I invite you to read my previous posts that contain parts 1, 2, and 3 of my journey with Peri Thomas.
Yesterday my daughter Emmy and I drove in the pouring rain to Memphis, TN in order to attend the funeral of one of the most dynamic women I’ve ever met. The downpour was appropriate for the day; because in her lifetime, Peri intentionally drenched people with her love. No one could escape.
Peri’s memorial service was held on February 4th, her 50th birthday. I know the huge party that she hoped for was better than she could even imagine on this earth. I’m sure she had the angels singing the saints dancing! As for us, a congregation packed to overflowing, we too were determined to celebrate her life. Through heartache and tears, mingled with smiles and even laughter, Peri was beautifully honored, which in turn, honored her Lord and Savior.
Her 8 year old daughter picked out the large and vibrant floral arrangement; Peri’s daily prayer entitled “Radiating Christ” was recited by a dear family member; the choir sang sweet songs that she had personally hand-picked; friends and family spoke of her generosity to others, her high standard of excellence and energy, and her outpouring of love to all who touched her heart, which happened to be many of us sitting side by side in the church pews together.
I sat and took it all in. What an honor to be a small part of the tapestry of her large life. One of Peri’s wishes was to do one more marathon; one in which she would be pushed by my sister and me for 26.2 miles, crossing a computerized finish line to receive a temporary reward. Of course, this physically will not happen as the marathon is in March. But figuratively, the race has already been won. It is humbling to think that I (along with so many others who surrounded her with the love of Christ!) had the awesome privilege of walking with hope alongside her for the last “.2 miles” of her life. Together, we kept our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Ronnie Freeman, who flew in from Germany with his wife Leslie to be present at the funeral, co-wrote and then sang a befitting song in honor of Peri. Here are a few of the lyrics:
Got some pretty prizes like everybody else. I sometimes see them sitting on some forgotten shelf… nothing on this earth, Lord, means as much to me as You. Some have said this life is like a race that we all run. There’s a prize I know I’ve won–long before it’s said and done. The real reward is you, right there beside me on the journey, without time. It’s not about the finish line. No matter what you have in store, Jesus, You’re the real reward…I have my treasure now…Jesus, You’re the real reward.
I am so very thankful that Peri has, by faith, received her exceedingly great reward, Jesus Christ Himself.
If you would like to sponsor Peri through my sister and me in the upcoming March marathon, 100% of your donation will go to the Thomas family. She leaves behind her husband Gordon and five children: Taylor (21), Jack (16), Clayton (10), Emma Kate (8), and George (6).
Checks can be made out to Hope Walking, with “Peri Thomas family” on the memo line. Please mail to:
Chris Baxter/ Hope Walking
1765 Warren Hollow Road
Nolensville, TN 37135
Thank you in advance for your prayerful and/or financial donation.