Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 21 - Decisions in Hawaii

When I was in the Philippines flying into Vietnam, I had a lot of time to think. Looking back, I remember how lonely I was. We had only been married a little over six months. We had traveled all over the country, been back home to Georgia twice. There was no time to establish ourselves as a couple. To be honest, I had chaffed at the restrictions that Julia had placed on my time at the bar after work with all the guys. Well here I was living a “dream”. Flying productive missions almost daily. We flew long missions with 16 – 18 hour duty days and 12 hours of flying. When I was off, there was nothing to do but work out in the gym and go to the bar at the Officers Club. Everything was back to my “normal”. But nothing seemed right. I had this nagging loneliness. I was really missing being with Julia. I was writing letters constantly. I think it was then that I made my decision. I wanted our marriage to work. I was willing to give up being “one of the guys”. I know that I was willing to be with her, and her alone, for the rest of my life. Many men never get the opportunity to make this decision. They get so caught up in what they are doing, or so caught up in self pity that the opportunity passes them by. You see, I believe that many men, I won’t say most, believe the lie that it is all about them. It’s all about their needs, and their desires. It’s not really their fault. We have been taught this for years. But we all have a time where if we can think and meditate, we can choose different paths. During that time in the Philippines, I chose to do whatever it took to make our marriage work. So I looked forward to coming home. I looked forward to being with Julia, getting reacquainted with her and starting fresh in Hawaii. So when I got back to Hawaii I was ready to move ahead as a married couple. But there was a big problem.

Julia hadn’t made that decision. Julia is a very strong, powerful woman with definite opinions and desires. When I left Hawaii, she was all-alone in a strange place with a lot of time on her hands. We were isolated from the base and our few friends. She did the only thing she knew to do. She started a new life, without me. She went out and got a teaching job at a private school on the other side of the island. She began to make now friends and create a social life that didn’t include me. She survived. No, she was thriving, and enjoying life without me. Her mother and aunt came to visit her. They were going to stay two weeks. Their timing was perfect, for her. They arrived two days before I came home. So here is the scene. I’m coming home from the war to see and love my wife. I want to make up. I walk into our small two bedroom house to find Julia, her mom and her aunt. This was not the homecoming that I had envisioned. To be honest, Julia didn’t want ne there, she was perfectly happy with out me. After about a week, I didn’t want to be there either. She admitted later that she was using her mother and aunt as a shield to keep me away. After they left, it was very cold and quiet in the house for a long time. It was during that time, probably three to four months that if either of us had said divorce, we both would have jumped at the opportunity.

So what was the problem? Looking back, I see that I hadn’t learned to love her the way that she needed to be loved. Sure I could say nice words, and be gentle and sweet. But she needed more. She needed actions: actions like helping with the house. She needed tangible attributes of love. Her love language, like most women was having someone take an interest in their problems. We needed to become a team. It wasn’t enough for me to sit watching TV (we didn’t have computers then) while she did all the housework. She didn’t want me to do it all. She just wanted me to show an interest and help her do it. She wanted me there with her making life together. Too many men never get this. They think that the wife can do everything. Well, they can. But they don’t want to; they want help. Help without asking. If they have to ask you, it doesn’t count.

But, lets get back to my memory. I began to make changes, and they started working. Slowly we started communicating. As I was making changes, so was she. We both began to work at meeting each others needs, and slowly we both realized that we wanted our marriage. We wanted each other. So Julia’s decision was made too. We had passed a major crisis and had decided that we both wanted to do whatever it took to make this thing called marriage work.

Back to the present, that feeling I had in the Philippines was nothing compared to the loneliness that I feel now. I wish that I could fix this. As I look back, I see all that I would have missed had we decided not to make it work. We were fortunate, in that both of us took responsibility for ourselves and changed. You see, I could not have changed Julia. I could only change myself. Julia could not have changed me. If both of us had not taken responsibility, we would have probably seen a different conclusion. You can’t change your partner. It sounds romantic to think you can, but you can’t. They have to want to change themselves. If you or they won’t change, then you are dreaming if you think things will get better. So our story has a happy ending. Why? It worked because we both, individually, made the decision to change, and then we did change. My prayer is that other couples in similar situations will both not only be willing, but will change so that they can meet each other’s need. It can’t be one sided. In the long term that doesn’t work, it’s more like martyrdom.

Today was a good day. I was able to go to church, get a run in. I talked to the girls, and got all my homework done for BSSM tomorrow night. I also got to think about my life with Julia. Good night.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 20 - Keeping an Appointment

I slept well last night. After I finished the blog, I watched a movie “Men of Honor” with Cuba Gooding. As I began the movie, I realized that I was feeling “lighter”. I believe just writing about the day helped me to come out from under any lingering effects. I felt so good that I even thought about writing an addendum to the blog. Obviously I didn’t, but I was amazed at how I felt so good at the end of the day. That feeling has carried over through out the day today. Julia and I have been on the board of Latin Impact Ministries for years. I can’t even remember how many. Russell and Kerri Black have a mission base in Homestead FL, and minister all over Latin America. Their ministry is to the local churches in these countries, they are an encouragement and blessing to many, and especially to us. It has been an honor for both of us to be whatever help we have been to them. We always look forward to this time of year to get together with them for our “board meeting”. It is really more of a time to catch up with all that God is doing with all of us. We have had this meeting on our calendar for a couple of months. Well it was still a good meeting, just one person short. I really missed Julia’s presence and just have her entering into the conversation. But in that missing her, I know that she was there and that it was OK.

