Sunday, August 31, 2008

THE ROCK's GOT TALENT!

Milton, here for Kristy:

Over twenty-two years ago, four family ministry couples rented a house in Myrtle Beach, SC, to enjoy a vacation together. We have family videos and pictures of this vacation when we were so much younger
 and thinner. Our children were small and there were dreams ahead for all of us.

One day it rained and there wasn't anywhere to go so Kristy prodded us into a karaoke afternoon with each of us telling their church funnies or favorite jokes. I remember Julie telling a joke and Sandra telling her old standby, "Low, I come!" 

While we were there, Norman and Ron left us to go spy out Wilmington, NC, a city God had given them a burden to pray for. The burden turned into a vision and the vision turned into a church. Twenty years ago, they started a new church and this weekend I am celebrating with them and their church, The Rock of Wilmington,  on the church's twenty year anniversary.

Friday night they had a fun night called "The Rock's Got Talent." We laughed and were blessed by the entertainment provided by
the talented members of their church. It made for a great evening.

A young boy, McKinly, did a stand up comedy routine that was a hoot! The Supremes and Diana Ross were there and won the top prize of $100 given to the talent entry receiving the loudest applause gauged by an applause meter. For two hours or so the church was filled with music, dance, loud guitars and drums, violins, flutes, a cello, and soloists and much, much more. 
You are my sunshine reminded me of Kristy's sunshine in my life. Christians can have fun if they will just loosen up and get free. We are free. We are alive.

We have joy that flows like a river. We need to act like it! 

Kristy and I had the privilege of watching God turn the vision of Norma and Ron's hearts into a strong, vibrant church that is making a mighty difference in Wilmington and the world. Norma and Ron and Kristy and I  prayed and supported each other all of our married and ministry lives. 

Kristy would have loved this weekend gathering and celebration. Through 37 years of marriage and ministry, Kristy and I led so many events like the one at The Rock. Our energy was spent on hundreds and hundreds into the thousands of ministry, family, and fun gatherings. That gal and I did a lot together. That's why loosing her is so hard to bear.

The Rock has talent, and God uses surrendered talent for  His glory and honor.

Congratulations Norma and Ron and your Rock family. We are very proud of you!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

THE TRYON TRAGEDY

Milton, here for Kristy:

There are many reasons why mourning and grieving are natural processes of life and death. Denying or suppressing it, or ignoring it or staying busy and camouflaging it are not Biblical or practical ways to face the death of a beloved. Deep love, sweet love, growing love, faithful love, passionate love, overcoming love is never glossed over and forgotten by a few smooth, strategic decisions. 
I know that my life must go forward and I know that by God's grace that I can go forward. Kristy certainly expressed her love for me in encouraging me to face the hurt, loss, loneliness, and 
separation with an awareness that God heals and helps soothe the pain. 

Kristy was never one to mull over disappointments. She didn't sulk or hold grudges. Life was too short and there was always too much to do than to be frozen with fears or damaged feelings. She was quick to the punch and fast to move ahead. All through the journey of life including her brain tumor illness, she had a plan. "What's the plan," she would ask us? Even when pain was clouding her thoughts, she wanted to get things done and move ahead.

That is a great way to walk through life. Today is a new day. I will not gloss over or cover up what has happened in losing my beloved, but I will go forward. There is much to do and much to accomplish. 

I will grieve and mourn her loss. Some of it has been very transparent and some of it will never be seen. It will work its way through my mind, emotions, spirit, and soul. We were so very close as partners in life and ministry. It isn't easy and it won't be easy, but I 
will go forward and celebrate our marriage, her life, and our common purposes.

When I was in New Bern, NC, I visited the Tryon Palace which was built for the first governor of the British Colony of North Carolina. It is an interesting and historic place with lots of stories popping out from every corner. Kristy would have seen love stories everywhere in this place. We visited the Palace together years ago with the four family ministry couples. I saw memories of our love in this place too.
 
One of the tragedies of the Tryon family was the untimely death of there daughter, Margaret, who died while attempting to elope with a footman. He was considered unfit for her to marry by her parents so she tried to climb out of her second story bedroom to secretly run off with him. She fell and died from being impaled on a fence below. This happened in England when she and her mother had left New Bern.

Another interesting place in New Bern is the soda fountain where the first Pepis was made. Kristy would have made sure we stopped in there for a refreshing drink on a hot and humid day like New Bern was experiencing during my visit.
She would have pulled out her note pad and pen and scribbled notes of what she saw and the story that would have been forming in her mind. I can see Kristy now outlining her new novel and excitedly sharing her new work with me. That is what made her so special. Life with Kristy was exciting with so many new dreams appearing everyday.

Tragedies are not uncommon in life. All of us deal with some kind of tragedy. The question is how will we face it.  Losing Kristy is the greatest tragedy by far I have faced, but I will mourn her and grieve over her loss and let God give me grace to go forward.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

ROCKING ON THE FRONT PORCH

Milton, here for Kristy:

Kristy planned everything. She never let anything get by her without focusing on the details. That held true even in her dying process. Kristy told me what to do with her clothes and her jewelry. She always had a plan. 

She sat me down and told me that life would go on even after she passed. I begged her to stop talking about life after Kristy, but  she felt had to tell me it was OK to live and enjoy life. I couldn't’ bear hearing those words. It was painful beyond description, but she loved me and wanted the very best for me.


I really can’t believe that I am sitting alone typing these words. She is supposed to be here. I am not supposed to be by myself. This wasn’t in the life outline we had written. It is like the road I’m traveling has led to a darkened night, and I just drove off a cliff and am on a free fall. 

But I know God’s hand will reach out to catch me. Kristy and I lived almost 37 years with simple faith that He would work all things for our good. She knew that in time through God’s healing hand that I would be able to go forward in life.


These last weeks I have been surrounded by loving family and dear friends. I have made new friends in my travels too. But I felt a need to get alone by myself for a couple of days. I looked on the Internet for B&B’s in New Bern and found the Harmony House Inn so I have been here reflecting and sorting out things in my mind. 


I am sitting on the front porch of the B&B watching joggers run by, and visitors strolling up the street. A lady just got out of her SUV with a work bag and headed into the residence next door. Life goes on.

That is the point. Life goes on. Kristy knew that and she tried to prepare me. Tears are flowing down my cheek--hot tears, loving tears, lonely tears. 


Where is she? Why can’t she come back? How long will I hurt? This is too painful. We’ve tried to live right and do right. Why do bad things have to happen to people that have tried to do right?


