Monthly Archives: September 2011

“Because I said so!”

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Have you ever been around a child that constantly asks “Why?”  After a short amount of time you quickly want to blanket each of the child’s answers with the word “BECAUSE!” and move on. It can be exhausting. When I was growing up I didn’t really question my mom or dad’s judgement (well, not out loud anyway) because the frequent answer from The Colonel was “Because I said so.” To be quite honest that doesn’t really leave much wiggle room for a rebuttal.

I know many of you have read The Colonel Chronicles and you have already heard me describe July 4th weekend for us this year. The more I think about that these days the more I am just convinced that it was a pure miracle from God that The Colonel was able to travel that weekend. Not only did he get to go to the beach and have a good time with his family but, we were even able to make it home for grilled steaks at the house of some of our favorite people on earth! 

As I am reading through my Dad’s devotion book I am paying close attention to the things he hilighted. Yes, it is yellow. That man did love a yellow hilighter. It gives us some insight on what was going on in his head at the time. The entry on July 8th (just a few days after our miracle trip to the beach and the yummy grilled steaks) has this hilighted:

“Yet realize that God has permitted your hardship for a reason – it isn’t random, and God isn’t being unkind.   Though God doesn’t cause all of your troubles, he allows them so you’ll trust him more and discover his abundant life.  God uses everything that comes into your life for good.   So when you cry out to him for wisdom, expect him to answer.   And even if he doesn’t give you understanding immediately, be confident that he has an important reason for all he allows.  

I am going to assume that The Colonel was wondering “why”. I bet he thought about that and prayed about that.

I am certainly moving through the good ol’ stages of grief. But, I have wondered this week, “Why?” I have not been angry or yelled it out (but God would understand it if I did and wouldn’t be mad about it)  but I have just wondered what God’s plan is through all of this. Isn’t is possible that God could accomplish His sovereign plan and still let my Daddy be here? Doesn’t He know how badly our hearts are hurting?  And the answer to all of that is….YES. Yes, yes, yes.

I was in the just the right place and time to catch part of a sermon on the radio last night. The pastor was talking about the storms of life. He said that we could say“I don’t understand it. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. BUT, God, leave me here in this storm, in this dark place, in these rough waters until you have accomplished your ultimate perfect plan.”  Whew – that is big. I made that my prayer. My Mom has said all along, “Lord please don’t waste our grief  and pain.”

God is gently laying His hand on my shoulder and saying  “Because I said so.”  Ok, Lord, I understand that part and I trust You completely. 

“Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” Psalm 71:19-21

The Future of COLONEL CHRONICLES?

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I have had many people ask me to continue writing The Colonel Chronicles. What I thought was going to be a simple way for me to notify friends, family, my coworkers and Dad’s coworkers of his weekly progress with his strong fight with terminal pancreatic cancer has turned into something else. To be completely honest, I am not sure what God has planned for these writings.  Many of you have made suggestions on the next step for The Colonel Chronicles. I have listened to every one of them. I am praying about this and will keep writing as long as the Lord grants it. I certainly have plenty to share when it comes to writing about my heavenly father, my earthly father, and my amazing family! I have also been asked to give the manuscript of my “speech” at the funeral. It is attached to this email.
 
My initial thought is to wonder why you, the reader, is interested in what I have to say. I know why you were interested when The Colonel Chronicles began. But, The Colonel is now living his final chapter in this story with no last page. He is worshipping Jesus for eternity! I can’t give you daily updates on his health because it is now perfect.
 
But, the journey here does continue and needless to say, The Colonel’s legacy lives on in many of us and in awesome ways. He has taught us things, made us laugh, challenged us to think, encouraged us to solve problems, made us feel special, and pointed us to the cross.
 
I have some reflections over the past few weeks that are rolling around in my head.
 
* The Colonel really was who I thought he was. I am the first born – the baby girl – the cause of that first “Daddy twinkle” in his eye (and I am fully aware that the twinkle became a bright beaming blinding light when the son, the baby boy, finally made it to the world – I will just settle for a twinkle :o) So, you would expect that my views of my Daddy made him out to be a really awesome guy. I certainly don’t worship him or make him an idol. But, he really was a good Daddy, caregiver, teacher, and friend to me. But, one of the things that has been solidified for me over the past few weeks is that he was that way everywhere he went. One of the joys for me has been to hear from his work associates throughout the great state of South Carolina and across the nation regularly that tell me what they thought of The Colonel. It matches. I hear from his neighbors, his church friends, his high school buddies, etc. The Colonel really was who I thought he was. That is kind of rare.
 
