Monday, January 25, 2010

Celebrating Dad DeValve's Life


As I briefly posted, my father-in-law went to his heavenly home on January 17, 2010. In the spring he began having shortness of breath and in the fall he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In layman's terms, idiopathic means they don't know exactly what caused it and they have no cure for it. Fibrosis is the hardening of something and pulmonary is the lungs. So his lungs were hardening, making it harder and harder for him to breathe. It is also a progressive disease meaning it will get worse and worse.

On Wednesday, January 13 he was unable to get out of bed due to breathing difficulties and a general feeling of being unwell. Mom took him to the emergency room and he was admitted to the hospital. The doctor said he might have pneumonia and was treating him with antibiotics as well as oxygen. On Thursday the 14th there was talk of him being able to go home on Friday. But Friday morning Mom called and said he had taken a turn for the worse and would we please come.

We were so sad when we walked in the hospital room. It was just really hard to take in that he was on a type of oxygen mask that suctioned to the face and it was obvious that he was very, very sick. Through the day he got no better, but he wasn't really worse. John's other brothers were called and the one who lived in Ohio decided to come right away, but he wouldn't be able to get there until late Saturday evening. Throughout the day family members came and went and we sang, prayed, and read Scripture.

On Saturday we talked briefly with the doctor and he did not give us any hope for Dad's recovery. The antibiotics were not doing anything and essentially the oxygen machine was breathing for him. Saturday evening he seemed much weaker and more uncomfortable. Jim and his family arrived in the evening and Daniel and Suzanne were able to talk to Dad on the phone. We spent more time singing to Dad and praying and reading the Bible. Saturday evening John and I were leaving so we could get Mom home to bed. I said good-night to Dad and he said, "I'll be ok." Then he was motioning at the clock (it was about 10 p.m.) so one of the grandsons said, "Is it past your bedtime, Papa?" and he nodded that it was! Then he motioned that the grandsons should put away their guitars. We were all laughing together as his sense of humor was still in tact!

On Sunday the three sons who were present and their wives along with mom, met with the doctor. Dad had been very clear about no life-support and the doctor told us that the type of oxygen he was on, while non-intrusive like a breathing tube would be, was meant to be a short-term treatment to stabilize people. It was clear that it was time to say our good-byes to dad.

The hospital staff said nothing about us breaking the two-visitor-in-the-room rule as sixteen of us crowded into Dad's room. We called John's brother, Dave who lives in Oklahoma and he was able to talk to Dad. One of the pastors from Trinity Covenant Church came in and we had a church service together around Dad's bed, commending him to Jesus. Many of us then took his hand and told him good-bye. Then the nurse came in and switched his oxygen to a smaller type of mask and gave him a shot of morphine to make him more comfortable.

At that point Dad, who obviously knew everything that was going on, pushed the mask down off his nose and mouth and gave us what we've come to call the patriarchal blessing. He summoned his strength, raised his hands, and said:

"My prayer to God is that you all remain faithful to Him and serve Him and to consult Him in all your decisions.

He has His loving hands ready to forgive you, if you will repent and....(we missed some words here)

No matter whatever may happen, come hell or high water, He will carry you through and He will give you a glorious inheritance far, far better than anything on earth.

And with all your power, all your strength, all your might, you will rest in Him.

Beyond anything I could describe I will rest at His side both body, soul, mind, and spirit.

If you fall, He will forgive you. I pray you don't fall hard. I love each one of you and pray for each one of you every single day.

When you are driving, playing games, or fooling around, He is always there. He knows what you are thinking right now.

Let me go.

If you want me, Lord, I'm ready. Take me, Lord Jesus."

As soon as he began speaking we realized it was important. John grabbed a pen and started scribbling and across the room Caleb did the same. They were able to compare their notes and the above is what he said.

After bestowing his blessing on us, he showed no desire to put the mask back over his nose and mouth, so the nurse came in and gave him another shot of morphine so he would not feel the pain. She was such a good nurse and supportive of us all. She wept as she whispered to him what she was doing and said good-bye.

As Dad lay there breathing his last, we sang all his favorite songs. It was a comfort to us and I believe to him as well. We literally sang him on his way to heaven. An hour and a half later he entered eternity. When he quit breathing and his heart quit beating we sang the Doxology as sobs filled the room. On Friday and a bit on Saturday he had asked repeatedly for a cup of hot chocolate, but he couldn't eat or drink and breathe at the same time, so sadly we had to deny his requests. But after singing the Doxology, John prayed, giving Dad to Jesus and asking Him to please give him a cup of hot chocolate when He met him at heaven's gate.

We stayed with mom all week. Brother Dave came during the week and on Thursday Daniel and Suzanne were able to fly in. They stayed just a little over 24 hours. There is paperwork to be done, things to be sorted through, etc. Dad had planned things well and the week went as smoothly as could be expected. Mom is an incredibly strong person and finds so much comfort in knowing that Dad is with Jesus.

We had a memorial service Friday night. Around 500 people attended. There were others who would have attended if they could have, such as the prisoners who Dad ministered to every week. The service honored Dad and glorified God. The one thing that keeps coming up over and over is how Dad prayed for people and how much that meant to them. What an example for me to follow!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Heaven

Yesterday morning by father-in-law, Bob DeValve, went to heaven to be with Jesus. We were there with him. I will post more details later but for now I just want to ask for prayer for the family. The memorial service will be Friday evening.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Weather Driving

We are back home after 13 days on the road. I've already posted about our two-night treat at the Whitestone Inn (see below).

