Friday, August 20, 2010

A wonderful celebration

I have not yet had a chance to write about Pawpaw's funeral till now... well, rather I was too tired and am just now sitting in front of my computer to do it, However, Blog, you now have my attention and I will write... though I am yawning at the same time.

First of all, we wanted to make sure it was a celebration... Pawpaw lived a long and healthy life until the last year, and he was blessed with family, friends, and love from them all. I, of course, cried... but it's not because I want him back... just because I am going to miss him. I think the highlight of his service was the music. I mean seriously, have you ever heard a banjo at a funeral? Well, I have now. Some wonderful family and friends provided their talents to honor Pawpaw's memory with song and string. I have these 3 cousins (2 live in TX, and 1 in MS) and when we were kids we used to all get together and their mom would play the acordian and they would sing. They have the most beautiful voices and they just warmed our hearts by singing Beulah Land during the service. The girls know about the death of a parent as well... their mom died years ago and Debra remarked before they started singing that God sure must have a heck of a band up there in Heaven, just of our family members. Gail, who played the accordian, Daddy played the Guitar, and Pawpaw played the french harp (harmonica) and mandolin. Oh to hear those sweet sounds together... one day I will.

There were wonderful stories of Pawpaw from 3 preachers... all who were welcomed to my home church, Midway, by Pawpaw. I really don't think Pawpaw had the ability to meet a stranger (I guess that's where daddy got it from), or maybe it was his sales background... but he was always welcoming to all those around him. I used to bring home friends all the time during college... and one of those friends made her way into Pawpaw's cell phone contacts... I'll definately miss his "hey baby" when I came to visit... and calling home when I got back to Birmingham, because he always knew what time I should arrive back.

Pawpaw did 2 tours in the Navy and was a cook and baker on the USS Casablanca (according to my grandmother). We had the honor of having the men from the local VFW come to the service and present a flag to my grandmother and play taps. It was the first time I had been to a military funeral, and when that bugle started playing, I think we all cried... it was a beautiful sight to see our Flag draped accross his coffin though... because he was so proud of his service. Even though he never fired a weapon... his served the ones that did, and he had a million stories to tell about it.

Oh how I will miss those stories.

One of the things that stood out to me most from the service was something said by one of our former preachers who Pawpaw loved. Bro. Chris said a few words and prayed at the Graveside... and he mentioned how God sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us, and how Pawpaw was often a comfort to him. I think what I take away from that is how we need to be open to be the hands and feet of the Holy Spirit and be available to comfort others as HE sees fit. God has used so many people to help comfort me over this past year I could not begin to list them all. Friends, coworkers, students, church members, people I barely know who have somehow heard my story have said things, send texts, given hugs, or offered help... I truly believe all of those people were acting on the part of the Holy Spirit. You know those times when someone just comes to mind that you have not thought about in years, yeah... that's not coincidence. Actually, I pretty sure I don't believe in coincidences... because God has His hands in everything.

By the way, even Daddy had a part of the service. We found some scripture in his bible that he noted to have read at Pawpaw's funeral. We played a recording of the Lawnmower Song, and he told us on many occasions that he wanted the Vince Gill song, "Go Rest High" to be played at the funeral... and it was played, as we all exited the church and walked to the cemetary across the street. (Oh yeah, and since it was muddy rather than pushing Mawmaw's wheelchair across the street and through the grass, she road on the Mule). The verse of scripture Daddy found was completely appropriate for my Pawpaw, as he was the church caretaker and treasurer, and a sunday school teacher and a deacon for as long as I can remember:

Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. (Nehemiah 13:14)
Before I finish up the blog for the night, I want to mention another cousin who blessed us with one of her talents this week. My cousin Anna is Funeral Director and well, all that that entails. She came and got Pawpaw from his house on Monday, and brought him to us on Wednesday. I truly believe Anna has a gift because not everyone could do the job that she does... and I believe you have to be utterly compassionate to be in her position. She deals with people when they are in their deepest darkest valley, and she has such an amazing opportunity to shine some Light on them. She thought of Pawpaw Cole as her own grandfather (her grandfather was one of Pawpaw's brothers), and she did for him what the rest of us could not do. I am so thankful for her and her compassion and love for our Family... I (We) have an amazing family... and it's better because of people like her.
I ask that you keep me in your prayers the next few days. I'll be moving into a new apartment, trying to get back into the swing of things at work, and getting ready for Freshmen Move in next Friday. It's going to be an incredibly busy week and I feel like I have a lot to catch up on. Also, please pray for my family as we get used to life without our sweet Pawpaw, and as other decisions are made. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers this week... I have been feeling them!
Love Y'all!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Heaven got another good one today...

