Friday, April 29, 2011

ONE LITTLE SOUL....G-A-R-Y - - - - A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N

'...I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.' John 11:25 NKJV

The kingdom of God is about resurrection - caterpillars into butterflies, seeds into stalks of wheat, broken relationships into loving relationships and a crucified Jesus into the risen Saviour of the world!

Dad has been hanging out with Jesus since Easter. FIVE DAYS!

And Brian, the girls and I are home. It's the first full day I've been home in well over two weeks.

The older two girls are off for a picnic and swimming with a friend. I held out on the baby's nap so it would coincide with the girls being away. I have a few hours.

It's quiet. My computer and bible are in my lap. Finally. It's time. God (and my friends and family) have been wanting me to write this story down.
I'm not gonna spoon feed you this one. I want you to look up the verse I have on my bible, in the pic above. MATTHEW 6:33. Get your bible. Then grab a sharpie, and write Matthew 6:33, or some awesome verse, on the outside of your bible.

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I have begun (with my previous posts) at the end. With cancer.
With death.
The death of my precious Dad.



I have not blogged about my Dad. About his cancer. About his life. It didn't feel like the right time. EVERYTHING was so raw, so painful. Now. I am REJOICING in the miracle God has done in his life. In the REDEMPTION of the blood of Jesus. It's really a MIRACLE.


There is more to his story. SO MUCH MORE. If I have ever wanted you to read anything. It is THIS post. Can I scream that?

Read it. Send it to your friends and family. For me. For my family. For my Dad.

This is my Dad's legacy and the POWER OF REDEMPTION, THROUGH A SAVING RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST.

Again I am pouring out my guts on this blog. It's for you. God wants this story out there, for believers and non-believers to read.

I've been told I need to write this into a book.

I'm not so sure about that right now. But if I did, it would be titled, something like:
CANCER. THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO HIM.

But instead of a book, I will blog my guts out, right here for you to read.

I waited and waited to tell this story. Out of respect for my father. His health. His life. I just wasn't so sure that Dad would be cool with me sharing some of the details of his life. But as the end neared, I KNEW, with assurance, that he would be cool with me sharing the details of his life. Because of the miracles that occurred. Supernatural stuff that has blown my VERY believing mind and heart.

For 5 months he has been sick. 'Punkin', my Dad. It all started last Halloween…but I'm getting ahead of myself. To begin. We have to back up. To see the redemptive power of the Cross. So I pray, as I tell Dad's story, Jesus will BE GLORIFIED.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My love story from God.

I'll begin in the spring of 1993.

My Mom sat my twin sis, Julie and I down. She cried as she explained that she and Dad were separating. My world was rocked. We were the all-American family. Mom was a school teacher, Dad a real estate agent, my brother and twin sister and I...all great students, excelling in sports, dance. Well adjusted.

'Mom. What? Why are you separating? What's the deal?' We felt we had to know. We had the right as their children. To say that they are private is an UNDERSTATEMENT. They were so private. We had to PULL it out of her.

She finally explained. He was having a relationship with another woman.

DUMBFOUNDED. HURT. BETRAYED. ANGRY. ABANDONED. Everything you would imagine I felt. And my Mom felt it too, times a million.

Dad moved out the week Julie and I left for college.

Believe it or not, Mom and Dad remain married, but became legally separated.

Mom was BITTER. Capital B. She was unhappy, and freaking mad. I have to say it that way (sorry Mom). I say the truth because of what happened next.

Mom is suffering. Alone. And the years tick by.

6 years to be exact.

Spring ahead to 1999.

I became a believer in Jesus Christ on August 23, 1999. I was with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, my twin-sister, my best friend Stephanie at a tiny brand new church in Tennessee. The pastor preached an awesome sermon then gave an invitation. He presented the gospel so simply. He explained to the small group that we are all sinners because the bible tell us so. Romans 3:23 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.' I thought of my life. The life I was living apart from God. I was a TOTAL sinner. When I saw my life through God's eyes, I was a MESS. In total need of saving.

'But God demonstrates his own love in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' Romans 5:8

That's all of our sins.