I can still see Kristy’s loving eyes looking at me trying to prepare me for today. She did love me. Oh, how she loved me, and oh, how I loved her. 


Her words still ring in my hears, “Milton, you can make it. God will help you.”


Thursday, August 28, 2008

WE WERE HERE....


Milton, here for Kristy:

My visit on Manteo ended on Tuesday as I left and headed south again.. Ron and Judy made me feel right at home and I hated to leave. I am including a number of photos that are not entering properly on my new MacBook. The pictures include photos of Ron and Judy's beautiful home and our trip down to Okracoke Island. 

I love churches and lighthouses and the Outer Banks have both of them. The larger
lighthouse is at Cape Hatteras and the smaller one is on Okracoke Island. Riding the ferry to get to Okracoke adds to the quaintness of the trip. 

Some poor lady fed the seagulls and we all waited to see if they would poop on
 her or on our SUV. Ha! Thankfully all ended well. No pun intended!

The large house and the picture of the house taken from the biplane is Andy's house. Ron and Judy live a few hundred yards from his estate. I really would have enjoyed meeting him, but it just didn't happen. Maybe that will happen on my next trip to Manteo.

I am in New Bern, NC, at the Harmony House B&B. This is a lovely town with loads of history. At the breakfast table Wednesday morning I ate with a couple from Sanford, FL. I told them about my trip and Kristy's passing and the stops I have made. I mentioned 
stopping at Plmouth
NC, not really thinking they would know about such a small place. He smiled and said that he spent summers there as a  boy and had very fond memories of sitting on the front porch watching the world go by. That's what you do in a small town. The front porch was the TV.
He is a Circuit Judge and she is a legal assistant. 

I told them my favorite lawyer's jokes. 

Do you know what is black and brown and looks real good on an attorney?

A doberman pinscher!

Do you know what you have when you have 10,000 attorneys
 at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?

A very good start!

I know some great preacher jokes too. They'll have to wait until later. 

Kristy and I made a trip to visit New Bern, NC to see the sites here a few years back and Manteo, Okracoke and Wanchese.  New Bern was one of those get-a-ways with the four family minister couples. I'll write about that tomorrow. We were here and enjoyed all these beautiful places. We traveled miles and more miles together. Now, I travel with her memory.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A GREAT DANIELS FAMILY

Milton, here for Kristy:

Everyone who went to SEBC (Now Southeastern University) in Lakeland, FL, in the late '60s and early 70's knew the Daniel's family. Anyone who has lived on the Outer Banks of NC, for the last 50 years or more knows this family too. There are fifteen children in this Daniels family and they just had a Daniels gathering in Wanchese, NC, right before I got to the Outer Banks. Andy attended and celebrated with the family.

The picture at the right is a newspaper article written about the Daniels  which hangs on the wall of their restaurant. It is a very interesting write-up about their mom and their lives.

I have had the privilege of knowing several of the family members and sang at the church in Wanchese that they attended when I traveled with the SEBC choir in '70. Kristy was in that choir too, but we hadn't focused on each other just yet.

Esther Daniels Wilder lives in Jacksonville and she and her husband, Jim, pastor on the Westside of Jacksonville. They are great people whom I have the highest respect. Jim's father, Hubert, was one of my best minister friends in the world. He is in heaven with Kristy.

David Daniels and his wife, Kay, invited me to lunch at the family restaurant, The Fisherman's Wharf in Wanchese, where their boats bring in fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, crabs, etc. The Daniels family is a family of fishermen, but David and Kay are ministers too. David and Kay built a church building in Nags Head that is built in the form of a boat which certainly catches every ones attention. They have many outreaches on the island that touch people from around the world. This is one great Daniels family.

Several years ago Kristy and I spoke for David and Kay and David gave us a grand tour of part the Outer Banks. I have included a couple of pictures of their mother that I took which hangs on the wall of their restaurant and David and Kay (dressed in blue) along with Ron and Judy and I having lunch.

Look closely at the painting of the mural painted on the outside of Fisherman's Wharf. It reads, "Come and Dine." I like that. The food was delicious and you could feel God's presence there too. God has blessed this family and they all acknowledge God's goodness to them. Maude Daniels credited the Lord for helping her raise 15 children.

Peggy Cadd married into the Daniel's family and is a retired teacher and now helps in the family restaurant. Peggy was Kristy's pack partner when we all sang in the touring choir. Those we wonderful days. 

God is good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

KITTY HAWK AND SECONDHAND LIONS

Milton, here for Kristy:

Kristy and I loved the movie Secondhand Lions. It is a very funny movie about two old guys who kept reaching out to life and enjoyed the unconventional. The movie begins with them flying a biplane under a freeway overpass and ends with the plane crashing as they attempted to fly the plane through a barn. Well I haven't flown a biplane through a barn or a overpass but I certainly enjoyed flying in one in the Outer Banks. Kristy would have loved it too.

This is been an fast paced trip enjoying being with old friends and letting God renew my mind.
Sometimes the best way to break through to something new is to just do something new. I think I shot almost 70 pictures in the twenty minute flight over Kitty Hawk and Manteo. It was fun even though it was just a short flight.

When I was a boy my father would rent a small cub airplane and took me flying with him a few times. Kristy and I flew in the Virgin Islands and in Honduras on small planes that took us to ministry assignments. We flew onto Virgin Gorda British Virgin Island and the shortest runway you could imagine. Kristy never backed up or hesitated a going on a new venture. Once, we got on a plane in Honduras, I believe a DC 3 though I don't know planes. The plane.s doors were open and there were chickens and all kinds of animals flying with us.

Check out the videos below. The sound of the airplane engine is loud. The cockpit was open as we flew over Roanoke Island and the Wright Brother's Memorial at Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. Hey, check out my movie directing abilities as I held the camera for all of the videos.


Monday, August 25, 2008

FOUR MINISTRY COUPLES WHO HAD FUN

Milton, here for Kristy:

Judy married Ron D.

and Ron D.'s sister, Sandra, married Terry

and Terry's sister, Kristy, married Milton

and Milton's sister, Norma, married Ron M.,

and that is how four preacher couples are related through marriage. This formed a ministry support group and we have had loads of fun--Ron and Judy, Terry and Sandra, Milton and Kristy, and Ron and Norma.

Actually there are many more family couples I could name like, Devane and Mary, Ron's brother who joined us on occasion. They are missionaries and were out of the country all through these years and couldn't join us very often. Don and Rebecca could be included as well as others.

If I kept listing couples and marriage connections, we would all end up being related. Wouldn't that be a fun gathering? I know, that will happen in heaven!