From Tennessee we headed down to Alabama where we attended Daniel and Victoria Meade's wedding. It was a bit of a mini-Sahel Academy reunion with our family, Chantelle, Eliot, and Tam as well as Daniel Meade (who taught last year at Sahel Academy) and his beautiful bride, Victoria.

From there we headed up to Cedarville University to participate in the missions conference on campus. Unfortunately I kept forgetting my camera and so I didn't ever get any pictures of it. The conference went from Tuesday, the 5th, through Thursday, the 7th. Each morning a missionary gave a testimony. Of course, the most memorable was when Gracia Burnham spoke. Each evening George Murray, the chancellor of CIU, spoke. He was excellent. On the final night he asked all who had already given their life to Christ to serve as a missionary to come forward. That included all those already serving as missionaries. Then he asked all who that night wanted to dedicate their lives for missions to come forward. All the students who came forward were given a pledge card to keep in their Bible and to remind themselves of their commitment. Two hundred cards were printed and they ran out! It was great to see that many young people committed to missions. Of course there were many other students who didn't come forward but who are committed to fully following Christ and doing whatever He wants them to do. What a joy it was to stand at the front of the chapel along with Daniel and Suzanne. I take absolutely no credit for that. But I do rejoice to see my children following God....in spite of my failures and weaknesses as a parent. We have never tried to push them into missions because we wanted it to come from God and to be something between them and God and not something to please us.

On the way to Cedarville we got into snow and leaving Cedarville we got into more snow. We didn't have to drive through any terrible conditions, but we did have to slow down and watch out for the crazies who won't slow down or who don't know how to drive in snow. The salt makes a huge mess and we had a real struggle to keep the windshield clean enough to see clearly. We refilled our washer fluid two times! We just wouldn't have been able to stay on the road without washer fluid. Our car looked horrible with salt smeared all over and ice caking the front and sides. Yuk. But in spite of the snow, slush, salt, and slow driving there was beautiful scenery to be seen as well. At the end of every trip we are so thankful for God for taking us there and back safely....and especially in the winter when accidents can happen a lot easier.

Friday, January 01, 2010

It's 2010!

On Wednesday, the 30th, we left Pennsylvania, headed down to Dixie's sunny shores. Well, not to the shore, but to south of the Mason-Dixon where it is definitely a little warmer than the 15 degrees we left behind! We drove about 13 hours that day so it was a LONG day, but what awaited us at the end of the road was worth it!

Years ago God gave the owners a vision to provide a place of quiet and rest for weary souls. They had been in the pastorate and knew how tired missionaries can get, both on the field and while traveling around on home assignment. So they promised the Lord that He could use them to help take care of missionaries. So they give missionaries on home assignment and pastors two complimentary nights at their bed and breakfast, the Whitestone Inn in the middle-of-nowhere Tennessee. Here is the entrance....you drive through the barn and our suite was in the barn. But don't get the wrong impression! We didn't sleep on straw or share a stall with cattle. Definitely not! We basked beside the fire, relaxed in the hot tubs and in the spa shower (which I definitely liked better than the hot tub.....I wouldn't mind having a spa shower in my house!). After the bath or shower you could wear one of the specially provided robes and lounge around in comfort. Because we had five people in our group (Suzanne's friend, Tam, was with us) we got a large suite. We had a living area and kitchen, a bedroom, where John and I stayed, and large bathroom, and a loft with a king size bed, where Suzanne and Tam stayed) and another bathroom. Daniel slept on the pull-out couch by the fire.

A sumptious breakfast was served in the "Farmhouse" which in addition to a dining room houses a rec room, more guestrooms, and a library. Several times during the day we went out for walks. Unfortunately it was a grey, drizzly day, but it didn't keep us inside. I can see that the Whitestone Inn would be a great place in the spring, summer, or fall. There are horses in the pasture, a Victorian-style building, a chapel (a great place for weddings), a rose cottage, and a school house (guest registration and gift shop are housed there). Across the road there are Highlands Cattle and one can walk on trails through the woods. Everywhere are benches, hammocks, and swings and in warmer months you can go out on canoes and play croquet.

Every room is decorated according to the theme of song birds. Wherever you look there are little nooks decorated in the theme of the Inn. Our room was the Sparrow Suite. My favorite picture in the suite was this one near the front door. It is a picture of Jesus' hands holding some sparrows. Around the edge of the picture are written the words from Matthew 10:31: "So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Those words and that thought are not new to me, but they touched me deeply all over again (God's Word has a way of doing that!). What a great reminder. Why do I worry? Why do I fret? Why do I get annoyed? Think about it!!!! Jesus cares about the sparrows and He cares about me even more. He holds me in His hand. So why do I worry? One of the worries missionaries always face is getting their support. We had recently lost some support: mainly older people on reduced income or some people who are out of work. So it was a worry how we were going to make up that support. Then, while we were staying at Whitestone Inn, we got an e-mail from a church letting us know that they will be able to increase our support! Indeed, why do I worry?? This is the verse I want to keep in mind for 2010. "So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." God used Whitestone Inn, a place of peace, to remind me to be at peace and to not worry.