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Monday, November 19, 2018

All I Can Say Is: WOW!

I am happy to report that this weekend went much better as far as the random and extreme emotional responses to the endless memories of life with my wife Piper who passed into glory a couple of months ago.  That’s not too say that there weren’t times when I was overcome with grief as a special remembrance or thought suddenly sprung up in my mind!  But as a whole, it was a little easier for me and I am thankful for that!

Late yesterday afternoon I found myself jumping up from the La-Z-Boy recliner in the corner next to the east window in our living room, as I read a portion of scripture in Revelation chapter four where the Apostle John describes the throne room of heaven.  I had been reading in the book “Life After Death, rediscovering life after the loss of a loved one” by Reverend Tony Cooke who was for many years, the Senior Assistant Pastor at Rhema Bible Church in Oklahoma as well as an instructor at the Bible College there, which I attended.

I had forgotten that the book was part of the curriculum at school but was reacquainted with it as I was going through the shelves in our library in the study a few weeks back.  Since then I dove into its contents with great hunger as I was pleased to find a book on the grieving process written by someone in our own denomination.  I am not totally sure why that was important to me, but just like my great desire to attend our world renown Bible College in order to hear the message of faith that Piper and I literally grew up with since we were in our early twenties directly from the source, I wanted to read about grief from a source I was familiar with and trust.

And I can say without hesitation, I have not been disappointed!  In the second part of the book the author discusses from a Biblical standpoint, such subjects as “The Origin of Death, What Happens When We Die, Freedom from Fear of Death, and Heaven: The Believer’s Hope.”  It was in the chapters about heaven and “What Will We Experience in Heaven” that I came across the descriptions in the book of Revelation.

As I began to read through the list of the amazing sights that we will see in heaven, I couldn’t help but turn to my right and look at a picture of Piper that I taped on the home entertainment cabinet next to me and could only exclaim, “WOW!”  Then in between the tears that suddenly began to freely flow, I stammered out the rest of my thought declaring:  YOU’RE THERE… RIGHT NOW… IN THE MIDST OF ALL THAT… SPLENDOR AND GLORY…WOW!  WOW!  WOW!

I’m pretty sure that I must have looked like an idiot as I sprung up from my seat while shouting and singing praises to God… but mostly being overwhelmed by the vivid picture of my once totally debilitated wife who was but a shadow of her former self in her last days on this earth, whose current picture I adamantly refused to display over the internet as I wanted everyone who knew her to always remember who she WAS and not be overcome with self-pity for her when they took notice of what that terrible disease had done to her… That Piper was NOW - TOTALLY HEALED AND WHOLE and I’m pretty positive, looking WAY BETTER than even the picture on the side of the piece of furniture that was taken in what I consider her prime physical years in the late 1990’s.

I mean… think about it.  What is she looking at on a daily basis now?  Let’s see there’s:

·       The Throne of Almighty God  “and behold, a throne was set in heaven (and One sitting on the throne) similar in appearance to a jasper and sardius stone, and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”                         Revelation 4:2-3 (EMTV)

·       The Book of Life

·       The Magnificent Creatures Who Worship God Perpetually

·       The 24 Elders

·       The Redeemed – Those saved Through God’s Mercy

·       The Holy Angels

·       And the awe-striking descriptions of God’s throne, “brilliant as gemstones-jasper and carnelian,” the glow of emerald circling the throne like a rainbow, the crystal sea of glass, the sea and fire and all that beautiful music and singing 24/7!*

Okay… I will officially go on record saying that I am jealous of my wife… and although I GREATLY and PAINFULLY miss her with every fiber of my being… I CAN”T HELP but rejoice, cry and be glad… all at the same time for her!  After all she gave in this life and after all she went through in the latter years of her life… I can’t think of anyone who deserves what she is now eternally experiencing!