Well, I guess it's appropriate to post that my prayers for mercy for my grandfather were answered about 11:30 this morning. Pawpaw passed away without any pain, he had been reaching out for something yesterday that I am guessing he grasped today... and I am so thankful I was at home instead of back in Birmingham... God kept me at home as I prayed he would.

Today has been a roller coaster... hours passed in the blink of an eye after he died. Family and friends gathered within minutes of his death, calls were made, meetings arranged, food was brought, tears were shed... and God held us together through it all. It's 1 am and I'm still wide awake though about 6pm I wanted to take a nap. Thankfully I'll be here with my family until Friday when I return to Birmingham... so I have a few days to rest before returning to work...

So many thoughts ran through my head today after pawpaw died... All morning he stared at the ceiling. For the hour and a half I was at his house before he died his gaze did not waiver, not even when I went to talk to him. As I sit here tonight and reflect on that it reminds me of this verse:

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18

Pawpaw had his eyes fixed on something that you and I can't see. I truly believe that until you are at a point of death, you cannot invision eternity... but he had it in his sights and he welcomed it as the time came, and I know that he had a heck of a welcoming committee. I know that Daddy was right there in the front waiting on him... showing him around his new neighborhood... and now he knows if there are any lawnmowers. :) He reunited with his brothers, his parents, and old friends... for him it was a celebration. Which makes me think of a conversation I had on the gallery (front porch) today with a family friend... The bible says we should Celebrate death and mourn life, but we as humans totally screw that one up... we get it backward because we don't have a constant eternal outlook. As I read through these few verses in Ecclesiastes 7, I really had to think hard on of a few of them... read for yourself and see what you think:

Ecclesiastes 7

1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
(What reputation are you leaving behind on your day of death?)

2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
(Death is your destiny... so it would be a good idea to go ahead and make a reservation at your eternal resting place... all it takes is a talk with God)

3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
(this one... not so sure about. I think sorrow builds character, sorrow helps you to realize what you can deal with, but is also helps you to cherish those happy moments when they come around. Not too sure what is meant by this verse... but maybe part of it is that being sad helps you to realize what is important, which is good for you heart.)

4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
(recognize the importance of mourning, the significance of death... otherwise you may not make the eternal decisions you need to).

So, Heaven got a another good one today, and a good one he was. It would take hours, days, weeks, for me to sit here and type out all of my memories of Pawpaw... and I can't say I have one bad memory. Since daddy died I sought advice from him in a lot of things... he may have only had a 2nd grade education... but his knowledge of life could not be captured in one book. I honestly don't know one person who would have a negative things to say about him... he didn't just have a good name... he had an excellent one. I spent so much time with him as a kid that most of my best memories involve him. Not many kids are lucky enough to live next door to their grandparents... but I did, and God I am so thankful to you for that. Because no matter where I may go across this planet... the lessons he taught me at home are the ones that will stick with me the most. Before I left for my semester in mexico pawpaw gave me the following advice... and it is something that can apply to each and every one of us:

"Remember who you are,
what you are,
and where you're from."
- Pawpaw Cole

I think if we can remember those things... we can always be grounded.

Thank you Pawpaw... for keeping me grounded, being my biggest supporter, being a great example of service and love for others, being the person I admired most in the world, and for being the best grandfather that any kid could ever ask for. Your attitude for serving others has influenced me so much, you gave me an example of how doing things for others is fulfilling, and if done with the right attitude is one of the most rewarding experiences of life. I am a better person for knowing you, and you helped to make me into the person that I am. I hope that I made you proud because loving you has been one of the most important things in my life.

God, thanks for matching me with the perfect grandfather and blessing me with the opportunity to live next door to him for 18 years of my life. I wouldn't trade those memories and lessons for anything in this world. I praise You for having mercy on him and bringing him into Your arms before he began suffering on this earth. Thank you for Pawpaw... for making him who he was so he could influence me to be who I am.

