Friday, June 24, 2011

Taking the Baton

Warning...long blog warning.  :)

Have you ever had one of those weeks?  You know the type.  You are reflective, even melancholy.  Well, that is me this week.  If this blog turns out to be just a little bit reflective it is probably because it is.  Like I said, it is just one of those weeks and the rain outside is reflecting my mood.  Thank you very much.

First of all, Nicole.  She continues with doing wonderful.  Next week we have an appointment to perform tissue matching with the next two potential donors, Tiffany and Krista.  Everything is lined up and we are ready to go!  The more I think about this process the more I am convinced that I really, really do not want Titia to be the donor.  She is a very good match, which is wonderful.  However, she really needs to just be “mommy”.  Titia is more than willing to give a kidney…it is just not ideal.  I am praying that one of the other potential donors is the perfect match.  It is out of my hands and we will just have to wait and see.

Nicole is such a trooper.  I will not go into details, but yesterday we had an incident with Nicole that would have sent the average kid (or adult) over the top.  She just took it in stride.  Amazing.  She has been blessed with such a calm, little spirit in the midst of difficult circumstances.  I am so thankful because I know that she will be a calming influence when the time for the transplant actually comes.

Keep praying for the tissue matching to find the perfect donor.

Now, back to my week.  I know this blog is about Nicole but since I have the keyboard you also get some of me fished in.  Okay, okay, a lot of me.  It is a package deal, I guess.  As I said, I have been a bit reflective.  Maybe this is because Nathan, my oldest, is in Puerto Rico on a missions trip for 2 weeks.  Whenever he is gone I wander around like a lost puppy.  It really is pathetic.  I love him dearly and I pray he is doing well  ministering and being ministered to.  There are worse things for a 16 year old to be involved in…I know I was at 16.  I will spare you the details.

I have been thinking about everything in my life that has not gone perfectly.  The proverbial pity party, so to speak.  My father passed away in 2001 and it was Father’s Day on Sunday.  I know, I know, it is a Hallmark holiday, but it still makes me reflect upon my dad and how much I miss him.  He was a wonderful man and I wish my children could have known him and that I would have had more time with him.  Next, my mother passed away last year very suddenly.  Our relationship was always a bit rocky, but I still loved her and miss her.  All of my blood grandparents are gone, except one.  Grandma Thomas.  I received a call last night from my sister telling me that they have brought Hospice in for her.  She is on her way out.  My childhood, though good, was greatly influenced by my parents perpetually unstable relationship.  I was born in Ohio but we moved to Florida when I was 12 at the tail-end of my 6th grade year.  Have you ever switched schools towards the end of a school year?  What a weird and awkward situation.  However, some of the kids that I met that 6th grade year at Lee Middle School in Ft. Myers I am still friends with today.  Though we rarely, if ever, see each other I still consider them friends and I know deep down that if I needed something I could call them in an instant and they would be there for me.

Prior to moving to Florida my memories from Ohio are mostly playing baseball, chasing girls on the playground at Plain City Elementary School, going to the pool during the summer, hunting and trapping with my dad, playing outside with Terri and Brad (my sister and brother), hanging out with my cousins, and going over to Grandma Thomas’ house.  She always had those Sherbet Push-up frozen treats in her freezer (and still does) and every other type of junk food that would make her young grandson happy.  We had family picnics where the whole family would gather, throw horse-shoes, romp around, and just generally have a good time.  Not all, but a lot of those family members we used to gather with have passed on.  Now Grandma Thomas is going to be heading home very soon as well.  She is a believer and follower of Christ.  I am thankful.  I just recently saw her and she is at peace with the creator of the universe.  (Are you?)  She knew she would not see us again.  She gave some advice to my son Nathan to hold on to his girlfriend, Shelby, because she is “just perfect”.  I agree.  She asked me to pray with her…I did.  She is ready to go and on she will go.

