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The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part I

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  • The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part I

    Kids grow up SO fast.

    One minute – she’s “the little red-headed kid” – the next – she’s a young widow. We used to joke that “she doesn’t even have a name – we just call her ‘the little red-headed kid’, but we’ll have to come up with a name when she starts school. “ Her name, actually, was Jenny Lynn.

    I remember my wife sitting at the piano one day laboriously “chording” a hymn, trying to get it to play. Jenny, 4 years old, was watching intently. My wife got up and walked away – Jenny slid onto the piano bench and looked up and down the keyboard. She placed her tiny fingers “just so” and played some notes that even I could tell belonged to an actual chord. Then she played the chord. Then she played the hymn. Just like that. THOUSANDS of piano recitals later (ok, slight exaggeration) I’m sitting in the Church fellowship hall where Jenny’s Home School High School Graduation is taking place, and once again, she’s playing the piano. My little red-headed kid is growing up.

    I used to kid myself – Jenny doesn’t have boyfriends – she has “friend boys”. She didn’t “go on dates” – she just went to the same movie as the other guy and they shared popcorn. Friend boys came and went, but mostly went. She moved out to go to college, and got a job working at a Credit Union. A local Deputy Sheriff worked “security” in the lobby of the Credit Union, and he and Jenny became friends. Next thing I knew, Blake was showing up at family barbeques and holiday things. He was born in Vietnam and was adopted by an American family from an orphanage when he was 2. I was beginning to get the feeling that “this is the one”. (An interesting point, actually, to some of my fellow tWebbers who have accused me of being racist)

    One day, Jenny came into my study and said “Dad – we need to talk”. Uh oh. She said “Blake wants to ask you something but he’s scared because you really intimidate him. (I do? This is GOOD!) She didn’t have to say it – I knew what Blake wanted to ask me. And I began plotting and conniving all kinds of ways to make it really difficult for him to ask. I wanted to make him even more uncomfortable than when I asked my wife’s dad for her hand. But I never anticipated how he would approach it. He was so incredibly humble and sincere. “Mr. S_________.... I would like to know if you would allow me to have your daughter’s hand in marriage” Wow. All my plans for making him miserable flew right out the window.

    He genuinely loves my daughter – I could see it. So I went to plan B. I looked down at the ground, and thought for a minute, then looked back at him eye to eye, man to man. I said “I have just one question for you, Blake” He swallowed hard and said, “yes sir?” I paused again, then asked, “When I pass through your county on the way to Houston – can I speed?” With nervous laughter, he quickly replied, “Oh, YES SIR, No problem at all!!!!”

    The plan was for them to get married the following year, in the spring of 2005. Jenny would complete her degree, and Blake would be finished with Sniper School. Then the dark clouds rolled in. In the Spring of 2004, Blake began having severe stomach pains and fever. He would double over in pain and be unable to stand up. He began losing weight quickly and always seemed to be cold. His American brother was a Doctor at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Brent guided Blake through some exams and procedures where it was discovered that Blake had a rare form of cancer that seemed to be prevalent among Asian children.

    Brent arranged for the best of surgeons to see Blake, and it was determined that Blake needed a surgery called a Whipple. The procedure, the most common operation for pancreatic cancer, involves removal of the pancreas, a portion of the stomach, the duodenum, common bile duct, gallbladder and surrounding lymph nodes. Blake was otherwise strong and healthy, and this procedure should eliminate the cancer. Radiation and Chemo followed, with the obligatory loss of hair, appetite, nausea. But Blake began to show improvement. He was getting better, and was heading into the Summer of 2004 with optimism.
    Then the dark clouds turned into storms. Fever, night sweats… weight loss again – he had just started looking healthy. His brother, the doctor, came down to Houston to see him. I asked Brent, “what next?” Brent looked at the floor, then looked me in the eye and said “there is no ‘next’ – the whipple procedure was the cure”.

