Roberta, Norm & Their Family - delivered by Lynne Anderson, Family Friend
Roberta's Memorial Service, November 6, 2010 (audio)
My family and I have known the Herr’s since we first attended
Valley Presbyterian Church in the spring of 1994. In fact, Roberta was the very first person we met here. My husband, Dale, and I were wandering
the campus, looking for the children's classroom, when we encountered Roberta. She greeted us warmly, as was her way,
and then guided us to the room where her son John was. Our son Blake and John have been close
friends ever since. We even
affectionately referred to the extra seat at our kitchen table as "John's
chair" all the time the boys were growing up together. We have been privileged to watch all
three of the Herr children -- Christiana, Stephen, and John -- grow up, and now
it is my privilege to share about their wonderful mother, Roberta. (see slide show and photos)
Roberta gave birth to Christiana in 1986. Stephen was born in 1988, followed by John in 2001. In 2008, when Christiana married Marten Naaktgeboren, Roberta lovingly welcomed into her family the man she considered to be her third son. You must know that from the moment her own children were born, Roberta faithfully prayed for their spouses. In the final week of her life, she said she looked forward to seeing who the Lord would provide for Stephen and John. Although Roberta realized she would not know before she died, she stated with confidence that this was "OK", because she would have "a front row seat”. Roberta consistently prayed that her children would be blessed by marriages as happy and fulfilling as her own.
Roberta experienced a wonderful childhood, and from her own upbringing, intuitively knew what children needed to be happy and feel secure. She delighted in her role as mother and always placed her children’s needs before her own. Spending quality time as a family was a priority for her. To that end, the Herr’s chose not to have a television in their home so there would be nothing to distract them from visiting with one another. From her mother, Alice, a former librarian, Roberta inherited a love for books. Roberta got each of the children a library card the moment they could scribble an “X”, and then routinely checked out the limit of children’s books on all five family library cards. The first time I walked into their house and saw the mountainous stack of library books beneath the staircase, I laughed, realizing Roberta and I had more than our faith in common: I had a similar stack in my own home. The Herr’s readily admit to generously supporting the public library through late fines for those books that slipped behind sofa cushions or the children’s beds.
Roberta genuinely had a heart for all children, not merely her own. Looking around the sanctuary today, you can see many young people whom Roberta either held in the nursery, or taught in Sunday school. She was blessed as she watched you mature, and she continued to pray for you as you entered high school and college. Committed to the families of this church, Roberta helped organize the new Covenant Families Sunday School Class. Just the day before her first symptoms manifested themselves, she had three families over for lunch and then hosted Bible study at her home later that evening. She was planning to serve in the nursery on October 10, but abdominal pain sent her to the emergency room instead.
Roberta loved school, despite the tremendous barriers she had to overcome due to her hearing loss. The value she placed on education and the school experience motivated her to be actively involved as a room mother in all three of the children’s classes at Valley Presbyterian School. As Christiana, Stephen, and John made the transition to Los Angeles Baptist, Roberta remained involved in their educational and extra-curricular activities. She was undoubtedly one of the most loyal fans of the Los Angeles Baptist cross-country team, for which all three of her children ran.
That a number of her childhood friends are here today is a testament to the fact that Roberta developed and kept friends for life. She valued friendships deeply and wanted her children to develop meaningful relationships as well. She organized many activities to promote her children's friendships, including numerous creative birthday parties, sleep-overs, field trips, hikes and other events. One of her final requests was for Stephen to invite his friends over for another game night at her home. She loved seeing her children enjoy time with their peers and worked diligently to encourage healthy, lasting friendships.
Roberta's calm demeanor belied an adventurous and fun-loving spirit. Five weeks after delivering John, she was ready to go on a weeklong family camping trip to Kings Canyon National Park. Sleeping on the ground never bothered Roberta, and her only concern was about the bears she could not hear at night. When the Herr's visited the Olympic Village in Lake Placid, New York, it was Roberta who insisted the family ride with professional bobsled drivers down the Olympic course. Roberta loved to backpack in the High Sierras, but once the children were born, she was content to facilitate the backpacking trips of others, including 33 church backpacking trips and many extended family backpacks. This past summer the family traveled to Europe, camping with Marten’s family throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Days of rain didn’t dampen Roberta's spirits. She was always eager to hike in the Alps or along the shores of Lake Como, or to explore the castles and cathedrals along the Rhine. One day, while John and Norm were climbing the Breithorn, Roberta took a long solo hike to the foot of the Matterhorn. Upon returning late, she apologized, explaining that she just had to pet the cows and feed the sheep in the tiny Alpine farms that bordered the trail.
As noted by Bob, Roberta loved internationals and welcomed people into her home from all over the world. It was not surprising, therefore, that Christiana should marry a young man from the Netherlands. Encouraged by Norm to “check out” Marten’s family, Roberta planned a mother-daughter trip to Europe. She immediately bonded with the Naaktgeborens, and the families have since visited one another numerous times. When Christiana and Marten announced that they wanted to serve the people of Uganda and Eastern Africa by bringing water filtration systems to impoverished villages, Roberta gave her blessing, knowing they were following God’s leading. Similarly, when Stephen indicated a desire to trek in the Himalayas, Roberta supported him completely. Roberta loved people from all nations and recognized the value of exposure to various global cultures.
Roberta has indeed left a powerful legacy for her children. She has taught them to build bridges rather than barriers. She has imbued them with a spirit of adventure, and a sense of wonder and awe for the magnificent world the Lord has created. She has helped them to recognize the dignity with which each individual has been made -- formed in the image of the creator -- and to appreciate, therefore, the value of human relationships. She has given them a love for learning and an understanding that it is a lifelong process. She has helped them to see in her own love for children the special place little ones have in their Heavenly Father's heart. She has taught them the precious nature of family, both our earthly families, as well as our spiritual ones. She has shown them the beauty and sanctity of marriage, and caused them to anticipate the eternal union that is to come. Anyone who saw the final pictures she took with her loved ones could see the glow in Roberta's face as she prepared to meet her heavenly bridegroom.
Perhaps more than anything, Roberta has left to her children a legacy of faith. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us, we are to have God's word on our hearts, to impress it upon our children, talking about it "when [we] sit at home and when [we] walk along the road, when [we] lie down and when [we] get up." Truly, Roberta did this. Her speech to her children was always sprinkled with truths from the Scriptures and the promises of God. It was clear to anyone who knew her that her heart's desire was for her children to love the Lord and to bring Him honor and glory all of their days.
As deeply and profoundly as Roberta loved her children, she knew that there was One who loved them even more, One who loved them perfectly, eternally. She understood that her children had been entrusted to her for a season, and that truly, they belonged to another. She could go home in peace knowing that the One who created them, who breathed life into them, held them in the palm of His hand and would never, ever let them go. Christiana, Stephen, John...as your mom promised, "God will take care of you."