Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Open Letter


Thoughts on the Annual Women’s Retreat: An Open Letter to My Eldest Daughter


Emily, we have walked and talked together for almost 14 years now, and it has been a joy. I am a “teacher” not only through education, but by nature (God’s gifting) and so it has been fun to talk you through life’s experiences so far. This weekend, you will get to attend your first annual women’s retreat away from home for two nights. I can not tell you how pleased I am to finally get to have you along. I have been waiting for this day since I found out I had a daughter, and my joy will only become more complete as your sisters join us one by one.

“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates . . . Deuteronomy 11:18-20

We’ve been talking a lot lately about what the weekend will look like for us. It has been a blessing to see your heart willing to submit to your daddy and I. Let me also just take a minute here to lay out some more of the reasons behind the vision that your daddy and I have operated under since we both were young.

Since I was in 5th grade, I have attended summer camps, youth retreats, and then women’s retreats, seldom missing a year . . . and the purpose in each of them has been the same:

(1) – to get away from the busy-ness of life and spend some concentrated time meditating on and fellowshipping with the Lord through the Word and prayer.

(2) – to minister to those in need.

(3) – to spend time with friends, making memories through crazy times.

(Some of these things you have heard before, but it’s on my mind to write it all down together for you.)

It has been nice that your dad grew up and still holds very similar views. So, you all get “double-whammied”!!

Ok. So, what do those priorities look like practically?

Well, first, let’s set some biblical premise for them.

(1) – Why must we make the teaching of the Word and personal meditation the highest priority, when we only get to do this once a year?

Exactly. I only get to do this once a year! At home, my routine distracts me from desiring to sit and read and think. My “toys” distract me. My “to do” list distracts me. Other people distract me. My music distracts me. The “noise” of everyday life distracts me. Over the years, I have endeavored to leave as much of “everyday life” at home, and have enjoyed the “new scenery” in finding a quiet place by a stream, or in a meadow, or over-looking the ocean . . . or something else that helps take my mind off of the people around me and helps me focus on the Scripture and taking my burdens, questions, struggles, requests, praises, thoughts, etc. to the Lord. There have been sweet memories stored over the years, many recorded in my journal. Yes, I do this in the mornings at home, but I can’t escape the house and the “to do” list that it constantly reminds me of. Getting away gives me extended time to focus.

Psalm 1 . . . "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted y streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”


I want to be like that. I want to be “firmly planted”. I want to yield fruit, and I don’t want to wither. I want to prosper. I want to be a good testimony of how God cares for His people . . . I want to be use-able by God . . . I want to play a part in His big plan. If I say I love God and desire Him above all else, yet not choose to get to know Him better or spend time with Him or talk with Him when I have extra chances, then maybe I don’t really love Him and desire Him as much as I say I do. Yes, life is a fight . . . a fight to really walk out what I believe, as well as a fight to believe what I need/want to.

When you were young . . . you preferred the “sweets” to the “regular” food. What child doesn’t? What would have happened if I had decided as your parent, “She really doesn’t prefer the regular food, but likes the sweets, so that is what I will feed her”.? Would you have ever learned to like foods besides the sweet stuff? Not easily. But, oh how difficult it was to endure that “training” phase as a parent. It would have been much easier to just let you eat what you preferred, believe me!

We see the ridiculousness in that, and yet, we tend to do the very thing with ourselves when it comes to other “appetites”. We somehow think it would be hypocritical to cultivate something that isn’t there.

But, what if that truly isn’t your desire? What if you don’t feel like being “spiritual” all weekend? (Those really aren’t the words I would choose, but words I have had others use with me.) Paul tells Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7), which implies making our bodies do that which we naturally don’t want to do. That is the picture of life, my dear.

Emily, your daddy and I have operated under this strategy for years: decide what your priorities will be before you get there. Because I can guarantee you that there will be many choices that you will have to make and if your vision isn’t set and clear, then those decisions will be harder to make and you may not look back on them with joy.