What is a sin? Anything that misses the mark. Literally.

Well. What is the mark? Jesus. Perfection.

He forgives our sins. PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE.
In other words, I can't get it right. I'm a yucky sinner. But God sent Jesus to die on the cross when I was still in the midst of being a yucky sinner.

The pastor went on. He explained that Jesus died on the cross and exchanged himself for me to clear the debt of my sin with God his father.

Jesus died on the cross for my sins. It was sinking in...as if I had never heard this message before. But...had I?

I was RAISED IN THE CHURCH. My sister and I, and our family, were there every time the church doors were open... Sunday morning. Sunday night. Wednesday night. Church camps. On and on. I was considered a 'good girl'. But that isn't what the Lord wants. Simply because we can NEVER be good enough to enter heaven. There is one perfect, and that is Jesus. We don't measure up, no matter how good we are. And at that time in my life, I was awful. Not only in God's eyes, but mine too.

I needed a SAVIOR.

The pastor said, 'If you don't know Jesus is Lord of your life....If you don't know for sure that if you die today you are going to heaven...then I want to TALK TO YOU.' And then he bowed his head to pray.

I felt chills all over my body. The pastor and the members of the church bowed their heads. I looked over at my friend Stephanie. I whispered...'I don't know for sure... But I want to.'

She grabbed my hand. And I feel sure our feet didn't touch the floor. We moved like a lightening bolt to the front of the church.

After the service ended, with Julie, Stephanie and Brian gathered around. I prayed the most short and simple prayer that changed my life for ETERNITY.

'Dear God, I am a sinner. I desperately need your power of forgiveness. Come into my life, fill me with yourself. Thank you for giving me Jesus. Make me new. I want to love you with my whole heart. Amen.'



I opened my eyes and it is like the bible says...'Therefore if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come!' 2 Corinthians 5:17

Salvation doesn't come through a specific prayer or an aha moment. It comes through faith in the Lord Jesus, denying yourself and REPENTANCE. By God's grace.

I was NEW! I was bought by the blood of Jesus. And I felt it. Boom. Done. I was HIS. A CHILD OF GOD!!

'Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.' John 1:12

Brian had recently given his life to the Lord too. A few months earlier in 1999. My twin sister, Julie, too. And my brother a few years before that.

God was AT WORK in my family.

But.

My Mom and Dad were struggling.
Mom with bitterness and rage.
Dad with knowledge that he was openly sinning and couldn't seem to get out of it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fast forward from 1999 to 2001. It's Mothers Day. Mothers Day 2001.

I was married to my hunk, living in Atlanta, and drove over to be with Mom for the night. Julie came down from Charlotte. We had a great dinner. I was a new believer in Christ, and of course talked of him often. I will never forget what Mom said that night.

She said, 'I want to love Jesus the way you girls love Jesus.' Julie and I stared at each other. And I said, 'Mom, you CAN. YOU CAN MOM.'

After talking for a few more minutes, we bowed our heads and in a prayer very similar to the one that I prayed, Mom surrendered her life to Jesus right there at the kitchen table with her daughters by her side.

I have rarely seen a more radical transformation than the one that occurred with my own Mother. She let go of all of her hurt with my Dad. All the bitterness and rage. She became the most peaceful, precious, loving, forgiving, gentle, darling girl. I've never asked her when she forgave my father for abandoning her, but I imagine it was right around that time. She was SO DIFFERENT. SO CHANGED. Julie and I celebrated the start of her new life.

Mom and Dad remain married, even through 15+ years of him living with and having a relationship with, the other lady.

How can you do that Mom. And she would say plainly, 'I don't believe in divorce.'

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have to fast forward again. This time to Fall 2010. There is one family member who hasn't entered into a loving and personal relationship with Jesus. That's my Dad. When we talk about the Lord, he says 'That's good for you that you have a relationship with Jesus. Good.' And pats us on the head. I just don't know how REAL he knew God to be. But he was about to FIND OUT.

Exerpts from my journal.

