Tuesday, September 30, 2008

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX! PART I

Milton, here for Kristy:

Sex for the Saints: 

So you want to hear some decent talk about sex? Kristy called it fireworks. I called it fun.

Let's begin here. 

It is God given. 
It is Biblically governed. 
It is the connection intended.
It is the gift of the pure.
It is a vow to be honored.
It is sanctified by marriage.
It is spiritual vitality.
It is the essence of romance.
It is the fantasy of the mind.
It is the ecstasy of the body.
It is the completion of relationship.
It is not to be refused in marriage.
It is expressed by love.
It is respected by the wise.
It is unusually necessary. 
It is unbelievably important.
It is fireworks.
It is fun.

It is all around us.
It is not going away.
It needs some help.
It is cause. 
It is action.
It is fireworks.
It is fun.

It is the question of the child.
It is the puzzlement of adolescence.
It is the dynamite of every teen.
It is the anticipation of the young adult.
It is the experiment of the newly pronounced.
It is the richness of the seasoned couple.
It is fireworks.
It is fun.

It is on men's minds.
It is in women's touch and feel.
It is moved by words.
It is inspired by the eyes.
It is ignited by spirit and flesh.
It cannot be ignored.
It won't go away.
It is why you are here.
It cannot be replaced without great harm.
It has a very special place.
It is very dangerous.
It is very explosive.
It is fireworks.
It is fun.

It is belittled by small minds.
It is betrayed by ignorant actions.
It is believed to be sacred by few.
It is born out of God honored blessing.
It is a window of the soul.
It is a guide to the the heart.
It is the genius of God.
It is the desire of man.
It is the glory of women.
It is fireworks. 
It is fun.

It is the anticipation of every virgin.
It is the hope of every excited groom.
It is the wonder of every beautiful bride.
It is the consummation of romantic relationship.
It is the excitement of marriage.
It is the experience of every parent.
It is the precursor to every child.
It is fireworks.
It is is fun.

Finally, before I close my thoughts and lose you married folks to further experiment, did I mention that it is fireworks and it is fun?

Monday, September 29, 2008

I UNDERSTAND

Milton, here for Kristy:

Sunday afternoon I held the hand of a dear church member as his other hand gave his beloved wife, Nancy, to Jesus. They would have been married 60 years this year, but rather unexpectedly and quickly Nancy moved from this life to eternal life. I comforted Carl, her husband, and the children as they dwelt with the loss of their dear, precious wife and mother.

I knew how Carl felt,  and though I have held the hands of many church members as they told their loved ones good bye, this was the first time I think I really and truly understood what spouses feel when their mate dies.

Nancy and Kristy are helping get heaven all ready for the rest of us.

Carl and Nancy for years sat in front of Kristy's parents in church where I now pastor. Now Grace, Udell, Kristy, and Nancy are in heaven. They are cheering their families who remain on to greater victories.

***

I had planned on writing about Sex and the Saints, but it just didn't feel right to start that article just now. I will start tomorrow.

Get ready for some fireworks and fun.

***

Happy Birthday Max!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OUR FIRST AND LAST ARGUMENTS

Milton, here for Kristy:

"Don't be afraid
Don't be ashamed
Just one beer
And you'll never be the same,"

said the vendor at the Atlanta Braves Baseball game Kristy made me go to on our honeymoon. That is a joke, a very little joke. The fact is that she loved me enough to go to the game. We laughed many times over that vendor's jingle.

We spent part of our honeymoon in the big city, and driving through the city, Kristy saw a sign for a ice cream shop. 

She said, "I would like some ice cream. There is a shop. Let's get some."

I was in the wrong lane and couldn't get over and before I knew it I had passed the exist and Kristy was hurt.

This beautiful redhead had saved herself for her honeymoon and her man, and by now had given herself to me in the most intimate way and now her man passed by the ice cream exist on "her" honeymoon and didn't buy her some ice cream.

I blew it. I don't know what I was thinking. I didn't even speak up and tell her what was happening and  that I was nervous driving through the fast lanes of the big city and was in the wrong lane. I should have spoken up and explained. I just thought we'll get some later, and "later" wasn't good enough for a new bride on her honeymoon. I was wrong. I am sorry.

That first argument was more my fault than hers. The good news is that we survived 37 years of marriage and had a ball. Love forgives, though I am not sure it is so easy to forget. All along I heard about passing the exist for ice cream on our honeymoon. How dumb can a new groom be?

The last argument we had was over leaving a tip in a restaurant to a poor waitress. This was one of the last times Kristy and I ate at restaurant together. It was a cheaper place and the cost of the meal wasn't much. I left a generous tip, and as we were leaving, Kristy wanted me to leave a larger tip. I hesitated and we left, She told me later that she felt so sorry for the poor waitress that even though the tip was more than adequate she wanted to leave more. I guess I should have gone back in a left a larger tip, but I really didn't think much about it.

After getting home, Kristy really got upset and her brain was not allowing her to process things well. The tumor was taking over. I tried every way I knew to help her release the issue and it was really a bad scene. Finally she gave it up and loved me and hugged me and said she was sorry for our difference. It really wasn't her fault as the GBM brain tumor was overpowering her.

The good news is that in our first argument and with our last one that our love covered our failures as it did so many times through the years. Marriage is guaranteed to have hard spots, mistakes, and failures, but love is the grace that smooths the way. Love is a decision and an act of the will. 

We loved each other until death parted us. 

I still love that gal.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX!

Milton, here for Kristy:

Sex sells, but it is selling in the wrong way.

Now that I have gotten your attention, Kristy called sex fireworks. I called it fun. I guess it was both fireworks and fun, if you know what I mean. Kristy made this blog about romance, intimancy, Biblical views on marriage and husband and wife relationships, and writing love stories. She had a idealistic view of romance that was based on a theological pattern. 