Russell came home with me, and we have been hanging out all day. We went to see “The Book of Eli” today. It was a great story, a lot of prophetic implications about having the word in you, not as a book to manipulate others. Once again I was just thinking about sharing with Julia what I felt I was getting from the movie, when I realized that she wasn’t there. It’s moments like this that take me by surprise. But once again today I knew that it was OK, and I didn’t really feel “empty”, at least not today. The day was dreary, and cold. It would have been an easy day to let myself go and feel bad, but I know that God had a different agenda for me, and I am so glad. His joy is everlasting, and the Kingdom is one-third joy. So today has been full of joy: the joy of reconnecting with old friends, the joy of just hanging out with the guys, watching a movie and having a burger at Five Guys. I am grateful for many things. Probably one of the things I am most grateful for is that God gave me a passionate heart. Passion is the fuel that I live on. If I can't be passionate about something, I don’t want to be involved. What are you passionate about? What are your dreams? Your dreams are probably wrapped up somewhere in your passions. So if you don’t know what our dreams are, you should begin to explore your passions. If you spend enough time praying into them, you will find your dreams. To many people, especially young people, spend way to much time worrying about what they are supposed to do. They get caught up in the “paralysis of analysis”. All of a sudden they find that 1,5 maybe even 10 years have passed and they are still looking for their “ministry”. I might be na├»ve, but I really feel that if you just start doing, no matter what it is that you are doing, or how small it seems to be, then God can use that to lead you into the next step. It’s like He wants us to be moving to direct us. If we are not moving, then it’s like he waits to tell us anything until we start.

So, I’m not young, but I still have a destiny. In order to reach my destiny I have to keep moving, moving toward the things I’m passionate about. I am passionate about releasing the Kingdom of God in my sphere of influence. I’m passionate about healing. I’m passionate about bringing others into their destiny, setting the captives free. What are you passionate about? Move toward those passions and begin to reach your destiny. In the midst of this know this one truth: God is good, all the time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 19 - Another Friday

Fridays used to be my favorite day. Growing up, you looked forward to being out of school for the weekends. Then there was Friday night Football and then basketball in High School. We had the Friday night “sock hops”. Yea, I know that’s ancient. In college, we always looked for the Friday night parties. After a week of studying, the weekends were our goal. Then I started work, and Fridays signified the end of the workweek. That is until I became a pilot for Delta. Then Fridays were just another day, and for many years were the beginning of my work week. In fact, the reason I started running in 1980 was I needed exercise that I could do alone. At the time I played tennis and a little golf. The problem was I was working every weekend when my friends were off. When I was off, they were working. I started running because I could do it when I was off. It didn’t depend on anyone else’s schedule. But I still liked Fridays. As our girls got older, once again we had football, basketball and all the weekend stuff. Now we do other things on Friday nights. Friday night is when we schedule most of our Sozos.

For those of you who don’t know, the word Sozo is Greek for saved, healed and delivered. We have a Sozo ministry at RiverStone that works with people, helping them to deal with issues in their lives that are giving them trouble. We do this by trying to listen to what the Holy Spirit is doing. Our job is to connect the person to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We do this through many methods. Anyway, that’s where I am tonight. We only have one appointment tonight. It is a slow night, and I am down in the office doing homework for BSSM, and typing my blog. Fridays are usually fun. But not right now.

Fridays haven’t been fun for a while. It was 3 weeks ago today (Friday) that Julia went home to be with Jesus. All day that Friday I was with her. We had many people praying. I’ll talk about that day another time. I’m not ready to go into the details yet. But it was a Friday that she died. I didn’t realize it last week. I did notice that I was a little bit more down, but just a little. But this morning it hit me. I just don’t like Fridays right now. I’m sure that over time I will begin to like them again, but not right now. There are too many painful memories that are awakened by just the thought of it being a Friday.

So, today hasn’t been a very good day. There has been heaviness on me since I got up this morning. Even going to work, I could just feel the loss. There is no anger, no bitterness, but a deep sense of regret. Regret that she is not here. Regret that I should have see her sickness sooner. Regret that I’ll never get to hold her. So two or three times today, I’ve let myself go there, to that place of loss. But I can’t stay there, I can only visit and grieve. If I stay there I’m afraid that I would be in a downward spiral. No, I have to force myself back. I have to go back to what I know to be true. God loves me. My children love me. Many others love me. I have to look at the goodness of God. I have to let that goodness, like the radiation from a fireplace, warm me through and through. With that warmth, I can continue to press on into the destiny and calling that God has for me. I wish that I could express this so that everyone reading this could understand. It’s OK to feel loss, and express grief. The point is that even in the midst of grief, we have to readjust our sight. We have to raise our eyes and focus on the goodness of God. The heart knowledge of his goodness and grace must be primary to all we are called to do. He is our anchor in times of trouble. An anchor that brings us back into all that we really know to be true, even when we don’t feel like it is.

I feel like I’m just rambling tonight. So I will end with this. Fridays seem bad right now. They won’t always feel like this. Someday soon, I will look forward to Fridays again. But today is not that day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 18 - Healing Prayer

Tonight is the last Thursday of the month. Tonight is special; it’s Night of Healing Prayer at RiverStone. Don’t let the name fool you. We pray for healing all the time, not just tonight. But on the last Thursday night of each month, we put a sign out in front of the church for a week announcing “Healing Prayer 7- 8:30. Then those of us who want to pray and minister to the sick come worship, pray and wait to see who shows up. Well tonight over 48 people showed up, people who are desperate for a touch from God. These people, for the most part, come from other churches, or no church at all. Probably 55 – 60 percent or more come from outside our church. Many just come because of the little sign that is in front of the church, It is an awesome ministry, and truly reflects the values of the Kingdom of God. It is an honor to be a part of it, and have God use me for the healing of others.

