Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Easter To Remember

This Easter Sunday would have been my 17th consecutive Easter Sunday to have the privilege of standing before the congregation of my church and lead them in worship on the most glorious of Sundays! As important as that is to me (and believe me - it is REALLY important to me!), I will instead be sitting with my Mom and sister (celebrating all that Easter is to a Christ-follower) at the First Baptist Church of San Marcos, Texas.

I truly can't wait! What an honor to culminate a most amazing (and yes, extremely difficult) week of my life.

This past Tuesday morning (April 7) around 2:15am, my Dad left this earth, and joined the countless number of saints in heaven in the very presence of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

On Good Friday, we joined together as a family to honor his life sitting out under the partly-cloudy skies in the middle of "no-where" Central Texas (Uhland, Texas to be exact) at the Live Oak Cemetery.

The five grandsons and two great-grandsons lifted his flag-draped casket from the hearse, walked it to the designated spot, and then the brief, buy very meaningful grave-side service began.

Two military men took the flag from my Dad's casket, carefully held it over the casket as "Taps" was played, then they took what seemed like forever to meticulously fold it - it was powerful to watch them do this. One of the men then held it for "inspection" to the other. The other then took it, marched ever so slowly to stand directly in front of my mom, knelt on one knee and presented the flag to her. His words were unforgettable - "on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I present this flag to you in honor and appreciation of your husband's service to our country." I was stunned - I had seen this in movies and on TV, but never right in front of me, and certainly not with someone saying that in reference to my Dad....

My mom and dad's pastor read scripture, prayed, then opened it up for anyone to say something who wanted to. My nephew - the oldest grandson spoke - and boy did he speak powerfully about my Dad. He then challenged all the grandsons and great-grandsons to continue this man's legacy in how they live their lives. WOW! I was blown away. Then Ben (my youngest) told a funny story of how he must have received his grandaddy's "gene" for patience in repairing things and re-assembling things! It was perfect!

Where would we be without faith and family in times like these?

We then got in our cars and journeyed 5 minutes away to the little county church where my mom grew up, and where (63) years ago, my mom and dad were married. Now on this Good Friday, she celebrated his life.

I can't begin to imagine all that was going through her mind and heart as she sat through a beautiful service of remembrance in front of a packed house of maybe 175 people. (Here's a photo of the front of the sanctuary and all the beautiful flowers)

After the service, everyone gathered in the fellowship hall to re-connect, express their love to each of us, and simply enjoy the company of one another.

This final photo just astounds me for its beauty. Besides Seth's capturing of the moment in such a powerful way, Ben is wearing one of my dad's hats that his grandmother gave him the day before the service........