Nov. 16, 2009 – Letter from Melanie Swisher

Dearest Juno & McKenzie,

Sometimes we find ourselves without the words to express how we feel. I’ve never been one to be lost for words, much like you Juno – always able to fill in the silence of the moment or to ease the tension in a room.

But not so long ago, I met a beautiful and proud woman named Bonnie Smalley. Yes, I knew she was Juno’s wife, but only a little bit of how they met, fell in love and began their lives together. But sharing time at one Board and Staff dinner didn’t begin to demonstrate the dynamics or strength of this couple’s journey together—their precious love for their child McKenzie, nor the difficult days that were looming ahead for their family and the church family.

But what was looming ahead for them that would cause heavy hearts and tears, would ironically no doubt be singing and great celebration by our Heavenly Father with His Angels joyfully rejoicing that another precious soul was coming home to join Their Family.

Bonnie touched my soul at the Staff Retreat. Not having known her all that well, I sat there in amazement, when she asked for our prayers for Juno and McKenzie to have strength to see her through her health challenges. And I felt in my soul, what she didn’t say, was for them to survive the time that I believe she knew may be close, when they would need our church family to gather around them, when it was time for her to go home.

When I lost my mother six years ago, at her celebration of life I read the words of Rick Warren from “The Purpose Driven Life”: When we leave this world, we are not leaving home, we are going Home—Hallelujah!
The Celebration of Life for Bonnie on November 12, 2009 was absolutely beautiful. She had to be rejoicing and finally out of pain, free and peaceful in Christ.

McKenzie, your words and sharing were so precious for your mother. What a beautiful soul your parents have molded, along with our Savior. Your mother was a woman that leaves footprints on the hearts of those who were privileged enough to know her – even if only briefly.

All of us have been richly blessed and touched by our brief time of knowing Bonnie. And now that she’s moved on to what she worked all her life to achieve—we rejoice that she’s walking with her Savior, standing in the glow of His Light and knowing she’ll be waiting for you to join her one of these days. After all, she’s only a heartbeat away.

Melanie Swisher

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