Keep your eye on the gate

There is so much to say today, yet I struggle to find the words.  Odd, really, because first of all, I am rarely at a loss for words and besides, there are so many questions and thoughts and feelings swirling inside of me, refusing to be buttoned up in a tidy place.  But here I sit.

Today a close group of us are thinking  about how a special someone- a living, breathing soul, who once had children and house plants and a brother and friendships, a devoted husband, hobbies and favorite songs- can be here one minute, with opinions and agendas and things to say, with life and blood pulsing through her body… and then in the next minute while the rest of us are fighting traffic, blow-drying our hair, standing in line or watching Seinfeld, be just plain gone from this earth. Oh sure, we are certain my beautiful aunt’s new home is with God because of choices she made while she was here but man, we will  miss her while we are all still here fighting traffic, blow drying our hair, standing in line and watching Seinfeld.

After sitting with her the other day, just hours before she moved from earth and then getting the text from my cousin later that evening that she had left, I recounted all the things that made this sassy, edgy woman iconic in my mind. How she poured her 50-year-old body into a bikini to catch some waves, not caring what anyone thought.  How my grandmother died with no bedsores on her body because my aunt painstakingly cared for her in her last days in a hospital bed in the middle of her living room.  How this beach girl took on New York later in life as she managed the life and career of a Broadway songwriting icon.  And how she taught me that, like the words of a song I recorded on my first album, when it’s all said and done, grace is what mattered to determine my destiny, not works.

Her passing this week emphasized this as I pondered the story she’d lived.  Like most, hers was a day in and day out culmination of tasks, some big and important, but most, mundane, uneventful and quotidian.  But the more I think about it, those small things just may matter at least as much, if not more than the big stuff because those seemingly insignificant tasks add up- unseen, mostly- but I believe our everyday choices bleed together and before we know it, our story has been written.

When the day comes when those I love lay my body to rest, I want my story to have mattered.  I want the people in my life and those who might’ve been watching it to be able to say like the brilliant Shelley Pimentel did “… to be glad they existed on the page with me. (I want them) To feel loved. Fully. Leaps and bounds above even the kind of love we pay boatloads of money to find on the big screen. I want people to feel invested in and cared for and known and like their stories matter, matter a lot, to me too. And I want people, through my story, to somehow see God. To see Him moving and breathing and re-creating inside me. And to be drawn to experience the same.”

And so Auntie, as we say farewell to you today just above the beach you loved so much, I want you to know you mattered.  A whole lot.

And keep your eye on the gate… we’ll be there soon.



God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

Revelation 21:3b-5a NLT



Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker who lives in Southern California.

Read Sylvia’s other posts, and LIKE her on Facebook!

88 thoughts on “Keep your eye on the gate”

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  30. Oh…what a beautifully written tribute, and now she is at peace…face to face with Jesus! We all are inspired by this post to make the days here count and glorify God with our choices, words, and love we share to build up those around us. I love you, Sylvia.

  31. I just love the way you ended this message. . keep your eye on the gate, we’ll be there soon. It so exemplifies the only way to make sense of loss. If not for the promise of heaven and as scripture says,”we shall know as we have known” I am not so sure my heart could withstand the loss of “out loud” loved ones. Thank you for sharing your precious aunt with us. I look forward to meeting her in heaven one day! I am certain you will introduce us when we get there!

  32. Beautiful sentiments for someone who influenced your life! It’s so wonderful to celebrate those who have an impact in lives on a daily basis. I believe Jesus spent quality time with God, while encouraging those whom He could love, strengthen and challenge…

  33. Wow, she sounds wonderful, not surprising if she’s your Dads sister! Such a well written tribute to her. Don’t worry; When it’s your turn to go to the gate, you will have oodles of people saying they saw God through you!

  34. I want you to knows that your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Elaine was a special lady who took such loving care of Hugh along with her husband. She is probably taking care of him now in heaven too. She was so proud of you and your wonderful singing voice. I will call your uncle and express my condolences. Your aunt is an angel now with God just like she was here on earth. My heart aches for your uncle- she will be missed. Rejoice in her life!

  35. We think we’re here forever but we’re just not. In one second we could be gone.
    Your writing reminds me of Donald Miller. Does he know about you?

    1. That’s quite a compliment but I doubt Donald knows anything about me. But feel free to spread the word– are you kidding me? Thanks for stopping by.