Julia and I have been a part of this ministry since the beginning. It is one of our favorite things to do. Most of the time we both lead different teams, and don’t get to pray together. Every now and then, we would pair up, just so we could be together. Those times were really special. I loved it when we prayed together. God would use both of us. Sometimes it was like playing ping pong with the Holy Spirit. He would give Julia something, and she would pray , then what she pared, stirred something in me from the Holy Spirit and we would go back and forth. It was so much fun. I had to work tonight, so I got to the church a little late. Things were busy. As I went in, I knew that I was needed, and the presence of the Lord was with me. It was fun. You know that you are supposed to have fun in ministry. If you are not having fun, something is probably wrong. Well it was fun tonight. We prayed constantly until 8:30. I knew that Julia was watching, cheering us on. I didn’t have time to feel any missing part of me until it was over. On the way home, I remembered how we would go home talking about all that God had done. It was quiet in the car; there was no one to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, tonight was a GOOD night, it’s just that I’m finding out there can still be loneliness even when it is good.

I am more rested today than I was last night. I had a good nights sleep, and didn’t go to work until this afternoon. I was able to go to the “Y” this morning and get checked out on all the equipment. Now, if I can just get there to do all the weights plus continue my running. Tomorrow morning I work, and then we have sozos tomorrow night. It should be another busy day. I still have to complete my book and book report for school. I’ll try to do that this weekend.

I have a confession to make. I have been sleeping very well. I normally don’t take to long to get to sleep, especially when I focus on Jesus. I’m sleeping in our bedroom, and in our bed. But I’ve been cheating a little. The first night after all the kids went home and I moved back into my bedroom, it felt so big and empty. I could see Julia everywhere, but she was not there with me. I dreaded the thought of sleeping alone. We have a queen size bed, so I could normally feel her presence even when we weren’t touching. So I had a thought. I placed all the extra pillows we had on the bed on her side. I lined them up in a row on top of the covers. So when I got in and turned off all the lights, I could “feel” the weight next to me. Anyway, that has become a habit, for good or for bad. (I really think it’s for good right now). I get two advantages out of this. First, it gives me a comfortable feeling like she is next to me, even though I know she is not. Second, it keeps her side of the bed from getting messed up and makes it easier to make up in the morning. Both of these help me a lot. So, now you know. Please don’t tell anyone, it’s my secret. I’m sure that some psychologist could make a lot out of this, but I don’t care. God has given me the grace for this for now. In fact I believe it was Him who gave me the idea in the first place.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 17 - First Christmas in Hawaii

It took us over a month to find a place to live in Honolulu. We looked everywhere. Staying in a hotel for a week is fun, for a month is torture. I still remember our first Christmas in Hawaii. We were in our hotel room. When you looked out the window, you could see Diamond Head, and the beach was not far away. We tried to make it feel like Christmas, but it was hard. We went out to a card shop and bought a fold out aluminum tree, and pinned it to the curtains. The “tree” was probably 10 inches long. It was funny, but we put our gifts to each other “under” it, and opened them on Christmas Day. I can remember liking out the window thinking “what have I done”. Julia later said she would look out the window and cry, wondering who this stranger was that she was living with. We were early in our first year of marriage, and it was hard and getting harder. If you had told me then that we would be together 38 years later, I would have said you were crazy. Julia had to put up with a lot. My days at work in pilot training always used to end up at the Officers Club bar. I thought that was normal. Julia didn’t understand why I didn’t want to come straight home after work, why I had to meet the guys at the bar. We both had a lot to learn about marriage. I wanted to keep my life. I didn’t really know, or want to know how to share my life with her. I was selfish, and so was she. Most of the time we were at an impasse, and we were not having much fun.

We finally moved into our new home. It was a two bedroom duplex in Waipiau. It was basically in the slums, and definitely not what we had envisioned. It was after the first of the year, and we were beginning to settle in and exist together. I stopped going to the bar everyday, and began to come home at night. It still wasn’t great, but Julia was persevering. Vietnam was going strong. The North had invaded the south. The US had a push in the air war, and needed more search and rescue pilots to fly missions. I volunteered and surprisingly I was selected. So I was off to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. We were based there flying into South Vietnam for our missions. I did this for about 4 months. It was fun hard rewarding flying, but I left Julia in Hawaii by herself. Leaving her like that was probably one of the most selfish things that I ever did. I wrote her every day (no email back then). I wa doing my thing, and she was doing her thing. Julia has always been a strong woman. Once she makes her mind up, look out. Well, she decided that if I was gone, she was going to get on with her life. She went out and got a teaching job, made friends with the neighbors, and went on living life.

As I sit here writing tonight, I realize that she wants me to press on, to continue, to keep on living. Both of us were always about living life to the fullest, and I know that she wants for the kids and me now. I guess the question is “what does that look like?” I am no busier now than I was before her death, but it seems like I am. That’s probably because she isn’t here to talk to, to tell me about her day. You see, contrary to that first year, we were best friends. I had much rather come home to be with her than go out with the guys. Now that friend is gone. Last night was my hardest night yet. It was the first time when going to bed was very hard. As I crawled into bed, I just got this ache in my body. It was like an actual pain, the loss felt so great. For about 5 minutes I just ached and hurt like I never have. I didn’t know an emotional pain could hurt in my body so much. Finally through an act of my will, I began to focus on good memories, and then on the goodness of God. I wa able to bring myself back to a joyful state, and went to sleep in peace. I slept very well.

So what did I learn, I learned it’s OK to hurt, but you also have to will yourself to come out of the pit. You have to focus your mind will and emotions on the good, and then eventually on God, resting once again in His goodness.

