First Presbyterian Church Blog

A Glimpse of Jesus: The Life of Kerry Franzke

FPC member and gifted musician Kerry Franzke went to be with Jesus on January 23rd. At Kerry’s memorial service on Feb. 11, her husband Steve shared the following comments about what he and Kerry learned during their last journey together. You can listen to Kerry and Steve’s ancient Irish melodies and organ music on YouTube.

When I started to prepare for what I was going to say today I decided it was going to be highlights from the 36 years of our marriage. I changed my mind. Instead, I decided to focus on the last 29 days of our marriage because the first 36 years and 28 days pale in comparison to these last 29 days. I don’t know about each of you, but the only way I seem to get to know God more is through trials. I don’t seem to listen much when life is going along just fine. Kerry is the same way. Any past trials she and I went through can’t even compare to these last 29 days of our marriage. I don’t mean it in a negative way. The gifts God gave us: that is, the awareness of His presence, His love for us and His leading us goes far beyond words. But, I’ll try to tell you about it the best I can.
 
The days from December 26th to January 23rd were the most profound days of our lives here on earth. Our love for each other was magnified and became so intense. It was God’s presence and Him pouring His love into our hearts. Again, it goes beyond words.
 
God prepared us for these last 29 days back in 2006-2010. In the past we always had a difficult time studying the bible together—we would argue because of my selfish pride. I always came off as being right. By 2006 our marriage was close to ending. I couldn’t stand it anymore and neither could Kerry. One night I asked God to do something, anything. I was desperate. The next morning Kerry said she wanted to study the Bible with me. I said OK! Things between us began to change. That was the beginning of us delving into scripture in a new and deeper way. We discovered an expository preacher from the past, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. There are several books of his sermons in print and we devoured many of them over several years. His book on biblical doctrine prepared us for these last 29 days of our marriage. We gained a very real assurance of our salvation and a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for us. We were no longer afraid of death. We both started encouraging other Christians about assurance and God’s purpose.
 
Back to the beginning of our journey; on December 26th we went to the emergency room at Tacoma General Hospital. It became a 6 hour ordeal and they finally did a scan and found a very large mass at the head of Kerry’s pancreas. Outwardly we looked pretty calm. But on the inside we both knew death and life in heaven were more real than ever before. We were left alone while they prepared to admit her to Tacoma General Hospital. We prayed and talked about it. I remember two things she said. “Let’s look at this as an adventure” and “it’s win, win for me. God will either heal me or take me home to heaven.” That night the reality of God’s presence became very intense for both of us and continued to grow throughout the next 28 days as we praised and worshipped Him and prayed a lot every day. She stayed at TG for 4 days while they got tissue samples and unblocked a bile duct. She was home for the next 18 days before being admitted to the hospital a second time.
 

 
I’d like to talk a little bit about her music. God’s love for us and our love for each other was reflected in the music she wrote, published and recorded. Not until after she passed did I realize she wrote those pieces for me. Even though she told me over and over “I wrote this piece for you,” it didn’t really sink in until after she was in heaven. While she was home between the two hospital stays I saw her sit down at the piano only twice. Each time she stared at the keys and then the manuscripts of the two pieces she was working on and then she would get up and go back to her bedroom. I didn’t say anything until a few days later. As we talked about it, it became very clear that we shared the same conclusion. She expressed it perfectly. She said “our music is a chapter that God has closed.” I also lost a desire for music. We both had no regrets or bad feelings about it ending. We thanked God for the years we had together working on her beautiful songs. After her passing I realized through the years of her composing and us recording, I never even considered it all might come to an end. It was such a tremendous gift from God.
 
During her second stay in the hospital she was getting weaker by the day and her confusion was getting worse. Her body was failing. In a moment of clarity she told me she wanted to go home and be with Jesus. She asked why can’t I go now? I encouraged her that God’s timing would be perfect. I kissed her and told her I loved her very much. That night I told God I had seen enough. I pleaded with Him to take her home. I told Him it was very hard to see the results of the Fall of Mankind in the body and mind of my dear wife. Thursday, the next day we started the hospice path. I requested that all but pain meds be stopped, but the amazing thing was she only asked for pain medication twice in the 4 days of her hospital stay. God was protecting her from pain. I was advised by the doctor who was responsible for her daily care to wait until Friday to stop everything so there was no chance she would be discharged early and I wouldn’t be ready for her to come home. That night instead of pleading with God to take her I listened and waited. In His way God made me very aware that I was only looking at her flesh; that is—her mind and body and not her spirit. At that moment thoughts flooded my mind of her interactions with everyone: hospital staff, friends, and me. She was so appreciative of everything everyone did for her—the little things. She never complained about anything to me. Her countenance showed brightly the face of Jesus. From that moment on she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I thanked God for that glimpse of Jesus in my wife.
 
We prayed daily for God to heal Kerry in a miraculous way and we also prayed He would take her to heaven. We prayed these two petitions the entire time. It didn’t seem wrong at all to pray both of these things. It was very clear to me God was leading us where He wanted us to go.
 
