Monday, June 7, 2010

A New Journey...On His Way

Marvin Leroy Knipfer
January 30, 1935 - June 7, 2010

I am happy for our dearest friend, Marv Knipfer, today…he went to be with his Father and has by now, probably had every unanswered question answered – or really, did he even care once he got to heaven? Marv was quite sure all our questions would no longer matter once we got there.

A while ago he shared a dream he had had with a vision of heaven…and right now his soul and spirit are living in that dream, I picture him looking down from on high to a waterfall below – Jesus is showing him around (guessing that the figure in Marv’s dream was He) – in the valley below flowers are blooming and there are countless people for as far as one could see. Today is the day he “woke up the happiest man alive” (Marv’s words), he had always wanted to die in his sleep.

Since Good Friday Marv has had a remarkable comeback- due in large part, we are sure, to the prayers of everyone who has been Marv’s prayer warrior. We THANK YOU for your prayers on his behalf.

The Lord blessed he and Carol with quality time as they resumed their walks almost daily, resumed attending worship services, and he became quite sharp in his conversation again, with a few not so good days here and there as expected. We too, were blessed – to be able to visit with Marv again and have him worship beside us. On Saturday Marv came down with what seemed flu-like, yet strangely different - now I realize it was probably his body shutting down.

Carol had said Marv did not really wake up this morning. She called Dr. J who came over to the house. His vitals were taken and Dr. J figured that sometime during the night Marv had had a massive heart attack. Marv had told his doctor a long time ago that when the time came he wanted to be told. Well, while Dr. J was there Marv came to, just long enough for Dr. J to tell him it was time. Carol got in one last hug and Marv took his last breath.

“But God will redeem my life from the grave, He will surely take me to himself.” Psalm 49:15

Our own family shared some time tonight to talk about Marv, share a favorite story, reminisce. Abby took the news the best. The "best" meaning she had a moment of sadness, but took her dad's words to heart when he said we should celebrate Marv's life. We have a little Monarch caterpillar in a container munching on milkweed, Abby went over to check him out and announced that he was up on his hind legs "cheering for Marv!" Our little girl is such a happy spirit... nothing seems to get her down for long!

I almost hestitated to tell the kids tonight as Kyle is quite nervous about having to give a presentation on water ecology tomorrow in front of his entire class block, I figured this news would not help. For sure I did not want Kyle to hear the news from someone else, plus his mom is a little weird with the red eyes tonight. (LOL) Kids are pretty smart. His class bowls Friday and he has been looking forward to that, but he really wants to attend the funeral as well. I don't figure the timing is going to work out for that, and he will have to choose. I know that Marv doesn't even want a funeral - it is a LIFE CELEBRATION. It would be good for Kyle to hear that...that we celebrate the live of a believer who has gone to be with his Lord. Please say a prayer for our son - he has never ever liked to be up in front of people. Marv will be looking down upon him, I am sure.

I have so many fond memories of Marv - and I will never forget the road trip he and I took to the Twin Cities to be trained to lead an Alpha course at our church. He shared so much about his past, his faith journey, and confident of the journey ahead as we were to lead others to Christ. Together we came up with some pretty hot ideas to light the Spirit under the seats of our congregation...but alas, our pastor told us the congregation was not ready for the two of us. (Imagine, we were not allowed to use that paper magicians use to create a quick little fire up on the altar as a visual for a talk...hmmmm, wonder why?) We were quite a team when it came to planning our little worship service called Inspiritus! He was my mentor, my "Eeyore" - had to get on his case when he put on that hat, my encourager, and my friend. Dang, I am going to miss that man, and while I shed a tear or several, he is wondering "what the heck girl, I am having a great time dancing up here!"

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Does One Let Go??

This time must be so very heart wrenching for Marv, I cannot imagine.
I talked with Carol today and each phone call Marv has with his children breaks his heart. It may be the last - one never knows. They cry, he totally knocks him out afterward. He is soooo very tired.

Can Marv feel God holding on? I know that Jesus never lets go - even through the storms. What a storm Marv is riding. God calling him home, but that bit of fight, that tearing of his heart that makes him want to stay with his children.

Carol has been such a testimony of faith. I know she is strong in front of Marv. He is alright with leaving her - together they are at peace. Yet, I can imagine Carol pulling over as she runs out for an errand to have a good cry. I sure would be! And do...even though I know God has glorious plans for all of us to be together again, I still mourn, and have a good cry when I am alone. I gave Carol a hug good-bye today...not sure if a hug would set her off, it's such a touch and go situation. But I wanted her to know I am there for her, too, and not just Marv.

I will never forget the Sunday, months ago, when we sang, "You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman. I witnessed Marv and Carol gripping each other's hand out of the corner of my eye. And they sang with strengthend voices, taking the words of the song to hear. Are you familiar? Here you go...

YOU NEVER LET GO by Matt Redman
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back
I know you are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You
(Chorus 2x's)

Please continue to lift up Marv and his family. I feel in my heart, and today - I sensed it in Carol, that Marv's earthly journey is almost done. Carol said that Marv told her the number 7 kept popping into his head today. She said, "that's biblical". If I recall my teaching from Pastor Rod correctly, the number 7 is in reference to "being made complete". If that is true, then I clearly sense a divine message being sent.