It all kind of makes me sad.  The previous generation is dying off.  It happens to all of us sooner or later.  The baton is passed on from generation to generation and we all take our turn at running the race until we just can’t run any longer.  It seems to me from watching a lot of older people pass that by the end of the race most of them don’t want to run any longer.  I get that.  Running can be a lot of work.  However, I will continue to run.  It is my turn.  I have a lot to run for right now.  I have Titia, Nathan, and my three children that are 6 years old and under.  They all need me and it is my responsibility to provide for them…emotionally, spiritually, physically, and so on.  As I have said before, I take that responsibility seriously.

Which brings me to my grand conclusion.  All of this thinking about the passing of generations to the next has made me refocus on something I know to be true.  That is, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”  Let me reword this in a way that is a little more close to home for me…”What does it gain Nicole to get a new kidney and lose her soul?”.  Not to be all doomy L, but at the end of the day Nicole is going to end up in the same place as Grandma Thomas, my dad, my mom, and everyone else on the planet for that matter…with or without a new kidney.  Don’t get me wrong.  She has a ton to offer this world and she needs that new kidney.  No way am I implying that getting a donor kidney is not important.  That is not what I am saying.  However, seriously, what will it gain her if she gets a new kidney but fails to have a relationship with the creator of kidney’s?  Or to have a life that is apart from the creator of life?  That sort of existence is like the old Kansas song, “we are all just dust in the wind”.  (An 80’s blast from the past there).  Not really worth a whole lot.

One of the scariest verses in all the Bible is this…

Judges 2
10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

This was the generation after Joshua.  Joshua had wandered through the wilderness and seen countless miracles.  God had provided for Israel while he had taught them the infinite message of trusting in him, ONLY.  He had seen the previous generation die off because of unbelief without ever experiencing the reality of God’s promises and he, like that entire generation, knew first-hand the importance of knowing and trusting in God.  So how, I ask you, did “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord.”?  How could this be?  Did they just not tell them.  Did they tell them and a hard-hearted generation just not listen.  Words spoken, but not heard.  How?  I don’t know for certain.  However, I do know this.  If I get to the end of my life and my children arise to take the baton without knowing the Lord it is NOT going to be on my hands.  I speak in faith.  If I preach a thousand sermons, write 100000 blogs, spend literally months in church, feed the poor, minister to the needy, take care of the widows, and give my body to be burned and my children not know about the Lord and his blessings in my life then may I suffer a 1000 hell’s.  I am dead serious.  My life will have been in vain regardless of the works I have performed and the lives I have touched.  I don’t control my kids lives and I rarely preach to them, though sometimes that is necessary.  However, they will know and I will testify about God’s provision for sin and of His great salvation.  If they hear nothing else, they will hear this.

Nicole needs a kidney and thus this blog.  Even greater, Nicole needs to know the Lord and no doctor can give her that.  The greatest earthly teacher she will have of the Lord will not be a pastor, it will be her mom and dad.  Titia and I.  That, my friends, is worth running for.

For His Glory,


  1. This is the first I hear of your mother's passing; I'm so sorry to hear that!

    Thank you as always for the update; I will continue to keep this all in prayer.

    And finally, on the last part, a sobering reminder - and on the flip side, and brighter side (I guess), a reminder of how much I miss sitting under your teaching. I remember that ten years ago now (has it really been that long!), I would run recordings of the service, tape duplicators, and all that. Today it's a lot simpler, with digital voice recorders and posting mp3s. Have you considered taking sermon recording back up? If you happen to at some point, I would love to know.

  2. ...And so the baton has been passed. Grandma Thomas fought the hard fight and like you, I know that she was ready to go. She said goodbye to me during my Memorial Day visit and I knew that it was her last goodbye to me...and so did she. Though not always the perfect childhood, our parents did leave us something very important. We learned about God and the impact of living with or without him. Though we, the new holders of the baton, are not always perfect either, our children know about God. I remember after Mom passed you and I talking about feeling like we were left on an island, remember? I guess that God feels that we are ready to take the baton and run with it...and I guess that I can say for the first time in a long time, I am ready to assume that responsibility.
    I continue to pray for Nicole. She is a brave little soul and I love her. And I love you. :-)