Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke

I really treasure the age when the boy moves from the child in the back seat to the young man riding shot-gun beside me.  Those driving moments can be so full of life.  I’m not sure how many miles I’ve ridden holding the hand of a teenage son, talking life and love out of the side of my mouth.

Tonight Ben and I laughed so hard I nearly drove off the road.

I flipped through the radio stations on the drive to Scouts this evening, landing on NPR and a quirky little story we missed the lead-in to.  The segment was over in a matter of minutes, the span of time it takes to squeeze off a couple of rounds.  Hey, I know!  I used to escape to the pasture with the men to shoot at paper plates and empty cans just to spend a little time away from the daily sit-in of the women-folk at my mother-in-law’s table.


There is a company who has made a way for family members to celebrate their loved ones life by putting cremated remains into ammunition.  Now, I don’t mean to be irreverent, nor would I ever want to offend a family member in mourning.  Actually, I have to believe that folks who send the ashes of their loved one to be crafted into bullets probably aren’t easily offended … or we can hope not.

So tonight in the car with my boys, our car talk chatter slowly quieted and our brains caught up with the radio at just the perfect time in the story.

For Priscilla Isler, firing bullets with her husband’s ashes tucked inside is not about mourning but celebration. She even used a few round rounds to kill a wild pig that her family ate for their Fourth of July cookout.

Oh. My. Goodness.  We laughed so hard!  Not at this beautiful family, but the ideas we come up with to celebrate life.  And the freedom some of us have to live and love and laugh even through the mess and the tears and the sorrow of saying goodbye.  Some people are going to live out loud no matter who tells them it’s not the normal way.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just part of their legacy, handed down from one loud, free soul to another.

Isler says she can’t imagine any other way to honor her husband’s life than firing a bullet so he goes out with a bang.

Count me in as one of those loud, free souls.  I’m learning to live and love and laugh through the mess and the tears and the sorrow.  When I go Home I want those who have shared love with me to celebrate.  I’m not interested in being loaded into ammo shells.  No, not really.  And I hope I haven’t given my Munition Squadron Commander husband any ideas.  I hope my life has been marked and filled by God’s Holy Smoke, people drawn near to see the fire that burns in me.  Mourn well, those whose shadows have disappeared in the Light.  And at the end of the party, send me on Home with a bang and a drifting of Holy Smoke across the sky.

Dear Favored One,

Live your life in freedom, with joy.  And when fear is circling overhead?  Be part of the legacy handed down from one loud, free soul to another.  Take aim and shoot fear right out of the sky.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

17 thoughts on “Holy Smoke

  1. Heather W

    Ah! From one loud free soul to another, loved laughing with you as I read this. 😉 And you finished it with one of my favorite verses ever! Big hugs Tobi! Go out with a bang. (And can I just say…the shooting the pig thing with Dads bullet so to speak…wow ahem…) wow. Glad you are back. 🙂

  2. Lani

    My son was reading over my shoulder and decided that’s what he’s gonna do for us! Funny thing is…we’re pacifists and don’t own a gun!! 🙂 (he however is building an arsenal of knives, swords and when he’s old enough, it will definitely include guns he says!)

    1. tobibenton Post author

      Oh, I’m so glad for the laughs but sorry for any corruption to pacifist ways. 🙂 Truth be told (and this would take a very long conversation over coffee) I’m a pacifist stuck in a military spouse’s body. Thanks for visiting me and I look forward to spending some time in your space as well!

    1. tobibenton Post author

      I know, right!? Too funny! Glad you like the space. My bullet-point list of things I want to figure out how to do here is growing. Guess I’ll be hanging out in Better Blogs/Writers more frequently. 🙂

  3. Nancy Smith

    what a pleasure to read this! and I mean it in the nicest way. 🙂 I never thought about “how” as in being shot from a gun- that’s a crack up, was she from texas? i suppose this has given me food for thought as to how I would like to be ushered out. “Holy Smoke” that is a beautiful image! OH, I’m glad you didn’t run off the road.

    1. tobibenton Post author

      Alabama, my friend. Alabama. But my shooting days are Texas grown. My family didn’t have any guns, but after hours at the table I had to get out of the house. And I’m pretty competitive, so I liked that I was successful at hitting the target. I don’t own a gun (Ken does though) and I haven’t shot one in years. Yeah, I liked Holy Smoke as an image, though if you search it in the Bible it always comes back about God’s wrath. Took a bit to find how to express the image I saw from it regarding God and His Spirit. Thanks, friend!

  4. Tammy K.

    Tobi–love this post!! Can you imagine sitting down at the huge family picnic and somebody asking, “hey, where ja git the pig fer the pig roast today? Well, ya see it’s like this, we took daddy’s ashes, packed it real fine in a bullet, loaded it, unlocked it, fired it and BANG–daddy came out with a blaze o’ glory and took that bad boy down. Yeppers, daddy’d be so proud!” Too funny. Loved the post and the new site!

  5. tobibenton Post author

    You made my boys roll on the floor laughing again…especially with the “Yeppers, daddy’d be so proud!” Glad this tickled your funny bone. And thanks for the encouragement on the site!

  6. Nikki

    Oh, it’s those little moments that add up into big memories!
    Thank you…for choosing joy. Your son will not forget that! ; )

    {and I’m loving it over here by the way!}

    Hugs to you!

  7. Taylee

    Ahem, excuse me… As I was saying before I posted without completing my comment. In the beginning paragraphs of this post I sat puzzled and a tad disturbed at the whole idea of creating shells with ashes. And then the whole shooting the animal with it and cooking it up for dinner…eebeegeebeez just happened. But then I like the whole go out with a bang thing. Ha! Above all I just liked picturing you all in the car laughing hystarically. 🙂

  8. Shannon Coe

    Oh, Tobi! This is hilarious and poetic at the same time. I keep chuckling thinking about the whole experience of shooting the bullet into the air then a pig running by and having that ‘Why not?’ moment. Celebrating life- ironically this week was going to be hard for me. My large and loud family will not fill my home for Thanksgiving. We will still have 2 sons home, but it is such a reverse for me. I was tempted to feel all pouty. This post just threw me back to life where I belong. And I will celebrate with joy. Blessings to you!

  9. Jessica Holmes

    Loved this story and stumbled upon it today, just the right day. I heard that story and also was amused. Yet, it was the last few words about shadows that disappear in the Light really made me smile. I just found out today that a woman I had come to love in spite of her tough as nails exterior and for her generous heart for loving people from all of life’s circumstances to the glory of God died yesterday. The phrase disappear into the light was beautiful, because that is just what she has done. She has gone from setting a place for the Lord and many, many others at holiday meals at the church I grew up at to feasting at His banquet table. So glad you were laughing with your boys and seeking ways to celebrate life! Love you, friend.

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