The Legacy of Nena

The Legacy of Nena

As the final service ended at Journey Church, I checked my phone as I typically do to see what messages had come in that morning. I noticed a text from my sister stating that our sweet grandmother, Nena, had just a few hours left to live. I hopped in the car and made the 4-hour drive to Roanoke, Virginia not knowing if I would make it in time. In God’s providence I had two hours with her before she took her last breath and entered the presence of Jesus. Surrounding her in song and prayer, our family committed her into the hands of Jesus.

For 87 years, Nena was a committed disciple of Jesus who served Him faithfully and never wasted an opportunity to bring honor to Him. Nena was a committed prayer warrior. When she prayed, miracles happened. In the mid-50s, the doctors said my oxygen-depleted newborn uncle would not live a normal life, would never finish high school, and never hold down a job. She refused to accept that. My uncle Ray accomplished all of those things and continues to amaze us every day. In the early 60s, she clung to the hem of Jesus’ garment as she laid her 4-year old daughter to rest after a drowning accident. In the early 70s, she prayed my dad out of the far country and saw him come into a radical life-transforming relationship with Jesus. More recently, she prayed our niece Chloe home from Uganda during a tumultuous adoption experience. I could go on with endless examples, but I’ll leave it there for now.

Nena’s homecoming has reminded me of the brevity of life and the importance of making every moment count for Jesus and His Kingdom. I’ve had some sobering, yet incredibly healing moments with Jesus over the past week. One of the themes that the Lord continues to remind of is this: “keep first things first.”

As I made the drive to Virginia, I kept Cory Asbury’s new album “Reckless Love” on repeat. In his song, “Born Again,” he says,

“Realign my heart and

Help me keep the first things first

Let me hear Your whisper and

God, I hang on every word”


When we realign our hearts to Jesus, the Holy Spirit exposes our proclivities to prioritize trivial matters. By keeping first things first, eternal things begin to matter far more to us than temporal things. As we keep first things first, we commit to follow Jesus in submission to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission—to love God, love people, and make disciples. So hug the ones you love today, spend time with Jesus, and tell the lost about the Savior who loves them. That’s keeping first things first. That’s the legacy that Nena left.