Well, next week that is what I am going to write about. I am going to write about sex and romance. Aren't you just a little tired of seeing those stupid film ads about "Sex in the City?" And what about Victoria's Secret? Doesn't look like she left any secrets to wonder about to me. 

Kristy had lots to say about sex and it seems there is a great need for some decent talk about Sex and the Saints! True romance has spiritual underpinnings that cannot be ignored. There is something beautiful and glorious about this unusual gift from God.

So get ready--fireworks and fun are coming!

Are you too old for it? Or too pure? Or too sensual? There is something to learn and that needs to be said and shared about sex from the sacred view. 

We'll start on Monday, but Sunday I am going to write about our first and last arguments. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

HOW OLD IS ELVIS?

Milton, here for Kristy:

There aren't many good reasons to die young. I can't think of any right now. Sadly, it happens.

Kristy was too young to die and we certainly had many unfinished dreams of the heart we had listed to do. God has helped me with the loss of Kristy not being able to fulfill some of our 
dreams when He spoke into my spirit that there wasn't any dream higher than what could be enjoyed in heaven. 

Yet, her loss still impacts every part of my being. Last night as I finished some work on the computer I looked long and hard at one of her pictures. This lady worked at being photogenic. She always grabbed the digital camera and immediately removed any unflattering photos. She smiled when a camera was pointed her way even to the last moments of her life. She said that her mother trained her to always smile when a camera was taking your picture. Believe me, she obeyed her mother on that one.

As I looked at that picture, I saw that gleam of the eye, that glowing red mane, that smile and delicious skin, that sparkle that said I am a classy, fun lady. I could see deep into her spirit and admire her heart to help, her ready hands to serve, her quickness to the right, and her passion to please God. Kristy had an inner beauty that rivaled her outer glory.

Kristy had few wrinkles and her skin was very fair. She worked at both of those two issues too. She stayed out of the sun and used creams on her face every night. I can smell those creams even now. 

She was much younger looking than most at her age. Now her image is frozen in time. She will not ever look any older in my mind than she did when she passed. That is the obvious. I am sure she is quite tickled knowing that as we get older we are all going to look older.

How old does Elvis look to you?

What about Marlyn Monroe? How old was she when she died?

James Dean? 

John Kennedy?

Princess Diana? 

Grace Kelly?

They  all died young, leaving images that will never grow older. Their photos will never show grey hair or show dark rings around the eyes.

So Kristy won't have to worry about the wrinkles anymore. I am confident she will get a laugh as we all get older and deal with aches and pains and all the stuff that the aged face.

Believe me, I would take every wrinkle and skin mark she might would have gained to have that gal come back. She can't come back, though. She is in that group that will be remembered as young and will never have an aged image to be remembered.

Kristy will be remembered as spunky, gifted gal with one beautiful smile and a heart of love towards all.

How old is Elvis? If he had lived, he would be 73 in a few months.

How old is Kristy?

Hey, I'm smarter than that. Do you really think I would tell her age? I am going to see the lady again. 

I'll take the top picture. How about you?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MY BEST CHEERLEADER

Milton, here for Kristy:

A preacher needs a cheerleader--his own personal cheerleader. He needs someone to be in his corner. 

I had one for 37 years. Kristy never let me preach without finding something good to say about my sermon. She would come up to me after we gotten home and more often than not she had a  compliment for me that made me feel my efforts at preaching were not too bad.

Preaching is both rewarding and draining. Sometimes a preacher really feels he has rung the bell, but there are many times it may seem that the bell rung the preacher. There have been times that I thought the bell fell on me.

I had one lady tell me years ago that my just completed sermon was the best sermon she had ever heard in her life. The next day a deacon told me that he heard someone say that same sermon I had just preached was the worst sermon they had ever heard.

Go figure?

Kristy knew that my ego was fragile like most men's egos are fragile. That is why most men are so defensive about the least little criticism or suggestion. The big men are really little boys in grown bodies. Their egos can't handle the critisim or help very well most of the time.

Anyway, Kristy knew what her man needed and she found a way to build my confidence through her encouragement that did not make her a big liar in how she complimented me. To be honest, I wouldn't care if she did fib a little just to boost my spirits. How is that for a transparent confession?

I am writing this after just returning from our midweek prayer service where I spoke. Tonight was the first time I have spoken in this service in several months. I have had such faithful help to carry me through this time, but tonight I waxed part of an elephant. (That is preacher talk for not doing too bad a job.)

I could see Kristy sitting there on the first row. Of course, she wasn't there. She is in heaven. It just felt like she was there.

She is one of the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. 

She was cheering most for me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

KRISTY WOULD BE PROUD OF ME

Milton, here for Kristy:

There is no telling how many eating events Kristy and I hosted through the years. It would be into the thousands I am quite sure. My gal knew how to make it happen, and make it happen with pizzazz. She knew how to put the extra touch on a common meal and make it shine. 

So, why would she be so proud of me today?Well, believe it or not I hosted my first ever eating event without Kristy. Tuesday night I had the staff over for a cookout, fellowship, and singing. My secretary helped work out the menu and off to the grocery store I ran Tuesday afternoon and prepared for 15 people. 

The house was already clean, not spotless like Kristy would have it, but it was clean and ready for guests. So guess who guided that for me?Well, Kristy, that's who. I helped her all these years get the house ready to entertain so my mind just followed her cues to make sure the event came off as good as a helpless guy can do it. I got a dessert, and baked beans, and Cole slaw, 
appetizers, and drinks, and hamburger meat, and buns, and the right condiments. 