Despite all we are going through, we always need to remember that God is good, and He never lets go of us. Even when we are angry at Him, depressed, feeling hurt, or extremely ill. When we are down-hearted, weary, and feel we cannot go another day...God picks us up and gets us through.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zapped, Depleted, Void of Energy

Another update on Marv is warranted today. I talked with Carol, Marv's wife this morning. He is totally zapped. Mentally and spiritually stripped down - like a big vacuum came in and sucked out all his energy. The hospice chaplain was in yesterday...and that is his diagnosis after being with Marv. Phones have been shut off, and a sign on their door (which was previously open to all) states no visitors unless by appointment, and limited to 15 min.

In talking with Carol I was reminded of this story:
Matthew 5
21When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" 31"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' " 32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Jesus' power was zapped, did you catch that? Even our Almighty was drained in his ministry of healing the spiritually and physically unhealthy. Marv has been seeing a stream of visitors, despite being fatigued. It is his nature to help others, his desire for others to discover God's grace and be redeemed - despite the costs of his own well-being. Each visit drained him of energy. But Jesus, besides being Jesus, spent every early morning ALONE and in prayer with his Father in heaven - His energy was renewed.

We haven't had a visit with Marv since his 75th birthday in January, and although it has been hard, we know how important his energy level is.
A "check-in" phone call mid-week, and a quick hug before and after church had to do, he could handle no more. Marv needs...alone time, to be with his heavenly Father. He needs to hear God whispering his name, the Spirit breathing inside him - the ruack that gives life. Marv needs his space, and with all that he has done for so many, we owe that to him, as difficult as it may be to stay away. Quiet time allows God to renew, we know that for certain.

I don't know whether to ask for prayer for his extreme fatigue and energy renewal, or for God to be merciful and take his beloved son Home. Please pray for Carol, and heck, my family too. This is a hard day. I strongly feel there is power in numbers, and ask that you please lift Marv up. Thanks so VERY much.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Overdue - Mondays With Marv Update

It's been awhile since I have posted. I will be the first to say, the process of dying confuses me. One week I get the feeling we are going to lose Marv any day, and then I see him and think, "wow, he is looking better" and he says he is feeling better and starting to eat again, thanks to some new meds...and it seems like he could go on indefinitely...or at least much longer than what it had seemed. Confused? I know I am.

Monday's with Marv officially ended three weeks ago. We did not meet January 18th, and come the 25th Marv confessed he was too tired to continue meeting. Our bible study is not until 4:30 in the afternoon, and although I know my great boss would let me out any time of the day to meet with Marv, Jesse cannot get out of work, and drive back to town mid-morning. How sad. Marv did say that we were the last activity he was hanging on to. I am sure going to miss our Monday evenings with this man!!

Sundays are short greetings, hugs and good-byes. Marv is still making to to church, but it is an effort. As of Feb. 14 we switched worship venues - to the worship service location at Blackhawk that is nearest, A. the restroom, and B. the nurses station. Carol wants to make she if Marv passes out or worse, we have a short distance to the cot in the nurses station where she can call hospice. We've gone from the main venue, 3rd row what I call the "rock n' roll" venue, back row. Actually the energetic music is great and there is no way Marv can nod off during the music. (LOL)

I did create a layout of Marv and myself. Hidden journaling spills my guts of how I am feeling through this time, the confusion, the wishes, the heart. Scrapbooking is indeed good therapy. I highly recommend it if you are going through a similar situation.

God's peace to you all. I suppose Monday's With Marv is no more so technically this series has come to a halt. But our trust and hope in God will never be halted - we go forth knowing a better world is to come.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Big God...little details..breathe...

This post is not so much about meeting with Marv and Carol on Monday night, although we did have a great study about the living Spirit within us. We talked about going to God, not in prayer, not with words, but in we can hear God breathe on us...hear Him whisper... When is the last time you did that? Stop. Find a place of solitude. A quiet place...listen to God?

Well, maybe this post is about our discussion afterall, because I realize as the words above came...I was in God's solitude this morning, freezing my toes off in 10 below weather to capture the little details that our great, big God gives us. It was quiet (until 3 snowmobilers zipped past), the ducks were bathing in freezing water and taking in a "warm" steam mist sauna at the same time...but the world was covered in I knew it would be with the previous night's fog thick above the creek.

How about a little tour through God's winter wonderland, in the warmth of your home? Just as God spoke the world into being He continues to speak to us, if we stop, and listen.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good...

All these little details. Creation. God's gift to us. He breathed in us, created us. He breathed our world into life. God's gift to us. Enjoy it, for Him and for you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Letting Go and Letting God...

Mondays With Marv

It's hard, isn't it? Especially for a take charge person like myself. If I were in charge I would keep our friend Marv here on earth. I would pray away the cancer. I would keep asking God for a miracle. I "long for" or "crave" that kind of miracle, and have been reminding God what an awesome display of His mighty power that would hear the words, "cancer free." To everyone who has paid Marv a "last visit" they would be so amazed at such news! Oh how God must be laughing at me when He hears such thoughts from my head.

