Tag Archives: Steve Bierle

I Will Follow

2012-07-03_06-51-01_376Easter has always been a time filled with memories for me.  My dad, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 37, passed away during Holy Week thirty-five years ago. IMG_8961 I was twelve at the time, and remember vividly how dad had hoped to celebrate Easter in heaven that year.  God granted him this desire and goodness knows, all heaven rejoiced as another believer was called home to the fold.  Every year in this season, I am drawn backward in time to his celebration of life, with strains of “Praise to the Lord the Almighty” playing through my head as I vividly see our family walking to the front of the church where the casket holding my dad’s body was waiting.  I see myself in my new Easter dress a whole day early, and I wish I could recollect who sewed it for me, because my mom had been busy making funeral plans.

Unable to stop myself, I go further back to 1976, sitting in my Shawn Cassidy postered room, as my mom and dad told me that dad had a brain tumor.

I remembered that I laughed.

I was all of nine and had no idea how to handle that kind of news.

IMG_8963I have a mixture of garbled memories from the time of his illness…him choking on his food when I was home alone with him, the hospital bed moved into the piano room, mascara running down my Aunt Ruth’s face when dad would have such severe headaches that he couldn’t sit up…a small glimpse at some of the tough ones when you deal with cancer.  Cancer sucks the life right out of you and wreaks havoc on those near and dear.

But, thankfully, shining even more vividly are peaceful moments from the last days.  When a bible was placed in his hands, Dad, who had lost his sight because of the tumor, would “read” Scripture to us as eloquently as if truly seeing the words.  The power of God’s word, memorized, sprung forth and made an eternal impression on me.  I was able to see how biblical truth, stored and treasured in my dad’s heart, poured out to comfort and overflow into our lives.

When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
    They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.  Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT)

Later, after weeks of being unable to talk due to the tumor progression, miraculously, Dad was able to speak the Lord’s Prayer with us during family devotion time.  Furthermore, he raised his hands and pronounced the blessing on his family:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NLT)

He died that night.  The knock on the door, the whispered “daddy’s gone”, the long look at the still body but absolutely certain you can still see his chest moving, the coroner arriving despite the late hour, burned into memory.

The funeral was held the day before Easter – but Sunday was coming.

I’d like to say that my faith had never wavered, that I had never gone astray.  I’d like to say that the impact my dad and mom had on my life was instilled so deep that I never once questioned the love of Christ.  Dad was death #2 in a list of six in seven years.  I was going to get awfully good at this grief thing…and I figured out auto-pilot pretty quickly.IMG_8041

But, thankfully, Sunday was coming.  In fact, Sunday came and stayed.  It was there day in and day out.  Sometimes I saw glimpses of it, sometimes I was overwhelmed by it.  I heard it in my Uncle Kenny singing “Jesus Loves Me” loud and strong at my six year old cousin Heidi’s funeral, just a month after my daddy died.  Years later, at Heidi’s brother Matt’s funeral, Uncle Kenny is behind me in the church, singing hymns with passion and conviction that can only come from a faith tested, but refined.

A few weeks ago, in Montana, we’re in church the Sunday morning before Steve’s memorial service, and I’m singing with the hope that can only come from a God who loves us. Overwhelmed, I stop.  Brad leans over and whispers, “You thinking of Uncle Kenny?”

Oh, to keep singing when the storm is rolling in.

Sundays are here to stay.  Because of this, we can sing with abandon, with hope, and with purpose.  Because the Sunday of all Sundays, where memories rest heavy, points us to the empty tomb and the cross.

As Brad shared with the AAI community at the Easter assembly just last week:

Because of Easter, the cross is transformed from an ugly symbol of
pain, suffering, 
and death into a
beautiful promise of victory, hope, and celebration.

We cling because we know where we place our trust.  We place our trust in the one who has risen from the dead, who has conquered sin and death, and who has left us with the Holy Spirit alive and in us until he comes again.