* He was at total peace.   I often wondered over the course of his illness what was swirling around in his thought bubbles. He sure had plenty of medical knowledge in his head to reaffirm the seriousness of a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He never seemed scared or angry to me. I am sure, being human, that had entertained those thoughts briefly. As many of you know, I found a small yellow post it note (his work colleagues can appreciate that it was on his favorite office supply) on his small chest at the foot of my parent’s bed. This is the place where he put his keys, wallet, phones (another joke of how many blasted phones and beepers he carried) ,etc. I picked up this small piece of paper and in his handwriting it said “Everything happens for a reason and it is all part of God’s plan.”  I would sure love to know the date he wrote that. How in this world can one tiny, yellow sticky bring such comfort to my Mom, brother, and I? God is just so good! All glory to Him!
 
* We are going to be just fine.  I said to a friend of mine just yesterday “I thought it wouldn’t hurt this bad by now.” She smiled and said “Um, it has just been 3 weeks.” Oh yeah. I guess I didn’t know that my heart could hurt like this. But, in the midst of the tears and deep sorrow over missing him I know that we, as a family, are going to be just fine. The Colonel taught us skills to live and instilled in us the deep need for each other. Our extended family, our friends, his work people, our neighbors, their sunday school class, our church families, my work people, Thom’s buddies, Mom’s girlfriends, ….the list goes on.  The way you have ministered to us makes me speechless. With your amazing support and love, we are going to be just fine.
 
Dad was reading the devotion book, Moments of Peace in the Presence of God. Each day has a reading for morning and evening. On August 11th (the day Dad met Jesus) the evening devotion says this:
 
“The wonderful thing about God is that He is always accessible and willing to receive you. He will show you what you need to do and comfort your aching heart. Has discouragement assailed you? Are your eyes weak from crying and your heart tender and grieved? God will find a way to encourage you and admonish you not to give up. So turn to Him – becuase even at this moment, He is listening for your call.”
 
I certainly don’t know the things that are troubling you today. This is a hard world and days can be difficult. But, I do know for a fact that God is listening and waiting for you to turn to Him. Maybe you don’t know how to talk to Him. It isnt anything formal. Just start talking. He is listening and anxious to hear your words. Are you angry? Are you hurt? Are you tired? Are you confused? Yep, He understands it all.
 
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1 If you get a chance today, read all of Psalm 46. Wow! As always, if there are things that you would like for me to pray about or if you want to talk just email me.
 
Well, it is time to pull out the orange shirt and fly the Tiger flags on the car. There is a faint roar of a Tiger and players are getting ready to tie up those cleats and hit the field. It is an emotional day for me. I am going to sit in SEAT #1 today. It is sure to be wonderful and terribly hard all at the same time. Smiling and crying. Oh well – all of these “firsts” are hard. It would be nice if we win. But, most of all, I am looking forward to sitting in The Colonel’s spot. There is something very comfortable to me about that. The roar in Death Valley might not be quite as loud today.

My words at Dad’s funeral

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For as much as The Colonel has taught me I have realized as I have gotten older that there are things that he didn’t teach me.  

1)    He didn’t teach me that you could sit through a church service and not check off each item on the bulletin as it occurred. You see, my Dad would pull out his military issued black and silver click pen in every service and check each hymn as it was sung and prayer as it was spoken. At the end, he would fold it long ways and slide it in the front of his Bible.

2)    He didn’t teach me that you could do your taxes before April 15th.  My Dad did our taxes every year. He would begin to gather forms and data for the taxes around the 10th.  He would work all weekend prior to the 15th. He would stay up all night and always have an envelope to hand to my Mom. Her job was to get it mailed at the last minute on the day of the 15th.  In all seriousness, I went into this adult world having no idea that taxes could be done in January if that  was  your desire. I had certainly never seen it done that way before.

3)    He didn’t teach me that there were people who had never seen theGrand Canyon.  My Dad loved adventure and travel. Because of our Air Force lifestyle we would take weekend trips to see things that people go a lifetime dreaming about. When I went to college 3,000 miles away from home I discovered that my Dad showed us beautiful things in this country and in this world.

4)    My Dad did not teach me that it was not normal to put ketchup on your baked potato. To this day people give me a strange look when I put ketchup on my baked potato. But, this is how he and I have always done it.

 We would be here all day if I were to discuss all of the things that the Colonel did teach me. If I were going to hit some high points of these lessons I could pull out a few.

(Keep in mind that Thom and I have joked for years that Dad’s lectures had reference numbers. We kind of knew which one was coming..)

