A Life Well Lived

3 Oct

This morning I received the very sad news that a wonderful friend of my family, Thelma Vittitoe, just died after suffering a catastrophic stroke two nights ago.  Thelma was my dad’s long-time secretary, but far more importantly was like a grandma to me when I was a child.  Thelma, thank you for treating me like your very own family.  I will not forget you and I will treat others with the kindness that you gave to me.

What makes this day even more difficult is that two years ago today, my grandma died.  While I never lived close to her, she spent a great deal of time with my family.  She typically flew from Richmond, VA out to BloNo, IL two times a year and would stay with us a month at a time.  It was truly life-shaping to me.

Of all of the things that my grandma taught me, I want to share two with you today:

1.  If you get nothing else out of life, get this: John 3:16-17~

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

When I was 8 years old, I was sitting on the screened-porch of my parents’ house in Bloomington, IL with my grandma.  She was reading her Bible, which she did A LOT, and I was eating.  She told me that she would give me $5 if I would memorize John 3:16-17.  I did it for the money, but it has always stuck with me.  She spoke my language, and I eventually learned hers.

I am a follower of Jesus and a pastor today because of the leading and prayers of my grandma.  She talked it and walked it.


2.  Dying well leads others to live well~ Two years and one night ago, I had my final conversation with my grandma.  My aunt Marilyn called me and told me that my grandma wasn’t doing well, and that I needed to say goodbye.  She put my grandma on the phone and I asked her how she felt and she quickly told me “not too good, so pray for me.”  Then immediately she said “so how are those babies of yours?!”  She wasn’t in denial of her condition.  She knew that very soon she would be gone from the earth…and because of that she had to know how her family was doing.


My Maw (what I called my grandma and proudly have tattooed on my right arm) taught me how to give my life over to the one who gave me life and a second chance.  And by believing that and living that out for me to see throughout my whole life, she also showed me how to die well.  She knew this was the end of her earthly story, but just the beginning of the tale that God was writing for her.

Maw, I love you and miss you.  And I will see you again on the other side.  Thank you for living and dying well.

Your 1st grandson,





2 Responses to “A Life Well Lived”

  1. Brad Polley October 3, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I’m sorry for your loss buddy. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  2. Tom Schori November 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Ernie will be going to breakfast with me on Saturday. He sounds great. Neat comments about Thelma and Odessa.


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