So, our number one priority will be to spend time hearing the Word taught, spending time alone meditating on the Scriptures and in prayer. We will attend all the sessions. We will work through all of the questions that have been prepared for us. We will take advantage of the quiet times that have been scheduled and we will attend the prayer times. This retreat has been prayed over by dedicated women and the elders of our church that we might grow spiritually and be refreshed . . . may they see the fruit of their labors in our lives!

Then . . . when the schedule that has been carefully crafted tells us that it is time to play . . . Whooo Hoooo! I’m looking forward to spending time with you and enjoying all there is to experience up there this weekend. I anticipate doing a lot of laughing and taking some fun pictures and enjoying developing some new friendships. It’s always so much fun to see who the Lord puts me with and who I get to know a little bit better each year. We will stay up and fellowship at night as late as we think we can and still be able to get up for the prayer time in the morning and focus during the sessions. We will squeeze as much fun as we can into the free time allowed, deal? :-)

My second priority is also to minister to others while I’m up there. That has always been a huge part of your daddy’s and my vision . . . “Who does the Lord want us to spend time with and minister to this weekend?” This may start out as your 3rd priority, but I pray that as you grow it too will become your 2nd priority. I pray that you too will develop eyes for those around you who may need a friend, or who may need to talk, etc. As you learn more about the person of Jesus and as you learn more and more about what it is to be loved by Him, that same love will begin to flow from you to others. And I’ll tell you . . . those moments have been the highlights of my retreats.

But Em, be careful. We women can fall into the trap of ministering to others at the expense of sacrificing our first priority of listening to the Word and spending alone time with Him. I have seen this happen so many times . . . a friend is really struggling and needs to talk, and it’s right before the session starts, so we skip the session to help our friend. Or it’s right after the session and we skip our quiet time to help our friend. All in the name of love and ministry. But to be honest, there is nothing wrong with giving a hug, expressing our concern and making plans to meet at the next break. Here’s where Satan tempts us though . . . “What if someone else comes along who is willing to listen now and I look like I don’t care?” Our pride wants to be the one to listen and give counsel sometimes, and it takes strength and maturity to keep our priorities in place and trust the Lord to meet our friend’s needs in His time. There are no coincidences. You know that. Your friend, and you, are at this retreat, listening to this topic, dealing with these struggles because that is what God has ordained for you both. Encourage your friend to listen to what God may want to say to her through the speaker and encourage her to pray about it and then plan on getting together to talk later.

So . . . there you go. I think this is the longest post I’ve posted, but it’s really for you and Molly and Annie . . . and it is much of what is in my heart for you three. You will make your own choices in the near future. You may set your priorities differently than mine. So be it. But, my responsibility (and joy) is to teach you about mine and why I do the things I do. I have enjoyed these years we’ve had to walk together and talk together. It has been nice to know that you are comfortable being you in the ways we are similar as well as in the ways we are different. Your differences are refreshing to me and I am excited to see all that the Lord has in store for you!

Alrighty then. We’re all packed and ready to head out tomorrow.

Let the adventure begin!

(I love you, Emily!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Helpful Boy . . .


A helpful boy, who can find?

His worth is far above Starbucks Frappacinos.

He riseth early, while his siblings are still hungry

and fixeth them pancakes that they might feasteth themselves there upon.

More to be desired than naps in the afternoons

is a boy with a servant’s heart . .

who loveth pancakes himself.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Louisiana Trip–Part 4

Picture yourself out in a body of water. Someone is holding your head under water. Just when you think you can last no longer, they release their hold, you come up gasping for air, breathing deeply over and over, and then back under the water you go. That is how the past month has felt for me.

Ok. maybe that is a little too dramatic . . . but it’s not far off.

Our trip to LA came during a very overwhelming time for me (not emotionally necessarily, but just the “to do” list of life). Our unexpected vacation, though filled with a sadness and a grief, was like a breath of fresh air . . . time together away from the school books, and chore lists. It was a break from menu planning and meal preparations and dishes (dishes don’t seem so “bad” when they aren’t your own). It was a slower pace, free from standing obligations, the opportunity to wake up each morning with no clear agenda. It was vacation.

One of the days we were in LA, Earl and David took care of Rita’s yard for her. This is always enjoyable for the kids, ‘cause they get to hopefully ride on PaPa’s riding lawn mower. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working well this time, but Jonathan got to sit on it while they pushed it back up into the shed. Once it did get running, Earl and David took turns push mowing and riding the mower.