September - October 2010
I knew it.
I felt it.
Something wasn't quite right.
My usually jovial, light-hearted, spunky Dad was chill. I first noticed it at Evelyn's 3rd birthday party in September. He just wasn't as enthusiastic as usual. He didn't want to kiss babies and hug and tickle them. He dodged the fun that day and instead opted for a super long nap.
Next clue.
A month later, we saw him in Columbia, at the end of October. He laid on the sofa instead of joining Brian, the girls and I on our annual trip to Boo at the Zoo to trick-or-treat.
A word. A thought. Strangely…flickered through my mind… out of the blue. CANCER.
I am not even a hypochondriac. That's my sister.

Thursday, November 4
Brian leaves for Cambodia for 2 weeks. The girls and I deliver him right to the screening area at the Charleston airport. The girls are excited for him. Then at the last minute they change their minds. They don't want him to go. They run after him. The agent turns them back. They look like whipped puppies. Carlisle cries.
I take a deep breath. 2 weeks without Brian. I'm outnumbered.

Tuesday, November 9 - The Day Life CHANGED.
It's 10:30pm. My cell rings. Brian is still in Cambodia. I look at the phone. It's Dad. I have a friend over for a cup of hot tea.
I answer.
Because, I know, if my dad is calling at 10:30 at night, he wants to talk.
He tells me that the results from his CT scan are in. He hadn't even mentioned he was having a CT scan.
He tells me things look ominous. There is a tumor on the pancreas and the doctors are concerned it's cancerous.
I hang up the phone and look up. There sits my friend. I am looking into the eyes of a woman who has been battling breast cancer for years. She is the person I would have called had I had this call and been alone.

The Lord already had her in my home. Amazing.
She tells it to me straight. She explains that pancreatic cancer is very scary. She advises me to go to the American Cancer Society's website. Later that night, I do. I send the link to my Dad too. It basically says most Pancreatic Cancer patients don't live more than a year. I go to bed alone. Thinking of Brian, wishing he were here... and praying that God will meet my Dad right where he is. That my Dad will feel God to be as REAL as I do.
That through this he will meet JESUS.

Friday, November 12
Biopsy day.
Everyone is trying to be encouraging, saying, 'You know, the results of the biopsy will probably come back fine Jennie. I smile and say, 'That would be great.' But I KNOW that is NOT the case. I pray.

Tuesday, November 16
The test results confirm our worst fears.

CANCER.

'I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.'
Psalm 19:1-2

I tell Dad that he can come and live with me. That I will take care of him.

As soon as I get the news of the test results, cancer, I send this email to my 'Prayer Posse', a group of my Girlfriends that will join me in praying for my Dad.

Band of Sisters and Warriors for Jesus,
So, my precious friend came over today. She saved my neck. She watched my girls so that I could rest and pray. I am exhausted carrying the burden of my dying fathers spiritual condition. I know that is NOT my job. But I. Who is NOT a worrier. Is worried. That's not from God either. I longed for a quiet refuge away from my noisy life and squealing, giggling children and day to day commitments. And she let me sneak away to my bedroom to be alone.
I am emailing you warrior, because I need you. I need your lathering prayers. My father, like we all are... apart from God, is a sick, depraved, self-righteous, sinner. I have cried. Wept. For him. This is not a typical Jennie email. I am faced with something SO serious. Death. Of my earthly father. Eternal damnation. It's so heavy I can't stand up under it.
But, my soul is encouraged. I am fired up for the promises and the HOPE that God is LIFE! And that TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION. He is encouraging me. God is worthy of our praise and adoration! And he desperately loves my father. And I desperately love my father.
If you are on this list, consider yourself someone I TRUST. Someone who, I know, won't take this lightly.
I desire to be in the loving embrace of our omnipotent and infinitely loving heavenly father. Tomorrow I am HUMBLY asking, pleading even, for your prayers on behalf of my dying father. My singular focus, so that we are unified, is his SALVATION. When we were in Columbia yesterday, I gave him a BIBLE with his name on it.
I hope that you will be able to FAST tomorrow. No parameters. No rules. Just you and God. Whatever timeframe and specifics is yours and Gods.
Those of you that are new to fasting, see Matthew 4, Isaiah 58, Esther 4:15
Thank you for loving me so well. Thank you for fasting and praying for ONE MORE SOUL to be allowed to spend eternity with the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Reply-to-all if you would like to. That way each woman may be encouraged by the next.
FOREVER grateful for you.
I love you. Each and every one.
Jennie

Wednesday, November 24
I know that working out really is the best medicine. So I teach Fit 4 Life and Zumba.
Brian dropped the older two girls off with a friend and comes to the gym to pick me up.

