Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Indulge us

2011 has already been filled with joy and sadness, celebration and mourning.  We are walking through new seasons, in several areas of our lives.  My dad has gone to be with Jesus.  And Kelsey, Zach and Charis have just moved to Israel.  Zach will be working on his Masters at Hebrew University in a 2 year program. Can we say that God is teaching us, on several levels, what it means to "let go"?

Before they headed across the pond, we were blessed to spend some wonderful time with the Bohler family.  Mind if we share a few photos?

Poppy and Charis

Mimi and Charis

Aunt Whitney and Uncle Shawn bring a smile to a sweet little face!


The Bohler family, beginning a new chapter of life

Okay, someone tell us that 2 years will go by quickly . . . 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A life well-lived

"I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight.  I have finished the race.  
I have kept (firmly held) the faith." 
(2 Timothy 4:7, Amplified)


This past Thursday, we celebrated the home-going of my precious Dad.  He fought the fight well, and finished the race on January 14th.  Over the last 8 days, I have processed many things about my Dad . . . memories I have with him . . . and the over-riding thoughts are of a man who lived life well.  I picture him running a life-long race, and sprinting to the finish line!  His contentment and joy increased through his final days, even in the midst of tremendous physical difficulties.  What an example to me and to all who knew John Broadman Ware!

The memorial celebration of my Dad's life was held on Thursday morning, January 20th at 11:00 a.m. in Fayetteville, NC at his beloved place of worship, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.  Many family members traveled from Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and North Carolina to honor Dad and their relationship with him.  My Dad was one of 4 brothers.  Two of the brothers have been with Jesus for many years.  His brother, Weston Ware, drove 20+ hours from Dallas to Fayetteville, along with his wife, Charlotte and their son, Cameron.  Weston and Charlotte's daughter, Keren, also flew in from Maryland to be with us.  What a gift to have their family there!  Weston spoke at the service and gave a heart-felt tribute, as he shared Dad's favorite psalm, Psalm 8.  My aunt, Allison, flew in from Texas and beautifully sang a perfect song for the day, "Finally Home".  Allison is the wife of Dad's younger brother, Connie.  Dad's older brother, Browning, was also represented by the presence of Suzanne, his oldest daughter.

My brother, Todd, and his wife Julie flew in from Texas.  My sister, Missy and her husband Jonathan flew in from Nashville.  Our brother, Jeffrey, who lives in a state school in Goldsboro, NC was brought in to be with us.  Kelsey, Zach, and Charis came over from Georgia, where they were visiting with Zach's family.  And Dick and I drove from Nashville, accompanied by two dear friends who graciously came to love and support us, Jan Hayes and LeAnn Simmerman.  (We affectionately called them "Bildad" and "Eliphaz", naming them after two of Job's friends who cared for him in his sorrow). We all joined together with Nancy, Dad's loving wife of 30 years, to remember a man who had touched each of us in ways we will hold on to forever.

The service consisted of several other components that painted a wonderful picture of Dad's life.  We sang 3 hymns he had chosen for the day ~ "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" and "How Great Thou Art".  My dad had requested that Dick play the piano for the memorial, and Dick opened with a beautiful prelude of hymns, accompanied the congregational singing, and played for Allison's solo.  I was privileged to share one of the eulogies, focussing on my Dad as a songwriter.  His music defined who he was.  From out of the abundance of his heart, he wrote lyrics and melodies that spoke of his desire for others to know the Lord, God's faithfulness, and his longing for heaven.  Before Dad passed away, he had given copies of all his lyrics to my sister and brother and I.  I drew from these words to share a glimpse of who I knew I my Dad to be.  Dad's pastor and friend, John Cook, continued that theme and eloquently gave one of the best memorial sermons I think I've ever heard.  It was such a snapshot of the man who we knew as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather,  brother, uncle, and friend.  Dick was complimenting Pastor John on how he truly captured Dad's life and John said, "Some people's lives just preach their own sermon."  So true.

