Monday, February 16, 2015

"90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN"...

We've all been asked to go somewhere or do something against our better judgment, right?  And the reason we gave was, because.  Because you just didn't want to do it.  And when that happens, how often are we proved wrong?  I'd suspect, most of the time.  At least in my cases it is.....the stubborn one that I am.

This past Sunday was a prime example.  My wife, Joanne, mentioned to me about a speaker who was in the Des Moines area talking about his time in heaven.  "I think we should go hear him", she said.  "He's got a real interesting story".  Well, since I didn't have a real good excuse, at least one that would stand up when it comes to a husband-wife relationship, I sheepishly agreed.  Not with any great excitement, mind you.  But I agreed. 

Sunday morning we shot down the interstate to Norwalk,  a small town south of Des Moines.  As we entered the  high school  parking lot most of my intuitions were met.  There were three cars in the lot and we were 5 minutes away from the beginning of the engagement.  "How about we go", I offered.  "No, I think we should stay and support Mr. Piper, even if others don't", was her reply.

As we entered the building it was apparent we weren't at the right door.  We were greeted by a young lady who said to follow the hallways down to the auditorium where over 500 people were anxiously awaiting words on a journey many were curious of....."90 Minutes in Heaven".  Clearly I ate my words....at least those I could muster up.  And what I heard in the next 90 minutes was nothing short of a miracle.

Remnants of the Ford Escort on the Texas Highway Bridge
 
Here is the story of Don Piper;s day that changed his life forever as told to a CBN reporter and relayed through their company website:

"Don Piper was relieved when the pastor's conference he had been attending finished a little early that Wednesday in January, 1989.  Being associate pastor and having just been appointed minister of education at a Houston area church, Don was a busy man. The early start home would provide him much needed time to mentally organize his hectic schedule.

"I was thinking about that night and also that I was going to be preaching that next Sunday morning in three services," Don remembers.

Little did Don know he would be late for the service that night--not just by minutes or hours, but by months--and before he got home, he would take a detour he would never forget.

Within minutes of leaving the retreat center, Don drove onto a bridge spanning a lake. It was a fairly long bridge and there was water on both sides of the elevated highway.

Recalling the scene, Don says, "I approached the end of the bridge, and before I reached the end, a tractor-trailer truck owned by the Texas Dept. of Corrections crossed the center stripe and hit my car head on."

Not only did the truck hit Don's car, it ran over the passenger side of the small Ford Escort, completely crushing the vehicle and killing Don Piper. Instantly, Don began an amazing journey.
"When I was killed, I was instantly transported to heaven's gate," he says. "It was an instantaneous thing."  Don found himself standing in front of a divine portal, surrounded by familiar faces. 

"I didn't see a single person that I did not know," he says. "They were relatives, they were friends that died in high school, they were teachers--they were people I had seen and known all my life who had gone to glory. They were smiling; they were embracing me; they were welcoming me' they were in the process of taking me through the gate of heaven." Looking over the heads of his friends, Don saw a looming pearl gate.

While Don stood at the gates of heaven, pastor Dick Onerecker of Kline, Texas, stood on a Texas highway by Don's lifeless body.  He had also attended the pastor's conference.  He came upon the accident moments after it happened.  The EMS personnel had told him that Don was dead.

"It was as though I was compelled to stop and to pray for him.  The Lord had just impressed on me very emphatically, very urgently that I was to pray for him," says Dick.  "I walked over by the door. There was great physical damage on the outside.  I laid my hands on him and began to pray for him."
As soon as Don's journey to Heaven began, it ended. Don found himself back in his crushed vehicle, staring up at a tarp that had been thrown over him by medical attendants.

Says Don, "The first conscious memory was 'What a Friend we have in Jesus.' I was singing. I was thinking to myself, Why am I singing this song? I'm in the dark, and I knew it was about noon time when the accident happened. I'm in the dark, I'm singing, and I'm holding a hand. I'm thinking to myself, What on earth is happening?"  Dick had begun singing hymns to Don.

What's  left out of those words is the facts that Piper broke nearly every bone in his body and his left arm and right leg were severed in the accident.  Why didn't he bleed out, you ask?  Simply, because his heart had stopped beating.  Now, back on earth and with his heart showing life, the rush began to save Don.  Over the course of the next 6 and 1/2 hours he was taken to three different hospitals before finally reaching the best care center in Texas, TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.  During the next thirteen months and some 300 surgeries, Potter fought for his life and questioned his God.   

