Thursday, October 28, 2010

Building Update

I haven't posted an update on our new church building addtion lately. The missionary workers have finished their part and moved on a couple of weeks ago. I've overheard some talk about the doors and such so it's getting close!! Can't wait to see how everything looks when it's completed. We hope to have it finished by Christmas. It would be nice to have our Churchwide Christmas fellowship in our banquet room.

I hope to get some more pictures soon.
Our church said farewell to another Saint today. Hannah and I helped serve food for the family before the funeral. We're sure going to miss her smiles and infectious laughter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joyful Chaos Giveaway

Joyful Chaos is giving away this book!

Swing by her blog, leave a comment, and enter to win. She'll be drawing October 30th.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Still Partyin'!

This past weekend the ladies from our church had a scheduled trip to Mrs. Ava's house in the mountains. We always have a great time while we're there and this time was no different. I was glad that mom was able to go. She really needed the change of scenery and what a scenery it was! It was so peaceful, mom slept pretty much the entire time we were there. How, with all the laughter, I'll never know.

We shared a lot of laughs and very interesting stories. Some I'll never forget. haha

We had way too many sweets in the house. No, really, we did. But Mrs. Janet's grilled chicken and pasta was delicious too!

If it weren't for this lady, it would be total chaos on any trip!

There is NOTHING like the beauty of God's earth. We saw the changing of leaves and families of deer.

I was really disappointed to find I had no single shots of my buddies, Dana and Mander. Or myself, for that matter. Whatever we talked about must have been good enough to keep my mind off taking pictures of us. LOL
At least we got this group shot! I sure do love these ladies!!
Monday night, "The two Gayles" planned a belated surprise birthday dinner for my mom at Olive Garden. The look of surprise on her face was priceless! "The two Gayles" crowned her, placed a feather boa around her neck, and pinned a beautiful corsage on her.

Several friends were able to be there. Joann, mom's co-laborer in Sunday School, is a gorgeous girl. But man, can she make some scary faces!
There were several pranks played. Two by Rebecca. She hid Joann's food when Joann went to the bathroom and then hid her purse at the other end of the table.
She wasn't the only one playing pranks. We were trying to get our server's attention but he was so busy we couldn't get it. So Jeannie decided to call Olive Garden, ask for Brian, and tell him what we needed. It was hilarious! He had a rough time with us, but he was a GREAT sport!

"The two Gayles" had mom a birthday cake with butter cream icing.

When we first got to Olive Garden I told the girls not to say anything. That when Brian asked if we wanted wine I'd answer for us. Sure enough, here he came with a bottle of white wine and asked if we would like some. I whispered to him, "Honey, we're with an AA group tonight." "Oh, ok, I'm sorry..." he said, as he hid the bottle behind him. We just died laughing.

We gave him such a hard time, Jeannie said we should write him a poem. So I grabbed a pen and one of the children's coloring papers and this is what I wrote:
We've really had fun with our server Brian,
No better service, not even at Ryan's
The AA girls can make him turn red,
He probably thinks we all need meds
He even answers private phone calls,
from the crazy, beautiful AA Dolls
So thanks for your smiles and your temperament too,
on top of your tip, this poems for you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wrong Price, But Good Sermon!

So I bought a six pack of 9 x 12 yellow envelopes today. They were $6 and something at Office Max and $2 and something at Wal Mart. Obviously I bought them at Wal Mart. But when I get to the register, they ring up for 84 cents.

So I make my purchase and go straight to Customer Service where I explain to the lady that they are not on sale or clearance and that the price is wrong in the register. She scans the pack and says, "No, they're eighty-four cents." I told her I realized that was what they were ringing up as, but I just wanted her to know that the wrong price was in the system. She says, "You don't want to pay eighty-four cents for them?" I tell her, of course I do, but I don't mind paying the actual price, I just felt the store should know the price was wrong in the system and they might want to change it. After all, the store will lose money on them, which in the long run, will cause me to lose money later because they'll raise the price to make up the difference and probably never bring it back down.

She just could not understand all of this. After trying to explain it to her for about ten minutes (literally) she finally says, "Do you want a refund?" I said, "No, thank you. I'll keep my six pack of eighty-four cent envelopes. Have a great day!"

