The Thread of Hope

As I reflect on 2021, one word comes to mind. Hope.

In January I decided that Hope would be my word for the year. No resolutions to break within the first few weeks. No promises were made to others I could not keep. Just simply the word “HOPE”.

Hope that transcends the darkest of days. Hope that holds you together when your world is falling apart. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope because it’s the red thread that God weaves throughout the contents of the Bible.

January 1, 2021, rolled around Terry and I were recovering from COVID. Finally, on January 7, we were well enough to travel to Charleston and have Christmas with our family. And so, Christmas happened in January with health restored and hope for a brand new year.

We welcomed February with some special celebrations. Amy’s 23rd birthday and Mom’s 75 birthday. We also celebrated Alex’s “big boy job”. He was hired by Lennar Homes as an Accounting Coordinator.

On March 6th we had the opportunity to go see Amy complete in her first track meet as a Charleston Southern Buccaneer. We were simply thankful to go because there was much uncertainty with COVID restrictions. During that meet, she was disappointed in her performance but hope was born because she was coming out of a 12 week back injury.

In April, we attended a few more track meets and watched live scoring online for those we could not attend. Each meet she improved, it was a steady improvement and her back was holding steady and there was hope for a good ending to her collegiate career.

In May her collegiate career ended with a first-place finish in the Shot Put in the Big South. She finished in the top 10 of all four events and was the only thrower for Charleston Southern competing in all four events. While this was a big deal, she was feeling disappointed because her numbers were not quite good enough to qualify for NCAA regionals. Then came the realization that college athletics had come to an end. But not all hope was lost, she continued her classes through the summer and began the hunt for a job.

In June we made several trips to Charleston and we met a very special couple who had graciously taken Amy under their wings and had become her “Charleston family”. During June, a condo in Mom’s neighborhood came on the market, and Aunt Trisha fell in love with it. Now, there was the hope of her moving here, being closer to her family especially Mom.

July ushered in a job for Amy and shoulder surgery for Ryan. Within the first few weeks of Amy’s job, she knew it was not the right fit for her but she trekked on. Ryan’s shoulder surgery was successful and we had the opportunity to spend a few days with him and Alex. We were also making forward progress with the purchase of Aunt Trisha’s condo.

By early August Amy was actively seeking a new job and Aunt Trisha was beginning her health decline. I too discovered a spot on my nose, which turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma and required surgery. Immediately following my surgery, Aunt Trisha was transported via helicopter to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The week following on August 20, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an inoperable tumor, and had a gastric bypass in hopes of allowing food to pass through. The surgery was a huge success but her body didn’t immediately cooperate. However, the doctors always assured us there was hope. We even closed on her condo the day before her big surgery. Now, she had a home in Hendersonville. And also, Alex was promoted to Staff Accountant. So, even amid some difficulties hope remained.

By September, Aunt Trisha was still up and down. She remained in the hospital through September 16 until she was ready to begin rehabilitation. Amy was offered a job as a recruiter at High Hampton. I picked Aunt Trisha up from rehab on September 27 and brought her to her new home in Hendersonville. She was thrilled with her new place and thought it was just “perfect” for her.

In October we celebrated Amy’s new job and move with her “Charleston family”. At the same time, Aunt Trisha was taken back the hospital. This time with pancreatitis. She was kept in a holding room in the ER at Advent Hospital until they had a room available for her at Wake Forest. When she was finally taken back to Wake Forest, they found another blockage and had to perform another surgery. During this surgery, she bottomed out three times on them. They resuscitated her with fluids all three times which caused her to be placed in ICU for several days. About mid-October, she went back to rehab for less than 24 hours and returned to the hospital only to have another surgery to untwist her bowel. However, the doctors kept hope alive by telling her she had no further blockage and should be eating normally soon.

On November 2 she was released for rehab again. Things were improving for her. She had regained mobility and was working hard to regain balance. Her food intake was slow but she was eating. She was looking forward to her appointment with Dr. Shen on November 30 for him to see her good progress but sadly she wound up back in the hospital on November 28. For her, hope seemed to be fleeting for life here on earth but her eternal hope never waned. And all the while, I watched as she grew weaker and wearier, I clung to the hope that God had been and would continue to be merciful to her and His faithfulness would be evident.

