Karyl spoke clearly and passionately, “Roger was what I would call a true Texas Gentleman. He was soft spoken and always had a funny story. When I close my eyes and see Roger I see his slightly lopsided lips pursed into that famous grin; if you knew Roger Allen, you knew that grin.”
“Along with that lopsided grin,” Karyl continued, “came the sparkling eyes of a person focused on helping people help themselves. He lived with that kind of undocumented humility all his life.”
She stopped for a moment, then with water leaking out of the corners of her eyes, she said, “When I was in my early 20’s I went through a very painful divorce. I needed to get alway, so I arranged for a leave of absence from work and drove the 15 hours to Tyler, Texas. “I needed to be with my sister.”
Before bed that first night, her sister, Kathy told told her, “Karyl you can stay as long as you like, but you have to be at Roger’s office in the morning at at 9:30.”
She didn’t want to talk to anyone, much less a man, but the next morning out of respect for Kathy, she went.
She walked in, sat down, and before she could even look up, Roger said, “Well, little sister you have some work to do. You will see me every day that you are here. Even on Saturday and Sunday.” Karyl was overwhelmed.
Roger told her that in their daily talks she would listen to what he had to say, then they would talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. Those were the rules. “So, for 30 days,” Karyl said with the hint of a smile, “I listened first and then I got to talk.”
Roger words were simple. At the beginning of every session he said, “Little sister, you are so young, you are so smart, you are so pretty. You have your whole life ahead of you. You are loved by many people and you WILL live like it.”
He never varied in 30 days. He was planting seeds of hope in Karyl heart. With just a few words, Roger helped a shattered young girl pick up the pieces of brokenness and move on with confidence.
Karyl smiled and added, “If Roger appeared to us in a vision or something, I know exactly what he would say, ‘Remember, in God’s eyes, you are young. You are smart. You are beautiful. You have so much life in front of you and you WILL Live like it!'”
Bart’s death was unexpected. He was too young, barely in his forties. All who knew him will miss him. Bart Phillips was a man blessed with intensity; he lived all his years with abandoned. It was that free spirit that endeared him to so many. He got it right!
He won’t be remembered for his failures, or successes, he captured a place in our hearts because he was unexpected. He chose to surprise us with his passion. It seems, God loved to take him off-road and when God takes you to new places and fills you with new dreams the unexpected always happens.
Bart’s memorial service was winding down; we had laughed and cried and honored the man who was best friends with everyone in the room. Just before the benediction she stood and quietly walked to the platform. Poised and confident, she took the mic, bowed her head for a second, looked up, and spoke of her love for Bart and his love for their young boys. There was grit and depth in her voice and resolve in her words.
She closed with this, “If I could have 30 minutes with my Bart, just 30 more minutes, I would slow dance with him and spend every minute telling him all the reasons why I love him and always will.”
At that moment, in that place, Suzi Phillips was unexpected and those of us present will never forget her words, or her passion.
I am through setting back wishing for the unexpected, I’m through dreading the unexpected. And, I’m through praying for the unexpected. From this day forward, I choose to live my days, being unexpected.
Some of the best life lessons are found in the most unexpected places.
You say, you could never do what Suzi did; you could never speak at a funeral. “Why?”
Can you give when no one expects you to give?
Can you forgive, when it seems impossible to forgive?
Can you put in a good word for a friend, when others are gossiping?
Can you burst out in song when everyone else is quiet?
Can you talk to the forgotten nobodies and really listen to them?
Can you find good in a pile of dung?
Then, do it!
“Remember, in God’s eyes, you are young. You are smart. You are beautiful. You have so much life in front of you and you WILL live like it!”