He, Viv and I drove to Columbia memorizing 1 John 5:11-13
'And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.'

Brian, Viv and I pull into the parking lot. I look at the clock. 12:01. The appointment is at 12:00. We find the office on the fourth floor. There is Dad, looking like he doesn't feel good. He is filling out paperwork. When we walk in, he's just as gracious as always. He smiles and welcomes Brian back from Cambodia. He looks a little better than other days, but still looks awful. I want to help him….

The doctor, a precious white haired man talks with us in the examination room. He lovingly touches my father the whole time. He literally had his hand on my Dad's back for most of the 45 minute conversation.

He makes no promises. He makes no time commitments. He makes no assumptions. Instead, he carefully, quietly and succinctly answers all of our questions. And offers options. Chemo.

So right here. This week. TWO huge things happen. Dad goes into the hardest fight of his life. And his wife, who has never truly left his side, steps into the ring with him.

Dad moves in with Mom. She lovingly asked him to come. She told him 'you are going to need someone to take care of you.' She quits her job and changes everything in her life, her diet, her sleeping habits to accommodate him.

He is tired. SO tired. Exhausted. Like a newborn. Can barely keep his eyes open. Not AT ALL able to carry on a conversation.

Wednesday, Dec 1st - SPIRITUAL STEPS
Wednesday is my 'busy day'. It's the same every week. I teach aerobics, in the morning, for a few hours. Then I scoot home with one extra little one in tow + my crew of three, for lunch. Then mix in two more school age kids around 2:00, a picnic, and a dance class around 3:30...by the time I look up on Wednesdays it's 5:00pm. Well this particular Wednesday, somewhere right after aerobics and before lunch, I called the hospital. I was hoping to catch my Dad awake.

He was awake! Mom handed over the phone to him and walked out of the room. He sounded so tired. Like always. I feel like every second is precious. What the heck am I supposed to talk to him about? So I talk to him about Jesus. I reminded him that some, if not most, of you are praying for him BY NAME. Gary Anderson. I tell him that people ask EVERYDAY what my Dad's name is. I told him I spell it out for them. G-A-R-Y . A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N .

At that, I hear crying. I mean the real-deal crying. I tell him that so many of you are praying for him. And that, like me, you want him to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

He is now audibly sobbing.

He's had a hard time sharing his spiritual struggles on his journey. I say, 'Dad, I don't know specifically what exactly you are struggling with. But, if you think you aren't good enough for Jesus. YOU ARE RIGHT! You aren't good enough. I wasn't either! You never will be! If you think salvation sounds too good to be true. You're RIGHT! It's a precious gift given to us by God. 'It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...'

I point blank ask him; 'Do you want to have a personal relationship with the Lord?'

He says: 'Yes.' (crying loudly)

I say: 'Would you like to pray about it?'

He says: 'Yes.' (crying loudly)

I pull over to the side of the road.

I pray. The Holy Spirit takes over. It makes me excited to think about it. The way I know for sure that the Holy Spirit took over, is... that I don't have one clue what I prayed. The Holy Spirit did it. It was my favorite, most important prayer of my lifetime and I can't remember! What I DO remember was that I was praying scripture the whole time. I know that I prayed about the transformation of the Old being gone and the New coming. That he would have a new countenance. That God would radically change him. That his sins are forgiven and that he is reconciled to God through Jesus.

He sobbed through the whole prayer.

When we finished. He kept saying, 'Thank you so much Jennie. Thank you so much.'

When Mom walked back in the hospital room she said that he had tears, snot, everything rolling down his face. I told her what happened. I rejoice, with my Mom...and the angels.

