Sunday, February 25, 2018

A glimpse into grief

It's so unpredictable...grief.

The wave comes crashing in without warning.

A glance in the mirror and I see all of the gray hair I accumulated in the last few months....much like her hair.
Its very texture and the way it lays....just like hers.

Emotion starts to seep out.

My crooked right pinky...just. like. hers.

A tear falls...yet a smile appears.

The sound of her laughter...exactly like mine.
I am my mother's daughter...
there is no doubt.

Sometimes I have to stop to catch my breath as I speak or say a certain phrase, as if she's the ventriloquist and I am the doll moving my mouth but...

it's her voice I hear.

Seeing her winter coat, along with the rest of her clothes still sitting in the garage on top of boxes, just as I left them after bringing her belongings home from the nursing home last July.

I cry uncontrollably as I see the untouched pile, collecting dust and cobwebs.
I could not bare to go through them then...

I can't now.

I'm still not ready.

But they're just clothes, I remind myself.


they're my mother's clothes.

I chuckle as I imagine her rockin' that size 7 robe she said she ordered long ago for when she got to heaven. 😉

So,'s all good.

Funny thing, though...being the one left behind.

I know she's never been happier.
Never been more joyful.
Never been more healthy.
No tears.
No fear.

She's with Jesus!

She's Home!


But I miss her.

Living between this world and heaven.


Crazy, unpredictable grief.

I think I need to wear a life jacket at all times...for when that wave comes crashing in again.

Friday, January 5, 2018

6 Months...

6 months.

How can it possibly be?

She’s been absent from this life for 6 months.

But I was so blessed a couple of weeks ago when I heard my mom's voice....audibly. 


I. heard. her. voice. out. loud.

I wasn't feeling well that day so I took a nap.
On top of feeling physically lousy, I was also not up to par in the mental health department…

I was missing my mom, terribly.

Side note: I never expected to miss her this much.  It comes in waves, and when it does, I ride it out. 


I dreamt of her. I don't recall anything specific, but I knew she was in my dream.

When my phone alarm went off, I awoke from my slumber to the sound of soft harp music (aka: my alarm sound)

and my mom's voice. 

She was talking to me. 


Surely I was dreaming. 

Once I came out of my dreamy haze, I realized that I was indeed hearing my mom's voice…

crystal clear.

in the room…

It was coming from the audio book that she recorded for my kids a few years ago. 
She had recorded herself narrating The Night Before Christmas. 
I won’t even question how the book started playing all by itself from the book shelf.

There it was...her voice. 

My mom's voice. 

She sounded 
and full of life. 

It had been a VERY long time since I heard her sounding so…

like Jeannine. 

I mentioned this particular book a few months ago in one of my blog posts. 

I’ll recap…

It was given to my kids at a time when she and I had a very strained relationship. 

Our relationship was one, where on any celebratory occasion that required a card, I would dread having to search through every type of greeting card in hopes of finding one with 

There would never be ANY card with words that fit our relationship. 

So I always chose the funny cards.  Fairly impersonal.  


I never understood the beautiful, close relationships daughters had with their moms. 
I just could not relate. 



Back to The Night Before Christmas book…

So, after receiving this book, which my kids adored and listened to over and over again, just to hear Grammie’s voice come out of it and speak directly to them, the last thing I wanted to hear during that rocky time...

was her voice.

Over and over. 

I get such a pit in my stomach when I think about how awful things had been. 
Of course, now I wish it would have been so different.  

I wish we had had that beautiful relationship so many moms and daughters had. 

You know that saying?...
Don’t live with regrets (or something like that).

This one hits me hard. 

I have felt the pain of regret. 

The no-possible-way-of-ever-changing-things-because-she-is-no-longer-here-but-I-wish-we-had-had-more-good-years type of regret.

I really only had a small handful of good years with my mom over my 47 years of life, including these last 2, which really had changed because mom was riding the slippery slope of dementia and it was mostly a one-way relationship. 

But, then I am reminded that God had been SO faithful to heal our relationship over these last couple of years. 

A complete change of heart. 

So much grace.


I keep going back, in my mind, to her last days. 

Moments and images just pop into my mind.  

No control over it. 

One of the first beautiful moments I recall with mom was the first night I spent with her after hearing she only had 24-48 hours left. 

Things were getting real.

She had been sleeping a lot and her waking moments were becoming fewer and far between.  

I kept watch in a chair that was facing her bed. 

I could not stop watching her. 