And yeah… I know inside that I’ll be okay… eventually… even though I am currently having a very difficult time understanding how.  What I do understand though, is that I just need to do what Piper and I did for the entire 48 years of our relationship… and that is to “Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 (God’s Word©) 

I’ve learned in life… and especially now, that there are many times when my TRUST levels have to highly exceed my levels of UNDERSTANDING… you know what I mean?

But in the meantime… I’ll keep picturing my lovely wife walking through the golden streets of heaven with a perpetual smile on her face (somethings never change!) and a skip of joy in her step as she enjoys and participates in the daily glories around God’s throne!

Have a great THANKSIVING week everyone!  And as you do, say with me… “I am fully expecting to TRUST in the Lord and rejoice with thoughts of what it will be like in heaven with Him!”

*For further details of heaven's splendor read: Revelation chapters 4,5,7,14,15, 19-22

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Defeated and Disarmed!

The last few days have definitely been days of surprises for me.  First it was the painful revelation that Piper knew and was quietly struggling with the changes that were beginning to surface in her mind a few years before we really started talking about it.  I came across a confession prayer that she had written back in 2002 and placed in her Bible where she was, among other things, claiming back her ability to “assimilate and associate information quickly and accurately.”  Back then we were all aware that she was having a little difficulty sometimes “finding the right word” but all medical evidence pointed to symptoms of menopause. I had no idea then of what she must have been dealing with.  

Today I was continuing to study Joshua 1:9 where the Lord reminded Moses’ newly appointed successor, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)  As is my custom, I did a word study on some of the expressions that stood out to me and found out that the term “courageous” translated in the King James Version as “of a good courage” means to “be alert (physically, mentally and spiritually), to be bold, secure, and or obstinate.” (Strong’s, Brown-Driver-Briggs)

According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, to be “obstinate” means “to stubbornly refuse one’s chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.”  That definition gave me the first jolt of surprise this morning… but I’ll get back to that in a moment!

Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions tells us that to be “dismayed” is “to be shattered, broken, scared or to be abolished.”  Dictionary.com states the definition of “abolished” as “to do away with; to put an end to, or to make void.” 

Well, that’s where things got interesting to me!  As I studied this verse, I was immediately drawn back in my mind’s eye, to the beginning stages of our stand of faith for the reclamation of Piper’s health and of our obedience to the course that we firmly believed that the Lord wanted us to follow.  In many ways I felt that we had a lot in common with Joshua, as he also began his personal journey of faith in leading God’s chosen people to the destination that the Lord had planned for them.

In thinking about the various events that occurred in those first few years, I realized that we went through some pretty tough times while the Lord set things in motion for us.  Looking back now, I can readily see that I was pretty obstinate when it came to pursuing God’s plan in the face of quite a bit of disagreement from others. 

I had a client with our yard care business during that period that would tend to come out and talk to me as I worked on the various projects around her property.  She was an old family friend and was aware of many of the difficulties that we were facing.  She once told me that I was “a plodder,” explaining that once I got a sense of direction, that I just kept “plodding along” to the prescribed finish… no matter what or who tried to upend me… I always took that as a compliment… I hope she meant it to be!

But let’s look at another definition.  According to the Hebrew dictionaries, when the Lord was encouraging Joshua to not be “dismayed,” He was pre-warning him to not allow himself to “be shattered, broken or seared…” and not to give in to anyone’s attempts to “abolish” His plans for Joshua and the Israelites.  Dictionary.com informs us that in modern usage to “abolish” something means “to do away with, to put an end to, or to make void.”

Then it hit me like a brick and in an instant, I saw the malicious trickery and deception of the enemy of our souls!  It became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that in the early years of our burgeoning stand of faith for my wife’s life the devil did his best to abolish our stand of faith, void the loving atmosphere and memories of our children’s childhood, and put an end to our parental influences with our kids and the respect that they gave to Piper and I.  Let’s face it… he was trying to knock our feet out from under us!