Here are some of the precious moments from this day . . . 
The family, joined by Pastor John Cook
Dick and Mel, Kelsey, Zach and Charis (sleeping soundly)
Mel and her sister, Missy

Mel and her brother, Jeffrey
LeAnn Simmerman and Jan Hayes (Bildad and Eliphaz)
Mel and cousin Suzanne
Nancy and Charis, sharing some sweet time together
Precious baby Charis
4 generations

So much of God's word came alive that day . . .
". . . we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him."  (1 Thes. 4:13-14)

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

How precious are God's promises!  There is such comfort in knowing that He has ordered every day of Dad's life and that now Dad will spend eternity in Jesus' presence.  One insight that God showed me through this was that when we say or sing the words "I will praise you forever", that doesn't mean we praise the Lord until we take our final breath on earth.  After that breath, we begin a new chapter.  In heaven.   How much more will we praise the Lord then!

We grieve with hope, because we know that we will not only see Dad again, but we will spend FOREVER with him.  Can't wait to hear him singing with all his heart in the bass section of the heavenly choir!  

"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let it Snow!

As the Worship Leader for First Family of Columbia, one thing that I enjoy doing is writing a weekly column for our Worship Ministry newsletter.  Today, I'd like to share this column on our blog . . . 

I’m sitting here looking out the window at the newly fallen snow.  4-5 inches have fallen overnight and it is untouched, un-walked on, unblemished.  A white blanket is covering our backyard.  Many of you have been to our house.  It is a white house with black shutters, surrounded by a white fence.  When you look at the snow settled on the roof of the house, or piling on the fence posts, you see the stark contrast of what the color “white” really is!  Our house looks more creamy or dull in comparison to the vibrant brightness of the snow.

So what can we learn from the snow today?  That is what I’m asking the Lord this peaceful morning.  As I begin to dig into God’s Word and find references to this weather beauty, here are some gleanings . . .

First of all, snow falls at God’s command.  Period.  No other explanation. After Job’s three friends have tried to inform him of the “whys and hows” of his situation, God finally speaks.  He presents one unexplainable phenomenon after another, calling Job to truly understand His sovereignty.  How would you like God asking this of you?
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen 
the storehouses of the hail?” (Job 38:22)

Dick and I always marvel at the wording we hear come out of the mouths of local weathermen.  When we’re expecting sunny weather, they may utter something like, “We’ve got a great day ahead for you today!” or when it’s going to be stormy, you may hear, “Sorry, but we’ve got a day of rain planned for you today!”  THEY have the weather lined up?  Um, I don’t think so.  God alone is in control, watching over the “storehouses of snow” and allowing “rain in its season” (Deuteronomy 28:12).
“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’, and to the rain
shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour’.”  (Job 37:6)

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. 
Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, 
let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it. (Isaiah 45:8)

I mentioned how white the snow looks.  It is a color unlike any other!  Pure, bright, crisp.  What a stark comparison to the blackness of sin that David felt in his heart after the events concerning Bathsheba and Uriah.  He prayed this:
“Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; 
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  (Psalm 51:7)

David’s desire was for the Lord to thoroughly cleanse Him.  His deep yearning was to be washed through and through. I just did a quick side trip digging into the significance of hyssop, which was an herb used for a variety of things ~ it was used to dip in the basin of blood to apply to the doorposts during Passover, it was a part of the ceremonial cleansing of lepers (Lev. 14:1-8), and it was even used to raise up the sponge of sour wine to Jesus’ lips during the crucifixion (John 19:29).  Here’s a commentary I just read:  In this passage, David is asking for deep heart cleansing and uses hyssop to symbolize that since it is a common cleaning agent. It is interesting that when he says "wash me" he is talking about the way clothes were washed in his time, with beating and pounding. He is so deeply sorry; he wants more than a quick wash up. He wants the very desire for sin to be washed out of him. Do we ever feel that repentant over our own sin?

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
(Isaiah 1:18)

One more observation.  Snow that falls from heaven is both refreshing and nourishing.  It is a picture of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, 

and do not return to it 
without watering the earth 
and making it bud and flourish, 
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, 

but will accomplish what I desire 
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 
(Isaiah 55:10-11)

“ Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger 
to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.”
(Proverbs 25:13)

I guess that explains why our desire is to play in the snow, take walks in the snow, lay down in the snow and make “snow angels”, watch our dogs run around in the snow . . . perhaps subliminally we recognize that it’s a sign of purity, transformation, and revival?

