As I return to writing this weekend, my heart is searching for what to say after losing my dear friend, Melissa to cancer just two weeks ago. Our hearts are heavy as we grieve and yet, we are so full of gratitude for the gift of friendship for thirty three years. When I spoke at her funeral, I chose Proverbs 27:9 ESV as my theme verse. "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel."
I believe that our journeys of faith are the work of God’s Spirit drawing us to Himself and investing in our lives through those he chooses to walk alongside us, so that we might know more of His wonder, His love, His grace and His beauty. Melissa was that friend in my life.
Life was an adventure to her. She lived it full out and as her friend I got to go along for the ride; experiencing things I would never have known, from trips to mountain peaks in God’s creation for surprise gourmet candlelight dinners to the wonder of butterfly and herb gardens, musical events, to sports endeavors she could conquer and I could barely survive, to a proper English tea party with the finest china. She pursued it all with contagious joy and zest for adventure, making the most of every moment.
Melissa loved to cook and she loved the beauty of God's creation. She taught me to appreciate the wonder of herbs. She always had an herb garden at her home and would whip up delicious herb butters to serve with her wonderful homemade breads and amazing culinary creations. She was a great storyteller and taught about the herbs of the Bible at VBS at our church for years. I loved the scents and learning the ancient meaning of the herbs and began to grow some in my own garden.
As I looked through the "My Beloved" letters remaining to share with you in our series this summer, I came across what I had always called the "Rosemary" letter. Rosemary is traditionally known as the herb of "remembrance and love." In many countries it is used in funeral ceremonies as well. I always keep a rosemary plant growing by my side door because I love its wonderful scent and meaning.
When I was writing these letters years ago, I felt impressed that the women in our study should share a "My Beloved" letter as a gift to someone who had been a special person in their life
...someone they wanted to encourage and bless with the Word
... someone to be remembered and loved.
And so, when I first taught the study from which these letters are taken, we planted "rosemary" plants in a pot and delivered them all around town with the "My Beloved" letter attached. This letter contains some of my favorite Scriptures of encouragement and hope. I had given this "My Beloved" letter to my friend.
During the weeks we spent in her home under hospice care, we discovered a clip board with her handwriting of the Philippians 4:6,7 Scripture in her craft room.
" Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
She was memorizing while her talented hands worked on the many creative endeavors she pursued during her life. What a beautiful picture of a life of faith, always meditating on the Word.
When Melissa first went home from the hospital, I brought her a little arrangement of gardenias, her favorite flower, from my garden and mixed in sprigs of her beloved rosemary herb. I hoped the wonderful scents would bless her.
Melissa was one of the most generous, loving, loyal, strong, talented, courageous, and creative women I have ever known. Her life was a gift to us all and she gave abundantly never holding back. During the years of our friendship we often talked about our faith and the power of God's Word. That is the joy of a friendship that is centered in the love of the Lord. I will always cherish the wonderful memories we share with her husband Perry and her children. We traveled together as families and have shared the trials and victories of life. Our lives are forever changed and enriched because God chose to weave our hearts and souls together in the deep abiding threads of love and friendship, a friendship that refreshes the soul.
Below is the "Rosemary" My Beloved Letter. I pray that it will be a letter of hope and love to you.
If you like, please feel free to copy and print it out and share these words of Scripture with someone you love; someone you want to know that they are remembered for their investment in your life. You might even include a few rosemary sprigs and tie it up with a pretty ribbon or give them a small rosemary plant along with the letter as an act of kindness to bless your friend.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what I have prepared for you
because you love Me, but I will reveal it to you by My Spirit.
The Spirit of God within you will search all things, even the deep things of God.
My Spirit will guide you into all truth and bring glory to Me
by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.
My dear one, do you need wisdom and guidance today?
Meditate on my Word all day long. My Word is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
My Word will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.
I am leading you in triumphal procession in My Son
and spreading everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus.
You are to Me the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are lost.
Put your trust in Me for I am your Refuge and your Fortress. I have seen your love for Me
and I will rescue you and protect you for you acknowledge My name.
So do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to Me.
And My peace, which transcends understanding,
will stand guard over your heart and your mind.
I have come to offer you living water so that you will never be thirsty again.
Drink of Me and I will give you water that will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Trust in Me and don’t be afraid. I am the Lord, your strength and your song.
Draw from the well of My salvation with joy!
I will give you refuge in the shadow of My wings. Come, feast on the abundance of My house;
drink from My river of delights. For with Me is the fountain of life; in My light you will see light.
Rejoice for I will show you the path of life. You will know the fullness of joy in my presence.
Follow me and I will lead you to the Highway of Holiness.
There you will rejoice with singing
and an everlasting crown of joy will rest upon your head.
1 Cor. 2:9, 10, John 16:13-15, Phil. 14:8, Psalm 119:97, 89, 105, 2 Cor. 2:14, 15, Psalm 91:2, 14,
Phil. 4:6, 7, Isaiah 12:2, 3, Psalm 36:7-9, Psalm 16:11, Isaiah 35:8, 10.
The last gift that I brought Melissa was a small bouquet of white roses with some sprigs of rosemary. When I walked into her room I told her I had brought her a wedding bouquet because she was going to meet her Bridegroom. She was unable to respond in her last days, but I sensed in her spirit she knew. I sang over her that night and we had a season of prayer and when I left her, I kissed her forehead and whispered, "You are His precious Bride, sweet Melissa, and your heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus is waiting for you. He has prepared a heavenly home for you in glory! Now rest my dear friend in the arms of your Savior. You are His Beloved."
And yes, there were many tears as I drove home that night and will be in the days ahead, but I can rest in the hope and promises of His Word, for now our sweet Melissa is enjoying the fullness of the Lord's presence in heaven. I rejoice that now she wears an everlasting crown of joy and rejoices with singing in worship of the Lamb who has overcome the power of sin and death. He alone is worthy of all the honor, glory and praise. Hallelujah!
Held in His love and comfort,
Spiritual intimacy is beautifully portrayed for us in the theme of Bridehood as seen throughout the Scriptures. We are the Bride of Christ, pursued by our Bridegroom Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come take a journey with Restore Ministries through the Word as we discover the beauty and power of genuine bridal devotion.
Do you desire to know Christ in a deeper intimate way?
On this retreat we will explore the Scriptures and ancient Jewish wedding customs to discover how they relate to the teachings and heart of Jesus for you as His Bride.
Register now to join us as we explore Our Position, Divine Passion, and His Purpose for us as the Bride of Christ. May we draw near as His beloved Bride and honor Christ as King. It is our prayer that the Lord will awaken our hearts to the pursuit of our Bridegroom in this wonderful retreat!
Restore Women's Retreat
Please make plans to join us September 30 - October 1
Location: Solomon Conference Center, Loranger, LA
Cost: $192 ~ Covers lodging, 3 meals, & supplies
Limited Space Available
Melissa loved attending Restore Retreats and understood the importance of pulling away and soaking in the beauty of God's wonder in creation and the power of His Word.
We are pleased to announce that the Melissa Baugh Parrino memorial fund has been set up in her honor to offer scholarships for women who need financial assistance to attend Restore Retreats and events. If you have a need, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to donate to this fund to offer assistance to women, please click the button below.
For more information click Melissa's Memorial Fund.
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