Tag Archives: salvation

A Dad and This Boy

I thought that I was doing pretty well, then came along, this day

Two weeks ago today, Dad you were called home, out of the fray

 

Dad, I sat down at my laptop to start writing these thoughts I kept

An alert blinked, so I clicked, a picture of us opened up, I wept

 

I have said, I was blessed to do what God has allowed me time to do

I wasn’t done Dad, why did you have to leave now, I trust God knew

 

I always acted in love, knowing that one distant day you’d be gone

Leaving a hole here in my world, rhythm broken, no tasks to be done

 

You would just get better, together we would move on, more time to share

Then one April morning I rushed, to be with you, but you weren’t there

 

When do we get to share a coffee and relive the moments we love?

Now I sit here by myself, mulling over this and that, I look above

 

What about the road trips we talked of Dad, where would we go?

I drive for hours, all over the place, and creation, let me know

 

Dad, who is going to tell me stop, or to turn, on our way to Canada?

Dad, I’d stop every time you needed, regardless of my own stamina

 

Dad, can we gather round the table one more time and just let loose?

Oh, we’d laugh til tears, you, my siblings, Mom, this boy you called moose

 

I look at the hoop and wonder if I’ll ever see that arch ever again

Dad, you were one the best lefty shooters there has ever been

 

You weren’t well, but I never thought this day would come so soon

Dimly, I thought that maybe when the day came, I’d be somehow immune

 

Dad, I am not immune, I can barely get through a day, maybe even two

I can’t imagine the despair of those who don’t know the Truth you knew

 

I wouldn’t make it were it not for the message, the way to heaven’s door

As a child, I’d lay in bed and pray that prayer every night just to be sure

 

It was you Dad, you shared the gospel and led me to the foot of the cross

It was you Dad, you put it out there, heaven bound, no longer lost

 

And, Dad, one day it will be our great day of celebration and joy

When, we all get together in heaven, it’ll always be a dad and this boy

 

How we will laugh, and in perfect health, we will walk the streets of gold

Dad, we will all see you again, in the land where we will never grow old

 

screenshot_2016-04-15-12-53-20-1.png

This is the picture that popped up on my laptop today.

The Man is Gone

This morning is a little more quiet than mornings have been recently. See, the crowds are gone. The stash of food prepared for family and visitors has been split and donated. The checklist doesn’t have any more boxes to check. There’s no nursing home to visit. The hospital room is empty. The seat at the end of the couch is carefully prepped, but shadows only find refuge there this morning. The Daily Light is worn, but sees no more left-handed cursive in ink. The chair, walker, and cane wait, but Dad needs them no more. The world is maybe in a sadder state, as a soft smile went away.

Oh it pains me to know that all the efforts made will now only know past tense. The sacrifices so many people made, and that they would do anything to help my Dad, and my Mom; still the willingness is there, but the man is gone.

The man is gone. Oh, but his spirit lives on. I need to look no farther than the small gathering at Mom and Dad’s after all of the formalities were completed yesterday. All three of my Beal cousins, a new friend, Dad’s brother and his wife, Mom, two siblings of mine, and one of my brothers-in-law, sat for a few hours together, doing what Dad did best. We laughed, oh my, did we laugh. The scene in the living room yesterday could have been from any one of the last 40+ years; From any Beal get together in my lifetime. Oh, and Dad, he would have been right in the middle of it all, loving it, and laughing. Dad’s presence was felt, his impact impossible to miss. I don’t think he was looking down from heaven at us, because I am hoping he had better things to do, like lose himself in his mother’s waiting arms, or to look his Dad in the eye and hear the words, “Well done son”. Maybe he was off creating comedy from nothing with his twin sister June. Perhaps he was walking the streets of gold and getting to know his brother Roger, who passed away as a baby, before any of the other siblings. Or just maybe he was sitting on a hill somewhere, soaking in the beauty of perfection while trying to contain the excitement that one day, we too, will know. Were Dad still bound by the weight of this imperfect, cursed, earth, he would have been centered perfectly in his comfort zone, among us.