    I’ll never forget the day Jenny, whimpering, asked me, “Dad – what do I do… do I NOT marry him because he’s going to die?” I told her “If you love him, and you still want to marry him, I would suggest SOONER rather than later.” The Wedding, which was going to be Spring 2005, was now moved up to November 2004. We had one month to put together a complete wedding… photographer, cake, gown, dresses, tuxes, reception… all the stuff that usually happens over a period of months if not a year. My Church helped – family pitched in… our family, Blake’s family… there WAS going to be a wedding!

    I heard of a Cancer Treatment Center in Houston that did “unconventional” treatment. There were no other options, so I did some homework, and got Blake an appointment. I picked Blake up at his house – he was in severe pain, and had great difficulty walking. His stomach was very swollen from fluid buildup, and he eased himself into my truck. On the way to the hospital, Blake asked me “Mr. S______... if you were in my situation, what would you do?” Wow. I said, “Blake, there’s no way for me to know that, but I do know THIS… I’d make sure that I was right with God, and that I was at peace with Him.” Blake said “yes, sir, I’m ‘good’ there – I know when I die I’ll be in heaven.” We talked about that a little more before arriving at the hospital. Long story short, the doctors determined that the cancer was too far advanced, and the best they could do was make Blake more comfortable. Without going into gory detail, they drained nearly 3 liters of fluid from Blake’s abdomen, and sent him home with some pain medicine.

    The wedding rehearsal was on a Friday night. Blake looked very pale and weak. I always walk “the couple” through “where to stand”, “how to come in”, this is the order we do things in… Somebody found a barstool on which Blake could prop himself up during the practice of “the ceremony”. I assigned one of Blake’s Deputy friends the job of standing near Blake, prepared to catch him if he fell, or prop him up if need be. Blake was DETERMINED to get married.
    The wedding was awesome. The Church was beautiful. I had arranged for a Pastor friend to stand at the front while I walked Jenny down the Isle. When the wedding music stopped, my friend asked “Who takes this woman to be wed today” and I replied “her mother and I”. I handed Jenny off to Blake. He looked GREAT! He seemed to have rallied and was standing strong and tall.

    As Blake took Jenny’s arm, I relieved my Pastor friend at the podium, and I became Jenny’s Pastor instead of her dad. I always begin the “public greeting” with the appropriate “Dearly Beloved…” then move onto “this is a joyous yet solemn occasion…” Solemn. (That comes later) I suppose the hardest part of the wedding – we had agreed to stick with the “traditional” vows… and as I led them in “til death do you part”, each, in turn, responded “til death do us part”. It was only the power of the Holy Spirit that allowed me to keep my composure and continue on… then I remember pronouncing them husband and wife… you may kiss the bride… “Ladies and Gentlemen – it gives me GREAT JOY to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Blake Curtis A________________” Fanfare, recessional, receiving line… reception… Blake rose to the occasion – smiles and strength – phenomenal. As you may be aware, Baptists are not real big on “dancing”, but there came the time in the evening of the reception that the “audience” called for “the first dance”. As I watched them gliding across the floor, I couldn’t help think – the first dance – the last dance. The “solemn” part was hitting home.

    (to be continued)
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

  • #2
    The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part II


    Blake and Jenny left the reception for their honeymoon, which they enjoyed. Blake was obviously beginning to hurt again. After several trips to the doctor and / or hospital, by mid December, Blake was pretty much “at home” under hospice care. Jenny cared for him, met with hospice, and tried to prepare herself for the inevitable. A few days before Christmas 2004, Blake entered the hospital one more time. After being poked and prodded and examined, Blake had had enough, and told his doctor “I just want to go home”. On Christmas day, my wife and I visited Blake in the hospital while doctors and nurses began the final phase of releasing Blake to hospice. It was snowing in Houston.