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I LOVE Rita and Earl’s back yard. I always have. It’s so green (when I see it), and there are no fences (well, one chain-link fence to the north of them), and the kids have so much space to run and play. This picture below is now the desktop photo of my laptop:


Jonathan found a little friend next door named Gavin who he enjoyed running around with one day. It was cute to hear Gavin at the kitchen door, “Hey, can your little boy come out to play?” It was just a different world for me. One that I’ve not wanted to leave this time.

Speaking of the kitchen door, that’s another thing that I love about Rita’s house. As long as I have known them they have not used their “front” door. In fact, I didn’t even recognize where it was for the longest time. Anyone who wants to come over just comes to the side door which opens into the kitchen and hollers their greeting. Of course, you can see anyone before they come because the kitchen window looks right out onto the driveway. I like that. It just seems a little more friendly to me . . .

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Here is Jonathan showing Gavin the grave where the baby birds were buried (notice the plastic spoon as a grave marker which was used to spoon them back into the nest the day before). We had to give the very specific direction NOT to dig them up. Jonathan wanted so badly to REALLY show him the birds!

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Rita and Earl Sr. have always been very diligent to keep the “fire ants” at bay by pouring gasoline on their mounds. Emily had the joy of being bit when she was two, but we haven’t had any trouble with them since then. However, the kids were all fascinated and wanted to know all about them . . . how big are they? what does it feel like to be bit? how do you get them off? etc. etc. One of our children preferred to stay inside instead of risking getting bit.

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Well . . . it has been a good break today . . . remembering our time in LA (This is for you, Sonya!). But lest you think that I am “barely making it” over here in CA, feeling like I’m drowning, let me assure you that the Lord is faithful to not give me more than I can handle. My body is adjusting quickly again to those early mornings spent in the Word, and I’m back to exercising. And my gracious Lord surprises me often with a kind word of encouragement here and there, or an unexpected visit with a friend, or a phone call, or an evening out with my man, or a quiet evening just relaxing. I’m slowing learning what it means to live life wisely during this season and it means earlier bed times, earlier mornings, and taking time to get my head up and out of the daily duties . . . focusing on others and laughing with my family.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm

(So good to know that the world does not rest on MY shoulders!)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Louisiana Trip–Part 3


We arrived in Louisiana about 9:45 PM Tuesday night and quickly unloaded and showered and got the kids to bed. The service for Earl’s father was to start at the church at 8 AM in the morning. (My mantra was, “We can do this!”)

There were 8 of us in Earl’s mom’s house and one bathroom. We have it down to a system and thankfully it kicked in quickly and the process ran smoothly the next morning. Earl showered the night before and Rita got up early and was out of the bathroom by 6 AM. I got a shower and then set up shop in our bedroom, sitting on the floor in front of a mirror to do my hair and make-up. Rita helped iron the clothes for that morning that were wrinkled from the trip. Once Earl and I were ready we got the kids up and got them ready. Miracle of miracles, we were all at the church by 8 AM (I already posted about the service earlier).

Mornings at Earl’s mom’s house are very memorable. One lies in bed in the morning smelling breakfast and hearing the coffee pot brewing. Rita has always gotten up early and since we are usually tired from travelling we sleep a little later than usual. This trip, the girls all slept in the living room on a hide-a-bed and the boys slept together in Sonya’s old room on a mattress on the floor. Rita would get up early and fix pancakes or eggs and toast. Oh, the smells wafting back to the bedrooms was so “homey”! She cooks her pancakes and eggs in a cast iron skillet that she uses with great skill. I don’t ever think she has burned anything while we’ve been there in the past 15 years! The toast is white bread with streaks of butter spread down the middle that we all just devour. And of course, she always has juice. Yep, the best part of waking up in Denham Springs is MaMa’s cooking!

