One of the most difficult times of our lives.

My daughter-in-law, Lindsey, is writing a blog (here) about her son’s life and his genetic disorder called Citrullinemia. She is currently writing about his first few days of life. I wanted to add my perspective as a grandparent for the record.

My wife, Susan, and I were thrilled when our grandson, Caleb, was born.  We had plans to visit Louisiana a month later so we could meet him. We so enjoyed getting to see his pictures and talk with our son, John, on the day of his birth.  We didn’t know it but we were entering probably one of the most emotionally difficult periods of our lives. Things changed quickly when I got a call from John that Caleb was being transferred to an NICU about 60 miles away because he wasn’t acting right.  He was not eating and was lethargic. We were concerned and began to ask friends, family and our prayer team at Bay Community Church to pray for Caleb and his parents.  We were so glad Lindsey’s parents were there supporting them.

I can’t convey the sense of helplessness to have your son and his wife have their first child and things were taking a turn for the worst and we couldn’t do anything to help. So, we maintained contact receiving frequent updates via text and phone.  Most of the updates weren’t very encouraging. We got a call from my son after they had been in the NICU for a couple of days saying that Caleb was being transferred via helicopter to New Orleans Children’s Hospital.  His body had too much ammonia and he had to get dialysis immediately or he might not make it.  That NICU didn’t have the capability to do it.  That was pretty shocking news.

The transfer was on Monday night. I made reservations for John and Lindsey at a hotel near the hospital so they’d at least have a place to stay when they arrived in the middle of the night.  They were driving while Caleb was flying.  We talked with them while they were driving.  In the morning I talked with John and he said that they had arrived safely during the night. They used the room only to shower and spent the rest of the time at the hospital.  He said it was a hard night, but at that time they still didn’t know what the prognosis was.

I had a friend that had recently graduated from a seminary in New Orleans. I called him and asked him if he knew any pastors there that might be able to go to the hospital and visit John and Lindsey.  He said one of his professors was also a pastor and he’d give him a call.  God’s people are so good. The professor had an early class but went to see them right after.  He spoke with them and prayed with them.

Around 10:30 a.m. I text him and asked how he was. His reply to me was, “terrified!”  That put me into action. I thought to myself, “if my son is in a foxhole terrified, I’m jumping in there with him and we can be terrified together.” (I’m retired Army and he’s currently in the Army) I got online and bought an airline ticket from Miami to New Orleans.  I made ground transportation and hotel arrangements.  I also arranged for my wife to join me the next day.  I had great support from our congregation who urged me to go and took care of covering my preaching responsibilities for our church service on Sunday.  Susan arranged to leave her work the next day.

I didn’t tell John I was coming because I didn’t want him to be concerned about me in anyway.  He needed to focus on being a dad in a crisis.  When I arrived in New Orleans, I spoke with John and then I drove the rental car to the hospital.  He came down to the car to meet me. I guess the thing that struck me was how calm his demeanor was and how well he was handling the whole situation.

I came to find out that the reason he was terrified is that the main physician working on Caleb had told him that Caleb might not make it. She wasn’t sure he would pull though. That is hard for any parent to hear. I will tell you that being a grandparent in that situation is double hard.  You hurt for your child.  No one wants their children to go through such difficulties. But, you also hurt for your grandchild.  It’s amazing the automatic love connection you have with your grandchild.

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I remember walking into his room. I saw Lindsey near the bed and little Caleb with all kinds of wires, monitors and hooked up to a ventilator. I kept on thinking how difficult that had to be for these young parents. I was glad to be there with them.  I couldn’t do much for them. They were the parents and I was a bystander. But, I could just be there for them.  I went over to Caleb and rubbed his little body and prayed for him.

It was a blessing to see them be there with their son. Lindsey would read Bible stories to him. Of course, he was not conscious, but she knew he was listening.  I know God was pleased at this loving mother.

Psalm 71:18 (NLT) Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

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I’ve been out of commission.

May 2013 was a very stressful time for our family. There were several health issues that popped up with family members thatImage we love very much. After that stressful time, I’ve not felt much like blogging. But, June has allowed me to recuperate. I’m ready to get back at it. 

At this point in my life, I’m a full time pastor/church planter. But, this hasn’t always been my vocation. I was a soldier in the U.S. Army for 22 years. No, I was not a chaplain. I was an Artilleryman or a “Redleg.” God called me into pastoring in my last years of serving my Lord while I served the country.  What I plan to do over the next several blog posts is take some leadership lessons I learned in my time in the Army and discuss how those lessons have worked out in the church world.

I will tell you. I’m not sure I would have been prepared for what I’m doing now without those 22 years of preparation in the Army. I’m thankful to God that he allowed me to grow and mature in him, before he called me into pastoral ministry.

I’ll publish my next blog post, “They’re not soldiers,” in the coming days. Until then, have a great Independence Day and always remember that “Freedom isn’t free.”

 

One Year: A Testimony

We are so grateful to have Rand as part of our family now. He and our daughter, Carolyn, married a year ago yesterday. He is a gifted writer, so I’m reposting a recent blog of his as a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

Michael vs LeBron

Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11It finally happened; the Miami Heat run of 27 straight wins came to an end with a loss to the Chicago Bulls last week.  I from Miami and am a Heat fan, so I was disappointed. But, at the same time glad I got to be a witness to the streak. I’ve seen every game of the streak on TV and I went to the Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat game on March 24th.  I enjoyed the whole thing.