Tuesday, December 7th
Vivian and I drive to Columbia. Mom is here. I sit down beside Dad. Eventually he sits up. Lunch comes and he sits up in a chair to eat it. He is blinking. Raising his eyebrows and blinking. Rubbing his eyes. Blinking some more. Finally he says, 'I've lost my peripheral vision in this eye.' He pulls his hand from the side to about his 1:00 and says 'this is where my peripheral starts'. The nurse comes in and Dad says to her, 'it's no big deal, it's probably because I've been sleeping on that side for the past week.' Then he tells her 'don't make a big deal out of it.' She nods and walks out of the room. I follow her into the hall. She tells me she will call the doctor immediately.

Mom starts to talk about how much she is enjoying being with Dad. He's 'being so loving. So kind.' A fresh new love begins to bloom.

Wednesday, December 8
I wake up at 4:30am, before my 4:45 alarm. I look over at little Carlisle, who made her way into our bed sometime during the night. She is sprawled out beside Brian. One elbow snuggly placed against her sleeping Daddy. I go to find coffee. I take a shower, do a load of laundry, leave Brian a few sticky notes about the girls, the day, things going on and squeak out.

It's 19 degrees. I sip my hot coffee and drive through the dark. And I cry. I am so glad that I didn't put any makeup on. I pray. And I cry some more. I arrive a little after 6:00am.
Dad was either awake when I arrive, or sleeping really lightly. He says, 'Jen?' as I walk in the dark room.

He's talkative this morning. But his eyes are closed. He is repeating himself today. Talking about the bed being uncomfortable. About Mom. Worrying that she is doing too much. Not sleeping enough.

The doctor walks in. It's about 6:30am. Dad asks exactly what I was thinking. 'Do you ever sleep?' The Doctor laughs and says not much. He looks serious. He IS serious. He holds Dad's hand as he talks. He tells Dad that there are multiple places of clotting in his head. A stroke. That is the reason for the loss of peripheral vision. He explains that they have to get this under control.

3:12pm The nurses are here. Medium white bucket. It holds the chemo. Dad jokes with them. He often jokes with the nurses, calling them vampires, because they always take his blood...

3:22pm Dad is talking. His lips are chapped. His chemo is dripping into the port they have set up on his chest right at his heart. I wonder what it looks like on the inside of his body. I am hoping the chemo looks like little soldiers. Swords drawn…racing right up to the cancer and slicing it up. Or better, smashing it.

I sit down on the side of his bed. We talk. For hours. He tells me about his childhood. About marrying Mom. About when his Dad died. He's VERY candid. And VERY weepy.

He is now clinging to the verse Hebrews 11:1. 'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.'

Thursday, December 9
My alarm goes off at 4:30 and without giving it much though, I pressed snooze. I hop out of bed when the alarm goes off the second time. Got showered and ready in 15 minutes and ran out the door. Thank goodness for my hot coffee. On the drive over, I can't help but let my mind wander. I think of my Dad. I began to run through the things. My favorite things. That he calls us all 'Sweetie' or 'Punkin'. He always has…ever since I can remember. So when new little babies, our children, continue to be born, he refers to them as Sweetie and Punkin. My children call him...Punkin.

He inspired my love of dancing. We were That Family. The family at the restaurant or festival that was dancing with no embarrassment…wherever there was good live music playing, he would scoop one of us in his arms and dance. He is SUCH a good dancer.

I love that he drives like a complete nut head.

I watch him sleep. I hear him sleep. Breathing. The click of the IV.
The sun is coming up and he wakes up a little. He's hungry he says, with his eyes still closed. I find some crackers in the refreshment closet. I am feeding them to him. His mouth opening like a baby bird. Me, the Mama bird. The nurse laughs and says, 'You're so spoiled.' I hyena laugh and say, 'he was spoiled before he got here.' I lay with him, in that tiny hospital bed...his arm tucked under my head. I try to get up, but he pulls me back tighter and pats my shoulder. Then, I hear him breathing.

I have a tendency to watch him breathe. It's actually the same exact feeling I have felt as a Mama. Tiptoeing into the girls rooms, just to watch their little chests rise and fall. And hear their soft breath. I actually still do that with Angel Baby.