December came like a whirlwind, on December 1, Aunt Trisha decided to allow Hospice to take over and on December 2, she was transported to Elizabeth House in Hendersonville. In the evening hours of December 4, God called her home. God was merciful and God was gracious to her. Just as I had hoped and prayed. During the month, we celebrated 3 birthdays and an anniversary, and Christmas. On Christmas Eve we took Mom with us to church for a beautiful Christmas Eve service. Then she took us all to one of our favorite local restaurants, The Hare and Hound, for Terry’s birthday. Christmas Day was wonderful and so warm we sat on the porch for several hours and just enjoyed our day. At the close of December, we found ourselves back in Charleston…the same place we began 2021. This time to celebrate with our sons who were not able to come home for Christmas and also celebrate the engagement of Matthew and Lindsey. And so there it is, the thread of hope weaved throughout the year.

There are always going to be moments of disappointment and some may come with deep and sometimes seemingly utter despair but what I’ve learned throughout the past year is that hope is alive. It is living and active. Sometimes it comes in big waves and sometimes it’s a small as a grain of sand. Hope is that one word that promises a better tomorrow because hope looks forward with anticipation. But there is only one true source of hope and my hope has a name, Jesus. He is Hope for all who truly believe.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Hope and Anticipation

On Wednesday, December 1, Aunt Trisha’s Pastor, Suzanne, came to visit. She arrived shortly after Aunt Trisha decided to have Hospice manage her care. A visit already planned before the decision was made, a divine appointment.

As Suzanne talked with Aunt Trisha, she asked her if she was at peace with her decision and she replied, “Yes.” Then she asked her if she had peace in knowing that God would be soon coming to take her home. She acknowledged that she did. Afterward, Suzanne said, “Now Pat, you know we are in Advent Season. A season of waiting and anticipation of the arrival of Christmas. Also, for Christians, it’s an anticipation of His second coming. But for you, you are awaiting His coming for you. How beautiful that you are waiting to be made whole again.”

Friends, I must tell you, I was completely blown away by her statement. I, too, am doing a study on Advent, but I had never put it in the context Suzanne brought to light. In that moment of wisdom, there in that hospital room, peace, joy and hope permeated the room and any fear of death removed.

When you watch someone go through as much as I witnessed with her, it is such a comfort to know that she no longer is struggling. She is made whole. In fact there’s a beautiful promise we find in Revelation 21: 4-5 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”

As you celebrate Advent this year, remember it’s not just about Jesus’ birth, or even His second coming, we too, can anticipate the day that He will make all things new and that includes us who believe in Him.

Dear Daddy

Here we are again, another year to remember and celebrate the day of your birth. And yet, a constant reminder that for the biggest part of my life you have lived with Jesus, and I have only fragments of juvenile memories.

Some would argue that I was too young to remember as much as I do and that I may be transposing dreams into memories. However, these nuggets of memories are far too real to be merely dreams.

Maybe it was the trauma of it all that caused me to remember. Or the realization that I wouldn’t have you around long and so I fought hard to remember, especially the touch of your hands, the warmth of your hugs, the way you would tilt your head back when you laughed, your eyes how they’d twinkle when you grinned. The sternness of your voice. (You never had to ask us twice to do something…..ever). The tenderness of your love.

Although your physical presence has been gone for 45 years now, there’s still a part of you living inside of me. And can I just be honest, in the past six months I have felt your presence more than ever? I think it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem. Albeit much different than when you were there, my thoughts of you being there caused me to wonder…..

Did you know the last time was the last? Is that why you asked your brother, Butch, to stop by the river in Old Fort so you could walk the river bank and hear it’s rush one more time? Is that why you had Mom come with you? I think the answer is, “Yes.” You did know. You knew your health was deteriorating and the inkling that something just wasn’t right.