Keep us in your prayers friends... we are all thankful that Pawpaw is at rest now, but going through the emotions of a funeral are all too familiar for us. The next few days are going to be hard, but I know God will bring comfort to us as only He can.

I Love Y'all,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I can't be mad at God...

While I was driving home on Friday I thought about how sometimes I really want to be mad at God... but I can't be.

- I can't be mad at God because one time, last summer, I was... and it was the deepest valley I have ever been.

- I can't be mad at God because without Him I am nothing, and nothing can't be mad.

- I can't be mad at God because He has blessed me with too many other things that I should thank Him for.

- I can't be mad at God, because I love Him too much... even though I sometimes have odd ways of showing it.

However, I often wonder at God's motives (but then again, He doesn't have to have motives, because He has nothing to prove to anybody). Right now I am in such a torn place. I mentally know that I need to be in Birmingham, getting ready for RA training that starts on Tuesday. At the moment though, I am emotionally (and physically) in Hattiesburg because it seems as if Pawpaw may go Home to be with the Lord and daddy any minute now. It's such a hard place for me to be, knowing that if he does not die (and yes, I know how horrible that sounds) I have to go back to Birmingham, but will probably get THE phonecall in the next day or two.

I have to say, if you have never watched someone "waste away" as my cousin Kim put it, it is a horrible thing. Over the last month I have seen Pawpaw every weekend. And every weekend he looks smaller, he has lost more weight, his bones are more visible, his voice is quieter, he is weaker, and he eats less and less. Since I got home Friday afternoon he has eaten 3 or 4 spoonfuls of soup and drank water, and has been out of bed about 30 minutes... IN 2 DAYS!! If you have never had to watch something like this... I hope you never do... because it so hard to watch a loved one lose their lease on life. I keep praying that God will be merciful and take him. As I was driving home on Friday I kept saying, "Daddy, come get him." Selfishly (i'm all about the honesty here on the blog), I also really want to be here so that I don't have the emotional drive home. God has had me at home for all the other deaths in the family... so I am praying He will take care of me for this one too.

So back to the point of the blog, no matter how much things don't make sense and I cannot wrap my head around His Will sometimes... I can't be mad at Him. I just trust, rely, and ask for strength from Him when I feel as if I am torn, tired, and can't deal with another challenge... because more than anything I know that I can't be mad at Him... because without Him I can do nothing.

Love Y'all, KC

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Song by... me?

So evidently at some point in my life wrote a song... I was cleaning out some things in my apartment as I get prepared to move to another building on campus, and I found some papers with my writing, evidently an untitled song I wrote.

Dear Lord (maybe that was the name??),
I thank you for the blessings that you have always sent my way.
'Cause without them I wouldn't be the woman that I am today.
You show me how to love, to live.
To face my fears and dry my tears.
You're the one to know what's right for each decision in my life.

Sometimes it's hard to hear your plan,
without a map right here in my hand.
But I know that you will guide me thru,
as long as I remember to trust you.

We look for luck throughout our lives,
like thumbing through the TV Guide.
It's not as east as we want it to be,
you can't snap your fingers and count 1-2-3.

You have to trust in the Lord with all your might,
and keep His Word in your daily sight.
So you can learn to live and love the way Christ showed when He died that day...
for me and you and everyone.
He cleansed the sins we had not even done,
so one day I could live and learn about the love God so freely gives us...

So... not necessarily a great tune... but it has some good thoughts to it. :)

Love Y'all,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Walking through open doors...

Previously, I have written on my blog about my begging of God to open doors of opportunity which would bring important change in certain areas of my life. Thankfully, an answered prayer came today as God opened the door of a new opportunity for me this week and I walked through it today...

I am so thankful for this opportunity (which I hope to be able to elaborate upon in the future), However I realized as I am reflecting on the day... that sometime's walking through God's doors can feel like going to a surprise party. Things are unexpected but you enjoy them. Last night as I was getting ready to tuck in for the night I grabbed Daddy's bible, closed my eyes, and started flipping the pages. His bible opened up to Proverbs Chapter 3, in which he wrote the words, "to my son Shane, to my daughter Kacey." As I started scanning the words I had to laugh as I literally said aloud, "thanks Daddy." These verses truly put my preparation and worry over this new opportunity into great spiritual perspective. (The verses I have underlined are ones that Daddy underlined in his bible.)

