Archive for April, 2007
Hey, Precious Ones. It feels like I’ve been out of the loop and almost on another planet for weeks. I am so grateful to Amanda for keeping you posted on all that has transpired around here recently. I have been astonished by so many shows of sympathy and affection in the homegoing of my Dad, the Major. You would think that we would have known that it probably wouldn’t be long until Dad passed away since he was 86 years old. (I have a large family and I fall toward the end of the birth order which helps to explain why my parents were ten years older than Keith’s.) It’s just that Dad was so dang active. So hard to pin down. Impossible to keep off the highway. (He drove amazingly well for a person who insisted on using both feet, one on the accelerator and one on the brake. Let’s just say there was a fair amount of whiplash to be had when you took a spin with him. You didn’t nap much with Dad at the wheel.) He and his beloved wife (my step-mom), Maddy, had just driven to Pasadena, Texas for fried catfish the day before. Their Scrabble board was still out in the breakfast room with all the words on it. (Reader that I am, I had to stare at the words and see if I could discern any kind of deep message in them. I couldn’t.) We went through such a long and arduous journey toward my mom’s death nine years ago. Something of our family slowly died with her, one difficult day at a time. That was our only experience with death in our immediate family, I’m thankful to say, so I think we were expecting something like that. That’s not what happened.
Last Friday morning, I was getting ready for the day. Amanda, Curt, and Jackson were in town and I was going to get to take Jacks to lunch at Living Proof with my staff while AJ and Curt grabbed lunch with some of their best buddies. I was looking so forward to it. Then I got a call from Maddy. “Beth, Honey.” (Always calls me those two words.) “Your Daddy is really sick. I wonder if you’d help me figure out what I should do.” She told me his symptoms and, honestly, I thought an old ulcer that had left a lot of scar tissue had acted up again. We decided she should call 911 then I soon headed out the door to drive across town to the hospital where we anticipated they’d take him. I called most of my brothers and sisters (who live all over the country) and told them what had happened but that I didn’t expect it to be life threatening. Boy, was I wrong.
I reached the hospital soon after Maddy arrived. She and I were tightly huddled in the waiting room when a young physician came out and told us that a helicopter was on it’s way to get him. That he needed to be at the Texas Medical Center so they could open his skull. He was bleeding pretty profusely in the brain and they needed to relieve the pressure. We were floored but prepared to head wherever they told us to go. The fewest moments later, the same doctor came back out and told us that the bleeding had been too severe and that it was too late for surgery. In the same breath, he took me to the side and said that Dad would never wake up. He explained that his life was ending and asked if we knew any instructions Dad had concerning life support. I could not believe my ears. It all happened so fast my brain couldn’t catch up. Thankfully, Dad had been hauntingly clear about not wanting to be kept alive on any kind of machines and had placed it in writing. At the same time, I’m not sure I’ve ever been through many things more immediately traumatizing than holding his warm but lifeless hand while they removed that breathing tube. I could sob about it even now.
A few minutes later, my man arrived. Moments after that, one of my sisters. She proved utterly indispensable through the ordeal and I’m not sure I’ve ever loved her more. Dad was moved to a room and his blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate remained stable and strong for the next hours. (Actually, they continued that way until they simply and suddenly ceased.) I tried so hard to get Maddy to let me spend the night with Dad so she could go home but she wouldn’t budge. Nor would I if it were, God forbid, my life partner. My sister insisted since Amanda, Curt, and Jackson were at my house that I go home while she took the night shift and I could take the day shift. I crawled in my bed and tried my hardest to rest but couldn’t. Not many hours later, I wrote my family a note, got back in the car while it was still night, and headed forty minutes back across town to the hospital. Dad’s breathing was very labored but the nurses said he could go on like that even for days. I looked at the tiny little woman he loved so much and could hardly stand the thought of her enduring a long ordeal. After all, she knew her man was gone and would never be back. I asked my sister and Maddy if they wanted to join me around Dad’s bed and ask God to receive His faithful servant speedily, hastening his reward. Neither hesitated. So with tears and firm conviction, three women who loved the same old man in such different – and complicated – ways got on our knees around the three corners of that bed, draped our hands across his feet and asked God to make a merciful visitation to that room at the earliest point His perfect will would allow.