    Blake seemed to fade in and out of consciousness with a morphine pump to ease the pain. A couple days after Christmas, my wife and I were at home alone, and I felt the urge to go see Blake. We drove the 45 miles to his house, and his family had come from Dallas. Blake’s mom, some family friends, brother and sister… probably a dozen people all told. Blake was in their bedroom. He was awake, and I asked if there was anything we could do. To my amazement, he replied “I want to be re-sworn”. The Sheriff’s Deputies are sworn in every 2 years, and Blake had missed his swearing-in service. One of Blake’s friends called the Sheriff, who arrived to do the honors. We crowded into the bedroom as the Sheriff asked Blake, lying in his bed, to raise his right hand and repeat the oath of office. I know this may seem strange, but it was his last request.

    A little later in the evening, Jenny came to me and whispered, “Dad, I know his family loves him, but they’re staying in the bedroom with me and I don’t have any time alone with him.” I told her I’d handle it, and I gently moved into the room and asked that Jenny be allowed to have a few moments with Blake. Politely and quietly, they (we) left the room, and I closed the door behind us. It was only a few minutes later that the door opened and Jenny appeared, tears running down her cheeks. She said softly, “Dad?” I nodded… “I know, baby, I know” I held her in my arms and she sobbed “he’s gone”.

    Over the next few days, Jenny and I met with the Sheriff and the Police Chaplain. We began planning the funeral, and taking care of other business. Jenny told me “Dad, Blake said he wanted you to do the funeral, but he didn’t want to make the Chaplain feel bad, what do I do?” I told her I’d speak to the Chaplain, and we would include him in the service, but it was really up to her. I asked if there was anything else Blake had wanted, and she said there were 2 more things. One was that he wanted me to tell his fellow officers, and those attending the funeral that he was “ok” because he was “home in heaven”. I asked, “and the other?” She looked a little embarrassed as she wiped the tears, then smiled, and said, “he said he wanted a really big funeral with lots of cop cars”. I laughed. I could see Blake saying that. He was SUCH a big kid! I told her “from what I understand from the Sheriff, there will be Patrol Units from all over Texas and some even from Louisiana. We drove out to the cemetery and visited the plots that Jenny and Blake had already picked out. A nice grassy hill with a pleasant breeze and some very nice trees. Yeah, I know it doesn’t matter to the one “in the ground”, but Jenny would come back there frequently, and it was a beautiful place to sit and think.

    I spoke to the Chaplain, and he was downright magnanimous. He told me “I understand you did the wedding just last month – are you sure you want to do this?” I told him I had no choice. We talked about the Scriptures we would use, and the Chaplain shared some of the things he had discussed with Blake. The Sheriff is a cancer survivor, and a Christian, and had been a SUPER encourager to Blake. I can’t say enough about the Sheriff. This is an elected office in Texas, and this would have been a fantastic “media” opportunity for him. He wanted no part of it. I told him I wanted him to walk with the Chaplain and myself at the head of the casket to lead it out of the Church into the hearse, and then from the hearse to the final resting place. He agreed to that, but said “I don’t want to say anything at all in public.”

    The day of the funeral arrived. As I drove through town to the Church, it was obvious that there were police and emergency vehicles EVERYWHERE. I smiled as I thought, “yeah, Blake… it’s gonna be a big funeral with lots of cop cars.” Jenny was holding up great. The Church was already filling up with people, already crowding the 700 capacity seating. Police Officers were lining up all along the inside perimeter of the auditorium, in addition to an “honor wall” (a solid row of police officers on each side of the sidewalk leading to the Church from the parking lot)

    There was a small fellowship hall near the auditorium where the immediate family was gathering. They would be ushered into front row seating just prior to the beginning of the service. It is my custom to meet with the family for a few minutes before the funeral, and to have prayer with them. Sheriff J____ appeared, and asked, “Could I say a few words to the family”. Remember, he was like a dad to Blake. I stepped aside, and the Sheriff took to the small podium, and smiled at the family. He began, quite cheerfully, “Folks, I just want to remind you that this is a CELEBRATION time, as we know where Blake is, and there won’t be any need for a lot … of …. “ and the Sheriff was reduced to a sobbing crying fool. (I say this lovingly, I’ve “been there”) Some nervous laughter from the family as I said, “Thank you Sheriff, that was … inspiring” (Seriously, it really was – this man is “the real deal”.) I was notified that The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Honor Guard was ready, and it was time for the funeral to begin.