Is it odd that this incident has been gnawing at me ever since I walked out of Customer Service?


On a different note, I was listening to 780 AM on the ride home. It is a somewhat local radio station where you can hear our church's radio program. I did not catch the preacher's name that was preaching, but he was reading from John 10:27:

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"

Later in his message he asked, "What does your shepherd sound like?" That's a good question. He made the remark that he feels the Shepherd will sound a whole lot like your Pastor. Why? Because he's the Under-shepherd.

Too many of us walk around listening to other voices while they lead us into paths we should never be walking. In most cases it will be a dear friend. It may be a wife leading her husband. And that's a whole other blog post right there!! LOL It may be our children or some other significant person in our life.

But that question hit me hard. What does MY Shepherd sound like?

Then the preacher said there was a direct mouth piece from God and it was His Word. "How much time do you spend with the mouth piece?" he asked. The more we spend with the mouth piece, the more recognizable His voice will become.

Good sermon on the ride home! :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Christmas Play, A Sick Mother, and A Pretty Painting

I turned in the Christmas play I wrote for this year and now I'm just waiting on Pastor's approval. I'm sure it'll be fine. I talked to Mrs. Carolyn and we're working on the songs to go along with it.
I'm really excited about this one. I think this is my favorite one I've written so far. It's called Tell Me A New Story and it's about a little foster boy. We have several foster families in our church and the little children that have come in and out of their homes were in mind when I wrote this play. I'm praying the Lord will use it to touch many hearts.

I visited with my mom this afternoon. She has been very sick. When she saw the doctor Friday he gave her a shot, put her on a breathing machine to open her bronchials, prescribed four medications, and put her in bed for a few days. She has received soups from three different people that I know of. Thank you, to those of you that made those for her. That was so sweet of you!! Soup is very comforting to the body when you're sick. I know she appreciates those.

The picture above is of a painting a young man did and gave to mom when daddy died. The painting is a very calming visual and I love to just sit and look at it and imagine myself walking down that quiet path. I just had to show it to you.

Pastor had some good quotes yesterday and I'll share them with you here. Something to chew on, if you will:

*You can put a cat and a dog in a sack, tie it up tight, and have a union. But you still won't have unity." ~Dr. Bob Jones

*The church is not an organization. It is a living organism, birthed from the Lord Jesus Christ.

*We have dilema in the world, and delight in the WORD!

*The devil thrives where good men sit silently, and do nothing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Finding God's Path...

A dear friend loaned me a wonderful book when daddy was hospitalized the other week. When things went down hill for him I put the book down and did not pick it up again until a few days ago. Sunday morning, to be exact. The book is Finding God's Path Through Your Trials.

I have to tell you that the more I read this book, the more I think she was writing it just for me. The first chapter is about counting your trials as joy.

James 1:2 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"

In this verse, to count, means to consider or evaluate. Consider our trials as a joy. That is a very difficult thing to do. When you feel as though you are in the depths of despair, it is difficult to count anything as joy.

But the second chapter deals with our attitude. We must make a conscience decision to be joyful through our trials. We can sit down and sulk, or we can stand up and sing. It is our decision.

Even in prison, the Apostle Paul was heard singing. Many times we find ourselves complaining and crying through our circumstances and sometimes becoming angry with God. Or questioning His love for us, even. But if we will just accept His will for our lives and count His will, especially the trials, as joy, we will be amazed at how He will fill us up to overflowing with true joy. And others will be amazed, too, as they stand back and witness God's grace in action.

"Count it all joy...."

I am finding joy in my sorrow. I never knew that losing my dad could and would bring me joy. I was a daddy's girl to the very core. But through losing him, I have found a joy that can only come from the true joy-giver. My sweet and precious, Heavenly Father.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom celebrated her - - birthday today. If she wants to tell her age, she can fill in the blank.

Hannah and I went to pick mom up around 11:00 this morning. We were taking her to the Cup and Saucer Tea Room for lunch.

She had already shed some tears over daddy. Daddy was always big on birthdays. He believed everyone should have a good celebration on their special day. I have a story to tell you about something he did for me once, but I'll tell it another day. This is mom's day!

Anyway, we got to her house and decided to go ahead and give her her presents. We would have waited until we got to the Tea Room, but knew it would make her cry so we gave it to her at home.