My beloved Jackson had been so upset the night before because he sensed something amiss with the family. The little guy had wanted me to hold him in the waiting room but I had my hands so full with Dad that I couldn’t tend to him. With Maddy and Gay’s insistence, I decided to run back to my side of town early that morning so that I could be there when Jacks awakened, hold him tight, and give him his morning bottle. I’d then head straight back up to the hospital. I never got that chance. God answered the prayers of those three women on their knees around that hospital bed before we knew what hit us. God was so gracious to allow my sister to be right there with our Dad when he was ushered from that cold, sterile hospital room into the warmth of the glorious Sun of Righteousness. Although I wish I had been there, too, I am so touched by Christ’s healing agenda in the way He ordained those circumstances that I can do little more than bow to His wise and graceful plan.
Within an hour, my sister, Gay, and I were with Maddy at the sweet house she shared with my Dad. All three of us were in a state of shock and suddenly in the throes of making countless decisions. Someone needed to make a move and I decided it better be me. Gay hadn’t had a wink of sleep and my step mother was stunned. “Maddy, I know this is so hard right now but I need to get into Dad’s files and get out his burial policy. Could you please show me where I should start looking?” She got me by the hand, walked me in their little home office, and opened a drawer full of well organized files. A few moments later I pulled out a brown folder clearly labeled “Burial.” Not only was his policy right there for easy access, he’d written fourteen implicit instructions for his funeral. (Yes, they were numbered. I have nearly all of them memorized in order at this point.) Some of them were so “him” – so completely HIM – like how to cut corners on the spending (Lord have mercy, he was cheap) that Gay and I lapsed into a pool of hysteria. We laughed until we cried and the writer of Proverbs was right. It was good medicine. Soon, all of my brothers and sisters, all the grandkids, nephews, and nieces, converged on Houston, Texas. And every time they asked me a question about “how” we should do “what,” I got to say, “Number 6 – or number 9, or number 12 out of 14 – states clearly that…”
Major Dad was gone. But his list was still with us. Number 14 provided the perfect wrap up: “It is my hope there will be more laughter than tears.” How perfect that God would use the man himself to provide so much of it. With great affection and respect, I’d like to suggest that my Dad was never funnier than when he didn’t mean to be. Ask any of us. He was a handful.
My Dad poured out the last many years of his life to feed the homeless. He was a constant fixture at the area grocery stores where he gathered day-old perishables to take to shelters. I have no idea how many day-old pastries all of us who loved him have eaten with him. Mary, Dad’s pastor’s secretary, told me that Dad was personally responsible for the ten extra pounds on her hips. You see, as if the donuts were not fattening enough, since they tended to be a bit stale, the staff would cut them in half, toast them and butter them in order to make them taste good enough to eat.
Though I trust God has a provision, I don’t know exactly what those homeless shelters will do without Major Dad. I’m not sure you can get that level of dedication and service out of a person who hasn’t served in a couple of wars and who never learned the word “quit.” He’d taken a bullet in the face, for crying out loud. Nobody but nobody was going to get between him and Kroger day-olds. If Dad could have his last wish, nobody would ever be homeless. Nobody would ever go hungry. Major Albert B. Green is Home now. Home in a zip code anybody can share. “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all people, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:6-8)
God is good, ladies. Let me tell you a few of the wonderful things the Lord did for our family over the last few days.
Exhibit A: Every single one of my mom’s brothers and sisters was able to be in Houston for the funeral and all of my cousins were there except for one. It had been 9 years since we were all together and you can imagine how wonderful the reunion was. Family members from Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Nevada, Arkansas, and California were able to join us. My sister, who is in the middle of writing her final papers for her Master’s degree, was able to come for 24 hours. It was such a joy and an answer to prayer.