He keeps saying that I shouldn't drive over everyday. That he's ok. 'This is a lot for you Jen.' I say, 'Dad, you are a VACATION compared to my usual life of three little girls four and under. You are a breeze.' He reluctantly says 'Ok.' And stops saying anything.

Pastor Bob. Pastor Bob. I love Pastor Bob.
A few weeks ago when I told our pastor that Dad had just found out he had cancer, he offered to come see him at the hospital. Well the day came. Pastor Bob arrives while they were doing some physical therapy with Dad. When Dad comes back in the room, Pastor Bob, Mom and I are sitting talking. I have to admit I was a little nervous. How would Dad feel about me calling my pastor and having him come over to meet with him? Would he ask him to leave? Clearly, God is way bigger than my stupid worries. Pastor Bob simply is one of the coolest, most loving and gracious guys on the planet. He talks to my Dad. Loves on my Dad. He shares his faith in Jesus with my Dad. He even diagrams a visual, of entering into a relationship with Jesus. He hands Dad his bible and has Dad read out of it. Dad reads the passage and cries and cries and cries. At the end of the 2 or 3 hours of conversation, Pastor Bob hands Dad his own bible. It says Bob Norris in the front cover. He tells Dad he wants him to have it. Dad is blown away. Bob leaves and Dad cries some more.



Tuesday, December 14
Sweet Brian. He offers to keep all the girls so that I can come and be with my Dad. I took him up on it. I arrive in Columbia a little after 6:00am. It is 19 degrees outside. I jog to the doors of the hospital. I spend the day with my Dad. I'm very redundant. I tell him about Jesus. About how good God is. That God is taking care of him. I pray with him. He's open. He's receptive. I ask him how his relationship with Jesus is. He keeps saying he just has some things he needs to work out. Just has some things that he has to do. I tell him there is NOTHING he needs to DO. That God has done it all. That 'while we were sinners Christ died for us.' Dad says, 'I know. I know. I'm just not there yet.'

Thursday, December 30
Today the lawyer comes to meet with Dad. Dad is up. Joking with the lawyer. Then they sit down and he painstakingly goes through page after page of his last will and testament. It feels like a death sentence.


January - March 2011
Brian, my girls and I continue to pray. My friends and family pray. They tell their friends and family. All are praying. People I don't even know. Praying. Not for Dad's physical healing, but for his SPIRITUAL healing. Since the beginning of Dad's sickness.
Me and many of my friends have believed, through prayer, that the waywe would know that repentance has come would be if he asked for forgiveness for his past. With my Mom.

God knew that cancer was the only way to get Dad's attention. He used a terrible disease to bring a very strong man to the point of utter humility and weakness.

He is so sick. Cancer is quickly destroying him. He's unable to move without help. His appetite is leaving. The decline is so quick, it takes my breath away from one visit to my next visit.

Sunday, April 2nd
Dad's doctor, who usually rounds at 7:00am, comes to visit Dad at 11:00am. I don't know if he was dragging his feet because of the terrible news he had to deliver, or if he was just busy that day.

Doc looks in. Dad is resting and Mom and I are sitting on the sofa, across the room. He motions for us to join him outside. This CAN'T be good, I think, as I sit down at a table with he and Mom.

My heart is racing. I search his eyes to see the news. It can't be good. It can't be good. He looks so sad.

He tells us the deal. He is stopping the chemo. The cancer is not responding to the chemo any longer. We aren't doing it anymore. The cancer is growing. Dad is too weak. His body can't even tolerate another chemo. And if it would, the chemo still wouldn't work.

It's over.

The fight is over.

HIS fight is over.

Mom asks him how long Dad has. Doctor says '2 weeks. Maybe a month....' His voice trails off. I feel sick. I want to run away. And then lay down.

When we all return to the room, Dad is seated in the chair. The doctor somehow tenderly says the words that every person on the planet dreads hearing. 'You have weeks to live.'

