January 16, 2019
my friend and brother-in-christ, tom shrader, went home to Jesus january 13th, 2019.
I’ve been listening to two songs on repeat these past few days:
my name is on his heart,
my husband lightly teased me of listening to emotional music but I countered with reminding him that they both make me dwell on thoughts of heaven and the many friends that now have gone on before us.
he stopped teasing after that. 😉
the first song is my heart lullaby song that a talented friend wrote and is my go-to when my heart aches and when I’m silent because words hurt to speak.
but the second is forever attached to him now.
it was one of the last songs I played this past sunday during worship and the one song I couldn’t help but cry tear-stained prayers up to heaven all morning knowing he was taking his last days breaths surrounded by his loved ones.
these lyrics from the song caught in my throat on sunday as I prayed:
“until I see You face to face,
until at last I’ve won my race,
remind me You’re not finished yet.“
his race is finished.
what an incredible feeling that must be and even more so, to hear “well done.” from our Savior.
angels may wonder at our relationship with Jesus, but I wonder at angels who have a front row seat to hear those words uttered out loud by Jesus to our friends who pass on. it must be incredible.
when tom was lead teaching pastor, every summer he’d come back from a sabbatical and teach a message called “what I learned from summer vacation“. well, to honor his annual summer education, I’d like to offer “a few things I’ve learned from tom shrader” along with a few images/quotes that friends/family have been quoting on social media. 🙂
I’m not sure if he was the first to quote that or not, but it resonated with me when he spoke those words during one of his messages back from 2012. (thank you evernote for timestamps.)
that statement followed with an exhortation and a question:
“influence your world. which begs the question: what/who is your world?“
*side thought – I have a lot of those*
satan must be frustrated.
I’m sure he was happy that tom died. think about it, a great man of faith who was still teaching about Jesus up to a few weeks before he died. I can imagine that in satans mind tom is seemingly silenced by death.
jokes on satan.
his teaching, his quotes, his tangible legacy in his kids/grandkids/friends/family seems even louder these past few days. and even worse for satan, all those teachings and quotes are still playable for generations to come thanks to recordings and the internet.
*end side thought*
*back to the legacy/influence shrader-ism.*
simply put, he’s left a legacy of living a life changed for Jesus.
his words and life has affected tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.
simply because he wasn’t afraid to live with honesty about who he was in the eyes of a holy God.
and even more, he never acted like he affected all of these many people. he took the time to say hello to each of us as if each of us mattered to him. that’s rare. so, so rare.
I can still remember the first time matt + I visited redemption (formerly evbc).
we were sitting with tim + susanne in the back row of what now is the chapel. the place was packed as per usual. the worship was loud and beautiful and so different from what I had been used to. I was standing there trying to wrap my head around this new unknown church that was to be our home when I felt a tap on my shoulder. *full disclaimer, I had grown up in a suit-wearing-pastor-sits-in-the-front-row-proper-from-the-bible-belt-kind-of-a-church.* but when I turned around to see who was tapping, I was greeted by a grinning-fully-clad-in-a-hawaiian-shirt-bearded-almost-ewokish-man with his hand stuck out to us. mind you, worship was still going on, when he loudly said over the music that he was glad we had made the move out here and he couldn’t wait for susan and the girls and him to get to know us better.
I was flabergasted.
what kind-of pastor takes the time to greet us (new nobodies) during the service when (in my mind) he should have been at the front prepping his mind to teach and seriously what was up with the shirt?
his greeting and demeanor and attire immediately confirmed to me that matt and I had made the right decision in moving cross country to be a part of whatever this man and then man next to us were going to be a part of.
he taught a message that still I go back to time and again. he started by saying that stress is the fastest growing disease in america. the wear and tear of living is literally making us sick. so then how do we “consider it joy” – it’s seemingly counter intuitive… to consider it joy in trial has to be super natural. our hope has to be rooted in the character of God, in the Sovereignty of God, in the faithfulness of God and in the promises of God.
tom reminded me/us that:
1. God is in control. in colossians 1:16-17 it says “for in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” and then again in psalm 139:15 MSG “you know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
I don’t have to be in control because He is.
2. God is our only hope – life is temporary. he went on to say “no matter how bad it gets, it can only last a lifetime.” he is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. what you’re doing is important, but Jesus is the only thing that matters.” 2 corinthians 4:16-19 + 1 thessalonians 4:14-18
3. God causes all things to work for our good. does that mean easiest? less pain/heartache? nope, good. romans 8:28
4. God doesn’t change. what you know trumps what you feel. which begs the question – what do I know?
james 1:17 + malachi 3:6 + hebrews 13:8
when I’m feeling stressed/anxious/overwhelmed/______ what do I know?