The first gift was a picture of her and my children taken a couple of weeks ago. She was thrilled with it.

The other gift was a collage I made of five pictures of her and daddy.

At the top of the collage it says, Precious they linger. She really loved it.

When we got to the Tea Room she was very surprised when we walked in and saw that I had invited several friends from church. She was thrilled! Mrs. Rebecca brought her a tiara to wear so she would be queen for a day. And Princess A came too, with beautiful peach flowers.

Her friends brought her some nice gifts. Mrs. Kim brought her perfume, Mrs. Barbara brought her some tea, Mrs. Janet a gift card to her favorite store, and there were several cards with money in them.

Ain't she purdy in her tiara?

I sat across from Mrs. Kim and Hannah. Gotta love 'em, you know?

Our pastor's wife (Mrs. Ava) was able to join us and so was Mrs. Janet.

Mrs. Barbara, my mother in law, and Rebecca....I'm so glad all of these ladies were able to join us. It just wouldn't have been the same without them!

I always have to sneak a shot of Mrs. Rebecca.
My sweet mother in law. It was nice having her there.

Mrs. Janet brought mom's gift from her Secret Sister. It was the awesome hat...

A beautiful black cape with fur collar....

And a fashion scarf. Mom can't wait for the weather to snap cold! LOL

We had a lovely lunch. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I know I did. I had the Rhett Chicken wrap with the soup of the day, which was loaded baked potato soup.

Mom had the spinach and bacon quiche with the soup of the day.

See...I was there too. :)
Princess A was so good! She would come to our end of the table and just giggle. It was so cute. Her mother told her Aunt that if she dressed her like a princess she would be good and she was! Too cute!!

The Tea Room gave mom her choice of a free dessert for her birthday. She chose the strawberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Her day was just getting started. My dad always made sure she would have her hair done on her birthday. My brother, John, made sure she was able to do that today. So after lunch, she and Hannah went to Missy's and then they went to spend her gift cards and birthday money. She was a happy little lady when she dropped Hannah off here this evening. She showed me the beautiful outifts and shoes she got. Can't wait to see her in them!
I prayed the Lord would bless her day and He did. Good friends, good food, good fellowship. Those are good blessings!
Mom, you are MY blessing today and I love you. I hope you had a beautiful and wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mark and Brittany

I had my first engagement shoot with Mark and Brittany this past Saturday.
Mark took us down to the river, Gardener Webb University, and a bridge near his house. I had a good time with them. Bruce and I will be married twenty years in December and they reminded me a lot of us from way back when. I hope that in twenty years they find themselves more in love then, than even now. I have some confidence in them. They've both been raised right and I believe they'll be one of the few that really says and means "...'til death do us part."
They were really cute. We go to church with Mark so it was comfortable being around him. We only get to see Brittany every once in a while. She is the most beautiful young lady, inside and out! I hope to get to know her better in the future.
Hannah went with me and assisted. I was so glad I asked her to come along. Ever since daddy passed, I have trouble thinking. So she was my brain several times that day. lol
Thanks, Hannah! I love you!! :)
And congratulations Mark and Brittany. I'll be praying the Lord will grow you closer to each other as you grow closer to Him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fifth Hurdle

Thank you, Amanda, for taking these pictures.

I slept amazingly well Monday night. I realize that it does not matter what your trial is, when you spend time alone with God and allow Him to comfort you, He will bless you through your night. Both the physical night and the spiritual night.

I woke up around 6:00 am Tuesday morning with thoughts on my mind about what I could say at the funeral about my dad. Mom had asked if I wanted to say anything and my initial reaction was no. Followed by the fear of breaking down in front of everyone. But I decided to, at least, write out what I might want to say. Just in case. When I was finished I printed it off, folded it neatly, and tucked it away in my purse. I did not tell anyone for fear it would lock me in, in having to actually stand up and say something.

I think I went back to bed after that. To be honest, I can't remember. That day, as well as the days before, is much of a blur. But I do remember cleaning up the house a bit, ironing clothes for the funeral, packing extra clothes for mom's house. Anything, really, to keep me busy and my mind off of the day's events. As I was getting dressed the phone rang and it was my friend, Amy, in West Virginia. It was so good to hear her voice and her words of comfort. To know that she was grieving with our family and praying for us. She called at a time when I really did not want to talk. But when I got off the phone with her I knew that things were going to be all right.