Exhibit B: My grandfather was a retired Army major and was buried in the veterans section of the cemetery. During the planning, it looked like certain elements of a military burial were not going to work out, but God provided every single thing we hoped for. Each part was incredibly moving – from when the color guard saluted the flag-draped casket when it arrived by car to the cemetery, all the way up to the moment the folded flag was handed to Madelyn and she was thanked for her loved one’s service.
Exhibit C: The funeral service was a perfect mix of laughter, tears, spiritual emphasis, and sharing the personal side of who my grandpa was. My Uncle Wayne, who is a virtuoso pianist, played “I Come to the Garden Alone.” It was so meaningful for all of us. We were also very moved by how many people came to show their love for Daddaw and Madelyn.
Exhibit D: My mom was supposed to be in the Dallas area on Tuesday for a taping at Life Today. When Tuesday ended up being the day of the funeral, she thought she was going to have to cancel. Praise God, we were wrong about the date and the taping was actually on Wednesday! She has been at the studio today taping an interview with James and Betty Robison about Get Out of That Pit. She had a lot of trouble getting out of Houston because of the weather, but God opened up the sky for her plane.
Exhibit E: My Aunt Sassy (again with the nicknames!) brought me a picture of Daddaw with Thumper! We’re working on getting it scanned so that I can post it on the blog.
Exhibit F: I saved one of the best ones for last. When Madelyn was going through my grandpa’s desk drawer, she found a love note from my grandpa that she had never seen before. He had written it for her to see upon his death and it included a poem describing how she had been the love of his life. Could they have been any sweeter or any more in love? Wow.
There are many more things I could have listed. I believe we got an extra helping of God’s comfort and kindness because of your prayers. Thank you so much.
What I’d like to hear from you is one way that God has blatantly answered your prayers this week. If we can keep them relatively concise it will help me keep up with moderating the comments. Y’all are so awesome! I can’t wait to hear them!
With a tender heart I sit here thinking of a way to write this next sentence. The Lord welcomed home one of His good and faithful servants today – my grandfather and my mom’s father, Al Green. He suffered a massive stroke yesterday and died peacefully this morning with his precious bride and my aunt Gay by his side. Family members from all over the country are making their way home to say goodbye. Please pray for us as we spend the next few days together to cry, to say goodbye, and also to celebrate a life very well lived. Please especially remember his wonderful wife Madelyn in your prayers. They have spent the last eight years together fiercely in love and having great adventures.
Curtis asked me about some of my favorite memories of my grandpa and I’d like to share my answers with you. I’ll just go ahead and tell you right now that I call him Daddaw. I know it’s weird, but it was my first word. Okay, now I can get started. When I was a little girl, Nanny and Daddaw had a big backyard with a huge vegetable and flower garden. Somehow Daddaw managed to build a relationship with a swamp rabbit who regularly visited their garden to nibble on Nanny’s plants. He would go on the back porch and whistle and call out, “Thumper!” Sure enough that big ole bunny would come bouncing into the back yard. He would even let Daddaw hold him and feed him carrots. As an animal lover, watching that happen was one of the thrills of my childhood.
My very favorite memory was from the time Daddaw let me tag along with him to a soup kitchen. My dad had killed an elk that year and our freezer was full of more meat than we could ever eat. We loaded the meat into the car and took it to a place where Daddaw regularly served called Loaves and Fishes. It was such a neat experience to feed the homeless with my grandfather. I loved seeing him serve so selflessly and diligently. I will never forget how the other men treated him with so much affection and respect. I knew he was a big part of their ministry. I got the same feeling yesterday when I sat in his hospital room and visitors were streaming in and out to love on him and Madelyn. They are both so well loved.
The thing I will take most from my grandfather’s legacy is that you never retire from serving the Lord. He served with all his might until the end of his life. He was always willing to take any opportunity the Lord presented. That is something I would like to keep in my heart and remember. One day, God-willing, when Curt and I are old and gray and the only expectation the world has of us is to retire and do whatever we please, I want to remember my grandfather’s example. I want to be completely poured out on my last day.
