Sunday, August 31, 2008


This week has been full of them. From hope and excitement, to laughs, to tears, to pain. Caring for a parent who is terminally ill is never easy. It is especially difficult when you don't know how long the illness will last and what you can do to make it better.

This week with my dad has been one where I have discovered good and bad in my self and in my relationship to my dad. My dad is a good man. He always has been honest and has done all that he knew how to do to get by in life. He has been a man who wanted to live simply.

This week has stirred in me so many emotions. I have learned to see things through different lenses and to realize there is a great deal more that must be investigated. I am a very flawed person when it comes to compassion and care. I have very little to offer in patience. I am an imperfect caregiver.

I don't know how long my dad will last. He may be here another few days or weeks or it could be months. Only God knows for sure. I am not even sure my dad will know I was here after I leave. This has been a hard week for me personally. I feel like a limp noodle emotionally.

I am leaving tomorrow to go back home. I am not sure if I will ever see my dad again. I am working through all my emotions and all my own junk right now. So, I will not be writing about my dad's illness any more for a while. I need to process, pray and reflect.

Thank you for all those who have prayed, sent messages and notes. I appreciate them all and ask you to continue to pray for my mom and dad. Eventually I will update everyone and let you know how things are going. Feel free to ask and to call about how things are with my parents.

I love an appreciate all of you.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long Days and Restless Nights

I am in Mississippi helping care for my dad this week. He has been ill but seems to be dong okay right at the moment. He is alert, moving around and mostly calm. The days are long as he needs to be watched constantly, but mostly he is having "good days." The late afternoon and evenings get him very restless. The Hospice workers call it "Sundown Syndrome."

This morning about 3:00, my mom woke me up. My dad was saying that he was dying. He said he could see his father who has been gone since 1969. We sat, prayed and sang to him. My brother and sister who live here in town came over and we sat up through the night to see if this was the end or not. He went back to sleep and woke up this morning without knowing that anything had happened. We are quickly learning that this is not a simple and calculated process.

I was amazed at the peace my dad had as he struggled last night. He never moved from the bed, he wasn't restless or afraid. He simply said he was ready to go. It is the first time that I have seen him so calm in the midst of this new part of "life." I am learning to be amazed at many different things that I never expected to see.

In this process I am working through my own emotions and also trying to understand God's plan and design for human life. I have finally grasped a universal truth that humanity has grappled with for thousands of years: God is not small enough to fit into our human brain. His plans are not my plans. His ways are not my ways. And his vision is bigger than mine. For all of that I am eternally thankful.

I don't understand all there is to know about God. I will never know all that can be known about God. But I know these two things beyond any doubt: God loves me (and you) and God is good. With that in mind, the long days and restless nights can be managed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Forgive me if this is a little personal, but it's my blog and I designed it to be my thoughts and feelings. If you have read earlier posts, you know that I am in Mississippi this week helping my parents. My dad is dying, we are just not sure where in the process he is. (As I write that last sentence I realize that is true for all of us.) I made it to Columbus with a few delays because of weather in Atlanta. Last night was all about getting the lay of the land as far as my dad is concerned.

I noticed very quickly that a big part of my role this week is going to be watching where my dad steps. He is on oxygen quite a bit and the cord often gets tangled around his legs. I had to untangle him several times last night just so he could walk from the kitchen to the living room.

I was thinking this morning how God spends so much time untangling our mess. I was reading in Amos today where Amos is calling out the nation of Israel for walking away from God's law. God had to untangle their mess for years. Wouldn't it be great if we could keep ourselves from being tangled up in the first place?

God's call is the call to obedience. It is the call to follow and trust that his plan, his purpose and his desire for our lives is better than even our own. When we follow the path of Christ we keep ourselves from being tangled up in the first place. It's a better way to live our lives.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A New Journey

I am leaving Florida in a couple of hours headed to Columbus, Mississippi to spend the week with my mom and dad. I am not really sure what to expect because of my dad's health, but I am praying that God will allow me to be a part of encouraging and helping in some way.