    The Sheriff and I met up with the Chaplain, and the three of us led the casket, carried by the Honor Guard, into the auditorium, followed by the family. Everybody stood as the casket entered, and the family was seated. The Honor Guard, placed the flag draped casket on its stand, then stood to attention. In very slow motion, they raised their white gloved right hands to a salute, held the salute for 3 seconds, then slowly lowered them down. I could hear the Commander of the Honor Guard softly speaking orders… “presennnnnnnnnt arms”.. “orderrrrrrrrrrr arms”…. It was almost too much to take in. On another softly spoken command, in unison, they stepped back, faced about, and marched slowly and respectfully to the rear of the auditorium.

    I took my place at the podium, and was momentarily overwhelmed by the sight of literally hundreds of uniformed officers, police, military, rescue…. Standing all along the wall surrounding the whole auditorium. Many more uniformed officers were seated. These are the men and women who serve us as first responders. These are the men and women prepared to give their lives for our safety. And they are all here to honor my son-in-law.

    to be continued....
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


    • #3
      The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part III


      I welcomed the congregation, and thanked them for taking the time to show their respects to Blake. For those who were not aware, I shared with them the fact that it was only 34 days prior that I stood at a podium and pronounced Blake and Jenny husband and wife. I told them that Jenny had told me something that not many of us could say. She said, “Dad, I want you to know, that every single day we were married, we loved each other, and were happy. And Blake told me every day at least 5 or 6 times that he loved me. We may not have been married long, but we were happy every single day of our marriage.”

      I told them how Blake had asked for Jenny’s hand in marriage, and how I had agreed as long as I was allowed to speed in Washington County. There was laughter as I looked at the Sheriff and asked if I could get that in writing. I told them about the conversation I had with Blake where he told me that he knew for sure that he would spend eternity in Heaven. He wanted me to talk about Jesus. I told them about Jesus, and that the single most important decision they could make was to accept Him as Savior. I noticed that many of them were smiling that smile of assurance, nodding “yes”.. some were fighting back tears… some of those weren’t so successful at the fight.

      The Chaplain then took to the podium and read the obituary, some Scripture, made some personal comments… He made it clear that he also had talked to Blake about Jesus, and was happy to report that Blake “knew where he was going”. When he was finished, I stepped off the platform to the head of the casket, and nodded to the Sheriff to join me. The Chaplain stood beside me and we watched as the Honor Guard “came to” and slowly moved forward to bear the casket. As the Honor Guard came forward, all those in attendance rose to their feet. When it was clear that the Guard was ready, Sheriff J and the Chaplain and I headed back down the isle toward the door, and the hearse outside. The “honor wall” was in place, and the men and women in uniform stood motionless as we made our way down the sidewalk.

      We stepped aside as the funeral director opened the rear door of the hearse, and the Honor Guard placed the casket inside with reverent precision. I breathed a sigh of relief, for, though I had maintained an outward “calm assurance”, I had been secretly dreading this day, and wanted to do my best to represent Blake, and to be a testimony to all those gathered. It was a cold crisp sunny day with a gentle breeze that played on the flag on the casket. Local police officers were coordinating the funeral procession, but with considerable difficulty, as many many police and emergency vehicles were absolutely everywhere. The Chaplain and I were directed to the limo that would immediately follow the hearse, and immediate family would follow behind us.

