Jessica Laren Harris

Jessica Laren Harris
1992 - 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Funeral Tribute to Jessica from Papa Leland Harris

I begin with a plea for everyone of us: Please, please, purger from your mind: "Why?", "What if?", "I wonder if?", "I should have", "I could have", "Why did I?", "Why didn't I?", "If only..."

Instead, remember, remember the times you hugged sweet Jessica, and said, "I love you... I am proud of are wonderful... nice job... it is so good to see you... hang in there...." Remember the notes and cards filled with words of hope and encouragement. Remember her beautiful smile that warmed your heart, and made you feed good to be her friend.

Miss no opportunitiy to hug those who are still with you. Tell them, "I love you.... thank you... you are are so important to me."

Jessica was preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing. I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to pronounce that blessing. I know it would have been filled with an assurance of how much her Heavenly Father loves her,a nd of her unlimited potential and abilities, and the admiration that others have for her. I testify that no blessing essential to her eternal life will be denied her, including temple ordinances, an eternal companion and an eternal family.

Before any of us knew Jessica her on her she lived as an "Unembodied Spirit" in a heavenly realm, with her loving Heavenly Parents, and with numberless people who loved her as we do.

Seventeen years ago, she made an "Informed Choice" to leave and to experience mortality, even knowing beforehand that she would face difficulties and challenges, but would have opportunity to obtain a physical body, and secure eternal blessings and endless association with all whom she loved.

After her departure, I am sure there was a gathting similar there to this, where a multitude share pleasant and tender memories, of times spent together, how they would miss her, and of their love for her. They sorrowed at her leaving, and looked forward to the time when they would again be reunited again.

At that same time here upon earth, loving parents, family, neighbors, and others gathered to welcome, to admire and to love that beautiful new baby, Jessica, now an "Embodied Spirit," and to provide tender and loving care for her.

Last Saturday, Jessica made an "Uniformed Choice" to leave. She still lives, now as a "Dis-Embodied Spirit." Now, we are the ones gathered to sorrow, to share loving memories, and to celebrate her life and the countless ways she blessed our lives. At this time, she is filled with joy as she is welcomed, with great rejoicing, be her beloved grandmother, Nelda, and countless others who love her, and will assist her in the glorious environment she will dwell, until her resurrection as a "Re-Embodied Spirit".

I testify that I Know, I Know, that we will again meet our beautiful Jessica, in a sweet and everlasting reunion, made possible by the tender mercies of our loving Father in Heaven and the infinite atoning sacrifice by His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in His Holy name. Amen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Funeral Message and Tribute to Jessica: (Due to the length of the funeral, I cut my message in half yesterday)

The City of Jericho:

- Lowest elevated city on earth.

- Located 830 feet below sea level

The 17 mile Road from Jerusalem to Jericho:

- Descends through desert and rocky terrain.

- And was referred to as the Bloody Way. Due to high volume of robberies and murders that took place along this road.

In this setting the Savior taught a parable about loving others: A certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, on this bloody way, and he fell among thieves which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

A Priest and A Levite, upon finding the wounded man, pass on the other side, but a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion upon him.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Since last Saturday night, we have found ourselves in the Jericho of our own lives:· Feeling lower than ever before· Feeling robbed, stripped and wounded· Feeling left alone and half dead inside.

Like the Samaritan, you have:

  • Come where we are - - AND

  • When you saw us, you had compassion on us.

  • You have come unto us, binding up our wounds

  • Pouring in the soothing, and healing oil and wine

  • Setting our family upon your shoulders

  • And taking care of us, offering to make us whole

Your love and compassion is a fulfillment of the great commandment to love your neighbor, to rescue and relieve the suffering, and to help bring us up and out of this Jericho moment in our lives.

For several years my prayers have always included a plea to my Father in Heaven, to bring good and righteous souls into Jessica’s life to help and to lift her to higher ground. To all those who saw and who came to Jessica where she was, and who reached out with compassion to be her friend, to influence her for good, and to lift her to higher ground, I say thank you for being an answer to a father’s fervent prayers for his daughter.

I know today that Jessica is surrounded by so many righteous and influential spirits, who will continue to bless and strengthen her, and who are lifting her to higher ground in her eternal journey towards exaltation.In the Bible Dictionary we learn that “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and others, the blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional upon our asking.”

When we finally accepted our Father’s will, there was great sense of comfort and peace that came to each of us. I knelt down in a private waiting room after that decision, and I have never felt more love and light, more comfort and peace in my life. I felt Jessica’s Spirit by my side and the comforting companionship of the Holy Ghost, as well as many other angels round about me, strengthening me. I testify God does hear and answers our prayers. He desires our wills to align with his will.Jessica was on loan to us. She was our Father in Heaven’s beloved daughter, long before she was our daughter. We thank him for helping us understand, and accept his will, and we thank you for every prayer, every fast, and every moment spent in our behalf, ensuring that we accept pain is swallowed up with you love.

