Sunday, February 5, 2012
As I reflect on the years of my life.
Somehow I see only You.
You have been there each step of the way,
Teaching and guiding me through.
I learned as a teen, that in You I could trust
Only on You depend.
When I failed, You were there
To set me on the right path again.
Many times You've carried me,
Your strength was all I had
It was sufficient, and even in sorrow,
You would make my heart glad.
Every burden I brought to You,
Was lifted from my heart,
You give peace unknown to the world
Peace that will never depart.
You have given me all I need,
And many things beyond.
So many things to be thankful for,
The list could go on and on.
Family, friends and spiritual helps,
Freedom to worship and pray
On Calvary's cross Your blood was shed
For a debt I could not pay.
Many years you've given me
And when I 'm home with You
I want to hear You say, "Well done"
Grace has carried me through!
Lord, one thing more I now ask.
That a witness I will be
To redeem the time left down here
Let other's see Jesus in me!
Peggy Bolick Lane
December 18, 2002
Monday, March 8, 2010
Are we one nation under God? Our nation in its evolvement is divided on this fraise and weather it is true for all who call themselves American. The debates surrounding these few words and their implication have been hot topics reaching as far as the supreme court. On one side there is the belief that as a nation we have our roots stemming from biblical foundations, and this is the God that the country is under subjection to. The opposing argument is that our founding fathers intended for the state to remain separate from religion, allowing all types of gods and worship to coexist.
The question at hand is, what was the intent of the founding fathers of this great nation. Was it the ideology of the early Americans to form a new country based upon biblical frame work, or did our separation from England lead men to institute a government that is completely separate from religion.
After attending a speaking engagement with David Gibbs III I had the opportunity to sit and talk with him about the foundation of our great nation. David explained that common law was now dead and we now live in an era of statutory law (laws based on Christian principles vs. the opinion of mortal scholars’). With Mr. Gibbs history in constitutional law, and as president of the Christian Law Association, he gained national spotlight representing the family of Terri Schiavo in her right to live.
Prior to the Constitution of the United States, and the Declaration of Independence Samuel Adams wrote The Rights of the Colonists The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting. In this document Adams states “every man living in or out of a state of civil society has a right peaceably and quietly to worship God…These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” . These words clearly Identifies the sentiment of a founding statesman who help to create the frame work of our nation. Patrick Henry was a deeply religious man that history testifies to in recording his life. One of the most famous of Henry’s quits would be “Give me liberty or give me death” . How often secular society will remember this statement, and not study the entire context of the speech given on March 23, 1775 to the Virginia Provincial Convention. The debate at hand was our ability to fight the British army as large and strong as they were, Patrick Henry stated in his speech “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us”. In these words we can see that in the preparation for war a statesman leads the way relying on the Hand of God.
The Declaration of Independence renounced our allegiance to Britain declaring our independence. In the first paragraph we find “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God” This statement alone acknowledge God as the Supreme Being over nature. In the second paragraph of the Declaration we find “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, affirming that our rights come from our creator. The last paragraph of the Declaration caries a strong message seeking God’s guidance “appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”. By these words with in the text denotes intent to include God in the roll of leading our nation agreed upon by all thirteen states.
I would have to say that every day brings about change in our nation. At the current time our nation is torn from where we came from to where we are going. What was the intent of our founding fathers, are we to be one nation under God? I truly believe that early Americans intended for the generations to come to live in a Christian nation seeking Gods grace upon their families, and that our leaders should seek God’s wisdom, to lead us in a morally correct path. Let us not disgrace what so many a valiant men fought and died for.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
From the very start, life is terminal. We know not for the most part when our time will come, but it matters not how we die, but only how we live. These are words that my father, a man that was my hero, and I had shared over the span of twenty four months and two weeks we shared together after he had been diagnosed with a rare cancer. My story is one that came on the last day of this adventurous journey. I had spent the last week sleeping by my father’s side knowing the time was near.
Friday night had appeared to be like the previous five nights aside from the noise he made through the night exhaling with a dull moan. I slept very little that night being up and about watching him not knowing when the moment would come that it would be finished. The last leg of a two year marathon was coming to an end, knowing from the onset that this battle would be lost. We shared no regrets for the many blessings this disease had brought us. My mind began to wonder to a time in the treatment center for my father’s weekly doses of chemo. A place where recliners lined up like the preparations of a super bowl party, I had expected sorrow and tears, but was taken aback by the laughter and jokes loud enough that some had to be called down. With uplifted spirits they would celebrate the life missing, evidence of the empty chair in the middle of the line.
As morning came, I was awoken by his voice calling out to me “please help me I’m suffering”, so I sprang to my feet rushing too his bedside to answer him. The blanket had been kicked to the foot of the bed and I notice his legs were cool and clammy. As I reached for him, I notice the same of his hands and arms. He sat on the edge of the bed getting his bearings. The room was quiet aside from the TV left on through the night with the sounds of Matt Dillon talking to Festus at the Longbranch. The smell of old man, tobacco, and lilac filled the house. As always in my dad’s house, it was warm, either from love or the adjusted thermostat, but comfortable. My father’s sister and her husband Uncle Dick and Aunt Ester had came down from Wisconsin to help out in the last weeks. One a retired auto worker and the other a retired hospice nurse. Grateful for their help, my wife and I were at the point of exhaustion from the last two years.