My daughter asked me the other night if I was looking forward to drinking sweet tea at my mom and dad's. (Yes, in our house the tea is unsweet. ) I had to be honest and tell her that I was not looking forward to a whole lot on this trip. I want to help my mom and to minister to my dad, but this is not like taking a vacation. I know it is going to be difficult, but I am praying that this will be a good time for me to minister to my parents.

Our life is a journey. We never know what to expect or what the outcome of things will be. It is scary, exciting, frustrating and disappointing at times. The great part is that we never have to travel alone. God has made a promise to never leave us or forsake us. In the journey we have a companion. And one who knows our fears, our hurts, our joys and our sorrows.

Many people have traveled the road my family is on right now. However for us it is a new path; the "Road Less Traveled" so to speak. We are hoping and praying this road is not a long one. But whatever the outcome and whatever the result, we know we are not traveling alone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Dad's Still Funny!!

I have written a few times that my dad is dying. He has been ill for quite a while and has been progressively getting weaker. His mind is going at a much quicker rate than his body. he floats in and out of being aware of what is going on. But every now and then he still cracks us up.

I was talking to my brother Dan earlier tonight when he told me about something my dad said. My dad has been saying for the last couple of days. He said yesterday that he was gong to heaven. This afternoon he told my nephew Bobby that he thought he was going to heaven last night. He said, "I woke up this morning and thought, 'Oh, crap! I missed the boat!'" If you know my dad you know how funny it is!!!

Please continue to pray for my family. I will be going up next week to spend the week helping my mom care for my dad. I will do my best to keep everyone updated. Thank you all for your prayers and messages of concern.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Everything is wet!!! The streets, the yards, the parking lots. The Treasure Coast got pounded by Tropical Storm Fay yesterday and turned everything into a sponge. The road leading in to the parking lot at the church is flooded. The drainage ditches and the grass lots have feet of standing water. Thankfully everything else is fine.

I'm sitting in my office trying to fight my way out of the gray clouds lingering outside. More rain is expected today and more rain means more standing water. I feel like Spongebob. (I do have pants on, however!!)

We have a big event at church on Sunday. I am not sure if we can make it happen. The ground will take at least a week to dry. I always wonder why God allows things like this to happen on weeks we have special events. I guess he has a plan and I know I can trust him to work it all out. I am just ready to see the sun!!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Storms, Storms, Storms!!!

It is raining really hard. Not little rain drops, but buckets of rian. Tropical Storm Fay is really a big headache. So far there is no major damage around us, but schools are closed, the streets are flooded, and we are all around the house trying to keep busy. In some ways it is fun, but in other ways it is just a hassle.

We are fine here. I am praying that our electricity does not go out, but it will at some point. I plan to work today and exercise with the kids and just do what I can. But this storm reminds me of the storms we face everyday.

Some are huge. If you are homeless today, or live in a flooded area, or live in a substandard house, today is a disaster. If you are like me and most people, it is just a headache. But I feel for people today.

Our spiritual lives are similar. For some of us, life just rolls along in normal order. We may have a little headache here or there, but overall, life is pretty normal. Others are trapped in major storms. They are tossed around, flooded out and banged up.

Christ is the anchor of our life. He holds us through storms, calms us through fears, and guides us to safety under the protection of his healing wings. Storms can teach us incredible things and can strengthen us for future storms. Had I not already gone through several hurricanes I would be freaking out today.

Whatever your storm is, trust Christ to guide you through. Allow him to become an anchor and rock and shelter through the wind and rain.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Life and its Adventures

I have returned from vacation and have had many different thoughts and feelings over the last few days. The cruise was a blast and my kids had a great time. However, I was constantly thinking about life in the "real" world. As we traveled there was world conflict in Russia and Georgia, there was the thrill of the Olympics and most importantly my father's health was always in the back of my mind. Cruises are great, but you are definitely out of touch the entire time.

As I have returned home, we have jumped back into life. Worship yesterday was awesome. We had a great communion celebration and the atmosphere was charged with energy. I am excited about next week as our church hosts a Back to School Carnival. We are praying that this will be an open door into some new relationships for people not connected to church.