The 13-month home of the Don Piper with family at his bedside
One can certainly realize Piper had many unanswered questions while laying flat on his back....about his future, his family's financial situation and most importantly, why was he turned around at Heaven's gate.

"I like to say that I came back by popular demand," he says. "People prayed me back from the gates of heaven. People prayed me back from death's door. I'm here because people asked God for me to be here.". 

You can find out more about Piper's story. Some sixteen years after the crash, he began selling a book, "90 Minutes in Heaven".  It has sold over 6 million copies and it's still as popular as ever.  A movie depicting his life will be released soon

Here are several takeaways I had from the morning.  Prayer Changed Everything.  Piper said that in addition to Onerecker's prayers at the accident scene, his church put out a prayer request for his well-being that went around the globe.  Little did his church know, Piper was dead at the time.  "Just recently", Piper mentioned, "a gentleman came up to me after a lecture and told me he prayed for me that day while in Taipei, Taiwan.  Imagine someone telling you that some twenty plus years later." 

In addition, Piper encouraged his audience to look for a miracle in their lives...."because you're going to need one to live this life".  "Take your test and make it a testimony and your mess and make it a message", he added.

And lastly....next time, I need to surrender and see where God is at Work.  Not on my terms or my schedule.

And to think of what I would have missed if I had stayed home.

YGG,

John        

     

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MORE TO THE DOGGONE STORY

Several years ago I provided you some facts about Hawkeye, the black Labrador friend of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson laying on the floor near the coffin of his owner.  It was a picture worth more than money and fame could ever offer.  It was the "ultimate gift" one friend gives another, regardless if one of those happened to be four-legged.



Lisa Pembelton, Tumilson's sister, shot the photograph which moved around the entire world.  Petty Officer Tumilson and 29 other Seals and Afghani Nationals were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down on August 11, 2011.

The bond between Hawkeye and his faithful buddy, Jon, was one of great affection and love.  So much so, that in the summer of 2013, Tumilson and Hawkeye were bronzed in a statue with the two of them running through the prairies of the Rockford Fossil and Prairie Park.  "Thank you to the board for allowing us such a beautiful place for Jon and Hawkeye to run forever", said Tumilson's brother-in-law Scott McMeekan.  The statue was made by Jeff Adams of In Bronze in Mt. Morris, Illinois.

"I can't tell you what an honor it was to be entrusted with the image of Jon", said Adams.  He said he spent six to eight months trying to "breath life" into a man he never knew.  The Tumilson family sent photos and measurements such as shoe size and Adams read Navy SEAL books, but it was the stories of Tumilson that inspired him.  "Here on this extraordinary hilltop we dedicate this statue to the memory and intensity Jon brought to life", Adams said.

There have been several questions concerning the real-life Hawkeye's whereabouts since the funeral in 2011.  Here is what we know:    

"Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's longtime friend Scott Nichols and his family are Hawkeye's new owners, confirmed Carol Darby, a public affairs officer from Fort Bragg supporting the Tumilson family.  "Scott is Hawkeye's new owner and that is according to Jon's wishes," Darby told ABCNews.com. "He's very happy. He's with a family that he has known for a long time and that has loved him for a long time." The Nichols family cared for Hawkeye when Tumilson was away on duty. Darby said that Hawkeye has gained a human family and a dog family, including two or three other Labradors owned by the Nichols. 


Kathy (left) mother of Jon hugs a family member at dedication for son Jon
Yesterday I received some news that was totally unexpected.  Kathy Tumilson, Jon's mother passed away from cancer.....the one who was a rock within the family....the lady who took three total strangers (myself, and two members of Project 52, Bill Clark and Dustin Blythe) throughout her house showing us artifacts of Jon's life when we planted a tree in his honor.....a pillar in the Rockford community for sure, who shared with me stories of Hawkeye that few knew.  It's with her passing that I wanted to share some "other" sides of the Hawkeye story.