During the proceedings yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much Dad would have loved to be there and see everyone. To me, there was just one person missing, because Dad wasn’t there. I know we were all there to honor, remember, and celebrate my Dad. There was a body in the casket, but Dad, he wasn’t there. Pastor Little, who delivered the message, said it best when we told us all that Dad had preached his own funeral with the life he lived, and his walk with God. Pastor was right. Not only that, but on Thursday morning, when Dad’s hands were held by the earthly love of his life, he breathed his last breath, and didn’t miss a step in his walk with God.

I don’t honestly know how most funerals go. I don’t know how most people view funerals, or even how they think of them when the word ‘funeral’ is mentioned. I would guess, that many, if not most, funerals are flavoured with despair and uncertainty. Oh, if I could get everyone to a funeral like the one we had for my Dad yesterday. I would refer people also, to the funeral that I attended when I was a 17-year-old know it all, when my Mom’s mother passed away. Oh what a celebration! In both instances, there was no despair. There was no uncertainty. Oh the freedom found in salvation. There was joy. There was a bounty of thankful hearts. Thankful for no more suffering. Thankful for the memories made together. Thankful for the impact our loved one had left on our lives. Thankful for the promise God made. Thankful for the example we got to see everyday. Thankful for the stand taken when many of us would have wavered. Thankful that we are better people for having walked closely with one who passed.

Before I get to the speech I read at Dad’s funeral yesterday, I dare walk closely again. Dad, I love you. Dad, I will, and already do miss you. Dad, I will miss the trips to Dunkin Donuts. Dad, I will miss the stories shared. Dad, I was always listening. Dad, your smile will never be forgotten. Dad, your humor is engrained in all of us, thank you. Dad, a long, high-arching, jump shot will always be in my mind’s eye when I think of you. Dad, most of my driving derring do I learned from you. Dad, I also paid attention and learned how to excel at driving from you. Dad, I will miss the trips with you and Mom to New Brunswick, but I will take it from here, you taught me well. Dad, I thank you for creating a seamless family with the Beal-Peterson connection, for I fear there are few family bonds like this left in the world today. Dad, I know your heart and soul were ever-present even when the body started to fail. Dad, thank you for the lessons in love. Dad, thank you for wavering not in your walk with God. Dad, thank you for doing life your way, unique to you. Dad, I am glad you broke so many molds along your way, so much would have been missed in containment. Dad, thanks for the glimpses into your free spirit, rarely are people fortunate enough to be touched by someone’s unencumbered lust for life and the joys found in the details. Dad, thank you for being my Dad. Dad, I am thankful that God chose us to be a father-son combination. Dad, thank you for choosing Mom. Dad, what if I forget how to walk like you? Dad, thank you for growing old without ever growing up. Dad, I can’t wait to see you again, and to look into those pure blue eyes, and smile together like giddy children so happy to see each other. Dad, thank you for everything.



 

This is exactly the speech I struggled through yesterday at my Dad’s funeral. Thank you to my brother for editing it down from the full story, found here (please have a read of the whole thing if you’d like).

Dad – Funeral

My Dad, John R. Beal, passed away Thursday  morning, April 14, 2016. I can honestly say that my initial thoughts and feelings of pain and finality, were followed quickly by the sense of relief that my Dad suffered here no more. Although the former thoughts and feelings will stay close to me for some time, I know complete peace as Dad made his way to his eternal home Thursday around 8am.

Just the Thursday before I sat with him in the nursing home, he in his wheelchair, me in a vinyl, beastly looking contraption that looked and felt like it could withstand the World Wars. We sat facing each other, next to his bed. He didn’t say very much that day, as had become more and more the norm these last few months. But I noticed that his face and his eyes looked more alive than I had seen in months. I took joy in that smile whether it’s effect reached the rest of his face or not, because the eyes gave it away. We sat, just he and I, for 90 minutes, listening to an Old School Country Music playlist. I knew he thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent, as did I. I was happy to see Dad, happy.