But these four couples were preachers and pastors who are related and began our marriages and ministries at the same time. All through the years, almost 40 years, we would have brief family vacations or get-a-ways together or would meet at denominational gatherings. We would tell the latest church funny or church bloopers we had heard or done. We have done some pretty dozy things through the years.

We went to the mountains together or the beaches or would go to individual couple's homes or would meet at some preacher seminar gathering. The ladies shopped and the guys goofed off. These were relaxing, supportive, and crazy times where we could all let our hair down and just have good, clean fun.

Sandra would always tell her "one" joke, "Low, I Come!"

Terry never did anything wrong to tell.

I would tell about some wedding ceremony blooper I did.

Kristy always would talk about the "unique" visitors in our churches.

Ron and Judy told about their kid's talking out in church.

Norma would tell about Ron's latest sermon blooper.

Ron M. would rag Kristy about how much water that fireboats can hold.


We would all laugh until it hurt. Then we would head back to our homes to minister to hurting folks across the South.

Kristy has a book series started that is loosely based on four ministry couples like us. I haven't read it, but when I get home I plan on reading through her computer book files and exploring our fictionalized past.

My trip has gravitated to these couples, first in Wilmington with Norma and Ron, and then in Columbia with Terry and Sandra, and now in Manteo with Ron and Judy. I didn't really think of taking this trip in the fashion of going to these three couples homes but I guess it was only natural for it to happen this way. Of course, this sabbatical trip ends back in Jacksonville.

I am still in Manteo and haven't seen Andy or taken my biplane ride. I thought I might see Andy in church yesterday, but our paths didn't cross. I do plan on taking the airplane ride today.

One thing remains constant and that is change. Life changes in the most unexpected ways. I thought that Kristy would live into her late 80's or 90's like her parents and so many of our relatives. I thought all four couples would grow old together, but change happens to all of us everyday. It will happen today. Change is happening to me. There are now three couples and one single guy with lots of memories. How can this be? It will never be the same.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

DOES FAITHFULNESS MATTER?

Milton, here for Kristy:

Uncle Raymond, dad's oldest brother, died in his sleep Friday night. He was 99. 

He just missed the century mark, but Uncle Raymond made other marks so much more important. He was faithful to the Lord, his family, his calling.

He was a faithful husband, father, preacher, educator, prayer warrior, friend to saint and sinner, and a general enemy of the Devil.

What more needs to be said? That is all that matters.

When I first began this trip, I went to Wilmington, NC, and visited with my sister, Norma, and Ron for a few days. While there, Ron spoke at a special service in a black congregation where pastors and churches were uniting to break down racial barriers in their city.

It was a great service and Ron preached a powerful message. After the service we had a few moments with the good Bishop in his study. As we left his office, Ron spoke to one of the deacons and the deacon asked Ron if he knew where Lake City was? 

Ron said yes that I had an uncle who lived there and the good deacon asked me if I knew Raymond Dykes? I responded by asking him if he knew Uncle Raymond?

"Yes," he said. "He visited the jail where I was over 30 years ago there in Lake City." 

I wish I could remember the deacon's name because the deacon was still impacted after 30 years passed by the witness and life of Raymond Dykes. 

"He touched my life," he continued. 

We hugged and shared about Uncle Raymond for a brief moment. Everyone there was amazed at this unusual coincidental meeting. It was amazing.

You see, Uncle Raymond faithfully went to that jail for many, many years. I am sure he wondered if it mattered. Did he touch any lives? Was it worth it?

Faithfulness matters. It matters to God . It matters to family. It matters to saints and sinners alike. 

I still can't get over this chance meeting just days before Uncle Raymond passed. Was it chance?

This trip hasn't been chance. It is been God driven. He knows. He leads. He speaks.

***

How do you live to be 100?

Easy. 

Live 99 years and be very careful for 1 year.

***

Uncle Raymond is in heaven with Kristy and other members of our family. Kristy won. Uncle Raymond won. They were faithful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DREAMS, PAIN, LOSS

Milton, here for Kristy:

My thoughts today will be brief. Famous last words from preachers. Right?

This journey since November has been many, many faceted. There have so many angles to view this story.

At the beginning I couldn't understand how or why Kristy could be robbed of her dreams, our dreams. We saw many dreams comes true. We built houses and churches and raised two beautiful daughters. We traveled the country and spoke in large and small churches. She wrote and we wrote together. By His grace, we led people to the Lord and nurtured them and discipled them. We helped plant over 100 new churches and mentored young preachers and writers, and dreamed of much. much more.

That was the problem. What happened to those dreams yet before us? Was Kristy robbed? Were we robbed? The short answer that God gave me is what dream could be better than heaven and all its glory? I yield to Him. The dream issue was resolved quicken than I imagined.

Second, it was harder than I can express to watch your beloved suffer. God covered her with a cloud of peace and slid a chair of strength under her, but the physical pain was real, hard, intense and long. Now the pain is gone. She is well. Jesus is The Healer. She is OK.

But the third issue is still more difficult for me. There is loss. I sorrow over her loss. It is real. It is heavy. It grows. She should be here. I should be able to talk to her, to touch her, to love her.

I know the Scriptures....we sorrow not as those who have no hope....There is hope but please listen. We sorrow. I said we sorrow. We sorrow. Mourning, sorrow, lamenting, weeping, and grief are all part of the Bible too. Lamentations is a Book of the Bible all by itself.

My favorite life verse is Romans 15:13 "Now the God of hope fill you...." I know there is hope. I know there is a tomorrow.

In time, God will heal, but now the hole is large, deep, and wide. That is how we loved. That is why there is loss.

***

Plymouth is in North Carolina. I am in Manteo. I walked up the beach from where I am staying to Andy's house yesterday and could see it at a distance.

My friends, Ron and Judy, and I took a day trip by ferry to Okracoke.

Today I am going to fly on a bi-plane over Kitty Hawk. Are the Wright brothers still around?

For two days I have been free of Twinkies.

There is hope.

Preachers don't tell the truth about length or time of anything. Will they go to heaven?

Friday, August 22, 2008

THE BOOK AND THE CUP -- AN OASIS IN PLYMOUTH


Milton, here for Kristy:

Traveling alone is tough when you know that your beloved will never sit in the car seat next to you again. We traveled thousands of miles across the South and America and other parts of the world for ministry and fun. Now I am alone. It is very, very different.