What you didn’t know. You didn’t know they would find an inoperable tumor resting on your spine, which would quickly paralyze you from your waist down. You didn’t know that you would spend the last seven weeks of your life in Pardee Hospital. But to you the unknown didn’t matter because of the hope you had in Jesus. You knew that death was only a shadow and that you were going to start your new and eternal life in heaven with Jesus. You knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you would be healed and whole. And this knowledge is how you were able to endure so much. You knew that your suffering would not be forever and you knew your suffering would be used to advance the gospel. You rested with the calm assurance that God was Sovereign above all things because your hope was being refined through your suffering.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:6-9 NIV

I am grateful.and blessed to have the fragments of memories but I am overjoyed to know that while your physical presence has been gone for 45 years the fragments of memories help remind me that a part of you still lives within me and the hope you had in Jesus is the same hope I have in Him today. Oh, how blessed I am to have had a dad like you.

When The Harvest Comes

This picture I have saved for four years now, waiting for the right time to share. Today seems the perfect day for this story.

This sweetheart belongs to Amber, her name is Kelland. Amber was Ned’s partner, sidekick, bodyguard, and good friend for many years. Mom always said,” As long as Amber was with Ned on an assignment, I never worried. I knew he was safe with her.”

When Ned moved into the Elizabeth House, Amber was one of the first ones calling and asking what he wanted. She brought him all kinds of goodies including peach and chocolate ice cream from Whit’s. She’d worked with him long enough to know his likes and dislikes.

On the evening of October 26th, Kelland came with Amber to see Ned. It was the day after his big rebound and he was being kept comfortable. Kelland was a little nervous about seeing Ned so Amber sent her to the waiting room to entertain herself. When Amber went to get Kelland to leave this is what Kelland had written.

Every time I see this a tear trickles down my cheek and it’s okay. It’s an endearing reminder that Ned was well-loved by many, including this precious child.

It’s also a reminder of the simplicity and honesty of a child’s heart. She didn’t feel comfortable seeing Ned because there was too much uncertainty in her mind about how he would look but she wanted him and others to know that she loved him.

But there’s more to this story: Ned was always faithful to share his faith and in doing so, he encouraged Amber and Jason to get involved in a church. On his birthday April 21, 2018, almost 7 months after his death, Amber FaceTimed me.

She said, “Kelland, tell Kelly what you did today!”

Kelland replied, “I asked Jesus in my heart today.”

“Kelland, you gave Ned the best birthday present he’s ever had,” I said.

What a perfect reminder that our lives are intertwined with others by God’s design. We should never take lightly the great responsibility God has given for us to build up one another and to encourage one another in the faith. You never know when the harvest is coming.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

The Legacy She’s Leaving

As I read the words Paul penned in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” I simply cannot think of a better story to share.

If you look at the preceding verses you will see that Paul is talking about this as being the very secret that he learned of being content. In every circumstance, whether in plenty or need this is how you become content, fix your mind on Jesus, and know that He is the source of your strength.

So, this is a picture of Aunt Trisha and Uncle Onald. They were married in February of 1966, in a double wedding ceremony with my Mom and Dad.

In 1969 they moved from Brevard to Winston Salem. Uncle Onald began his career as a license examiner and she began her 23-year career with RJ Reynolds.

By 1974, they bought their first and only house located on the outskirts of Winston Salem in Advance. God did not choose to bless them with children of their own; however, He did bless them with nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews to dote and love on.

My four children were the main recipients of their love and care. Every summer or break my children had from school, Aunt Trisha and Uncle Onald would take one of my children for a week at a time. It was their special week to eat anything and do whatever they wanted. My children always came home happy and eager to return when it was their time to go.

Over the years, they traveled with groups and alone and with my grandparents to various destinations. Dollywood was one of their favorite locations and they traveled there often until a few years ago when she began having issues with her knees.

For many years, they came regularly to Brevard to help take care of their ailing parents.

Last year in August they were called to Brevard for Uncle Onald’s twin brother, Donald. Hospice had been called in and he was rapidly declining.

Around mid-September, Uncle Onald began experiencing problems swallowing. An endoscopy and biopsy revealed that he had Esophageal cancer. He too had an inoperable mass/tumor in his esophagus. And so, the arduous chemotherapy began in October. The chemotherapy was not effective in his situation and with Aunt Trisha by his side, he passed away on December 20, 2020, at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.

After his unexpected death, one would expect devastation. But not Aunt Trisha, she had watched his fast and steady decline. She’s said over and over, “Oh, I am so grateful that God chose to call him home. I miss him but I know that I couldn’t have taken care of him at home.”

Now, this brings me back to the point of this writing. Much like Paul, Aunt Trisha has learned the secret of being content in all circumstances. She knows that her strength comes from the Lord and she knows that she “can do all things through Christ who strengthens (her).”

What a remarkable legacy she has and is displaying in her life. It’s one I don’t want to soon forget.

Was it worth it? …..Absolutely

This was originally posted on April 5, 2019, but stories like these are meant to be told and retold. For me, it’s such a great reminder of how lucky I have been to have such a great story to share.

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plague. A few weeks ago when God began churning my heart, I told Him, “Not now”. Yes, like I’ve said before delayed obedience is disobedience and I disobeyed.

I think as I write you will see why I avoided writing. However, the urge is so great within me, I can no longer resist.

As you know my biological father died when I was 7. He died from Melanoma and you can read some of his stories in my blog post, My sweetest sorrow.

Now, we are at another crossroads with cancer. My stepfather, Ned. He was diagnosed 18 months ago with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It sucks. I’m just not going to sugarcoat anything about it.

A few months back, well technically a few years ago God began to stir this thought and idea about these two men I have had to privilege of calling Dad.

First, you must understand the first to understand the second.

Mack, my dad, had a strong enduring faith in God. He hoped beyond all hope that one day a cure for Melanoma would be discovered. Knowing full well it would not be in his lifetime, he allowed the doctors at Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest) to try new treatments on him. He was their guinea pig. His philosophy and mindset were to aid in the research and help others in the future.

Another thing to understand about my dad is that he never shied away from sharing his faith. He firmly grasped and held tight to his belief in Jesus. He had strong convictions about sharing his faith and the above picture is a treasure straight out of his Bible. He desired to see that no one would perish without knowing Jesus. His chief goal in life.

I believe that through his death his chief goal was reached and realized. When Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Bear with me while I explain.

When Mom and Ned began dating Ned wasn’t living out a full life with Christ at the center. He had made a profession of faith but wasn’t living a life reflective of Christ.

As their relationship began to grow so did his love for Jesus. Eventually leading up to his rededication. In perfect Ned style, it was not a haphazard decision, it was done with intent and passion. A decision he will tell you was the best choice he ever made aside from marrying my Mom.

The reality here is that without my dad having died, Ned may have never been able to experience the blessed life that only Jesus can give. If you ask Mack if it was worth dying for he would say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

—————–—————

That was the original post from September 11, 2017.

When I wrote these words, Ned was still with us and it would only be another six weeks until God would call him Home. Today marks 43 years since my Daddy has been in Heaven. In the past, this particular day has been such a painful hard day, but not today. What’s different?

My attitude. What I’ve realized with both Daddy and Ned was they were willing to embrace the process, to endure the pain to receive the victory. They both knew the earth was their temporary dwelling and they both knew where they were going. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross?

His soul agonized over having to endure the cross. He begged God for another way. When He knew there was no other way, He simply said, ”Not my will but yours” At this point, He embraced the process. He endured the cross. And when he spoke, ”It is finished” is His declaration of victory.

You will never get to the victory of the cross without enduring the pain and you’ll never be able to endure the pain without embracing the process.

I found this devotion in my Dad’s Bible. I wonder if it was something he had before his diagnosis or if he found it later. I don’t know the answer but what I know is that He bravely witnessed for the Lord and many lives were changed…….mine included.

TETELESTAI – It is Finished

What do these three words mean to you, “It is finished”? Before you answer let me put it to you like this. Your answer will determine your future. Yes, really. This is the climax of why Jesus came. It is the very reason He was born. It was His purpose. Think about that for just a moment: Jesus was born to die.

Jesus wasn’t just born to die an ordinary death. His death changed the trajectory of our future, at least for those who chose to believe. His death would defeat sin and conquer death. His death would be the death we deserve to die. Jesus was always God’s plan for salvation…..always.

Let’s observe for just a minute all that was taking place on Good Friday. It looks and feels like anything but good. Jesus has been sentenced to death because of His claim to be the Messiah. They put a crown of thorns on his head. They beat him. They spit on him. They slapped him. They mocked Him. They even cast lots for His clothes.

