Dianne Hayden Barrett (1961-2017)

Below is the official obituary for Dianne Hayden Barrett
May 21, 1961 – April 11, 2017.

Dianne Mary Hayden Barrett joined her husband in Heaven the morning of April 11th, 2017.

Dianne was born May 21, 1961 to Betty Lou Miles Hayden and Herman Melchior Hayden in Eau Clare County, Wisconsin. She graduated from Elk Mound High School and was commissioned into the United States Air Force and served for 20 years. During which she attend Southwest Texas State University (SWTSU), where she received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

While at SWTSU, Dianne met her husband of 32 years, Murray William Barrett, who was also attending SWTSU on a military scholarship. Upon her graduation, they married on May 4, 1985 and moved to Dianne’s next assignment in the United States Air Force to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

As Dianne’s military career took them to various locations, they were blessed with four children: Matthew and Jennifer (Jenn) were born on Tinker Air Force Base (Oklahoma City, OK), Russell was born on Keesler Air Force Base (Biloxi, MS), and Cassandra (Cassie) was born on K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base (Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

In June of 1997, Dianne retired from the Air Force and the family took a one year sabbatical to travel through the 48 contiguous states and 9 of the 10 Canadian provinces. Dianne and Murray taught their children American history by living it. They walked Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, visited several National Parks and historic landmarks, and toured many of the State and Provincial Capital buildings. No matter where their travels took them, on Sunday mornings Murray and Dianne made it a priority to find a place to worship God and fellowship with other believers.

June of 1998, the sabbatical ended and they moved to San Marcos, Texas. Dianne worked at the First Baptist church of San Marcos while she and Murray became involved in their children’s program. The family also became involved in the community theater, producing Annie in 1999, the Wizard of Oz in 2000, and the King and I in 2001. By that final production, Dianne had become involved to the point of being co-Director.

In July 2001 they settled in New Braunfels and found a family of believers at First Baptist Church. Dianne earned her teachers certification while working nights at an assisted living home. After completing her certification, she taught at Seguin High School and later New Braunfels High School.

Following the 2007-2008 school year, Dianne retired from teaching to care for Murray’s aging parents, Catharine and Bob Raub, who moved into their home. After their passing and with all four kids no longer at home, Dianne took a position at First Baptist Church as the secretary, interspersed with frequent trips with Murray.

Dianne also served faithfully at First Baptist Church teaching 5th and 6th grade Sunday school and leading the Awana Ministry. She and Murray firmly believed these preteen age children needed a strong role model who would help them understand their need for the Savior, Jesus Christ. Together they were a perfect team, mingling Dianne’s organization and structure with Murray’s passion and fun; holding it all together with deep love for children.

Dianne never met a stranger and was beloved by all she met, always willing to help (or take charge) anytime there was a need. She will be deeply missed for her kindness, friendship, leadership, servant’s heart, and the way Christ’s love reflected from her wonderful laugh and smile.

Dianne was preceded in death by her parents, Herman and Betty Hayden, and her husband, Murray. She is survived by her four children, Matthew, Jenn, Russell, and Cassie; her sisters Kathy Hayden Carey (Dan), Bonnie Hayden, and Patti Hayden, her brother Dave Hayden (Rhonda); numerous nieces and nephews and many, many dear friends.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 15th, at 1:00 pm at First Baptist Church in New Braunfels.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials may be made in Dianne’s name to the First Baptist Church Building Fund.

85590122F085

Orphan

Two weeks ago, I woke up with two parents. Today I woke up an orphan.

Orphan. What image does that word paint in your mind?

Growing up in a family that watched and participated in musicals, my first thought is Annie, with her curly red hair and freckles trapped in an orphanage waiting for parents who are never coming back. My next thought is Oliver, asking for more gruel and being kicked out on his ear to fend for himself and learn to “pick a pocket or two.”

I’ve never really thought about an orphan being an adult. But it’s true… now I am now an orphan.

IMG_5144Many people, at a loss for words, sought to comfort me by reminding me that God has a special heart for orphans. Having grown up in church, I know that “pure and undefiled religion” is to care for orphans and widows.

With the loss of my father, I was reminded of the many times in scripture that God promises to be the Father to the Fatherless. These thoughts comforted me as I began to grieve the loss of dad in such a surprising and tragic way on March 29th.

Sunday I was listening to a pastor explain that his grandfather died when his father was young and, as a result, his father was very absent. Yet, when my father endured the same tragedy, he leveraged that pain to develop a heart for those without parents. I have been inundated the last two weeks with examples of how he filled the role of father for many fatherless boys.

I made the decision this weekend that I would take my father’s path.  I decided that I would allow this tragedy to shape me for the better and to equip me for the ministry that God has planned for my future.

IMG_5101The loss of mom on Tuesday was devastating and for a moment I was without words (an uncommon state for me, for sure). Once the wave of shock rolled over me and the pain began to set in, I immediately resolved that my commitment to see God bring beauty from this pain was even more important.

My parents were amazing.  They loved and served with everything that they had until their last moments on earth. My father passed driving the bus full of seniors returning from their annual choir retreat. My mother was working on details for the annual Seder up until she went to sleep. Both of them were a gift to this world and wanted nothing more than to leave the world better than they found it.

