Oct 24 2012

Celebrating my Husband’s Life and Legacy…Part two


Thank you so much for joining me here for Part II of Celebrating my Husband’s Life and Legacy.  If you are new to Unwrapping His Grace, my husband, Rev. Will Pershing, went home to heaven on July 15th when our family was in a tragic car accident.  There are several posts from the past two months that share more about our journey since then.  This two part series began last week.  I encourage you to take a few moments to read it when you have the time.  It will help you better understand what I am about to share.

We closed Will’s Celebration of Life Service with a beautiful video/music tribute that our daughter, Annelyse, created as a tribute for her Daddy.  Tears of love stream down my face every time I watch it.  I hope it blesses you and gives you a glimpse into our family.  I was so touched and honored to have been included in it as I am honored have her as our daughter.



I also wanted to share the beautiful poem that Will’s dad, John, wrote in honor of his son.  What a beautiful blessing.  Will used to share some of his dad’s poetry on his blog and was so proud of his dad’s writing…as am I.

I am so glad that I decided to make this article into a two part series.  I am in such awe at the journey God is continuing to take me on through this process of sharing these precious hours of celebrating Will’s legacy and our love for him.  So much healing has happened in our hearts and even in relationships through this special time of gathering together.

I would like to take some time to share some of the pictures of me with some of the special people who gathered with us on October 13.  This isn’t everyone…but I thought you would like to meet my parents.  They are all very precious to me.  I was so blessed that our daughter, Annelyse’s (also known as Annie), mom, Janis Pershing, was so gracious as to take these pictures for me following the service.

edited copy of mom and dad pershing with me after service

This is me with my dear mom and dad in-law, Virginia and John Pershing.  I would so appreciate it if you would keep them in your prayers.  This has been so hard on them.  Will as close to his parents.  He learned so much from his dad, a retired pastor/missionary, and got his passion for sharing the gospel from them.  I am so blessed that we are a part of their family.  I was also blessed by very, very precious words of wisdom, love and courage from my Dad Pershing when he greeted me with a big hug before the service.  I will never, ever forget that.


This is me with my precious mom, Lorraine.  She drove down to our home and spent the weekend with us (with her sweet dog Lily- more about that in a future article) and drove me and our children to and from the Service.  Having that special time together all weekend was such a huge blessing.



I was so blessed to have my wonderful dad, Bill, and my sweet step mom, Charlotte, at my side during the whole service.  They were there sat with us to help me comfort Josh and Michael during the service…and having the quiet, loving strength of my dad right next to me and the precious squeeze of his hand or his arm around me when I needed it most meant more to me than I can express in words.

I am so, so blessed by all of my parents.  I am so grateful for how our relationships have grown closer over the past several years and having my dad, my mom and my step-mom to help me through the past few months has been a true gift.

Following the Celebration of Life Service, some of my dear friends provided and served us a wonderful BBQ luncheon.  This was one of the things that Will had talked with me about wanting us to have if he went home to heaven before me.  We had talked about all of this a month before the accident.  I was so grateful for those precious conversations that helped prepare me for this painful part of our journey.  It was so wonderful to be able to visit with the dear folks who attended his service and enjoy a meal together, knowing we were celebrating in a way he had wanted us to do.  I was so grateful to be surrounded by friends, Will’s family, and many of my own family and relatives who drove distances to be there to support and celebrate with us.

Following the luncheon, Brother Chris, from Memorial Chapels, took me, our children, and my mom in the family limo out to the cemetery where Will was buried with my dad, step-mom, one of my brothers (the others weren’t able to attend that day), one of my aunts, and my pastor and his wife followed in cars.  This was our first time seeing his earthly resting place.  It was an emotional but healing experience.

I’ll also never forget the amazing blessing of my youngest brother, Mike’s comforting, quiet strength as he came up beside me as I was overcome by tears when we arrived at the site, and put his arm around me and held me as I released the sorrow and tears that filled my heart during the first moments of seeing Will’s grave for the first time. So grateful for my family.

My pastor shared from God’s Word and led us in prayer at his grave side and beautiful words from Scripture that helped us so much.


While our family gathered around Will’s grave side, Michael sat down to get as close to daddy as he could during Brother Don’s prayer and reading.  I sat down and held him close and whispered how much his daddy loves him and how is has a new body in heaven now.  This was the first time Michael has ever been to any cemetery and I had been praying that God would give me the words of comfort to help him understand how daddy had a new body in heaven and his old was laid to rest here.  This was one of the hardest things I had to do…but I am so grateful that we will see Will again in heaven.

This was the first time the boys and I had been to his grave…it was painful for all of us, but God filled me with His grace, peace, strength and wisdom that I needed to fully embrace that special time and to be there for our kids too.  And my parents were such an amazing help. I don’t know what I would have done without them there to help me with the boys as I faced my own grief.

Following Brother Don’s sharing of Scripture and leading us in prayer, I took a deep breath and handed Michael off to my dear step-mom, Charlotte, so that I could lead us in the balloon release.

Since the boys and I were still in the hospital when Will’s body was buried in this place, Annelyse and I decided that a special way for us to experience the closure we needed and to release the pain we were holding onto we would have a balloon release.


We each wrote a message or prayer on our balloons with permanent markers as a part of the healing process.  I helped Michael the boys with theirs and then everyone joined us with their own message balloons.

Before we released our balloons, I shared a prayer from my heart thanking God for the precious, priceless time we had with Will in our lives and thanked Him that we will see daddy again someday in heaven.  Even though our time with him on earth was short, we will have all of eternity to be with him in heaven when that day comes.  And as we said Amen as a family, we all release our balloons.



The wind was perfect that day as it carried our heart messages up into the clouds.

I am so grateful for the fact that Will is in heaven in God’s tender care.  He is no longer in pain but dancing with pure joy at being with His Savior and King.  And I am so grateful for the Scripture that helps us to know that he is not experiencing anymore sorrow or pain…

4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21: 4-5 NIV

I am also so grateful, that because I too am a child of God, there will come a day when I will once again, take his hand and join him in that dance of worship before the Lord when I enter my heavenly home.

And so, my love, my precious Will…it is not good-bye my love…but see you soon, as these days on earth pass by in a blink of an eye.  In the mean time, I will continue to walk this journey with our children and together we will continue the legacy you left us of sharing God’s love and grace with everyone we meet.  We hold our memories of you close and our love for and relationship with God grows more and more through each new day we face.

And we are thankful for, and hold tightly, our family’s special Scripture verse you taught us to hold onto every day…

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

I want you to know that whatever it is that you face in your own life…God is with you.  We are His children.  He loves us more than words can express.  It is the hope and grace of my relationship with Jesus Christ and my heavenly Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life that get me through every new challenge.  I pray, that if you haven’t surrendered your own grief or heart-break to Him, that today you take the time to shut off the computer and spend some time with Him asking Him to take the pain and fill you with His strength and peace.  I would be honored to pray for you in your time of need as well.  Please feel free to contact me here on the blog in the comments or by sharing your prayer request in our Unwrapping His Grace Facebook community.

Unwrapping His Grace,

Mary Joy

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/2012/10/24/celebrating-my-husbands-life-and-legacypart-two/

  • Kelley

    So blessed.much love.

    • Mary Joy

      Thank you, Kelley!