Today was a good day. Work went well, and I got home in time to go for a run. It’s still early, and I’ve got time to do laundry and watch a little TV. It is really nice to be home for the evening. It probably won’t happen again until the weekend. As I look back on last night, I can still feel the pain. But I can also still feel the joy. The key is feeling. We must never be afraid to feel. But as we press into all that God has for us, we must never forget His goodness, and His grace. As I’ve said before, it’s His grace to enjoy and His grace to endure. I know that I will feel His grace in many ways this next year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 16 - Busy, Busy, Busy

Well I went to bed at 12:30 and I was up at 5:45. I was at work in meetings all day from 8 – 4 and then to BSSM at 6. I just walked in at 11PM. I am writing, winding down getting ready for bed, I have to be back at work at 9 AM tomorrow. Man, sometimes I think that I am too busy. But both last night and tonight were so good at school. I was able to check and send emails at Starbucks late this afternoon. The bad thing was I haven’t had time to run all week. Maybe I will tomorrow afternoon. I talked with Lisa today. She is sick, possibly with the flu. It is a helpless feeling to know that one of your children is sick in another state. Prayer is the first thing you think of, and I did that and I still am. But the enemy tries to bring fear in. Especially since Julia’s illness started with what seemed to be a cold. Perfect love cast out fear, so I made myself focus on Jesus and His love. Instantly the fear was gone, and replaced by righteous anger and more prayer for protection and healing. I’ll talk with her tomorrow.

Danny Silk was talking about many things tonight. He talked some about a culture of Honor. I’ve heard him talk about that many times. But most of the time he spent talking about boundaries. How many people can you control? Can you control your children or your teenagers? Sometimes we try to control our spouse. In reality there is only one person you can control on a good day. That person is you. If you are good, you can control you. It’s amazing how we try to control others. This is a great teaching, one that we all need to learn and implement in our lives. I wish Julia had been there. This was the week that she had planned to come to class. We both learned so much and gained so much from the ministry of Danny Silk. Tonight I found my self getting distracted from his teaching thinking of her.

I remember when we first going to Hawaii. We had finally finished all the schools. I had gone to survival school in Spokane Washington in late November. Julia had flown home to see her folks for the two weeks I was there. Our plan was for me to drive down to San Francisco after my school, pick her up at the airport. Then we had to take our car to the port to be shipped and get the flight to Honolulu. It was fine for her. It was like hell in ice for me. The survival school had us out in the mountains of Washington State alone for a few days. Then we were taken “prisoner” and taken to a simulated Vietnamese prison camp. I won’t go into the things they did to us except to say that what happened to us would now be considered ”torture”. I didn’t think it as such then, and I don’t now. It was preparing us for some of the things we could expect if we were shot down in the war. Then driving back to San Francisco was a nightmare because of the snow and ice. Needless to say, I was glad to see Julia and was looking forward to the beach in Hawaii.

Honolulu in 1971 was overrun with military. There were about 3 Air Force Bases, two Navy bases and a Marine Base on the island of Oahu. Plus the headquarters for all the Pacific fleet was there. When we got there in early December we were expecting to stay in a hotel for 3 to 5 nights. We were in a hotel right down in Waikiki. Tourist paid good money for a place like we had. Here we had Uncle Sam footing the bill. We got settled in, met some people from our squadron and then started looking for housing. That was like looking for a needle in a haystack. There was no housing on the island. It looked like we might be in this hotel room for a year. It’s amazing how small a hotel room can get with two people. It was especially hard on Julia. I would go to work in the squadron; she would be stuck in the hotel. We had a borrowed car; ours was on a boat coming from the mainland. She was already getting homesick. I’ll finish this memory tomorrow night. But I can still see her on the beach in Waikiki.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day - 15 Strengthening Resolve

It is very late. I have 40 minutes to write and get this posted on Monday. I will keep this short tonight, and try to fill in some details later.

How do you grieve? What is grief? These are two questions that I have been wondering about. I know that I could probably read counseling books on the subject and fill my head with knowledge. Then I would know whether I was “doing it right” or not. I thought about that. And I won’t rule it out, but for now I had rather go with my heart. So when my heart tells feels like crying, I cry. When my heart feels like laughing, I laugh. I did both today, with gusto. If you are going to do something go all out. Don’t hold back. I know there are times when I can’t let go. When I’m at work I have to just concentrate on the task at hand. But I know when the tears are near, so when I can, I let them flow. The bible says to mourn with those who mourn. It’s OK to grieve, and feel the pain of loss. But what is not OK is to let it move from the pain of loss to self-pity. When we focus on ourselves to long, it can do that. So for me, when the sense of loss becomes too great I release my grief in tears, but end it by focusing on good memories of Julia and the goodness of God. I think one of the worst times is when I wake up in the morning and realize that I am in am empty bed, that I can’t reach over and touch Julia. I realize that on this side of Heaven I will never be able to touch her again. I normally lay there for just a few minutes reflecting on the loss, then get up and start the day. I wonder how long this will last. I don’t mind it, in fact I’m not sure I want it to end.

Today I got an email from a friend. It was a letter from Graham Cooke. For those of you who don’t know, Graham is from England and lives now in California. Many people, including me, believe him to be a prophet. He has written several books, and has a major ministry through out the world. Graham was talking about an untimely death of his churches leaders daughter. What he shared in his letter was much of what I have shared at the celebration service for Julia. It mirrors my belief about the goodness of God, and my call for Divine Justice. So I’m going to end with a fairly long quote from him. This quote is my heart for what God is calling us as a body, and me in particular to. I invite you to join me in going after the Glory of God and pursuing His Justice.

"As a community this tragedy has united us and defined who we are going to be. It has called us up to a new place…brought an ascension in the Spirit.