Today was the last hurdle. It looked a mile high compared to the others.

Two things my daddy did not like was, being cold and in the dark. The fall weather was trying to come in and the last couple of days had been cold. All I could think about was how in the world will I be able to leave him alone there at the cemetery today? The service would not be near as bad as leaving him there. It was cold outside and it would be dark. I kept reminding myself that what I would be leaving behind was only a shell of what used to be. That daddy was experiencing the warmth of the Father and the Light of His Son now. What a comforting thought for me!

As I waited in the car with the children for Bruce to lock up the house I saw him step out on the porch and then back in he went. He must have forgotten something. He came back out just a few seconds later, locked up the house, and got in the car. He buckled up and then he pulled my iPod out and plugged into the car stereo. He never messes with my iPod, but he did that day. He turned it on and had it playing He Gives Grace. Although I had not talked about the song with him, at least I don't recall talking about it with him, it touched my heart that he knew how much it had helped me and that he would have it playing for me as we drove away to the service.

Thank you, Bruce. You will never know how that touched me. Your gentleness and loving kindness through this most tragic event in my life, has been a rock for me. And I love you.

The church fed our family at the fellowship building before the service. I really was not up to eating anything. Aunts and Uncles and cousins seemed to be enjoying the food and fellowship. All I could think about was the service ahead of us.

We finished eating, drove back to the church, and had our final viewing of daddy before they closed his casket. I stood there next to my mother. We were both weeping, his "Poopsie" as he had called her for as long as they had been married, and his "B Rabbit", which is what he called me for as long as I can remember. We had one last look. One last touch. One last kiss.

As our family sat in a Sunday school room and waited until the service was to start, I can't remember what all was being said, I just remember it was idle chit chat to me. It would fall silent for a minute and then someone would whisper or say something out loud. I was still thinking about the papers in my purse. Still unsure of whether or not I could get up and say anything. And as we were lined up in the hall waiting for the funeral directors to seat us, my insides began to quake. No matter how hard I tried to hold them in, the tears were just too strong for me. No. I decided I would not stand up and say anything. I would just let John do it. When we were seated, though, something happened.

God showed up.

An amazing rush of peace filled me up on the inside. We stood to sing one of daddy's favorite hymns. I could almost hear his voice behind me singing tenor parts. Remember my friend, Amy, in West Virginia? Her husband, Brother Mark, had flown in for the funeral and got up to speak. Mom had asked him to sit with her. Daddy loved him so. He loved their whole family. I was glad he took part in the service!

And then Justin got up to sing. It was very difficult for him, but he found that same grace that had been sheltering me and as he played his guitar and sang Oh, Rejoice in the Lord, I could not bring myself to do anything other than just that. Rejoice. My dad was seeing and experiencing things he had preached and told about for years. His faith had become sight. How could I not rejoice?

I am sorry I can not remember the exact order of the service, but Pastor did ask John and I if we wanted to come up and say something about our dad. John stood up and suggested we go together. Which was quite all right by me! I had fully intended on dragging Bruce up there. Bless his heart, he would have been so surprised by that, because he had no idea I was even going to say anything until I stood up. But John suggested we go together and so we did. He said what was on his heart. I said what was on mine. And God carried us both through it just fine. Was I surprised? Yes, I was. I do not know why I was surprised. He helped the children of Israel walk across dry land, kept the Hebrew children safe in the fiery furnace, closed the lion's mouth when Daniel was thrown into the den...and yet He never ceases to amaze me.

Brother Johnny spoke. The Lord used his words to bring even more peace to my heart. God just kept giving it and giving it. I'm thankful for Brother Johnny Owens. He is a wonderful associate Pastor and he has the touch of God on him, let me tell you! Justin sang again with the Sons of Faith, I'm Gonna Drop My Anchor. It was one of daddy's favorite songs. He loved to hear those boys sing it.

And then Pastor Goodman got up. I knew when he stepped behind the pulpit it would be good. It always is. I have never known anyone to be as down to earth and as personal to the family, as Pastor is during a funeral. He gets on your level. God always gives him just the right words to say.