As I mentioned earlier, Hawkeye moved to Texas.  And he has lived a good life....albeit a guarded one.  Not too long after arriving in the south, his new owners took him into the vet to have some work done.  Apparently there were some individuals who caught wind of the celebrity in town and wished the dog to be theirs. They pranked the veterinarians office with words that the owners had something come up and they wouldn't be able to pick up Hawkeye....and they would be doing the errand for them.  Sensing something was fishy, the vet's office called Hawkeye's new family and made an inquiry into the truth.  As Kathy would relate to me, "when the Nichols found this out, they were furious".  Imagine someone trying to steal a dog that wasn't yours and had so much sentimental value". 

Kathy also relayed other calls and letters and emails she received after Hawkeye became world famous.  "One caller said he was a disabled vet and he was entitled to Hawkeye", she said.  "Others were down right demanding they should be the new rightful owners".   For Kathy and the Nichols family it was hard to fathom that people were so callous in their thinking.   For some time, it caused the Nichols to be extra special cautious in their dealings and who came around their home.  Time has healed some of those thoughts and concerns, but not all of them.   And they might not ever leave.

As I reflect today on Kathy's passing, knowing the Tumilson family, helping plant a tree in the family's back yard and having an insight into the keen canine known as Hawkeye....I am somewhat downtrodden in knowing Mrs. Tumilson is gone.  But, as my wife Joanne offered, "she's with her son now in Heaven.  How bad can that be?  And in time...Hawkeye will join them". 

And that, as they say, will be the rest of the story

YGG,

John           



Thursday, January 8, 2015

REMEMBERING THE FIRST TIME BEFORE IT FADES TO BLACK

It's relatively easy to remember the first time we did something.  Like riding a bike, trying to swim, puckering up for that first kiss.  You get the idea. 

But, it's not nearly as easy to remember when the LAST was.  Like when was the last time you lifted one of your children into the air.  Let me see.  I can remember.  It was when they were, aahhh........oh yeah, it was aaahhhhh.  Gosh, I'm not sure now.  And why is it, that I can't.   After all, isn't a memory like that one you'd think I'd have instant recall to.  It's that way with all three of my boys.  I didn't stop flinging them into the air at the same time.  It was one, then another and then last.  There was no least too it.

How could you not remember this?
 
These questions are not meant to spin you into depression.....rather reflection.  I've thought long and hard.....squeezing as much as I can out of my memory to recall those early images.  But they're not there.  If I had known that my final toss was going to be the last with my kids  I'm sure I would have savored the moment for a long, long time.  It's probably more accurate that we remember things that we know are final.   Like graduating from school or retirement.   But it makes me wonder.  Was the last fling anything special?  Was the fact that the boys were getting "too old" or "too big" a factor?  Were there any giggles or laughs or chuckles, or did it just seem like it was time to move onto something else.....

Think about some other lasts.  When was the last time your child slipped into bed with you?  How about the final time playing catch in the backyard?  Remember horsey?  Maybe not.  Then there are events when they get a little older in life.  The last time fishing together.....hunting.....golfing....going  to  a ball game, a show, putting together a puzzle or playing dolls.  How about a walk?   Read any books with your child lately?  And then you wonder why it's been said before... appreciate these moments.  They come all too quickly and then they're gone.  But just because some of these activities are no longer something that you can do together, that doesn't mean you can't make new memories....with different experiences.    

Now, let's move that into the marriage equation.   Remember the first date?  Holding your spouse's hand the first time?  Recall how sweaty your hands were?  How about the realization there was a certain intoxicating scent ( a cologne or fragrance) that you'd never smelled before.  And the first kiss?   How....in God's green earth could you ever forget these?   There might be a difference here though.  These memories DIDN'T  or DON'T have to fade.  They can be as ever present as the very first time.  Next week, make a date with your spouse and redo the ideas above.  Live a little and remember a little.  Go and have some fun already.

Work?  Any thing you want to relive there?  Sure you can.  Think of how motivated you were when you first began your adult life.  You had a myriad of ideas.  You thought outside the box. Weren't afraid of a challenge.  Took risks.  But then you get burned.  Maybe.  Or perhaps it was something else.  Whatever it was, it took some of the wind out of your sails.  You became less motivated, less involved and less happy.  It's not too late no matter what your situation.  If your career is less than challenging, find some where to serve.  Give back and appreciate seeing others smile.  Your rewards might just be there.