On Wednesday when I left Rocky Mount, driving to Manteo brought back all kind of memories and emotions. I kept looking at that empty seat next to me. I did feel the presence of the Lord and I knew that many people were praying for me. My mind was having mental communication with Kristy as it had so many trips before, but now there wasn't a response. We had driven miles and miles and talked without saying a word, and then talked for more miles with endless discussions. Now it was all one sided. My mind was talking but there was no response except memories and questions.

I thought that it would be nice to stop somewhere along my drive for a lunch in an out-of-the-way place like Kristy and I had done so many times. Driving Hwy 64 took me through a number of small towns. Finally I passed through Plymouth and saw a sign that pointed to the downtown. The sign noted a river and the historic area, and I like rivers so I turned left off the main road toward town.

The Methodist Church caught my attention so I stopped for a few pictures. The graves next to the church were looming. Some of the markers dated back to 1808. I could hear distant stories speaking from those markers. Two hundred years ago hearts broke like mine. The past months entered my mind. I was alone. No one to take a picture of me at this church. Loneliness settled close. I left and drove farther into town.

Plymouth is small town America. It is a place that Andy and Barney would stroll down its main street with Barney looking for cars parked in no parking zones. I hunted for a diner. There was a deli and coffee shop on the river. Hey, I like the sound of the name of this spot -- The Book And The Cup. Kristy would have enjoyed stopping here so I parked and headed inside. There are times that quietness is a blessed feeling, but it was too quiet right now.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could meet someone to chat with while eating? The local deputy was having lunch. A grandmother and her grandchildren were in line behind me. There was a older man with his granddaughter eating on the back porch overlooking the river. They were all preoccupied--I didn't want to bother them so I ate alone.

I was about to leave when I overheard a man mention to the deputy that he was from Florida. Where, I wondered? In a moment he walked past my table and I spoke up and asked, "What part of Florida are you from? I'm from Jacksonville."

He said, "I just moved here from Brooksville."

"Do you know a pastor there by the name of Dave Garcia," I asked?

"He was a good friend of mine," the man responded.

"I have preached for Dave many times. I am a minister on a sabbatical from my church. My wife just passed and I am away for a few weeks to let God renew my mind and spirit," I said. It all just poured out of me before I knew what I was saying.

Kindness reflected in his face. He felt my pain. There was empathy, not mere sympathy.
"I'm so sorry," Hank said.

I could tell he understood.

"My first wife passed," he said. "It was tough, but God helped me through it. God is faithful."

We chatted a few moments and then his friends walked up and he introduced them and along with his wife. I shared more about Kristy and her writing and this blog. Hank's friends were from England. I could tell they all loved the Lord. The Cup and The Book became an oasis for a few moments for a hurting traveler.

I needed to leave to get to Manteo to see Ron and Judy, but before I left, I asked the deputy to take a picture of me with these God sent comforters, Hank and Sheila and Graham and Brenda. `
Aren't christian friends the best. Making new friends, even for a few moments, is a blessing--especially when your hurting.

I will reach out more. Someone needs a kind word.

There were no Twinkies in The Cup and The Book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A HERO IN ROCKY MOUNT

Milton, here for Kristy:

Real heroes are rare. I love people who have principle and commitment regardless of the cost. We need more heroes who won't cave in when things get tough and the winds are blowing in their faces.

We have a number of heroes in our family who served our country in WWII. Uncle James, Uncle Junior, Uncle Billy, and my father and maybe others I am not aware served our country with distinction as part of the greatest generation. Oh, that God would bless us again with the conviction of courage and faith these men and women exhibited.

Uncle Junior served on the Aircraft Carrier Bunker Hill and was a radioman on an airplane that flew 21 missions. The Bunker Hill was attacked many times by Japanese kamikaze pilots who eventually hit the carrier killing over 300 men. This picture was taken of the Bunker Hill on May 11, 1945, moments after kamikaze planes crashed on the flight deck.

"My pilot was killed in the ready room when a kamikaze plane exploded on the deck of our carrier just above the ready room. I would have died too except for God's grace," Uncle Junior told me.

My dad told me that it was their praying mother that saw them through the war. Uncle James served on the Battleship Iowa and was engaged in several battles at sea.

So many brave young men died for our freedoms. Oh, God, please touch our Nation today with faith and courage for the right.

Aunt Helen is from Finland and they met in Oregon while the Bunker Hill was there being repaired. Their home is filled with faith, love, and delicious comfort food. Maybe the twinkie trail ended here. We'll see.

I left Rocky Mount on Wednesday and I am in Manteo, NC, with Ron and Judy Denham. They are ministers too and life long friends and family by marriage.

My new laptop will not let me upload videos and the pictures aren't spaced right. I need lessons on how to use a MacBook. Hopefully, I can get this corrected and post more photos.

My trip from Rocky Mount to Manteo on Wednesday took some intriguing turns as I stopped in Plymouth for lunch. All of these small towns have a uniqueness to them that catches an inquiring eye.

I miss Kristy so terribly. She would have enjoyed my stops yesterday and the quaint diner where I had lunch. Oh, the memories. Oh, the memories. Sweet memories.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE TRAIL OF TWINKIES

Milton, here for Kristy:



Twinkie, Twinkie, little cake

How I wonder how much I ate?

Up above the pounds I need to weigh

Like a magnet oh so great

Twinkie, Twinkie, little cake

How I wonder how much I ate?


When I preach my three point theological, apoligetical sermon entitled “The Great Twinkie Tragedy” this can be the poem for the second point. Doesn’t every boring sermon need a poem?


I think this twinkie stuff has become a distraction. 


Boy when I return to Jacksonville, I am going to be some kind of preacher!


I will post later this morning more on the Twinkie Trail in Rocky Mount.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

THE TWINKIE TRAIL LEADS TO ROCKY MOUNT


Milton, here for Kristy:


Kristy loved chocolate. All her family loves chocolate. Her nana made this best chocolate pie in the world and then Rebecca took up the standard when their nana passed. 


Let’s hear it for chocolate! 


I’m not going to become a rollie pollie kind of guy. I’ve always kept in reasonably descent shape, but this twinkie stuff is ruining everything. 


Tennis, bicycling, running, walking, yard work, basketball and all other sports have been part of my lifestyle, but I have been on a nine month roller coaster that has altered every part of my life and changed every routine. 


I’ve done the 15 K (9.3) River Run in Jacksonville a number of times  until that last two years and plan on running the next race in March or whenever it is. I’ve always finished in the top 3rd of the runners and haven’t thrown up yet. Sorry for that info. The lack of running contrasted against the increase of twinkies does not make for a good equation.


