Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Final Post

James Michael Bond
December 17, 1962 - November 25, 2008
...absent from the body, and present with the Lord
(2 Corinthians 5:8)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Acts of a Family's Love

This is a blog entry to share a testimony of what I have observed in our home this past month.  I have watched an incredible love shared by a couple who are traveling  through life together and aiming to glorify God during their journey.  I have witnessed tenderness, compassion and an unconditional love from a wife caring for her husband in his final days.  I have also seen great concern from a husband for his wife when she is left behind.  He knows that God will take care of her and his children but he has been thorough in trying to help them with future decisions.  He has even helped with Christmas plans for his family.   I am sure he has spent many hours praying for each of them.  

There is much care to be done for a person who is confined to bed.   His wife  is a self sacrificing servant and helpmate.  She is an incredible inspiration to me.  I know there are many people praying for her because she has had a supernatural energy to care for her husband at this time.  She hasn't slept through the night in weeks (maybe months).  She is diligent in giving medications (even shots - I call her Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy) around the clock to help alleviate Jim's pain and caring for his physical needs.  She holds his hands often and prays aloud for him.  She has taken her wedding vows seriously for twenty-one years,  "...to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others till death do us part."   They have been at our house for 25 days, and she has not left our house to go anywhere (except the front porch and back porch).  She is the most diligent caregiver I have ever watched.  She has been at his bedside caring for him and loving him every moment of every day.  She often crawls into his hospital bed and lays beside him just to feel his closeness.  She treasures each day.  "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."  Genesis 2:24 

My friend and her 18 year old son have been an incredible team and work very well together.   Their son put his dream at West Point on hold to come home to serve and help care for his dad.  This is something he didn't even question doing.  I picked him up at West Point November 1st and he has been here since.  His dad has been an exemplary role model, and they share an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. There is no greater legacy to leave behind!  It has been a blessing to hear him and his dad play songs together on their guitars. They share a passion for singing songs to their Savior.  It sounded like heaven on earth as they strummed together.  They play well together.  Another blessing for our family to witness!  He has an incredible respect and love for his dad.  When I had an opportunity to tell Jim that he did a fine job raising this young man, he just smiled and said "James".  It was a very sweet moment.  He is very proud of him.

I have been grateful for their sons computer skills on more than one occasion.  He has beenextremely helpful and willing to explain things to me.  He has been staying in shape for the rigorous exercise at West Point by working out at a local gym, chopping and hauling firewood for us, helping out at basketball practice, running errands (we always need a gallon of milk) and running after a 3 year old and 5 year old.  Our 11 year old son shared with his physician that he was so happy to have an 18 year old  (like a big brother) in the house that played and joked around with him.  It is a joy to have him in our house. I even enjoyed our trip to the eye doctor today.  His favorite quote is "What's today?  Today's Monday and that means absolutely nothing!"  I'm sure our days are not as structured as life at West Point.

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.  For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.  Then he taught me, and he said to me, Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.  Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.  Proverbs 4: 1-5 (NIV)

I have watched a very tenderhearted 14 year old daughter hold her dad's hands and her eyes sparkle when her dad was able to acknowledge her in some way.  She is very helpful in our home and always offering to do dishes, do homework with the younger ones in our home, set the table, make lunches for six school children, etc.  We have shared tears, concerns, questions, and wonderful memories about her dad.  She is a pleasure to be around, and her Christian testimony is strong.  She starts the day and ends the day with, "I Love You Daddy".  I am sure that is music to Jim's ears.

Jim has a special place in his heart for his young daughter.  When he found out that his cancer was terminal, he felt the urgency to get to the jewelry store to get her a purity ring.  It is beautiful (two hearts that are connected and have rubies inside the hearts).  This was a priority since he would be unable to be here for her 16th  birthday.  He is very thoughtful!!  It will be a special gift from her dad forever.  He adores his "Little girl" who is becoming a beautiful young lady!