That same client and family friend I mentioned previously also told me when discussing extended family relations, that she thought that I was naive in certain situations.  And of course, I disagreed with her at the time… but since then have learned that I NEVER would have expected some of the things said and done.  At the time I knew these things we’re incorrect but did not understand the full scope of what was attempting to be done toward Piper and I.  And to be honest, I don’t think the individuals in question did either… but the devil can be quite deceptive in his maneuvering. (See: Revelation 12:9)  I just knew that Piper and I were trusting in the Word and what we believed God’s plans for us were… and that NOTHING was going to bump us off course.  That’s where the “obstinate” part of me kicked in… in high gear!

In fact, in many ways, I’m thankful for the persecution because it made me dig in deeper to God’s Word and become stronger and firm in my faith!  I’ve often heard said, and now firmly agree, that great victories only come through great battles! 

So, what’s my point?  When you enter into a stand of faith… just about any stand of faith, “Keep your mind clear, and be alert. (for) Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 (God’s Word ©)  And believe me… he’ll use any unsuspecting individual that he can influence with his lies, or partial truths.

Piper and I learned many lessons in life the hard way… but at least I believe that we did learn the lessons… well most of them!  One of Piper’s favorite sayings about the devil was that “Jesus defeated and disarmed him!”  I fondly recall the many times she taught that lesson to our Children’s Church classes throughout the years.  She was a pretty decent artist and would draw and then cut out a figure of the devil on a large sheet of paper.  Then she would dramatically tear off the arms and feet of the character while teaching the class… and the kids would always ooh and ahh at her flamboyancy!  

So now, because you are more alert to the tactics of the enemy, be ready like my lovely and spunky wife… to shout the truth out… that because of Jesus’ finished work of the cross that the devil has already been defeated and disarmed and therefore… cannot come against you!  Praise the Lord!

Have a great weekend, and as you do, say with me, “I am expecting to walk victoriously in the face of the attacks of the enemy today because he’s been defeated and disarmed and cannot touch me!”      (ah… I bet that felt good!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Make It Personal!

I was standing on the back patio a few minutes ago on this cold and wet morning here in central North Carolina, watching the dog run through his morning routine around the yard, when I caught myself turning and looking up at the empty dining room window.  At that moment I realized just how lonely I was feeling since my wife’s passing.  I began to recall how many times I would look up into that particular window on days like this when it was too damp to take Piper outside with us and smile while I observed her sitting there in her red wheelchair seemingly enjoying the view of our spacious yard.

I also realized that even though she was completely disabled and unable to communicate verbally, that her very presence still gave me a great sense of calm and confidence!  The picture of her in that chair also reminded me of the long and sometimes difficult journey that, for some reason, that expensive but multi-functional candy-apple red chair seemed to represent!  As I turned my gaze back to the dog now sniffing the wet leaves and mud under the large Tulip Poplar tree in the northwest corner of our property, I thought about something I had heard last night.

When I was getting ready for bed the previous evening, I was listening to a well-known evangelist that Piper and I have always respected when he stated that the Lord had recently given him a mandate to go back to teaching the very basics of faith.  When he said that something clicked inside of me and I turned to my 71-pound lap dog who was all cuddled up on my bed with his head resting comfortably on my pillow… and declared, “that happened to me too!”

I know that I’ve told parts of this story before, but some of it is worth repeating today.  A couple of years after our return home from Bible College and our three year stay in Oklahoma, I came to the revelation that something was amiss!  Actually, to put it so mildly is quite the understatement.  At that point it seemed like everything around me was spinning wildly.

By then, Piper and I were deep into the medical investigation of her declining health situation, I had finally quit my secular, outside-the-home job as my wife could not be left alone anymore and we both knew without a doubt that I was the one to care for her, and it seemed like we were getting all kinds of unsolicited and many times questionable “advice” from almost everyone we came into contact with! 