      The Sheriff rode with his driver. Again, with emergency vehicles everywhere, it took some time for a path to be cleared for the procession to depart and head toward the cemetery. The route would be a bit circuitous, as the “direct” route would have taken us over the railroad tracks, and risked splitting the procession. The route had been published in the local paper, and it was very humbling to see people standing on the curb all along the street as we passed by. Many stood at attention, saluting as we passed. Some just stood silently and watched.

      to be continued...
      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


      • #4
        The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part IV


        The Chaplain and I talked as we rode along. As we pulled up over an overpass, I looked back to see police flashers lined up behind us as far as the eye could see. As we arrived at the cemetery, the funeral director met us. He told us that the “tail end” of the procession had not even left the Church yet. If you have never been to a military or police funeral, you have really missed something. The Texas DPS Honor Guard had arrived, and was forming up near the rear of the hearse. It was beginning to hit me – I would never see Blake again in this life. Then it hit me even harder… Jenny would never see Blake again in this life.

        The vehicles carrying the families were a arriving, and there was my little red-headed kid. It never had crossed my mind that my little piano player would be a widow before she was 25 years old. The Sheriff approached, and we moved toward the Honor Guard as the funeral director opened the door of the hearse. The “honor wall” – two rows of police officers – was now several officers deep on both sides of the path from the hearse to the gravesite. I took a deep breath… a bagpipe began playing Amazing Grace. It was time.

        Uniformed officers and first responders were still forming up, and the Sheriff stopped just for a moment. I stopped too, and looked at him.. he was looking eye to eye at me, and I knew he had something to say.

        He swallowed, then said, “I’d like you to say something for me at the graveside”. I said, “Sheriff, why don’t you stand with me, and you can say it yourself.” (I remembered his “inspirational” speech to the family prior to the funeral, and immediately wondered if that was a good idea (by now, you should be getting the message that I REALLY like this guy!)) He looked at the ground, and said, “naw, I’d really like you to say it for me.” I agreed, and the Sheriff gave me the message he wanted shared with those assembled. I agreed I would pass it on.

        I, along with the Chaplain, moved to the spot where I would stand at the head of the casket. The honor guard was preparing to place the casket on the lowering mechanism. With military precision, and slow measured moves, they lowered the casket onto the stand, then stood to attention. Again, the slow-motion salute, raising their arms, index finger of their white gloved hand to the brim of their covers, hold for 3 seconds, lowered back to “attention”, then the calm quiet “facing” command, as they moved off to a 45 degree angle from the foot of the casket. It was now my turn to speak.
        My “graveside” services are usually pretty short. I love to read, on an occasion such as this, where the departed is known to be a Christian, that portion of the Revelation - Chapter 21, with my own comments interspersed…

        And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [Have you ever seen an ugly bride? If EVER a girl looks pretty, this is the picture – a best of times – and it was just 34 days ago when this young woman (motioning to my daughter) stood before God and the assembled witnesses, and promised to love Blake even unto death… and she did] 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. [God did not assign an angel, or a representative or an ambassador – the Scripture clearly tells us that “God himself” – personally… remember that as we continue reading] 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

        I continued my comments about Blake knowing Jesus, and that Blake knew he would be with Jesus when he died… that this casket did not contain Blake, but only his tired worn cancer-ridden body.

        I asked the chaplain to lead us in prayer, which he did. Then it was time for me to deliver the message the Sheriff had conveyed to me. I stood firm, and in my former-police-officer-voice-of-authority, announced so everybody, even at the rear echelon, could hear… “Ladies and gentlemen, Sheriff J_______ has asked me to convey a message to all Officers and First Responders…” And I swallowed hard, because a lump was forming in my throat. But the lump didn’t “go down”… and I tried to swallow again, but literally could not speak. All eyes were on me awaiting “the message”, and I finally managed to swallow, and I called out the simple message in a not so steady voice…

        Blake has got your back!

