Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photo Montage

Coming... the video of dad's photo montage that played at his memorial service. For now, see it here, but without music...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Honor of Dad

Jack Rieth
May 24, 1944 - April 10, 2008

Yesterday was Dad's memorial service. What an amazing event. Walking into the church and seeing the flowers and his picture displayed upfront was difficult, initially. It brought finality in our hearts to the fact that he's not with us any longer, and we cried. Soon guests began arriving and there were hundreds of sincere hugs, smiles and tears being expressed. I do mean hundreds; the church was overflowing. Dad's friend suggested that his Sunday school class come sit in the choir loft to make more seating available, but still, people were standing in the back and along the sides of the church.

The service started with a recording of 'In the Presence of Jehovah' by Damaris Carbaugh being played... In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace - Troubles vanish, hearts are mended, In the presence of the King...

Then Pastor Mike opened with a beautiful prayer and delivered a message that would have pleased dad because it included why dad had such peace... his relationship with Christ. Following the message, a photo montage of dad's life was displayed, while 'In Christ Alone' by Michael English played. Many tears flowed as precious memories were brought to mind.

His dear friend, Deane, then delivered a eulogy that made us smile, laugh and cry. It came from the heart of a man who loved dad like his brother, followed by our family friend, Joe Wingard, leading us in singing 'Victory in Jesus.' It was dad's favorite and his only request for the service. He desired that we first read the lyrics so it would penetrate our minds, then sing it with joy. We did!

Next it was open mic time for sharing of memories. My brother and I got it started. We went to the podium together and John opened. I was so proud of him. His words were eloquent and heartfelt, and brought such honor to our father. With his permission, let me share what he said:

"Thank you for being here today. Some have traveled great distances. Some had to take time away from work and other priorities to be here. My family and I are extremely pleased and dad would be truly honored that you took the time to remember him here today... Also thank you for all the phone calls, cards, and the steady stream of people that have been dropping by the house to make sure mom knows she can always count on her extended family. You have literally showered us with love. That is appreciated. That has helped us. So thank you, to everyone.

My dad was not just a "dad" to me, but a very dear friend. In fact, he was the best man at my wedding. He's the most amazing person I have ever known, and I don't say that because he was my dad, but because I know that if you knew him like I did, you'd probably say he was the most amazing person you'd ever known also.

He was a man of strong character, high morals and values. He was never boasting or prideful and he always put the needs of others first. He was caring, sincere, nurturing and gracious. He had a healthy sense of humor, which when combined with his warm smile and genuine demeanor, made people feel instantly comfortable and at ease.

Dad loved people, and was genuinely interested in everyone he came in contact with. People felt that when they spoke with him, because he could make you feel like you were the most important person in the world, and to him, you were.

For as long as I can remember, my dad would always drop whatever he was doing to help me with situations or problems that would arise in my life. But he didn't do that because I was his son. He would drop everything and lend a hand or a shoulder to lean on to anyone who needed it, and it was that sort of compassion that truly made him the unique individual that he was.

And when it came to life issues, he would never say, "John, this is what you need to do" or just hand me the solution to a problem. Instead, he would show me first how to see it from every angle, from other people's perspectives, and he'd get it right down to the root of the problem, and then allow me to find the solution which was the most logical. And his logic was unfailing and on the mark every time.

Ever since I was old enough to speak, my dad was teaching me to think for myself, and taught me that when you break it down, there is never a problem too big to take on. He taught me that sometimes you come out on top, and sometimes you don't, so be prepared to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Along with how to throw a football, and the proper 3 point stance, dad taught me honesty, love, patience, respect for others, respect for myself and so many more things that fathers teach their sons, but what stands out most to me, is the style in which he taught me these things... he did it by example. He lived his life with a constant sense of accountability. Accountability to his family, accountability to his friends and even accountability to those he didn't know so well.

The most important lesson my dad ever taught me, was that we all have a Father in heaven who loves us unconditionally, and wants us to be open to receive His love. As a Sunday school teacher, my dad spent endless hours and many sleepless nights preparing for his lessons because he also had accountability to God first and foremost. In fact, several weeks ago, dad mentioned to me that the most important thing to him was that every person in this room someday get to be where he is right now, in the Kingdom of our Lord.

While I was still living at home, my dad would always say, "hey, your mom and I love you." And though I heard it pretty much every day, I don't think I ever grew tired of hearing it. He used to always tell me how proud he was of me, too, but in retrospect, I don't know if his pride in me could hold a candle to the pride I've always felt for him."

Very well stated, then it was my turn:

"For the past 6 or 8 weeks I’ve been posting to a blog the thoughts and emotions that have gripped me, and it’s been cathartic. My brother recently read an entry from early March about some of my happy memories of dad through the years. I was going to let him speak for both of us today, but he encouraged me to share these warm fuzzy moments with you, like…

-When I was just a little tike and he’d scoop me up and dance me around the room while he sang Daddy’s Little Girl by The Mills Brothers – and later, when I got big enough, standing on his feet while we danced. (I can clearly remember dancing in the living room on Ballentine Road.)