It was at this point in prayer one morning, that I clearly heard that old familiar voice of the Lord inside of me telling me that it was important for us to develop a new network of family and friends, as many parts of the old one that we formally participated in and trusted had changed or could not be depended on anymore.  And as I began to think about His directions to me, it was pretty evident who was to be included in that new network from the positive interactions with some friends both old and new, cousins and others who seemed to come out of the woodwork in order to be a blessing to us.

Along with that part of the equation, I also found myself questioning almost everything that I had been taught at church over the years, in Bible School and the tenants of my faith that I thought that Piper and I always believed in and actively stood for.  Over the next few years it wasn’t too surprising to me that I discovered in my search for the real truth, that I STILL believed pretty much everything I had before Piper was stricken.  The main difference now though, was that I finally began to personalize it!  I understood that I/we had to take ownership of what we were believing for and like I’ve said many times before, grow and then protect our faith.

Throughout this time, we still had well-meaning people sharing what they wholeheartedly believed we had to do, both spiritually and physically to insure Piper’s well-being.  In the midst of all this, I ascertained pretty quickly that for many of these folks, their advice tended to fall into the “my way or the highway” category!  That is when favorite scriptures of both Piper’s and mine like Joshua 1:9 came into play in our situation.  In Joshua’s desperate time of need in the beginning stages of his leadership of the Israelite nation, the Lord told him… as I believe He told me, “I've commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the LORD your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.” (CEV)

The strong, brave and not be discouraged parts of that verse is what continued to minister to me the most in the ensuing years… right through and including today! 

As life progressed, I learned that it takes great trust in the Lord and the truth of His Word to be strong and brave and not yield to the pressure of others while refusing to be discouraged at their responses to our actions of faith.  To stand on your own two feet in and on what YOU believe to be the truth and the God-given path that YOU are to follow isn’t always easy, but the results are worth the effort!

I’ll share more on this subject in future posts, but as for today, I wholeheartedly encourage you to study and find out what are the truths of God’s Word that YOU really believe and choose to stand on.  Then when the difficult tests of life come… and they do come to all of us… your ability to come out on top will prevail!  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting my personal stand on God’s Word to put me over the top of any difficulty that should arise in my life today!”

Monday, November 12, 2018

What's Inside?

I was thinking the other morning that my wife never lost her sense of humor throughout her long illness that resulted in her passing onto glory about two months ago.  If someone asked me to characterize Piper, I would say without any hesitation that it was her joyful countenance, her engaging smile, that special gleam in her eyes and of course, her encouraging words.

I had a few folks in the early stages of our journey warn me that with this disease, it would not be unusual for her demeanor to change at any time and turn violent.  These individuals based their concerns on family or friends who had or had heard of a loving parent or spouse who suddenly struck out at a caregiver.  I have to confess that I probably wasn’t very sensitive to these concerned remarks as each time I heard similar comments I would automatically burst out laughing.  Once I got ahold of myself, I always tried to backtrack and calmly declare that they definitely didn’t know my wife!

I would go on to explain that after being together since high school, that I had a pretty good idea of what was inside of her!  I had an intimate knowledge of the amount of God’s Word that she absorbed on a daily basis, of her history of faith stands during difficult times and of her well-honed default mechanisms of joy that seemed to click on whenever fear, doubt or unbelief attempted to invade her or our family’s life. 

It wasn’t like I was trying to be a smart aleck or anything like that… it’s just that I KNEW what made my wife tick and the fear that might cause her to react in a violent behavior had absolutely no place in her life!  (Although I do recall the time very early in our marriage, when she threw a spatula at me across the kitchen… but I think I deserved that one… and we did have a pretty good laugh afterwards… especially since I had to clean up the pancake batter that was all over the floor!)

A few examples of her response of joy would be when I received a couple of calls from the local police department when Piper got lost in Oklahoma and again when back in California.  While in Oklahoma one afternoon, she dropped me off to work and then went to drive back home.  I got a little concerned when she didn’t call me to let me know that she had gotten home safely.  Instead, after a prolonged time I received a call at work from a not-too-happy female officer of the Broken Arrow police department saying that they had Piper in a neighborhood that I was not too familiar with.