Dad asks...begs, for a chance to fight cancer more. Longer. Dad, the eternal optimist, says...'Help me figure out a way to get my strength up, so that I can take a few more rounds of chemo, and beat this thing.' The doctor calmly encourages him to not. They talk on. Dad slowly comes to the realization that this is really it.
This is HIS FATE. DEATH. A certain death. And soon.

The doctor leaves.

Dad cries.

A soul purging. Gut wrenching cry that I may never see or hear again. It is the end.

Monday, April 3
Mom was walking out the door to go to the hospital to care for Dad. I was leaving to hurry home to take care of my babies. I mentioned Viv. And Mom said, 'It's like I am caring for a baby too. I feed him. I wipe his bottom. I bathe him.'

The Word of God says that 'the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." '

If you are anything like me and wondered precisely what God intended to say through this….I have just the example.

My little Carlisle has a soft heart for the Lord. Like silly putty. She unabashedly loves God.

I was tucking her in the other night.
And she said: 'Mommy. I want Punkin to die.'
I said: 'Why?'
And she simply said: 'So he can be with Jesus.'

So. he. can. be. with. Jesus.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saturday, April 9th ~ THE DAY 100000 prayers were answered.

This next section is a collaboration.

This section is WRITTEN BY MY SISTER, JULIE (with small additions from me):


Today I got to spend my day with Mom and Dad at the hospital. Luke and I drove the boys down so that we could see 'Punkin'.

Mom and I visited a funeral home to start making preliminary funeral arrangements. One of dad's friends came and stayed at the hospital so he wouldn't be alone. She called late in the afternoon, as we were heading back, and said that he was looking for us. He wanted to talk to me about something.

When we got back, I immediately pulled up a chair.
Then scooched it up close to his bed and said, 'Phyllis said that you wanted to talk to me about something.'
'No, we can talk later.' he said.
'Lets talk right now.' I urged. Every single second seems SO precious.
He said, 'Well I wanted to have a private conversation with you.'
In a voice, intentionally loud enough for mom and Phyllis to hear, I said, 'I think if we tell them you and I would like to speak privately, then they will give us time to do that.'

Immediately, Phyllis packed up her belongings, and Mom rolled Sam in his stroller right out the door.

Dad started talking about praying for a miracle. He asked me to plead with God to heal his body.

He said, 'I want you to pray.'

Dad has asked me to pray before, but this time he asked me to pray specifically for a miraculous healing of his body. So I prayed. I prayed for healing. I prayed for anything and everything I could think of. I wanted Dad to know that I was petioning the Lord on his behalf.

Every other time I've EVER IN MY LIFE prayed with my dad he just listens. Today was different. I finished praying. I said 'Amen'....

Then, my dad, with his eyes still closed, and in a slow and quiet voice began to pray...and the words that came from his lips brought tears to my eyes.

He prayed slowly and softly......chunks of thought...little pieces. Not always complete sentences, sometimes thoughts..

'Jesus save me....'
'Jesus come into my heart....'
'I'm broken. Break my heart for you.'
'Jesus fill my heart.'
'Give me a love for you like that I've felt for my children.'
'Give me a love so that I want to say 'I love you, I love you, I love you'.'
'Let me feel the change in my heart.'
'Give me reassurance of the change in me by letting me feel your presence in my heart.'

'Jesus, I pray for a miracle,' he said.

And at that moment what took place is just that. A modern day miracle. He received Eternal Life. He was dying and yet he lives because Christ gave him eternal life.

My sister and I have prayed for these words to leave my dad's lips for the last 13 years and today it was happening. At one point I opened my eyes and stared right at his face, watching his mouth say the most beautiful and life changing words I've ever heard him say. I had to SEE him say the words while I HEARD him say the words because I was in such shock and disbelief. I needed to see it. Maybe then I would believe the unbelievable was happening.

It. Was. Surreal.

Is this really happening?!?!?!?!

He just gradually stopped praying. Didn't say amen, just kind of slowly stopped.

I watched his chest rise and fall.

And for the first time since November 9th when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I thought, if his chest quits rising and falling and he takes his last breath, I am finally ok with that.

I have waited for, longed for, prayed for his salvation. OUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED.

After a long silence of me praising God for his faithfulness and goodness, I said, 'Dad I've finally got the reassurance that I have prayed for.'