3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this
Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead,
we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for,
including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!
God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.
The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up
with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold
put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith
put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.
When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that
God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him,
yet you trust him—with laughter and singing.
Because you kept on believing,you’ll get what you’re
looking forward to: total salvation. 1 Peter 1:3-9 (MSG)

This Easter, I know it to be true.  This past Sunday, as we sang “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Maher to close the service, I look over to my dear husband, who just weeks ago lost his brother, and his hand is outstretched in praise and adoration to the One who holds our future.

Once again, Easter is further etched in my mind as hope and joy despite circumstances.

Through the calm and through the storm, we know and trust the power of the empty grave. And, because of this power, we will continue to follow Him, obedient to His call, wherever it leads – all while singing like Uncle Kenny, because we know our future is safe and secure in the arms of Christ.

When the sea is calm and all is right
When I feel Your favor flood my life
Even in the good, I’ll follow You
Even in the good, I’ll follow You

When the boat is tossed upon the waves
When I wonder if You’ll keep me safe
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You

I believe everything that You say You are
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow You
I believe and I will follow You

When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want, I’ll follow You
Even in the want, I’ll follow You

When I find myself so far from home
And You lead me somewhere I don’t wanna go
Even in my death, I’ll follow You
Even in my death, I’ll follow You

When I come to end this race I’ve run
And I receive the prize that Christ has won
I will be with You in Paradise
I will be with You in Paradise

© 2013 Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing / HBC Worship Music / Jingram Music (ASCAP) / Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / Harvest Worship Songs / Ingram Designee (BMI) All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing, HBC Worship Music, Jingram Music, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing, Harvest Worship Songs and Ingram Designee administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.

Blessed to be His and praying that you are as well,

Sarah

Snapshots of hope

After the events of the past two weeks, the first follow-up blog post seems so monumental…so important…especially in light of literally thousands of people who have visited this page to learn more about Steve.

To be honest, we have a multitude of things we want to say – but we’re still processing how to say them.

We are trying to figure out how to explain the depth and breadth of how we have been loved and cared for as a family.

How do you say thank you to people who cared for your kids when you were over two thousand miles away?

How do you put into words what you have learned, how you already know the areas you want to improve in your own life, how you can take away hope from something so tragic?

How can you have so many thoughts in your head while having none at all when you sit at the keyboard?

There are moments we want to share, glimpses of the hand of God at work, stories of the hands and feet of Jesus all waiting to be put to words.

But, for now, we will share pictures with the thought that, for starters, you will see how hope shines through in the form of God’s creation, the generosity in the sharing of housing, food, flowers, and fellowship, and the love of family and friends, both near and far.

Montana 001 Montana 014 Montana 018 Montana 019 Montana 020 Montana 022 Montana 025 Montana 023 Steve 028 Steve 024  Steve 033 Steve 030Steve 029  Steve 034Steve 133  Steve 131FullSizeRender FullSizeRender (6)FullSizeRender (5) FullSizeRender (3)FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRender (2)

FullSizeRender (4)Steve 035 Steve 174Steve 038 Steve 077   Steve 204

Steve

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15: 13 

Grateful for each and every one of you….

Brad and Sarah, Josh, jacob, and Tessa

Celebrating Steve

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”
(Isaiah 26:3-4)

Steve

Photo credit: Brad Orsted

Updated 3/23/15:

 “I’m so happy that daddy died with a smile on his face.”
– Shane Bierle, after seeing his daddy in the casket (Age 8)

Our deepest thanks to each and every person who played a role this past week in supporting all of us in Steve’s family.  From first responders and volunteers at Shelter Cove, the community of Gardiner for the outpouring of love, food, housing, rides, hugs, and conversation, friends who traveled long distances to stand with us in the pain, and to the friends and family across the WORLD praying for our family, we are humbled by the outpouring of support.  Your presence, whether physical or not, was felt, heard, and appreciated beyond what we can ever convey in words.

Yesterday, as expected, was packed full of God-moments and glimpses of God’s hand comforting and caring for us.  From worshiping in the morning shoulder to shoulder with family and fellow believers at Steve and Sandy’s church to the afternoon celebration of Steve’s life, the day was touched with tears, but filled with the message of hope and salvation through Christ.

Pastor Lance (Steve and Sandy’s pastor from Sioux Falls) blessed us with sharing how Steve loved and embraced the moments in life and the people that he encountered. We truly have the hope of being reunited with him again in Paradise if we surrender our lives to Christ, just as Steve had.

