I spent years 6 through 12 of my boyhood growing up on a ranch in South Texas that was owned by my maternal grandparents. We lived some 200 yards down the lane in our own home, but would spend the afternoons after school visiting with them until my folks got home from work. On the screened in porch of the home was an old-fashioned washing machine that consisted of little more than a tub and a wringer with a hand crank to extract as much water as possible from the clothes before hanging them to dry on the line. Neither they nor we had a clothes dryer at the time. The last month or so has kind of felt like being wrung through that clothes wringer emotionally.
We have a 22-year old in our church who was in a terrible accident a month ago today. He was in ICU until just this past weekend when he was moved to a private room. His car rolled over multiple times and he suffered brain stem damage as a result. He is breathing on his own for longer periods of time than before, but is basically still unresponsive and in a coma. We're praying for a miracle of healing for him. His mom directed our ESL program for many years and his dad is the drummer in our church orchestra and praise band.
Last Monday we had a record since I've been on staff here in terms of the number of members hospitalized on a single day--a total of 8. Many of them have very serious health conditions, though some are improving slowly. One man was recently discovered with an inoperable brain tumor and they are only giving him a couple of weeks to live.
This afternoon I sat by the bedside of my secretary from church as she finally lost her battle with cancer. Her homegoing was peaceful, and her last breath came right as we finished listening to a recording her daughters had made for her of "Because He Lives." I thought God's timing was impeccable. She's free from the suffering and pain of the last several weeks, and for that we rejoice, knowing she's in the presence of her Savior, but the heartache is still real. I've been asked to preach her funeral message this coming Friday. Jeanne was an outstanding Christian and I hope to honor her memory in an appropriate way as we reflect together on her life lived in the service of God and others.
I share this to say that my absence from the blogging world (at least in terms of posts) is largely due to some of these pastoral responsibilities that have been mine in recent weeks. I trust that if you're reading this, you'll say a prayer for Jeanne's family and for me as I prepare her funeral message.