And how about your relationship with God?  Gosh, I remember the first time I realized Jesus died for me and how overcome with emotion I was.  I'll never forget that day.  I felt like he lifted me up over his shoulders as high as could be.  It was a high flying experience.  Much like what my boys must have felt like when I did the same thing.  Since then.... I've been up and down.  Being all in and being all down, but not out.  It's been a process, one where I've learned patience, how to deal with pain and suffering and appreciation for what God has in store for me.  And what about the first sermon you heard?  Remember that?  And I should also ask you, and how about your last? 

Our firsts with God will never be a faded memory to Him.  He will forever be there,  being there for those that see and waiting for those that have forgotten.

YGG,

John

  "It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."-Genesis 9:14-16

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MORE THAN A THERAPY DOG, A "TRUE" FRIEND IN HUNTER

Dr. Bonne Doron has taken us through many of her thoughts and memories of the all to short life with her trusted companion, Hunter.  This is the final chapter so to speak.  We've read about his character and his loyalty, but there was also this very special piece too.....

"Hunter's most important role was to listen to the homeless shelter children read to him once a month. He was more than a pet therapy dog; he was their companion with that unconditional love that dogs give without reserve. They hugged on his hairy neck and talked to him and ran with him on a leash through the narrow halls of their building.
They talked about the hope of having their own dog someday when they lived in their own homes. Their mothers stopped by when they picked up their kids, for a hug or a pet or a lick talking about their memories of their dogs from a better life. The staff and volunteers came by for the same, always with the promise of beautiful red hair all over their black pants but always stopping by with a story of their love for dogs.
Perhaps the most poignant time was one night as we walked down the sidewalk to the building. Coming towards us was a young boy, 7 or 8 years old with a deep scowl and down-turned eyes.  Hunter came to attention and bounded towards the youth. Immediately, he buried his head in Hunter’s neck and hung on until he came up with a grin and a lighter load off his shoulders". 
 
The stately one.....Hunter 
 After Hunter's passing, Bonne received a card from the center signed by the staff and mothers of children Hunter had connected with.  All expressed their love and the magnitude of how they'd miss "their" Hunter.  It goes without saying, Hunter knew his role and he played it perfectly.  
"So how does one summarize Hunter's life?, expressed Bonne.  "There is so much more.  But you get the idea.  When Hunter passed away I couldn't let go and leave him.  I believe that he sent me a message:  I am there but that body is not me.  Don't you see me now?  The image that floated into my mind was his leaning down on front paws with his hind end in the air, full of life and energy, ready to play.....bounding towards someone, acting as if he would mow them down but avoiding them at the last minute".  Images she no doubt will never forget.   
It was hard, but finally I was able to leave....with the understanding that I will always be grateful to my God for such a friend but will never say goodbye". 
Back in 1981, legendary actor James “Jimmy” Stewart, the star of  “It's a Wonderful Life” and too many other classics to list here, went on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” to share his hobby: poetry. The piece that he read was titled "I’ll Never Forget a Dog Named Beau" about Stewart’s golden retriever. 
At first, the poem made Johnny and the audience laugh, but it had a very different effect in the end. Describing it can’t do it justice; it’s something you have to see — and feel — for yourself, so check out the video.
 
 
Yes, it's very easy to relate to the words Jimmy Stewart said that night.  They are praise worthy of a being who simply wanted to love and be loved.  And yes, it's also the story of something that is so much more deserving than a description as......PET.  I"ll leave that to you to best describe your experience with man's and woman's best friend.
YGG,
John

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND TOO!!

A Story Of Hunter...More Than Just A Pet



In one of my last posts I spoke about several unique dogs and their loyalty and dedication to their owners.  But....let's cut to the chase here.  It's more than that. It's a two way street in most cases.  And well it should be. 

If you didn't read my previous story, let's rewind to the end where Dr. Bonne Doron was relating the death of her Golden Retriever, Hunter.  Her words, spoken with such love and candor were directed to the volunteers of the Iowa Golden Retriever Rescue. 

"I just wanted to let you know that Hunter had to be put to sleep last week. He was failing badly: couldn't walk or stand without wobbling, coughing, etc.  At 12 1/2, he was entering the final parts of his life.  The vet and I had pulled him away from the brink several times, but he was really suffering recently".

"I wanted you to know how much having Hunter in my life meant to me. Admittedly, I am a cat person, so Hunter and I always had issues.  They eventually lessened as he wove his way into my life and heart. 