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Psalm 127:3
And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

Our family has enjoyed listening to the prayers of their 5 year old son.  At each meal he prays for his dad's leg to be healed.  He has a childlike faith and is very excited his dad is going to be with Jesus soon.  I'm not sure he understands fully what that means, but I do know his faith is a trusting faith.  He will know, hear, and read of his father's love for and relationship with Jesus Christ.  His prayers will soon be answered with his dad receiving a glorified body.  Jesus said,"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3  

Excerpts from my journal from life at our house this month:

Fri.  10-31-08   Jim is very grateful for welcoming his family into our home.  It is uncomfortable to be thanked.  This is serving our Lord and Savior in the most intimate of ways. What a privilege and honor! 
Sat. 11-6-08  3:11am  Jim is in an incredible amount of pain.   Please help his wife and son to be strong and not weary.  Jim has said he wants to see Jesus yet he will miss his family terribly.  He is a man of incredible virtue, love and compassion. Lord,  I understand your timing is perfect and I will trust in that.
Sun. 11-6-08   Jim's wife and I talked about God's amazing and perfect plan. God knows they are planners.  Jim and his family have been able to plan Jim's departure from earth and entrance into the glories of heaven!  That has been a gift!  
Sat.  11-22-08  Jim is funny today.  He kept winking at his wife and smiling at her.  He is at ease in her presence.  Their love is particularly tender and sweet.  It is a treasure to watch!

There have been many tears shed, hugs shared, and much laughter during this time.   All have been treasured moments that can't be described in words.  We have had some wonderful memories together (all 12 of us).  Some of them are:  exercising, roasting marshmallows, watching movies, singing praise songs, praying aloud, folding laundry (for the 100th time), building forts, trying to figure out algebraic equations, stamping cards, a trip to the Barber's shop for all the boys, cutting and stacking wood, organizing cabinets, target practice, mud fights, a grapefruit toss, eating, eating and more eating!  These are just a few that come to mind.   

Jim's wife and I were able to sing "This Is The Day" at Jim's bedside today.  The song included the lyrics...This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it and we will enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, we will enter his courts with praise, ...   I have observed a family truly rejoicing at the celebration of a father and husband's life.  

Jim recently told a couple, when they came to visit him, to cherish each other and to love their family with all their hearts.  Time is short for all of us...  Forgive one another and love one another!  Today two more people received a blog card with Jim's website!  He is unable to communicate verbally right now, yet his life is still impacting other's for God's Glory!  AMEN!!!

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance; perserverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3-5

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Wife's Perspective

Many people have been asking how my husband is doing and some are keeping up with our daughter's blog to find out that information. What she writes concerning her father is the information that I tell her she may share. I will not go into any details, but my husband's earthly body decays more each day. I did ask my husband yesterday if he was able to pray when he lies in the bed mostly unresponsive and he nodded his head. It is a comfort to me that he is still in communion with his heavenly Father even when My husband is unable to converse with us."Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day," (II Corinthians 4:16 NKJV).

I am grateful to our older son who helps me care for my husband every day. He had been wondering when the time would be for him to come home from West Point and would constantly say to me, "Mom, I NEED to know when to come home to be with Dad." He wanted me to ask the doctor when the time would be, and I would "quiz" the hospice nurse each visit to know if THIS would be the weekend our son should not return to the Academy on Sunday. No one could tell the appropriate time and it would have been hard to ask him to leave the Academy not knowing how long he would have to be home. We were not glad about the turn of events with my husband breaking his femur on October 26th, however, it was then that we knew that it was time for our son to return home. God is sovereign in ALL things. (The Academy has been great in continuing to show their support for our son during this time.)

As our daughter said, he has been on oxygen. It has been over a week for that measure and it is just to make him comfortable. As of yesterday, he is restless and often takes it off, but accepts me putting it back in place. He doesn't always respond to a question, but is always listening. He ALWAYS acknowledges me with a smile, a wink, or an eyebrow-raise when I tell him that I love him. He is still able to communitcate how much he loves me! He reaches often for a hand to hold if a person is close by his bed and waves most times when someone new enters the room.

This morning, he did ask if we were packed and said he needed clothes and was ready to go home. I am assuming he meant his heavenly home that awaits him. I read to him from a Billy Graham devotional book given to me by a friend earlier this fall. Actually, today was the last entry in the book. It was titled, "With God Forever!" The scriptures mentioned in the devotion were: II Corinthians 5:1; Luke 10:20; II Corinthians 5:8; I Thessaloninas 4:17; and Revelation 21: 3-4. How comforting to both of us to know that when we die we will be with God forever!