We are going after:

Heaven on Earth

Being made in His image

As He is, so are we in this world

Greater things shall we do

We will go after the Glory of God and trust His Justice. We will embrace His Nature, His love, Mercy, Grace, Kindness and Joy. We will choose to view our life through the eyes of His Goodness. We will go after Resurrection, Healing, Miracles, Power and Abundance until we see it, we apprehend it, and it becomes a normal occurrence. We want this fight!

We are in the process of making new decisions that define us as a community. We are not going back."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 14 - Rainy Night in Georgia

I remember the old Brooke Benton song “Rainey Night in Georgia”. I loved that song, although it did leave me sometimes with a wistful feeling, a longing for home. I remember listening to it in the dry desert of Lubbock Texas in pilot training, I would long to see the tall pine trees, and the foggy wet nights, much like tonight, I don’t know why I thought of that song, except that’s pretty much how I feel tonight. Longing for something that’s far, far away. Except this time I can’t get it back. Tonight in worship I could almost see Julia next to me worshiping. It was so good, and yet so hard. I’ve felt that deep longing since. But even with the deep longing, things are OK. I watched football and ate a homemade fried apple pie (thanks Lynn).

Today was a full, interesting and good day overall. I went to Bethel Atlanta this morning to see Danny Silk. Bud and Cathy went with me. We had to take separate cars because I had to stay down south for the after noon. Bud rode with me, and Cathy followed. It was raining a little, and we were on I 285 when what had been an uneventful morning suddenly became very interesting. I had a blowout on my left rear tire. I was able to maintain control of the Envoy and get all the way from the left lane to the right emergency lane. We got stopped, and then got out to see about changing the tire. Why can’t you have a flat tire when it’s dry and on a mice slow road. Mo, you always have a flat in the rain and have cars going 80 miles per hour five feet away from you. Now the envoy is 6 years old. I have never had to change one of the tires. The spare is the original and I find myself praying that it has air in it. The hardest part about changing the tire was figuring out how to get the tire out from under the car. To do that we had to find out where all the jack and tire tools were hidden. I’m glad Bud was there because it took both of us reading and rereading the instructions to figure out how to do it. It took about thirty to forty-five minutes, but we got it done, and there was air in the tire. That’s still amazing to me!

We made it to church about 20 minutes late, not too bad considering. It was great to see everyone down there, and Danny’s message was great. I would up staying and talking to people for about thirty minutes, and then I went to see Dad.

Dad and I had a good visit until we had to go to the funeral home. That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I said hello to all the family, spoke to all the people that I knew and then left. I really wanted to get back to RiverStone for worship. The presence of God was on both services today. Both churches are going after His presence and it is good to see. Julia liked tonight, I’m sure of that. I know that part of the Perfect justice that I am seeking from God is for Him to use Julia’s death as a catalyst to propel us more into His presence. I know that is coming true for me, because I constantly feel His manifest presence. That didn’t use to be the case. My desire is to go farther and faster than I ever thought possible. We have to dream BIG, bigger than Marietta, bigger than Atlanta, bigger than Georgia. You get it; we need a worldwide vision of what He wants to do with us. I am asking God for that BIG dream. It is a time for asking big. It is a time for declaring what we see in Heaven and bringing it here on earth. I am committed to going for everything I can get, and I’m looking for those who want to join me. Destiny is given to those who take it. So lets take it.

It's funny. As I wrote this tonight my deep sense of loss that I had as I started has lifted. It has been replaced by a since of her live for me, and His love for me. I guess this blog is really helping me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 13 - Back to Work

Well, today I went back to work as an instructor for Delta Airlines. When I was working with Delta, I was in Flight training for 14 of my 25 years. I enjoy working with pilots. They are usually very motivated and good students. So when I was offered the opportunity to come back as a contract instructor on one of my favorite airplanes, I jumped at the chance. As a contract instructor, we work as much or as little as the company needs us. But we also have the ability to limit how many days we work per month, and our schedule can be flexible. After Julia’s death, I asked the scheduler to find someone to work the days I was scheduled, so that I could have some time with the family. So today was my first day back. It went well, I had good students and everything was uneventful. This next week will be busy because I work Tuesday – Friday. That along with school and sozos will have me busier than I have been in a while. It was funny though. Even at work, I found myself at times missing Julia. Normally I would call her during any breaks and check in to see what she was doing, how her day was. I didn’t need the phone today.

On the way home, I stopped at Harry’s to do some shopping. Julia and I normally did this together on Sunday afternoon. I’ve learned a lot watching her shop. I found myself still buying organic vegetables and grass fed beef along with cage free eggs. I don’t read the labels as closely as she did, but I did read a couple of labels that I know that she would think were questionable. So, you see, she is very much a part of me in spite of the emptiness. When I got home, I marinated a couple of chicken breast (organic of course) in soy sauce and Jalapenos. Yes, I did make it hotter than I would have if she were here eating with me. Then I did some ironing, and learned how to fold shirts.

Biddie said that Julia should own a Chinese laundry. She could fold faster and better than anyone she new. I never learned. So after doing laundry, and ironing, I went to fold some shirts. I didn’t have a clue as to how to do it, but I did have a brilliant idea. I took one of the shirts that Julia had previously folded and unfolded it. Then I practiced folding it back and I got it. I could fold similar to the way she did. They didn’t look as good, but I know that practice makes perfect. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of practice.

