When I first met Kathy it was on a Sunday morning. She had come to church with Kenny and Anita. Anita is Kathy’s cousin. She was polite but a little standoffish. I think at the moment she was trying to figure out if she even liked this place. She kept coming to church but where I really got to know Kathy was at a Women’s Bible study. I heard about her rough past. I could hear in her tone of voice how that past had colored so much of how she saw the world. I learned how sassy she can be. It had a bit of a bite of cynicism in her words that she used and the way she wielded her tongue. What first struck me and I really liked about Kathy was I always knew where I stood with her. She didn’t hold back her unfiltered thoughts. I am smiling as I think of how she would even tell you when she was biting her tongue and keeping her mouth shut. She just let you know what she was thinking. As time went on and we learned about the struggles she faced and the health issue she had we began to do what our women’s Bible study does, minister the love of Jesus and pray.
Over the years I watched Kathy rise up in strength as she faced the trials in her life. She pressed into Jesus. She prayed for Larry. She brought her daughter Cassie to church wanting her to know the same Jesus she’s fallen in love with and these people whom she came to love and give so much too. She took some hard looks at her life and begin asking God to help her shift the hard places. She began to walk out the things that she was learning about who she was in Jesus. She started bringing heaven to earth. The woman certainly wasn’t afraid to be brave for God.
Over the years of being amongst the Springs of Life people and Jesus becoming alive in her heart that sassy cynical look she would have on her face slowly started to melt away. She didn’t stop being who she was. She was still so sassy but it became a playful sassy. She would tease at us in love. The frowny lines turned into smiling lines and happy eyebrows. The joy of the Lord truly was her strength and it showed.
Kathy gave her testimony at the women’s luncheon we have every year on Mother’s Day weekend. I think it was the first time I’d ever seen her be nervous. I remember walking away with one thought. Kathy Nagel transformed from being, as she called herself, a hate-filled woman to becoming a woman of faith. That is her legacy. That is the power of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ in a life. Christ be formed in you!
After that luncheon is when we heard our dear friend Tim Polk had passed away. It was after that that I begin to think about some certain people that I wouldn’t want to miss saying some words too. Life is short. Don’t miss the opportunities that open to you to tell the people around you how much they mean to you.
Around the beginning of summertime 2018, Kathy was helping out with a graduation party at the church. She was the part of our church hospitality team. She was really good at it. When families would come in to use the building for graduations or weddings whatever it may be. Kathy would put her gett’er done attitude on and make sure that people felt at home in a place that wasn’t their home. It was at one of those events. She was tired. Her body taken the toll of chemo. She wouldn’t let up. She wouldn’t let cancer steal the places she loved to give of herself. As long as she was breathing, she was going to give love. I took just a few minutes to sit down across from Kathy, eye to eye, face to face. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. I want her to know how much she meant to me. I wanted her to know that as I watched her struggle and walk with Jesus that she inspired so much faith. She was teaching me. She is a legacy of faith. I remember her face and her quiet words, “Me, I inspire you. I’m teaching you.” There were many other things said in that small 10-minute window. One of which stands out. She said, “I am scared for my family, my husband, and my daughter. What will happen to them when I am gone? But I am not afraid to meet Jesus. I am excited about that!” We prayed and talked some more. I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am that I sat down with her that day.
Today is her funeral. She passed away on Sunday, August 5th, 2018. She will be sorely missed. Her impact is greatly felt and the absence of her presence even more so.
Today we don’t say goodbye, we say so long, for she is dancing with Jesus!
Thanks for Listening,