio off so I could hear better. At the end of the tape, Hal Lindsay presented the gospel message and I was shocked!! I was NOT a Christian. I had never asked Jesus Christ to be my savior, or asked Him to forgive my sins. He went on to lead us in prayer and right there in the back seat of the car, I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and be my savior. Unbeknownst to me, in the front seat, so did my dad!!! We were both so into our own little worlds, we would not find this out until a couple of years later when I was being baptized. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
However, after Christmas, I went back to school, and my old life. I didn’t have any friends who were believers, I had no idea what to do next. So, I quietly read my bible at night in the privacy of my own room and kept the same lifestyle during the day. I never told anyone.
After I graduated, my Aunt invited me to live with her until I found a job in Dallas. Dallas was the place to go in the 80s and so I accepted. God certainly knew what he was doing when he placed me there!!! I lived with my Aunt for 6 months until I got up on my feet. In that time, she took me to her church. She and her friends always looked for me and saved me a seat. When they went out on Fridays, they always included me. She encouraged me to go to the Young Singles Class (where I would eventually meet my husband) and she also got me involved with Bible Study Fellowship. Oh,the growth that came during this time. I soaked it all in. Even after I moved out into my own apartment, we spent a lot of time together. Whenever I had problems, my Aunt always directed me to the source of my answers…God. She was my prayer warrior and I know, without a doubt, she prayed for me everyday.
There is so much more I would love to share with you about my Aunt. She was beautiful inside and out. She was one of the most godly women I know. She would literally give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. And she trusted God with everything.
Thank you, Aunt Mary Nelle, for being obedient to God. For allowing Him to use you in my life, in so many ways, and for being such an amazing example for me.
How blessed I am to have had her in my life. What an immeasurable treasure. I will miss her so much.
But what great joy I will have when I see her again in Heaven!