To have them gone so suddenly and so tragically, I believe God must have a plan to redeem their deaths just as He redeemed my father’s fatherlessness.

The last 48 hours so many people have told me they are amazed by my strength… but I don’t feel strong. I feel hurt and confused. I feel a bit lost and unsure. Mostly, I feel a childlike curiosity.

It’s like watching an artist as a young child.  I see the black strokes that have been made on the canvas and I can look around the studio and see all the beautiful works of art the artist has already finished. With wonder and curiosity, I look at the marred canvas in front of him and ask “how will these dark strokes become something beautiful?”

I have walked with God through many good days and bad days and He has never left me alone or abandoned me. The most painful and confusing events in my life have always been used for my good. His character is unchanged, although my circumstances seem uncertain, and I can walk in confidence because I have been here before.

Annie is eventually adopted by Daddy Warbucks and Oliver is adopted by Mr. Brownlow. While I don’t have a rich man looking to adopt me and redeem my future, I do have the richest Father in the world, one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He has promised that he will make all things work for good for those who trust Him.

We all face pain in life.  We can choose to let that pain make us victims and live selfish, irresponsible lives. Or we can choose to search for the hand of God coming in to redeem our pain and turn it into something beautiful. I choose the latter and I am excited to see what big things God has planned to redeem this tragic and painful situation for my good and His glory.

IMG_5029_cropped

Confused but Confident

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

I know that my God is good. I know that His plans are right and true.  I know that all things work for His glory and my good.

But I am confused.

Is it ok to say that? I trust God knows what He is doing and I trust that He has a plan … but it doesn’t make any sense right now.

If mom was going to die, why not just have her on the bus two weeks ago? Why put mom through the pain of grieving the loss of Dad just to have her join him 13 days later? Why put the four of us through planning a second funeral with the ink still wet on our thank you notes from the last one?

And what about the kids? Mom and dad faithfully served for so many years in preteens and Awana. Why put all those kids through the pain of losing Dad … just to rip mom away two weeks later?

Last night I was listening to a sermon from Grace about the stages of faith.  He talked about the wall… and how believers will eventually be led into a dark night of the soul so that they can move from knowing about God to knowing God. He was referencing the verse in James that instructs us to count it all joy when we endure trials because we know that the testing of our faith is what perfects us for every good work.

The pastor pulled his illustration from David, who had everything stripped away and was a fugitive for over a decade before his eventual assent to the throne of Israel. He explained that God had to strip away everything from David so that David could find that God was all he needed.  This is what prepared him to reign and made him the best king to ever rule over Israel.

As I listened to the sermon, I recognized my own feeling of having everything stripped away from me to leave me with only God to cling to. When Cassie called and told me mom was dead, I had a strange mixture of emotions… sure I was in shock, sad, hurt, and brokenhearted. But the overwhelming emotion today has been confusion.

Maybe downright curiosity.

God, what are you up to? What are you trying to build in me and what great work do you have for me to do that requires a test of such fire?

David endured a decade without his status, wife, family, dignity, and home country because he was destined to rule Israel for 40 years and would be the king to deliver Israel from their enemies. David would make Israel great again and that is exactly what he did, by delivering them from oppression and turning the heart of the people back to God. In all this success, David remained humble because God had taught him that this could all be taken away in an instant.

I am not called to rule a country, conquer an invading force, or return a nation to the Lord. But clearly God has a plan for my life and that plan requires a character in me that must be refined through the fire of pain.

Just as Jonah had no right to complain about the loss of the vine, I cannot bemoan God the loss of such amazing parents.  Many are never blessed with such a caliber of parents in the first place and I should count myself blessed to have had Murray and Dianne in my life.

Today was a day of tears, and there will no doubt be more to come in the weeks that follow. It was also a day filled with stressful decisions… adult decisions that I never expected to be making at this stage in my life.

First there will be the week of busyness. I will continue to wonder what God is up to and I will ask for wisdom as we work through the complex legal process to follow. I will write another obituary, we will process another cremation, and we will make another slide show.  We will order another set of flowers and each of us will give another speech at another memorial.

Then there will be the week of stillness… the week where reality sets in because both of my parents are gone and my life will never be the same. We will sell the properties and liquidate the estate and divide the inheritance and settle the details. Items will be stored, others sold, and still others tossed out as trash.

Eventually normalcy will return, work will resume, and days will begin to progress with some semblance of order. Somehow all the pieces of life will come back together to form a new picture, a new future, unlike anything I ever imagined.

My hope and prayer is that in a year when I look back on this unimaginable tragedy I will say with confidence that God has shaped me into a stronger woman and prepared me for His great work in my life.

Life is hard. No one makes it out alive. I am glad for community and I am grateful for family.

Above anything else, though, I am glad to know with absolute confidence that my parents are both alive and I will see them again. Hopefully a long time from now… but I know I will see them again.

Someday, millennia from now, from the other side of eternity, I know that I will look back on this time and see the hand of God. I will see how he had shaped myself and my siblings from this experience and I will trace His fingerprints in our lives as we each go on to do amazing things.

A tear will form in the corner of my eye and God will wipe it away. But the tears on that day will be tears of joy and gratitude that in the darkest nights and the hardest moments, God never left me alone. And, more importantly, He did not allow any of the pain to go on in vein because every bit of it will be redeemed, both in this life and the next.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14