Order of Service for Leona Middlebrooks
July 14, 2016 10:00 AM Shartel Church of God
Prelude: Jean Shackleton
Opening Prayer: Jim Morrison
Scripture Reading: Jim Morrison
Music: David Blackburn – In Christ Alone
Obituary: Ron Roddy
Music: Recording of Leona singing
Eulogy: Written by Glen Bounds
Presented by Ron Roddy
Message: Jim Morrison
Music: Recording of Leona singing
Postlude: Jean Shackleton
Come Holy Spirit to comfort our hearts and to bring to our minds your love and compassion for weak humans. Come Lord Jesus to strengthen and energize us as we remember our loved ones. Come Holy Father to lift us up and hold us in the palm of your hand that we might worship you in our remembrance of Mom Middlebrooks this day.
Proverbs 31 The Living Bible
10If you can find a truly good wife, she is worth more than precious gems!
11Her husband can trust her, and she will richly satisfy his needs. 12She will not hinder him but help him all her life.
13She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
14She buys imported foods brought by ship from distant ports. 15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plans the day’s work for her daughters.
16She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her own hands she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic, a hard worker,
18and watches for bargains. She works far into the night! 19-20She sews for the poor and generously helps those in need. Opening her home to many.21She has no fear of winter for her household, for she has made warm clothes for all of them.
22She also upholsters with finest tapestry; her own clothing is beautifully made—a purple gown of pure linen.
23Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council chamber with the other civic leaders.
She is a woman of strength and dignity and has no fear of old age.
26When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says.
27She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household and is never lazy.
28Her children stand and bless her; so does her husband. He praises her with these words:
29“There are many fine women in the world, but you are the best of them all!”
30Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn’t last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised.
31Praise her for the many fine things she does. These good deeds of hers shall bring her honor and recognition from people of importance.£ Eva Leona Middlebrooks is truly the epitome of the Holy Spirits wrods given voice by Solomon!
God’s Lilies My life has been wonderfully blessed with two Dads and three Moms. I was blessed with a birth mother for a very short six months or so, God then provided a Step mother who I knew and loved as my real mother for many years, and even before Vera passed, a mother-in-law who has treated me as though I was her son for almost 50 years.
Jesus Christ, through whom God created the universe tells us that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these flowers, that was the description Jesus afforded the lilies of the valley, obviously, one of His favorite things of created beauty --- my favorite flower --- is the lily, in fact more specifically the one I know as the Tiger Lily, deep sunset orange petals with the chocolate brown spots that gives it the name Tiger Lily. I am reminded of the tiger lily as we gather today to remember our mother Eva Leona Middlebrooks.
Leona Middlebrooks was one of God’s most beautiful flowers. My first impression as a 17 year old dork was her striking beauty, – she personified feminine in her dress, her manner, the way she carried herself, with a beauty drawn from the essence of her soul and spirit.
Second impression of God’s flower, Leona – Smart – in an era when it was neither noticed nor even appropriate she was an outstanding business woman in a domineering man’s world --- a professional in the mortgage banking industry during the 50’s and 60’s for an independent firm in downtown Dallas, responsible for the mortgage servicing department. In addition she was her husband’s closest business advisor as he engaged in his independent wholesale supply business.
Organized – Though it may not be apparent in her papers today, she was one of the most organized people you would ever have the pleasure of knowing – while still a young single mother she lost her father in a tragic accident, suddenly her supporting advisor and counselor was gone, her guardian was snatched from her life, a critical loss in her life, she was thrust into independence and picked up the responsibility to support not only her children, but her mother as well. I am not sure of all the details but ice cream and bread came together and resulted in a marital blending with Dad and his family. Marrying Lee increased the size of the family and the burden, now there were three boys, two girls and a mother, along with a new husband. Leona continued full time professional employment, while managing this household of seven eight.
Faithful --- to her Savior – through everything she was faithful to her savior and – to her church, the body of Christ, in the nearly 50 years I have known her she attended three churches, two in Dallas and one in Oklahoma City. Faithful to her husband Lee, though he was one of the three ugliest men in the world according to Bro. James Curtis. Though Bro. Curtis tended to exaggerate he also said Helen won a world championship in Mud wrestle but I could only find a national championship in the records. Faithful in her unique way to her family, whom she, alongside of Lee herded through life’s joys and accomplishments as well as the very real trials and tribulations of reality.
