Over thirty-six years ago I began life as a single mom, coming back home to Washington. I wasn’t sure what God had in store for me, but He had some great plans. One began as working with the Trailblazers in Pioneer Girls with Arta. She was older than me, but she had just lost her husband, Bill, to cancer. She was also beginning life as a single mom. It was no coincidence, but a detail from the fingertips of God, that put us together to grieve and to learn. I listened to her story of life with Bill, and she listened to my good memories of life with Rich. No uncomfortable feelings that often happen with people who don’t know how to react to another’s grief.
And then, of course, there is camp. We spent the next couple decades going to Land o’ Lincoln Camp (Cherith) Cedarbook together. She taught me the ropes. We prayed together. She counseled the younger campers, Voyagers or Pathfinders. I counseled in the older groups of Shikari and Explorers. She kept going to camp till she was 70. She thought she was too old. So instead, she traveled for a month to Ecuador for several years helping in an orphanage. Too old, my foot.
Without realizing it till years later, Arta became a mentor to me. She thought up fun things to do, and my girls and I benefited from her creativity and energy. We took trips together. Kansas City. St Louis. Louisville. She wasn’t afraid of anything. Always willing to step in to fill a need. God used her to change me.
She taught me hospitality. I was too afraid to do it on my own, so we’d share the load. I’ve had the President of Calvary Bible College and his wife in my tiny home for a meal after church. I’ve hosted 6 +2 groups from church in my home – because I could depend on Arta to help and encourage me. I learned from Arta to open my house to missionaries when they visit, because it isn’t my house. It belongs to God.
When her daughter’s family moved to Ecuador as missionaries, she taught me how to let go of my children. She showed me that it was better to accept God’s will for your children rather than demand what you wanted. Although difficult to let them go, she happily said she’d go visit them. And we prayed for them consistently. Her example helped when my own girls went on short-term mission trips to Russia. And she consistently prayed with me.
And then, she moved to New Mexico to be closer to family. I know that move was hard for her as she left the home where she raised her family. The town where she grew up. The church (and church family) where she served in so many ways. But, family and grandchildren come first, and she wanted to be near them. So, we had garage sales, packed her up, and helped her move across the country. And we missed her. Thankfully, she made train trips back to see us several times a year for a couple weeks at a time.
Arta was a seamstress. She could make anything. And most of Washington depended on her to shorten, lengthen, take in, let out, alter, create wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, mend blankets, sleeping bag zippers. You name it, Arta could fix it. When people heard she was coming for a visit, they started making piles of things Arta needed to work on. When she came for a visit, while I was at work, a parade of people came to my house to drop off, pick up, try on, and visit. In between customers and friends stopping by, she’d do my laundry, vacuum the floor, cook our supper, bake some cookies, pick flowers, throw open my windows, and even weed my garden.
When I got home, we would eat supper, clean the kitchen and sit and talk. We could always find something to talk about. Often, we’d end up laughing. I loved her laugh. Especially when she’d try to keep telling the story, but was laughing too hard. Tears rolling down our cheeks. But, we also talked about books we’d read. Ministry we had completed. Our families.
There is so much more that I cannot begin to tell you the impact she had on my life and on my girls. She stepped in as Gramma when my girls lost both of their grandmothers within a six month period. She helped with graduation open houses, attended graduations, altered wedding dresses, and traveled hundred to thousands of miles to be at their weddings. She traveled to see the TwinZs in Colorado and our MinnesotaTwins. She was family.
Arta fought lung cancer with a surety in God’s faithfulness, knowing that He knew what He was doing. She endured side effects of the medicine without feeling sorry for herself. She knew God was in control, and whether she lived or whether she died, she was secure in Him. Last night, she stepped into His presence.
Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Arta was always ready to share her faith. To faithfully tell of God’s love in sending His Son to die for our sins and raising Him from the dead so that we might have eternal life in Him. She consistently prayed for friends and family to come to know this truth that she is now experiencing in heaven.
Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9 – “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Well done, dear friend.