Aunt Janice–Loved Deeply

I shared this tribute about my Aunt Janice at her funeral on July 3, 2014:

     June 30th was a stormy day in Iowa when Aunt Janice was surrounded by family listening to her labored breathing… and then the tornado warnings went off–seek shelter–get some place safe. Her family was ushered to a safe place feet away. A short time later, they were able to surround her again…and after a bit, she passed on…leaving the storms of life for a Heavenly Sunshine.

     Aunt Janice would say, “I don’t like funerals–they make me cry”–truly a Hoksbergen gal. But, she didn’t cry at funerals, she wailed, a deep groaning from the depths of her soul–I think it was because she loved so deeply. I think her measure of mourning was equally matched to her depth of love. Eventually she would find solace and comfort that the loved one was in heaven and would state it with a conviction that wouldn’t waiver: “Mom is in heaven …Dad is in heaven… Ralph… Jake… Carl… Charlene… Judy… Brandi… Julie…they’re in heaven.”  On Monday, Aunt Janice received her new body like that of our risen Lord and is in heaven celebrating around the throne with all who preceded her.
     Picture this…because it’s true…Aunt Janice, walking from the workshop to her apartment, it’s a rainy day. She’s in her rainboots and raincoat without being told, without wondering what to do she is singing at the top of her lungs.  She intrinsically knew that praise was the devil’s death nell; she knew that a sacrifice of praise could lift her spirits…that’s why she had the joy she did. I think her measure of joy was equally matched to her depth of faith.
     Though the world called her disabled, we all know she was able. Able to lift our spirits, able make us feel special, able show us who was really in charge, but mostly, she was able to teach us life lessons without really knowing it. I compiled a list:

Lessons I learned from Aunt Janice:
How to Impact More Lives Than You’ll Ever Realize:
Life and Leisure:

  • Keep the number of collections to a minimum, then you can have an abundance of that item
  • Also–keep your hobbies and interests to a narrow field
  • In regards to TV: only watch wholesome family shows
  • Eat regularly scheduled snacks and meals
  • Sing whenever you can
  • Exercise by wiggling your hips and dancing


  • Let the men in your family treat you like royalty
  • Love on your nieces and nephews like they are your own children; be childlike with them; love on others too…you may never be a mom, but can be an ‘aunt’ to many
  • Be open to accepting rides, meals and invitations– ‘subtle’ hints are acceptable
  • Talk to other singles about your hopes and dreams…sometimes married people just don’t understand

How to treat others:

  • Remember birthdays and anniversaries and give cards with your own personal touch that convey your hopes and wishes for that person
  • When someone enters to room, react with excitement, enthusiasm and an ear-to-ear grin that makes your eyes crinkle…grasp their hand and call them ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie’. 
  • If you’re not able to travel, insist that people send you postcards

Actions and Reactions:

  • Don’t swear, but have some go to phrases: oh fudge, hot dog, oh brother
  • Be direct and emphatic
  • When you’re tickled about something: throw your head back, clasp your hands together and laugh with an ear-to-ear smile that makes your eyes crinkle
  • If you don’t know how or don’t want to say what’s really on your heart, just gesture until the other person can express it in words for you
  • When it’s raining or your life seems a bit stormy, sing You are My Sunshine
  • Be confident and adamant in your decisions…so confident that others won’t question you


  • Sing your heart out in praise
  • Worship like no one’s watching
  • Go to church, read your Bible, pray
  • Remember: The Lord is your Shepherd, you shall not want

Love Deeply

  • Love friends, family, and the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength


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