Thirty minuets before they all arrived I was ready and sitting in my recliner waiting for them. Can you believe it? Now it wasn't a gourmet meal, but it was a meal and everyone seemed to have a good time.

It was obvious that someone was missing. Every gathering will have that feel. How could it not feel that someone was missing? But she wanted me to go forward in life and life is today. 

I am not denying the grieving process. It is real and grieving will happen when there is true love and sharp separation. The grieving process is more than I can bear sometimes. It is overwhelming. It is beyond human understanding. But I am not grieving without hope or alone for that matter. 

I feel the prayers of people I have never met as well as the prayers of those so dear and close. I am not alone. Jesus is walking with me.

I suspect Jesus was proud of my hamburger effort. You have to start somewhere in this cooking business. I am learning out of self defense what all those kitchen drawers hold and where all those trays, and pots, and dishes are placed. There is more to a kitchen than I ever dreamed. Why can't my kitchen just continue to be a hallway like I have always known it to be? I guess the answer is really easy. It is cook or starve! 

I think I will eat out tomorrow. This is just too overwhelming. Maybe I can cook one meal every three days? Maybe I can't. We will see.

Now, let's go eat a Twinkie and celebrate success.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

KRISTY INSPIRED ME

Milton, here for Kristy:

How long will I write Milton, here for Kristy? 

The answer is I will write as long as I feel God would have me to write. I promised Kristy I would write her story, our love story, in her absence when she had brain surgery and then I continued when her radiation treatments would not allow her to write.

She tried numerous times after her brain surgery to work on her novels, but her mind and hands would not coordinate and she had to give it up. That was so hard to watch and bear. She was so alive, so vibrant, so engaged, so swift, so creative, so funny, so servant directed, so committed to the Kingdom, so determined to have the best for those dear and close.

It is easy to write about this lady of mine. There is more, so much more to tell about our love story. 

I have written this before, but she made me a better man. My, how this dear lady worked to make me a better man. She loved me. She pushed me. She gave attention to me. She listened. She supported. She stood up to tasks big and small with me. There wasn't anything above or beneath her in her willingness to serve for the Kingdom, and for me. 

It was funny and sometimes amazing how we worked together. I helped her formulate letters, speaking outlines, helped her on how to articles, and collaborated on all kinds of projects with her. Some things just stumped her to my amazement. She wasn't one to have the gift of gab. She didn't schmooze so well. Her thoughts ran short in spontaneous moments. But she could sit at a keyboard and stories would flow out of her fingers. 

I have just come in to our home for a few moments before leaving again for an appointment this evening. When I walked into the house, my conscious and subconscious mind was looking for her. I can see her here, but she is not here. I can hear her hear, but there are no audible sounds. I an smell her sweet smell, but the perfume bottle hasn't moved. I can sense her energy, but the sights and sounds are dull.

My beloved is in heaven. Do you know how hard those words are to write? My inspiration has been covered. It is weakened. It is withdrawn. Kristy inspired me and lifted me, but now her voice, her mind, her swift hands, her tenacious determination, her wit and whimsy, her secret genious, and her kind touch toward me are all gone.

There is new inspiration near. I asked Kristy in her last moments on earth to tell Jesus to send me some help. Kristy loved me and I know she has done that for me. She loved me and she knew how desperately I needed her help. 

Jesus will inspire me. He will be my friend and walk with me and carry me.  

Jesus will send me help.

Monday, September 22, 2008

TEMPTED AGAIN WITH TWINKIE FOOD

Milton, here for Kristy:

The question is would Kristy serve Twinkies?

She was a wonderful cook and wrote many published articles about food and serving lovely meals from Kristy's kitchen. She knew how to make guests feel special, welcome, and right at home. Her meals were delicious and she cooked to please me.

So, would Kristy serve Twinkies?

The answer is yes, but not at 2 AM.

Kristy loved some junk food like too many Americans. Her father would buy chocolate stuff for her and our kids and then our grandkids. That made Dad Roberts a favorite with Twinkie people. Her mother, Grace, made the best banana pudding you could ever imagine. But, Mom Roberts allowed a few Twinkies too.

At the end of church today, one of the couples brought me some comfort food and a T-shirt that has a unique and very truthful message. Don and Linda gave a very nice card and a small bucket with fresh Twinkies. That was special.

Don't worry. I won't eat any Twinkies at 2 AM. They are already gone! Ha!

Don has been recovering for months, in fact well over a year, from a car accident. I visited him many times in the hospital and watched him battle through tough questions of whether he would walk again. He is still in a wheelchair, but his spirit has sustained him. He has been a quiet inspiration to me.

I had mentioned in my first service back two weeks ago that the bottom of my bucket had been shot out and I needed to get it fixed. Well, now I have a whole new bucket so I guess it is up to me to let God fill it up.

God is renewing my body, my mind, and most of all my soul. I am waiting on God and good things happen when we listen to His voice and sit at His feet. These last weeks and months I have learned more about God's grace that I never have known. God has come to me when I needed His strength. I know my redeemer lives. He lives within me. His is with me. He will not fail me.

A little comfort food helps too!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

TRAVELING NORTH ON I-75

Milton, here for Kristy:

Traveling North on I-75 from Tampa brought back lots of memories. Kristy and I traveled up and down I-75 for 37 years together going to all kinds of events, appointments, vacations, family gatherings, speaking engagements, and just going somewhere. 

I remember the first time we drove north on I-75 together was the summer of '71 after my graduation and before our wedding. It was yesterday, wasn't it? How could 37 years pass so quickly? We were heading to Anniston, AL for Kristy to see my parents and home church before our wedding that August.