So, how did I get hooked on Twinkies? Is it comfort food, or part of this a romantic osmosis I’ve gone through? Or some kind of temptation in the wilderness? Or am I just confused? Don’t answer that last one.


Well, the twinkie trail has led to Rocky Mount, NC, to visit Uncle Junior, one of my dad’s brothers. Aunt Helen cooked the most delicious meal you could imagine and topped it off with Granny Dykes’ pecan pie. Wow! That should free me from twinkies.


Now, don’t sit there so smug like you don’t have some kind of twinkie problem. I’ll deal with my twinkies and you can deal with....


Maybe I’ll become a twinkie theologian or apologist. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word....and an occasional twinkie. Oops.


My grandfather Dykes died when dad was four years old. Dad was one of nine children that Granny Dykes raised alone during the great depression. Can you imagine? She made it without her spouse and if she made it then by His grace I can make it too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

DOES GOD SPEAK TODAY?

Milton, here for Kristy:

The Twinkies ran out in Columbia last night. Phooey. I'm heading North. There has to be someone who has more. This is getting to a crisis level.

***

In the quick manner of John McCain's answers to Pastor Rick Warren's questions this past Saturday night.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

God does speak today. He speaks in many ways to us. Here is one way he has gotten my attention.

Recently Norma, my sister who is old and I am,  asked me if I remembered a conversation she had with Kristy and me last summer? I couldn't recall it until she refreshed my memory. 

Norma and Ron had been in Florida to visit family and stopped by to see us. We enjoyed a few days together and the morning they were leaving we prayed together--Kristy, Ron, Norma, and I. Norma and Ron prayed with us over Kristy's writing and other ministry needs we had, and then Kristy and I prayed with Norma and Ron over health issues Norma was facing . We also prayed for other needs they had.

After prayer, they were loading up to head North back home to Wilmington. Norma returned into our family room and looked at Kristy and me and said I have something very awkward I feel I need to share with you. She said she didn't understand what she felt "led" to tell us, but felt she should be obedient.

She said that God was going to bring me to the forefront in our writing and that I would have a much greater role in writing than ever before. She said this was very difficult to say in that she didn't want to offend Kristy or me.

They left.

Kristy said that she had always felt that I should do more writing. She was pleased. I felt Norma didn't know what she was talking about even though I didn't say so at the time. Kristy and I have written together in the past, but I had always loved to have written while she loved, very dearly loved, to write.  Norma's word did not make any sense to me. I had done everything that I could to aid and support Kristy's passion to serve the Lord in her writing. Again, I had totally forgotten what Norma had felt prompted to say to us last August until she reminded me of this conversation after Kristy's funeral service. 

Less than three months after that conversation with Norma last summer, Kristy couldn't read or write due to  her brain surgery. She would write very little after she recovered from the surgery and I was thrust into sharing her story as Kristy had requested. 

Does God speak today? Yes, He does and sometimes in the most awkward ways imagined.

I don't know what all this will mean in the future for me, but there are stories that are pushing out my fingers that I must tell. Now the passion for writing which God put into our hearts in the mid 70's burns with intensity within me.

I will write them by His help and grace.

***

Could it be that God is trying to speak to you today and maybe, just maybe, you aren't listening. Lord help us to listen and obey.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MOM'S WEDDING RING

Milton, here for Kristy:

One of the hardest things I had to deal with was listening to Kristy share with our daughters about her desire for them to have and wear her jewelry and especially the ring I gave her as a token of my promise that I would love her and commit to her until separated by death. 

its-all-about-him.blogspot.com.jpg

 
When Kristy passed, I chose to let my children and close family enjoy things that were special to her and let this be a way to celebrate her and honor her.

Jennifer and Julie talked with Kristy and with love, respect, and maturity, they all agreed for Jennifer to wear Kristy's wedding ring I gave her. Julie received other pieces of jewelry she loved. 

Jennifer wrote these words on August 14, 2008, the anniversary date of Kristy and my wedding in 1971.

Jennifer, here:

37 years is a long time. Today, August 14th would have marked 37 years of marriage for my parents.

To say "would have marked" is very hard for me type. I still find it unbelievable she is gone...

Don't you?

Before my mother got really sick she sat my sister and I down and went through her jewelry. While it was incredibly difficult, I'm so glad she thought to do this with us. It means the world to me to know she wanted me to have some of her pieces.

For me, she gave her wedding ring. What an incredible honor. I wear it daily on my right hand, only taking it off at night. My dad let me take it back home with me and I'll be forever grateful.

I'll never forget after I put it on my finger and showed him, he looked at me with such pride and love shinning in his eyes and said "I'm so proud and honored for you to wear it." That meant more to me than I can ever express. I'll never forget the look of love and pride my dad had for me in that moment. I feel sure my mom was looking on in pride at him! In that moment I felt her legacy being passed on to me.

Her wedding ring that I now wear is a symbol of undying love, faithfulness, and commitment. It stands for 37 years of what I pray to be.

It is a constant reminder that love is a commitment. That marriage CAN work! 37 years ago my mother made a vow to love my dad unto death, and boy did she ever! Like wise my dad made a vow to love unto death and I've never seen a person do that like my dad did. He never left my mom or gave up on her. In a time and world where people are giving up like crazy, my dad never failed to love her or be there for her. He was her hero and he lived up to that word in every sense.

When I wear her ever familiar ring, I feel like a piece of her is with me. When I soap Claudia's hair, I'm reminded she wore this ring when she soaped my hair as a child. When I make her famous meat balls, I'm reminded she wore this ring when she made meat balls for us. I think of the people this ring has touched while praying for those in need. I think of the hundreds of task she did all while wearing this ring. There's a lot of history, a lot of legacy, a lot to live for and a lot to live up too.

In a hard to describe way I feel her with me, helping me, encouraging me, cheering me on. I don't feel like the same mother or wife anymore. Everything has softened and there is a peace about me. Even those around me have commented saying there is a glow about me, something different.

I close for now saying thank you for support and prayers. I know many have emailed me or sent cards and I want to say that it means the world and has held me up when I felt like falling down.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

GOOD FRIENDS AND CHARLESTON, SC



Milton, here for Kristy:



Very few things are better than good friends. What is a friend? A friend is a person who comes in when others go out. A friend accepts you for who you are--not what they think you should be or might be or what they can get from you.

Need a friend? Be friendly. Reach out and do not worry about the return. It will happen. It is a law. Seeds planted produce fruit if they are watered, cultivated  and given time.