That visit with Dad in the nursing home was the last time I would see my Dad alive. Really alive. I was with him most of the day, in the hospital on Wednesday the 13th, but he wasn’t really alive. He had vital signs and they were good. But he was completely unresponsive and never opened his eyes. Our family was there all day, and Mom spent the night in a chair (similar to the one I described in the nursing home) next to Dad.

Dad was born in 1941. If he had been born during the last two decades it’s likely he would have been tagged, or somehow otherwise labeled, as having a learning disorder or disability. But, as God and His perfect timeline would have it, Dad was born before everything needed labels and corresponding medication. I am certain he suffered in some ways from the forcible learning/teaching habits taught from some book, that until recently, nobody thought to re-write, that incorporated the will to push all pegs, even in their asymmetrical diversity, through the same hole. Dad was different for sure. Thank God. These battles, many of which, maybe not another soul knows of, but I am certain they happened; Turned into a drive and determination that Dad displayed in areas where most of us wouldn’t apply. His resiliency was more between his ears, than anywhere, because that’s where the battles were fought, and where the weakness resided. I am saying that his methods, comprehension, and responses were questioned as a matter of the brain he was wired with. He was sound. He just had limitations in the physical aspects of his brain. God created him that way, and for 74+ years he worked with the equipment he had. He did what he had to, and he got by. Nowadays maybe he would have been labeled, separated, and led away from the pack, stunting growth, killing creativity, and who knows how that would have gone.

God knew what He was doing though. Dad was one of the best preachers I ever heard. Dad could mix humor into any sermon, illustration, or story without ever being silly. Greater still, you knew exactly what he meant, and his relatability was second to none. God gave him words, thought patterns, and a perspective to pull things together in a light that changed lives, touched hearts, and led to the eternal saving of souls. Honestly, what greater purpose could a man be called to? That was my Dad and he was great at it.

I just lost my Dad, and maybe I am gushing a bit, but he wasn’t any more perfect than any of us are. But I choose to hold him in regard to the greatest attributes of his life. Once I got a little bit older, he wasn’t terribly hands-on as a father. He loved and he led, but he did so at arm’s length. He was proud of us, and he loved nothing more than to watch his kids compete or perform. He taught us right from wrong. He did play with us, he was there. I don’t have a list of things he taught me or things he always said. See when you have every dinner together and spend so much time together as a family, all six of us, in those moments there are countless lessons, examples, and quotable spoken contribution. It was on us to pay attention, and we did. He didn’t come out and say this is how to be a man, this is how to do this or that, but his commitment to the Word of God, the teachings found therein, and the scriptures was a lesson anyone could benefit from. He was a family man. We were a family that was together a lot. We gathered on holidays with extended family, and Dad would have it no other way. The greatest gift he left me was the way to heaven. There is but one way. Jesus said,”…I am the way, the truth, and the life…”.

Being a son of Tom Brokaw’s self-proclaimed “Greatest Generation”, he has set a pretty high bar for the rest of us.

See, me, and my generation, we hope to be measured one day in the same breath as the great people of the generation before us. In that generation the simplicity of life lived was the stunning portrayal choreographed by the depth found in the intricacies of magnificent minds with the perceived time to approach extraordinary. I am just a man, my Dad was a great man, a great man of God. His new place in heaven ensures what should always be, that I’ll look up to him. I do, and I will.

Dad didn’t want to leave this world but he did want to go home. We found out after the fact that he had shared with nursing home personnel on Tuesday that “he was ready to go home.” To his heavenly home. You know it’s kind of interesting to think about the state of the world we live in today, is the same world we cling to at the end. In our infinite mortality, we fight to stay here just a little longer, as those gathered long for the suffering not to leave this place. Two points that I choose to notice, one, that it’s the people not the place, we long to stay with; two, our heavenly home that awaits is so much better than anything we can comprehend here.