It turns out that Piper took a wrong turn on the way home and got lost, so she stopped and knocked on someone’s door who immediately freaked out and called the police!  Well, I got a ride from a wonderful Christian coworker at the store I was working at and as we drove into the neighborhood, we spotted a police car, a fire truck, a fire rescue vehicle and an ambulance surrounding Piper and our little blue Mazda.  When I jogged up to the car with concern written all over my face, Piper simply sat there with a cute and carefree smile on her face!

The incident in Santa Rosa was somewhat similar except that Piper went out to chase the dog who had run out the front door when her Mom came over to pick her up for a church prayer meeting while I was at work in a Home Depot store about an hour away.  To make a long and complicated story short, while out chasing the dog, Piper got lost again but had the presence of mind to flag down a passing police car. 

So… you guessed it.  I got another call from a not-too-happy policeman who kept wanting to take her to the hospital to which I kept explaining her situation and letting him know that I would soon be on the scene.  (By then I was already on the way home as I had previously received another call from a neighbor who had caught our dog!)  Well, he baulked at my requests and to my dismay, called an ambulance.  When I finally got to the hospital, I had to pay our $150.00 co-pay before I was allowed into the examination room. 

As I walked into the room, there was my wife sitting on the edge of the bed, with that same cute and carefree smile on her face!  As it happened, the two nurses in the room with her were also smiling and explained (in agreement with me) that there was really nothing they could do as she was already under our doctor’s care and that her behavior was inline with the effects of the encroaching disease.  The supervising nurse was also kind enough to talk to the admissions desk and get them to remove the charge from my debit card!

Piper’s expressions and quiet displays of inner joy never left her up and through the final hours of her life as I sat at her side and looked deeply into her beautiful brown eyes.  In those final moments I could still see the light and the life that emanated from her expectancy in the truth of God’s Word working in, for and through her.  It was that unshakable trust in Him throughout her 65 years of life that ignited the joy that just seemed to ooze from her very being.

In speaking of Jesus, the Apostle John, who was known as the Apostle of love, tells us that “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (KJV)  Piper’s heart and constant outward appearances of JOY was founded on and never wavered from the light and life of Jesus.  Even after she lost her ability to speak, Piper still managed to smile at those who loved on her.  So yeah… what do I think of when I think of my wonderful wife?  First and foremost, it was her unbounded JOY in the midst of just about any situation that she faced in life!  And that is another part of her legacy that I endeavor to continue through my life.

Have a great and joyful week, and as you do, say along with me… “I am expecting to let His joy shine through my life today!”

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Precious in His Sight

I may have mentioned this before in recent blog posts, but I’ve probably thought and read about heaven more over these last two months than I did in the previous fifty-some years of my Christian walk!  I would imagine that my wife’s new residence there has had something to do with this phenomenon…

Both Piper and I were never ones to dwell a lot on our heavenly futures.  While some around us tended to comment about how they couldn’t wait for Jesus to come back and take us home when times got tough, we tended to look with excitement at God’s Word and at what it declared that Jesus had provided for us here on this earth, to get us through the difficulties in great victory!  I think we’ve just always been more in tune to accomplishing the current activities He called us to right now, then the end times.  But that said… with Piper’s home-going, I’ve had an uncanny desire to find out what it is like up there, to imagine what she is doing and to picture her rejoicing in the throne room of God. 

I’ve been enamored lately with a verse that I recently read in Psalm 116:15 were it is written: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.” (God’s Word ©)  This verse continues to give me great joy and peace as I imagine the welcoming committee that met Piper as she came through the gates of heaven a couple of months ago, and now of the daily fellowship, worship and rejoicing that she is doing with family members, biblical characters that we are all familiar with from the stories in our Bibles, and a whole bunch of old and new friends! 

