One of my dearest friends passed away this past month...
Not just any friend.
No, she was a woman on a passionate journey of faith who has inspired many, received grace from and poured out grace to many, meanwhile serving many across SK- well... across Canada and the globe to be more exact. In her 49 years, I am grateful to have experienced life with this dear zany, compassionate soul since 2005.*
My prayers are with Roger and their kids/ grandkids and all of their immediate family as they will feel the loss much more acutely than I. May they find whispers of hope with each passing day.
Lisa ("Elizabeth") Braun
Maybe you too knew her? Maybe you grew up with her, maybe you're family or a close friend who too is mourning the loss of a woman who had a phenomenal zest for life? Even if you barely knew her, her loss is felt deeply by so many.
- If you are on social media over the last decade, you most likely had seen her many posts on FB, Instagram or twitter or read her blog "Lisa's Pics" throughout the years. I used to tease/ encourage her that perhaps her call was to be a facebook pastor?!
- Potentially you had received one of her calendars where she'd express SK's beauty through her photography, feeling each caption or verse she carefully chose for each month?
- Perhaps you knew her serving at church, leading women's studies, building relationships with many families on indigenous reserves, growing community in Saskatoon, Warman, at Emma Lake, on the boat, fireside chats, Bible camps, or the many service opportunities all around?
- Well, if you were the adventurous travelling type, maybe you knew Lisa when on a Compassion Canada trip or on one of her many Israel tours or quite frankly, on one of many fabulous faith adventures she'd been on.
- Quite possibly you served with her at Hands On, Camp Kadesh, Cornerstone, The Bridge on 20th, 5 day clubs, WJOF, or her recent service venture helping advocate for Prarie Hope Women's Centre among other places she left her faith mark?
For All Who Knew Lisa- We Mourn
Cancer may have been the horrendous catalyst to usher her into Gods eternal presence, but it wasn't the desired means of healing for all who knew her on this side of heaven. Over 3300 people graced her Facebook group "Lisa's Little Bump on the Journey" as we contended in prayer, shared well wishes and words of encouragement for her when we'd receive updates. Many are mourning the fact they no longer receive her daily posts of encouragement as she continued to be hope filled and joy focused as she battled with mouth cancer for nearly 2 years. Many prayers were whispered, hope filled worship songs and scripture was declared by many who followed Lisa's Bump on the Journey page. More often than not, Lisa posted more than anyone else words of positivity and faith, all the while specialists did all they could with chemo, surgery and a vast array of healing intentions. The last few months of Lisa's life were painful to witness as doctors confirmed 6 months to live in January, and then February declared she had 2 months to live, and until the day she passed away- many were hoping along with her for a miracle. Many, like me were praying to have more years with Lisa. It just didn't seem fair, or right that she'd leave this world with so much drive and passion to live out her faith here on earth? We were just texting the week before, mere days before she passed of plans we were making to share more of her story of faith to friends, family and leaders in our community. I was all ready to honour her request and plan this event as she wished. Because of that fact, (and the many scriptural promises that she was standing on), I just was not prepared to hear the news of her passing.
Are we ever really fully prepared?
I am among many who mourn this loss as Lisa passed from this life to the next on February 27th 2018 and then said goodbye on March 4th 2018 at her celebration of life service. We said farewell to a woman of great faith, of generous living, (yes, imperfect as we all are), but a woman who had great hope for the future . Her funeral was simply breathtakingly beautiful and God honouring. Such a celebration of life! Because of the joy filled presence in the church sanctuary with most attendees wearing orange in her honour, worship flags waving in the air upon her request and bold, beautiful tributes by friends, family and her dear pastors, hope abounded. When handed the bulletin with a photo of Lisa on the front in her orange shirt, a floodgate of memories surfaced as it was that very same picture that was featured alongside her faith story with Women's Journey of Faith in 2005 when I first met her. We've shared quite the journey together since then.
Mourning involves tears of happiness as I recall the memories of this dear one along with tears of sadness that she is no longer with us. The truth is, I continue to grow in hope as my friend is fully restored in heaven- mind- body-spirit. I believe I will see her again, and what a reunion that will be. Cancer does not have the final word- God's word does! Reflecting on 2 Corinthians 5 since her passing has given me great peace as it was her passion to live by faith, no matter what.
Cancer, nor deaths sting doesn't have the ability to take away the memories that are flooding the minds of family, friends and acquaintances who have known her all their lives or for just a few days or weeks where people wanted to get to know her. Each life has impact. Every person has the capacity and potential to influence the world for good. Lisa's life did just that.
I haven't blogged in awhile. I miss expressing myself- but I've been focused on launching Hope Restored Canada. Amidst this busy season, I had the honour of visiting Lisa on New Year's Day where we shared memories, prayed together, demonstrated to me how she was tube feeding, and showed me her "upper room" . It was so beautifully decorated in orange along with her books. favourite mementos and the gorgeous wall hanging her women's study group made for her including all the thousands of names on her Facebook group praying for her. I brought with me my devotional book "Whispers of Hope" that Lisa gave to me a year back as both a confession that I had only got a few days into the 10 week devotional journal by her favourite teacher in the world Beth Moore. As I assumed I'd have to fight back the shame creeping in, she too admitted that she didn't get too far into it either, so we both laughed and encouraged one another to keep on. I will cherish that time together along with this journal, and am devoting this year in her honour as I focus on Hope and reflect on the many lessons in life we shared together.
Since that conversation in January, my resolution was to buckle down and devote myself to going through this devotional prayer journal. Whether it takes me 10 weeks, 20 or more, I am committed to go through it in memory of Lisa, but likewise to grow more in hope for my own heart, for my family and this world in desperate need for hope.
Today kickstarted me in that direction as I am preparing for a talk on the topic of "HOPE" at a women's event tomorrow, prepping to share of my own faith journey. I cannot help to reflect on the fact that so much of my journey these last 12 years has intersected with Lisa's journey many- many times. It will be a healing journey to dive into this journal. I misplaced this gem for a few weeks and thankfully my daughter Jaclyn found it today! I wanted to read those words Lisa wrote on the inside of my journal- both in the spring of 2017 and in January 2018. Interesting how my youngest daughter Justine just happened to give me an orange flowered bag today asking if I'd like it as an early birthday present and if I liked it? Well- I love it. I never liked the colour orange until I found an eternal lover of orange friend Lisa. I'll be cherishing this journal alongside my Bible and a couple of books from Bridges for Peace- another organization she dearly honoured.