He said 'I really want the change in my heart. I want to feel the change.'

I told him that when I was saved in 1999, it was a gradual thing. 'Not everyone feels a sudden and immediate change in their heart, Dad. For me it took months. And then one day, I was certain of my salvation.'

'And you know Dad, there isn't a specific formula for salvation. The guy hanging on the cross next to Jesus when he was crucified said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'

I was hoping a story of a man in his last hours just like my dad would give him the reassurance that he was looking for.

'There was also the story of the woman that only reached out and touched Jesus' cloak and she was healed. I guess there isn't any formula to this.'

Dad said, 'But the difference is Julie, Jesus gave that sinner on the cross next to him a verbal confirmation. That is what I want. Some sort of confirmation.'

'Dad, part of the reason I think you could be feeling a disconnect from the Lord is that you have unreconciled sin in your life. Jesus came and died for you 2000 years ago so that you might be free! He died for you AND your sins because he loves you so much.'

I went on, 'Mom has already forgiven you. God has forgiven you. Now all you need to do is forgive yourself.' I told him, trying desperately to show him the comfort only Jesus can bring.

The clincher. 'Do you think I should ask for your mom's forgiveness?'

'Yes I think that would be a beautiful thing.' I responded, trying really hard to act chill. I was BURSTING with joy on the inside.

I kissed his face and lingered there, staring at his face for a few seconds longer than usual. Drinking him in...knowing that these moments could be my last with him. But knowing this time when I leave, I've left him in the care of God, who has GARY ANDERSON'S heart.

I left. And Mom came in. She says that he cried as he asked:
'Will you forgive me? I never meant to hurt you.
Please forgive me. I'm sorry.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.'

Then my Christ-like, beautiful Mom said the words that forever freed him from his guilt and shame, 'Gary I've already forgiven you.' And 20 years of unfaithfulness dissolved. Wow.

Only God can write something so powerful.

So, he reconciled himself to God. He reconciled himself to my Mom. His life was no longer his own.

Dad was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ for two weeks.

And, just as Dad had asked all along for confirmation that he was indeed saved. God gave our family that confirmation. He took him home to heaven on the most celebratory of celebratory days. EASTER.

'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' Revelation 21:4

9 comments:

Christyn said...

Jennie, this is the most beautiful story I've ever read, it is the story of Jesus! As I read this, I stand in awe of the mighty God we serve and how only HE could have done this... I am so proud of you for telling this story so beautifully and I will pass it along to as many as I possibly can... The Lord is JUST beginning to use your father's life..I love you...

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

one of the most beautiful stories I have read in a long time...My Dad died 4 years ago and I wish I had the same assurance....Your Dads early answers were the same as my Dad's....."Thats great if you need it, I Don't"

You did a beautiful job of telling the story

so glad to find your blog...added it to my sidebar

Stacey S. said...

Amen and Amen.
-Lia

Allison said...

Jennie, I am from Florence, but do not think we have ever met. I happened upon your blog some time ago. I want you to know what a blessing your writing has been to me. I agree with the others, this is the most poignant, beautiful story I have read in a long time. I know you will miss your dad terribly, but I am rejoicing with you that you will see him again! Praise Jesus!

Jenny said...

The most amazing story.....I am moved & touched. Thank you so much for sharing. Words cannot express how I feel after reading your beautiful words.

Stephanie said...

This is beautiful, Jennie. I love you so much.
I hope 1 million people read this. It is so powerful.

Kayne and Thomas said...

I have tears of joy for your dad! What an amazing and powerful God we serve! Thank you so much for sharing this story! Praying for your family as you go through this season of mourning.

fort bliss homeschoolers said...

What a beautiful story. It is a perfect example of the gospel. Whether you come to Christ in health (you), in pain (your mom) or in sickness (your dad), it doesn't matter. Thank you so much for your willingness to share your story. With your permission I will be sharing it with my friends. God Bless

Harriet Huiet said...

This is such a beautiful story of assured salvation, I read it again even though I read it a long time ago. SO VERY uplifting. Praise God for answered prayers!