Terry and I enjoyed a delicious dinner in the beautiful home of Cindy and LaRell who have been friends for a long time. Lindsey, their daughter, is included in the dinner photo. They 
are great, gifted ministers who have hearts as big as Texas. We worked together in Bartow, Florida many years ago and had a blast. Cindy cooked frogmore stew or Beaufort stew. It was fantastic and followed by banana pudding. Banana pudding! Who needs Twinkies! 

Earlier in the day, Terry and I enjoyed downtown Charleston and briefly took in some 
of the numerous old historic churches. Charleston is referred to as the holy city by some because of its many houses of worship. Jerusalem is "The Holy City", but Charleston is so historic with intriguing stories of the past. I love the houses of worship in Charleston.

We took a boat ride out to Fort Sumter. The Confederates fired the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. No one was killed by the 30+ hours of firing at the fort or returned by the Union soldiers. 

The first casualty in the Civil War was a Union soldier in the fort who was accidentally killed by his own negligence after all the firing by the Confederate and Union soldiers at each other had stopped. The soldier was helping fire a final salute before they surrendered the fort to the Confederates. He put powder for the next shot into his canon before the previous volley's ember residue went out. The explosion from the powder killed him. 

More soldiers died in the Civil War than died in all of the other American wars we have fought
combined. Is there an illustration in there somewhere? 

SLEEPIN' IN ON SATURDAY

Milton, here for Kristy:

It is Saturday and I'm sleepin' in. I have some cool pictures of my trip to Charleston yesterday. I will post them later today. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

EMOTIONALLY SPENT... IT IS A NEW DAY

Milton, here for Kristy:

Yesterday was an emotional day that was overwhelming to me. Maybe it was emotionally overwhelming to you also if you read the post throughout the day as it came to me.

I can't explain all that I felt even though I wrote more yesterday than since this journey began nine months ago. Some would understand my feelings--most can't.

Today I am going to Charleston, SC, with Terry to do some historical sightseeing and then to see LaRell and Cindy, who are dear friends and former associate pastors. They  worked with Kristy and me when we were pastors in Bartow, FL. Those were wonderful years.

History is a favorite pastime of mine. Terry is a better historian than I am, but I am better looking than he is and more humble too. We are going to tour Ft. Sumter where the first shots of  the Civil War were fired. We will also see parts old Charleston. Then we'll enjoy dinner with our friends. If Terry reads this while we are at the fort, there may be more shots fired--at me! I won't tell him. You better not tell him either!

The next posts are going to be lighter and then later some are going to be more reflective of Kristy's journey with struggles, insights, and victories that are yet veiled even behind our transparency. Then I plan on writing about small town America and some funny stuff that happened along the way of our journey as partners in life and ministry. Then new stories will come out of me. 

Did you know that Kristy and I knew Barney Fife's cousin in one of those small towns? You haven't met this cousin.

Just wait. You'll see.

I am going to visit life long friends in Manteo, NC, next week where Andy now lives. Maybe I'll run into him at the drug store  or post office or the Methodist Church, and we'll talk about Barney's cousin. I wonder if Andy has ever met this cousin of Barney's?

***

What's a Bluetooth? 

Here is the best answer:

Blogger karen eve said...

Hey, a bluetooth, that's like the newest thing in tatoos. They tatoo one or both of your front teeth blue. Of course you can also get tooth jewelry, like a little diamond put on your tooth, but I've heard they tend to come off when you eat corn on the cobb.

***

Can't wait for that to hit the church. Ha!



Thursday, August 14, 2008

I REMEMBER AUGUST 14, 1971

Milton, here for Kristy:

I am still overwhelmed by the kindness of my family and friends in honoring Kristy with setting up and giving for a Kristy Dykes Memorial Scholarship Fund at Southeaster University. May God bless everyone who has given to remember Kristy and bless future writers. Please read the post two days back to see how you can share in blessing others. 

Thanks!

***

The top three days in my life are:

September 29, 1949--My date of birth

A day in 1955--The date of my second birth

August 14, 1971--The date of our marriage


Today, August 14, 2008, would mark our 37th wedding anniversary.

I never forgot, not once, the anniversary our wedding date. We always celebrated in some fashion whether large or small. We celebrated our love, our friendship, our desires, our accomplishments, and God's goodness. 

How could I not feel blue, lost, and alone? Kristy is in heaven and I am here. We had wonderful, glorious years.

Kristy always loved the flowers, cards, gifts, and special dinners or get-a-ways. Wow, did we have fun and live large! I have and we have few regrets. We could have improved in many areas of our marriage, but we were faithful to each other and to God. 

I have many of our letters we wrote to each other in cards and in this blog and other means. I am glad I am not writing something that I wish I had written to her. We shared our love verbally, in ink, and in action. I am so very grateful that we did.

Today I will post a number of times what I remember and what was important to me on August 14, 1971.


I remember waking up thinking this is the day I have kept myself for to present my life and body to my dear beloved.

I remember waking up very tired because Ron, Terry, and Don tricked me the night before late into the night to go get something to eat. I was already asleep and they woke me up. They took me for a snack and then drove me out to Jacksonville Beach and threw me into the ocean with no clothes on and left me. 

I remember waking up in the little apartment right next to the church where my parents and I were staying  thinking in just a few hours Kristy will be forever mine.

I remember....

***

Today--9:21 AM 

I remember the morning whizzing by with activity preparing for the sacred moment of our vows yet to be made. Getting tuxedos, shoes, running errands, getting excited about our first night together.

I remember family being there to help. Cousin George who was a groomsmen and others.

I remember wondering if I had enough money to take our honeymoon? Dad co-signed a $400 loan to help us get started in life. I paid it off in a couple of years.

I remember....

***

Today--10:51 AM

I remember Kristy coming by the church delivering stuff for the ceremony, making sure everything was online to happen, finalizing details and not letting me see her. I stole a peek and thought how lucky, no blessed, I was.

I remember thinking guys have it easier than the girls on this wedding deal. I remember thinking about all the beautiful gifts that were given to us by so many.

I remember finalizing my list of four things to do. I remember thinking again that guys have it easier than the girls on this wedding deal.

I remember....

***

Today: 11:48 AM

I remember going to lunch with Ron McGee and some others. Can't remember where right now. I guess my mind was focused on one pretty redhead who was soon to be mine.

I remember thinking about a very serious contract I was about to sign with Kristy, The State of Florida, and God. It cost just a few bucks and a lifetime of shared living.

I remember wondering if the wedding and honeymoon would happen before Jesus would come back? Surely, He could wait a few hours. He had waited this long. What was a few hours?