Well, while he preached I felt like we had done gone to meetin'! I was feeling the Holy Ghost all over me. After he was through preaching, Tradition got up to sing another of daddy's favorite songs, I Am Redeemed. I could not thank the Lord enough that my daddy had been redeemed, blood bought, and in Heaven! The church was packed and it broke out into a shout! Everyone standing to their feet, praising the Lord. Hallelujah!

We ended the service with two more songs. Tradition singing, When I Wake Up and a congregational, Victory In Jesus.

It was a praise and shouting kind of service that daddy would have been pleased to be in. I believe in my heart that God allowed him a glimpse of his home going service. I could just see him leaning down and smiling as he watched us.

The graveside service wasn't so bad after that. There were Gaston County Police officers that carried him to the graveside. Two Air Force men that folded his flag. Justin playing Taps on the trumpet. And a last and final word of prayer by Brother Johnny.

My mind did not see him in a casket. It saw him standing next to the Savior. His Savior. His Redeemer. His friend. My friend. My mind saw him with the many others gone on before. Those that are the blood washed, the redeemed!

The last hurdle that seemed a mile high that morning, became smaller and smaller the closer I came to it. And suddenly I realized that I did not have to jump over the hurdle, because the Lord was carrying me over it. In my weakness, He is strong. When I can not go on, He carries me through.

I'll close out these posts with daddy's life verse. A constant reminder that He is ever present and able to see us through our most trying times.

Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am
thy God. I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold
thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Fourth Hurdle

We met with Tammy Greene at 9:00 Monday morning. This was going to be a long day. Turning in the pictures and daddy's honorable discharge papers at 9:00, a private viewing at 3:00, and receiving friends at 6:00. The day was going by quickly. I'm thankful to the Lord for that.

The next hurdle for me was the private viewing. Seeing my daddy for the first time in his pretty peach shirt and tie. His cream colored blazer. And his casket.

I was pensive on the ride there. The voices of my children in the back seat of the car was like a trumpet blaring in my ears. I wanted them to be quiet. But I knew their spirits were just as low as mine and they were probably feeling a little bit of what I was feeling too.

We entered the funeral home and I knew daddy was just beyond a set of doors in the parlor just a few feet away. Part of me wanted to run to him. The other knew I needed to wait on mom and daddy's sister, Janice. So we waited. For the first time in days the time had slowed to an unbearable pace. It seemed as though they would never get there. But they did. And we all went in together. Mom leading the way through tears.

Aunt Janice is from out of town. The last time she saw daddy was a few months back. She wasn't prepared to see him like this. Her sobs rang out and she fell to the floor. Bruce and I tried to keep her from falling backwards, but allowed her to get it out until she was ready to stand back up.

When she did stand up we stood over daddy and he looked as peaceful and rested as he did on Thursday when we saw him at the hospital. His peach shirt and tie and his cream colored blazer looked so nice on him. He was just as handsome this day as he was on Easter Sunday.

They took daddy from the private viewing to the church for the receiving of friends. He would have wanted to be in his church. He loved his church. He loved working with his fifth and sixth grade boy's Sunday school class. He loved playing his trumpet in the orchestra. He loved preaching for the Cottage Prayer Meeting. He was happy serving the Lord! And he was happy serving at Faith!

I thought it would be difficult for me to get through the night. Three and a half hours, of shaking hands, hugging, talking, and awkward silences. But as I told many people, God was pouring out his grace by the buckets. It was good shaking hands and hugging those that came out to pay their respects to one of the greatest, sweetest, and godliest men I knew. Hearing funny stories and the nice things that were said about him was very comforting. As for the awkward silences, I don't remember any.

When it was all said and done, a few of the grandchildren had a burst of tears. It was very hard on them emotionally, as it was for all of us.

We stood in the foyer and watched the picture DVD of daddy. We smiled and laughed through tears and then it was finally time to go home.

The ride home was somber. I just kept taking in deep breaths. The pain my heart was experiencing was almost more than I could bear.

I wanted to go home. I needed my time alone with God again. That time has been precious. It has never been as precious to me in the past as it has been within the recent days. I suppose it is because He has made Himself so real and so evident to me. He knew me much more than I knew Him. He knew exactly what I needed during those minutes and hours of desperation, when even I, myself, had no idea what I needed. He saw to it that I would receive all the strength and mercy from Him that His hands could possibly give.

