Friday, January 20, 2017

Reflections on Julia's Memorial Service

Julia's desire was that the blog would continue in some way after she passed. Although I will never be able to live up to how she chronicled her story in such a powerful way, and with such strength and peace from God, I will attempt to jot down some thoughts on here once in a while. I've had some time to process the events of January 7th, and wanted to share some thoughts, and some thanks.

First, I was blown away by how many people came, and the distances that people traveled to be there. When Julia wrote some notes about her wishes for the service, she requested that it be held at Compass Point Church, because it was a large church (~900 capacity) in between Hamilton and Burlington. She had thought it would be plenty big enough. But when we did rough calculations of the number that might attend, we realized that we needed a venue with a capacity over 1,000. It turned out that ~1,300-1,400 people attended.

So many of these people drove for several hours to be there. Of course, there was family who traveled from Iowa, Michigan, Ottawa and Montreal, for which we are so thankful. So many traveled hours from my parents' church, Cobourg Alliance to help out with the service. But I even met people for the first time who had traveled from Montreal and New York to be there despite their loose connections to Julia and our family. I'm honoured that so many would spend their weekend to travel and be there.

I loved how many different circles were represented in the program. Everyone described Julia's impact from a different perspective; every speech provided a view of a segment of Julia's world, and when they were pieced together it formed a panoramic image of Julia's life on Earth. Yet everything came back to the common theme of Julia's challenge to all of us to live an abundant life of Hope in Jesus, not in our circumstances.

Worshipping with everyone was so powerful. Andrew and his team from Hughson Street Baptist did a great job of leading us. What struck me was that we were worshipping the same God that Julia is now worshipping in a much fuller way, in His presence.

The comment that I've heard again and again since the service is, "I haven't been to anything like it before". I think this is partly because it is so rare for someone to die so young. It's not that it's any less significant when an older person passes away, but the emotions are different when it's someone younger. I also like to think it was very unique because God's presence was there in a special way. 

There are two quotes I will always remember from the service (I'm paraphrasing). One is from Pastor Dwayne at the beginning, "We have it backward. We are in the land of the dying and we're going to the land of the living". And the second is from Pastor Mike at the end, "if you want to honour Julia don't just remember her as a great person; make the decision she did to put faith in God and receive His love and mercy into your life." Julia did not want the service to be about how great, or strong, or brave she was. She wanted it to be about the Source of all those things in her life. And I think it was.

Thank you all for being at the service, or being there through the live stream or video. Thank you to all those who said hi after the service, or sent a Facebook message because they didn't get a chance to say hi. I will not be able to answer all (or even most) of the messages as there are hundreds, but I read them and appreciate them greatly (and I know I speak for the whole family in saying that). Thank you to all those who helped out so greatly with the service; from Julia's family, to my family, to the staff at The Meeting House, to the volunteers from Forestview, Cobourg Alliance, and Hughson Street Baptist. Thank you all for your support.

Here is the link to the YouTube video if you haven't watched the service yet. And if you are interested in honouring Julia through donations (in lieu of flowers), please see the charities' information in this post. A final reminder, if you'd like a gospel of John booklet with Julia's picture and quote on it, email with your address.


  1. Hi Andy ... Julia's story is indeed beautiful and inspirational. I only heard her story last week watching 100 Huntley St. last week. I am deeply moved and touched - as I am sure everyone is by this story - and will help many of us trying to stay focused on the true strength in all of our lives. Know that her story will inspire many - and help all who read it on this journey of life - or rather as your pastor put it - this journey of death to life. Many blessings to you and your family.

  2. It was a beautiful service, I believe God was glorified that day through Julia and her testimony of life. I continue to keep you in my prayers. I have sent you a quick facebook message as well

  3. Hi, after losing my husband to cancer, I see the similarities in one who looked past themselves, seeing the big picture of what God can do in our lives, and what we can take from that, and try to make a difference in our own lives. What a wonderful tribute to God and the difference only He can make! God Bless you in the days to come, some very lonely times, but knowing God will carry you no matter what.

  4. I started following Julia's blog after Diana Crosby posted the blogs on Facebook about 1 1/2 years ago. I never responded because it was hard to know what to say to her. Going through so much so gracefully! So grace-filled! Her story was so inspiring all the way through and she kept her eyes trained on our precious Lord. Her life counted for so much because she allowed God to be at the centre of every moment!! Prayers for you continue as you walk through the days ahead!!

  5. I was deeply moved and touched reading Julie's blog of her story that I just came across today. May God be with you, Andy as you continue her story of love, hope and faith.

    Like the quote you shared from the funeral: "We are in the land of the dying and we're going to the land of the living". May Julia's testimony of God as the "Source of all those things in her life", continue to be a blessing to others, and be a comfort to you at this difficult time.

    PS:My grandparents lived in that general area, near Locke & Aberdeen and I spent many summers and special occasions at her house with good memories. Beautiful old houses there. Best wishes for someone good in response to your airb&b.

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