Monday, November 15, 2010

$44 Mission Trip

I need 50 people from ClearView to take a $44 mission trip in the next 2 weeks ... and you won't even have to leave home! I need you to take 100 envelopes and letters to stuff and stamp to help launch a church we are supporting in Hendersonville.

Ed Stetzer blessed us during my time of surgery and recovery. He is planting a church in Hendersonville, TN. Now we have the chance to walk alongside him as he did for us. The letters are to introduce the community to the new church he is planting. We will need to have them stuffed and stamped by the first week of December (something with eternal impact you can do while you watch football Thanksgiving day :-)).

I will go first. My family and I will do 100. Now I need only 49 more. We will have a sign up sheet Wed. night and Sunday. If you want to respond on facebook or at I will get your name on the list.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest blog from my oldest daughter

This is the third and final guest blog from my family. Tiffany is my oldest daughter. When I asked, "What did you learn from our experience?", this is her response ...

So I’m the one who gets to follow up behind Mom and Britt’s blog. I hope your expectations aren’t too high. 

Going into the surgery, I didn’t even begin to consider that Dad may not make it out of it. It’s like it wasn’t even an option. Even after the arteriogram scare, I just couldn’t even let the possibility of Dad not making it through the major surgery even cross my mind. I think that’s part of my personality. I am definitely a “don’t worry about it till you have to” kind of person. So walking into Vanderbilt the morning of the surgery, my plan was this. “I’m not going to expect anything but a good outcome, and if anything happens, I’ll deal with it then.” My job was to be strong for my family. I could deal with my emotions later.

After Dad’s surgery, they took him back to the ICU. Once he was settled, they allowed family to go back and see him. As I walked in the room, all of a sudden this wave of emotion welled up inside me, and I could no longer hold it in. I stood by his bed and lost it. He didn’t look like my Dad at all. He was pale, on a ventilator, and his head was wrapped up in a blanket to allow his body to warm back up from induced hypothermia. My Dad, my strong, invincible father was helpless. Logically, I knew he was ok then. He had made it through surgery. The worst part was over. But for me, it was just now all sinking in. My Dad, who I depend on so much, now had to depend on a machine to breathe. His life that day, under the ultimate authority of the Lord, was dependent on surgeons, nurses, and technology. I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget what the Lord whispered to me: “I will be with you.” (Is. 43:2) As much as I don’t like to admit sometimes, I depend on my Dad so much. I depend on him for wisdom, strength, and affirmation. As silly as it may seem to say this hit me AFTER his surgery, in that moment I realized that my dependence should only come from the Lord. All things on this earth, including parents and family, are temporary. It was a reminder to me that He is the only one worth placing my trust in. That is a lesson I’m continuing to learn!

I also learned so much about God’s character displayed through others. I could go on and on forever about how many people came around us and supported us through this whole process. First of all, I realized just how blessed I am to have the family I have. So much of my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) are full of solid believers. We had family come in from everywhere to support us the day of the surgery. Their love and presence was such a blessing.

I learned SO much from my Granny. This Godly woman truly displayed His love, kindness, and patience as she poured her care over my Dad during his recovery time. Spending time with her for two months I truly saw what a woman of God she truly is. Seeing the fruit of the spirit so clearly evidenced in her challenges me so much. Granny, I pray I can be half the woman you are in my lifetime. I will consider that a true accomplishment.

I also learned so much from my church family. I saw grace in an entirely new way. Your prayers, gifts, and meals mean more than you can imagine. Every encouraging word spoken via social medial, text, or in church Sunday morning showed me the true picture of a faith family. You truly became the church as your wrapped your arms around us. Your kindness is true evidence of the Holy Spirit, and we are all so thankful for you.

I continue to learn so much from my Dad through all of this. Seeing him grow in his walk with the Lord is the neatest thing of all for me to see. Even today as I was sitting with him watching TV, I heard his heart thump from his mechanical valve. I asked him if it bothered him, and his response was, “I have nothing to complain about.” I continue to glean so much from his wisdom coming out of this. And I am so grateful that because of this my family is now closer than we have ever been. God is good.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My youngest daughter's guest blog

I had asked my wife and daughters to write a guest blog regarding what they learned from our recent experience. You will find my wife's below. This one is my youngest daughter.