And so after my time with him, I would listen to "my song." He Gives Grace. Yes, He gives grace. And He has given it in abundance!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Third Hurdle

Sunday came quite early for me. I did not sleep most of Saturday night. I wanted to go to church but was dreading the sorrowful looks, the questions, and yes, even the hugs. I thought maybe I could come in discreetly. Hide somewhere and come into the service late. But it just did not work out that way. And that is OK because people were grieving just like me. They were his friends. They were his family. They were hurting too. The family of God had lost one of their precious own. It was time to begin healing together.

I can not say that I remember what the service was about. I just remember it being over and the next hurdle was now in sight. We would be on our way to the funeral home to make arrangements.

Mom and Aunt Janice, John and Jenny, and Bruce and I sat down with Tammy, the funeral director, and discussed all the details. The obituary, the picture CD, the memorial book markers, etc. Once again it seemed as though everything was running together. I was trying to keep a strong head and focus, but the time seemed to be flying again. I felt as though my brain and my body could not keep up with each other. And to beat all, I was given an assignment. A few, actually. Finding a picture for the obituary, retrieving daddy's discharge papers, and finding fifty pictures for the CD that would be played while we were receiving friends. Fifty pictures? Really? How do you choose just fifty when all of them remind you of a happy moment?

We rushed home and I found the picture for the obituary, made a list of music for Mrs. Janet to copy to a CD for me for the DVD, and then off to church again. The evening service was sweet. I still can not tell you what all was said and done, but I do remember people praying for me and with me.

When I got home I started looking for the fifty pictures. Should be easy enough, right? Nope. I became a nervous wreck when I realized that all of my pictures included daddy by himself, or with me and my children and mom. Where the pictures with my nieces and nephews? My sister in law? My Aunt? His friends? Where were they all? My task had suddenly taken a different avenue and there were road blocks along the way. I tried my best to get in touch with my brother for pictures he might have. But to no avail. I felt myself becoming increasingly agitated. Bruce helped me to find some good ones and I was so happy. It was 2:00 am when we finally had things together for the funeral home.

I'll admit I was feeling a little snippy by the time we were finished. Bruce, however, kept a sweet spirit about him. He's been wonderful through all of this. I'm so glad God blessed me with such a sweet and loving husband.

When I turned in for the next few hours of sleep, I prayed for my family and for myself. I slipped my earphones in, put my iPod on repeat, and listened to He Gives Grace until I finally fell asleep. I can not explain the comfort these words have given me each night since my daddy's passing. A constant reminder that God can, and has, and will continue, to give me grace through this.


Sometimes problems seem so big
they hide the light of day
Sometimes pain cuts so deep
I can't find the words to pray
Sometimes heartache seems to be
much more than I can stand
That's when grace seems to take me
by the hand


He gives grace, in the midst of every storm
God gives grace, that carries the weary and worn
He's everything we ever need, for everything we face
So remember, when it seems you can't go on,
God gives grace


I know every pain I feel,
becomes His very own
God knows the weakness of my heart
that I can't make it all alone
For He knows what I can handle
and he never gives me more
When my strength comes to its end,
he has more grace in store


He gives grace, in the midst of every storm
God gives grace, that carries the weary and worn
He's everything we ever need for everything we face
so remember when it seems you can't go on, God gives grace


Grace will help you stand, when problems seem so tall
And grace will pick you up every time you fall


He gives grace, in the midst of every storm
God gives grace, that carries the weary and worn
He's everything we ever need, for everything we face,
so remember when it seems you can't go on,
God gives grace


