Amy Rauch Neilson’s Celebration of Life

11 05 2012







Josh Isenhardt of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth delivered Amy’s celebration of life.  On a beautiful sunny day, with standing room only, family and friends joined together to remember Amy and celebrate her life.   

Amazing Grace – Sung by Carrie Brown Wilson

Good morning and welcome.  Thank you so much for joining us today as we celebrate Amy’s life and as we grieve together at her loss.  The family is grateful to share this time with you.


Amy Rauch-Neilson, age 43, of Belleville, died at home following a valiant battle with cancer.

Amy is the beloved wife of 12 years to Donald; devoted mother to Theo; and loving sister of Julie (Jim) Peace and Lisa (David) Sybert. Amy is also survived by many nieces, nephews, additional relatives and friends.

Though I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Amy personally, after spending time with her husband and son this week, I truly wish I had.  Amy was the kind of wife, mother, sister, and friend that breathed life into relationships, brought hope into difficult circumstances, gave generously of whatever she had, and moved through each day with a contagious zeal for living.  On her blog she wrote, “Oprah says 50 is the new 30. I say ordinary is the new extraordinary.”  And it was with this mindset that she approached every new experience.

Amy was a gifted writer and used her talent not only to help provide for her family, but also to raise awareness about her type of cancer and bring hope through her story.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy her blog, Amy chronicled her journey with this awful disease in a touching, wit-filled, and candid way that only a skilled writer such as herself could do.  It is a gift to anyone with a family, anyone with cancer, and well, just plain anyone.  Her writing echoed the openness with which she lived in every other arena of her life.

Amy lived with open arms; making new friends at every turn while, at the same time, nurturing and caring for the ones she already had.  When Amy made a friend, it was a friend for life.  Amy loved having people around her. Don shared with me how he would get a call in the early afternoon that a friend was coming over for dinner and by the time he got home, it could very well balloon into a full blown party!  She truly had the gifts of open-handedness and hospitality and loved to exercise them regularly.  Many of you know Amy this way and understand from first hand experience just how valuable, and how scarce, a friend like Amy can be.  A true testament to Amy was that those you knew her the best, loved and respected her the most.

You would be hard pressed to find a mother more dedicated to her child than Amy was to Theo.  Mornings at the Neilson household could quickly turn into frog hunts in the back yard and by simply looking at Theo, it is readily apparent that he has been loved with a ferocious and intense kind of love.  The openness and optimism with which Theo approaches life can only develop under the caring nurture of loving parents. 

Amy took the very best parts of herself and poured them whole-heartedly into her relationship with Don.   Don told me about their wedding and it is such a touching reminder of who Amy was to her core.  When Don and Amy were still in the earlier stages of their relationship they made a trip to Holland, MI and stayed at a bed and breakfast there.  In the typical Amy fashion, the innkeeper quickly became a dear and close friend.  So much so, that when it came time to get married, Amy insisted that everybody make the drive out to the other side of the state so that the wedding could be held in a chapel down the street from that very same bed and breakfast!  She went to great lengths to care for her family. Even as she was transitioning out of this life, she made it a point to put everything into order to make the experience as easy as possible for those she was leaving behind.  At a time when she had every reason to dwell on herself and her circumstance, she made it a point for focus outwardly on the ones she loved so dearly.

In this life we encounter grabbers and givers; those that take whatever they can get and those who give whatever they have.  Amy was a giver of the highest order and this room is filled with people that are better off for having known her. 

 Speaking from the heart

  • Uncle Skip Rauch
  • Niece Emily Sybert
  • Don’s brother Jim Neilson


Though today is a day of mourning as we are grieved by the loss of Amy from our everyday lives, we have several reasons to celebrate and today we choose to do so.  

We celebrate that Amy lived her life well

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We celebrate that Amy beat Cancer

Cancer may have won the battle against Amy’s physical body, but that was on its way out anyway.  Cancer did not defeat her soul nor break her spirit. And now, God has given her a new body! 

2 Corinthians 5:1-3 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,  because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

We celebrate that Amy is at home in Heaven

John 14:1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  • What does love require of you? 
  • Is there something in this life that is defeating your soul and crushing your spirit?
  • Where will you spend eternity?

A version of The Lord’s Prayer – Sung by Carrie Brown Wilson 


May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may He lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  Amen

 Special Note:  At the cemetary today, several friends witnessed a red cardinal that flew over Amy’s final resting place.




10 responses

11 05 2012
amy youngblood

I received a thank you note from Amy today. A thank you for tiny surprises I sent during her treatments that hopefully made her giggle or warmed her heart- little surprises I NEVER would have expected a thank you note for….what a classy woman!

11 05 2012

It was a beautiful service.

12 05 2012
Jennifer Bopp Stegbauer

I could not attend, so I celebrated Amy on my own in my living room. I lit candles, played modern christian music, and said some prayers for her and her family during the time of her service. No red cardinals here in Germany, but who knows, maybe one day. Amy was always full of surprises.

12 05 2012
Elizabeth DeWaard

I, too, could not attend due to Tulip Time in Holland and guests here at the B&B, but I thought of Amy, Don, and Theo over and over and am so thankful I was and am part of their circle. So much love—

12 05 2012
Helene Rabinowitz

I am sitting by my computer, facing out to the Crystal River on which Amy had quite an adventure 2 summers ago. A red cardinal appears. I say “good morning Amy, I love you too, for always”.

12 05 2012
Aunt Doris Nielson

I could not attend in person due to surgery. But my heart was there and my prayers are still going up for Don and Theo and all of us who know Amy. And have the assurance that we will meet again in a more joyful place where there is no more suffering. As Jesus said to His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Peace.. the kind that Amy is experiencing now with our Lord!

12 05 2012
Mary Dougherty

What a beautiful service for a beautiful Lady. Amy will be missed but she will also live in our hearts everyday. May God bless Don and Theo.

13 05 2012

Josh and the others did a great job at honoring Amy, her life, her family, and her Lord. It was a beautiful service, Amy would have liked it. Love to all her family and friends.

16 05 2012
Bob Adams

There is nothing I can add that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll try. Amy was a beautiful worman, inside and out. What a great privilege to have been among so many who called her a friend–a good and personal friend, whose chicken pot pie was heavenly, and only made better when served with her almond and greens salad. She knew Jesus, so we’ll be in touch in the future–if I can get through the crowd who will want to see her as well.

23 05 2012
Rita O'Connor

I have so many thoughts of our Amy. She truly was “one in a million” and was indeed my fourth daughter. She will be missed by those who knew her and those who heard or read about her and especially by Don and Theo who made her life complete. “Mom Reet”

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