"He was a therapy dog at the homeless shelter where he was read to by the kids once a month.  They too LOVED him.  One time we were going down to the community building when a young boy was coming towards us, followed by an adult who was offering up discipline.  You could tell the boy was really upset.  I called out to him, "Hunter is coming to see you."  The boy hugged Hunter tightly and smiled.  Hunter had that effect on people.  He welcomed them with a bump to the leg (he knew I would pet him if he put his head on my leg).  No matter where he went or who was there, Hunter made them feel comfortable and welcomed.

He was my companion through the hard times.  Always he stayed near me (which could be annoying as he followed me from room to room until I settled down . . . he made sure he was nearby).  He traveled with me in the car sitting tall in the back seat to catch the wind in his face.

And he loved camping and would whine until I let him run to the camper.  In reality, he taught my friend's granddaughter who often camped with us to learn to not be afraid of big dogs.  It took a summer trip or two, but she finally would walk the park with him on his leash and asked about him often.  The young kids who live next door would run to the fence and ask their parents to lift them over so they could throw sticks for Hunter to retrieve and chew up.  All of these friends will be sad to know Hunter will not be there again for them".

But I found a great book I will be reading to them about a land where an animal goes after it dies.  Within those pages are words that capture an  animals' specialness to us and even though it is fantasy, it helps with the healing.  I will miss my boy like no other animal I've ever had.  Thank you for letting me share such a special life".

Dr. Bonne Doron

    
How does one summarize the life of a family pet?   More of Bonne's words: 

I will try to keep this scenario short and sweet.  First,  Hunter was not a pet. He was the center of my family life and loved by many outside our circle.  In fact, he never met a human he didn’t like and want to be next to every minute of every hour of every day. He followed me from room to room and when outside, searched the window for my shadow for hours, with beseeching eyes. 

He loved my son most. I allowed him to take care of Hunter while I was visiting him in Texas one year. Because Hunter loved playing catch with a Frisbee and my son loved Frisbee golf, the two of them would play in the green areas until after dark. Once the Frisbee drifted into a nearby creek, complete with moccasins and who know what else. However, Hunter didn’t consider any of that...but bounded into the water with abandon and recovered the Frisbee in record time. My son was amazed as a drowned-looking dog lifted the prize up to him with pride of “a job well done.”

The groomers were especially happy to see Hunter because he never refused their washing, blow drying, and brushing but he was always the cooperative, willing client.   I always got the report that he was such a “good dog”.  Even for his regular anal gland cleaning at the vets, I could see his tolerant, yet reluctant, eyes patiently waiting until the humans were done when he would jump down from the huge sink, with a wide, long-tongued smile that it “was finally over.” And he forgave them in an instant.  Every time.

There was one little girl who was deathly afraid of dogs.  She was the granddaughter of a friend of mine who camps with me. She was scared of the “gentle giant” and would squeal with fearful surprise at his size and hugeness compared to her little 6 year old stature.  She would give him a lot of distance around the campfire with hand held high to avoid his touch....until he gave her time to learn of his sweetness. At our last camp out, she walked him on the leash by herself, let him insist on a pet from her with a nudge, and played “retrieve” with a ball, Frisbee, or fall leaves. He taught her so much in a few short years. 

Hunter in dress-up mode
Even with other animals, Hunter showed his loving ways. With five cats in the home, he thought at first that they were there for his personal play time. With some instruction, “NO CATS,” or “That’s GOOD cat,” Hunter realized they were part of the family although mostly for his healthy snoot full of their back ends but they were fine with that. Especially my fearful Starr, a black beauty who feared all other humans and outside noises which meant hiding for hours long after the danger passed. However, she absolutely loved her doggy buddy, crying for him to pay attention to her.  If that didn’t work, she wove herself around his legs and looked longingly into his jaw, waiting for a sniff. She still looks for him to come round the corner.
What Hunter did for me is difficult to explain. He taught me much about myself that needed improvement, But....he loved me in spite of those "learning moments".   He return after a scolding or a particularly difficult bath time with that smile and wag of his sweeping tail. “Am I forgiven?” he whined.  To which I answered, “It’s the other way around, buddy.   Do you forgive me?” “No problem,” he grinned as he waited for his treats. 