Proverbs 3: 1-14

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,

with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,

and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

Basically friends, the way to be a wise man is to forget your own knowledge and seek the wisdom of God, and to respect and acknowledge His position ... because no matter what doors open, He is in charge of the party and the outcome is known only to Him.

Thank you God for sending me these special words from you and my daddy when I needed to prepare myself by having a calm spirit and calm heart. Thank you for open doors and I pray that I will always continue to be wise and trust you, no matter what is on the other side of the door.

Love Y'all,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mercy in Life and Death...

I have been thinking about Mercy a lot lately.

–noun, plural -cies for 4, 5.
1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.

3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, esp. to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.

4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.

5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

Mercy has a lot of definitions, but the thing that keeps sticking with me is how Mercy is doing something for someone, that they cannot do themselves. I'll go and say that the content of this entry is sensitive... something that is very present in my life right now, and it's one of the many lessons I have learned this year.

My grandfather is being taken over by cancer. He has lost so much weight that he shoulders and arms are just skin and bones. I go home every weekend to see him, and by seeing him on a week by week basis I think I see a more drastic picture of the change in him weekly. I cherish the moments that I have with him when I visit. I know he doesn't feel well, he has told me himself that he "feels poor". I don't know that he is suffering per say, but to see a man who I have admired and loved my entire life literally shrink... it breaks my heart. I don't want to live without him... but if living with him means that he begins suffer and feel worse... I would rather have the broken heart and miss him every day. That's what you do when you love someone right, you have to learn to let them go so that they can go on to bigger and better things... and what is bigger and better than Heaven? Where he can feel young and healthy and be with Daddy and his brothers and his parents and the Lord. He told me yesterday that he always really enjoyed cutting grass... and years and years ago Daddy wrote a song for Pawpaw titled, "The Lawnmower song." I can only remember the beginning of the song...

Will there be any lawnmowers in Heaven?
Any weed eaters he can strap on?
Will there be any blades he can sharpen,
in the shop out back of his home?
There are many verses in the bible about crying out or calling for mercy. Most that I read are asking for it, for someone else to help the individual in some way. Other verses are calling for no mercy for a community or for a nation in times of conflict. Here are some that I have read that I feel apply to the thoughts and feelings I have right now, in this moment in time.
Psalm 119:132Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
Psalm 143:1[ A psalm of David. ] O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
Psalm 40:11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
Luke 1:50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
Romans 9:16It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.
(Translation... nothing depends on me, it all depends on HIM)
James 3:17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
So the questions is, do you ask for Mercy in healing or mercy in death? That's the hard reality here. No man is beyond healing if the Lord sees fit, but at this point at 88 years of age I would have to say that the latter is more merciful... no matter how hard that is to admit. The last few weeks have been special for me. I have spent a lot of time with my family, for shorts stints in time... but we have enjoyed our time together. We are there for Pawpaw when he wakes up and do any and everything he asks. Today I cooked his original (made up during the Navy) recipe of spaghetti and wienies (hot dogs). Sounds crazy to everyone else, but is a family favorite for us, and always will be. I love my family so much... and really hate to be away from them right now, but duty calls here at Samford. So as I sit here, 260 (ish) miles from home, here is my prayer for my grandfather and our family:
Lord, in my mind, the merciful thing to do would be to let him find out if there are any lawnmowers, but as a wise man (Daddy) once wrote, "His ways are not like ours. His thoughts are not like ours. They are higher." I know Your plan is not known to me for this situation... but I pray for mercy for my grandfather and comfort for our family no matter how this situation turns out. You have held us in the hollow of Your hand many times before, and I know you will again. Thank you for the strength you have given to Aunt Judy, Mom, Heather, Shane, and everyone else who has spent time taking care of Pawpaw when I cannot be there with him. I pray for Mawmaw as her life will change more than the rest of ours. I pray that when the time comes, Pawpaw will come home to see you in a peaceful way and that he will feel the love of his family from both sides of Life... on earth and in eternity with You. Thank you for your grace and I pray for your mercy. Amen.
Keep Pawpaw in your prayers.
Love Y'all,