Saturday, December 13, 2008

Funeral Program, Bruce's Talk

We became aware that many of those who attended Susan's services on Wednesday did not receive a copy of the program. Here are images of the outside and inside program content. Click on the images to view them full size. Special thanks to Vicente for the layout, we think it is beautiful.

Here is the text of Bruce's talk from the funeral:

I would like to speak on three words: Faith, diligence, and action. In doing so, let me explain a few core beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Susan held dear to her heart.

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul refers to God as “the father of our spirits.”
As Christians, believe that our Heavenly Father truly is the father of our spirits, and we lived with Him before we were born into this life. Because He loves us and wants us to enjoy all the blessings of eternity, He created this earth and the opportunity for us to live by faith in Him, much like a parent allows their child to learn to make decisions on their own. As a parallel, if a parent makes every decision for a child, the child grows up lacking independence, opportunity and growth. If, however, a parent gives a child the ability to learn from their own decisions, the child grows in knowledge, independence and freedom. Similarly, we grow because our Father in Heaven created this plan that allows us to be here on the earth.

The poet William Wordsworth wrote:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home …

When we come to this earth, we don’t remember our pre-mortal existence with God. In order that we have the opportunity to grow and learn to make decisions on our own, He asks us to live by faith, to trust Him that if we live by His teachings and according to the direction that His Spirit gives us, that in the eternities, He will bless us and we can live as families for eternity. Here are the words of a prophet from more than 500 years before Christ’s birth, speaking to this topic.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon….
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men….

As a part of our life here on earth, we will make mistakes, we will make choices contrary to God’s commandments. We know from biblical prophets that no unclean thing can enter back into God’s presence. In order that we might be clean, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to teach us how to live, and to atone for our sins so that justice and mercy might have equal sway in our eternal judgment. God’s promise to us is that if we follow Christ’s way and live in the way that He directs us through His Light, the Holy Spirit, His teachings, and those called under His authority, that we will be clean through Christ’s atonement. At the end of our mortal lives, we can return to live with God, our Heavenly Father and continue to learn from Him and grow.

From Faith, comes action. From an early age, Susan understood this concept. She understood that if we live by faith in God, that all would be eternally well and good. As she said in her last message posted on her blog – “I have learned that a lot of things in life just don't go the way we plan. This is by no fault of our own.” As we exercise our faith in God, His perfect eternal vision and perfect care for us will deliver us home to Him.

On the earth, when God impacts our lives, whether directly or through another person, our responsibility is to act or change, to not be the same person. We are here today in remembrance of Susan’s life. Having the privilege of knowing her for all of her 25 years, I believe that one thing she would want us to do is to make changes in our lives that reflect her legacy. Let me relate an experience that illustrates that. The day before she died, I was privileged to listen to the last telephone conversation she had. She wanted to speak with a dear friend. She was weak, unable to speak above a whisper, but as this friend started to end the call, she said, “Don’t hang up, I need to tell you one more thing. Never forget who you are. Always remember the things that we talked about.”

That is our challenge – Don’t hang up on Susan. The reason you are here is because you loved her and want to remember her. Her impact on your life needs to include this knowledge. Never forget that we are indeed God’s children, that His way is the best way, and that when He acts in our lives, our responsibility is to respond in faith, love and joy to His actions. If that means change our habits, we should change our habits. If that means to go to church, we should go to church. If that means to be kinder, gentler, more loving in our family, we should do that. If that means that we stop telling God what He should do, and instead be faithful in accepting what He is teaching us, we should do that.

In time, the intensity that we feel at Susan’s passing may fade. It is natural, our lives are busy, we move on. The intensity will return when a picture jogs our memory, or when a thought comes to our mind. Perhaps tears will come at that moment. However, what should not fade from our lives is the change to our very souls that we feel at this moment. What should not change is the impact of the Holy Spirit that you feel right now, this very moment. The action that you should take is to cement the changes to your soul that God is prompting you to do right now. Because you don’t understand everything, you may hesitate. I urge you to take the action of committing to yourself to move forward in faith and diligence.

Because He has perfect, eternal vision, God will answer all of our faithful prayers, not always in the way that we wanted, but in the way that will best help us to achieve our eternal potential. All of us prayed for Susan’s health and recovery from cancer. Instead of the removal of her cancer, God answered our prayers for her with by increasing her understanding, with the giving her the ability to bear the pain, with greater strength for her to carry on and endure in faith to the end. He healed her eternal soul. As the apostle Paul said,

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure …, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, …
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I love this verse in the book of Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God….”

Christ said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst”… and He also said through the prophet Isaiah,

18 ¶ And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
19 … weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, … thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Susan and all of us hoped and prayed for her freedom from cancer. Through the grace of God, Susan found freedom and teaching above the everyday, above the mundane, leading to eternity. Our task is to do likewise, with whatever opportunity God places in our path, to follow the promptings that He sends to us, to learn for ourselves, and experience that joy described so often by those of faith in Christ.

Listen to the words of faith, diligence and action from Jeffrey R. Holland

“…the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way.

