On Friday, our family friend, Barbara “Barb” Jennings went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She was 74. She was a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, and loved her Michigan Wolverines. She was affectionately called Grandma Go Blue by her grandkids Zeke, Ethne, and Eydie Waters. She was an amazing woman.
We met Barb and her husband, Al, though their daughter and son-in-law, our good friends, Adam and Corrie Waters. I remember meeting them during one of their visits from Michigan before they relocated to Champaign, Illinois a couple of years back. In that initial meeting, I remember Barb treating us (my wife, my daughter, and me) like family even though we had just met them.
Three things really stand out to me when I think about Barb.
First, she loved her family. She and Al were married for 56 years. They had 4 children and many, many grandchildren, all of whom she loved dearly. Some of the most precious pictures I’ve seen of Barb are with her family like the one below.
Second, she loved her God and was a fierce prayer warrior. I remember Corrie sharing stories of her mom praying for her, her siblings, or her children at different times in their lives, and the impact that it had on them.
Third, she was a servant. Even with all of the hip or back pain that she was in, I can’t remember a time where she and Al weren’t serving at church. Whether it was handing out programs before the Saturday night service, or selling bagels and donuts on Sunday morning (like in the photo below), or helping cook and serve meals at Discover or some other mid-week event at church, Barb served with a welcoming smile on her face. She wouldn’t let anything deter her from serving people.
That was her heart: loving and serving people, no matter what. That is her legacy, and we should aspire to serve others with the same heart that Barb did.
It’s sad. Sad because a stroke came on suddenly without warning. Sad because so many people adored her and will miss her.
Yet, in the midst of the sadness and the grief, there is hope and there is joy because, as her daughter Corrie puts it, “She is dancing with Jesus.” We rejoice in that. We draw comfort from that.
To her children and grandchildren:
I extend to you my deepest sympathies on the loss of your mom and grandma. As you grieve, draw near to the same Jesus whom she loved so much. May you find in Him the same joy, peace, and comfort that she did.
To my friend Al:
Words cannot express my feelings on the loss of your wife, friend, and soul-mate. My condolences, my sympathies, and I’m sorry just don’t seem adequate enough. We love you very much. I grieve with you. I mourn with you. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
To all of the friends and family of Barb:
May Jesus be your source of comfort, peace, hope, and love as you go through the grieving process. May you be drawn near to Him. May His love overflow in and around you. May He turn your mourning into dancing and your sorrow into joy. May He give you peace.
Good bye, Barb. Enjoy dancing with Jesus. We’ll see you again some day.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling place of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every team from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”