On a hunch this morning I looked up the original Hebrew definition for the word translated “Precious” at the beginning of this verse.  All three of the different Hebrew/Greek dictionaries that I looked in pretty much agreed that the writer was trying to convey the ideas of something “prized, rare, costly like precious stones or jewels, beloved and of great price.” (Strong’s Brown-Driver-Briggs/Thayer’s)  All of those words tended to give me a picture in my mind’s eye of the look on the Lord’s face as He greeted and hugged a strong, healthy and vibrant Piper Kaye.

A few of those definitions also got me to thinking about all the various costs that we incurred since those first tests back in 2007.  I did some rough calculations a couple of years ago and figured that at that time we had already spent, out-of-pocket, more than 40K on Piper’s medical needs alone.  And these last two years were much more demanding than the previous ones… so I’m sure that it has well surpassed that number. Then if I was to add all the other expenses indirectly associated with her care like moving across country to be nearer to our kids, trading in expensive cars for a lot less than they were worth so that could haul her new wheelchair around, special clothes to meet her ever-changing needs… and the list of incidentals goes on and on!

So, I guess I whole-heartedly agree with the Psalmist in that Piper, who is undoubtedly one of God’s “faithful ones” was and continues to be quite valuable, costly, prized and honored.  And you know, when she was here in my care, there was never any expenditure that I questioned.  Whatever she needed, she got, no matter the cost. For we knew from day one beginning with that special prayer we prayed as we held hands late at night after receiving the first negative report on her initial tests results while in Oklahoma back in 2007, that our “God shall supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 KJV)  And He did!

Today as I write this, we have no debt and along the way we never had to borrow any money to pay for any of her medical expenses.  Isn’t God Good!  I think much of this comes down to the fact of being God-minded when you enter into a journey like the one Piper and I went through… and I still find myself involved with by entering into the next chapter of His plans and purposes for my life.

As many of you know, we focused our attention on Him at the very beginning and never allowed ourselves to be swayed off the mark by the well-meaning comments, suggestions or even negative remarks from other’s… and what more can I say?  It worked for us and it can work for you as well.  WHY? Because as the Word declares, YOU are precious in His sight!

Think on that thought for a few moments right now… YOU ARE PRECIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD ALMIGHTY… YES YOU!  And He has given us the tools that we need to be successful in everything we come across in life within the very pages of His book, the Bible.  Remember those aren’t just words printed on a page, they are the very life and power of God speaking to you and they are for you to put into work in the situations you encounter on a daily basis! (See: John 1:1-5)

So yeah… back to my original point.  I do think a lot more about heaven now and along with it, I think about how precious we all are in God’s sight… be it there rejoicing in glory or working through a tough situation here on the earth.  I believe that His view of us is the same whether we are there in His presence or down here among men.  It pleases me very much to think of my Piper totally set free from every life-stealing effect of Alzheimer’s and of her jumping, laughing and dancing with the Lord… But I also have peace about the special plans and purposes that He has for me… and YOU right here, right now!

Have a great weekend, and as you do, take a moment or two to think about how precious you are in the sight of the Lord, then declare with me… “I am expecting to experience the good pleasure of the Lord today!”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Piper's Words...

I’ve was talking to a wonderful neighbor of ours a couple of afternoons ago when she brought Fiver and I some homemade beef and vegetable soup and three rather large slices of her fresh cornbread.  She was the first of the neighbors that came over to introduce herself to Piper and I after we moved in three years ago and made a regular point to come over to sit and talk with Piper and on occasion, take the dog for a walk!

When she came by the other day we got to talking about her family.  I had given her Piper’s fancy multi-faceted, totally adjustable and reclining wheelchair to try with her 90 something year old retired minister father who lives in Georgia with her sister.  So, while she gave me a report on how that was going, she also spoke of her deceased mother who she termed as the real “glue” in their family.