My aunt came into the room as I was helping my dad to stand, immediately assessing the situation, she leaned to me and whispered its time. My mind began to race, and I thought to myself “we can’t do this now there are places to go and people to see.” For example my father enjoyed meeting people, and when they would ask “how are you doing today George” he would reply “oh not bad for a man who’s dying”, leaving people speechless with his warped sense of humor about his illness causing many to feel better about what they could redefine as trivial matters in their daily lives.
Father asked for a drink of water and motioned for help getting to his seat at the head of his dinner table. This was a short distance since hospice was so helpful setting up a bed in his living room that adjoined the dining room. Before we could reach the table, aunt Ester brought the water slipping a tiny morphine tablet on his lips before he could drink telling him that this would help him. Beyond his first statement “I’m suffering” and for a drink of water he never spoke another word.
After sitting down at the table my Uncle Dick came out of the bedroom to join us. Sitting at the head of his table with arms stretched out and fingers spread out on the table his posture was straight with head held high. I sat to my father’s left, Aunt Ester sitting to his right with Uncle Dick at his right rear. I slipped away for a moment to call my wife to tell her that it was time. She knew to get a sitter for our children and was on her way over as quickly as possible. I returned to the table sitting down, my left hand holding his left with my right hand on his left forearm. Turning to me we fixed our eyes on each other as if to look deep into one another’s very soul. Never had so many words been spoken between two people in silence. I wanted to just cry like a little child, but knew that it was my responsibility to help him to be as calm as possible preparing for what I knew to be him to depart his fleshly body set on an adventure to the other side of eternity. The process was long and my senses were high. I could feel my lower back tighten as I leaned forward in that old straight back chair.
My wife arrived entering the front door slowly walking to the table leaning over and said “George we love you.” Standing to my side she put her hand on my shoulder filling me with strength to carry on with the task at hand. For three and a half hours this process went on as I spoke reassuring him that he had prepared me well and that it was ok to let go to stand before God, letting him know that all of his work on this earth was done. Throughout the journey he hadn’t complained one time staying active in the lives of others from volunteering in an after school program helping disadvantaged children with their reading and math to dropping off groceries at a benevolence pantry on days when he could barely walk. When I asked him why he did not just stay home sometimes and take care of himself, his reply was simple “life is not just about me, but how we can serve others”. A hint of lilac hung in the air from the candle on the table. My father had become fond of the smell after my mother passed away since this was her favorite fragrance.
Dad’s breathing became more labored, and he lifted to draw every ounce of air he could pull into his lungs so tired from the struggle. When he could lift no more, the words from the hospice manual for families rang loud in the back of my mind. “When a patient is close to passing they may take on the appearance of fish breathing” as he could no longer inhale nor exhale his mouth began to open and close repeatedly increasing in frequency. It was all that I could do to remain calm swallowing the lump in my throat for his sake. All at once he stopped, with mouth shut , paused for a moment, lowered his jaw, and released what is known as the death growl, a sound so deep with such authority that you could never forget. This is understood to be the point at which the soul leaves the body, and as a witness I truly believe this. Able to time his death by the sounds of the room, I could hear the theme music of Bonanza from the TV, letting me know it was 8:30AM.
Exhausted from the experience, we all fell forward holding his lifeless body releasing our tears. After a few moments, we gathered our composure gently lifted his body to lay him in the bed in a respectful manner. Weak from the battle, as we were laying him down we fell into the bed with him. The motion caused him to expel blood from his nose and mouth. Knowing the nature of the disease the actual cause of death was due to internal bleeding filling his lungs with blood resulting in a drowning effect. I immediately grasped for a towel to wipe his face and position him properly in the bed for our final goodbye
I stood there next to my father with mixed feelings of sorrow and relief. I miss him greatly, but I was so tired from the long battle. I still had work to do calling hospice and making the funeral arrangements. In addition, the last conversation with my dad was the previous Thursday night just 36 hours before his death; we planned the funeral to make a difference in the life of others. We videotaped him doing his own eulogy and speech to be played unknowingly to the audience that would attend the life memorial service. His attempt was not to create a show, but rather to make a difference in the life of others one last time on the important things that really matter in life from the other side of eternity.
To conclude, I have to agree how a man lives is more important than how he dies. It can be said that from conception we are all diagnosed as terminal patients. No matter how vivid a picture painted of our departure, the choices we make today become the memories left behind for tomorrow. I’ll leave you with the last words of my father’s video “and with that I bid you all farewell.”
Deep in the interior of the Linville gorge on a cold February morning next to the river standing in the creation of the Creator. The sun shines upon the west wall as the wilderness cries out I am alive. The opposing wall of the gorge, hiding in the shadow a slumber. Rock formations stand as centurions testifying to the surrounding timelessness. The Linville River flowing past with authority thundering from the north as a train headed south. Light from the sun with all its intensity revealing what was once hid shining through the limbs of the tall pine, shadows dance about. Flames licking about a small pan holding bread in its unleavenedness. Fresh juice as blood waits nearby in a small worn speckled cup. Cold fresh air drawn into my chest cooling the very core, refreshing the spirit. As the snow begins to fall blanketing nature’s surroundings in its purity. Simultaneously the wind was blowing through the highs, and lows like an orchestra creating music of the land. Smoke hung heavy, and low revealing our presence. Bitterness of the bread unrelenting to the senses, as a reminder of a more difficult time. In a like manner the sharp tart flavor of juice restricting the jaw. At last silence overcomes all but the thump, thump thump of your heart.