Thursday was our first free day and we started it off by doing some laundry. Unfortunately, Rita’s washer was having some difficulty and wouldn’t spin out the water from the clothes. We hung them up on the line but they were still dripping wet. So, we popped them into the dryer for a bit. However, when we went to get them out, we discovered that Jonathan had locked the storeroom door (where the dryer is) and the key was in the storeroom. So, I slept in my clothes (again!) that night since my pjs were in the dryer and the next morning, the door was taken off, the key retrieved, and the clothes rescued.

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One day, the kids were playing out back and found a bird’s nest in an old barrel. There were birds in it, but they got accidently dumped out when Jonathan picked up the nest not knowing what it was. Emily scooped the babies back into the nest with a plastic spoon and we prayed that the mother bird would come back and take care of the babies. We’re not sure why or how the nest got into the barrel (the kids discovered it when they were taking twigs out to build something), but the next morning they were dead. We’re not sure if the mother came back or not or if the birds died of exposure, or what. The kids buried the nest under a tree (I’ve lost my photos of it somehow) and laid flowers on top.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Louisiana Trip–Part 2


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Well, it’s Sunday here. We’ve been to church and feasted on those good ‘ol southern leftovers that have kept us in a constant state of “satiation”. There is always food out and the temptation to constantly graze is ever present. I’ve had to give the kids those “silent signals” all of us parents are so good at, telling them that “that is quite enough, Bucky”. (Of course, they are very close to figuring out that if they just make the slightest stink over the forced boundary, someone will come to their rescue and tell Mom and Dad to “let the kids have their pleasure”.) I don’t like being inside, so I’m sitting outside on a chair, watching Earl trying to work on his mom’s car and enjoying the last bit of fresh air before the mosquitoes come out. I was eaten alive last night trying to enjoy the twilight hours. The breeze feels good and doesn’t make the humidity feel quite so bad. There is a cloud cover and it feels like it might be wanting to start to rain a bit, but then the sun will shine through and you feel that humidity again. But the breeze feels good . . .

We have spent the days planning our day, only to have someone stop by and then we sit and visit for a bit . . . up to a few hours. It is more like that in the south than in southern CA, but it is especially noticeable when someone is sick or has passed away. It sure makes one feel like they have a lot of friends who care about them (one of those southern hospitalities that I wish we had more of where we live), and it also proves to be good training ground for holding all things with an open hand and realizing that the Lord certainly ordains the day. Perhaps this is one of those dynamics that cause the south to feel so “slower” in pace.

Well, one such visitor came by and we visited for a few hours. Never got back to the quiet time outside (one always seems to visit around the kitchen table here . . . especially the older generation). It is now Monday morning, and I’m sitting at the local Laundromat (“Cleaning World”) doing another load of laundry. Rita’s poor machine isn’t working at the house and when 7 people descend upon you in force, you must do laundry. The owner of this “washeteria” (spell check has no recommendations for this one. Did I spell it right, you southern readers?) is named Shirley and she is from Taiwan. She is very sweet and greeted me by name the second day I walked in. She told Molly and I about how she grew up doing laundry in the river and how she learned to sew when she was 7 years old. She has been in Denham Springs about 20 years and lives in a little house behind the cleaners.  In addition to running a cleaning business, she also does alterations and was able to hem 3 pairs of pants for Molly that I tried to hem Sunday night before we left but my machine broke (NO!!!!!).

It looks like we’re going to get a storm tonight. It is VERY humid and breezy. My clothes are sticking to me and I don’t dare touch my hair. We have a full day planned when I get back to the house and then we plan on leaving out early in the morning (Tuesday). Not sure my back is ready for the ride home yet, but it will be good to get back home. However, it is always enjoyable being “home” here in LA. I wish I had more time to blog all of my thoughts and impressions and lessons . . .

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Louisiana Trip–Part 1


We are in Louisiana and don’t have any internet access. But I do have the laptop. So I’ve decided to go ahead and blog and then post them when I can get the internet again. Right now, I’m sitting in Earl’s old bedroom, the one we have stayed in every time we’ve come “home”. The floor is strewn with duffel bags, school bags, shoes, dirty clothes, toiletries, books, back packs, groceries, etc. etc. The kids are out front with Earl and his mom watching a movie. The clothes for church in the morning have all been ironed and I’m taking a quick break to have some alone time. It has been a whirlwind past few days. But I want to journal our trip, and I know I most likely won’t have the time when we get home. So, I’m writing now . . .

