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Nettie’s Garden Party celebrates life

On Memorial Day, as the gloomy sky turned sunny again and pots of flowers glowed in its presence, Jeannette Cordes’ spirit filled the Litchfield Lions Park. Family and friends gathered to remember and celebrate the life of a Litchfield woman who is remembered for her genuine compassion, her love for family, her love for Jesus and her prayer life. Hosted by Cordes’ daughter, Grove City resident Heather Weseman, who penned a children’s book in her mother’s honor, Nettie’s Garden Party attracted more than 40 people for a time of fellowship, desserts and fun activities.

The celebration of life was May 29, the third anniversary of Cordes’ death. “This is really just a time of celebrating my mom today, because she was very well loved, and many of you here love her,” Weseman told attendees. Based on true events, Weseman’s new book, “Nettie’s Garden,” is intended to bring hope to those grieving the loss of a loved one, to help children process grief and to encourage readers to “trust in God’s perfect timing and wait on Him.”

The story is told from the point of view of Cordes’ peony plant, a perennial she tended to faithfully, year after year, despite its absence of buds. For 25 years, the peony had existed but never bloomed, but Cordes never gave up on it. Shortly after her death, the peony bloomed, showing her family hope in its colors.

“So it was just a really neat miracle for us to see new life, especially in such a dark time of us missing our mom,” Weseman said. “It was just a really neat gift that God gave us.” After her mother’s death, Weseman sought a project that would honor her mother’s memory and also honor the Lord. “I felt like the Lord told me to write a story about it, so I did,” Weseman said. “He used this story to do that, and I’ve been so blessed by so many people’s responses to my story. So many people have just been so kind, and the community has been so kind to me about it.”

When Cordes’ children were going through her things after her death, Weseman said she and her siblings found a message on an envelope, written in their mother’s handwriting, that said “One life will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.” “And, wow, did that have an impact on us,” Weseman said at the celebration. “I think that is a message that she wants all of you to know,” she said. “All that matters is what she did for Jesus.” At the celebration, Cordes’ family honored her with special music, and others shared memories, including Jeannette’s son, Adam.

“Mom was not only a great mother, but a great teacher,” he said. “I owe my love for books to her.” Adam said his mother always helped him when he was distraught and faced problems and always turned him toward Jesus. “My sisters and I remember the phrase from her, ‘Jesus has got this,'” he said. Cordes was known to many as a woman of strong faith and as a prayer warrior.

“I think the many prayers from her are still working in the world, even now,” Adam said, “and I hope we all can believe in the power of prayer like she did.”

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