Blessed with a beautiful soprano singing voice, Mom’s voice stood out enough to be invited to sing in the Dallas Metropolitan Choir in support of the Billy Graham Crusade, she was thrilled to stand alongside Tom Landry then coach of the Dallas Cowboys. A voice so strong and clear in quality it could have easily been Leona on the label instead of Dolly, she was that good of a soprano. Even the angels will take notice and stop their own singing for a moment to listen!
Mom was faithful as a seed planter of the Word of God, through her life, her management of her family, her teaching and through her service to the church, but especially through her singing. You can readily see the harvest of the seed of the Word of God planted by Mom in her offspring, physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well as in the offspring of her offspring. There are seeds planted in the lives of all of you, some of those seeds you may not have germinated, yet those seeds have and will in the future become a fruitful harvest! Let me digress for just a moment, we have discovered seeds many thousands of years old, dormant, lifeless husks, until the right moisture and warmth entered that old husk and suddenly, almost miraculously, new life springs forth. The seeds of the Word of God planted carefully by Leona over the decades are still there and the seed of the Word of God is powerful, more powerful than any seed in the universe and can bring life where there is no life. All those seeds of the Word need is the warmth of your forgiveness and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit to burst forth in life – like the sun shining on a patch of earth - forgiveness warms the soul of forgiver and the forgiven, incubating the seed of the Word that has been planted deep within.
Now, I want to focus for short time on Leona’s imperfections. Now don’t go all squishy brained on me, hunker down and listen carefully! Leona had imperfections… as do each of you, in fact your eyes are now designed to see imperfections, especially your own, and the Holy Spirit will provide a mirror of your soul if you insist on ignorance of your imperfections. Every one of Leona’s children and grandchildren saw and experienced her imperfections in unique ways through their unique interactions. If you are one of her children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren you also carry Leona’s DNA markers in your unique DNA! Thus, whether you care to admit it or not some of her imperfections find expression in your imperfections.
Funny thing about imperfections, the human eye is drawn to imperfections. A perceptive artist discovered a great art fraud because his eyes were drawn to a monkey’s tail. You see most art counterfeiters leave one detail imperfect, otherwise, they could not ascribe to themselves the full reverence their artistic talent deserves, what would be the point, after all they are better than Rembrandt, not simply his equal. Were it not for the imperfection, it would simply be a copy of the Master not a “masterpiece in its own right.” So happens, the monkeys tail was a new world’s monkey tail not an old world’s monkey tail. I kid you not!
When I first laid eyes on the tiger lily, my eyes were drawn to the chocolate brown spots, I might guess those brown spots were a significant imperfection to the original lily breeder who so carefully crafted generation after generation of the beautiful deep blazing sunset orange blossoms only to have it ruined by the imperfections, spots indeed! In fact, one spring when my tiger lilies blossomed for the third time, I visited the tiger lilies in the rear of house and immediately noticed the imperfections were gone, the chocolate brown spots that adorned the deep blazing sunset orange petals were GONE, they had become tigerless lilies! When I walked to the front of the house, hugely disappointed I must say, what to my wondering eyes did appear but my beautiful cream yellow lilies in the front were perfect no longer, for the dark chocolate brown spots had migrated from the tiger lilies in the rear of the house to the cream colored lilies in the front of the house. Perhaps, for just such a time as this.
There is a reason for our eyes to be drawn to imperfections, it is those imperfections in the patterns of the plains we survey that enable us to avoid receiving a brusque invite to dinner with the tiger. In fact, I think our eyes changed in the Garden from seeing beauty only, to spotting imperfections that enabled us to cope with the curse brought on by sin. Perhaps the tree of the knowledge of good and evil might be viewed as the tree of the knowledge of the perfect and imperfect. Seeing imperfections is a life survival tool whether you are looking at a landscape with an almost hidden crouching tiger, or observing the behaviors, attitudes, and actions of the people around you. Return with me to the Garden of Eden for a moment and watch Adam and Eve walking in the cool of the evening with the Perfect One, the Self Existing Great I AM, drinking in with their eyes the absolute gorgeous beauty of created perfection. Then see sin entering, and Adam and Eve telling Jehovah God their creator and friend “we saw we were naked and we were afraid”, “we saw our imperfections and can no longer stand to be in the presence of Your Perfection.” I think our eyes changed when sin entered and humans began to SEE the imperfections in the eye scape surrounding us, actually a gracious and forgiving God’s provision for survival purposes, for the lion no longer laid down with the lamb. Now the lion went to dinner with the lamb and the lamb did not return home. Spotting imperfections in yourself and the surrounding environment might save you from entertaining the wrong spirit, attitude, or behavior.