I looked for any signs that she might be ready to take her last breath. 

I watched her as she’d mumble in her sleep and reach out for things that weren’t there.

I watched her be completely still, and I’d look to see if her chest was moving up and down. 

I was thinking about how I was not ready for this to be the end.

But there was no turning back.

I had to stay awake so I didn’t miss a single thing. 
I was determined to be right there with her when she took her final breath in this life. 

How exhausting is that!  Both physically and mentally.

It was about 2am and mom suddenly woke up, looked over at me, and said, 
“Wendi, you look so tired. Why don’t you go home and get some rest.”

That was the moment. 

The beautiful moment where she said my name and spoke in such a gentle and nurturing voice. 

Her voice.

This mama was concerned about her daughter and her well-being. 

So personal. 

So loving. 

So beautiful. 

This beautiful relationship between a mother and daughter was so evident 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jeannine Limbeck - Celebration of Life - Eulogy

Jeannine Limbeck's Celebration of Life 

Saturday, September 9, 2017
@Faith Community Church
New Richmond, WI

Eulogy written and delivered by Wendi Halleen

(This blog post came out of what was written)

Hello. I’m Wendi Halleen, Jeannine’s daughter.  Welcome and thank you for coming today.  

You are all here because you’re connected to mom in some way.  
People coming together from all walks of life to celebrate the life of 

Jeannine Elizabeth Limbeck.  

My mom.

(July 18, 1946 - July 5, 2017)

I admit that I didn’t expect this celebration to happen so soon, but given her health issues the last few years, mom was certainly ready to get the celebration started…

…not here, though…

…but in HEAVEN

So while we are grieving the loss of her here on earth, I can assure you that through God’s promise of eternity in heaven through the belief in Jesus Christ, she is dancing with her Father God in fields of grace. 


I’ve been reading through mom’s journals over the last couple of weeks and found so many encouraging words.   

The following entry was made years before she became ill.  
How true (and impactful) these words would become when she would later come upon some pretty dark days.  

She looked to the future and believed God’s promises.

“The whole thought of what Jesus Christ did for us is so awesome.  My mind thinks of God, who created us on this earth — sin — how we’re forgiven — what we are to do while we’re here — being in heaven one day, etc.  Totally boggles my mind.  How thankful I am that I know one day I’ll be with Jesus Christ because of the cross.”  

-Jeannine Limbeck  (Friday, November 20, 1998)

Mom was sure about her eternity.  

There was no doubt.  

But she also knew that God had work for her to do here in the meantime.  

There was MUCH to do.  

Mom’s favorite verse was Proverbs 16:3…

“Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.”

So back in the early 90s, this is exactly what she did.

She committed her works to the Lord.  

There was a pivotal event in her life that caused her to re-commit her life to Him.  

She always said she believed in Jesus from a very young age, but it was this event that caused her to drop to her knees and cry out to the Lord.

Then…He began a new chapter in her life.

She began to live the life He had given her…

...with purpose.

But not just ANY purpose…


He had established her plans.


Mom was attending Grace Church of DuPage in Winfield, IL and was trained as a Biblical counselor.  

She began to help people through Christ-centered, biblical counseling.

It was just the beginning for her.  

She eventually became involved in jail and prison ministry.

I wish I would have talked to mom more back then and knew the exact path she took to get to where God had brought her.  
But at that time, I wasn't a Christian and was actually more annoyed whenever she talked about God or her church.

But God was writing the story…

Not me.

I didn't trust Him then, but I know now that He was purposing it all. 

Mom prayed and prayed for me for many years.  

It was actually through my mom that the Lord grabbed a hold of my heart in 1994.  

She never. stopped. praying. 

In fact, as I read through her journals, I see all of the people mom has prayed for.  

Specific prayers.

On-going prayers.

Fervent prayers…

For those she loved.

For those she met while ministering in the jails and prisons.

Mom was a true prayer warrior.

To read her inner thoughts and HOW she prayed when in the quiet…

…has been such a gift.

She always wrote in cursive, and to see her beautiful, flowing handwriting is something that I will cherish in this life. 

In recent years, it became more difficult for her to write, and eventually all she could do was scribble.

So having her journals with her beautiful writing is also a gift to me.  


But back to prison ministry and other pivotal events…

In 1997, mom felt God calling her to move from the Chicagoland area, where she had lived all of her life, to a small town in western Wisconsin called New Richmond.

She took a giant step of faith and went to help plant (establish) a church, called Faith Community Church.  

This was HUGE!

Mom had faith in God’s direction for her life.

She had been a director with Mary Kay Cosmetics for many years and eventually earned the title of National Sales Director.  

And of course, what comes with that title?…


But after 12 years of great success in her business, things began to decline.  

Sales were not as they were.

This was not a bad thing, but rather the closing of one door 

and the opening of another…

A new adventure!!

Mom was so excited to move to New Richmond (where everything was 2 minutes away, according to her.) and was excited to watch the Lord’s established plans unfold some more.


She got connected with a job in town at a re-sale shop called “Good as New”…

And she loved every. minute. of. it.  

She was involved with a team of people who were getting Faith Community Church (not the building, but the body of believers) established…

And she loved every. minute. of. it.

Then she began going into the St. Croix County Jail and prisons in the western Wisconsin area…

And also loved every. minute. of. it. 

I believe that what she loved most about all of it was the fact that she could share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone she came in contact with…

whether it was with someone walking through the doors of Good as New, 

or talking with people about this new church that was being birthed, 

or with those living inside the prison walls who desperately needed to know that there was a God who loved them deeply and that she loved them too. 


There are two verses that mom really loved… 

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” 

-Hebrews 13:3

Mom ALWAYS remembered the prisoners.

She also remembered them once they were out of prison…

helping them re-integrate into society, 

encouraging them and praying with and for them.

When we moved her out of her apartment and into a nursing home two years ago, I can’t tell you how many letters she had saved from inmates.  

Letter after letter told of (reminded her of) the encouragement she gave and how she loved them…

…even when nobody else did. 

Even though mom had not physically been able to go to the jail or prisons in a few years, she would still receive letters from inmates.  

Many of them were filled with encouragement and love for HER.

Mom shared the love of Jesus and shown brightly for the Lord for many years.  

His plans had been established in and through her. 

The other verse she loved was…

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

-Romans 10:17

Mom took every opportunity to tell others about Jesus.  

In the laundromat (yes, she had a laundromat ministry), 

at the flower shop, 

in the grocery store, 

and many other places. 

She also wanted others to know what He had done in her own life.  

She wanted everybody to know Jesus like SHE did.

Her HOPE was in HIM. 

Mom was always excited for the next adventure God had for her. 
In fact, she would call these encounters…

She always had a story to share about how the Lord had worked.

I’m sure she shared a story

Or two

Or three…

With many of YOU.

Or maybe you were a part of those stories she told about how the Lord had worked…


I know I was. 

I am a part of the story that God has written in mom’s life.

I am forever grateful for that. 


The last few years were difficult, to say the least.

The stories began to dwindle as mom’s health declined.

Dementia and other health issues had taken its toll and there were fewer and fewer words exchanged in the last year or so.

But mom was content.

She was ready to see Jesus.

She may not have had a lot to say, but she sure lit up when you mentioned His name.

She was at peace and looked forward to seeing Him face to face.


I admit that I wrestled with it all…

Losing my mom.

But in the end, I know that God’s plans were best.

She wasn't mine.

She was HIS.

She would be with JESUS!

What JOY!

It's who she talked about for SO long with SO many (who would listen).

This was her purpose…

to share the GOOD NEWS with others. 


And I’m thinking (when she finally met Jesus) that she may have received that size 7 robe she ordered years ago. 😉


I’ll conclude with two final journal entries that really made an impression on me…

 “God is faithful, His promises are true and His love unending.  I know I must trust Him when I don't feel His presence.  One day we will know His plan.  Now we don't understand why certain things happen.  He has a purpose for everything.  I must keep my focus on the cross and the blood shed for the lost.” 

-Jeannine Limbeck  (Saturday, September 12, 1998)


“God’s will for my life is perfect.  As he leads me through the ups and downs of life, I must trust Him.  I know His desire is to purify me, refine me.  Sanctification will not be completed until I  breathe my last breath.  I thank Him for His incredible love for me.”  

-Jeannine Limbeck  (Friday, August 14, 1998)

I was blessed to be with her when she took her last breath,... 

 mom passed from this life into Glory!  

It was the hardest thing I’ve experienced…

yet the most beautiful. 

No more pain!

She is FREE!!

She is with JESUS!!!

Now THAT is cause for celebration!

We celebrate her life here and we celebrate her life with her Father God in heaven!

Until we meet again…

I love you, mom. 


Below are photos we displayed at mom's celebration plus a few more.
Enjoy seeing the many eras!