He also brought the best out in me as I learned patience and calmness in crisis, most of the time. When he mischievously ate cat litter (“Really they are treats, you know,”) or chewed on my new slippers, his eyes would plead for me to look the other way or he would slowly drop his treasure and pick up his green monkey as a substitute. “I’ll be good. Really, I will. Actually until you look away!” 

Hunter was my protector when I camped.  He was always the first one to the camper door.....my   driving companion with the windows open for breathing in the fresh air..... my walking buddy bounding ahead or sniffing out everything along the trail......and most importantly, my friend to hug and cry with.  His looks often exhibited, "I am so sorry! What can I do?”  when times were tough.  AAAHHHH, for the memories. 

Those are images that will never be replaced.  Are they unique?  To Bonne they most likely are.  And for many others, probably not because it's all too relatable.  We've been there.  Done that.  Lived that and LOVED that.  Because each dog, has it's own treasure, waiting to be unleashed.  But wait.  There's more to come....

Check back soon.  When the Story of Hunter, Continues.

YGG,

John 
 

Friday, December 12, 2014

GOODBYE TO WAYNE'S WORLD

It's terribly difficult to sum up a person's life in a reflection or eulogy.  For gosh sakes, it's only a microcosm of the time they spent on earth.....the people they affected.....and how they lived their lives.  But.....let's attempt to put a few words down.  Something that will be there for the ages.  After all, in this instance, once it hits the internet, it will be there for eternity.  And for Wayne Blythe, that's the least we can do to pay back what he did for so, so many.

Since his passing Wednesday, I've seen Facebook post after post listing condolences, reciting memories and in some instances....shock.....that this day came.  I mean, how could it.  It was Wayne's World.  And now, it was no more. 

If you ever had an opportunity to meet Wayne Blythe, you know what I mean.  He was, in so many respects a "Pillar".  A pillar to his friends, to his church, to his family and to his friends. And when I say friends, he had lots of them.  Lots.  Encountering Wayne was something you never forgot. There was no facade.  He was an open book.

My first meeting with Wayne came during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in February of 2012.  It was apparent Wayne had a special interest with the island and it's people. He connected, not so much through language...but with a smile, a wave and a hug.  This was my first trip to the Dominican.  I'm not really sure what number it was for him.  Regardless, we spent many mornings sipping a cup of coffee together.  We were the early risers in our group.  That's where I got to know him and love him.

We'd talk about all sorts of things.  I knew he had lost his grandson, Treye, several years ago.  Wayne told me Treye had been murdered in Cedar Falls, Iowa just prior to entering his freshman year of college at the University of Northern Iowa.  The trip we were on was an offshoot of that tragic event.  Project 52, a non-profit organization, honoring Treye was formed.  A gymnasium was built in Los Alcarrizos at the Lighthouse  School in Treye's honor.  Yes, this place was special to Wayne.  He talked alot.  I listened alot.  I asked alot.  And I choked back tears alot.  The stories he told me about getting a phone call that Treye had been stabbed......having to endure the loss of his grandson.....how he had to tell his son Dustin, who was returning from a mission trip, that his son had been killed (via a phone call when his plane landed in Omaha) .....and the trial for Treye's murderer were so, so moving.

I could say that it was the loss of Treye that changed Wayne....that made him into a man wanting to give back more and serve more....making him more giving. more appreciative of life.  But something tells me he had "his" style down, long before then. 

As we tipped our cups each morning we talked about other things with our world.  But most importantly, no matter where our conversations went, we always came back our God.  "You know Wayne", I said.  "My wife, Joane, talks about how fortunate we are to have been born where we were.  And that out of all the possibilities where God could have placed us, he chose the United States, to be our home.  How amazing is that?  But how little do we appreciate it.  And even more disturbing, is do we even stop to think about it". 

Wayne looked at me with his little smirk and said, "you know John, I talk about that alot.  And it's painful to see people with blank looks on their faces when I do.  I've thought those same thoughts and said those same things. Wow".  Those conversations, those memories gave me a peek into Wayne's World.....               