This is the first night that I have been home to eat all week. I really enjoyed it. Sometimes you just need to be alone. I’ve basically been doing chores and watching TV. I have a weeks worth of shows recorded and I will only get to see a few. Tomorrow I’m going to Bethel Atlanta for morning church. I’m supposed to go once a month for school. Besides Danny and Sherry Silk are going to be there. It should be great. I was planning on being back to RiverStone for the evening service, but a friend of the family died, and I have to go to the funeral home in Peachtree City around 4:30. I’m not looking forward to that at all. It will be two weeks tomorrow night that we were in the funeral home meeting people. Two weeks, it is hard o believe. It seems like last night in some ways. In some ways it still doesn’t seem real. I can expect her to call out, or come walking in from the other room. Two weeks, what will two months feel like? Will it be different, or will I still feel the same. I really am doing well. It’s just certain times that I really wonder how it will all work.

Well, the fire is nice, and it’s good to relax. I’ve just got to get used to not talking out loud. I could talk out loud to myself, but then people might think I’m crazy. Maybe I’ll just put on a movie and chill out for the rest of the evening.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 12 - Some Good, Some not so Good

After a great day yesterday, I woke up this morning in an empty bed thinking about Julia and my loss of her. It was the type of day where we would normally get up and I would fix breakfast and we would read our Smith Wigglesworth Devotional and pray together. We didn’t always get to do that, but when we did it was always a lot of fun. I wish that I prayed as much as Julia did. I never seemed to have the time. I was always working or involved in something else. Don’t get me wrong, I pray, but I could never keep up with her. She just loved to spend time to pray. I remember when she first started “soaking” in the presence of God. I had a hard time with that. I just couldn’t slow down my mind enough. When I did slow down, I would fall asleep. It probably took me over a year to begin to get the hang of it. She was very patient with me. I’m sure she got impatient with me, but she didn’t show it. She new that I would come along, and I did. This is a key thing I have learned in 38 years of marriage. Even if you are both going after the same thing, sometimes you go at different speeds. You have to have patience to allow the other to catch up sometimes. That doesn’t mean you stop. On the contrary, most of the time Divine jealousy is what will motivate the other to keep on. It’s just that the lead might have to slow down a little and help the other one. There were times in our marriage when I had to help Julia along, and times where she had to help me. The there were the really good times when we were running hard, side by side. For the last 3 years that has been the case. Both of us running as hard as we can, side by side. I’m not stopping. I know that she is there beside me now, urging me on. But it’s still different, and a little lonely.

I got better as the day progressed. I had some errands to run and then I joined the YMCA. I haven’t been getting to run because of the cold and out treadmill has been broken since November. I was planning to get the treadmill fixed so Julia could use it. Now I feel it more important to get out and exercise with others, so I decided the join the Y. Then I went back and worked out. I did get to talk to both Jennifer and Lisa today. It is always good to talk to them. I miss them and the grandkids a lot. I know that they all miss their “Nanna”. I can never replace her, and wouldn’t want to. But I do know that they all need me more than ever, and I want to be there for them.

Tonight we had Sozos. We had 6 scheduled, 4 women and 2 men. I had the teams scheduled accordingly. I didn’t schedule myself because I figured I needed another week before I “got back in the saddle”. The Holy Spirit had other ideas. What I thought was a woman scheduled was actually her husband. Being the only male left in the office when he came in, I know that I had to do it. So I just prayed silently “Help, come Holy Spirit”, gathered my stuff, reassigned some of the teams and went to do it. Once again, the Goodness of God comes to pass. I who have nothing is filled with the Holy Spirit who has everything. The grace and presence of God was with me the whole evening and I thank Him for His love and mercy.

So, here I am, going into another weekend. Tomorrow I go back to work. Sunday things start getting busier. Danny Silk, from Bethel Redding is in town for our school next week. I can’t wait for that. Once again, I thank the body for all the prayers and support. I’m still riding the wave of your prayers and His presence.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 11 - Heaven's Peace and Perfect Justice

It’s already after 10, and I’m just starting this. Right now it is so peaceful here in the house. I’m sitting in the Rocker, next to the fire. I have my favorite album playing. I can’t get enough of Love Come Down. The second song is an old hymn from the Welsh Revival called “Here is Love”. It talks about Heavens Peace and Perfect Justice. As I began to listen to it again, I realized that was what I had. I have Heaven’s peace, and I know that there will be perfect justice. I saw a lot of people today. I flew home early, landing in the rain at 9AM. I had lunch with friends at the West Cobb Diner. The food was very good, and reasonable. It’s definitely a winner in my book. We were talking about different things, mainly about what God was doing in the world, and about His goodness. They asked me how I was doing. This is a common question, and most of the time my answer is “I’m doing very well”. This is because most of the time I am. I actually almost felt guilty that I was feeling good so much of the time. I told them that and we talked about how it is God’s grace. Think about this: Wouldn’t a good doctor give you enough pain medication to keep you out of distress if you had an operation. I just had half my heart and soul snatched away from me. I can feel good because of Heaven’s peace. It’s his love that sustains me. I’m not bitter or angry because I know that I will get His perfect Justice. So He in His presence is giving me the “spiritual anesthetic” that I need to keep me in Heaven’s peace. So I have come to realize that’s it’s OK to feel good.

I went to small group tonight. We meet at RiverStone in the Grand Foyer. We meet there because our “small” group has out grown any of our homes. Peter and Masha Oswalt were our special guest. Peter and Masha are missionaries in Russia, and they are here for a couple of months. Julia and I met them a few years ago and fell in love with them instantly. They are very gifted and the anointing of God just drips off of them. They taught and ministered to us all. It was awesome. We had good ministry time, praying and speaking the destiny and blessings of God over each other. During worship, in my minds eye, I could see Julia as I have seen her so many times before, her hands raised, gracefully dancing before the Lord. I know that she enjoyed to night from her vantage point, and was cheering us on. Tonight we were talking about pushing out for more and not being content with where we are. This is the message Julia and I have been sharing for years, and our hearts desire.