The creativity of our Heavenly Father should never cease to amaze us!  And most days, I fail to be aware and even cognizant of His divine creation.  But today, I’m going to intentionally look out the window more . . . maybe take a walk through the neighborhood . . . perhaps even make a snowball and give it a throw (not at my husband, though.  He grew up in Ohio and would beat me hands down in a snowball fight!).   Bottom line?  May we give thanks in this generally desolate winter season for the beauty of a snowy day!

The Snow 
(By Edith Willis Linn Forbes, 1865-1945)

Folding the earth in its mantle
Pure and undefiled
Soft in its own clear whiteness
As the cheek of an innocent child
The snow o’er the world is falling
It floats upon the air
Silent, yet ever restless
As a child’s hands crossed in prayer.

Like a benediction descending
O’er the sin-stained weary world
It falls in tender pity
It’s mantle o’er all unfurled
Oh, Father in Heaven above us
Thy goodness and Thy love
Descend like a silent spirit
Like a pure and spotless dove.

This world is a mystery of sorrow
And dark with sin and woe
Over its toil and sadness
Thy mantle of mercy throw
Fold us about, protect us
In Thy garment, spotless white
As the snow in its silent falling
Is shrouding the earth tonight

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Okay, we're backtracking here . . .
The holiday season celebrating Christmas and New Year's is always so full, and with our trip to North Carolina in the mix, I haven't had a chance to show off some pictures of Christmas day with Charis.  Her first Christmas was spent in our home, with snow falling outside.  This was the first "white Christmas" in 17 years for the Nashville area.  To say the least, the day was peaceful . . . sweet . . . idyllic.

Let me backtrack to 2 days before Christmas . . . Dec. 23, our family went to visit the newly restored Opryland Hotel, which had been incredibly damaged in the May flood.  It was stunning!


Then Christmas arrived.  The weather outside invoked a carefree, relaxed morning.
Charis and Mimi had some quality time!

And oh yeah, Mommy and Daddy were there, too!

And Aunt Whitney and Uncle Shawn shared in the love, too!

And Keebler watched over Charis' every move.

Dick was hanging out as well, but somehow didn't make the photo session!  No doubt, more photos will be published soon with Charis and Poppy . . .

Celebrating baby Jesus with a baby of our own in the house . . .
definitely a Christmas we'll always remember.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A day to remember

Between Christmas and New Years, some of our family traveled to Fayetteville, NC to spend some time with my Dad and his wife, Nancy.  My brother, Todd, and his family came up from Texas.  My sister, Missy, and her family made the trek from Nashville along with Dick and Whitney and I.  And my other brother, Jeffrey, who is a resident at the O'Berry Center in Goldsboro, NC was brought down with two of his caregivers.  We spent an afternoon together enjoying a wonderful meal, exchanging gifts, singing songs, and catching up on life.  It was a holy, sacred moment, where God smiled on every part of the day!  Here are some highlights:

Whitney and Jeffrey meet again, after several years

Missy and Mel give Dad some lovin'

Dick and Jonathan record the afternoon

Dad and his granddaughters ~ Maddie, Whitney, Jess, McKayla, Hallie, and Abby

Dick plays for a time of Christmas carol singing

Jeff and his wonderful caregivers, Curtis and Jackie.  
Curtis has been watching over Jeff for the last 18 years!

One of Jeffrey's favorite things to do has always been to 
take his shoes and socks off and then put them back on.  
He's been doing this ever since he was a little guy.

Dad and his kids

Nancy joins us

These are my Dad's LP's.  The one showing is an album he recorded years ago, with a very appropriate title.  A wonderful keepsake!

While the adults were inside, the kids were outside 
building a snowman with the newly fallen snow.  
They named him "Broadman" (my dad's name).

Me and my Daddy (I love these pictures) 

We had a fabulous day.
Because Dad has struggled this past year with esophageal cancer, we treasured every moment together.  And we are thankful that God is continuing to give him strength, comfort, hope, and peace during this journey.