Don (Steve’s dad) spoke how Steve, at age four, wept upon hearing of the sacrifice of Aslan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and became broken when he learned of how Jesus had done the same for him.  That transforming moment drew Steve to Christ, and he later recommitted himself to Jesus around age 12.  When questioning why God did not send his angels to intervene or God himself stop the waves from coming and thus save his son, God has been faithfully whispering to Don, “I have saved your son.”
Brad (Steve’s brother) shared about a memory last summer where Steve’s family, Brad, Joshua, Don and Vernee were together in Montana celebrating the anniversary of their parents.   Brad laughed at how he was a bit of a money pincher so he shared a look with his son, Josh, as they were ordering because they weren’t quite sure who was picking up the bill.  Both proceeded, in sync with their personality, to order a medium range entree to keep the cost down.  But, Steve, living in the moment, ordered a steak without batting an eyelash.  Brad continued to help us see that sometimes you just need to grasp hold of life and “order the steak”, not to be frivolous, but to capture the moments that God has given us as glimpses of Him and celebrate those minutes.  He reiterated that Steve’s personality was possible because of the overflowing of Christ in him, putting into practice Jesus’s words from John 10:10b  “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Wendy (Steve and Sandy’s friend from Gardiner) showed us Steve’s fun personality side and how he was game for anything.  Ultimately, though, she shared about his intense love for his family, and joy of spending time with his kids.
Pastor Kirk (Our pastor from our home church in Sioux Falls) closed with special words of comfort, and how the deep depth of tears is directly proportionate to the love that was lost, and ultimately, a life well lived.
John Pollman (One of Steve’s special hunting buddies) sang How Great Thou Art and led us in Amazing Grace, accompanied by a very talented pianist, whose name unfortunately I do not know.
Reverend R. William Young officiated the lovely memorial service held in the Gardiner High School Gymnasium that was followed by a fellowship time with many special treats prepared by the wonderful Gardiner community.

A special thank you to the Franzen-Davis Funeral Home for handling the arrangements of Steve’s memorial service, all the beautiful flowers and plants sent from those far and near, the Gardiner High School, and all the people in the background who don’t ask for anything but that we feel the love they are sharing.

We will be in Gardiner for the next few days to spend some time together as a family.  As we all seek to begin what will become our “new normal”, we are trusting wholeheartedly in the promises from the One who knows our every sorrow, our every pain, but has the victory of sin and death!  Again, we extend our deepest thanks to all of you for continuing to uphold and care for us.

Previously posted information:

Donations:  The family has received many requests as to how individuals can assist Sandy and her family financially.  Two options are now available:

Sandy’s sister-in-law, Karen Otte, and the Gardiner, MT, community have joined together to set up this site for online donations.

Additionally, donations can be mailed or dropped off directly to:
Steve Bierle Family Fund
c/o First Interstate Bank
Box 810
Gardiner, MT 59030

If your heart is leading you to give in this way, our deepest thanks on behalf of Sandy and her family.

Addresses:

Sandy Bierle (Drew, Ben, and Shane)
Box 903
Gardiner, MT 59030

Don and Vernee Bierle
27022 Rolling Thunder Lane
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
dbierle@faithsearch.org

Brad and Sarah Bierle (Joshua, Jacob, Tessa)
2000 South Sycamore Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57110
**Please note, we will receive this mail when we return home in early summer

Brad and Sarah Bierle
c/o Alliance Academy International
Juan Jose Villalengua 789
Quito Canton 17-11-06186
Ecuador
**please note, mail to Ecuador arrives in approximately 3 to 5 weeks

Media Coverage:

Comprehensive story of Steve’s life – Argus Leader

Remembering Steve Bierle – ABC Fox Montana

NBC news story – read it here.

CBS News feature about Steve, please click here.

ABC Fox Montana story is featured here.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, encouragements, and memories of Steve in the comments.548403_3783153625304_1184995304_n

Steve will be greatly missed but we are thankful to know that he is safe at home in the arms of his Savior.

Held tightly in the arms of our Savior,

The Bierle family