Wednesday, August 24, 2016

His Light Always Shines Toward Life

This is the Smith family, the way we looked many years ago. This picture is of our niece's wedding.

Since this photo many more of our niece's and nephew's have gotten married, had children, and some of us have moved to various parts of the country and even abroad. We also have had some of our family go to, what Jesus calls, 'sleep'. We have lost the woman who held this family together, Joan, or you may have known her as Grandma, the mother of the Preacher, and we have lost the Preacher's sister, Brenda.

There is a line in Mat Kearney's song, "Closer to Love", that says "I guess we're all one phone call from our knees." That call came for us this morning. Today we learned that the Preacher's sister, Michelle, the baby of the family and the one sitting to the left of the bride in the picture, went to be with the Lord this morning. She had been having heart problems for some time and she knew that her time here on this earth was short but she was okay with that. She was okay with going home to be with her Savior, and to be able to see her mother, her father and sister again.

Within an hour of receiving that call the Preacher received another call telling him that a man in our town had also passed away today. A man that the Preacher considered a friend.

The Preacher had to write an article for our church's newsletter today. He wrote his article about his sister going to sleep, he wrote about his friend's passing, and he wrote about believing that Christ's light will always chase away the darkness. After reading his article I asked him if I could share it with you today. He told me that it would be okay. 

Here is his article:
"The phone rang today right in the middle of a morning run.  That is not my favorite time to get a call because in my mind I am about to set a 5K world record or at least a personal best.  But I saw the pic on the incoming call, it was my brother.  He doesn’t call that often so I assumed it was important and I gave up the gold to answer the phone.  In that instant when I heard a fragile voice on the line I knew that it was something important.  He said “Michelle died of a heart attack this morning.”  Michelle is our sister.  She is the 4th of our little family of 6 to go home.  Linda and I talked and prayed for her husband Greg and her daughters and grandchildren.  Within the hour I got a second call.  It was Greg.  He too had that frailty of voice as he told me the news.  My sister struggled with a weak heart for a decade or more.  He had left early this morning for work and she called to tell him that she was having trouble breathing but was going to a regular scheduled Doctors appointment.  The neighbor found her slumped over in her van in the drive way to their house.  My sister was what the Bible calls a “Believer.”  She seemed to struggle sometimes with accepting and understanding people.  But Jesus, she never seemed to doubt.  To me she was a woman of extremes.  If she was angry she was very angry and you knew it.  If she was blessing you, you knew it.  You were blessed beyond expectation.  When she loved she loved large.  Jesus was always the object of her love.  She doubted herself sometimes and sometimes she doubted her two brothers.  But her faith was like a life line that she clung too.
     As I was talking to her husband I had gotten a third call.  I saw the name.  It was a young lady that I had done a wedding for.  Her dad is a friend and she grew up friends with Samuel.  I listened to the voice on the machine and heard the fragile break in her voice also.  The same lilt I had heard two other times this morning.  Just a simple, “Could you call me please.”  I called her back and she said, “My dad died this morning and we want to know if you would do a service for him.”  I told her that I love her and her daddy very much and made plans to meet later in the day.  In some ways my friend and my sister were alike.  They both loved large.  Both struggled with health issues for years.  They were both gregarious storytellers.  Both lived in-between the extreme edges of joy and sadness.  Both left this world with in the same hour.  But in one particular way they greatly differed.  I do not know if my friend understood how much Jesus loved him like my sister did.  About a month ago I called my sister.  She told me her health was continuing to slip away.  That she struggled to live life well.  But she said, “I am okay with it, I am ready to go home when He is ready for me.”  My friend on the other hand in some moment of doubt or desperation took his life.
     Jesus is the Way.  He will always be the way, in the light or in the dark.  He is the way to life not away from it.  Always toward life.  That is true if we believe it or if we do not.   But believing it brings a light into the darkness, believing it now chases darkness away.  You see I remember another phone call.  This one was 24 years ago.  It was my sister Michelle.  She called me in Florida from Indiana to tell me that she was going to take her life.  We talked about life and love and faith.  We talked about Jesus.  For hours it seemed.  As we did the light of his love began to flicker in her soul.  A light that continued to shine all the way to the other side today."
Please pray for our family, for our brother-in-law, Greg, and for Michelle's girls.

Thank you and Love from the Preacher and I

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Church Dog Is Home!

Yes the Church Dog, Sergeant, is home! (Read here to see why he is called the Church Dog.) 

Sergeant left us back in December of 2015 to live with our son in Texas. Since that time our son has been deployed and it was necessary for Sergeant to come back to stay with us.

I had written a blog post on how empty our nest was after Sergeant had left us and how much we missed this crazy dog. Well he is back and I think the Preacher is happier about it than he would like to say. And Sergeant, I believe, is very happy to be home.

The first thing the Preacher did was go and buy him some dog toys. Then an appointment with the groomer was in order and soon will be a camping trip so they can hike together. The Preacher loves to throw the Frisbee for Sergeant to run after and catch. I'm not sure who enjoys this more – Sarg, getting to run and jump or the Preacher, getting to brag on how good his dog catches the Frisbee. 

As far as Sergeant being the Church Dog, he hasn't lost that title. On Sunday mornings the kids enjoy playing with him after church. We have a few new kids in our church since last December and they are having fun getting to know this crazy dog.

Our nest is a little fuller now. Sergeant is filling up our days, keeping us just a little busier. He just loves the Preacher. He keeps his eye on him and watches his every move. And the Preacher loves this crazy dog. 

Love from the Preacher and I