I remember....

***

Today, 2:18 PM

I remember making sure that my clothes were packed and ready to go in my un-airconditioned Ford Fairlane. Remember, a poor ride is better than a proud walk.

I remember taking a deep breath and getting ready to head to the church. 

I remember wondering why we didn't have an afternoon wedding. We would be into the ceremony by now.

I remember....

***

Today: 3:51 PM

I remember arriving at the church all dressed up for a sacred, very spiritual moment.

I remember seeing Rev. Dale Zink and Rev. O. M. Dykes, my father, looking very serious and wanting to see our contract. I mean license. We were standing in Rev. Zink's study and I got my marital counseling. I was told not to try to figure her out. I was told to just love her. 

I remember Ron privately asking where the honorariums for the preachers were? We have to pay for this? I didn't know preachers needed to be paid for weddings. I wasn't a preacher just yet. I know now preachers need money too. Ron and I dashed off to get a couple of cards and crisp bills to pay the preachers.

I remember....

***

Today with tears: 6:03 PM

I remember hearing music and the preachers saying it is time, and a church decorated with flowers and  candles, and people all dressed up.

I remember sweet music, two unbelievable poems, the preachers' directives, and the solemnity of the hour, and beautiful bridesmaids and handsome groomsmen, and the most gorgeous redhead in the world in a white, spectacular gown. 

I remember sacred, holy vows to love and to cherish, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death we part, and rings and a prayer, and more music, and a pronouncement, and a sweet eternal kiss, and more music and laughter, and a beautiful reception and rice in our faces.

I remember....

***

Today: 7:38 PM

I remember leaving the church as my best man, Ron, drove the car and others followed as he sped away, and getting stopped by a policeman on the Main St. Bridge, and Ron talking his way out of his speeding, and the policeman making the others wait as we got away.

I remember going back to the Robert's house to load our un-airconditioned Ford Fairlane to go on our honeymoon, and more brother-in-laws kidnapping Kristy from me, and me wanting to shoot some brother-in-laws, and Rebecca taking up for us, and finally getting into the car, and Grace (Kristy's mother) embarrassing Kristy and me about some question or something, and stopping at the store around the corner to take care of the embarrassing question, and finally leaving Jacksonville.

I remember later that night knelling in our hotel room for prayer over our marriage and calling the Roberts to tell them I loved their daughter and would take care of her all the days of our lives.

I remember the purity of that night, our love, and our desires. 

I remember almost 37 years of fulfilling sacred vows of holy love and commitment.

I remember God's goodness on our lives and the blessings Kristy has been to me and so many others.

I remember....I remember....I remember....

If I write any more about that night, they would defrock me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TWO NEW RESOLUTIONS MADE TODAY

Milton, here for Kristy:

I've moved to a new location. The Twinkies ran out at the last place. Terry has a cabinet full of snacks. Ha! Just kidding. Norma and Ron are great hosts and have helped and loved me beyond measure. They fed me well. 

But, no Twinkies tonight.

And

I've sworn off driving and talking on a cell phone unless I get a Bluetooth.

What is a Bluetooth? 

***
News Flash Update: Thursday morning

Already broke first new resolution. Twinkies are all over the kitchen this morning. What happened?

I haven't broken the second new resolution. I didn't do much driving that I remember while sleeping. 

I do know what a Bluetooth is. 

THE REWARD IS TWINKIES....

Milton, here for Kristy:

SSSH. Don't let them catch you.

They're sleeping and snoring and they're too old to get up and do anything...

Watch the chair.

It's too dark. Somebody is going to get it.

OW!!!!!My toe! ###***, !!##*** , I broke my toe! I broke my toe!

Come on. Don't be a sissy. The snacks are waiting. They're ours for the taking.

Get away from that computer. No one is up at this hour. What time is it?

2:36 AM!!

We didn't get up to goof off and play old folks games;

Where are the Twinkies? They are mine.

I hear them snoring. They're waking up.

Let's make a run for it. They're too old to jog at all.

Not much of a haul. One Twinkie and no peanut butter.

This neighborhood is going down.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO KRISTY

Milton, here for Kristy:

My family knows how to celebrate life, comfort in trial, and remember in death. 

On Kristy's birthday on August 2, just days after her passing, they gave her a birthday gift at a family gathering to start a Kristy Dykes Memorial Scholarship Fund through Southeastern University, our Alma Mater where we met and fell in love.  This scholarship fund will help deserving, Christian students seeking a degree in journalism. 

I was and am overwhelmed by their surprising, creative and loving way to honor Kristy and help train Christian writers. I wept and our
 daughters were stunned and thrilled. Kristy's life will touch writers who will touch the world.


Wow! What a blessing and how amazing!

Kristy lovingly and faithfully
 worked beyond the call of duty to help young and old who desired to use their gift of creative writing. The list of people she has helped is remarkable.

She was an award winning author who spent years preparing and developing her craft.  She had over 600 published articles, wrote numerous ongoing columns, and had 10 works of published fiction to her credit. There are other books that she has completed that are yet to be published.

Southeastern is a fully accredited Christian University on a beautiful campus located in Lakeland, Florida (about 50 miles from Orlando).  
Over 40 members of our family have attended SEU.  This university is where I met Kristy and where our love story 
began. 

We were married August 14, 1971. In two days, we would have celebrated 37 years of a glorious christian love story in marriage. The love story continues.


Norma and Terry, here for Kristy:

We want to extend an invitation to you to consider a contribution to the Kristy Dykes Memorial Scholarship Fund.  We, too, were students at SEU and remember the stuggle of being a student with limited resources.

Kristy would be so very excited to know that students enrolled as  journalism majors will be helped by this memorial fund.   Who knows--maybe she is cheering us on from heaven!!

You can add your gift to many others by either a check sent to the address below or giving online at Southeastern University.  If giving online, click on "other" contributions and designate your gift to the Kristy Dykes Memorial Scholarship Fund.



Southeastern University
Development Office
1000 Longfellow Blvd.
Lakeland, FL   33801
                      

Monday, August 11, 2008

MIDNIGHT RUSH TO THE FRIDGE

Milton, here for Kristy:

It is 1:27 AM and time for my nightly 1:30 snack. I've got a bad addiction, but boy it is delicious!

Excuse me.

Chomp, scarf, gulp...

I'm back.

Somewhere along this journey poor eating habits were started.

Excuse me.

Chomp, chomp, gulp,

Well, anyhow since I am up, I will tell you:

Tuesday I have an amazingly exciting announcement to make for Kristy.

Spread the word.