        (Please note that the “order of events” may not have happened exactly in this order – I’m having a hard time remembering exactly what happened when, but I assure you, they happened like this)

        MY part of the graveside service now concluded, I stepped back to allow the honor guard to enter, but they stood fast. Before I knew what was happening, I heard a police radio squawk loudly to life, and I heard “208, Brenham”. Wow, I thought, some poor fool forgot to turn off his radio! But all officers stood firm, and it HIT me.. this is NOT a goof… this is part of the service. After a few seconds, the radio squawked loudly once more, “208, Brenham”. Again, it hit me – 208 was Blake’s “unit number” – they were calling him to duty! It was no longer possible to hold back the tears… (I glanced over at Jenny, and she too, was weeping, along with many others standing around, incuding the Sheriff)… and a third time, “208, Brenham…” and a brief pause, then “Brenham, 208 is 10-7, 10-42” (followed by the station’s call sign) Then, one last time, the radio squawked to live with a single “alert tone” – sounded when an Officer fails to answer his radio call. Interpretation – Brenham Dispatch was calling Blake to duty, Blake was not answering… 10-7, Blake is out of service – 10-42, he is no longer available for calls. Brenham Unit # 208 will never again answer a radio call on this planet.

        to be cont'd...
        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


        • #5
          The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done as a Pastor - Part V


          The honor guard snapped to alert, and slowly and methodically took up positions around the casket. Unnoticed by me, the firing party had formed up behind me, and their commander began to order his men (I don’t remember the exact commands) to come to attention, aim, fire … ready, aim, fire… ready, aim, fire… seven officers firing 3 volleys for the 21 gun salute. This honor, and some of the things that happened at the funeral, are typically reserved for an officer who died in the line of duty, but the Sheriff had simply said, “if he coulda, he woulda”, so full honors were extended. After the gun salute, a bugler off in the distance began playing taps, and the words (did you know “taps” has words?) ran through my mind…

          Day is done,
          gone the sun,
          From the hills,
          from the lake,
          From the skies.
          All is well,
          safely rest,
          God is nigh.

          As “taps” was fading into the cool afternoon breeze, the Sheriff Department’s helicopter appeared from over the hill, flying straight and level toward our position. Just short of arrival, it took a decided change of course, high and to the right… a “police” version of the military “missing man formation”. I thought about the picture I have of Blake in my office – sitting in the “ride-along” spot in that very helicopter, aviation headphones over his ears and a broad smile on his face. He truly loved his job.

          The NCOIC of the Honor Guard began softly speaking his commands, took a place across the casket from my daughter in a “flag folding inspection” stance, and one officer took his place at the head of the casket, another at the foot, and the other three officers formed up on a 45 degree line off the foot of the casket.

          The flag folding began, as the NCOIC began reciting the “13 folds of the flag” – the officers folding the flag moved in unison with the progress of the recitation…

          The first fold of our Flag is a symbol of life.

          The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

          The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the
          veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of
          their lives for the defense of our
          country to attain peace throughout the world.

          The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as
          American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in
          times of peace as well as in time of war for His
          divine guidance.

          The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the
          words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing
          with other countries may she always be right; but it
          is still our country, right or wrong."

          The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is
          with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag
          of the United States of America, and to the
          Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,
          indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

          The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for
          it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our
          country and our flag against all her enemies, whether
          they be found within or without the boundaries of our

          The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered
          into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might
          see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it
          flies on Mother's Day.

          The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has
          been through their faith, their love, loyalty and
          devotion that the character of the men and women who
          have made this country great has been molded.

          The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he,
          too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense
          of our country since they were first born.

          The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen
          represents the lower portion of the seal of King David
          and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God
          of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

          The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen,
          represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in
          their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

          When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are
          uppermost reminding us of our Nation's motto, "In God
          We Trust."

          (A pause as the flag is tucked and inspected and is in a perfect triangle presentation state)

          After the Flag is completely folded and
          tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat,
          ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under
          General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines
          who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were
          followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed
          Forces of the United States, preserving for us the
          rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

          At this point, the officer who has possession of the flag (as you can imagine, the two officers, because of the decreasing length of the folding flag, are now face to face) holds it to his bosom, stands smartly to attention, and the other officer does the now familiar “slow motion salute” to the flag. The officer who saluted now extends his hands to receive the flag, and now holds it to receive a salute from the officer formerly holding the flag. A smart about-face, and the flag is presented to the Commander of the Honor Guard, who, in turn, kneels before the little red-headed kid, and presents her the triangular folded symbol of our Nation, repeating words I did not hear, but assume along the lines “On behalf of a grateful Nation…. “ Jenny receives the flag, and the Commander stands to, and salutes, then turns and assembles his Honor Guard to retreat from the scene. The distinctive drone of the bagpipes spools up and “Amazing Grace” bursts into the afternoon air. Absolutely Amazing. And What GRACE!