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We got the news Saturday morning that Earl’s father had passed away and we needed to get back to Louisiana as soon as we could. We looked into flying, hoping to use some of our free tickets that we’ve earned. But without giving them 3 weeks notice, we could only get 2 tickets. But Earl wanted all of us to be there so the decision was made to leave Monday morning and drive out there in two days.

We hurried through our Saturday (Molly had her 10th birthday party!) and Sunday morning, then came home to do laundry and pack. As I had my quiet time Sunday morning, I confessed to the Lord of being a little apprehensive about how we could afford to go back to LA at this time. It seemed more wise to just send Earl, but I knew that he really wanted all of us to be there with him. We’ve never been in debt and have always lived within our means. I knew that we had plenty of credit available to use and so was praying for peace to trust my husband’s decision and to trust the Lord to provide as He saw fit. After church that morning, two couples put cash in my hand for gas and expenses. I drove home humbled before the Lord and confessing my lack of faith. Then, another couple called and specifically asked about our finances. We told them we were trusting the Lord to provide. They wired us money. The door bell rang  and a friend from church came by to drop off a card and a monetary donation for our trip – a sacrificial gift which again humbled me.  Again, the door bell rang and another friend from church came and dropped off snacks for the road that his wife had put together as well as some “emergency cash”. My mom also gave us cash to help with expenses. The kindness of the Lord just completely overwhelmed me and I had to confess my lack of faith. He always takes care of those who are His! (Two days on the road cost us about $660 including one hotel stay, gas and food. And all has been provided for.)    

Earl had the oil changed in the van and gassed it up and we left about 5:20 Monday morning. The kids did great in the car and we drove for several hours before needing to stop. While driving through the CA desert we played the ABC game . . .you know, the one where you have to look out the window and name things you see that start with A . . . B . . . C . . . . Here is the list we came up with:

A – Ant (I claimed to have seen an antelope, but since no one else saw it, we couldn’t count it)

B – bush

C – cloud

D – dirt (lots of it!)

E – electrical wires

F – flowers

G – grass (the deserty type)

H – highway

I – Interstate (I-10)

J – jet

K – “konstruction Kones” (We were really stumped on this one and Jonathan kept yelling out “Cones!”, so we gave it to him.)

L – land, line, lane

M – mountains

N – nettles

O – overpass

P – poles

Q – quail . . . well, we actually didn’t see one, but we were sure they were out there somewhere.

R – rocks

S – sky . . . lots of it!

T – trucks

U – UFO, universe, unicycle . . . ok, we were getting a little desperate and punchy at this point.

V – vans

W – wheels

X – “poison” bottles littering the highway

Y – hitchhiking yoddler (no comment)

Z – zebra . . . . really, there he goes, did you see him? Right back there. Look really hard. Oh, he’s gone. Too bad.

(We played this game again after entering Louisiana and our answers were quite different. It was interesting.)


We crossed into AZ about 9 AM and stopped at Chic-fil-A for lunch about noon. We all needed to desperately get out of the van for an extended time. The kids were doing great though! We crossed into NM about 4 PM and then lost an hour due to the time change. We crossed the Continental Divide about 6 PM and stopped at our traditional Cracker Barrel for dinner about an hour later in Las Cruces. We crossed over into TX about 9 PM and stopped for the night in Van Horn about 12:45 (we had lost another hour so it was 10:45 CA time . . . a 17 hour day!). We turned out the lights about 1:30 AM . . .only to turn them on again 3 hours later. (We slept in our clothes and just got up to brush teeth and hair and put on make-up so as not to terrify the poor other passengers on the highway.)