I don't know why but I have one special memory of her driving a some to give me a break. I did most of the driving on all our trips these 37 years even if the trip was 10-12 hours, but this one particular time before our wedding she drove for an hour or so as we headed up the interstate.

Sitting next to her and then getting close to her as we drove north on I-75 in that old un-airconditioned Ford Fairlane I dreamed of our marriage to be and what our lives would hold. My dreams and our life together exceeded anything I ever imagined. I remember specifically thinking how blessed I was to get a gorgeous redhead like Kristy. I just didn't know how blessed my life would be by this beautiful woman. 

Now I know. 

Traveling North on I-75 all alone puts life in perspective.  

***

Julie, Alex, Nic and I kayaked two hours Saturday before I headed north from Tampa to Jacksonville. Those little guys are loads of fun and I am so very proud and thankful to the Lord for Julie.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

SELECTING A NANA PICTURE

Milton, here for Kristy:

Life with the little people is busy. 

Friday afternoon in Tampa, I took Nic and Alex to the camera center at Walmart to pick out picture frames and pictures of their Nana. I had promised them last week when I came through Tampa on my way to Puerto Rico that I would be back this week for a few days visit and take them to pick out a picture of their own to have of their Nana.

That was one of the first things they asked when I got back was when are we getting the pictures? I took my flash drive filled some of the pictures of Kristy that I thought they would like and off to Walmart we went. 

I haven't been to one of the self-service photo labs so I had to get some help. We put the flash drive in and there were over 450+ pictures and most of them of Kristy or Kristy and some of the family. There are hundreds and hundreds and probably into the few thousands of pictures that we have of Kristy alone with many videos too.

I got some help in the photo center and started the scan down with the boys and picked out the ones they wanted. Then I punched in the pictures and walla the bill came to over $500. That can't be right for a hand full of pictures so we started over and then got some more help. It was only three pictures. How could it be over $500?


The gentleman who helped us was very patient and I told him our story about Kristy's GBM and her untimely death and what I was doing with these pictures for the grands. He was touched and offered his condolences. He didn't charge us for Alex's picture of Nana. I think he was a little overcome with her story.

Look what the boys picked. They both wanted the picture of Nana, me, and themselves at the Jacksonville zoo. Nic also wanted a picture of his Nana at her piano. 

That is not a halo over Kristy's head. It is a one of her lamps sitting on the piano. Kinda looks like a halo, doesn't it. I guess in heaven she has a halo, maybe wings? She was the best wife, but I don't remember seeing a halo or wings.

Wasn't the lady photogenic? Using that word, "wasn't", is really tough to use. It should be "is" not "was". I guess in heaven it is still "is". I am having a hard time with the tense of verbs writing and talking about my lady.

My, what a classy lady.

The last picture is one of my favorites that I just wanted to post. Wow, is that a pretty picture of a pretty lady or what!

Thank you for listening to our story. It is one that keeps pushing out of my fingers and is compelling me to share. I have a vision stirring in my heart to speak to men's groups and ladies' gatherings about our story and what we have faced. I plan on doing more speaking engagements next year to help husbands and wives. That was part of "our" dream. I will fulfill it with God's help.


Friday, September 19, 2008

THE RING ON JENNIFER'S HAND

Milton, here for Kristy:


Leaving Puerto Rico was hard Thursday. We have left Jennifer and her little ones many times as we watched them drive away from the airport terminal and Kristy and I took our bags to be checked and get boarding passes.


There have been tears at that airport as we separated for months not sure when we would see each other again, but knowing that we would see each other. Those kiddies get my heart and their loving kisses melt the toughest papa. 


I told Jennifer I was here for her. I told her I could not replace her mom but that I was here for her and her sister Julie. It has always been that way. That have top priority access no matter what meeting I’m in or what my schedule is. Family comes first only second to God.


Jennifer was driving me to the airport and I was sitting in the passenger seat talking and then I saw it--The ring. I had been in San Juan for almost a week but for some reason I hadn't notice "The Ring" on Jennifer's right ring finger, but I saw it as we pulled into the airport.


It was the ring  that symbolized my deepest love. The ring Kristy wore for 37 years as my token to her of faithful love and my  commitment to love, honor, and cherish her. The ring that said you are mine and I am yours. Jennifer now wears the ring that Kristy wore with sweet, dear commitment. 


That ring said I love you more than any other. You are the focus of my eyes, my heart, my service, my passion and my pleasure. You are mine and I am yours.


I still wear my wedding ring. It is my vow to cherish, to honor, to provide, protect, to hold dear, to stand close with listening ear and passionate heart to my beloved. 


She kept her vow until death did part us. She never failed, wavered, withdrew, turned cold in heart, withheld her charms, turned me aside, ignored my desires, refused her sweetness. Never in 37 years did my beloved look to another for her passion, pleasure, or protection.

I was there for her and she was there for me. 


Looking at that ring revealed again the depth, the height, the broadness of our love. Our love story was rare. It had significant example. We were naive, pure, pollyanish, different than culture, stretching for a love beyond mere fleshly commitment. 


Now that ring is worn by our youngest. She looks at it with highest regard and respect. It means something that only 37 years of faithful love can reveal. It is a picture of our lives--a rare picture of two who were one--one flesh, one love, one passion, one purpose. We were one.


Where is my dear helper? My body, my spirit, my soul cries out, “Where are you? You are mine. I am yours. Where are you? Come to me. I need you.”


These cries are not premeditated. They just scream out of my being before I can control them. They are not cries of one who doesn’t believe, know, or grasp this separation. They are natural, unplanned, expressions of inner reflexes that are not willful, deliberate appeals. They are the subconscious body, soul, and spirit of a soul mate missing the dearest part of his being. “Where is she? Why doesn’t she come to me?” -- the deeper part of my being cries.