          It’s over.

          I step to the coffin, and remove the carnation from my lapel, placing it on the coffin. I pause just a moment to think, then turn to console the family. The Chaplain, Sheriff, and others begin placing their carnations on the casket. Jenny, tears running down her cheeks, is nonetheless firm and full of resolve – she knows where Blake really is.

          The NCOIC calls the officers to attention, then officially dismisses them, and they “fall out” to return to their families and jobs.

          Jenny is doing GREAT. This all happened several years ago, and Jenny has since remarried. Another Sheriff’s Deputy who was a very good friend of Blake’s. It’s good! He understands she will always love Blake, but “that chapter is over”. They bought a home, she works as “the number two” person at a local bank, and is hoping to have a baby sometime soon! (Some complications there, because she had had a heart condition all her life (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia - PAT) and the medication she was using was not conducive to pregnancy. SINCE then, she has head a heart surgery procedure and no longer needs the medication. I’m proud of Jenny – through all of this, she trusted God, and never lost hope.
          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


          • #6
            The update to this....

            Jenny is no longer at the bank - she went back to school and got her degree in nursing, and now serves, of all things, as a Hospice Nurse.

            She also plays the piano in the Church where I am currently pastoring (she was there first ), and continues to do well. Her husband, Curtiss, left the Sheriff's Office and is now a Sergeant for the City Police.
            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


            • #7
              Thank you CP.
              Watch your links!


              • #8
                Originally posted by DesertBerean View Post
                Thank you CP.
                Absolutely. A fellow tWebber had PM'd me reminding me of this from before the crash. Perhaps he'll pop in and comment. The original was 3 parts, but, apparently, the new Tweb has tighter word count controls.
                The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


                • #9
                  I merged your threads into one. You can make separate posts in one thread if you exceed the word count rather than making several threads


                  • #10
                    Thank you for sharing a part of you *hug*


                    • #11
                      An absolutely amazing and moving story, dear friend. And a wonderful testamony to God's grace!

                      Thank you for sharing it with us again.

                      Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.


                      • #12
                        Why is it so sad, even when we'll see the person again in Heaven, when a person dies young? Because we still will miss them? I didn't know about this, thank you for sharing.
                        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!


                        • #13
                          It's sad when a person dies old, too.

                          We are selfish people, and this life is all we know. Heaven is our hope, of course, and we look forward to that with great joy, but it is hard to lose someone we love because we will miss that presence in our lives. We want to keep that person with us here, even though healing for that person may only come through death.

                          Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.


                          • #14
                            Indeed. So, when we mourn at funerals, it's mourning for us rather than the person who died? Don't know if I phrased that right. Awesome funeral though. Didn't know that they did that for death by natural causes, but I don't know what funerals for police officers looks like.
                            If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                              Indeed. So, when we mourn at funerals, it's mourning for us rather than the person who died?
                              Yes, that -- and for the family of the loved one. Particularly when there are small children who don't understand this.

                              Don't know if I phrased that right.
                              Ya done fine.

                              Awesome funeral though. Didn't know that they did that for death by natural causes, but I don't know what funerals for police officers looks like.
                              Cops (and firefighters) are their own brotherhood. I think the Sheriff made the exception because of the fact that Blake did his best to report for duty at every opportunity, even as he was sick as a dog through chemo. He just wouldn't give up. That, and the fact that, as I mentioned, the Sheriff was a cancer survivor -- TWICE, and felt a kinship with Blake.
                              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


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