Tuesday morning found us heading out onto the interstate again about 5:30 after filling up with gas and getting some good strong coffee. It took awhile for the sun to rise, but it was glorious. The kids slept and Earl and I talked quietly. Seemed like forever since we had spent a quiet morning talking like that. We both really enjoyed it. After everyone was fully awake, we stopped for gas and for some homemade muffins we had brought. We had some lunch in San Antonio (fast food) and I weasled a much-needed-hair-cut-run out of Earl. (I actually got my hair cut while the rest of them ate lunch. Ah . .. so needed!) We stopped about 6:30 just passed Houston for one more quick and small meal (drive-thru fast food) and then crossed over into Louisiana about 7 PM!! Oh the cheering! As the sun set, we could see a thunderstorm off in the distance ahead of us and the National Weather Service came over the radio and issued a “severe thunderstorm warning” along with a “tornado watch” as we headed into Baton Rouge. We got a few sprinkles that day, but nothing to sneeze at, and we drove up to Earl’s mom’s home about 9:45 PM. It was good to be home!

We got the kids bathed and bedded down. I put together a slide show for Earl’s dad’s service the next day, and once all was in order, Earl and I turned out the light about 12:30, in the room where he grew up. (Twice we were awakened by huge thunder and lightning shows directly over the house. But we were grateful to be off the road and in a warm bed.)

Next up . . . our days here in Denham Springs . . . baby birds, a locked store room, mosquitoes, puppies, oil leaks . . .

Earl James Miles, Sr.



Earl’s father passed away Saturday, March 26, 2011. It was sudden, but not unexpected. He had been in the hospital due to some pain and swelling in his legs and then was being treated for congestive heart failure. He also was having some digestion difficulty and when they ran an upper GI test, they discovered that he had a condition of the stomach which was basically rendering his stomach muscles useless. But they were able to put him on some medication and they sent him Friday to a “skilled nursing facility” to regain his strength so he could come home. He spent Friday night there, ate some breakfast Saturday morning and took his medicine and then was having some difficulty breathing. He never made it to the ER.

The service was held on Wednesday, March 30th and we were grateful to be able to attend as a family. It was a bitter-sweet day. There was a “family viewing” at Earl’s parents’ church (Don Avenue Baptist) from 8 – 9 AM. Earl Sr.’s casket was at the front of the church, surrounded by many beautiful flowers and plants that had been sent to the family. He was laid out in a baby blue casket with the most gorgeous red roses on top. Everyone said he looked very good for being as sick as he had been. Earl and I gave the children the option of viewing “PaPa” or not, but they all opted to “see” him. I think it was a good thing all in all. He looked peaceful, but you could definitely tell that his spirit wasn’t there. The body was just a shell. It was a good time to talk about this “earthly tent” that we dwell in and to be reminded that this is not “the end”. There is something much more than just our bodies that make up “us” and when our bodies are done, our spirit continues on. We are glad to know that PaPa’s spirit is in heaven with Jesus. It was also healthy, I think, because the rest of the the morning was spent visiting with people and the kids played in the church (as much as we would let them). Death wasn’t something to be afraid of. They watched people cry. They heard the stories and saw people laugh.

At 9 AM, friends and extended family began to arrive to pay their respects. Then at 1 PM the funeral service was held there in the church. Rita, Sonya, Earl, I and the children sat on the front row. Three different pastors spoke and there were a few special songs . . . Amazing Grace being one that Earl Sr. specifically had requested. A lot of funny stories were told. A lot of laughing was heard. Tears were shed. Memories recalled. A dear man missed.

At the end of the service, the guests filed past the casket and then greeted each of us (the family) . . . {couldn’t stop those tears . . . }. Then the family was left alone to say our “last good-byes”. The children all cried, except for Jonathan (I hadn’t stopped), and it was a sweet time. We walked out of the church and got into the van where we followed behind the hearse which was escorted by police to the cemetery on Range Road. Earl Sr.’s body was laid to rest in a beautiful mausoleum after a brief internment ceremony. (The pall bearers all wore red suspenders in honor of Earl. Very fun!)

Then it was back to the church to partake in a reception full of food that only the south knows how to cook! It was a foretaste of that glorious feast that those of us trusting in Jesus will partake in one day.

Earl Sr. has shed his mortal body and has put on immortality. No longer is he constrained by a body with severe limitations. longer is he hindered by sight that sees not the whole picture and plan. No longer does he exist full of unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes. His soul has been completely satisfied. He knows what it is to be perfectly loved. He is in the presence of the Lord and his soul is at rest.

Those of us left behind . . .will miss him greatly.


Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up on victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

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