Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Guest Post by Jessica

I haven't written anything about the memorial service last Saturday in Boston. But rather than fumbling to explain how touching, tissue-dampening, and inspiring the time was, I'm honored to bring you the eulogy delivered by my lifelong friend Jessica Kimmell. Thanks for sharing, Jess!

Five years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with Mrs. Juraschek at Westgate Christian Academy, where I witnessed her ... gifts as an educator and mentor. Mrs. Juraschek had a passion for excellent education. She was enormously creative and constantly sought ways to make learning stimulating and meaningful.


ly, however, Mrs. Juraschek cared deeply about the type of person each child was becoming.

She understood the great responsibility we had in shaping their character...That a child would pay her lip

service and offer her a disingenuous apology was the furthest thing from her heart. So she asked many questions. She had an amazing ability to pierce through the situation, locate the strand of truth, and then speak something of God’s nourishing word into little vessels.

One year, she had many opportunities to speak to several fifth grade girls who often hurt each others’ feelings and held onto grudges. Desiring that these girls would understand forgiveness, Mrs. Juraschek had each one write down her grievances on a piece of paper. She took the girls down to the field, asked them to tie their lists to helium balloons and then, they watched as the balloons floated away. Forgiving, Mrs. Juraschek explained, means letting go. I think this demonstration made a deep impression on the girls.

I asked her once what her strategy was, how’d she do it? Of course, she couldn’t give a simple answer; she didn’t have a formula. She did tell me this: her desire was to help students open, so that something of the Lord, something healing, restoring, encouraging and strengthening, could be imparted.

In her role as an educator ... Mrs. Juraschek mentored her students, the parents of her students, and she mentored me. Dispositionally, I have always been task oriented. But Mrs. Juraschek told me one day that people must come before all else. They come before the most urgent item on one’s to-do list; they even come before one’s own personal turmoil. She really had the heart of a shepherd and I believe she deeply knew the Lord Jesus as the Shepherd of her own soul.

People come first ... she lived this. As a new teacher, I would often seek her counsel. More often than not, I could find her in her office, typing away at her computer, hidden amidst stacks of books and papers and regardless of how busy she was, she would drop it, and give me her full attention. Mrs. Juraschek was the best listener!! She was the type of person who could hear what you were saying, what you weren’t saying and what you wanted to say.

... One day, after a lesson that I had carefully prepared completely flopped, I went to her to vent my frustration. In hindsight, the lesson was way too intellectual for a junior high class, more suited to a graduate level course on literature. Rather than roughly pointing out my error, she told me a story. When her kids were little, she was so busy and sometimes felt guilty about not preparing nice meals. So, one day she decided to prepare cod and vegetables. The recipe was complicated and required much time and preparation. She had to slice the vegetables and steam the fish in parchment paper. She said when the family sat down to dinner, her four kids looked horrified! But she encouraged them, inviting them at least to taste the gourmet meal. Stephen took a bite, and then looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “Mom, can I please have Spaghettios!” Her story was a perfect metaphor—that I had been using my adult taste to prepare a “gourmet meal” when what the kids needed was something appropriate to their age.

That’s how she was—she passed through life’s experiences reflectively, in fellowship with the Lord, so that she would have something to share with others—something life-giving and never judgmental. Even when she was fighting cancer, she allowed God to be expressed from her earthen vessel and ministered to us through her blog entries. She loved so many people so dearly and we love her! We will miss her.

(photo from www.dailymail.co.uk)


Vanessa said...

Thanks for sharing Jessica.

Jenny said...

Beautiful tribute!