I know the God of the universe and He calls me His own through His son Jesus. and that’s a promise. and a promise is only as good as the One who is making it.
now tom may have said this first, but honestly his first wife susan taught me this through her life and her girls and now I teach it to my own daughter.
when matt signed on to be a youth pastor twenty something years ago I have to admit I was more than a little apprehensive. you see, I had grown up being best friends with the head pastors daughter from my childhood church and I had gotten a front row seat to what life looked like living in a “fishbowl” and had pretty much all but vowed to never sign up to be a pastors wife.
jokes on me. 😉
one of the first pastors wives brunches I went to was at tom + susan’s home. I was surrounded by ministry giants and I felt incredibly small and insignificant and very much out of place in my torn-jeans-which-were-obviously-not-dress-pants-like-everyone-else. I found myself wandering out of the living room into the kitchen to ask if I could help susan serve (which was much more my comfort zone as a current waitress). susan turned to an obviously insecure me and smiled her very jackie-o smile and took the time to bless me with her words: “you can do this, jen. they’re just ladies you don’t know yet, in a house you don’t know yet…but you will and you can do this.” gosh, that lady was gold. she lived out grace and blessed others with her life just by being her.
my words, my house, my stuff, my time, my life – they’re not my own. it’s been given to me as a gift from God yes, to enjoy but also to look for ways to give God back the glory. tom + susan (and now sandy) did and do this so well. something tom always said was that he and susan would sit down at the end of the year and ask not “how much money do we want to give this year?” but “how much of God’s money does He want us to keep this year?” meaning their money wasn’t theirs to begin with – it was His and they were just stewards of it. they were blessed to be a blessing and lived lives that demonstrated that truth lived out.
this last topic I want to remember is meshed with an old message and a few short conversations we’ve had the past year or so. tom had been teaching on stewardship, generosity + giving back in 2017. his question to the church was: what gifts have you already received in being called to Christ?
1. first, most obviously salvation. God. Saves. Sinners. plain and simple. and the story of Christmas is a most obvious love story that demonstrates God’s relentless love for us. ephesians 2:8-9.
2. eternal life. Romans 6:23 – being reconciled with God. Luke 2:14 – have peace with God – Romans 5:11. peace of God – Ephesians 2:16-17. then the ministry of reconiciliation – 2 corinthians 5:18-19. which leads you to live at peace with one another – i.e. to disengage from arguing. I’m laughing at that memory because tom loved to low-key argue politics and struggled with that last part.
3. God’s presence. acts 2:38.
4. and the point I’ll stop a while on…special ability. 1 peter 4:10 + 1 corinthians 1:7. sometimes after worship on a sunday (especially if we were singing how great is our God) he’d side-hug me and say thanks for serving us by playing – I love watching + listening to you play. and I’d say thanks for serving us by teaching us God’s word – I love listening to you teach. it was a simple interaction but it made me think often about the body of Christ and how cool it is that God gives us each different gifts or special abilities to serve each other and how that furthers His kingdom. he went on in his message of stewardship/special ability to ask: how do you respond to these gifts? first how do you respond? you say thank you. God freely gave to you, you then freely give. how much do you give? where do you give? you give where you’re taught. you give where you’re nurtured. you give where you live. and you give more than you think. oh, and giving is so much more than just about money. God doesn’t want your money, He wants your heart – He wants you. Romans 12:1-2. he went on to say God entrusts this stuff and these gifts to us – how do we take care of His stuff? wasting time + gifts is just the same as wasting money. I will spend the rest of my life working at taking good care of “God’s stuff”.
I’ve realized at this point that I could go on and on about what I’ve learned from this man. and heading over to his facebook profile to read what others have writter only triggers more memories + teachings + quotes…I seriously can’t wait for his memorial. (you’re invited: it’s february 2nd, 2019 at scottsdale bible church worship center at 10a.m.)
the last few things I want to write down are a few random memories that I remember about him in no particular order:
*him wanting to be a part of the “band” at summer camp one year. tim gave him a harmonica in the key we all played in and that man puffed and puffed like he was part of the blues brothers. still makes me laugh when I think about him playing.
*him + susan dressing up as mr. + mrs. claus. they’re seriously legendary. and he was only a slightly creepy rendition of santa claus. 😉 way to rein it in, shrades.
*him being ridiculous about rubbing my pregnant belly. he was so weird but it made me laugh on the regular and oddly put me at ease because I hated being pregnant.
*matt + I’s first pastoral staff christmas party going to scottsdale fashion square and dinner with everyone. it was a perfectly choeographed night by him + susan (and susan miller, no doubt.) but it was one of my most favorite memories in working at church.
*him + susan visiting me in the hospital after micah was born. I think susan worked at the hospital at the time, but she and tom came in to meet micah and it meant a lot to this very nervous new mom.
*his obsession with brownies + cookies…especially at the draft party he and matt and several others were a part of together. I could always count on a text after the draft party from him raving about my chocolate chip cookies. the saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is well-attached to tom.
*fantasy football with his grandson’s, son-in-law, my husband, + my son. the smack that was talked. it drew my introverted son to him and tom seemed to know that…it gave micah more to talk about with him. and I loved to see him + braden’s or tyler + yale’s team take on either matt or micah’s team…it was fun rivalry to watch.
*talking about cannon beach with him and then getting to text him while I went there this last year. it made it more special because I was finally got to see + experience what he had so lovingly talked about all those years before.
*him being probably the only #1 fan of 1turn80. if you want to know what 1turn80 is, ask any of the maughan’s – they’ll probably laugh and might not tell you – but still ask. 😉 he would listen to our cd’s the whole drive out to summer camp so he knew the songs we would be singing at camp. #1 fan for life.
*seeing him happy the first summer camp after he married sandy. that man loves love. and seeing him happy and in love made me happy. plus, I’m petty and love that two of the four profile pictures he had on facebook were of the two of them that I made him take. he always said we should have taken pictures of the two of them, but I think he decided he was too allergic to my camera to do it. 😉
I miss you, tom.
and will probably continue to miss you until I’m seeing what you’re seeing.
I’m so thankful for you and the life teaching you’ve given me and so many others through living a transparent life.
I genuinely can’t wait to see you “soon”.
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