Good Afternoon. This is a celebration of Marty’s life……so as I share please participate with me. If there is an Amen on your lips let it out, a Hallelujah in your heart let it go, a tear in your eye let it fall, a laugh in your gut, laugh out loud, an applaud in your hands, clap.
We are here today in solidarity for you Monty as you begin to step through life without your loved partner. We are all here today for you Amanda, Ryan and Aubrey as you are separated from a dedicated mother. For you Scott and Hyldia at the loss of a child – it doesn’t matter how old our kids are they are still our children, and for Greg and Bea and Crystal and Joe at the loss of a sibling. We commit our hands and hearts to you as you may need us today and beyond.
When I was in college I met Scott and Hyldia - they were the leaders of our singles class at First Baptist Crowley, but I did not meet Marty and Monty until about 16 years ago here at Wedgewood. They actually met my son, Beau first when they volunteered to take care of toddlers. We would learn that Monty held my son the entire hour as Beau sat in his lap sucked his thumb because he would cry if Monty set him down – and yet they still gave Beau permission to start dating their daughter. Many years later of course.
Monty asked me to share with you about Marty and her life. Here at Wedgwood I taught a Sunday school class and Marty was always so engaged and participated and added ideas while Monty usual slept through my lessons – so it is all the more honor he would ask me to participate today.
The wonderful author C.S. Lewis helps us understand our feelings today in his book “A Grief Observed”. It is a collection of his thoughts over time after the death of his wife.
Shortly after her passing he writes, “Her absence is like the sky spread over everything.”
Marty is not present with us today and because she was such a leader, because she served us all in so many ways, because she was loving and because she was a person of action, her absence is like the sky spread over everything. It is ok to grieve.
Lewis reminds us, “bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love, it follows marriage as much as marriage follows courtship, or as autumn follows summer…bereavement is not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure.” If we are going to love – we are going to know grief.
The paradox however, while we grieve we can simultaneously celebrate. Marty’s life, what she taught us, how she changed us, and that she is still very present, and healthy and content with Jesus Christ.
Marty met so many needs in so many different ways.
Detective Marty Jones had a twenty-year career with the Fort Worth Police Department serving the citizens of this eve- growing community. Many of her fellow officers are here today – would all of you involved in law enforcement stand so we may honor you.
It takes a talented, patient, skilled leader to choose to be a peace officer. Marty like her peers here today was destined for such a crucial role to society.
Maybe you’ve heard the term “Holy calling” often ascribed to people in professional ministry, however that would be a very limited view. Each individual here today and each person involved in law enforcement was called. Providence set the path that led them to their holy calling. Marty’s vocation was a divine appointment which she filled with determination, commitment and joy that can only be met with a resounding “well done”.
Marty was patient, but you could never confuse that as a lack of strength. She was tough – she had what is so needed today – she had grit.
This grit served her in every area of her life. She weathered many of life’s storms because she had grit. This toughness got her through chemo and surgery with Breast cancer. And that same grit kept her here with us longer in her last fight. She never complained about her situation- she faced it head on. To live well we must take this lesson from her so we can better face the adversities yet to come in our lives.
She exhibited the lines in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” that reads:
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
She was a no-nonsense individual. She seldom beat around the bush with the people she loved. She called it like it was.
How many of you ever had Marty look at you like this:
You know right then she had something to say. I got that look usually when telling an off-color jokes to close the kids.
Marty had numerous circles of friends. Those from work, those she met through Aubrey’s school and sports.
Those of us who knew her as a friend will miss her gentle correction, her comforting guidance, her laugh. Marty treasured her friendships. She was a great mediator between others and desired to keep people united. The best guide on friendship was written by the great writer and orator roman, Cicero over 2000 years ago. He writes, “All I can do is urge on you to regard friendship as the greatest thing in the world, for there is nothing which fits in with our nature, or is exactly what we want in prosperity and adversity.”
You may be thinking about how Marty was a friend to you, but so many here returned that kindness and love to her. You cheered with her at the kids games, you shared the work load with her at the Department, you sat by the pool with her on quiet Saturday evenings. She made you better – you made her better. Cicero continues, “Nature has given us friendship as the handmaid of virtue.” If someone does not make you better – they are not much of a friend. Marty made us all better.
One unique group of friends in Marty’s life were the Road Dawgs. Now such a name would suggest they road motorcycles and started fights in bars, but not the case. The wildest this group gets is drinking wine and going to bed early. This group of ladies cruised the Caribbean with Marty, enjoyed the sights and sounds of New York and countless other adventures. But much more than this they have all supported each other in adversity and celebrated with each other in prosperity. We can all be better friends by following Marty’s example.
Marty was a loving sister to Greg and Kristal. Countless times at our home Marty would brag about each of you– she was proud of both you – she liked to talk about you with others. As you both have shared you were proud of her. Kristal and Greg talked about how Marty was protective of them – that she was excited when she could give and do things for her siblings. There is no replacement for a sister – but there remains the opportunity to continue to serve each other in the way she served you. Your sister was really good at a unique form of ministry. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it the “Ministry of Listening”. When needed your sister was prophetic and spoke up. What she was really great at was listening. Bonhoeffer states, “Brotherly pastorial care is essentially distinguished from preaching by the fact that, added to the task of speaking the Truth, there is the obligation of listening.” She knew so much about you and how to serve you because she was an excellent listener. Our world is in desperate need of great listeners. This is another one of the great lessons from Marty.