The great pro-basketball player, Michael Jordan, owns the Bobcat franchise. I don’t know if he was at the game or not. He’s been extremely negative about the Heat player, LeBron James. James is clearly the most talented player in the NBA right now.  I’ve even seen a spate of recent articles saying that James is better than Jordan was.  I kind of get the sense that Jordan is jealous of Lebron and wants to guard his legacy as the greatest basketball player ever.

Jordan recently said that if he were to chose a team with the best current players, he’d choose Kobe Bryant first because he has 5 NBA Championships to LeBron’s one. Of course Kobe has been in the league a whole lot longer, but that didn’t seem to matter.  It was meant to be a slap at James.  I don’t know why he had to do that.  Clearly Jordan was a great player. Most retired athletes are gracious when others come up and do better than they did or break one of their records.  I don’t get that feel from Michael Jordan at all. He seems more bitter or spiteful.  I’m sure he celebrated a little extra when his old team, the Chicago Bull’s, beat LeBron’s Miami Heat team.

But, I loved LeBron James’ response to Jordan’s comment, “It doesn’t matter to me. If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter. I don’t get too involved in what guys say about me or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron. As long as I’m on the floor and I make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.” (My italicization)   Here’s the Article.

I think LeBron’s attitude is right. He says he’s not concerned with Michael Jordan.  He plays for his teammates. If I were in his shoes, I’m not sure I would have said the same thing. I would have been devastated by Jordan’s comments.

Criticism is difficult for me. I want people on my side. I want people to like me. Unfortunately, many times I do want their approval. But, for a Christ-follower that should never be our motivation.  Paul said, in Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. In all we do, it should be for the audience of one, God.  That is the only being I need to please. Oh Lord, help me remember that!

So, here’s my question, who are you trying to please?

Stuck!

I speImagent 22 years in the U.S. Army. Probably my favorite time was being a leader in a cannon battery.  We had 6 cannons and I was in charge of them. We were out doing maneuvers in Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the springtime. We were moving all the cannons to a new place to fire from and went through an area full of mud. We had 4 or 5 vehicles stuck in the mud.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been stuck in life?  Not much is happening. Everything is pretty much staying like it has been. Not much new. I certainly have.

It’s time to get a new wind blowing in your life. Song of Songs 4:16 Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.

Ask God for a new breath of his Spirit.  Ask him for a new wind to blow in your life, so that what he does in you may spread around to others.

Oh, we did get the cannons out of the mud. We were able to carry on the mission. With God’s work in your life, you too will get unstuck.

Son of a…

I certainly don’t remember being three years old. At the time my father was serving in the U.S. Army in Oklahoma. I’m told we attended church regularly and that my dad was a Sunday school teacher. Well one evening my parents invited the pastor of the church over for dinner.  My dad went to pick him up and bring him to the house.  He took me with him.  Now this was before seat belts and I was standing between my father and the pastor in the front seat. All of a sudden, a car jumped out from a side street and almost hit us. My father swerved to miss him.  I yelled out, “Son of a B_____.”

Now obviously I didn’t know what that meant at 3 years of age. But, yes I had heard it before. It was actually one of my dad’s favorite curse words.  I remember hearing it later as I grew up.  Well, needless to say, my dad was embarrassed. I’m not sure what the pastor thought.

Parents be careful what you say.  You may not think you’re being listened to, but you are. Make sure it’s something you wouldn’t mind having repeated.  Parents be careful what you do because your children are watching you. Check out this video (here) on the subject by Veracity Project.

Philippians 3:17 (NIV)  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Let’s make sure that pattern is a good and godly one.

Some Choices are Permanent

Rueben Foster recently committed to play football next year at the University of Alabama. He has an interesting history. He grew up a fan of the Crimson Tide. In fact, he committed to play at Alabama before his senior year in high school. But a little over a year ago, moved to Auburn, Alabama for his senior year. Auburn is the in state arch-rival of Alabama. After moving to Auburn, he changed his commitment from Alabama to Auburn. In order to show his allegiance to his new school, he had the Auburn logo tattooed on his forearm.

That wasn’t really a problem until February 6th when he change his commitment once again back to Alabama. Now, he’s going to go to the University of Alabama sporting a HUGE Auburn tattoo. That’s going to be really weird next year when he’s playing for the Tide against the Tigers. Some decisions are permanent. Be careful with your choices.

One of my biblical heroes is John the Baptist. What a tough dude. He was bold. He actually confronted King Herod because the king had taken his brother’s wife to be his own (gross—but that’s another blog post). Well the king put him in jail. On the king’s birthday, his wife’s daughter danced for Herod and a bunch of his friends that were there to cut a cake. Herod enjoyed it so much that he offered the girl whatever she wanted, up to half his kingdom. She asked for John’s head on a platter. The deal is the Bible says he wanted to kill John but he feared the people because they saw John as a prophet. So, he’d decided he’d not do it. But, since he said it in front of all his friends, he had no choice.

Be careful what you say (especially in this internet age) because once it’s out you can’t change it. Be careful what you do. Once you’ve done something, you may not be able to change it. Be careful with your choices.