Well that, of course, got me to thinking about Piper and I mentioned how I believe that Piper definitely played that role in our immediate family as well as with her extended one.  She was often times the initiator of laughter and the purveyor of a joyful atmosphere.  During family gatherings she had a way to calm a testy comment or an uncomfortable and/or depressing room with a flash of that contagious smile of hers, her quick wit or with a scripture based encouraging word.  She also had the amazing talent to calmly multitask through a variety of events happening all at the same time.  Her ability to perform all these giftings was sorely evident and missed as the effects of the Alzheimer’s progressed in her.

I came across an interesting notation in that old NASB Bible of Piper’s that I discovered the other day.  It was a definition of “Depression” that she must have written down at a church service long ago.  She penned that “Depression is a spirit of grief – grieving about the fear of losing something.”  This was followed by a short paragraph explaining some of the inside and outside emotions that are felt or expressed by individuals dealing with depression.

As I sat in the La-Z-Boy chair in the living room reading from the page in the back of her Bible, I suddenly felt a light go on in my head.  Her explanation perfectly summed up many of the responses we came into contact with from my wife’s troubling news after we returned home from Bible School and the eleven years since then.  It also was a testimony of the power of faith in God’s Word when it comes to not being moved by the physical symptoms of disease that present themselves.

I was thinking out loud yesterday (I do this a lot lately… and get the strangest looks from the dog!) that although the conclusion of our stand of faith may not have resulted in the exact results we were hoping for*, it was our total focus on God and His Word that kept us strong, kept us going forward to make the right decisions that needed to be made on a regular basis, kept us joyfully expectant of God’s best and probably most of all… gave me the ability to get up each morning with a smile and the physical and emotional zeal to push on even when I was WAY beyond exhaustion!  Because of my dependence on Him, my promise to her that I would take care of her, in our home, to the very end… NEVER WAINED!

So once again, Piper is still talking to me in her physical absence with notes written in the back of her Bible in the early 1990’s!  While others may have given in to the effects of grief at a very early stage of her sickness and gradually became more sullen and angry, while withdrawing away from contact with us, we chose to cast our lot in with the truth, joy and expectation of God’s Word instead of what our physical eyes may have been seeing at any given time.

When you think about it… We really didn’t have much choice on the matter.  We HAD to move forward, we had a job to accomplish and the ONLY way I saw to do it was with an unmovable trust in Papa God and the faithfulness of His Word…  Kinda like I believe the Lord was speaking personally to my heart this morning as I read where it is written in Revelation 21:5, “Then the one who sits on the throne said, "And now I make all things new (Jim)!" He also said to me, "Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted." (GNB)  Well… We trusted Him and His Words were proven true!

Like I said, My Piper is gone… but she continues to speak to me!  Have a great rest of the week.  I’m off to the dentist and a deep clean, whoopee!  But I’ll be sure to say… and you could say with me as well… “I am expecting God’s TRUE and TRUSTED Words that I am standing on today, to come into evidence in my life!”

*The truth be known… we really did receive the EXACT results we were believing for as Piper is totally healed and whole today, completely set free from any and all the complications of Alzheimer’s and is rejoicing in glory with Jesus!  What more could I have asked for?

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Books of Memories

After Piper and I purchased our home out here in North Carolina and moved in, I had high hopes and plans for the corner front room that we had decided to turn into our study.  The room belonged to the young son of the former owners and they had added some accents to the room that I liked and decided to keep.  The walls were a bright blue with white trim.  In one corner they painted on a blackboard so the boy could draw or write notes and the whole room seemed to come together with a bright multicolored fan light.

Since the long window in the room was framed in white, I added floor to ceiling white bookshelves on either side and then moved in my desk and file cabinets.  I decorated the walls with framed pictures of various ministry events, vacations Piper and I took, and of course my favorite 11X14 formal outdoor portrait I had taken of my fiancĂ© two months before our wedding.  I also added a couple of my college diplomas, and various plaques we had received over the years from our service with different youth groups as-well-as our first-place plaque from a fun car rally we had participated in at college.  I was also able to display my fledgling camera collection of almost all the cameras I have owned since high school.