Our kids started school today. I am amazed at how grown up they are. Emily is now a sophomore. As I dropped her off this morning she said, "Remember last year how nervous I was?" I was the one scared to death. This year she has the high school thing down. Zach started middle school today. He is becoming quite the man. And Kimberly is in second grade. How is that possible!!!

As I write, all of South Florida is watching Tropical Storm Fay. It doesn't look like anything more than an inconvenience, but one of the lessons you learn living in "paradise" is that storms can change really quickly.

My dad is not doing well. His mind is going faster than his body and that is causing some major stress on my mom. Please keep her and my family in your prayers. I will be heading north next week if nothing changes.

In the midst of all the chaos of life, it is good to know that God is still in control. In Psalm 32, David calls God his shelter in the storm. I am feeling that right now. I praise my God that I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows all about my life here on this rock. I trust him and know that he is here in the midst of all this.

My prayer is that in all that I say and do his name and his fame would grow.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm Out of Here!!!

It has been a really interesting few weeks, but I am really looking forward to this week. My family is headed out tomorrow for a week long cruise with one of my brothers and his wife and some really good friends of ours. This is the first time we are taking the kids along. I can't wait to see their expressions when they see the ship, the ocean and the buffet!!! (The cruise line is going to take a loss this week!)

Please continue to pray for my family. My dad is fairly stable right now, but everything is still touch and go. Also, pray for my mom. I know all this is hard on her and she is wearing down.

We are out of here for a few days. I hope you all have a blessed week.

Worship Celebration

I wanted to just write a quick post today to express how excited I am for our worship celebration this morning. I am looking forward to having my friend Nate lead worship today (the dude is amazing!!) and to teaching from Mark again.

Today I am raising the issue of our identity. In Mark 6, "King" Herod has John the Baptist beheaded. He wasn't a king, but killed John because John spoke out against his adulterous affair. This should be a fun experience.

Tomorrow, I am out of here for a week. I have had a cruise planned with my family and some friends for several months. My dad is stable right now and we have been told by my mom and by Hospice to go ahead with our trip.

I pray this morning that your worship experience will be an intimate, passionate love affair with Jesus.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Childlike Faith

It has been an interesting few days in my life. My dad is slowly slipping away and that is hard, but it sometimes help you put some things and some thoughts into perspective.

This afternoon I am preparing the final for the class I teach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. It is on worldview and ethics and how we see life. My students have been studying how different people from different backgrounds view the world and how we as followers of Christ should view the world and universe. It is a pretty intense philosophy kind of class.

I bring this up to make the point that my dad has always had a very simple worldview. He has always just been the kind of person to try and do his best, try to be as honest as possible and try to follow through with his commitments. He has a relationship with Christ, but it has always been very private. As he is getting closer to passing from this life to the next, he has asked questions, made comments and talked at times like a little child.

I thought about this today: we may think we have a lot of education and understanding, but faith in Christ and understanding of a Christian worldview come down to simple childlike (or even elderly) simplicity.

We should all examine life. We need to study, think and wonder. But ultimately peace is found in the faith of a child.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seen and Unseen

I published yesterday about my dad and his failing health. He seems to be a little stronger in terms of his physical condition, but his mental condition has worsened. It is really tough on my family who is caring for him right now. Thank you to all who wrote and commented about your prayers and concerns.

My mom told me this morning that one of the pastors from their church came to visit my dad for a few minutes yesterday. Now my dad is not always alert so it is difficult to have a conversation with him. But this pastor was trying to just encourage and demonstrate love to my dad. As the pastor got ready to leave, my dad looked at him and said, "Well, I'll see you in heaven." If you know my dad at all, you know how unusual it is for him to talk that way. He has a relationship with Christ, but it has always been very private and personal.