Just remember, when it seems you can't go on,
God gives grace

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The Second Hurdle

As we drove home from the hospital, the trip seemed much longer than the days before. At one time I looked up and honestly did not recognize anything around me. Even though I had driven that road many times before, everything seemed unfamiliar. I even wondered if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I had not eaten all day and felt my body had no strength at all. Like I might collapse at any moment. Bruce had told me to meet him at the Hillbilly's BBQ in Belmont. So I did. Daddy loved that place. It was one of his favorites. I should not have gone. I was an emotional mess. But sitting there actually helped a little. It was away from the hospital, away from daddy's house, away from my house, just a place to *breathe* and *regroup*, if I actually did that. I wasn't sure my legs were going to make this second hurdle. Bruce and I decided not to tell Hannah and Harrison until we could see them in person. So as I drove on to mom's house, Bruce came home to tell them. Mrs. Janet was busy in mom's kitchen, Mrs. Ava was bringing in some groceries she thought the family might need, and I was in a daze. I knew I needed to clean, but was not sure where to start. I just could not think clearly yet. Then Bruce showed up with Hannah and Harrison. Their little hearts were broken. "Big H" as daddy called him leaned into my arms and fell to pieces. Hannah, who never shows her emotions publicly, could not hold back her tears. How do you mend little broken hearts? We sat on the love seat and just held each other for a while. I cleaned here and there and then decided I did not want to clean anything else. I would do it in the morning. Friday night I laid in bed with my iPod. The song I played over and over was He Gives Grace. The words were so fitting for how I was feeling and such a reminder of what God will give us during times like these. I prayed that God would give me that grace and give it in abundance! I listened to it over and over again and every night through this whole ordeal. It was in those late night hours when the hustling and bustling of the day were over and I was alone to spend time with my Heavenly Father, that I was comforted the most. No questions were being asked, no stories were being told, no phones ringing, no doors to answer, no decisions to be made...just me and the Lord, His loving arms of comfort, and reminders of promises in His Word. When I got to mom's Saturday morning she had daddy's outfit laid on the bed ready to take to the funeral home. As I walked into the bedroom and saw his shirt, pants and blazer there, I began to cry again. He loved to dress up! Even during the church's Easter Parade he would walk across the platform to sport off his outfit. He was hilarious. He looked so handsome in his peach shirt mom bought him for Easter. I thought he was very handsome every time I saw him in it and asked mom could we put him in that for the funeral. She agreed and I am so glad she did. Mom's sister came and took her shopping to buy a new outfit for the funeral. While she and Hannah were with Aunt Jo Jo, I cleaned. It was good for me to be in the house alone. Many memories flooded my mind in each room of the house. He sure did love his home and he loved it when his family was around him there. John showed up and I was relieved when he did. I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed and really did not want to be there by myself any longer. Mom said that we would be meeting with the funeral director on Sunday afternoon. Not something I was ready to do. But then who is? Getting through Saturday was easy compared to the days ahead of us. Although Saturday is somewhat of a blur to me. It seemed as though time was flying. One minute it was morning and the next it was almost midnight. The people, the food, the just all seemed to run through each other. We had planned on going to church Sunday morning and then to the funeral home to make the arrangements Sunday afternoon. I was not sure God could get me through the next day ahead. When it was time for bed Saturday night, I was ready, once again, for that time alone with God that I so desperately needed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The First Hurdle

I've received some emails from blog readers asking how daddy passed away so I'll be sharing some posts on his home going over the next few days....

1 Corinthians 9:24 "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."

I feel as though I have been running a race, each day a different hurdle. The next one harder to get over than the last. Keeping my eyes on the prize ahead of me, which is to finish the race and fall into the arms of God. Daddy's testimony, as I know and have heard others testify, was that of someone who never gave up. Someone that would not quit. So I keep my focus on the hurdle of each day, hearing those in the stands and on the sidelines cheering me on to the next. Running next to my other family members as they run this same race with me. Each of us with a different goal. A different performance. I want my race to be finished with an attitude of praise. An attitude of thankfulness.

Daddy fell at home Thursday, September twenty-sixth. Mom was working at the church so he was home alone. He called Justin who came over and checked things out, helped him put some things back up on the wall that he had knocked off when he fell, and everything seemed ok. He was not sure what had happened though. He could not remember if he passed out, just fell, or what had happened. He only remembered waking up and finding himself in the floor.

Mom took him to dialysis Friday morning. When she got him home later that morning, he could barely walk into the house. He was a little confused about some things and did not eat all day. He just sat in his chair through the day and into the evening.