 RHIP – Rank Has Its Privileges. If Thom or I were sitting in his chair with the tv remote and we walked into the room…you guessed it. That is one time he had no problem pulling rank.

 He taught me that you never talked back to your parents. EVER. I can literally say that I did this once. ONCE. I was in the 3rd grade. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was watching tv.  My Dad told me that I needed to turn off the tv and go study for my social studies test. I said “Why don’t you mind your own business?” We will stop this story here but, my Mom says that to this very day she doesn’t know what happened in that bedroom. Needless to say, I have blocked it out myself. It never did happen again.

  • He taught me to study hard and learn new things.
  • To never pass up an opportunity (especially if it involved a bathroom break)
  • He taught me to love family deeply, take care of them, and to respect my mother. My Dad adored my mother. He was a perfect example of how a man should love and respect a woman.
  • He taught us to hug each other and say I love you. And he did this by example.
  • He taught me about football, reading maps, guns, driving a stick shift, and …

 My Dad was born on Easter Sunday and attended his last service in this very room on Easter Sunday of this year. He ushered in his spot in the balcony and performed all of his church duties until that time. He was physically suffering with the side effects from what we thought was Shingles. Little did we know that it was something far more serious in the medical world. But, as with everything else The Colonel went through in life, he handled this 13 week fight with grace, love, dignity, and peace. From the day he was diagnosed to the end he would say please and thank you. He would apologize for not being able to do something for himself. He would compliment us for a job well done. He would say a powerful blessing over our food on nights he had the strength to speak. He prayed for that miracle we were all hoping for but, seemed to be at total peace with the circumstances that surrounded him.

We never discussed how he was feeling. Most of you that know him know that he was an incredibly private man. I do believe that my mom gave him the greatest gift in the world. She set aside her desire to talk about how he was feeling and never asked. I know that he appreciated that honor more than she will ever know.

 My family does not hate cancer. We just simply miss our Dad, husband, brother in law, uncle, cousin, coworker and friend.

 This past Monday morning I got up early with a strong cup of coffee and went to our back porch and sat down with my Dad’s Bible. Years of memories flooded me as I turned the pages. I flipped through his Sunday school book and one of the last lessons he highlighted was entitled “Live Up To The Gospel”.  I would like to read you the four things he had highlighted in this lesson.

  • Some of the most gratifying words we can hear are that someone has been watching us and has been positively influenced by our example.
  • Because of the exalted status of Jesus, we are to confess His lordship and live under it.
  • Philippians 2:5 “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.”
  • We need to be challenged to live a life worthy of the gospel so the example we set will aid in spreading the good news.

 As I read these thoughts a few things have made a great impact on me.

1)    My Dad wanted to be a positive influence for us all. I have listened to every word that each person said to us about my dad’s reputation and work ethic. His kindness and caring. His love and concern. I am forever grateful that the characteristics that I saw in my father match the characteristics that his friends and coworkers saw in him as well. I think this speaks volumes about his character.

2)    The Colonel wanted people to see Jesus in him. I believe that we all did. It is no doubt to me that that was his intention was to spread the name of Jesus through his conduct, his attitude and priorities.

3)    Lastly, he wanted to spread the good news. Most of you know of my recent struggle with going toUkraineon this mission trip. I was in conflict about wanting to go, knowing that God had this as part of His orchestrated plan yet wanting to be selfish and stay here to soak up ever possible cherished minute with the greatest man I have ever known. One of our last conversations involved my Dad calling me into the living room. He sat in his big brown leather chair (which is now like a big hug to me) and he said these words “Mary Anne, I have always wanted to go on a mission trip. It doesn’t look like I am going to get to do that this year. I am asking you to please go do this for me.” I really had no choice about it at that point. I don’t regret going. I hate that I had to leave the work inUkraine, feeling like I left part of my heart there with my team. I know there is work to be done inUkrainethat has just started. I look forward watching how the good news can be spread in a foreign land as well as making that part of my Dad’s legacy. Afterall, that is what he highlighted in the Sunday school book.Missionwork and spreading the good news was very important to him.

 My Dad has something very specific that he would do when my Mom walked into a room or when I came home to visit. He would stand and say “There she is!” I can hear his voice saying this …he included that nice southern charm when he said it. It melted our heart.

 I have complete assurance that my Dad is in heaven. I know this because The Colonel accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and proclaimed His Lordship over his life. I have wonderful memories of my father over the years. I have no regrets. I simply look forward to meeting him in heaven and hearing him say “There she is!”