For the last five years or so, I have spent a lot more time with my Dad than I had previously as an adult. I heard a lot of stories over and over, and other simple things that are neither here nor there. But really, I learned a lot about Dad, and gained another level of respect for him, especially as a man of God. One thing that was always very present with Dad, and that I have seen present in many others over the years, were his smiling eyes. Or as I might dare say, a saved person’s eyes, or Christian eyes. In those eyes, the whites are white, and the light shines a little more bright. These windows to the soul are clear, and they sparkle, for in the depths of those saved souls, fear does not dwell. Even through these difficult months, Dad’s eyes rarely dimmed. And in those eyes, I saw so much love.

In the end of Dad’s time here on earth he suffered. He fended off so many attacks on his brain over the last 11 years. Much to all of our dismay, and opposite of our best wishes and prayers, Dad never regained the elevation in steps that he had previously climbed to once a medical event had happened. He got close. He often times maintained, which is still susceptible to the aging process we all face. Though he battled, he never could advance against the damage done to his command center. He lived on. He loved on. He smiled often. He welcomed all whether we knew it or not. In his fashion simple things continued to be his most revered things in life. Right up to the hands that held his while he grabbed at his last breath.

Although you folks hearing this, may have known him as John, Pastor Beal, Uncle John, brother, brother-in-law, Reverend John Beal, or Mr. Beal; I am happy to have always known him as Dad. While we are here today to remember and honor, I am happy to report: Dad is home. Dad is happy. Dad is healthy. Dad is at perfect peace.

Dad

Dad and Jacqueline warm up by the stove on Feb. 8th, 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder

Dad and Jacqueline warm up by the stove on Feb. 8th, 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder

 

This morning I woke up for the very first time in 48 plus years, without a Dad. Well, without my Dad living here on this earth. My Dad, John R. Beal, passed away yesterday morning, April 14, 2016. I can honestly say that my initial thoughts and feelings of pain and finality, were followed quickly by the sense of relief that my Dad suffered here no more. Although the former thoughts and feelings will stay close to me for some time, I know complete peace as Dad made his way to his eternal home yesterday around 8am.

Last night I worried with my wife as I told her the kind of things that I (and possibly others) expected from myself as it relates to writing about such things, these tributes and remembrances. We talked about how I had already written two or three of these things for my Dad before he ever passed, as I knew this day was coming. Honestly, I don’t know that I like what I have written previously, so here we are together on the edge of this new precipice I face this morning. I asked her where or how I should begin. Then I told her what I planned on doing to even start the writing process. I told her a few of the steps I would take to nudge myself up to this electronic writing pad, and how I see it playing out in my mind. Then she said to me, that’s your intro, just write what you told me, and go from there.

After an exhaustion induced sleep I woke before sunrise. I stepped right into the places I’d rather not trod because I knew that is where I needed to go. First, I signed-in and looked at my electronic edition of today’s New Hampshire Union Leader to find the Obituary written for my Dad. I noticed that just like we learn to arrange ourselves over the course of our entire lives, Dad was named in a list. Just a list of names, people who also found themselves named in obituaries this date. I looked through all of the names, some that I knew, and others I did not. I went back to the list somehow wishing there was a different way to share these people with the world. Imagine all the years, all of the moments, and the history each of these folks carried with them, leaving such a void in someone’s world. Just a list, get in line, because that’s how we keep order. I opened the link to my father’s obituary and I read it. My chest heaved violently as I expelled emotion and sorrow laden breath after breath as fast as my body would allow. Tears streamed from my eyes and I had to clear them several times just to read the words on the screen, even though I already knew what they said. I stopped and whispered a silent prayer hoping there were people somewhere eagerly looking for their loved ones brief story for each person on this list. Not much would seem worse to me than a life story lived right in front of us that no one wanted to read.