But let us not leave Leona’s imperfections unresolved for you see God saw the beauty of the lily in Leona and you must too, for you must look past the imperfections, and see through God’s eyes, Leona as she was, is, and has become! For God’s eyes see differently than our eyes, he sees “the substance of things that are not, as though they are.” God saw Rahab the Harlot as the savior of the spies and a hero for Israel’s salvation, God saw Ruth the alien as a Queen, again for Israel’s salvation, God saw a girl child Mary as the Mother of God for the salvation of the world and Jehovah El-Shaddai sees Leona as a beautiful, perfectly gilded, lily of the valley in His flower garden of Mothers in heaven and so should you, for Christ has now perfected Leona in all respects, gilded through His blood into perfect harmony with His perfect creation and Jesus Christ can do the same for you! Amen
Committal Service – Graveside In Leona’s last hours; unable to give voice to the music in her soul, others sat beside her and sang her song to and for her. A nurse’s aid’s soft quiet voice in the night hours, a grandson and his precious wife brought music to her bedside, a son-in-law, and a daughter each in turn soothed her with their song. (Jim sang and others joined i)
Each step she took, her Saviour went before her, and with His loving hand he led the way.
And with each breath she whispered, I adore thee; oh what joy to walk with Him each day.
At times her faith would surely start to waiver, when up ahead she saw a chasm wide,
Its then she turned and looked up to her Savior, she was strong with Jesus by her side.
She trusted God, no matter come what may, for life eternal is in His hand.
He holds the key that opens up the way, and led her to the promised land.
Each step she took, we know that He did guide her, to higher ground, He ever led her on.
And on this day, the last step has been taken. Each step she took has led her to her home.
Then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
Death has been swallowed up in victory
Where, Oh death, is your victory?
Where, Oh death, is your sting?
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
Therefore our hearts are glad, and our souls rejoice;
You, Lord show us the path of life
For in your presence there is fullness of joy
And in your right hand are pleasures forever more.
Prayer: Oh Holy Father grant us this day to be captured by Mom Middlebrooks faith and ensconced in the essence of her faithfulness. May You Jehovah Jireh grant us the grace to serve as she served, grant us that we may find the sound of her voice embedded in our memories as she so many times planted the Word of God in us her family and friends.
Now, as she has become a part of the great cloud of witnesses, may her memory, her voice, her actions spur us to greater service to her Lord and our Lord, Jesus Christ his King and our King. AMen
In her book “the Melodies of Praise; marked with her notes for singing, is the song “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done”
Oh when I come to the end of my journey, weary of life, but the battle is won,
Carrying the staff and cross of redemption, He’ll understand and say well done!
If when this life of labor is ended, the reward of the race she has run
Oh! Dear Leona, Take the sweet rest prepared for the faithful and receive His blessed and final “Well done”
Committal: Jesus said who ever serves Me must follow Me that where I AM, there will my servant be also. And whoever serves me El Shaddai, the God who is More Than Enough, Father of All Glory will honor.
So, Almighty God into your hands this day we commend soul of our mother and friend Leona Middlebrooks; in sure and certain hope of resurrection unto eternal life under the shelter of your wings
Leona’s body we commit to the ground, to the elements from which it was made, to its final resting place.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust
The Spirit of God welcomes Mom Middlebrooks to her rest from labor, her faith lives on, in and around, each of us as we go forth to our labor.
Scripture Psalm 23 to the family The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
For you are with me your rod and your staff – they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Now Heavenly Father, may your power, grace and protection rest on Mom, her family, and friends. May the God of all comfort surround her and her family with the peace, and comfort of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen