A Heart-Wrenching Decision

Tap.Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound of Sammy walking endlessly around the house for three hours. I would doze off from time to time, but I was attuned to his wandering until finally, it stopped. The silence was almost deafening and fear of the unknown began to set in. I lay in bed paralyzed with fear. Finally, I dared to get up.

As I entered the kitchen from our bedroom, I looked for him in his bed or laying on the rug. I even glanced at the couch thinking he may have mustered the strength to jump. He wasn’t there. I walked across the kitchen and into the hallway. There he was laying in the hallway, still and motionless. I began to cry and called for Terry. I couldn’t bring myself to pick him up.

Terry picked him up and found he was still breathing. He’d just exhausted himself with his pacing. Terry handed him to me. I hugged him and cried happy tears because he was still with us. I cried ugly tears because I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. This was his fifth day, maybe sixth day, without food and very little water. Most of the time he would slowly walk to the water bowl and stand over the bowl, gaze and dip his head enough to wet his mouth. Almost like a human at the end of life who needs to be given a wet sponge just to keep their lips moist.

I already had an obligation in Hendersonville that morning and believe me, I delayed until I could delay no more. Looking for any excuse to linger longer but I knew Terry would be with him. We had already decided the day before that he would not be left alone.

I prayed on the way up Hendersonville that God would take away the decision I knew in my heart of hearts we were going to have to make. But at the same time, I didn’t want that to be the last time I saw my little boy. The struggle was real but I had to leave it in God’s hands.

As I headed back home around 2:00 pm, I had not heard from Terry and I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Honestly, I didn’t want to know, especially if the news was bad because I knew I couldn’t drive home. So, I didn’t call.

When I pulled into the garage Terry was coming outside and then I saw him, Sammy following Terry, albeit extremely slowly, to greet me. Just like he always did. I scooped him up, kissed his little head, and whispered a prayer of thanks to God.

He settled in my arms and then we just sat together as usual on the recliner. He fell asleep and seemed very settled but it only lasted for about an hour. He awakened and began pacing and wandering again.

Terry and I watched him wander about aimlessly and I asked him,
“What time does Bonnie Brae close? We can’t put him through another night of this.”

“5:30 I think.” Remembering what he was told the day.

“It’s time,” I said. He knew it. I knew it. Sammy knew it.

He called around 4:15 and they told us to come at 4:30. So, we had to walk out the door without stopping to pass go. I put Sammy in his favorite bed and carried him to the truck, crying the whole way.

Terry finished answering questions about Sammy and giving them the information needed as soon as he was off the phone we both wept for the rest of the trip. Honestly, I don’t know how even saw beyond his tears. Sammy, for the first time in two days, was so peaceful. There was not a hint of angst in him. He lay on my lap in his bed and didn’t move a muscle. He was tired and I think he knew his fight was over.

We were so emotional walking into the clinic and the receptionists were so kind and compassionate. It was obvious they felt our pain. They quickly whisked us into a room and it wasn’t long before Dr. Fitch came in.

He knew this was not a decision we had made lightly and he was not going to try to talk us out of it. Several articles I’d read over the past few days said, “You know your pet better than anyone and you’ll know when it’s time.” He did listen as I told him of the events leading up to our decision (a story for another time). He went over the formalities and explained the procedure. Stepped out of the room and gave us a few more minutes with him. Again, Sammy never moved a muscle. He lay still and quiet in his bed. He didn’t raise his head. He wasn’t nervous. He was at peace.

As the sedative was administered, Dr. Fitch had warned, he may resist and flinch a bit. Then as the sedative moves through his body, he will most likely have some muscle twitching and pee. That did not happen either. Sammy didn’t flinch when he gave him the shot. His muscles never twitched and he didn’t pee.

After about 5 minutes or so he came back into the room to administer the IV to stop his heart. I lifted him out of his bed and gave him to Dr. Fitch. He laid him on the table, Shaved a little bit of hair from his leg, and inserted the IV, while Terry and I stood beside him with our hands on his head. It didn’t take long for his heart to stop. Dr. Fitch and the vet tech hugged us and left us alone for as long as we needed. We bawled and clung onto each other, petted our boy, and kissed his head one final time.

On January 5, 2023, around 5:00 pm our Sammy boy left this earth and our hearts will never be the same. It may not have taken long for his heart to stop beating but it’s gonna take a long for our hearts to stop grieving. He was our constant companion for the past 14 years.

As much as my heart is grieving, I simply cannot imagine the grief of losing a spouse or child. The pain of loss is so much more than I am experiencing right now. I cannot imagine walking into an empty house knowing Terry would not be coming back. I cannot imagine knowing that I couldn’t pick up the phone and call my children. I cannot imagine knowing that my children would never walk through my door again. And for those whose pets are their children because they have none. For those whose pets are their constant companion because they have none. I believe their loss goes to a much deeper level that I probably don’t understand. Yet there are times in life when God chooses to use things to give you deep empathy and compassion for others, I believe this is one of them.

Sammy “little boy” Yarborough
October 22, 2008 -January 5, 2023

A New Home

On December 1, 2021, I knew the end was near and that Aunt Trisha would soon be departing from this world. But she didn’t know, she never really accepted the fact that she was dying until that day and I believe that was God’s gift of grace to her. All she could think and talk about was going to her new home, her condo in Hendersonville.

Often throughout my visits with her, she would say to me, “I keep asking God, ‘God, why did you make everything so easy for me to find a place in Hendersonville and sell my house here if I was going to get cancer? I just don’t understand.”

Mostly I would just respond, “I don’t know either.” But one day about midway through her four-month battle with pancreatic cancer, I had been pondering on John 14:1-3 and as our conversation landed back to her lack of understanding what God was doing,

I said to her, “All I can figure is that God did all of this to give you hope about the new place He’s preparing for you in Heaven. I believe He orchestrated all of this so that you would have something to look forward to. I think He allowed you to come and enjoy your new little place for three days because He is showing you that the place He’s preparing is far greater.”

Perplexed and still uncertain she said, “But why? Why now?”

“I don’t know the answer to that but here’s what I know He promises in His Word, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.’” John 14:1-3 ESV

As I quoted the scripture to her, a peace washed over her and she said, “Maybe you’re right but I just don’t think I’m ready to die”. And she wasn’t at least not on that day or for another couple of months but on December 1, she finally accepted that cancer had invaded her body and her time was short. No one but God knew just how short it would be but I can assure you that on December 4, 2021, when He called her home she no longer thought about the sweet little place she wanted to call home because her new dwelling was far greater than her mind could conceive and her questions were put to rest.

As I think back over the four months, I realize that God gave her hope. When He helped us find and purchase her place in Hendersonville, He gave her hope of a new place, a sweet special place, just perfect for her. When He allowed her to come to her special place and stay for three nights, the hope of coming back was always at the forefront of her mind. And when she decided to allow Hospice to manage her care, He gave her hope of coming home. And what He was accomplishing the entire time was preparation for her homecoming with Him in Heaven.

Maybe today, you have a lot of questions running through your mind about what God is doing and why, maybe you don’t have a clear understanding of what He’s up to. Can I encourage you today? He is always up to something good and it is always far better than we can hope or imagine.

Hidden Gems Among Us

A few days ago we were eating at one of our favorite spots. I was seated before Terry and kept waiting for him to join me. As soon as he sat down he explained his delay, “I met a man in the parking lot who has a truck like mine and we started talking about our trucks.” (Of course they did, it’s a man thing)

After a few minutes, the gentleman, Charlie, came to find us. He wanted to talk to Terry a little more. He told us about his granddaughter, daughter, and son-in-law. He asked about our family.

When he left our waitress told us that he and his wife are regulars there. His wife now has dementia and he is caring for her. (That explained a lot to me about why he was eager to talk to Terry.) She also told us that he had taken his wife into another local restaurant recently and she had an accident on the floor. The restaurant told him not to come back. I cannot tell you the wave of emotions I felt for him. Honestly, even writing this I am welling up with tears. And the saddest truth is the restaurant that is refusing him service is not a fancy, posh, fine dining restaurant. The establishment where we met him is far more upscale. Moreover, he and his wife have been loyal supporters of that restaurant as well.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a loved one with dementia but I have. I watched Ned’s mother, my grandmother, Louise was overtaken by Alzheimer’s. I watched my grandfather, Troy, become the caregiver for my grandmother, Colleen, for ten years before having to place her in assisted living. And just recently my mother has been diagnosed with age-related memory loss. The thing about patients suffering memory loss is that sometimes their systems do not work properly. Sometimes they do not have control over their bladder or bowels. Sometimes it happens so suddenly you cannot do anything but stand in your mess until it is over. It is the same thing that happens to children during potty training. They simply can’t get there in time. And I am just curious, do restaurants ban people from coming back when children lose it all over their floors?

I have seen this playing out over the past few years and it sickens me but I feel as if we are slowly becoming a society of “survival of the fittest, the brightest and best.” But what if our fittest, brightest, and best are hidden gems among us? The ones we view as weak. The ones we want to put aside? The ones society says aren’t good enough. But the ones that Paul says, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”1 Corinthians 1:27

The Unfairness of Life

Often we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. I mean it doesn’t make sense when one is healed and another one isn’t. I know I struggled with this for many years. I could never figure out why God would take a 36-year-old man away from his family. But then I would. hear stories of how God healed others in similar situations. It just didn’t make any sense.

I wrestled with this well into my adult years. A seven-year-old can only understand so much. And to be honest, there is still a mystery in it all for a fifty-three-year-old.

The issue I wrestled with the most was the unfairness of it all. It just didn’t seem right to me that God would take my Daddy away from his family, especially considering my brother was only nine months old. Sometimes it still doesn’t seem right but what I’ve discovered is that there is nothing fair in this life. Life does not delve out the same thing to each one of us and we must learn to take what’s given to us and make something from it. Like the old proverb says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The problem is sometimes we get stuck and moving forward and moving on feels almost impossible. Instead of wondering about the big picture, maybe we just need to remember to put one foot in front of the other. It’s a one step at a time mentality.

My biggest hangup for years was that I would move forward and then I’d fall off the rails. I felt defeated and it seemed that I had made no forward progress. What I didn’t realize then was that I was not going backward, I just needed more time to process before continuing to move forward. Because I felt defeated, I refused to move at all. This constituted a lot of anguish and unnecessary grief not just for me but for others around me. In fact, at times, I felt like I was the only person in the world who had ever been through losing a parent at a young age. I most certainly was not but when you’re stuck, not only do you feel that way, but you give others the impression and implication you feel that way. And guess what? It’s really hard to help someone who feels defeated and cheated by life.

This is where the rubber met the road for me when I realized that I felt defeated because I felt cheated. I felt cheated because I had not grown up with the man I called Daddy. I felt cheated because all of my memories of him were limited because of my age. I felt cheated because my life didn’t look nor feel like those around me.

Friends, that is why I stayed stuck for a long time. But here’s the thing, no one but me could change the way I felt. My grandparents, parents, friends, extended family. No. No. No. I had to be the one to change the way I felt. I had to start looking at things differently. And to be quite honest, it wasn’t until the birth of my first child, that I began to view life differently. Why the sudden change?

As life was growing and forming inside me, my spirit was awakened and renewed by God. I realized that I had a need and no one but God could meet that need. That’s when I decided to make a change. A change that would not happen outwardly for a long time and still has a long way to go but a change that would transform me on the inside. A change that would eventually help me to see that I wasn’t cheated at all. No, I was given another man who would take exceptionally good care of me and my siblings. A man who would love my mother and delight in her. A man who would teach me that whatever you do, don’t do it halfway, give 100 % of yourself 100% of the time. (A lesson I hope to never forget) A man who would love my children, his grandchildren, as much or more than my biological Daddy would have. I wasn’t cheated at all….I was given far more than I deserved.

My life is messy. It will always be messy. There will always be times when life seems unfair and there will be times that I will again feel cheated. But as Martin Luther King, Jr said so eloquently, “I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I could be; I may not be the man I truly can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.”

Maybe you too have felt that defeated and cheated by things that have happened to you, circumstances far beyond your control or maybe by poor choices you’ve made. Maybe life has given you a bunch of lemons and they’re hard to squeeze but you’re the only one who can squeeze the lemon. Maybe you have to take it one section at a time and maybe that section is so small it seems pointless but the idea is to squeeze it little by little until you make your own lemonade.

Give Me Your Hand

Hopefully, by now you all know that I am very much a realist, and I don’t live in a dream-world facade. My world and my life are about as far from perfect as it gets. However, I try to find good humor in things, especially hard things. I try to look at the brighter side of things and find meaning in the little things. I don’t discount or hide sadness or hard times behind humor, I just know that a day without laughter is not a day lived well for me.

On my first visit to see my Aunt in the hospital back in August, I bounced in her room like a happy-go-lucky Tigger. I quickly walked over to kiss her on the cheek but in my eagerness to kiss her I clumsily stepped on her feet. She quickly withdrew from me causing me to almost lose my balance and fall right into the chair with her. We both had a good belly laugh at the situation.

Later in the day as I was leaving I started towards her again. Quicker than a wink, she thrust her hand out and said, “I think it’s safer for you to just kiss my hand.” From that time until the day of her passing she would always give me her dainty little hand to kiss.

On Saturday, December 4, when Terry and I got to the Elizabeth House her nurse told us that she had been so sleepy they couldn’t get her to take her meds. Finally, we aroused her enough for the nurse to get them down but her eyes remained mostly closed. She would answer a question and she chuckled a few times so I knew she heard us. Before we left, I said, “Okay Aunt Trisha Terry and I are leaving. Give me your hand so I can kiss it. She pulled her hand out from the covers and held it up for me to kiss.” Although that would be the last time for me to kiss her dainty little hand, I still have to chuckle when I think of how quickly she responded to my request.

Moments like these are the ones I will treasure forever. These moments bring me great joy and comfort amid sorrow. These remembered moments remind me that even in the hard times of life, laughter and joy can be found. It’s not focusing on what you’ve lost, it’s remembering what you had and being grateful for the little things and precious memories.

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.

You Can Get Back Up Again

Who had a Bozo the Clown blow-up bop bag? did. I remember being so fascinated by how quickly he bounced back up. So much so, I would give him my best shot or 50 and he always bounced back….unless he was low on air and then he wouldn’t bounce back as quickly.

Have you had the wind knocked out of sails? Have you been blind-sighted or sucker-punched? Have there been times when you just wanted to go far, far away to a deserted island and never come back? Or maybe you just want hermit away in your house and never come out? You certainly didn’t feel like bouncing back and getting up on your feet again and facing the world with all of its uncertainties. I certainly have faced times like these.

So, how do you bounce back when you’re punched again and again and again? The first thing to remember is that you’re not the only one. There are many people in this world and many suffer from heartaches and disappointments, many of them are far greater than yours. That doesn’t mean yours aren’t real. They are real. Your pain is real. Your heartache is real. Your sorrow is real. Even the apostle Paul did not discount pain and suffering. He just had a different perspective. His perspective was quite simple and yet profound, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4 (KJV) I believe what he is saying is that our response to difficult situations is to recognize that God is Sovereign and He is in control. Rejoice in the fact that He is God and He is good.

Does that mean we cannot question or doubt his goodness? Absolutely not. If that were the case my doubts would have never lead me to the place of understanding that God is sovereign above all things. God loves an honest doubter and in time He will reveal Himself to you if you’re honest about your doubts and you seek Him.

The second thing is to keep in mind that your suffering has a time limit. It will not last forever. Will it go away before you die? I don’t know. Only God knows the answer to that but one day, all pain and suffering will come to a screeching halt. Gone forever. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (NIV). This life and all of its sorrows, trials, and pain are just temporary.

Thirdly, know that you have a friend in Jesus. He knows all about you. He understands everything you’re going through. He came not only to dwell among us but to understand us. Hebrews 4:15 says it like this, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—-yet he did not sin.” (NIV) So, if you’re struggling to grapple with whatever you are facing and you do not think anyone understands, knows, and believes that Jesus does. This will change your life. As the psalmist says, in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV)He is always present. Always stands ready to help. And He is always near.

Don’t run away from the things that threaten to take you down because in time you can bounce back again. Sometimes you may bounce back more quickly than others but don’t be discouraged because You are not alone and you will get up again.

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.