So this is the night before the big surgery.. So much has gone through my mind in the past 2-3 weeks since I had chest pain and discovered I had blockages that couldn't be addressed through stents or angioplasty. Instead, I am having coronary bypass surgery. For those that don't know this involves three main things that get to me a little: 1) my breast bone will be sawed in half to be able to get to my heart. 2) I will be put on a heart lung machine that will pump all of my blood out of my body, oxygenate it and pump it back into my body and will breathe for me. 3) My heart will be stopped while they operate on the arteries that are blocked. God has given me peace about it - but I have that peace in some degree of anxiety not so much fear.
I feel confident in the care I will receive and the surgeon who will perform the surgery, but honestly that is almost irrelevant when you are facing this type of surgical intervention and the degree of invasiveness that comes with this particular surgery. My faith and my hope, my trust and my peace all reside with God and God alone it really doesn't matter who is providing the care, because He is sovereign and all glory and honor go to Him.
I could go through my whole life story but we don't have time for that, read the blog and you will get an idea. Suffice it to say its been an emotional, eye opening ride these past few weeks. I have assurance of where I will be when I leave this body whether that takes place in the next 10 seconds, or 10 decades. Even in all my sin, and so many times I have been disconnected, by my own admission and action, God has never left me, He never has forsaken me and He has always drawn me to His own heart since I can remember, even before I was old enough to really stand and walk on my own.
I have to recount some of my greatest memories, so people just know - its something I have told over and over to others and want to share them again.
My best and most cherished memory of my Dad as a kid, was before I started school as a toddler. Every morning my mom would put me on the edge of our little front porch in Sandy Bottom, NC - while I waited for my Dad's ride to come pick him up for work. I guess they only had one car at the time. It was my job or so I thought to keep his big black lunch box - I was a proud little boy in my toddler way to do that one job for my Daddy. I got to see him off to work and if I recall correctly, got to sit there and anxiously await his return. That was the highlight of my mornings and my afternoons. He was the prize. Although the lunchbox was his and I was keeping watch over it for him, or so I thought, he was the focus. He always provided me with more than enough. There are many more great memories to many to mention, but thats the one I think I will always have with me. Sometimes memories get woven into eternity and for me, this is the one with him. I love him very much, I always have and always will. We haven't always known how best to show it, as with any human or any relationship, but thats what life is for and what God is for, to teach us about Love and how to share that with the world. Thank you Dad for always loving me no matter what. Through these last several years we have become better people, to each other and I know without any doubt you love me, and I know you know I love you back, no matter what.
My brother Kevin. I know I was a little brat when we were kids, but I know you forgive me for that. I forgive you likewise for not always being the best big brother. I love you no matter what. I remember when you were burned severely as a kid and the best memory, although it may be one of your worse was the day that happened. The neighbors were going to put you in the car and I knew what had happened, but it didn't hit me until I saw you with blisters all over your body from the fire. It hurt me so much, I knew you were hurt and I wasn't so sure you would be ok. I started to tear up and walk away, but as you were getting in the car, without any concern for yourself you looked at me and said "don't cry, I will be ok"... it was in that moment I knew you loved me. You were more concerned about me and how I was feeling than your own pain. I will never ever forget that. I know life has been tough for you, and I wish I could have done something to change that, but I trust God's plan is greater than anything we can ever do on our own and I know He will finish what He started in you... His efforts are not wasted. You have a kind heart, a gentle nature and that moment, way back many years ago on that life changing day, was the epitome of that to your little brother. It is also a memory that somehow found its way in my part of eternity. Thank you for loving me an accepting the way you have over all these years. You have taught me much and I am sure will continue, whether directly or indirectly. Thank you Kevin, I love you very much.