So, I have already used more than 500 words to get to my, quote, unquote, start. The steps I told to my wife last night, start with the playing of some old country/folk style music. I opened up my Spotify app and went to the playlist entitled, Old School Country, and I hit the “ShufflePlay” button. My dad enjoyed this music thoroughly and this playlist wouldn’t even exist were it not for him and the time I enjoyed trying to make a painful day for him pass just a little easier over the last few years. Just last Thursday, I sat with him, he in his wheelchair, me in a vinyl, beastly looking contraption that looked and felt like it could withstand the World Wars. We sat facing each other, next to his nursing home bed. He didn’t say very much that day, as had become more and more the norm these last few months. But I noticed that his face and his eyes looked more alive than I had seen in months. I took joy in that smile whether it’s effect reached the rest of his face or not, because the eyes gave it away. We sat, just he and I, for 90 minutes, listening to this playlist. I knew he thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent, as did I. His 87-year-old roommate, Ken, and Ken’s wife Arline, both came back to this little concrete square in a mostly forgotten wing of some old nursing home that most would rather hurry past than to deal with the scene found inside. There was Dad with his grinning eyes, his oldest son just trying to make some piece of this existence better, if even for just 90 minutes, an 87-year-old former engineer, and his wife, all sitting around together, humming tunes, singing some words, and making the otherwise drab and pending finish line a little more tolerable. A couple of aides came in to work with Dad’s roommate for a few minutes and they were smiling and repeating words to some of these old songs by the time they left. I was just happy to be there. I was happy to see Dad, happy.

That visit with Dad in the nursing home was the last time I would see my Dad alive. Really alive. I was with him most of the day, in the hospital on Wednesday the 13th, but he wasn’t really alive. He had vital signs and they were good. But he was completely unresponsive and never opened his eyes. Our family was there all day, and Mom spent the night in a chair (similar to the one I described in the nursing home) next to Dad.

Yesterday morning, early on, messages started coming in from Mom and my brother, and I knew the end was closing in. By the time I rushed from my home, leaving the twins to their care, Dad was already gone. Before I left, I had received a message that took my breath away, and I started to cry. Theodore, who will be 6 years old next week, was up early with me, while his twin sister Jacqueline was still sleeping. Theodore saw me cry, and he already knew that Grampy was not well. Teddy told me, “Daddy please don’t cry. Daddy don’t cry. It’s going to be okay.” And he came over to me to give me a hug and a kiss. I pulled myself together quickly and we talked quickly of Grampy. I told him we could pray, as we had been doing quite often for days, weeks, and months. Theodore walked around the family room praying out loud for Grampy, and praying to himself, as I had told him some time ago that God heard those prayers too. He turned to me and said, “Dad I said some special prayers, and I really think they are going to work for Grampy.” I assured him they would and I prayed too. Minutes later I would piece together, that it was right at that time that Dad’s time here had expired.

Dad and I, four years ago today. (c) 1inawesomewonder

Dad and I, Father’s Day, 2014. (c) 1inawesomewonder

After a long, long day I couldn’t wait to return home and talk to my wife and kids about those prayers. Because they did work. We prayed for direction. We prayed for Dad to feel better. We had prayed that Dad could again, come home. At the same time my Mom sat bedside with my Dad and prayed the same. Then at 8am, on Thursday, April 14, 2016, God answered. God raised my Dad up for just a second in Mom’s arms, and as Dad breathed his last breath here, our Heavenly Father took him home. Prayers answered. Thank you Lord.

I drove down our driveway knowing Dad was already gone. I was in a hurry to get to the hospital, but not really. I turned onto the country road that connects to our driveway. Cars came and went. People moved about. Down an old country road visible on my drive, I noticed several turkeys doing their morning thing. I thought about the huge hole that now existed in my world, but also noticed how many folks I passed, who were in no way affected. The world still turned, and the noise of daily life pressed on, but my world had just forever changed. I made my way to the hospital, not holding anything against any of the folks I saw for not having been affected by the sonic boom that had just gone off in my own life. I won’t get into the room, the family, and the scenes that unfolded among ourselves. But we were there, all of us together. Dad was still in the bed, and I kind of wished I didn’t have to see him there. Because that was just a body, Dad was gone, and this vessel that housed his soul and all of who he was, was just empty, used, and no longer containing my Dad. I can’t say that Dad left that body better than he found it, but I know he got absolutely everything he could, out of it. “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

