Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ah, Catalina. The name rolls off your tongue and sits in your soul like a foam anchor!? Whatever that means. It was a great vacation and Barb and I had hours of great conversation and fun. It was also good to be with Steve and Jessica during that whole week. It was a great way to spend our last great California get away. If you ever get a chance to go on vacation with Steve and/or Jessica GO FOR IT!
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Prayers, Thoughts, Emails

Well, I really appreciate the prayers, thoughts, phone calls, hugs, emails, gifts, meals, and the million other things that God has used to encourage and console me during these past four weeks. I am learning so much through this process.

Tomorrow Barb and I are accompanying Steve and Jessica to Catalina Island out in the wild blue yonder off of Los Angeles. Steve and Jessica were married in Tahoe in January. Their wedding picture is in a post I did after their wedding. Their good friends and it is good to make this trip with them before we leave.

Tomorrow Hillside Church, whom I strive to serve, is sending a huge team to Mexico to work with an orphanage that we have an ongoing relationship with. I've not been able to go but I really appreciate the stories and pictures from the teams when they come back with their lives changed.

Today I was thinking about that team, those orphans, Father's Day and my dad. I miss my dad a lot and it really hit me hard a few times this week, which is okay. My Mom went back to work and is doing well. It's good to talk with her and my sister, Lori. The Scriptures talk about true religion is taking care of the orphans and widows. It's no longer a concept to me; it's reality. And the Scripture also talks about God being the Father of the fatherless, of which I now am. I wish I could articulate exactly what's been shown to me in this. I can only simply say that God is true to his word and does speak in the darkness and answers the one who calls to Him.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Hardest Post Yet

A little over two weeks ago my father, Waymond Jamie Elder, died of a massive heart attack. It was a surprise to say the least. It's hard to know exactly how to proceed--in life and in writing. I write this to make it known, to write my appreciation for him and his life of integrity, and to thank God for the support of family and friends.

I grew up on the same plot of ground for 21 years. Mom and Dad lived on three acres that is adjacent to about 30 acres of farmland. Dad and the rest of my family loved(s) working the earth and last week while Barb and I were there we saw the garden he had planted--peas, beans, okra, eggplant, squash, and two fruit trees. The garden was young, planted not too long ago with roots going deeper each day with the hope of a future harvest.

Along the east side of the garden is a creek that separates the 3 acres from the 30. Along the back of that creek are pines, water oaks, and various flowers and vegetation. Laying close to the garden was a pine tree that used to hug the bank of that creek until elemental forces pushed it down and it was forced to let go of its grip of the ground it had held onto for decades. Dad hooked a chain to it and drug it away with his 1968 Blue Ford Tractor. The void the tree left is still easily seen and I am learning that the deeper the roots the great the impact when it is taken away.

As we tended to the garden which is at the back of the 3 acres we saw the often walked ground that he and Mom have taken around the house, down the sloped back yard, past the shed and into the pasture with the burgeoning garden. Dad's footprints were still fresh in the garden. He walked that path and those rows many a morning and evening.

On Sunday we had visitation at the funeral home. Our family gathered in the estate room and the community came out to pay their last respects. Between 400-500 people stopped by, which was overwhelming and empowering. I've always known Dad as "dad" and never as co-worker, employee, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance. It was there that night that I was able to see how far reaching his silent roots had grown and gone out into the community and touched lives. Over and over again the supporters shed tears, gave hugs and noted Dad's character and integrity.

On Monday we had the funeral and Reverend Floyd Lamb gave the message. He is close to our family and has ministered to our family as Dad's parent's both died of cancer and he was also there when our sister, Lori Beth, was born with Down's Syndrome and had heart surgery. He spoke with passion and held Christ up to be glorified. He stated something that really stuck with me and I doubt that I will ever forget it. He said this--we often think of death as a lonely experience, that the deceased is hovering somewhere out there trying to find their way, but the Bible states otherwise. The Bible states that to be absent from the body, for the person who has Jesus as Lord, is to be with the Lord. He said that David's last words to his son Solomon was this, "I now go the way of all the earth." Dad didn't walk a lonely road, unknown road to a mysterious place. He walked a well-worn path to a well-known place. My Dad went the way of all the earth. He is now, because he placed faith in Jesus, with Jesus and is finding more satisfaction that ever dreamed of on earth. It is comforting in these days as I continue to process this grief.

There is a resurrection from the dead Scripture teaches. There is no reincarnation. One day we will be held accountable for our life and one day our spirits will be reunited with our bodies. Believers in Jesus will be joined with him and will live in victory over sin and evil. That's beautiful for me and is no longer a concept. It has become real.

I am thankful for my Dad and I had told him so on several occasions. I was not/am not an easy person to deal with at times. He was a hard worker and an honest man who sought out truth and justice. He loved my Mom and was dedicated to her. He loved his sons and his daughter. He was a provider and a great example. My mom is a beautiful woman who captures my admiration more and more everyday.

Thank you for reading this and for praying for our family.


Barb and I left as soon as we could and arrived home at 4pm the following day. Joy and grief are very similar in that they can both take you by surpirse. As a family we wept hard and often. And we often took comfort in Dad's faith in Jesus Christ which secures for him a Christ-ful eternity.