-Sitting in his lap when I was about 4 while I sang Baa Baa Black Sheep to him and having him praise me like I’m about to nail a recording contract.

-Lying on the couch next to him while he read the paper and pretending that I was reading, too (the inserts that were small enough for me to handle).

-Thinking at that time that he should run for President. He’d win, hands down.

-On the evenings that mom had to work, sitting around the dinner table with him and my brother having a contest on who can get the most stats correct for each player on the "early 70's" Miami Dolphins football team (stats printed on our Miami Dolphins glasses, courtesy of Aunt Mar and Uncle Bob who sent them from Miami).

-The nights we got to go to Burger King in lieu of him cooking (when mom worked), and being so proud that he let me have a Whopper (instead of the Jr.) because I’m big enough to finish it!

-Listening to the radio in the car when a song came on that evoked a memory for him – and having him share with us what it reminded him of… something from his childhood, perhaps about his sisters or his school days. I also loved the stories about when he and mom were dating.

-Sitting in the back seat of the car listening to my parents talk; they often had good, meaningful conversations while we were enroute – setting good examples without realizing it (though, I'm sure they took into consideration that the kids are within ear shot).

-Sleeping in his old high school foot ball jersey.

-His willingness to duck when he dropped me off at the ice skating rink because in junior high, it was completely uncool to be dropped off by your dad.

-Late night conversations about everything under the sun.

-The important life lessons he taught about integrity and diplomacy by just living life the way he was.

-The long, story-like examples he would give relating to the point he was trying to get across (usually about my safety), as I'm going out the door.

-Him not reprimanding me for rolling my eyes and exclaiming, “I know, Dad” as I’m going out the door!

-The way he always made me feel like I was his priority.

-The way he embraced my husband as a son.

-As a grandpa, the way he gave my daughter her own long list of precious memories.

-Dancing again with him at my daughter’s wedding while “Always Be Your Baby” by Natalie Grant played in the background (Joe and Kristiina's special song, but oh, how appropriate!).

I always knew my dad was special… more compassionate than most… more thoughtful and tender than most. I know full well how precious he has been to me; to my husband and daughter; to my mother and brother, but didn’t realize until this week the magnitude of the lives he touched. It reaches way beyond what I could have imagined and my heart is full to overflowing as I try to fathom it.

My brother and I are blessed beyond measure to have grown up in the shelter of his wing, and as his children, we desire to pursue his legacy – to follow in his footsteps, to God’s glory."

Several more people took the mic to share their own precious memories... and many stated later that they wished they had the courage to stand and say what he meant to them, but knew they would not be able to maintain their composure, so kept silent.

Joe Wingard sang a 'How Great is Our Great/How Great Thou Art' medley. It was stirring, and Pastor Mike then dismissed us in prayer.

Guests were invited to come to the front to express their condolences to the family and the number of people that greeted us was overwhelming. The line was unending for what seemed like another hour. Again, people were either beaming or crying, telling us they're better people for having known dad. How he'll be missed.

Dad was honored, and God was glorified. It was a good day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

At A Loss For Words

Word of God Speak - MercyMe

I'm finding myself at a loss for words, and the funny thing is it's okay. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what You would say.

Word of God speak, would You pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see Your majesty. To be still and know that You're in this place, please let me stay and rest in Your holiness; Word of God speak.

I'm finding myself in the midst of You, beyond the music, beyond the noise. All that I need is to be with You, and in the quiet hear Your voice.

Word of God speak, would You pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see Your majesty. To be still and know that You're in this place, please let me stay and rest in Your holiness; Word of God speak - would You pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see Your majesty. To be still and know that You're in this place, please let me stay and rest in Your holiness.

I'm finding myself at a loss for words,and the funny thing is it's okay.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Take my hand, Precious Lord, and lead me home

Often it's through the little details that God speaks strongly to my heart, letting me know He is lingering near. This afternoon I had to move my car so the funeral home had access to the driveway. They were coming to collect my dad's body. He had gone on home about two hours prior. When I turned on the engine, the verse that played from my cd player was "take my hand, Precious Lord, and lead me home." My gracious heavenly Father knows how to send a hug and make me smile - he is so tender and gentle.
Dad had a beautiful, peaceful home-going. His friend of 30 years and mentor in the Lord had just prayed, his wife and kids were with him, Jesus called for him and he quietly went.
That's all I can say for now. Words elude me as I ponder what has taken place today.
...Oh wonderful, merciful Savior, I praise You with all my heart and soul.

Leave to thy God to order and provide.
In every change, he faithful will remain.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hold Him While He Sleeps

The prayer of my heart during the night last night, was that God would hold dad while he sleeps. The thought... the prayer... just kept replaying in my mind. It had been a difficult day for him yesterday. He said it was hard to breathe and he had a pain in his chest.

