Spring is upon us and the West Texas wind has blown most of Odessa away. I pray that this report finds all of you doing well. Since the first of the year we have been contacting churches in the Odessa area to offer a short seminar on working with the homebound, long term and terminally ill folks from their respective congregations. We have also had contact with a few churches in the Lubbock, Dallas and Ft Worth areas. Please pray God will continue to open doors so we may extend the boundaries of our ministry and help others reach out to the suffering.
February and March have been a whirlwind. With six deaths in ten days things were very hectic. There has also been a steady flow of new folks coming into the ministry for help. It seems that God provides a new person for each one that we lose.
Tim Carstensen, the brother of a dear friend, Kim Grant passed away on January 29th. Brian and Kim asked Donna and I to be with them and their family when life support was removed from Tim. We were blessed to be able to sing a couple of songs during the process. I was also asked to help the family make arrangements with the funeral home (another service we provide). After Tim’s body was cremated and sent to Odessa we did a short graveside service for the family. Tim had suffered with health issues for quite some time.
While in Lubbock, with the Carstensen family, we were made aware that Melanie Sanderson, was just a few rooms down the hall of ICU. Melanie had been diagnosed with H1N1 (swine) Flu. We knew her son, Matt, from church camps. Melanie passed away on the following Sunday morning. I was able to help this family with arrangements and was honored to perform her memorial service on the following Wednesday afternoon. Her son, Matt, wrote the following words and I thought it was worth passing on:
February 2, 2014 – Mom Goes to Heaven
Yesterday my mom went to heaven to be with Jesus. She fought hard; the doctors did everything they could; and she fought until the very end. I held her hand in her final breaths and I saw her pass before my very eyes.
I don’t know why bad things happen to the most incredible people, and I don’t know why my mom had to pass away when so many other people depended on her. But I have to try and see the good in this situation. I have to try and understand God’s love in these terrible circumstances.
In Mark 11:27, Jesus tells us that if we ask, believe with all of our heart, it will be given to us. The first 4 weeks of my mom being in the hospital I knew that she was going to make it out alive; I knew God was going to perform a miracle. There was no doubt in my mind.
But then I had a talk with a friend, Lonnie Hamil, … and he gave me a different perspective.
He called and said that he believed 100% that God could heal her but he wanted me to consider the story of Jesus. To give better insight into the mind of God, he talked to me about the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before being taken captive and then crucified shortly after.
In this story, Jesus was crying out to God saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus is basically saying, “Lord! Please take this cup from me… Take this burden from me… I don’t want to die.” God could have changed everything right then and there but he didn’t. He had a bigger plan. He had a plan to save the lives of those who believe in Jesus and the sacrifice he made.
At the end of Jesus’ prayer, Jesus says, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me… Yet not my will, but yours, be done.”
Jesus didn’t want to die. In fact, he was begging so hard for his life that he started sweating drops of blood. But at the end of his prayer he said, “Not my will, but yours, be done.”
He knew that God had a bigger plan.
And I now know that God had a bigger plan for my mom, my family, and those that loved her. He’s working his plan now and in fact, he’s just beginning to use this story to change the lives of many others…
We might not always know why things happen, but we just have to trust that God is in control, in every situation. God is good regardless of what happens. He doesn’t want us to suffer and that’s why he sent Jesus – to take the pain away and to bring us to paradise.
Lord, thank you for my mom and for her love. She showed me how to care for others and how to love unconditionally. She is the sweetest and most tenderhearted person I have ever known, and nothing could beat her hugs and having her head rest on my shoulder. She was always there for me when I needed her and I will never forget the legacy that she left behind. She was and is such a blessing in my life and I can’t wait to see how God will be glorified in this situation. I love you Lord… and I love you mama. I will never forget about you… I will never stop thinking about you… and I hope and pray that my future wife will be just like you: caring, loving, listener, self-less, tenderhearted, and comforter. I love you mama… you will never be forgotten.
Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice so that we can all have eternal life. Take good care of my mama in heaven and tell her I’ll give her a big hug when I see her again!
Love you nana banana.
Your “Sugar Bear,” Matty
Please remember these folks in your prayers:
R.B. Hunnicutt – recovering from a stroke
Richard Tomlin – ongoing health concerns
Bonnie Benton – recovering from procedure
Leonard Ruebush – breathing difficulties
Lynn Payne – Midland Memorial West – ongoing health concerns
Ava Skiles – Medical Center – ongoing health concerns
Dot Wolfe (Momma Dot) – received a good report on her pet scan
Don Bowen – ongoing health concerns
Ed Foster – ongoing health concerns
Dena Baggett – Pancreatic Cancer
Marie Fowler – Hospice House
Helen Hadley family – she passed away on January 23
Bonnie Armstrong family – she passed away on January 25
Tim Carstensen family- he passed away on January 29
Jimmy John Pritchard family, passed away January 30
Melanie Sanderson’s family – she passed away on February 2