It will not happen in this life. I know what has happened. She is in heaven and I am here and we will be together again. But my flesh feels loss that should not be. ”How can this be right," my body, my spirit, my soul,  pleads?


She is gone. I am here. We will reunite, but this doesn’t feel natural.


This is the struggle of two hearts that beat as one for 37 years and are now torn apart and the heart that is left is broken and cannot find its rhythm.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BIKING IN OLD SAN JUAN -- A JOY?

Milton, here for Kristy:

On a past visit to see Jennifer I borrowed Javier's bike to see  Puerto Rico and enjoy some fresh air. (The pictures included are from our bike ride today.)

It was raining in Old San Juan and I was bicycling alone through the cobbled stone streets enjoying a very scenic and historic ride. I didn't know the area very well and was riding on rain soaked roads to get back to Jennifer's condo.

I was cruisin' and then it happened.

Suddenly I was flying through the air and this was no airplane or trapeze and there was no soft places to land. I had hit the slicker than glass tiled sidewalks around a city park doing way too fast and not knowing my fate.

Bam! Bam! Bam! And more Bam! 

As my body tore into the wet tile. I am dying. I am going to heaven in a heap on a slick Peurto Rican tiled sidewalk! 

I landed in a mud puddle and my body was racked with pain. How many bones are broken I wondered? I checked by arms, my legs, my ribs, my hands and everyplace was hurting, but eventually I was able to stand again. 

Finally I recovered enough to start walking the bike toward Jennifer's condo which was a number of miles away. Then I rode and traveled another mile and it dawned on me that I had lost a very expensive pair of sun glasses my daughters had given me for Christmas.

I turned around and started flying back to see if they were still at the site of my big crash. Faster I peddled as I approached the other side of the park from where the accident occurred. Maybe I can find them. Maybe there still there. The girls warned my not to lose them for they said they had paid a lot for them.

Then it happened. 

It happened again! 

I can't believe it. I was flying through the air the second time. Still no trapeze with a net, or airplane or soft spot to land.

I was flying through the air sideways, and fast, very fast. Yet, it was happening in slow motion and I knew what is about to happen. It ain't gonna be pretty.


Bam! Bam! Bam! And more Bams! 

I was dying for the second time in less than 30 minutes. My obituary will read something about a stupid preacher wrecking his bike twice within minutes and not surviving the second crash.

Bam! Bam! 

Blood, Black, Blue

Those aren't nice colors for legs and arms, and ribs, or my backside. 

Bam! Bam!

How can an educated man do this twice within minutes?
Man, was I hurting. I lay there again feeling my arms, legs, head, ribs, ankles, pulse, heart, brain--no brain alive here! 

My brain must have been dead. It had to be dead. Surely I am smarter than this?

Thankfully there were no broken bones. 

People in passing buses were watching, smiling, grimacing. No one offered help.

I got up the second time and limped toward the condo again. 

Oh, I found the glasses. It wasn't worth it!

I visited a Catholic Church in Old San Juan on our bike ride. Kristy and I made frequent visits there too. We loved looking at beautiful old churches all over the world.

***

Did you ever eat Japanese in Sunny San Juan?
We did Wednesday night,  and the steak and Susi was super. The cook or whatever they call them fired up the grill and made flames and smoke and threw knifes and cooking utensils all around. 

Eggs were being tossed up and down and dark rice was getting darker
and veggies were heating up and the kiddies were banging the gong and we were all laughing and having a great time.

Spanish was the language of the table and I nodded and smiled and acted like I had a "little" idea of what was happening.


 When Kristy and I have visited here almost every year for the ten years, we have gotten with Javier's family for a meal. His mother, Lortis, and stepfather, Miguel, have made us feel welcome and special. It has been nice.

We missed Kristy. I showed them her blog and pictures of her on my new Iphone. 

I miss that gal. 

Oh, I miss that gal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

OVERCOMING THE BLUES IN BLUE WATER

Milton, here for Kristy:

Water is the word in Puerto Rico. 

If you don't like water, stay home because there is water and water and more water. The water is blue with tints of green and it is gorgeous.


Look at the color of that water and that island and those beautiful kiddies and that handsome older guy and did I say humble too. What could be better than life in the Caribbean?

Mustafa, Javier's friend, took us to Palomenito Island on the eastern part of Puerto Rico. I had hoped to snorkel 
 but Mustafa rode his bike from San Juan to meet us at his boat. He couldn't carry the snorkeling gear on his bike so maybe 
next time we can enjoy snorkeling.

I often told Kristy she could be famous if she made me rich. Now that didn't happen, but maybe one day I will have a boat. That is what I always told her I would buy when her boat came in.

We preached many times in different parts of the Caribbean on Tortolla, and Virgin Gorda, and St. Thomas, and St Croix, and Cuba, and the Bahamas. 

Can you believe that I never preached in Puerto Rico? We always stopped over in Puerto Rico to see Jennifer or went to her church.







I walked around the island in just a few moments as it is so small. I made a big "K" for Kristy with a large stick in the sand. Blue deep moods were overcoming me, but I didn't stay there. It is just plain hard to go anywhere and not think about that gal. I thought about her for 37 years and I cannot turn those thoughts off in 7 weeks. I loved her too much, too deeply, too long. I will never turn those thoughts off. She meant too much to me.

***

Many of Kristy's writer friends are meeting for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference held this year in Minneapolis, Minesota. She loved that group. I have met many of them in past gatherings and plan on attending the conference maybe next year. I seriously considered doing it this year, but I just wasn't quite ready yet to face the world.

Ladies and gents at the conference, thank you all for your prayers and kindness to Kristy and our family. You made us feel like part of your family. 

Have a great conference.