If we constantly focus only on the stones in our mortal path, we will almost surely miss the beautiful flower or cool stream provided by the loving Father who outlined our journey. Each day can bring more joy than sorrow when our mortal and spiritual eyes are open to God’s goodness. Joy in the gospel is not something that begins only in the next life. It is our privilege now, this very day. We must never allow our burdens to obscure our blessings. There will always be more blessings than burdens—even if some days it doesn’t seem so. Jesus said, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ Enjoy those blessings right now. They are yours and always will be.”

I testify that God, our Heavenly Father, lives. I know that He sent His Son to teach us God’s way, to atone for our sins, and to enable our own resurrection, just as He was resurrected. Of the truth of these things, I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


erika said...

It was a beautiful funeral service. Susan will be very missed! The Mortensen's and Turley's are two very special families.
Thank you also for including the text from Bishop's talk; it was excellent.

Adriana said...

I have always thought/known that Bishop was an amazing person... he proved that, without a doubt, when he stood up to lift and encourage those that were sorrowful when he had every right to lean on others.... Thank you for such powerful and caring words.

Andréa Morrow said...

Thanks so much Zack! and an added bonus, Bruce's talk was well as Susan's brothers and sis in law (Megan)

Jess said...

Thank you so much for posting the funeral program and the talk. I was so bummed because I'm in Texas and could not make the service. And to top it off my mom & dad couldn't get me a program. So I really appreciate this.

The talk is so beautiful. I am grateful for the spirit it conveys and the comforting truths it contains. It is still difficult to accept something so unexpected, but my life is better because of Susan. Thank you for your encouragement to change and to let her legacy live on.

Jessica Holm Kempton

Anonymous said...

What a powerful talk. And a great invitation to change and become better. Susan inspired so many in mortality and her legacy continues to inspire many others!

thearringtonclan said...

Hello Justin
Just wanted you to know we think of you often and to let you know you and the families are still in our Prayers... Take Care
Maxine and Mathew

Anonymous said...

I am a better person for having known Susan. Her christlike attitude towards everyone was truly inspiring. Families are forever. Until we meet again...

Tara said...


This is Tara Mabry. I have been thinking about you for days. I am so sorry about your loss. I cannot even imagine, hang in there, we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.
I left a present for you on Megan's front door. Are you going by there anytime soon? If you aren't I can go grab it and bring it to you.
email me....

Love ya!

Mark and Tara Mabry

julie said...

I just read Susan's whole story last night. I am a friend of Becky Bell and she told me about Susan. Once I started reading, I could not stop. The blog is so great because I really feel like I know her. And to know her is to love her. Adorable, amazing ....
The tributes and program are gorgeous.
She will remain in my thoughts and her spirit will live on. The holidays will not be easy as you will be missing her and my prayers will include you all.

Danielle said...

I have an in-law that joined the facebook group and I was curious so I came over to this blog. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and I cannot stop crying. Even when we know the truth, even when we know of eternity and freedom and peace, the pain is still there, raw and real, and that is good, because that makes us human. I hope Justin is holding up well, and I hope he knows that grief is from the Lord just as much as joy is. It is a process, healing and important, and I cannot imagine how it must feel. I pray every day that my husband will not fall to cancer, as his mother did while he was an infant, and others in his family have had it as well. This tale is one of life and love, but I do not think I could ever be as strong as Justin and as Susan herself was. It seems so unfair. The Lord knows what He is doing, but I am so sorry for this loss. Good luck and blessings on Susan's family, I know they will need it.

thearringtonclan said...

Hi Justin,
You were on our minds today.. as we listened to our ward choir singing like Angels this morning it made me think about Susan and how the Heavens opened to her with Angels singing to welcome her home.. She is safe, free from pain and moving on with her work on the other side. We hope you are not struggling too much being as Christmas is approaching we Pray that you can be surrounded by your family and friends to help comfort you .. Know we pray for you always..

Carol F. said...

The program is the most beautiful I have ever seen. What a beautiful tribute to an obviously gorgeous girl, inside and out. God be with you, Justin, and with both families.

Danielle said...

I am just wondering how everyone is doing? This Christmas must have been very surreal. I hope the blog will be updated soon, I feel so drawn in now.

thearringtonclan said...

Justin and family..
We are wanting to say that we hope 2009 can bring comfort to you by being surrounded by people who love you and care about you.
You continue to be in our Prayers and look forward to maybe seeing updates on how you are doing.. We will never forget Susan..
Maxine and Mathew

Perry said...

I ran across your the blog after hearing about her passing on the colonclub. Although I have never spoken to Susan in any form. Reading her blog was eerily similar to what i have gone throgh the last year. I immediatley felt a connection and sadness in her passing as she was truly a brave and inpirational soul in dealing with it all. My condolences to your family in your loss.

thearringtonclan said...

I was wondering if there could be an update on Justin please.. He has been in our thoughts and wondered how he was doing.. Happy New Year to you Justin and hope it brings you Peace and comfort..