My sweet Daddy has asked me to write a blog sharing what I have learned over the last several months as we have walked this incredible journey together. I choose the word “incredible” because that is what it has been. Looking back, this experience has made me rely on God like never before. I have been through various trials, but none like this one…none that have taught me more about God’s character. I have “seen” Him in a very real way (Job 42:5).

For me, the journey began at camp this past summer when I got the news that Daddy was in the hospital in Orlando. I wanted to be there more than anything, but I had to trust that God could take care of him and comfort my mom better than I ever could. Little did we know what the future would hold.

When Tiff and I got home from camp, Daddy had his follow-up with the cardiologist. We met for dinner that night and he told us the news. The following weeks would be full of fear and uncertainty.

I began getting ready to head back to school, cherishing every moment with my family. I pondered the thought many times of taking the semester off, but Daddy reassured me that things would be back to normal soon. Move-in day was the hardest day for me (next to surgery day, of course). Some amazing men from our church family helped me get settled in, as Daddy couldn’t lift anything. I held it together the best I could, but when my family left that day it was very hard. I would travel back and forth many times in the following weeks, but again had to trust that God could take care of my family better than I ever could.

A couple weeks later we would get the news that surgery would be delayed. Then came the day for the arteriogram. Mom and Dad had assured me that there was no need to come home that day. I got a call later that afternoon from my Pop telling me that all was well and there were no blockages. I didn’t even know about the cardiac arrest until the next day when Daddy called to tell me. They weren’t going to tell me until I came home that weekend, but he was afraid I would find out through twitter (oh the joys of technology). The logical part of me thought: “well, Brittany you’re talking to him now and he’s fine…so it’s no big deal.” But the more it settled in, the more real it was to me that this was a serious thing we were about to do. The heart is fragile, and one slip could change everything. I called my dear friend Shelbi Turner. She immediately dropped what she was doing and came over. She cried with me and prayed with me (that’s a true friend!) I have had many instances like that over these past few months where my sweet friends have walked with me. Thank you to you all.

The night before surgery was a sweet time for our family. Some dear friends of ours came to pray over us that night. This is when everything hit me. The reality of him not making it through became very real to me. I hugged him before going to bed that night and told him how much I loved him. I wanted him to know that just in case that was the last time I got to say it.

The next morning we woke up very early. Upon arrival at the hospital we found out that we would need to say our good-byes then because only Mom was allowed to go back with him for the surgery prep. Tiffany and I got the chance to pray over him and hug him one last time. This is when I experienced an amazing amount of peace rush over me. Part of the curriculum that Tiffany and I taught at FUGE this summer was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar threatens the men and tells them if they do not bow down he will throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. And he asks…”and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” They respond by saying that their God CAN rescue them, “BUT even if He does NOT, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Little did I know how much that passage would speak to me. I knew my God had the power to save my Daddy that day, but even if He chose not to, I would still praise Him and Him alone.

That day was the hardest day of my life. I relied heavily on my family. My sweet sister was always checking on me and showing me scripture. I love that girl. My mom, as much as she was worried, checked in with us often to make sure we were ok. And the love of our extended family and church family surrounded us that day as well. I knew it was in God’s hands, but I also was unsure of His plan. The moment the surgeon came out and told us that the surgery went “perfectly” I felt 1 million pounds lighter. Thank you, God for sitting with us that day, while guiding the hands of the surgeon in the operating room.

A couple hours later we got to see Daddy, and though he looked like he had just had open heart surgery  I knew on the inside God had healed him. The next morning I went in to visit with him for a few minutes while he was sitting up in his chair. Mom had stepped out for a minute so it was just him and me in the room. He looked up and asked “are you okay?” I just laughed and said, “You’re the one who just had open heart surgery!” He then asked “were you scared?” To which I responded, “DUH! Yes! I’m so glad you’re ok.” So then, as any pastor/father would, he asked me what I learned from this. I shared with him what I have shared with all of you. He just smiled and nodded and closed his eyes again. Though he would not remember that in the days that followed, I will cherish that moment forever.

A few days later I had to leave to come back to Jackson. It was hard to leave knowing he would still be in the hospital for a while longer, but I KNEW and had SEEN how God would be with my family. I wasn’t worried one bit. I love sharing this story because I’m reminded how real my God is. I should not worry. Worry is a sin. The Bible tells us: “Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Why worry when God has it all planned out? Trials are inevitable, but so is God’s plan; and His peace surpass all understanding.