With the ever-expanding role that I had to take with Piper’s care though, I hardly ever got to spend much time in the room, except for a few opportunities when I brought Piper in and read to her during the cold winter months.  Since I had put our old leather loveseat in the room, it seemed to have a warm and cozy feel to it.  My ultimate plan was to move our TV from the living room into the study and upgrade to a 55” flat screen for the home entertainment system there.

Now that I am alone in the house (save for Fiver our Australian Shepherd mix), I have had more occasion to do things in the room.  Sometimes I just go in and sit quietly in the desk chair and stare at the walls as I reminisce about the special events in our lives that are represented by the pictures and plaques.  Yesterday morning I placed my laptop on the desk, plugged in the external speakers, sat on the couch and proceeded to participate in the live-stream service from our home church in Oklahoma.

While sitting there, I leaned over at one point during the sermon to grab one of my 50 plus Bible translations off the shelves next to me.  As I was deciding which one to use, my eyes fell upon two of Piper’s old Bibles.  The first was a 1974 paperback youth version of the new-at-the-time illustrated Living Bible entitled “The Way” given to her a year before we were married by one of the women’s circles at her Baptist Church.  That instantly brought back A LOT of good memories as it was the “hot” translation for us young people at the time!  I had gotten a copy for myself and the two of us practically NEVER left home without them!  I was surprised at what good shape Piper’s copy was in!  The last time I saw mine it was looking pretty worn out!

For a while there, it seemed like Piper’s Bible’s tended to have a rough life!  For years she liked to set her Bible down on the butcher block coffee table we bought with some financial gifts we had received from our wedding.  That table was one of our prized possessions (and one of the most expensive for many years!) and it still graces our living room today!  The only problem with her leaving the book on the table was that the first two Shelties we had LOVED to eat them!  One was totally destroyed while the new one purchased to replace it had the cover and a few pages chewed before Piper took the hint and stored her Bible on a higher location!

The book I found yesterday was the third one that replaced the chewed cover book!  I had bought her a smaller sized, blue NASB leather bond Bible sometime in the early 1990’s for Christmas but as it turns out, she wasn’t too happy with the color, so we exchanged it for the burgundy model that was on the shelf in the study.  This one wasn’t chewed over the years, but it does show A LOT of wear and tear from hours and hours of usage!   She had switched over to a King James Rhema Study Bible that we all purchased for her around 2001 and this Bible was delegated to special study times.

I enjoyed looking through the pages of the book while sitting there on the couch.  So much history!  She loved to underline favorite verses and write notes in the margins.  And while I always carried a note book with me when attending church services, Piper tended to use whatever she could find from the church bulletin, to scraps of paper in her purse or the back and front pages of her Bible… occasionally she would quietly lean over me and gently rip out a sheet of paper from my notebook and then give me that killer smile of hers.  What could I say, I could NEVER resist that smile!

Anyway… I think I am beginning to ramble.  One of the lessons I learned from looking through her Bibles though, was the love and respect we both have had for our personal Bibles.  They’ve always been like a good friend to us!  As I read her notations, it was like I was reading her!  Like I have said many times, the Word of God and Piper were intermixed so closely that when you looked at her you saw God’s Word speaking through her.

Psalm 119:9 seems to sum up Piper’s life to a tee when the Psalmist declared “How can a young person keep his life pure? He can do it by holding on to your word.” (God’s Word ©) That was my wife… full of life, full of God and full of Godly expectation that she freely passed on to others just by walking into the room!  That’s a part of her legacy that I want to continue!

Have a great week.  Remember to get out and vote here in the USA, and when you think about it, say with me: “I am expecting to let the life of God flow through me today!”