Monday, October 19, 2009
My family moved to AZ when I was 3. While I am proud to be a semi-native Arizonan, there are a several things I missed out on simply because of my birth order. Trips to the World's Fair and Niagara Falls, having to sing "Back Home Again" every time we crossed the IN state line and Sunday brunches at Grandma & Grandpa's w/the aunts, uncles & cousins. I grew up knowing I had relatives, they were always in my prayers before bedtime but any one of them could have passed me on the street and I wouldn't know them. This has always bummed me out and I felt like I missed out on that part of my life. When my dad passed away 7 1/2 years ago, we had his service in Indiana and Jake and I had the pleasure of getting to "meet" my "Mybeck relatives". Since then we have kept in touch with my cousin, Mark, via his band's email list. They perform in and around the Chicago/Hammond area at various venues. Jake and I have talked about going to Chicago to see them play since we moved to the midwest 6 years ago, and we finally did it!! Mark performed his first solo/acoustic set in 15 years-and did a great job, I might add!! It was so good to finally see him play!! He was #4/5 in the lineup for the evening, he was my favorite, if I may say so myself. :) The venue was a beautiful little theatre in downtown Hammond. As I was sitting there with Jake and my cousin, Marcia, it felt surreal, I felt like a grown up. :) We had a wonderful day on Saturday. Started out with breakfast at Cracker Barrel (our favorite) with Mark & his wife, Karen, Marcia and their folks Uncle Bob (aka Uncle Grumpy) and Aunt Mary Lou. After breakfast Jake went back to the hotel and I went to a local craft fair with Bob, Mary Lou and Marcia. Later that afternoon, Jake and I headed over to Bob & Mary Lou's house to spend the evening with them. Dinner at a local diner, great conversation and another concert, by Uncle Grumpy this time, were on the agenda. While it was a short visit, it was sweet...and long overdue!! We have rekindled a relationship with not just relatives, but family and I am so grateful!! Uncle Bob is my dad's fraternal twin; a part of me felt like I spent the evening with Dad. I could have stayed up all night visiting with them. (They probably would have kicked me out at some point) Our hearts were overflowing with the joy of family on our drive home. We are already looking forward to our next visit.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Hello. My name is James Sebastian Kern, II. Some call me James. Others call me Jake. Most of you know me as Jamie. We are here today to celebrate the life of my father, James Sebastian Kern…or as most of you knew him as…Jim.
My dad was an amazing man who had an incredible work ethic.
He was a craftsman and builder of beautiful homes.
He was the image of physical fitness and an outdoor enthusiast. He had a passion for hiking, hunting, skiing, and most of all horseback riding in his beloved Rocky Mountains.
He loved the Lord with all of his heart. I remember talking with him at one point in his life when circumstances were difficult, and he simply said to me, “I made a decision to place my life completely in the hands of Christ. Where He leads, I go. When He closes a door, He then makes clear the path I am supposed to take and I take it. Ever since I made that decision, my life has been filled with peace and forever changed.”
The evidence of his love for Christ was most greatly shown in his love for others. He opened the doors of his home to any and everybody in need. Whether a missionary, a hockey player from the Czech Republic, or a scruffy looking person who had the intent of living in a tent in the desert, he gave them a place to stay and be clean and food to eat…and not just for a night or a weekend, either, but for a full season.
He was an affectionate husband who loved my mother dearly and was her best friend…so much so that he’s been an inspiration and model for how I need to love my wife, Sara.
He loved his children, and not just his boys. Sara and Michelle were every bit his daughters as Nick and I were his sons. A personal story, my dad being the Type A personality that he was, I had grown up having trouble that I never measured up to him. We worked together in construction for 15 years, and at first with all of our differences, it was rough. He was the driven person with the work ethic to keep us at task. I had the personality of, “There’s gotta be an easier way of doing this.” But then he grew to accept me for the person I was which helped me accept myself as well. Eventually, we learned to embrace the differences in our personalities, and in doing so, were able to accomplish amazing things…just the two of us.
On Christmas Eve of 2005, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. From the beginning, he made the clear, optimistic decision that he would fight for his life and win. He underwent chemotherapy treatments, but they unfortunately did not remove the cancer. His next step was to receive a bone marrow transplant from my Uncle Larry. What he knew at the time but didn’t tell us was that the doctors gave him a 10% chance for survival going into the transplant. All he said to us was, “Hey, I want you to KNOW that I’m going to beat this thing.” And he did. Through the treatments that would ravage his body and make most simply give up, he kept on fighting to the point where he was declared to be in full remission for 2 years. That being said, as anyone who has experienced the effects of cancer, a lot of times, the treatment hurt worse than the disease. There are so many stories to share of my dad beating the odds time and again that I simply do not have time to share them with you.
In the last couple years, I’ve had my own medical struggles…particularly with depression and anxiety. This condition is so misunderstood by so many; especially the “Type A” personalities who have told me to simply pull myself up by my bootstraps and make the decision to be happy. Not so with my dad. Instead, he chose in his own broken condition to be my cheerleader and advocate. In this time, he became my inspiration to fight to get better. I made the decision to get the help I needed and make the changes necessary so that I could have a chance with winning my own battle. Because of my dad’s inspiration, you see a man before you who was diagnosed with a severe case of agoraphobia, one of the most difficult psychological ailments to treat, standing in an auditorium and speaking to a room filled with people. My dad was, and forever will be my hero.
So while we may be dealing with our own sadness at our loss with his passing, we gather here today to honor and celebrate my dad, Jim Kern, and to give all glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.