May all your writing goals and dreams come true. Keep writing and submitting. You will leave a legacy one day too.

I couldn't help but post this favorite picture of mine of Kristy that I took in downtown Jacksonville on the St. Johns River in front of the Main Street Bridge.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

COUSINS IN A PUERTO RICAN PARK

Milton, here for Kristy:

A year ago Kristy and I made our last visit together to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to see our daughter and her family. Now I am here alone and it is a bitter-sweet visit. I am so glad to 
here, but it is so obvious someone important is missing. Kristy was our light, our energy, the pizzazz of this show, the enthusiasm to press to the new, the joy that renewed our strength. 

Kristy is missed.

Monday afternoon Jennifer took the kiddies to the park, and I tagged along and enjoyed being with them. But I couldn't help but feel our loss. The silence of her voice was too loud and too obvious. 

This sounds like we will never recover, but we will. I know we will recover from her loss. There will always be a hurt and her pizzazz will never be recovered,  but we will go forward. I know we will.

We did so much together. We traveled all over the Nation and many parts of the world enjoying our partnership in life and ministry. 

I try to fill in the gaps with the kiddies but that is like trying to take a mosquito and turn it into the mighty lion. It ain't gonna happen. So I will not try. I will be the best papa I can be and fill in some of the gaps watching to see where there is hurt and need.

Look at the pics of the grands in the park. Claudia is hugging her cousin Enrique. Lorenzo is looking to Jennifer for food. Jennifer's friend and sister-in-law are there with their kiddies. We spent a couple of hours with the kiddies
running around and getting muddy and having a ball.

See those mud puddles in front of Claudia and her cousin? See the little dolly in Claudia's hand. The mud in front of her got all over that dolly in her hand. 

That is what going to the park is all about. It is about having fun with your cousin, and getting mud all over you.

We miss nana and her helping hands. She would have taken care of all that mud.

Watching Lorenzo and Claudia with their cousins playing brought lots of memories from my childhood long ago. I have lots of cousins and growing up with them was special. Dad is one of nine and mom had five. That made for a big time when family gatherings took place. We all had a blast and many of my cousins are following our journey and are praying me through the toughest time of my life.

Cousins, I know you are out there. In Alabama, and Arizona, and Newfoundland, and Georgia, and Tennessee, and California, and North Carolina,  and Oregon, and Florida, and..... 

You are there, aren't you?

Thank you for all your prayers. 

I need the prayer and you need the practice. 

Please keep it up.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

IDEAS, IDEAS, IDEAS, IDEAS

Milton, here for Kristy:

Where do you get your ideas? 

Do you have new ideas? 

Crazy ideas? 

Imaginative ideas?

Do you think about anything?

Are your ideas out of the box?

Sometimes I felt that Kristy never let her mind stop. It ran full speed and kept me running with every kind of amazing project you can imagine.

She would bring junk home and turn into a picture to be placed in a magazine with her story telling making it come alive. She did it with an old doll house. She did it with junk bed headboards, and ragged furniture and dumpy looking chairs, and paintings no one wanted, and dresses that she got at a bargain houses, and books at dusty old book shops, and junk some people call antiques, and mirrors that were damaged, or lamps that were out of whack, and more chairs that had no hope, and the list goes infinity

We stopped at antique and thrift stores all over Florida during 12 years of ministry travel. That wasn't my bag. I hated it, but I did it. Once I saw a sign on the outside of a store that read, "We buy junk and sell antiques." I said to Kristy, "See they have junk in there. Why do we want to go look at junk?"

She wrote articles and dreamed books, and spoke amazing words, and sang, and wrote skits, and acted, and designed, and decorated, 

and huff, huff, puff, puff, are you tired yet?

Boy, I am tired just thinking about all her ideas. 

That gal had ideas. Do you have any ideas? Where do they come from?

Kristy saw new ideas on every corner, in every magazine she read, in armloads of books she carted home from the library, by searching the Internet, and networking with interest groups, and conferences, and research, and more research, and dreaming, and the Holy Spirit....

Yes, I said the Holy Spirit. 

God is the creator. He is the well-spring of all ideas.

Wednesday night at church I spoke to our youth and used my new Iphone as an illustration. This old guy was the envy of the crowd as I showed off my new toy. This thing is amazing. The genius of man really is something, or is it?

Put an Iphone or a MacBook by your brain and then wonder who has ideas? Look at your eyeball and see the genius of God. Watch the birds that fly and the animals and the creatures of the sea and tell me who has creative genius. Look into the heavens. Who has the best ideas? The answer is easy.

That is where our best ideas come. They come from the Creator of ideas. Kristy was God gifted and used her talent to bless others. Her ideas always had an end game. They all blessed us.

As we were driving in San Juan on Saturday, Jennifer pointed to a condo and said that is where mom got the color ideas for the new 
 decor on the exterior of our church. One of Kristy's last efforts was in selecting paint colors for our church and the buildings pictured are where she got her ideas. She saw ideas everywhere.

I jumped out of the car as we stopped at the red light and shot a dozen or so pictures of the buildings with my Iphone. Kristy stopped there one day and got an idea. She took her $35 Kodak 7 pixel digital camera and took a lot of pictures, and her idea turned into adding beauty to the exterior of our church. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

CRUSIN' OLD SAN JUAN IN A CONVERTIBLE...

Milton, here for Kristy:

Old San Juan is beautiful. 

There are forts, and cobbled stone and brick streets, and ocean views, and old churches, and neat outdoor restaurants, and shopping areas, and bike riding, and a mix of the old with the new, and busy people everywhere serving tourist and enjoying an island paradise.

