Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking the barrier

7:18 p.m. Today's project was to attend my dad Oliver Gray's memorial service at the National Veterans' Cemetery. The entire family was there. Many of his grandchildren and both my sister and I spoke. Each one brought out the aspects of their grandpa's conversations and guidance that meant the most to them. It was evident that my father had so much delight in his grandsons and great-grandsons! My sister Dona shared about my dad being part of  the Greatest Generation. Our Uncle Pat, Daddy's youngest brother and pastor of a church in Barstow, shared a few memories and read a beautiful poem to us.

Here are the remarks I made to conclude our service, and point our family to Christ:

                                                                "Breaking the Barrier"

"One morning this week, I was in the kitchen about 7:00. I automatically shut the door connecting the kitchen and the dining room out of sheer preventive habit, even though there was no reason to block the exit. Our mischievous toddler Clark, the reason for the barrier, wasn't even up yet!! Our minds tend to accept both real and perceived barriers, don't they?

In 1947, Daddy's biggest hero Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier, taking off from Muroc Field over the Mojave Desert, a B-29 bomber carrying him in an X-11 experimental plane attached underneath. Dozens of pilots had lost their lives in the attempt. (I knew much about airplane science because Daddy spent several hours with me weekly as a junior high girl teaching me the science of flight out on our patio in Redlands. Ailerons, lift... Maybe I was the son he never had). Back to Chuck Yeager!

At 761 mph, the shuddering and shock waves in the plane gave way to a sea of glass as Yeager reach Mach 1.07, breaking the unbreakable barrier. In the 50's, Dona and I would get so excited as sonic booms shook the house and rattled the sliding glass door. Then came the BOOM! Great stuff!

But a stronger, more impenetrable barrier was crossed that day over the desert, a barrier that challenges us all-- the belief barrier. Daddy crossed that barrier over 33 years ago as I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord in the kitchen of son Sean's and my tiny apartment. That's a barrier we all must cross, to have faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ as Daddy did. 

Though he rarely got to church, Daddy read all of Billy Graham's books and supported the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He always packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, or, in later years, gave me a check and a box to fill and deliver to church in his name. His latest reads now that he knew he was approaching death were Billy Graham's Nearing Home (of which he insisted on buying me a copy); and Anne Graham Lotz' Heaven: My Father's House.

Now Daddy has crossed the ultimate barrier, from death to life, the same barrier that my Steve crossed in January--from earth to heaven. Not at the mere speed of sound, but at the speed of Light, to JESUS, the Light of the World."

Thank you for being here today. 


Sunday, September 15, 2013

In every transition

5:30 a.m. Today's project is to make transitions in ministry and in family life.

After many years focusing on Women's Ministry at church, serving in leadership at Bible studies, retreats, leading specialized ministries at both Harvest Christian Fellowship and my current church, Calvary  Chapel Moreno Valley, I will return to my "first love" of  service to Jesus, teaching children at 3rd service Children's Church.  That is the first ministry I was ever involved in when I became a new believer in 1980. It was such an honor to be asked to be a Sunday School helper for my mentor Bonnie York's kindergarten class! I'd been a helper in the first Vacation Bible School my young son had attended the summer before. Knowing I'd been called to teach women, Bonnie took me under her wing and I became her substitute teacher at the Harvest morning women's Bible study, and later taught it. but I never lost touch with teaching God's word to children, because I spent 8 years teaching  in Christian schools. 2 Timothy 4:2 exhorts,

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season."

If The Lord, doesn't call His church up to heaven in the coming year, I intend to teach my Summer Bible  Study in a friend's home, and will be actively participating in studies at church. After Jesus and my family, my dearest love is to study and apply the word of God. Our Savior Himself said, when giving His disciples and followers the right priorities, in Luke 14:26-27,

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and yes, his own life, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does no t bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

11:50 p.m. Speaking of parents and family, another, sadder transition came this evening. After a day of my very ill, but still ambulatory father not answering his phone or my daughter Heidi's knocks at the door, I went to his house in Redlands, unlocked the door, looked down the hallway and saw him seated, stretched out in his walker, both feet on the floor, with his upper body leaned back. Upon close examination, although the Lord told me he was dead, I saw his head rolled over to the side like a baby sleeping crooked, with a calm expression on his face. Daddy was at peace.

"My" plan had been to place him in a skilled nursing facility, with his doctor's approval and signature, after his appointment next Tuesday, to be cared for, cleaned up,  dressed, and let us all come to say goodbye. I had already seen an attorney to set up a conservatorship, because my dad had not  changed his clothes in a month, kept his doctor appointments, nor had he paid to fix the plumbing that was in deplorable, unsafe condition. But Daddy beat us to the punch, escaping his earthly shell and all difficulties. The next few days of making arrangements will be hard, but no harder than watching the morticians roll his wrapped, sheeted body out to the mortuary van.

At each transition, whether exciting, like my quest for directorship with Mary Kay, or concerning, like the recurring tennis elbow/arm that makes even this light typing painful, I need to look up, not around! I'll close with Psalm 121:1-2,7-8.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
The LORD shall preserve  you
    From all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
He shall preserve your
   going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and forevermore."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not surprised

8:11 p.m. Today's project was to meet a plumber at my dad's house in Redlands. I normally go over there one afternoon each week to visit with him, and get his groceries for the week at the local supermarket. He hasn't been up to getting in the car and going with me in the last few months. In fact, he's lost a drastic amount of weight, stopped shaving regularly, and has really let his house go. Daddy has late-stage bladder cancer, but has no pain. "If he did," his doctor told me, "he wouldn't be avoiding coming in for his appointments!" My dad refused to go into the doctor's office a month ago, so I went in his place.  Exodus 20:12 commands us,

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you."

May I say that this day that I spent with Daddy has been a VERY long one! Today, a plumber was coming to his house to fix the problems he found last week. After a bruising resistance last week, where he finally gave in and let an inspection take place, my sister and I got I'm to agree to have a plumber actually fix the crack in his septic system's pipe. This problem began with a backed- up kitchen sink which he said he'd get a plumber out to look at, back in June. Now his whole system is  messed up after he repeatedly said, "Dana, I'll take care of it." I even printed him a list of local plumbers from the referral service Angie's List, to no avail. Many Bible study sisters, family members and friends have been praying regularly for him to get the help he needs ( which he easily can afford). It's become an unsanitary situation now, affecting both bathrooms too.

I got up at 5:30 and went about my devotional reading as always with Jesus Calling. The last sentence was a great encouragement, for it said, "Together we will push back the darkness, for I am the Light of the world."  Then I had to laugh at the headlining verse of my Spurgeon's Morning &Evening September 4th reading, Jesus' assurance of cleansing to the leper:

"I will; be thou clean."

Getting my day's home clean once again was the task for my day, one which he'd agreed to.

Despite the prayers, the evidence of cracked pipes, and my reasoning with him, no repairs were made, accusations were hurled at me, and I just decided to pay the plumb for the work he'd attempted to do, brought my dad his mail, and then came home, discouraged but not surprised.

I am not sure what my sister and my next steps will be. But I do know that Jesus Himself has promised to light the way, and if He can instantly heal a leper, He can cause my dad to function by reason, not suspicion.

By the grace of God I was able to finish writing my last Bible study of the summer on 2 Samuel 24, and will enjoy much pray coverage and encouragement from my sisters in Christ tomorrow.

God is so good!