She came home Saturday morning. We didn’t listen to music throughout this entire time until the afternoon before she went to heaven. That Sunday afternoon I played her 64 compositions for her very quietly in her room. After about 4 hours she told me that was enough and in a moment of clarity she said “Let me go, I want to go home.” I said “OK.” She slept and I checked on her often. At about 4 am I was notified by email we sold one of her compositions at an online sheet music store. It was an organ piece she arranged from a Telemann orchestral piece. It was the first organ piece we sold. At about 8:25 that morning her breathing became more relaxed until 8:30 when she breathed her last breath. I kissed her and got on my knees and praised and thanked God for taking her home in such a gentle way. I continue to thank Him on my knees every day. The name of that piece of music that sold 4 hours earlier is called “Rejoice.” I believe God was telling me to rejoice at the fact Kerry is now with Him in heaven.
 
There are many things God did through this time that I haven’t talked about that made it very clear to Kerry and me, and others that He is sovereign in all things. Through this trial He has been so kind to Kerry and to me. The longer I’ve been a Christian the more I can’t wrap my head around how loving He is. His love is beyond measure.
 
If I didn’t have a relationship with God in Jesus all I would have been able to talk about are fond memories of the life Kerry and I had together. I don’t think these fond memories would sustain me from this moment on. All they would do is remind me she is no longer with me. That would be very sad.
 
So, I ask each you. If you were in my shoes could you rejoice at the fact your loved one is in Heaven with Jesus, or not? Or if you were in Kerry’s shoes would you be able to say “I want to go home and be with Jesus, why can’t I go now?”
 

Some of you know Kerry never wanted to be the center of attention. I think that’s why she didn’t want a memorial service. I’m glad Eric convinced her that it would be the right thing to do. She agreed with one stipulation: The good news about Jesus Christ must be preached. So, from now until Eric preaches that good news about Jesus think hard about what I’ve said.



Friday, February 24—And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

“It is impossible to lift our enemies up in the presence of God and at the same time continue to hate them,” wrote Henri Nouwen.
 
The scariest words in this prayer are “as we.” We understand that God wants to forgive us our sins; He showed that by sending His son to die for us. We also can come to grips with the idea that we are supposed to forgive others—as hard as that may be. Things get serious, though, when we add the words “as we.” In this prayer, we are asking, for God to forgive us in exactly the same way as we forgive those who wrong us. The gospel of Matthew puts this in stronger terms; “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
 
Jesus wasn’t setting up a merit system here; there is no way our forgiveness of others could ever earn the forgiveness of God for our sins. It is only by the grace of God that we can ever be forgiven. What Jesus was doing was setting up a culture or paradigm of forgiveness. His followers would forgive others because it was the righteous thing to do and because they had seen this modeled by God Himself. Forgiving sins is an essential part of what it means to be a child in the kingdom of God. If you refuse to forgive others, how can you claim to be a follower of the forgiver-God? It is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t believe in the kingdom of God.” When the world sees that men, who are sinful, can forgive each other, then people can know that God, who is infinitely merciful and graceful, can certainly forgive them, too.
 
Unfortunately, we live in a world that has rejected the idea of sin and, therefore, perceives no need for forgiveness. Our world has raised up the concept of tolerance in place of forgiveness and is satisfied if we merely put up with each other; however, tolerance is at best a weak parody of forgiveness. The father in the story of the prodigal son didn’t tolerate his son; he ran to forgive him. Sin does exist, and we need the forgiveness of God. We don’t want to be simply tolerated, settling for second best.
 
Forgiveness is shocking, it is dangerous, and it makes people angry. This was a major part of Jesus’ kingdom announcement. He claimed to be able to forgive sins—something only the temple was supposed to do. Then He called His followers to live out that same model of radical forgiveness and to implement the victory of the cross in a sinful world. We are expected to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness, to offer our forgiveness freely and repeatedly to others, and to stand in the pain and sin of the world and plead for its forgiveness from God as well. It is our birthright as children of God to breathe in His divine forgiveness, and it is our responsibility to breathe it out onto a broken world.

 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Make a list of people you need to forgive or from who you need to ask forgiveness. Pray for all the people on the list, seeking the Holy Spirit to fill you and others with forgiveness. Keep the list until you have asked for forgiveness and felt God’s power of reconciliation in your life.
  • Find some newspaper or website articles that describe incidents in the world that require forgiveness. Pray that forgiveness would be brought into the pain, sin, and brokenness of these situations.


New Members Class

NEW MEMBERS CLASS

Saturday, April 1st 9:00am-1:00pm Gold Room                                                

Light Lunch Served/Childcare available with RSVP

Are you interested in becoming a member of our congregation? Do you have questions about what it means to be a Presbyterian? Then this class is just for YOU!!!  Come with your questions for Pastor Eric and learn about what it means to be a member of our church community. RSVP through the church office at 253-272-3286 or email Karen Ackerson at kackerson@fpctacoma.org

 



Lenten Season Dates to Note!