See, Dad was born in 1941. Had he been born during the last two decades it’s likely he would have been tagged, or somehow otherwise labeled, as having a learning disorder or disability. But, as God and His perfect timeline would have it, Dad was born in July 1941. I am certain he suffered in some ways from the forcible learning/teaching habits taught from some book, that until recently, nobody thought to re-write, that incorporated the will to push all pegs, even in their asymmetrical diversity, through the same hole. Dad was different for sure. Thank God. These battles, many of which, maybe not another soul knows of, but I am certain they happened; Turned into a drive and determination that Dad displayed in areas where most of us wouldn’t apply. His resiliency was more between his ears, than anywhere, because that’s where the battles were fought, and where the weakness resided. I am saying that his methods, comprehension, and responses were questioned as a matter of the brain he was wired with. He was sound. He just had limitations in the physical aspects of his brain. God created him that way, and for 74+ years he worked with the equipment he had. He did what he had to, and he got by. Nowadays maybe he would have been labeled, separated, and led away from the pack, stunting growth, killing creativity, and who knows how that would have gone.

God knew what He was doing though. Dad was one of the best preachers I ever heard. Dad could mix humor into any sermon, illustration, or story without ever being silly. Greater still, you knew exactly what he meant, and his relatability was second to none. God gave him words, thought patterns, and a perspective to pull things together in a light that changed lives, touched hearts, and led to the eternal saving of souls. Honestly, what greater purpose could a man be called to? That was my Dad and he was great at it.

Listen, I just lost my Dad, and maybe I am gushing a bit, but he wasn’t any more perfect than any of us are. But I choose to hold him in regard to the greatest attributes of his life. He wasn’t terribly hands-on as a father once I got a little bit older. He loved and he led, but he did so at arm’s length. He was proud of us, and he loved nothing more than to watch his kids compete or perform. He taught us right from wrong. He did play with us, he was there. I don’t have a list of things he taught me or things he always said. See when you have every dinner together and spend so much time together as a family, all six of us, in those moments there are countless lessons, examples, and quotable spoken contribution. It was on us to pay attention, and we did. He didn’t come out and say this is how to be a man, this is how to do this or that, but his commitment to the Word of God, the teachings found there, and the scriptures was a lesson anyone could benefit from. He was a family man. We were a family that was together a lot. We gathered on holidays with extended family, and Dad would have it no other way. As a matter of fact, Dad never let on that we all were anything but family, even with his in-laws, the Peterson’s. The Beal’s and the Peterson’s, we all carried on as one family and we have for more than 50 years. That was a credit to my Dad and my Mom. The greatest gift he left me was the way to heaven. There is but one way. “…I am the way, the truth, and the life…”.

Dad did enjoy an occasional treat. (c) !inawesomewonder 2016

Dad did enjoy an occasional treat. (c) 1inawesomewonder 2016

It would be hard for me not to recognize something that hits way too close to home. I am my father’s oldest son. In many ways, I think that I am more like him than any of my siblings, but that’s just what I think. Throughout my lifetime there have been pictures of me that compare closely to those of my Dad at the same age. But resemblance isn’t everything, his blood runs through me. This apple landed right next to the tree. My sense of humor runs in the family, actually in both my Moms’ and Dads’ families alike, but there’s no question that Dad raised mine, ours, to a new level. Family dinners and get-togethers were among the funniest and most creative humor any of us have ever witnessed. Truly, brilliant at times, and just plain hilarious at other times. Thank you Dad. I also challenge those who really know me to examine how I have handled or treated you and yours, not for my sake, but because I am my father’s son. If I were fortunate enough to score a positive vote in your records, please know that my Dad would score ten times that. If I scored negatively, then that is on me, and you saw a version of me that should not have surfaced. Please forgive me. See, me, and my generation, we hope to be measured one day in the same breath as the great people of the generation before us. In that generation the simplicity of life lived was the stunning portrayal choreographed by the depth found in the intricacies of magnificent minds with the perceived time to approach extraordinary. I am just a man, my Dad was a great man, a great man of God. His new place in heaven ensures what should always be, that I’ll look up to him. I do, and I will.