  36. Sylvia, this is my first time reading something from you. Thank you for sharing what is churning inside you..your truth and feelings are mine. I want to die knowing that those I loved were loved and appreciated fully. A good reminder for me, thanks.

  37. I wish you would write more often because I walk away from reading your words feeling more focused and inspired. Thank you for this one in particular. I lost my brother a few months ago and have had struggles making sense of his too-soon-departure from this earth. You are incredible and I hope to meet you someday.

  38. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I can “hear” how much your aunt meant to you. She was one lucky lady to have known you too. You make that same impact on others in their lives. What a great legacy she left…and you will too!

  39. Thank you for sharing this! The loss of my dad last fall is still so present, these thoughts and feelings are still so intense. The sudden death of a beloved person is uncomprehensible, may he be “dancing with Jesus” or not. Even though I know he is with God- I miss him and it hurts incredibly much.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, dear Sandra. It sounds like it still hurts so much and I’m sure it will for awhile to come. I guess it’s evidence that he was well loved by you, and made a huge impact on your life!

  40. Touching, sounds like a woman after my own heart…and your story will be sung my sister! And a BEAUTIFUL tune it will be!!

    1. That’s true, but the perspective I love is that we are part of God’s story, rather than what so many of us think… that it’s the other way around. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  41. Hi, it’s Lynda from LJCC. I met you at the retreat. My heart aches for you and your family. I am praying for comfort for you and your family

  42. I LOVED this story and wanted you to know that you have always made me feel special and loved, you have a big heart too. The picture of your dad looks a lot like my dad who went to be with Jesus 3 years ago in April and my mom 10 days later. Your aunt must have been a great blessing to you and your family, love her spunk to just let go and not care what others think. Not sure I could bring my 63 year old body to even get in a full size bathing suit with skirting let alone a bikini, but more power to those who can, or will, to ride or catch a wave and just have fun! Love you my friend, till we meet again. Kay

  43. Thanks Sylvia! Beautifully written and so heart felt. I sure wish I could have been there to celebrate her life! I loved her “sassy-classy” ways, but she sure loved all of us kids.

  44. You live the most intentional life I know, mattering to every person with whom you come in contact whether by song, word, or deed, in person or half a world away. You are an inspiration and it is a privilege to have a glimpse into the life of a woman who so obviously inspired you. Love, love, love how much you matter!

  45. I grieve but not as those who have no hope. I just visited a very precious friend from many years back who was not able to communicate but was still able to show her love for me with a smile and squeeze of my hand. Her smile dug into the very depths of my heart and soul. Now I am with the husband of one of my dearest friends who still grieves for his life partner who went to glory 3 years ago. He is in and out of reality. I have had the blessed privilege of caring for him while his daughter/full time care giver went out for a few hours to do some shopping and some “get away time”. He calls me by name one minute and the next wonders who I am. Talk about stabs in the heart but an honor to be able to have this opportunity to minister to him and his needs… probably for the last time. Again, we grieve but not as those who have no hope. I have lost so many loved ones in such a short time. I can truly say I now have more soul mates in heaven than I do on earth. Still, God is good and His ways are beyond our ways.

    1. I heard it said once that “a man can live 30 days without food, 3 days without water, 3 minutes without oxygen… but not one second without HOPE.”

  46. Just beautifully written and so eloquent. You write with your heart and touch so many as you share your feelings. I love how you told a part of your auntie’s story and her impact here on Earth.

  47. The crowd watching at the gate is swelling. It is so hard to come to grips with. I find my father’s favorite benediction comforting these days, maybe you will too. It is the doxology from Jude 1:24-25 “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

    1. So true. The bittersweet reality of that throng hits us deep in our human hearts, but when we try to look at it through His eyes, we can find a way to celebrate. Imagine what THAT PLACE will be like! Hugs to you.

  48. What a touching tribute to your aunt, and my friend Elaine… an incredibly beautiful and generous woman.

  49. You are so gifted at putting a story on paper. Your love for your Auntie is evident. What a beautiful tribute. What perfect words to capture how we all want to be known and remembered: “You Mattered”

    The real lump in my throat came when I imagined you singing “When It’s All Been Said And Done”. You matter in such big and small ways – Thank you for sharing this story with us.

  50. I thought of this verse & YOU after reading your blog….John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”. ..

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