I was thinking of the words of the Apostle Paul this morning after talking with my mom. Paul talks about the suffering that goes on in human life. he talks about how we keep the treasures of God in "jars of clay" and how our life will never be without suffering until we are with Jesus. He says this at the end of the passage: "So we fix out eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

My dad is approaching the end of his life and is looking toward what is unseen. I pray that I, and you, would not wait until the end to focus on what is unseen. Focus now on what matters. Focus now on what life is really about. Focus now on the idea that this life is temporary and all the troubles we face are but a mere breath of eternity. Jesus Christ is real and what he is about is the reality of eternity.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Death and Dying

My dad is dying. He has been very ill for about five years and it seems like we are really nearing the end. Hospice nurses have told us that they would not be surprised if he did not make it through the week. I have so many different thoughts and emotions that I know I can't explain them. On Sunday I asked the family at LifeQuest to pray for me, not knowing how bad my father was doing at the time, so I wanted to share some thoughts so that you can know what is happening in my head and my heart.

It is extremely hard not being in Mississippi where my family has gathered. However, it just doesn't work right now. I was there several months ago when he was in the hospital and never expected him to live this long. I am really waiting for the end and then will take my entire family for the services. The stress of not being there eats away at me, but I have done all I can do right now. My dad is pretty out of it mentally, so he does not even know I am not there. I am in constant phone conversation with my mom and siblings, so that helps.

Last night Alana and I sat down with Emily, Zach and Kimberly and told them. They were upset naturally, but handled it all fairly well. Emily spent most of the night writing a song. It sounded great from what I could hear, but I simply had to go to the other part of the house. It was hard. The only line I can remember is "It is never easy to say goodbye/there is never a right time to leave." It brought tears to my eyes as I dried the dishes. Zach went outside int he rain for a few minutes just to sit. Kimberly cried for a little while and just needed to be held.

For those of you who have been there, you know how painful it all can be. I am writing as a way of keeping people informed about what is happening in my life. I asked for your prayers this week and I covet them now.

The picture is from April at my nephew's wedding. It is my dad (Charles) my mom (Mamie) my sisters (Cathy and Caroline) and my brothers (me, Dan, David and Ron). If we come to mind this week, please pray for us as we walk this new and difficult journey.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Last week I spoke with our high school students about significance. I read from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 where Paul talks about God choosing the lesser things of the world to confound the wise and the rich. God doesn't always work using people of great worldly stature. He chose a murdering shepherd who couldn't speak well to bring the nation out of Egypt. He used a man hiding in luggage to avoid being made king to be the first king of Israel. He used a shepherd boy who no one thought would be king to expand the nation. He used a bunch of guys who were not quite good enough for other rabbis to change the world.

There are very few places in scripture that God uses the person who makes sense. Most of the time he uses those who are of no particular stature in this world to make the greatest impact. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel great. It works because ultimately we realize, in the grand scope of things, how small we are. There are over 6 BILLION people in the world today who have no idea that I exist or that I write stuff on the web. I am not sure there are six who actually read what I write, and that's okay as well.

Last night I was watching a Team USA basketball game on TV. They were talking about how the night before Lebron James had dinner with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. At the table, Lebron was the person who was worth the LEAST financially. That is a power table right there.

God uses the small things of the world to show his greatness and his mercy. My prayer is not that God would make me great. My prayer is that God would use me greatly. I want to be an instrument that people look at my life and think to themselves, "If God can use him, he can use me." That would be significant!!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Night Thoughts

I know I am in the minority here but I am so glad this weekend is over. We re-modeled the garage this week to make a room for Emily. It looks awesome, but I am worn out!!! I need to go back to work so that I don't have to work so hard!!!

It was a long, hard weekend, but I had a blast working alongside my family. Alana is an amazing woman. How she does all she does and keeps our lives together is awesome. Emily, Zach and Kimberly are the coolest kids ever. We had a blast moving things, painting and even doing insulation in the attic. Okay, we hated the insulation but it was fun to work together.

I am reminded that life is an incredible journey of small efforts. We take small projects, dig into them piece by piece and then ultimately the task is done. The fun part is not always the finished project but the journey along the way. Our family will always remember painting the floor chocolate brown so that it looked like a giant cake. We also will remember getting paint and caulk everywhere. But mostly we remember being together. It was awesome.

So, don't go through all the little task alone. Find someone special, lay out the process and enjoy the steps along the way!!!