Jesus knew both the horror and joy this day would bring. This is why he begged, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”Luke 22:42. He knew what He would endure. He knew he would be beaten, mocked, shamed, and nailed to the cross. But that’s not the part that ripped his heart out. He knew that He would have to endure separation from God. He had never been separated from His Father. But He also knew it was the only way and so He willingly obeyed. Did he have to? No, He didn’t. He could’ve made excuses. He could’ve told God that it would be way too hard and to find another way. Yet, He willingly submitted to God’s authority because He knew that God’s plan was best.

After making their way to Golgotha, He was nailed to the cross. There he hung on the cross between two thieves. And here’s where the rubber meets the road for these two men. Here’s where the heart of the matter is. One asks Jesus to remember Him and one doesn’t. They both are faced with the same choice. So, what makes the difference? The difference resides in their hearts. One sees himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. The other doesn’t see his need at all. In essence, it’s the same choice we are faced with. Will we acknowledge Jesus for who He is and admit that we are sinners in need of Savior. After all, we are told that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

But wait, there’s a little more here to the story. After Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43 It was around noontime and complete darkness filled the sky for three hours. This was the darkest time history has ever seen. This was Jesus’ darkest hour. This was the time he agonized over the most. It was during this time that He was separated from God. This is when the sin of us all was being poured upon Him. All sin! Everyone’s sin. My sin. Your sin.

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

John 19:28-30 NIV

When Jesus proclaimed “TETELESTAI”. He meant, “It has been finished. It is now finished. it will be finished”. Past. Present.Future. And this is the very good news of Good Friday. But the question remains: What do these words mean to you?

He Knew and He Knows….All Things

Today, as I was reading through the evening dinner of the Last Supper a few key points, jumped out at me again. And again I find myself more and more amazed with the way that God reveals Himself to me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read through the passages of scripture and I’ve never seen these things. Was I not looking for them? I don’t think that’s the case. I think God reveals things He wants us to discover when the time is right and I also think it has to do with the condition of my heart.

For reference, I read John 13 today and it the story most of us are very familiar with and the greatest act of love Jesus exemplified before His death. The washing of the disciple’s feet. But today as I was reading through this passage, the words, “Jesus knew” or “He knew” were repeated quite a few times. The first time is in John 13:1, “Jesus knew that his hour had come for him to depart out of this world to the Father…”. The second time in verse 3, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” The next time in verse 11, “For he (Jesus) knew who was going to betray him.” And then there’s inference that Jesus knew in John 13:36 when He tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows.

When I think about the fact that Jesus knew all of these things and yet He didn’t use his power or position to make himself look great. He did not make Himself a hero. He didn’t strike Judas dead. He didn’t call Peter a fool. What He did was the most profound act of kindness and servanthood imaginable. He washed their dirty feet. He washed the feet of the one who would betray him. The one who called him a friend to his face and would backstab him later. He washed the feet of the one who would deny him, not once, twice but three times. He washed the feet of the one, Thomas, who would doubt Him. He washed all of their feet and He knew all things about them. And then He gives them this command, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV. You see, three years earlier Jesus had invited these men to follow Him and now He’s leaving behind the most remarkable example of humility and compassion for them to follow and for us as well. Serve others. Treat them with kindness and compassion, even those who’ve wronged you.

Beyond this, Jesus is also teaching us that we cannot clean ourselves up, only He can do that. When Peter tells Jesus not to wash his feet, Jesus responds, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” John 13:8 You see, Peter didn’t want Jesus to touch his dirt and grime. It was so gross to him that he could not even imagine Jesus, the Teacher, the Messiah, touching his filth; but you see that’s why Jesus came and that’s why He wants us to come to Him in our humble, shameful, and dirty messes so that He can wash us clean. Don’t miss the greatest invitation that Jesus is giving you because you think you’re too filthy and dirty. (There was a time when I felt the same way) Follow Him. Give your heart to Him. He already knows all about you and He loves you anyway.

The Preparation is Aleady Made

How many times do I fret over my plans, checking every last detail, just to make sure it’s going to turn out well? There’s nothing wrong with a good plan, is there?