Mom was in her bedroom that night and heard a thud. So she went into the living room to find daddy sitting on the floor. She asked him if he had fallen and he shook his head yes. She could not get him up and he could not get up on his own so she called me. Justin and I went right over. When I saw daddy laying on the floor I asked him did he fall and he shook his head and smiled. His smile was like that of a small child. There was something in his eyes that told me there was something wrong. So I told mom she should call 911.

She did call and from there they took him to our local hospital. They would keep asking him questions like "What's your name?" "Why are you here?" "How old are you?"....etc. He answered them correctly but sometimes was confused. They did a CT and found that there was bleeding on the brain and decided to send him by ambulance to Carolina's Medical in Charlotte. The second CT showed considerable bleeding and they ended up air lifting him instead of taking him by ambulance.

The next days following we saw him gradually become worse. Although his CTs were saying the bleeding on the brain was absorbing back into the body, he was beginning to have seizures, his blood pressure was up and down, and his respiratory was up and down. The seizure medications were keeping him out and sedated so after a few days he never would wake up.

Mom was going in the mornings and staying until after noon so she could speak to the doctor each day. He had gone a couple of days without seizures and our only concerns, at least mine, were his blood pressure and waiting for him to come to from the seizure medications. I knew that with the seizures he had been having he may need speech therapy. I was really thinking to the weeks ahead and I felt he would come home soon. After all, the doctors seemed optimistic about it.

On Friday, October first, I had talked mom into sleeping in a little bit. My brother and I went to the hospital and as soon as I saw him I knew daddy would not be going home. Just the day before he looked peaceful and well rested. But that morning he looked as though he had labored all night. I knew in my heart that death was coming but was afraid to speak my thoughts aloud. I began to cry. John comforted me. And then our pastor's wife came in. She stayed for a few minutes, prayed with me, loved on me, and then left. I called mom and told her she might want to come on up. That daddy did not look as well as he had the day before. She said she would be there in a little bit.

While John and I stood at the foot of daddy's bed and talked, John noticed that his respiration had dropped to zero. He had stopped breathing. The nurse came in and John mentioned it to her. She said, "Yes, I know, could you please step out of the room for a minute?" So we stepped out into the waiting area.

I knew I needed and wanted to pray, but I was not sure what words to say. The only words I could pray were "Thy will be done...Thy will be done...Thy will be done..." I said them over and over and over again. The more that I said them the more peace filled my heart.

They moved us to a private room and asked if we would like to go back to check on things for ourselves. I went for a minute and saw that there were fifteen to twenty people in the room. All of them working on daddy. One little nurse was on top of him giving him chest compressions. The others doing their job to assist. I don't know why I went back there.

I walked back to the private room where my nephew and his mom and John were. We waited for the doctors, made some calls, waited for mom.

Finally the doctor came in and said that they had done all they could, but daddy just never responded. They worked on him for thirty minutes. He said that they don't know why he stopped breathing. They just could not explain it.

But daddy had been a sick man for a very long time. I believe his little body just could not handle anymore. It was his time to go and God, in His infinite wisdom, took him.

When I walked back into his hospital room, I was by myself with the nurse. I do not remember looking at daddy. I just remember laying myself over his chest and crying. Sobbing. There was nothing that could console this daddy's girl. Oh my sweet, little daddy. I wanted so desperately for his hand to move or to hear him speak. But no. He just laid there. Lifeless. Literally lifeless.

John came in with Mikey. They had their cry too. Then Brother Johnny, our associate pastor, came in. Not much longer, he received a call that Mrs. Janet was bringing mom up to the hospital. Mrs. Janet decided not to tell mom that daddy had passed. She felt it would be best to tell her when she came to the ICU. Oh how I dreaded telling her!

As we stood in the hall, I could see mom beyond the ICU doors. She stood there waiting for the doors to open. When they did finally open our eyes met. She knew that something was wrong. I could not get the words out. John could not get the words out. So Brother Johnny told her that daddy had gone to Heaven. Her knees buckled and she began to cry. My poor mommy's sweet hubby was gone.

She walked into the room, threw her hands into the air and began thanking God for such a wonderful husband and for forty five years of marriage. She rubbed his face and kissed him. We stayed with him for a while and then Mrs. Janet took mom home while I waited on Bruce to get there.

When he got there we cried some more. The first hurdle was saying goodbye and going home. Home without my daddy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010