The economy here is taking a beating with so many hurting. There is not a very large middle class like in so many of the Caribbean Islands and Central and South America. Thankfully my daughter and son-in-law are doing OK, but it is tough for so many.

Javier just purchased a two seater convertable sportscar, and Jennifer took me on a ride Friday night with the top off, and we rode through Old San Juan. The night life there is busy--though there were not any cruise ships in port. Tourism in Old San Juan is vital to the people.

Kristy purchased a number of really nice purses in the tourist shopping districts on past visits here. I guess my daughters, or sisters, or sister-in-laws, or church deacon's wives have them now. I am so happy that they celebrate her life by enjoying them. I have asked all of them to let me know they have one with them when I am present. On occasion, some of the have called or emailed and said they were wearing her jewelry or had her purse. It comforts me to know she is remembered and her life is celebrated.


I look forward to enjoying Old San Juan with Jennifer and the grands for a few days. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island. Jennifer loves it here and their family is doing well. I am grateful for God's faithfulness to them, and I believe God has great things in store for them. 


Javier, Jennifer's husband, is a professional biker. He has bikes that cost more than some cars I have owned! He rides hundreds of miles 
on bikes. Today he went on a 50+ mile ride. That really was not such a long ride for him.

I will tell you a funny story about my biking in Old San Juan on a past visit. You will wonder about me when you read it.






The last picture was taken after the top was put back on their convertible. Doesn't Jennifer look beautiful? I have two adorable, very pretty, and outstanding daughters who remind me of their mom in so many ways. 

I am blessed.




Saturday, September 13, 2008

A PRINCESS, AN AMIGO, AND FEELIN' SPECIAL

Milton, here for Kristy:

Working single moms are amazing. Our daughter, Julie, is one and she is one special woman. She is an outstanding teacher, mother,  and a super young lady. I helped her get her two little guys off to school Friday morning and left them to head to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to be with our other young mommy, Jennifer.

Jen picked me up at the airport with her two little ones, Claudia and Lorenzo, and wow, did they ever make me feel special. They giggled and squealed and hugged and laughed and just make me feel that I am the best Papa in the world. Claudia is my little princess and Lorenzo is my amigo. They make their Papa feel special.

As we drove away from the airport, Claudia asked about her Nana and when we were going to heaven to see her. We talked about heaven and Nana and how that one day we will all be there together. They want Kristy's loving hands to touch them and her special care to watch over them. 


I have spent just a few hours with my daughters and their little ones without my beloved. She will never be at our gatherings. The hurt gets worse and the tears flow more. That is how it is when there is deep love. Deep love, faithful love, committed love doesn't wash away by the mere passing of a few days of fit-full busyness. 

Kristy made life better. She improved everything around her. Things got shinier, brighter, prettier, when she put her touches to them. She made our grands shine. She put extra loving in our hearts. Our daughters have grown into gifted young women by her model and grace. 

When I think of what I was when Kristy married me and the better man she helped make me, I shudder to think how I will fare in the future. My only hope is the grace of God and Kristy getting Jesus to send me some help.

Friday, September 12, 2008

TWO LITTLE BOYS AND ONE NANA

Milton, here for Kristy:


I arrived in Tampa Thursday afternoon to spend time with Julie, Alex, and Nic before flying out to San Juan on Friday morning. The boys and Julie was so thrilled to see me and I coudn't wait to get my hands on them and hug and love them. 


It is just hard knowing that Kristy will not be at any gatherings with us. 


I shared the CD recording of Kristy reading a book for them and her telling a few "Knock, Knock" jokes and reading the salvation Scriptures. It was harder for us than I thought it might be. Alex especially was hurting and missed his Nana.


Nic wanted me to type his thoughts about Nana, Gigi, and Grandpa. He loves to write and at six is starting his writing career. He dictated and I typed for him. He asked me to save his writings for him and said that he would like to have my MacBook and Iphone when I die. The little guy is planning ahead for his future, but I am not so sure what he saw my future being. He really liked my Iphone and MacBook.


Well, I plan on being here a long, long time, but who knows? 


Kristy planned on being here a long time too.


***



Nic, here:


I loved Nana so much. She was the best to me. She helped me when I read books. She helps me when I need help. I love my Nana so, so much. She helps me at art. She helps me with my clothes. She is the best Nana in the whole, wide world. She plays games a lot with me. I love Nana so much. 


Grandpa used to see me a lot. Grandpa is the best. Grandpa loves me more than anything. He used to love me a lot and see me a lot. 


I love Gigi a lot and I used to see her a lot. I used to make a lot of letters. I love Gigi a lot. 


Love, Nic


***


Alex loves to sing and has a karaoke machine that he sings along with and also plays the drums. He always likes to perform and dance and have fun. 


They played in the water and road bikes late in the afternoon before we went inside. They are good boys and loved their Nana and Papa so very much.

***




I drove from Jacksonville to Tampa on Thursday afternoon and stopped at Cross Creek where Majorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote her  novels. Kristy and I stopped by there on one of our countless trips and toured her house. 


Kristy bought a picture of Majorie's typewriter and placed it in her office to view. We watched the movies made from her books together and Kristy was inspired by Majorie's writings about Florida. 

I walked the grounds of Majorie's house and couldn't help but think back to our stop there a couple years back. You could see the excitment, love, and writing passion as Kristy dreamed of the days when Majorie pounded the keys of her typewriter.  



So many memories. 


So many memories.



 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

WHEN ARE WE GOING TO HEAVEN?

Milton, here for Kristy:

Claudia asked, "When are we going to heaven to see Nana, Papa?

I had told her several weeks ago that we would see Nana again in heaven but that it would be a long time. How long is a long time to a four year old? Only about a week or so. To Claudia a long time had passed and it was time to go see Nana in heaven.

