On Friday morning, May 19th, two new precious lives were suddenly welcomed into this world. We’ve named them Tatum Rae (“brings joy”) and Athan Jude (“eternal praise”). These little lives have already changed our lives forever.
Early the next morning, May 20th, a precious life was suddenly taken from this world. Her name was Peggie, and she brought great joy to others and lived every day in praise to God. And that one single life had—for 52 years—changed the lives of countless others.
Many, many years ago there was a man named Job. He was a God-fearing man who enjoyed a happy life with the blessings of a large family, physical health, and many possessions. One day, though, everything changed for Job when he received some terrible news from afar. Upon hearing about his devastating loss, he ripped his clothes, fell to the ground and cried out to heaven,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
As I heard the words over the phone, “Peggie passed away last night,” I immediately thought of Job. In that moment, still in the hospital with my wife and newborn children, I may not have torn my own clothes as I broke down in tears, but I certainly found myself quoting that ancient theologian.
Here I had just been staring into the sleeping faces of our newborn twin babies. These were children that Peggie and Ken Balcom had helped pray into existence. For years we had struggled with infertility, and during those years of hurting and waiting on God to bless us with these blessings, Peggie and Ken were always great sources of godly encouragement to me and Paige.
One weekend a few years ago, in the midst of our waiting on God for children, the Balcoms invited us to stay with them at Hope House in Show Low. We had a lovely time enjoying the cool weather, playing music and singing in their living room, eating and drinking together, and encouraging one another in Christ. That weekend was just one of many joyful times we shared with Peggie and Ken over the years.
The Balcoms began attending our church in 2002, the Sunday following the tragic death of our much-loved Director of Music, Dan Mehan, who was suddenly killed in a car accident at the age of 30. As they put it, the love and Christian grief they saw from our congregation that Sunday morning instantly knit their hearts to ours. They have been members at Grace Covenant ever since.
Almost immediately upon arriving, the Balcoms got involved in young adult ministry at Grace Covenant Church, discipling, fellowshipping, and opening their home and their lives to bless others.
A few years later I had the privilege of serving as teaching staff alongside Peggie and Ken at the same private school for about 3 years. Peggie’s passion for her work teaching 1st and 2nd graders was contagious to other staff members, myself included. She elevated the role of teaching by the way she worked so diligently on her lesson planning and showed up every day with such genuine, heartfelt care for her students. She was an absolute joy to work with.
We were honored to have Ken and Peggie play and sing in our wedding ceremony in July of 2005. CAVU provided dinner music at our reception. They will forever be a special part of the memory of our big day.
Then in 2007, when I pitched the idea to our church of hosting a national conference for Reformed Baptist young adults, Peggie and Ken were there on the ground-floor of planning. And for the last 10 years, they not only attended every one of the Building Tomorrow’s Church conferences, but they have played an integral part in leading music, breakout sessions, and of course, the annual “Hootenanny”—our BTC variety show that Peggie named and hosted since its inception. And for the past 12 years or so, Peggie has been my “left-hand gal” at the piano as I played guitar and led singing for different church events from worship services to BTC conferences to family camps to anniversary celebrations.
Peggie possessed so many different qualities in one person. She has been rightly labeled “eclectic,” for that is who she was in every way.
Peggie was fun.
Regardless of what time of day it was, Peggie always seemed to wear a smile. She loved life and the people she lived it with. She hosted hootenannies and tea parties; she wore bold colors and patterns from almost every recent era; and she played the piano, accordion, melodica, washboard, and about a dozen other instruments. Her wit was uncanny and her energy seemed endless. She had the unique ability to be laugh-till-you-cry funny and dance-till-your-feet-hurt jovial, while also maintaining an authenticity about her that made you know there was so much more to Peggie than her smiles and laughter.
Peggie was deep.
As the words to her songs and her late night conversations demonstrated, Peggie was a true philosopher. She didn’t take much at face-value, but she thought critically about life, all the while keeping her optimistic outlook. Like a real Renaissance woman, she was well-rounded in her interests and never stopped learning. Most of all, she loved to learn about her God and Savior Jesus Christ. And as natural as it was for her to hunger to know Christ more through his written Word, so it was natural for her to share her love for Christ with others.
Peggie was loving.
She loved others deeply and genuinely with kind words and deeds overflowing from a heart of love for Jesus. She showed compassion for those who were suffering and concern for those who sat in the fringes and corners of society. It showed up in a home cooked meal, a bed (or couch) to sleep on, a warm cup of coffee, and the many ways she gave of her time and energy to support others’ interests and causes. She had very few enemies, if any at all. As far as it depended on her, she lived peacefully with those around her. Peggie was a lifelong cheerleader, encouraging and building others up in Christ. And her love showed up in the way she dedicated the last years of her life to serving young moms with newborn babies. Like she did with everything she put her hand to, she loved others with her whole heart and served them as unto the Lord.
Peggie was faithful.
Her faithfulness was evident in her marriage as she fulfilled her covenant vows to her husband, Ken, who she dearly loved “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death.” Likewise, she was always faithful to Christ’s bride, the church. Even with all of their moving around over the years, Peggie was a committed part of the local church. Additionally, many knew Peggie as a faithful friend, one who was a patient listener and persistent encourager. She was quick to forgive and slow to give up on those she cared for. And most importantly, Peggie’s dogged perseverance was exhibited by the way she was faithful to her Lord and Savior to the end of her pilgrimage here on earth. Surely she has run the race with endurance
Peggie was real.
What you saw in Peggie is what you got. This was one of the many things that endeared Peggie to people in such a short amount of time. She didn’t hide who she was; she couldn’t! She was real in her marriage, her parenting, her work, and all her many friendships. Peggie had no problem sharing her thoughts and feelings, and often with a smile or a tear. Or both. She was real in her music; real in her listening; real in her service to others; and real in her faith in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
With all these memories of Peggie, this needs to be said: Peggie wasn’t any of these things on her own. In fact, she’d be the first to correct us of that notion. Just as the great Apostle Paul said of himself, “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” so Peggie was who she was by God’s grace and the strength of Christ which filled her every day.
If you don’t know this Jesus who Peggie knew and loved with all her being, stop right now and pray to God to show to you his Son Jesus Christ, the loving Savior of sinners like you and me and Peggie. Confess your sins, repent of them, and cry out to Jesus to save you, for he is your only hope to reach heaven. There is no eternal salvation without Christ. Don’t delay; don’t put it off any longer. Repent and believe today.
There are very few people who leave as deep and as wide an impact upon the world as Peggie has.
Like a meteor which travels through the dark sky with beautiful brightness and intense heat just for a little while, and then upon impact leaves an impression so much deeper and wider than its own relatively small size, so Peggie Balcom shone ever so brightly in this dark world where she lived an intensely Christ-centered, joy-filled, other-minded life on this planet for 52 years.
Many of us will probably never fully know all the many, many ways Peggie Balcom touched the lives of people around her and made them better for knowing her. To know Peggie was to love her. And if you knew Peggie, you know how much she meant to you and you to her. While we deeply mourn the loss of such an important part of our lives, we rejoice in Christ and take comfort in him knowing that she has left this sin-cursed world behind and has entered into that heavenly dwelling laid up for all those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Praise God for giving us all the gift of knowing such a sweet sister. And praise God for the gift of salvation he gave to Peggie. Because of that gift of Jesus Christ sent to save sinners, we too can have hope for eternity.
Here’s a little video slideshow I put together for Peggie’s memorial service