Probably more often than not, what we crave is not what God would have for us. He doesn't need to miraculously cure Marv to prove His awesome power. In Marv's preparedness and readiness for his death, his unswerving faith is plenty of witness to God's awesome power.

For those of you praying for Marv - he would like the prayer changed. No more prayers for Marv to be able to eat and keep it down, please. I will confess right here and right now that this has been my prayer for purely selfish reasons. Afterall, if the body is fed it will be nourished and remain alive. We will continue our bible studies, and continue our worship together. Life will remain as we know it.

Marv realized today, after talking with the Hospice folks, that he has been wrestling with God. His body wants to stop eating - God is calling him Home. He has been forcing himself to eat, and the Hospice nurse reminded him that he needs to listen to his body. His body is DONE feeding the cancer, and keeping IT alive.

When Marv shared this today I made a comment that he was like Jacob wrestling God in the river. At once he and Carol looked at one another, each making a connection that perhaps this is why Marv's hip has been hurting (for no obvious reason) for these past few weeks.

Genesis 32:22-40 reads:
Jacob Wrestles With God
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.

I think Marv felt he needed to get past Christmas - for all our sakes. (Heck, that would have put a huge damper on things to have him die at Christmas time.) For the past several Monday evening bible studies Marv has expressed his eagerness to be with His Jesus. Yet, when it came time to pray we did not pray, "Lord, Marv is excited to be with you soon in heaven - please honor that eagerness." Instead we prayed for Marv's stomach to be able to tolerate food, for energy, etc.

Marv would like prayers for HIS OWN ability to let go. To stop wrestling with God, to stop feeding the cancer and his body. I am sure it takes more strength to stop eating, knowing it is going to lead to death, than it does to eat, not because you are hungry, but because you know it keeps the body going.

Carol and I spent some time alone today while I helped her shop for a laptop so they could Skype (phone video) with their grandson in the military, and Marv's daughter in Oklahoma. I was concerned about how she might feel deep inside. She could be angry at God for giving her and Marv only 13 years together...but she is not. I am certain she has praised God for every moment they have spent together. She knows, and said, "it is time."

Marv is ready to be called Home - tonight he said at our bible study, "Give up, give up, give up - I need to let God be in control." He wants to crave not food that will keep him alive, but instead crave the unending joy of being in God's holy presence.

Marv does NOT like sitting in his chair all day feeling "blah". Not in pain, but simply "blah", while waiting for something to happen. Perhaps God is not completely done with Marv yet, as he has two unexpected visits coming up with people who need/want to talk with him. Perhaps they will witness firsthand Marv's strong faith in the face of death, and it will help them with their own faith journey. This is where I feel God's awesome power will be revealed, not in a miraculous cure, but in the power of steadfast faith.

Tonight, I am letting go. I am finished. I've pushed myself and have completed what I felt I needed to do. The book I so badly wanted to get done for Marv is complete. In fact, they decided on Saturday that they did not want a multitude of family pictures, or pictures of Marv doing this and that in a Powerpoint presentation. It is too complicated with their family situation. Marv does not want his funeral to be all about him. Of course it will be a celebration of his life, but more importantly, he wants it to be about giving praise to God. They've requested that the book I made, inspired by God, be made into a Powerpoint presentation. It's a "wow" request, it's a simple book, and it is an amazing honor to do this for my friend. Tonight, I assembled the images into a presentation. Finished. Ready.

That's it - 21 slides containing scripture and verses from a poem. A repetitive image of not Marv, but the "essence of Marv"...a worn straw hat, a worn bible, a cross, a trowel laden with dried concrete, and three nails...nails to represent the Savior who died, so that each of us would be given the gift of GRACE. Nails that remind us that Jesus, too, experienced suffering. Nails to remind us that our burdens, our dark pasts, our worries and our troubles - can be nailed to that cross. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

This blog post begins with the last page of the book, "Oh Man of Simple Faith". It speaks of the hope that Marv has in eternal salvation. I want to close this posting with words Marv spoke tonight, words that really struck a cord with me. Words that made me realize I need to let go... Marv said, "If I died tonight I'd wake up as a happier man." Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Update

I know I did not post last week, but we have been meeting with Marv on Monday evenings.

I was thrilled to get my printed books from My Publisher this past weekend. I feared I would not get the project done in time, what a relief!

Marv received his book yesterday, his story, and was speechless. Which is a good thing in this case. (LOL) He is eating again, not much, but enough to keep him going. Although he said several times how ready he is to go to heaven - he is excited to be going there. I just pray that excitement holds off happening until the new year and then some! I admit, he makes me a little jealous that he is going to get to go to heaven so soon - we all are excited to go!

Marv and Carol gave us a book they have been reading called "Heaven" - and Marv wrote a message on the inside of the book. What a treasure to have his hand-writing. Of course I am going to photograph and scrap a page about it.