In Memory of My Mom
Bonnie K. Slagenweit
January 20, 1955 - November 3, 2011
"Sad thoughts about earth - the divorce, death, disease, or disability - those things, those memories just won't happen in Heaven. Bad memories are going to be erased just like the stars are mitigated by the rising sun, because something so dazzling, so grand, and glorious, and brilliant, and bright is going to happen up there that it's going to eclipse every dark memory. And we won't forget so much as we will have no more need to remember discouraging times." Joni Eareckson Tada
Today we are celebrating the life and honoring the memory of the woman we are blessed to call “mom”. In the 56 years that God gave her, she influenced all who knew her for good.
In those early years, Mom poured her life into molding, training, and educating us how to live for God. She did that primarily by example. The people we have become is largely a result of her labor and prayers. She was committed to her marriage and to us which gave us a sense of stability and belonging. Her tenderness and gentle spirit soothed many a childhood heartache. When we were little, she took time to read to us before nap-time, play hide and go seek, take care of splinters and listen to our dreams. During our junior high years she tackled homeschooling long before it was popular so that she could give us a solid education. As we grew older Mom somehow knew how to balance giving us responsibility while being a constant support, helping us navigate those fun but challenging “teen” years. Listening when our dreams got smashed, laughing at the things that were funny and sometimes the things that were not funny and being someone to lean on came naturally to her. It was during that time we became aware that our mom had become our best friend.
Mom will be remembered for many things but perhaps the common thread that ties our memories together was her genuine love for others that exhibited itself through an unquenchable servant heart. Her giving heart and sacrificial service extended far beyond just our home. The number of meals, pots of vegetable soup and pans of sticky buns that left her kitchen bound for other destinations are innumerable. The hours she spent on the phone listening to other’s hurts, the number of people who confided in her and wanted her advice, and their secrets that she carried with her will only be known in eternity. We shared our mother with many of our friends through the years and she treated them like family.
It may be that the most important lessons she taught us were since that day she had a stroke almost 15 years ago when it became clear that the path God had chosen for her was going to involve challenges that most people aren’t asked to face. Instead of asking “why”, or becoming bitter, we watched her surrender to God’s will knowing that it would test her inner strength beyond human endurance. As we watched her learn how to use a fork and spoon again and comb her hair and accept the fact that there were some things she would never be able to do again, we watched a strength emerge that would carry her through many a setback and disappointment. We learned from her what it’s like to cling to the truth about God’s character through very dark days and watched her find grace from God that defies human explanation. As the disease did its work of robbing her body of strength and vitality the inward beauty and character she possessed shined all the brighter. And we thanked God for allowing us the privilege of watching Him make a spiritual giant who would quietly impact everyone she came in contact with. She became a spiritual hero and our hearts echo the songwriter who said,
"We got the news this morning that you had slipped away
And it seemed our hearts were broken, it couldn’t end this way,
But then we saw through Spirit eyes what an entrance you must have made
Running to the arms of Jesus, finally home to stay.
You were a hero of the faith, a soldier of the cross,
Singing out the grand old story
Jesus saves the lost
And even though you’ve laid your armor down and passed the torch
You are our hero of the faith, strong soldier of the cross."Thank you God for giving us a hero.
Written by Marianne, Jennifer, David, and Jonathan for her funeral.