dying, faith, faithfulness, family, illness, remembrance, strength, trust
I closed my eyes and could see her smiling and filled with joy. She had made it home and she did it with courage and determination. Betty Jo Spencer Replogle completed her earth’s journey and at God’s perfect moment, He lifted her away from the world’s burdens and into heaven’s triumph.
“Jo” was the youngest of my mother’s seven siblings. Just eight years older than I, she seemed more a sister than aunt. Jo was born after my parents married and Daddy liked to tease her that he had been in the family longer than she had. That never failed to bring on one of her quick, easy laughs.
We all loved the laughter that peppered her conversations. Jo had a great sense of humor even through tough times—and she had many. Her body knew several serious and unusual diseases, and for the most part, she coped with them as if they were nothing more than a common cold. Certainly, as with all of us, there were other tests in her life, but I believe it was the trials coupled with a faith which steadily grew that gave her the fortitude to cope as she did.
Jim and Dulcie Spencer’s children were, and are, all good people. The steadfast faith of my grandparents was imparted and rooted well in each one of their children. Jo lived out their legacy in her 78 years by remaining true to her own salvation story. She never forgot the way to God’s house and when she and her family were to be there; she never forgot how to trust in the Almighty. She was a faithful daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. Her concerns were at all times focused on her family and doing all she could to make their life good.
Thought she seemed too young to leave us, wishing her to stay, as sick as she was, would have been nothing but selfish. The last time I saw her, I knew she was making the transition home. I saw in her the same thing I saw in Mother before she died: she was in an intermediate place. Jo was still in her body, but her spirit had caught sight of heaven and eagerness drew her in that direction. Like Mother, it seemed in those last days when you spoke to Jo, you could call her back for a moment, but you couldn’t hold her for long. She saw Beulah Land. She saw the end of a long and hard struggle and a place where family awaited. She saw a place where Jesus beckoned.
By way of a recording made years ago, her youngest son sang “He Touched Me” at the funeral. The beginning words speak of being “shackled by a heavy burden” and soon declare, “then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same.” For Jo, her shackling was a body weighed down and rapidly failing. The hand of Jesus touched her as He drew her into heaven and there placed a crown on her head with the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And truly, her life is so longer the same; she has reached Heaven’s glory.
When Papa Jim, Jo’s father and my grandfather, died, Mama Dulcie noted in a journal, “Jim went home to be with Jesus today.” That’s what Betty Jo Spencer Replogle did on December 24, 2013. She went home to be with Jesus.
We thank You, Lord, for her time with us and for her witness to Your presence in her life.
O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land!
As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea
Where mansions are prepared for me
And view the shining glory shore
My heaven, my home forever more.
John R. Sweney (1837–1899)