But we weren’t always going after God. After we finished our honeymoon, we spent 5 months in different places around the country while I went to various schools getting ready for our first assignment. Our first assignment was at Hickam AFB in Honolulu Hawaii. We were both excited about going. It was an adventure we were looking forward to. But we were finding that married life wasn’t always a bed of roses. These first few months we were staying in small, furnished apartments or hotels. Trying to establish a household or any domestic patterns was almost impossible. I was just trying to add Julia to what I normally did. That didn’t work very well. She didn’t like to go to the officers club and hang out at the bar. I found that she was not fitting in to my lifestyle very well. On the other hand, I know that she felt totally out of place with no friends and no time to make any. To make matters worse, between schools we would come back to Atlanta and stay at our parent’s house. I wanted to stay at my parent’s house and she wanted to stay at her parent’s house. So you can see this wasn’t going as well as I thought it would. But I knew that once we got to Hawaii, everything would be all right. Besides, we had only known each other a couple of months now. What can you expect when you get married after 3 dates? Well we were probably getting what we deserved.

It’s fun now even think back of all those times, even the hard ones. God’s grace and Heaven’s peace is truly calling me right now. I’m sitting here resting by the fire, enjoying the last part of the evening. Yes there is still a lingering emptiness, but for tonight at least it is mostly replaced with a knowing. A knowing that she is right here with me. I can almost feel her presence, and I can sense her so close to me as I rest in Heaven’s peace. It is a GOOD night.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 10 - First Flight

I’m at the airport. It is 6:30 in the morning. I went to bed at 12:30, got up at 4:15. I’m used to doing things like this. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. The flight looks good. There are a lot of open seats and only about 20 standby passengers, so I should get on with no problem. I’ll arrive in Ft Lauderdale around 9:30. That will give me the whole day with Jennifer and then the kids after they get out of school. It really feels funny. It shouldn’t. I’ve been at the airport thousands of times in the past 38 years. Most of the time it has been without Julia. So this shouldn’t be any different, but it is. There is no one to call to at home. The fact that she is not there running the house, sewing, going to intercession or meeting with someone is hard to grasp. Someone asked me last night if I was still numb, or was I feeling. I think I’m feeling, but who knows. Maybe I am numb. All I know is there is a deepening emptiness that I keep asking the Holy Spirit to fill when it settles in on me.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone down there and spending time with them. I know that I will be making a lot of trips to both Ft Lauderdale and to Mobile or wherever Lisa is living. However my home is here. These are my roots, where I get life. Julia knew this long before I did. After I retired from Delta, I was ready to move to the beach. I love the beach, and I figured that it would be an easy transition. She listened to me, and tried to work things out, but I soon realized that getting her out of the Atlanta area would be like pulling teeth. Well we are about to board. I’ll continue this later on today.

Well its 9PM and it has been a good day. I met Jennifer at the airport and we went to breakfast and had a great time to talk and be together. That afternoon I was able to go run with Sean and then spend time with one of my granddaughters while the other was at track practice. We just finished a good diner and soon it will be bedtime. It’s been a good day, but tomorrow comes early. I’m leaving Ft Lauderdale at 6:50 in the morning.

As the day went on, I found myself thinking of Julia a lot. The emptiness is still there, but we have to keep living. There are people depending on us, schedules to meet, things that have to get done. So I leave myself with this question. Am I grieving enough? Is it OK to try to keep going? I thing it is probably different for everyone, but for me, I think the best thing I can do is “keep on keeping on”. I love Julia. I will always love her. The emptiness is real. The loneliness is hard, but I have to balance my grief with life and responsibilities. That might be hard to balance, but by resting in His presence it is possible. Besides, I think it is what Julia would want me to do :>)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 9 - Back in the Groove?

Wow, it has been busy all day. I did sleep well last night. I am surprised that I have been able to sleep as well as I have. However I know that it is God’s grace and presence that is enabling me. I go back to school tonight, and I am definitely looking forward to it. For those who don’t know, I’m in first year at Bethel Atlanta School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Why, you might ask? Well I really wanted to be pushed more this year. I felt that we are at a point in history, and in our church where each of us, no mater where we are spiritually, we need to be pushing for the next level. How do you push, when it’s not about your works, but His grace? I believe you push yourself by surrounding yourself with people who are more radical than you are. People whom also want more. If you are constantly in the lead, how will you ever grow? So This September I started in BSSM. Julia was all for it, she encouraged me to go, even though it meant 2 more nights away from home. She knew that this wasn’t the right time for her. The baby was coming in January and she planned to be spending a lot of time in Mobile helping Lisa. Si I ventured out, but she was (and is) with me in Spirit. We would talk and share about all the things we were doing, and what I was learning. In fact our last outing together was at a Bill Johnson Conference in Webb AL with the BSSM team. We spent most of the time together just talking about 2010 and our dreams. It seems God was downloading more and bigger dreams. I know that they are still to be fulfilled, and I don’t believe they have changed. They still were in the formative stage; we were talking about a lot of things. Only the Father knows how it will all work out. I am serious about surrounding yourselves with people who will push you out of your comfort zone. It is imperative that we not settle for the ordinary life, as we know it. There is so much more. The good news is that God wants us to have it more than we want it.

Anyway, it seems that whether I am ready of not, life is calling. My two granddaughters that live in Ft Lauderdale have birthdays on Jan 15th and Jan 23. So I am flying down to FLL in the morning and spending the day with my daughter and taking them out to dinner tomorrow night. I return on Thursday morning, have cell Thursday night, Sozos on Friday night and work on Sat. So life is calling fast. I know that I have to pace myself and give myself time to reflect. I believe the discipline of writing this blog will help with that.