Dad didn’t want to leave this world but he did want to go home. We found out after the fact that he had shared with nursing home personnel on Tuesday that “he was ready to go home.” To his heavenly home. You know it’s kind of interesting to think about the state of the world we live in today, is the same world we cling to at the end. In our infinite mortality, we fight to stay here just a little longer, as those gathered long for the suffering not to leave this place. Two points that I choose to notice, one, that it’s the people not the place, we long to stay with; two, our heavenly home that awaits is so much better than anything we can comprehend here.

For the last five years or so, I have spent a lot more time with my Dad than I had previously as an adult. I heard a lot of stories over and over, and other simple things that are neither here nor there. But really, I learned a lot about Dad, and gained another level of respect for him, especially as a man of God. One thing that was always very present with Dad, and that I have seen present in many others over the years, were his smiling eyes. Or as I might dare say, a saved person’s eyes, or Christian eyes. In those eyes, the whites are white, and the light shines a little more bright. These windows to the soul are clear, and they sparkle, for in the depths of those saved souls, fear does not dwell. Even through these difficult months, Dad’s eyes rarely dimmed. And in those eyes, I saw so much love.

In the end of Dad’s time here on earth he suffered. He fended off so many attacks on his brain over the last 11 years. Much to all of our dismay, and opposite of our best wishes and prayers, Dad never regained the elevation in steps that he had previously climbed to once a medical event had happened. He got close. He often times maintained, which is still susceptible to the aging process we all face. Though he battled, he never could advance against the damage done to his command center. He lived on. He loved on. He smiled often. He welcomed all whether we knew it or not. In his fashion simple things continued to be his most revered things in life. Right up to the hands that held his while he grabbed at his last breath.

Today, April 14th, as I sit in the bedroom I grew up in, I write these words with tears running down my face. Finality has a way of messing with our minds and our emotions. This too shall pass. And I smile when I write triumphantly that today, Dad is home. Dad is happy. Dad is healthy. And although you folks reading this or hearing it, may have known him as John, Pastor Beal, Uncle John, brother, brother-in-law, Reverend John Beal, or Mr. Beal; I am happy to have always known him as Dad.

My Aunt Janette Remembered

I find myself staring into the beautiful spaces that God created and letting my mind wander over the hills, through the valleys, and along the streams. In my mind all of it is wild, all of it is untouched, and all of it is revered by mankind. From the path my mind wanders along, I see the people who now walk the streets of gold, the ones we loved here on earth. I long to sit and visit with them again. I long to hear the familiar laughter that each of them often contributed to our family gatherings. I ache to look into the eyes of those heroes who have gone before me. In those eyes, there are windows to all-time, the windows dressed in love are unmistakable. The eyes invite you in to sit and stay for awhile, they exude love, and portray a confidence that all will be just fine, for where we are gathered, He is there also. Try looking into the eyes of a loved one, maybe an older one, but one who has assured their eternal salvation by giving their life to Christ, and tell me you don’t see all I have described here, and more.

I wrote this piece two years ago, and this morning, I honor my aunt’s life by posting the original words I wrote.

Continue reading

Newton – Love and Grace

This is my 500th post to this blog and it will be pretty quick yet I wanted to share. I have written about his most famous of hymns but never have I ever delved into his works, his life, his ministry, but I came across this John Newton story today, in the places I seem to find. The story had to do with Newton’s love of his life, his wife Mary, and his reaction to her death in 1790.

First, a line from a letter he had written to his wife, “I am always a little awkward without you, and every room where you are not present, looks unfurnished.” I love this line and to me it speaks volumes of love, closely followed by the necessary apprentice for true love, humility.

Second, I share a few more words penned by Newton after Mary died, showing his love for her, his dealings in grief, and ultimately his love and faith in our Lord and Savior. “The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine.  But the Lord, the all-sufficient God, speaks, and it is done.  Let those who know Him, and trust Him, be of good courage.  He can give them strength according to their day.  He can increase their strength as their trials increase…and what He can do He has promised that He will do.” Amen.

http://wp.me/p1TwRa-80