LENTEN SEASON DATES TO NOTE

Wednesday, March 1st Ash Wednesday Service at 7:00pm (Soup Dinner at 6:00pm)
 
Sunday, April 9th Palm Sunday Service at 10:30am
 
Friday, April 14th Good Friday Service at 7:00pm
 
Sunday, April 16th Easter Brunch at 9:00am & Easter Service at 10:30am

 



Ladies Fellowship

LADIES  FELLOWSHIP – All Women Welcome

Tuesday March 7th 11:00am in Middleton Parlor.

Our speaker will be McKenzie Iverson, the Interim Youth Director. She will share her story with us and talk about our youth program. Please stay for lunch. The cost is $6.00. If you are not on the calling list, please call the church office, 272-3286, for a reservation. All ladies welcome!

 

 



Kids’ Communion Class

KIDS’ COMMUNION CLASS

Sunday, March 5th 12:30-1:30pm In Nelson

Ages 8 and older recommended.  RSVP and more information available

Julie Brownlee at jbrownlee@fpctacoma.org

 

 



Ash Wednesday Soup Dinner & Service

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE

Wednesday, March 1st – Soup Dinner at 6:00pm in Fellowship Hall and Service at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary.

Please join with us as we begin our Lenten journey with a worship service of contemplation and reflection. Dinner is $3.00 per person or $10.00 per family



Choral Evensong “Seeking the One who found us”

CHORAL EVENSONG “Seeking the One who found us”

THIS SUNDAY at 6:00pm  Sanctuary

Please join us for this contemplative service of spirituality & worship.



VBS SNEAK PEEK

VBS SNEAK PEEK
SUNDAY IN FELLOWSHIP HALL AFTER THE SERVICE

Be the first to get a sneak peak of this summers’ VBS!!!

Games and activities for the kids and a gift card drawing for volunteers.

 



Thursday, February 23—Give us this day our daily bread

“If we were not so familiar with the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ we would be astonished at the petition for daily bread. If it had come from the lips of any other than Jesus Himself, we would consider it an intrusion of materialism upon the refined realm of prayer. But here it is smack in the middle of the greatest of prayers…,” wrote Richard Foster.

There are generally two ways of understanding this part of the prayer. One way is to spiritualize the words daily bread and say they are an anticipation of the feast we will all share in heaven. In heaven, we will be in the daily presence of Jesus, the bread of life. So this prayer could be asking for the kingdom of God to come in all its completeness now.

The other way is to say that daily bread actually refers to our need for food to survive. This shows that we are to pray for our daily needs—food, shelter, finances, relationships, etc. Nothing is too small for us to bring before the father. He wants us to be in complete, daily dependence on Him. He will satisfy our needs.

Both ways of reading the prayer can be helpful. The mention of bread in the prayer clearly does look forward to a time when there will be no more hunger, when the kingdom of God is brought to earth completely through the work of Jesus. During Jesus’ life there were definite hints in this direction. Jesus miraculously fed the 5000 with bread and fish, which pointed to the fact that He was the Messiah. Jesus held banquets where all were invited—especially the wrong sort of people—just as the kingdom will be open to all who will come. During the last supper, Jesus said that His very body was the bread that would feed His disciples. So our prayer for daily bread is in fact a prayer for God to bring about that time when all will be sustained by the presence of Jesus.

The prayer is also about our day-to-day needs in this world. Jesus obviously was interested in these things during His life. He provided wine at a wedding feast, food when people were hungry, and rest when people were weary. He took care of the poor, the widows, and the sick. His actions prove that it is not unspiritual to pray for the material things of life. After all, it was Jesus who pointed out that our “heavenly Father knows that you need…” food and clothes and shelter, and that if you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32-33

Besides, it would be impossible not to pray for the “little things of life.” Richard Foster illustrates this well; “Try to imagine what our prayer experience would be like if He had forbidden us to ask for little things. What if the only matters we were allowed to talk about were the weighty matters, the important things, the profound issues? We would be orphaned in the cosmos, cold, and terribly alone. But the opposite is true; He welcomes us with our 1,001 trifles for they are each important to Him.”

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Write down the things in your life that you consider to be luxuries. Then add the things in your life that you would consider to be unrighteous or not pleasing to God. On another sheet, write down the essentials in your life and the things in your life that you think please God. Pray that God would deal with the stuff on the first list; then crumple it up and throw it away. Then pray for the stuff on the good list—that God would take care of the essentials and would increase righteousness in you; keep that list as a reminder that God provides for our true needs.
  • Share some food with a group to represent the feasts we will share in the kingdom. Invite people beyond your close circle of friends and family to share in this feast and reach out to all that share in the meal, building a larger fellowship group of believers.
  • Intercede on behalf of those you know who have material needs. Lift them in prayer, asking God to provide for them. Also, do what you can and enlist the help of other Christians to reach out to them with aid.



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