Scott and Hyldia, all the things people have shared with you about Marty over the last week are also a reflection of you. While she was responsible for the directions she chose, you did not attempt to set a path for her, but to prepare her for the many paths we walk in life.
The Williams family once all went on a mission trip together to the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. If you’ve ever been or passed through this area you are immediately aware of the severe poverty. The family recalled how quickly the people of the community warmed to Marty. That when they were leaving this young girl who had nothing gave Marty a native neckless.
How wonderful, how important it was that you made sure your children were taught to serve others, to love people where they are, to serve. You were not only parents to Marty, Greg and Kristal – you’ve been a parent to many individuals in this room today. Thank you form pouring truth into Marty and thank you for not limiting your wisdom, love and care and acting as a parent to all of us.
Amanda, Ryan and Aubrey you were greatly loved by your mom. Amanda’s tribute speaks to all that must be said of her as a mother so let me only offer you a task.
A torch was passed to you last week. Every good endeavor of your mom now has the opportunity to blaze in your life. There is much work left for you to do. . Amanda we see her grit in you, her boldness and toughness to face life’s difficult moments. You are the carrier of her hope. Ryan we see in you, your mother’s faith. Your knowledge of Truth is reflected in your words as it was in hers. You are the flag bearer of that faith. Aubrey we see in you your mother’s love. Your acts of service match her example. You are light of her love. All three of you in truth reflect her hope, faith and love. Remember that you are now the caretakers of her legacy.
Monty and Marty met on a blind date. For Monty it was love at first sight and for Marty it was “That’ll do”. That of course is not true. Amanda and Ryan commented that she came home talking about this guy she met in a cowboy hat that looked like Richard Gear.
King Solomon wrote, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” He certainly bestowed great favor on you Monty and your time with Marty. She always supported you and honored you. You did the same for her. She was an incredible equal partner in your walk-through life. She loved everything about you. The only thing she would change was how you keep that disaster of garage of yours.
We all had a view of your marriage from different angles. None of us had any doubts about your love and commitment to one another. You are a great example of how to be a good husband and I’ve learned so much from your friendship and your example. There is a path of grief that you’ll walk and the difficulty with it is that with grief nothing stays in place.
As I mentioned early from Lewis, “bereavement is a universal part of our experience of love, it follows marriage as much as marriage follows courtship, or as autumn follows summer.” You are walking a path that half of us in this room who are married will walk - and one day we will be in desperate need of your wisdom. We are all here to support you today forward - you are not alone.
You have given us a wonderful example of Christian marriage. You both made Christ the center of your relationship. He was the third cord that bound you to each other. As G.K. Chesterton reminds us “Love is not blind, it is bound.”
Marty loved Jesus. She gave her life to Christ as a child and depended on his grace and mercy and His finished work throughout her life. If you removed this part of your life you would remove all meaning as her faith drove her actions.
In Jon Bunyan’s classic story “Pilgrim’s Progress” we have the tale of Christian who sets out on a journey of ups and downs, danger and pain on his way to find the Celestial City. He must navigate through difficult people: his neighbor Obstinate, two men Formalist and Hypocrisy who offer short cuts, and a most difficult individual to deal with by the named of Talkative. Christian finally finds his way and is welcomed to the Celestial City. Two companions helped him most along his journey. They stayed with him at crucial times. His friends Faithful and Hopeful. Christian voices in Bunyan’s story these lines:
“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
Faith and hope carried Marty through her journey here and to the Celestial City. Not a faith and hope in “some truth”, or “her truth”, but the Truth. She confessed and lived a life dependent on Jesus Christ because she found his claims fit into reason and reality. Because she took time to understand herself, she understood her need for a savior.
She did not look for a guru, or successful or nice person to help her through life. She looked to God. She spent a lifetime getting to know Him better and she sought to conform her life to His design, not conform Him to her wishes. She discovered the Creator as He is, not how she wanted him to be and upon this discover she led a life that pointed to him. It’s the last and most important thing she taught us.
What you loved about Marty was that you saw Jesus in her life. He gave her the grit for life’s tough moments, he gave her the confidence to speak into our lives, he gave her a love and commitment to her family and friends, he gave her a commitment to marriage. He gave her a life that had incredible meaning and incredible purpose that impacted thousands - And He removed the great fear of death and replaced it with the hope of a future with Jesus Christ. Her life is a Gospel story.
Marty was a second mother to our kids, she may have been a second mother to may of you too.
My daughter Sarah was hiking the Camino de Santiago when she got the news that Marty had passed away. Sarah completed her 500 mile pilgrimage ON THAT SAME day which ended at the tomb of Saint James, who was a disciple of Jesus. James and his brother John, the Sons of Zebedee where famously named the Sons of Thunder by Jesus which reflected what he saw in their personalities. I wrote Sarah a note before her hike and In said this to her:
“James was a fiery individual, a “Son of Thunder”. He would not be content with passive behavior. He was a man of action - and so from our quiet reflections must come action. As you end your Camino and pass his tomb he will call out to you not to walk, but to run. To run into life as it is presented to you. There are no special formulas, just living life where we are and to live it with and for others.”
I thought about this statement and I began to think how much Saint James and Marty had in common. James and Marty had similar personality traits.
And so us here today I end with this:
“Marty was a fiery individual, a “Daughter of Thunder”. She would not be content with passive behavior. She was a woman of action - and so from our quiet reflections must come action. As you leave this service today, her life will call out to you not to walk, but to run. To run into life as it is presented to you. There are no special formulas, just live life where you are and live it with and for others.”