For several years, I have tried to encourage Jessica see what her Father in Heaven sees in her, and to anchor her soul to some basic truths. In our one on one talks, daddy daughter dates, letters, and phone calls, I repeated the following theme with her. I hope what I say may help someone sitting here today.

Anchor of Truth Number #1. Focus on where you are today and where you are going.

· The first question asked by Father in Heaven after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit was:

  • Adam, where art thou? (Gen 3:9) and

  • Adam, where goest thou? (Mose 4:15)

Our Father in Heaven is more concerned about where you are now and where you are going. Don’t dwell on the past. Focus on where you are today and what direction you are headed. The greater measure of peace and understanding did not come to me until Wednesday while sitting in the Celestial Room with Elizabeth, and was reminded of this Anchor of Truth. “Dad, please remember where I am now, and where I am going.”

Anchor of Truth #2 Our Father in Heaven See’s Us as our Best Self:

  • Peter called as an Apostle, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” But the Lord saw the leader in the fisherman, and called him to be a fisher of men.

  • Thomas, the Apostle will be forever labeled as a doubter and one who questioned the reality of the resurrection, but when Jesus decided to return to Judea after his friend Lazarus died, his apostles warned him that he would be stoned, it was Thomas who stepped forward with faith and said, “Let us go, that we may die with him.”

  • The Lord appeared to Anianias in a vision, and asked him to seek out a man named Saul. But Anianias said, “Lord I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. But the Lord said unto him: Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me.”

  • Zaccheus was a rich, short man, ex-communicated member of the church and a despised, hated chief tax collector, but he while traveling through Jericho (again the lowest city on earth, and the "low life" zaccheus), the multitude was too large for Zaccheus to see Jesus, so he climbs a sycamore tree. Jesus see’s this rich, short man, with great faith, purity and filled with philanthropy in a tree and invites him to come down, and that he must dine at Zaccheus’ home. Jesus then proclaims to Zaccheus, that “This Day Salvation has come unto thy house.”

How do we view ourselves? How do we view others? How does our Father in Heaven view us, and how does he view those around us?

Anchor of Truth #3.· Our Savior Weeps with Us, There is a Resurrection and the “If Onlys” questions do not matter…

Many of us have asked ourselves, “What could I have done differently for Jessica?” or we question ourselves and ask “If Only…” questions. Each of us must not get stuck in the what ifs, the if onlys, the could’ve, would’ve, and should’ves. Nor should any of us judge Jessica. If she were allowed to speak at her funeral, I am certain the first thing she would say is I made an awful mistake, and I know my Savior not only atoned for this mistake but he will make it alright for everyone affected by this choice.

Mary and Martha experienced an “If Only” moment in their lives, in a similar setting. In the 11th Chapter of John we learn that Jesus’ Friend, Lazarus is sick, and his sisters, Martha and Mary are desperate for the Savior to return and be with them.

When his disciples heard this news they said, “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Jesus, we are told, loved Martha, and her Sister Mary and Lazarus, but Jesus stayed two additional days in the neighboring town, just less than two miles aways, before coming unto these dear friends he loved. During this time, the Jews comforted Martha and Mary concerning their brother.

As soon as Martha and Mary met the Savior they both asked, “If thou hast been here, my brother had not died.”Jesus saith unto Martha: “Thy brother shall rise again.” I picture the Savior saying to us today: “Jessica, thy sister, thy daughter, thy friend, thy grand-daughter, shall rise again.”

He then said unto Martha: ‘I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live….”

Then in a very intimate and tender moment, with two grieving yet hopeful sisters, Jesus joins in mourning with these dear women, and groaned in the Spirit and was troubled, and the scriptures record, “Jesus Wept,” and the Jews, said, “Behold how he loved him.”So today, I picture our Savior groaning in spirit with us, being troubled with us, and weeping with us. I picture our Savior saying: “Behold how I loved Jessica.”

Thank you for reaching out to rescue us during this Jericho moment in our lives. I pray that we may all anchor our lives in the truth that Father in Heaven is concerned about where we are today and where we are going. I testify that he sees the very best in us and desires that we see ourselves and others as he sees us.

I testify that because of our Savior, there will be a glorious resurrection, he weeps with us, and we can be assured of His eternal love for Jessica, and his love for each and every one of us. I know through the promises of the sealing that Jessica will always be my daughter and I will always be her daddy, and that mine is the obligation to keep the sealing covenant I made, so that I am worthy of all the Father has, including his precious and cherished daughter, Jessica Laren Harris.