Jesus’ disciples didn’t think so either and in the final days before His death, they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover and Feast of the Unleavened Bread.

In case you’re like me and need to be reminded: Passover is a celebration and remembrance of the Exodus. The time when God freed His people from the bondage of slavery. He freed them by telling them to take the blood of the lamb and paint it over their doorposts and in the evening as the angel of death swept through Egypt, it would Passover the homes covered with the blood. (This is also symbolic of what Jesus’ blood does for us)

Anyway back to the story, there are a lot of things going on in the final week and days of Jesus’ life on Earth and I would encourage you to read them all. But for the first time today as I was reading through this scripture I saw something that stood out that I’ve never seen before and it blew me away!

As the time was drawing close to the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, also known as the Last Supper, the disciples asked Jesus, “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

Mark 14:12 The disciples wanted. to plan but instead of making preparations on their own, they asked Jesus for direction.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Jesus answers them. Pay close attention to what the passage says, “And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.”

Mark 14:13-16 ESV

Jesus tells them, do this and you will see that the preparation has already been made. God prepares in advance. This is something my mind just cannot fathom or lay hold of for too long. God always prepares in advance for me. He wants me to ask for His direction and He desires that I follow His direction and unfortunately I don’t always comply. Maybe that’s why Jesus only sent two. The two that would do precisely as He asked. The truth is, I don’t always seek God’s.guidance for my plans. This is probably why I fret so much during the planning and why I get so frustrated when things don’t go as I had planned. But today, as I read through this scripture I am reminded of my all-time, go-to, favorite verse, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 I am a work in progress. I am not complete and I am not perfect. I will not be either of these until Jesus calls me home but that doesn’t mean that I can not learn from my mistakes and refuse to repeat my foolish behaviors and above all love God with my whole heart and love His people, because we are ALL created in the image of God and know beyond a shadow of a doubt The Preparation has already been made….on the cross, Jesus bore my sin and shame. He took the punishment I deserved and He died in my place and now I am covered by the blood of the Lamb!

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Fragments. Slivers. Bits, pieces and memories of a seven-year-old child. That’s all I have and yet what a profound and powerful impact they have on me. Your smile. Your strong arms. Your eyes. Your firm but gentle ways. You’ve been gone much longer than you lived but your legacy continues to live. Sometimes I wonder how can this be? How can a man’s life of 36 years continue to have an impact on others 46 years later and especially mine?

I believe that your simple “yes” to God made all the difference. I have no clue at what age you put your faith in Jesus as Lord, what I do know, is that you lived according to His Word.

Did you question the goodness of God when you received the diagnosis of Melanoma at age 30? Did you wonder what in the world God was doing because you had an almost-two-year-old with another child on the way? Did you ask why me? Did you ever get angry?

Maybe there were times when you questioned God but I believe most of the time you just completely believed in the sovereignty of Almighty God and you knew for certain that He had all things held together. You knew that your healing would ultimately come from God. He would perform an earthly miracle or He would heal you in Heaven.

Do you know why I believe this? Because I think held fast to Psalm 23. You knew for certain that you were safe in the arms of your Shepherd. You knew that He would take you to green pastures and lead you beside the still waters, even amid pain and agony. You knew he would lead you in paths of righteousness by allowing you opportunity after opportunity to share your faith, for His name’s sake. You knew and realized that death was only a shadow and shadows cannot hurt you. It was just passing through to eternal life with Jesus. He was there all the while protecting you and comforting you. You knew the table He prepared was bountiful and plentiful even though the enemy tried to steal your joy; you continued to be joyful despite the pain. Your cup continued to overflow. And you could believe this because of the goodness and mercy following you all the days of your life. God blessed you with an amazing family, great parents, siblings, and friends. God’s mercy allowed you six additional years from the onset of the diagnosis allowing you to witness the birth of your third child, the only son. And for 46 years you have dwelt in the house of the Lord and you will continue to be there forever.

Year after year it never ceases to amaze me at how much your life continues to impact mine. Thank you for being faithful to the Lord. Thank you for saying “yes” to His call. Thank you for holding fast to His Word.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!