Mom said while she laid with him during the night, his breathing sounded different and sometimes he moaned. Not sure if it was dreams or pain, she just laid beside him and cried. She called us first thing this morning and we've all (Mom, John, Helena, Kristiina, Nic, Joe, and me) been together, all day.

Thankfully, he's resting very comfortably today. He hasn't been awake, though, for more than a total of 10 minutes, but he says he's not in pain today. "I'm fine," he says. And my prayer is still that God would hold him while he sleeps... he sleeps all the time, and so shall he be in His arms all the time.

Dad hasn't had anything to eat or drink today, but we celebrated when he managed to finish a half of a popsicle at about 3:00 pm.

His hospice nurse, Lori, came and checked him and then sat with us for 30-45 minutes answering our questions and describing how we can keep him comfortable. We all agree that he'll stay at home until the end (and dad participated in that decision). Judging by his symptoms, Lori thinks that he may drop his cloak of flesh and enter his heavenly home before the weekend is through (not a precise quote...but my interpretation).

I realize I'm blurting the facts rather numbly, but I am a bit numb. That, and God's grace is sustaining me... all of us. I have never known more personally the scripture that tells me God's grace is sufficient. It really is.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9

Monday, April 7, 2008

Peace that Passes Understanding

Yesterday we were are at mom and dad’s for Sunday lunch and to celebrate mom’s birthday. Dad came out to have lunch with us, but soon went back to bed. The rest of us went to the living room for cake and coffee.

After a while, dad called to mom asking for something to drink. I took it to him and sat with him for a while. He was lying on his side and sipped his drink from a straw without opening his eyes, and I helped him steady the glass. When he was done drinking, we chatted for a little bit. He spoke softly, slowly, and just a few words at a time, still not opening his eyes. Among other things, he said he loved Kristiina’s laugh – he could hear her in the other room.

When a few minutes had passed, he said he was sleepy. I got up to leave, telling him I’d let him get some rest and kissed him on his head. As I was approaching the door he said something else. He speaks so softly I had to go back to his side to hear what he was saying. Then, he opened his eyes to see that I was there, and he said he’s proud of me; that I’m meek – a quiet person, but strong – and then he said he struggled to find the right words. …that God is evident in my life and he knows I’ll be okay and that God will always be with me, guiding and directing. And again, he said he struggled to express how proud he is.

Dad has always been such an encourager, I never doubted that he is proud of me; but that he thinks I’m meek left me speechless and tearful. Meek is exactly what I want to be. Jesus was meek. A friend of mine once said (I don’t know if she coined the phrase, or borrowed it from a preacher/teacher) that “meek is not weak, it’s bridled strength.” It’s having the ferocity of a stallion, but tempering it with the gentleness of a show horse. All I could do was thank him and tell him I love him.

Later, I was watching a video segment of Beth Moore that I had taped previously. It was based on Philippians 1:6 - being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Psalm 138:8 - The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands, and Ephesians 1:11 - In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Her point was that when we die, we’re “unzipping this tent of a body that we’ve been walking around in and step through, dropping it behind us.” That the flesh is all that perishes – who we are is imperishable, eternal. She said that in that regard, the work that God began in us, he will continue it even when our “tenure on this earth is done” because he’s carrying it on to completion until the “day of Christ Jesus.” And not only is He completing what He started in us, He’s fulfilling His plan for all that concerns us. In death, are we leaving behind a spouse, children? Does that make us anxious? He is faithful and trustworthy to work everything out! He has a plan and a purpose, and He’ll complete it. This is the condensed version, but the way Beth put it made perfect sense.

Hearing that after dad told me that “he knows I’ll be okay… God will always be with me, guiding and directing,” it confirmed what I already suspected... that he was assuring me that he is at peace because he knows in Whose care he’s leaving me. I’m thankful dad has peace... and he so clearly does.

The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3


This lady was behind me in traffic today. Seriously, it looked just like her - except she was smoking, too. Charming.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

VT Property Owners

Nic and Kristiina have officially added to their list of real estate owned (Florida house and Colorado acreage), an adorable 1930 Dutch Colonial home in Windsor, Vermont! All docs were signed, notarized and overnighted to the title company in VT with an April 3, 2008 closing date. Whew! What a relief to have that finally behind them (many delays with this closing). It was getting a little hairy there for a while, but now they're relieved to know where they'll be unpacking! Congratulations, Nic and Kristiina!! XOXO

Nurse Lori

I met dad's hospice nurse, Lori, yesterday. She was just getting ready to leave when I popped over after work, and mom and I ended up chatting with her for about 15 minutes. What a delightful, Christian woman she is. I'm so glad dad is in her tender care.

About Me

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I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. I spend 40 hours of my week working outside my home and away from my garden, but am nevertheless passionate about healthy eating and sustainable living. By sourcing nutrient-dense food from local farms and avoiding processed foods, we are realizing how our over health is being impacted for the better. I’m excited to have you join me as I share what we’re learning and invite you to offer your insights in the comments. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18