On our first date, I told you about Julia’s big blue eyes. She also had long blond hair that was beautiful. Well, when I flew in for our second date, she was meeting me at the airport. I didn’t have a picture of her except in my mind. We had talked on the phone almost every night, and I felt I was getting to know her very well. The problem was I hadn’t seen her since that first night. No problem, I would just look for the beautiful short blond with blue eyes and long hair. (Now here is where my story and Julia’s story differs). So I’ll be fair and tell Julia’s first. Julia always interjects that she told me she had short hair on that first date that her long beautiful hair wasn’t real. It was just an “extension”. Something girls did in the 70’s. No IF she told me, I didn’t hear her. So here I am at the airport looking for the girl I’m going to marry and I can’t find her. I was in shock when this short, beautiful girl with short blond hair came up and hugged me. Not a good way to start your “second” date. Anyway we survived that date, and I flew out to Texas the next night.

Tonight at school was awesome. It is almost to much to speak of right now. Let me say that I felt the presence and love of God through the school. God is truly carrying me right now. I need to close. I have an early flight tomorrow morning and I have things to do. I am just thankful for the Goodness of God, and his grace.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 7 - This house seems bigger

When we “down-sized” about 4 years ago, it was hard to get used to the size of this house. Don’t get me wrong; I really like the floor plan and the openness of it. It’s just that we were moving into a house that had 1000 less square feet. There were fewer rooms and fewer amenities. What I liked best was there was a small yard. (I still like that). It took a while for us to get used to it, but we did. It is a great house, and we have been very happy here. But now this house seems huge. I was walking around the other night, and I realized that I am all alone here most of the time. It seemed cavernous as I walked around that night. Today I discovered another fact. It takes a lot of time to get it clean.

Yesterday the last of the kids left. Lisa and the girls went back to Mobile. So today I began the daunting task of stripping the beds, washing sheets, drying sheets….all that you do to restore a house when company is gone. I was blessed to have help from John and Biddie. They cam over and we (really them) cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed the whole house, mopped the floors using a new fangled “Swiffer” that Julia had hidden deep in the recess of her cleaning products. You know, the ones I didn’t even know existed. It’s really not my fault that I don’t know how to do all this and am now learning in a trial by fire. You see, I was blessed to be married to someone who kept an immaculate home. Most of the time it was spotless. She liked it that way, and loved to keep it that way. Whenever I would attempt to help, she would assign me another task. It was probably because I didn’t perform the tasks to her standards. I learned many years ago that when she got in a “cleaning mode” to get out of the way., preferably out of sight. I didn’t mind, she liked to do it, and I didn’t. It was easy.

It was also easy to take for granted all that she did around the house. I think that I was a pretty good husband, and a good partner. I helped in the kitchen, took out the trash and worked in the yard. I also helped make the beds and did other things. I figured I did about 40% of the work. I believe I was way off. After what I’ve seen these past few days, I probably did 15%. I don’t know how women do it. I think of single parents, male or female, and my hat goes off to them. My eyes have definitely been opened , and I realize how much Julia loved me and our kids. One of her love languages was service. She loved to do things for others. I think she was blessed as much helping as the others were in receiving. I really do miss her. I was just talking to one of my daughters. I said I am totally surrounded by her here. It’s like she could be in the next room sewing or reading. But she’s not. I still enjoy the comfort of the “nest” that she made for us. My goal is to keep it like she would as much as I can. I will cut myself some slack because I’m new at this, and my definition of clean has never been as tight as hers.

I went out tonight. It was fun, but still lonely. There is a kind of loneliness that is just there. There is a sort of emptiness that I feel now. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with, if I stop and think, it’s there. I’m beginning to realize that this emptiness is part of the new “normal”. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this as it develops. 24 is back, and going great. Jack Bauer is doing his best, and I know we can all sleep safer. Speaking of sleep, I think that’s where I’m headed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 7 - A Good Day

Wow! Here I am by myself. Right now it is not as bad as I thought it would be. I know that it will be at times, but today is a good day. I got up this morning and helped Lisa pack the car. I made them breakfast and spent a little time with them and then left for church around 10AM as they finished up packing and then left after I did. This morning I felt expectant, like something was going to happen. I was listening to the same CD as yesterday, but the Holy Spirit was moving me in a different way. As I drove down Stilesboro Rd to church I began to declare Divine Justice. Divine Justice for my loss of Julia, for her granddaughter’s loss of her. Divine Justice for her daughter’s loss of her.

I found myself yelling in the car, roaring in the Spirit and calling out to God pleading my cause. I was energized even before I got to church. It was good seeing people. I was able to get a lot of hugs and smiles from many of my friends. Worship was awesome. Daniel had some new songs that were great, plus all the other songs. The message was challenging. Mark called us all to really be disciples. That we need to be “doing the stuff” not just talking about it. There was an expectant spirit today. I felt that we have taken a step up in the Spirit, and we are expecting MORE.

After lunch with friends I made a trip to Costco. I finally got home, and looked around. The house is empty. Julia is not here physically, but everywhere I look I see her touch. She is watching, I know it. I could feel and almost see her during worship. She was such an intercessor; I know that she is still interceding for us all. But now, she has a direct line. No, she is not here, and I will miss her, but I am comforted the things that I can see as well as what I don’t see. There are a lot of things I have to learn. I changed the sheets, and made the bed. That I can do. But how do you fold a fitted sheet? Especially when it is queen size. Well, I will learn tomorrow. Oh, I did find the camera. It was still in her suitcase from when we came back from the conference last week. There are a few things that are still missing, but I know that they will show up.

God is so good, and He loves us so much. I am so glad He left the Holy Spirit with us as a comforter. Today is Sunday. It has been a good day. All is well, and life will continue. I think I will watch 24 now. I know that Jack needs my help.