She also wanted to know how we were going to go there? "Papa, how will we get to heaven to see Nana," she asked?

Well there are no easy answers to give a four year old to questions like that, but I told her that I was coming to see her and that we would talk about all that when I arrived. She seemed to accept my answer to her.

Today I will drive to Tampa and see Julie and her two boys, Alex and Nic. On Friday I will fly from Tampa to San Juan and spend a few days with Jennifer Javier and their two children, Claudia and Lorenzo. I will return to Tampa and spend a few days there with Julie, Alex and Nic before I head back home.

I have a special gift for them from Kristy. Kristy recorded herself reading a book to the kids and telling them some "Knock, Knock" jokes. I have it on my computer and am going to make each of them a CD of Nana reading a story and telling them jokes. Kristy also read the salvation Scriptures to them from John and Romans. 

I wiped tears again today as I listened to her reading. She taped this after her brain surgery when reading was so very difficult and almost impossible for her to do. She tried several times until she got it taped in an acceptable way for them.

I will take pictures of Nana and the kiddies that we took before she passed and go with them to a photo center and let them pick a picture that they like of her. Then we will get a tough picture frame to put them in that will be each grandchilds own personal photo of their Nana.

We all have had a tough time dealing with her loss. I have untold numbers of people who have told me how surreal it is for Kristy to be gone. It is unbelievable.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CREATIVITY ON DISPLAY

Milton, here for Kristy:

Kristy had a flair for making things better. Read the intro on her bio for this blog. 

Pizzazz!

Enthusiasm!

High Energy!

Can you imagine living 37 years with someone whose brain hardly sleeps and has more ideas than Carter has liver pills? (What does that mean? Carter has liver pills? Who is Carter? How many pills does he have?)

Go look in our neat and clean garage and all of Kristy's paint supplies all lined in order for easy use. She used them relentlessly all these years adding color splashes to everything from pictures, to clocks, to furniture, to wall paper, to stained glass, to the normal painting of interiors.

I can't cook and I can't paint. I tried to stay out of her way and compliment and complete her in other ways. She painted murals in church nurseries and daycares and our grandchildren's bedroom walls. We painted houses and churches and other people's homes and turned the dull into delightfully framed beauty. There just was no end to her pizzazz, enthusiasm, and high energy.

She designed kitchen cabinets, and houses, and churches, and bulletins and publications, and clothes and jewelry, and cut her own hair, and made curtains, and was a seamstress, and organized anything that needed organizing, and planned meetings, and wrote articles on how to do almost anything you could imagine.

Am I bragging? Was she a creative saint? Who was this woman?

She was very human and filled with passion to make things better. She wasn't perfeck (I know how to spell perfeck.), but she purposefully perfected everything her hands touched.

Every so often, like maybe every few months, she would have a brief crash for a few hours of sleeping in and then her engines started again. She made the bed before her feet hit the floor running to catch her prize. Wow, could she get the things done.

Kristy was the ultimate super woman. She multi-tasked while planning and preparing for things down the road while always getting things done now. She was a dreamer with massive action. She had busy, determined, yielded hands that always made life better, easier, and more pleasing for all around her. 

That is a huge part of my loss. I loved her dearly. She was my mate, my partner, my friend, my sweetheart, the love of my life, but this was also one busy, creative lady who made me shine and blessed so many others by her swift and creative servanthood.

Just as she could dream a book into a pages of reality, Kristy could envision and then creatively, intentionally push to see her pictured passions come alive and bless others. 

Oh, this lady blessed me. She blessed me and helped me.

She made me a better man.

Kristy was shrewed in calling me her hero husband. It made me want to rise up to fill her expectations. She saw me as a hero, a godly man, a lover of our family and our church and those who need Jesus. 

She worked to help make me a better man, her hero, and now those dear, sweet, busy hands are gone. 

Can you catch just a glimpse of why some of my last words to her included an appeal to her to ask Jesus to send me some help after she walked into heaven? She was my helper, my friend. I knew that loss of magnificent magnitude would be my lot when she left.

She was creativity on display.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A VERY LONG WALK

Milton, here for Kristy:

Sunday evening was my first time alone at my house since Kristy passed. My family has been supportive beyond human comprehension and have walked with me through this long journey. After Kristy passed, some of them have been here with me or I have been with them. They have not left me alone. 

But Sunday, mom and dad returned to their home and I was left at home alone. It was time to face the darkness and loss and they had helped me heal through the hurt so I could manage it without them.

I will admit that more tears flowed down my face as I walked through my house by myself on Sunday evening. I am not not a sissy or cry baby or a weakling. I just loved my beloved and miss her so much.

After a couple of hours I decided to go downtown and walk across the Acosta and Main Street Bridges.

I drove to the spot that Kristy and I had parked many times before when we would walk the river. Kristy loved Friendship Fountain and the beautiful St. Johns River. So I parked and off I walked to stroll around the river. The is the same spot we visited two days before her brain surgery where we shared our love and dreams and hopes and great concerns. I took a picture of her leaning against a lamp post. Now I took a picture at the same lamp post and there was no Kristy to add to the beauty of the river.

The bright blue Main Street Bridge is the same bridge that we crossed trying to escape honking horns and troublesome brother-in-laws on our get a way after our wedding. There are memories here that go back for 37 years.

Now I walked alone. In the past she would hold my hand and we would dream of books and trips and our grandchildren and children and so many other things. This time I was the only one dreaming and reflecting or wondering or questioning. How did I get here alone? I stopped at the top of the Acosta Bridge and took pictures of downtown and the Main Street Bridge. Kristy would have loved it.

The questions and hurts continue, but I am not alone. I am not the only one going through hurt like this. God will help me. This is a very long walk.