My mom, who passed away in 1998 from complications of breast cancer. There is way to much to say here. I was a momma's boy and for most of my life up until her death, she was my whole world. I was devastated on so many levels when she went home to be with God. It took me about 6 years to feel somewhat normal afterwards. I have so many memories of her and her unconditional love for me, I can't recount them all. But she was always the one I knew without any doubt at any time in my life that loved me unconditionally. But God showed me how she had become my idol after she died and through her death my relationship with Him grew stronger. She was tenderhearted, loving, kind, sometimes stubborn, business minded, articulate and beautiful. I think I got all that from her (smile). I got the humor and funny antics from my dad... not to mention his overwhelming generosity toward others at times. Through her death I learned that love from others doesn't always look like what we expect, this was critical and key even to this very moment to me developing good healthy relationships, which includes the one between me and my dad. There is nothing like a mother's love and I know thats why God chose women to be mom's. If there is one memory of my mom its of a time when I was just barely old enough to walk, not sure I could, or if I was even speaking, but when we went to church on Sunday's she would sometimes hold me during church services. During this time as she sang hymns I would place my ear against her chest just to hear and feel the vibration of her voice. I remember it like it was yesterday. This was my heaven. Just that sound, the beautiful music I could hear and feel coming from the woman who gave birth to me, my mom! I had no other care in the world, nothing else existed when this was taking place and if I knew what an out of body experience was back then (I do now - also on the blog)then this was it! I could only think that this must be what heaven sounded and felt like...I came to find out later in life that in part, it was! Thats a sound I know I will feel, see and hear in heaven! Near Death Like Experience and Questions & Answers about the Near Death Like Experience
My parents separated and divorced when I was young and it was a tough thing.....many ups and downs and the typical things that happen during a broken marriage...but God reconciled their relationship and they remarried each other on their original wedding date. While I am sure my brother and I were both skeptical of it, through their renewed vows and marriage, God taught me about reconciliation and restoration. They were together right up to the moment she took her last breath. Its a tremendous testimony of what commitment and love can accomplish. It was one of the greatest lessons of my life and one of the reasons I always seek to provide and receive forgiveness. Not to mention its a command of God. It serves a grand and divine purpose. Forgiveness is what builds a bridge over troubled waters and provides a way...to all that God has for us with each other and with Him. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand and you can't have one without the other, its as simple as that.
There are so many more I could name, and write encyclopedia size volume of pages to recount all the many wonderful people who have been so instrumental in helping me become the person I am today. So many people have brought love, laughter and wisdom to my life. Please don't feel slighted if your name is not here. Just know I love you. Brenda, Maddie, Matt, Madison, Mrs. Reason, Pam and Donnie, Cathy, Tiffany, Jeanne, Kim, Connie, Brooke, Teri... gosh I could write a list a mile long... know you are special to me for a million different reasons. Especially some of you, the times we have shared speaking about God, or just our friendship... the connections we have made in the past... I wish I could name everyone!
The most important part of this blog post and the thing I would say if I were able and was taking my last breath... is this. God is real, He is alive, and no matter what we accomplish in this life, or what we don't... Having a one on one personal relationship with God through Christ, His Holy Spirit is the most important. Give Him a chance, He gave His life. You don't have to take my word for it, take His. Following Christ is not a cake walk, but He told us it wouldn't be... we have to be living sacrifices, something I am still trying to master, but in my pursuit of Him, of His ways, of holiness and righteousness He perfects us, molds us and makes us and provides for us the greatest hope humanity can or ever will have. He will meet you right where you are, no matter what - He is not bound by your intellect or lack thereof, nor is He a respecter of any man or woman - there is nothing, nothing that can keep you from His great love!
If you are truly searching for Him you WILL find Him, He will show up, and you will know, you will just know! You don't have to be in a certain place at a certain time say a certain prayer or be of a certain status of any type... He really does meet us right where we are and if you just call out to Him with a sincere heart, He will answer. He may not answer in the way you think or the way you want but He will answer!!! It will be the best most rewarding and most important relationship you can or ever will have in this life or the one to come. Give Him the chance, He loves you more than you can ever possibly comprehend or understand.
That is my wish for the whole world, that they would know the One who died for me, for us all, who shed His blood for us, who overcame death, hell and the grave for us... The One who took upon Himself all the sin of the world past, present and future that we might have this great hope of eternal life with Him, our Father, the lover of our souls, the First and the Last, The Great I am, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus and He is here, alive and dwells in the hearts of many women and men, through His spirit - reach out to Him today, please! He wants to have an intimate relationship with you, His heart aches to be with you and to comfort you, to encourage and teach you, to give you peace and rest, to provide an assurance that no other can provide.
I hope whoever reads this is blessed, is encouraged, inspired.
Now I need to spend time preparing for the big day, spending time with God, to be in His presence and allow His peace and comfort to encourage me!
God Bless you all!