When I heard of Wayne's death, I immediately placed myself at the picnic table outside the little kitchen in Los Alcarrizos.  And I could recall one paragraph that has always stuck with me.  One little nugget, so to speak.  And it went like this.  "No one is perfect.  We should spend our days giving to others and not keeping score. That's so hard to do. We should try to reflect on all of the times in our lives that we are completely selfless.  But it's hard to think of those times, isn't it?
Wayne at work serving at Lighthouse Schools  

I've taken some words from the obituary via the Abels Funeral Home website for further information: 

"Wayne Lee Blythe, 66, passed away on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at his home in Wellsburg while under Care Initiatives Hospice after a brave battle with cancer. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 13th at 10:00 AM at the AGWSR Middle School, 609 S. Monroe St., Wellsburg, Iowa. Visitation will be held on Friday, December 12th from 4 to 8 PM at the middle school and one hour prior to the service at the school. Burial will follow the funeral service at the Faith Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Ackley. Memorials may be made in Wayne's name to Project 52, P.O. Box 3681, Urbandale, Iowa 50323. He is survived by his loving wife, Joyce and two sons, Dustin and Vaughn".

Wayne Blythe
In a last thought,  we should take great solace that Wayne has joined his grandson, Treye.  That is the most awesome part of his passing.  Wayne wanted that alot.  And....

Even though we say Goodbye to Wayne's World there could very well be something on the horizon.  That is.  Wayne.  Waiting for those he MENTORED with that smile of his.  And spreading his arms wide open for his HUG.

Isn't that out of this world?

YGG,

John

And Jesus came and said to them,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”-Matthew 28:18-20



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A DOG'S LIFE.... FROM MASHA TO HACHI TO HUNTER

I'm a sucker for a good dog story.  And if you're not....... then you don't know what you're missing.  And that's about all I have to say on the subject in trying to convince you otherwise.  Unless, that is, you want to read the rest of the story.

Several days ago, I ran across a news clip of a strong little dog from across the pond.  Here's a little of what I read:

"At a hospital in southwestern Siberia, a loyal dog named Masha has appeared everyday for two years looking for her owner.

Masha's owner passed away last year after being taken to the hospital two years ago, and ever since then, the dog has shown up everyday. Staff members at the hospital reportedly feed the dog and make sure she has somewhere warm to sleep.

One family tried to adopt the dog, but Masha ran away and came back to the hospital hours later. When the owner was still alive and being treated at the hospital, Masha was his only visitor".

The waiting game has been a long one for Masha
One of the doctors from the hospital is quoted as saying: "You see her eyes, how sad they are -- it's not the usual shiny eyes for when a dog is happy. You can see this in animals in the same way as with people."

Perhaps you remember the dog, Hachi, whose story became known world-wide when the film entitled, "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". was released in 2009.   This stubborn Akita patiently waited at the train station for the return of his faithful friend....the place where he'd last seen him off.  For over nine years he waited and waited and waited.....loyally and lovingly.  Yet there was no return.  Hachi died waiting.  Those who saw the story first-hand were amazed by the tenacity the Akita exhibited.  He was like clockwork.  Arriving at the same time each day, hoping for the reunion that never came.  Today, there is a statue erected outside the train station in Shibuya, Japan.

Hachi in the patient pose he spent for over nine years
 The significance of the two tails I've shared with you is just a warm-up for another one of man's best friend.  A couple of weeks ago, I was pouring over my emails and I ran across one with a subject line that caught my eye.  The IGRR, known as the Iowa Golden Retriever Rescue Group, shares stories from time to time about dogs they've adopted.  And this one was entitled "Hunter Doron".  I opened the email and started to read.

"I just wanted to let you know that Hunter had to be put to sleep last week. He was failing badly: couldn't walk or stand without wobbling, coughing, etc.  At 12 1/2, he was entering the final parts of his life.  The vet and I had pulled him away from the brink several times, but he was really suffering recently.

I wanted you to know how much having Hunter in my life meant to me. Admittingly, I am a cat person, so Hunter and I always had issues.  They eventually lessened as he wove his way into my life and heart".

I had to stop right there.  Perhaps because we have a Golden named Mason that some day in the future will travel that same path.  That pain....the one I felt in 2007 when we put down our first Retriever, Nala, was one I didn't want to relive.  But as minutes turned to hours, I came to the realizaion I had to reach out to the owner of Hunter.  Dr. Bonne Doron.  Her story.....one of great love will be shared over the next few weeks.  I hope you come back for the next post. 

YGG,

John