Thank You, Lord, for giving me the chance to know my Daddaw. Thank You for the souls he fought for and the blood he shed in World War II and Korea, for the family he raised, for the church members he loved, and for the underprivileged he served. And thank you for all the memories.
Hey, Darling Ones. I know that the Virginia Tech tragedy is what is utmost on our minds today – even mine as I wrestle to stay focused on my lesson for tonight – but I wanted to do as I promised. A number of you who attended the LPL event in Columbia asked for a copy of the words we spoke over one another at the conclusion. I didn’t have it at work with me yesterday but I have it now. Here it is! May God manifest His tender mercies to each one of you today.
Count it a joy, Dear One
When life gets hard.
God is doing something huge!
He is also proving
That you are NOT a fake.
Be brave, Mighty Warrior.
Your God is with you!
When waves are crashing,
Stand to your feet,
Throw your head back
And feel the wind of the Spirit!
God is painting a masterpiece
With multi-colored trials.
Go forth and display
Divine special effects
To the great glory of God.
YOU CAN DO IT!
PS. If you get a moment, would you be gracious enough to pray for us in our Houston Tuesday night Bible study as we conclude our series on Proverbs tonight? God has been speaking a fresh word to me about prayer recently and I am more convinced than ever that certain things will happen in our individual lives only as a result of our prayer. I believe if you’d stop and pray, God will accomplish some things tonight among my beloved home girls that we’d otherwise miss in our here and now. Thank you so much!
“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the son of your maidservant. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me” (Psalm 86:15-17).
Shocked. Baffled. Sickened. Overwhelmed. Horrified. Saddened. We are all grieving over the Virginia Tech massacre – not only the worst campus shooting, but THE worst shooting in United States history.
We have been on our faces crying out to God over today’s events. We, along with all of you, are praying for everyone affected. May Jesus Himself be their peace and comfort. Lord, have mercy.
In case you don’t have your secret decoder ring nearby, here’s the key to those abbreviations:
PDLAM – Please don’t laugh at me
DSFX – Divine special effects
My beloved Columbia girls, I am sitting here in my office in tears over your blog entries. I have so much studying to do for Bible study tomorrow night but I felt the nudge to glance at the blog. I believe it was from the Lord so that I could thrill to the thought that no one got in His way this weekend in Columbia, S.C. (that would be my worst nightmare) and that He was seen and experienced. I was overcome. One of the hardest things about serving in a really large arena is that so many faces are beyond my sight and so many necks beyond my reach. I am so grateful to God that He, on the other hand, is intimately working in every life in the crowd and His Holy Spirit interceding the entire time for each one according to the will of God. (Romans 8)
The part that makes me most want to bawl is that you got the DSFX part! YOU GOT IT! The thought of the wild drama playing around us in the unseen world as our faith is tested and proved really ministered to me in my preparation but I didn’t know if I could explain it adequately. I am full of praise that God brought it home! I can’t even count to you how many we’ve heard from in that group that have battled cancer and debilitating losses and unexplainable circumstances. Even very young people. Their faithfulness is not in vain! Neither in yours. Not only are they – and you – living amid the wild work of God but those who bravely endure will be profusely and publicly rewarded on the glorious ground of a vivid Heavenly City teeming with life. Jesus will meet each one at the finish line and adorn their victorious heads with the crown of life that God has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Glory to His magnificent Name!
I am so glad you wrote in. My system is weary but happy this morning and suddenly charged with a lightning bolt of the Holy Ghost to head back to the Scriptures and seek God’s face for another class tomorrow night. I did not bring a copy of the commissioning we did at the end of the conference to work today but I will make sure it gets on here tomorrow.
Sistas, I love you so dearly. Keep following hard after Jesus and keep taking Him at His Word. Be brave! This battle is going to be so much MORE than worth it.