Tomorrow I will tell you about Kristy's birthday party.

Don't miss it.

Pass the peanut butter!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

MY PUERTO RICAN PRINCESS

Milton, here for Kristy:

Do you remember your first day at school? What did you wear? Who took you? What was your teacher's name? Could you speak two languages? Were you afraid? Did you want momma?

Claudia, my Puerto Rican Princess, proudly went to her first day at school this past week. This little girl is something else. Can she ever make some profound statements! She is just like her mom, Jennifer, and is just as sweet, and she is bilingual. She was so big and excited. Here are a couple of pictures taken on her first day going to school.

Our recent journey has impacted all our family and the kiddies are learning a lot about God and heaven and what really counts in life. We have taken a hard long look again at eternal purpose. I am so thankful our commitment to live with heaven in view didn't start 9 months ago.

Here are some pointed thoughts written by Jennifer on her blog as she has returned home with kiddies who want to see Nana.

Jennifer, here:


http://its-all-about-him.blogspot.com/

Last night I was reading a Children's Bible my mom bought Claudia before she got sick.We just finished reading My Little Pony and Claudia picked out her Bible and opened up to the Parable of the Pearl (Matthew 13:45-46.)

I was amazed this story was the one she picked and felt it was God speaking to us through his Word. In bold letters the story topic read: Heaven is more wonderful than anything on earth. We should let nothing on earth keep us from heaven. I will thank God for making heaven for me!

The next story she picked was the parable of the net (Matthew 13:47-50.) In bold the topic read: All Christians will go to heaven. Heaven is a wonderful place. I love God. I will go to heaven!

Two stories on the topic of heaven, direct from the Word, written so children can understand and see pictures and from the very Bible my mother picked out for Claudia!

Heaven has been a hot topic for Claudia lately. She's fascinated with it and trying with her little mind to understand.We talk often how nana is in heaven. Nana had her birthday party in heaven with Jesus (August 2nd) and we pray every night for nana. We pray: "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day. God bless nana in heaven." We've always prayed for our family each night and after nana died, there was a giant hole in our prayers.

How could not pray for nana? God put it into my heart that we can pray for her, for her blessings in heaven with Him!

***

Milton, here for Kristy:

Nana has gotten her reward. We know that and we can't add anything to or take away her reward by our prayers, but little children can learn along the way and that is exactly what is happening in their lives. It helps them to know that Nana is OK with Jesus. He is taking care of her.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

PLEASE FORGIVE ME

Milton, here for Kristy:

GBM brain tumors are horrible. They do terrible things to the mind. They rob. They change. They numb. They destroy. They attempt to kill love.

But they can't. God has the final word on what happens.

I have been transparent, but not totally. No one really is totally transparent. There is always something there that is too personal, too sacred, maybe too shameful to share.

You have watched closely and carefully of unusual moments that are rarely shared so openly. Not because of my will, but because of Kristy's desire. We both are public but yet private people. Is that a contradiction? Not really for you are public and private too.

Kristy wanted this story told. She made me promise and so I write. It has grown in me and you have read, watched, and listened. Some say they have learned. Maybe more will listen and learn before this story concludes.

I will tell you this. If you go back to the Wednesday before Kristy went into Community Hospice, something beyond miraculous took place. I have used the word miracle several times and there have been miracles happen in this christian love story. I suspect every really good christian love story has several pretty amazing miracles. This story is no different.

But again, on that Wednesday I had come to the end of the road. The tumor in Kristy's head was shaking her, changing her, exaggerating life. She did have a cloud of peace and a chair of strength, but they were challenged by this wicked work in her head.

You cannot understand really what I am writing. You would have had to have been there to comprehend it. Just the day before, we had returned from our last get-a-way and on the way back home the intensity of this tumor turned into turmoil. It wasn't Kristy. The turmoil had been brewing slowly and then with private outbreaks for some time. She could not help it. It was beyond her. Her sweetness was being robbed. Her joy was being attacked.

It is too difficult to describe what was happening to her and to us. No matter what I said or how much I tried to anticipate nor how much I prayed, I could not resolve the attack on her and us.

That Wednesday afternoon, I called her friend, Sandra, to stay with her while I went to church. I was at the end of my road and didn't know what to do. I called sis on my cell in the church parking lot before heading into the service and we prayed. As I stumbled into church late on that Wednesday evening, I can't tell you the uncertainty, the question, the concern that was in my heart as to how I could cope with returning to Kristy, my dear sweet lover and wife.

Church ended and reluctantly I headed home. I walked into the door and Sandra left. Kristy and I were alone again, but sweetness had returned. The trauma was gone. The cloud of peace took over and the chair of strength held strong and had prevailed.

Kristy held me and cried and expressed her sorrow over actions that were not hers. Please forgive me she begged and I forgive you she said and we held each other and cried and wept. I cannot die this way if God doesn't heal me. I want us to have tenderness and love not sorrow and trouble.

The night turned physically painful and the morning brought more and more pain. But never, I say never were those tentacles able to control to override our love. The agitation and mental conflicts were gone. There was a huge trial yet to be faced but now it would be faced hand in hand in love. This change did not happen because of pills or drugs or more surgery. Prayer and Jesus and His love overpowered the storm. They said the agitation and anger toward her caregiver would grow worse by the day. It didn't. Jesus stopped that part of the storm forever. It never returned.

At 6 PM on Thursday Kristy was transported by ambulance to the Community Hospice Center and stayed eight days.

From that Wednesday evening on, there was a tenderness and sweetness so special and sacred you cannot imagine. The Lord stayed the power of that tumor and the pureness of our love that we enjoyed throughout our marriage returned. We walked into and through the valley of the shadow of death and have no regrets. Jesus kept our love. Norma said I kissed Kristy 50 million times. Our loved turned sweet until the journey ended. That my friends, is the faithfulness of God.

At the Community Hospice they prepared me to expect very bad issues that trouble spouses with GBM tumors. They told me caregivers become punching bags and the focus of external abuses that are hard to contain.

But that night, that Wednesday night Jesus took over. Losing your lover is very hard to do. Losing mental capacity to function is so wounding and terrible. God was merciful to Kristy and to me. We were able to walk those last miles of her journey with love more sweet than sweet should ever be.

Watch the videos and read the blogs during her hospice stay and the weeks that followed as she returned home. You will see a woman weakened and struggling who died, but died with peace, joy, and her lover by her side.

Ours is a christian love story. We prayed. We trusted God. We remained committed by His love and grace. Our vows were for better or for worse. God's love overcame the worst.