He is restless and his breathing is much different that ever before. Although he drinks between two to six ounces of liquid a day, he has not eaten now in 12 days. Actually, he has displayed all of the signs that have been spelled out for me in the handout from hospice entitled, "Signs and Symptoms of Approaching Death".

I am not a writer, other than my own personal journal, but I felt this morning that I should post an entry on the blog. Many have been saying that they miss my husband's writing. I too miss it and the way his teaching challenges me personally. He has not only been my best friend and husband for 21 years, he has been the spritual leader of our family for over 15 years, and my pastor for over seven years. Our older son asks me what will I do with my time once my husband is gone. I will be grateful for the time to compile his sermons that I have access to; the emails sent by colleagues, friends, students, and former students; and to create a scrapbook of photos. All these will be part of my process of grieving and of healing. They will also be wonderful gifts for our three children to have to remember their Dad, and to know who he was and the impact the Lord allowed him to make. These will be instrumental in helping our five-year-old son to really KNOW who his Dad was. I remarked to my friend we're living with that my husband used to pray for at least 50 people at the church that we helped plant. (God is continuing to bless that church under a new pastor.) God had such other plans for my husband and gave him a pulpit on line with WAY more than 50 lives to reach for the gospel of Christ. (As of November 19th, there have been 27,911 people who visited the blog!) MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED!

We are overwhelmed by the provision of meals, transportation, boxed food and supplies, baked goods, monetary support for our two families during this time while we are here with our good friends. The phone calls, emails, cards, and other correspondence continue to encourage us. I do read to my husband, although at this point he has a very short attention span and memory. I was speaking with a friend from Georgia today about having difficulty being able to focus in prayer at this particular time of my life and she referred to all those that are lifting me and our family(ies) up to the throne for us. For that I am most grateful. That is a precious gift, to pray for God to uphold someone undergoing a trial when that particular person is in the "trenches".

Thank you all for your continued prayers! God has been and continues to be so faithful to us! Throughout each day He reveal so much to us, whether it is revolving around the strength necessary for caregiving, guidance in becoming a single parent (since my husband is unable to help me in decision-making, disciplining, etc...), or the promise of the eternal life that awaits my husband in the near future. This will be my only post, however, my husband has prepared a final post to be displayed at the appropriate time. Please pray for my husband to slip peacefully into eternity with his Savior.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Blog from Winston

Hi, Friends!
This is another message from Winston.
Until another post is up, to learn about how jmichael is doing, you can look at his daughter's blog, which is www.sunshineforhim.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Message from Winston

My name is Winston. Occasionally, I paw (step) in for j michael on the blog when he is unable to do so.

Lately, he has been unable to compose any blog entries, and I am hoping to get my fifteen minutes of fame.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Challenge

This entry is pointed to a very select group of people (actually two groups), but has been on my heart for some time now.

First, to those of you in our local churches that have an opportunity to influence the twenty-somethings, the college-age people:

1. What are you doing to encourage these young adults that are our future church leaders: Sunday School teachers, deacons, Bible study teachers, small group leaders, asssistant pastors, missionaries, etc. ?

2. Is there a particular ministry in which you are presently involved where you can bring a young person alongside you and train them? Perhaps as a teaching assistant in a Sunday School class. Or can you encourage a young person to get involved in the homeless ministry? Or a missions project? Or a music ministry? Or can you identify and encourage a young man to pursue a pastoral ministry? THERE IS NO REASON FOR OUR CHURCH NOT TO IDENTIFY, ENCOURAGE, AND SUPPORT A YOUNG MAN IN PURSUING MINISTRY.

3. Is there a particular young person in the church for which God has given you a burden? Ae you willing to take on this young person in a mentoring relationship?

And now for the twenty-somethings:

1. What gifts, talents, resources, etc. has God given you t0 be used in ministry in the local church?

2. In what areas of ministry is God leading you to pursue? Do you have a particular passion for a certain ministry?

3. Is there a particular adult involved in a ministry that you would like to follow?

You are the future of our local church ministry. I want to encourage you to pray about your involvement in how God is leading you.

Fraternity Friends Finally Released from Photographic Captivity

More captured photographs were released this past week after intense negotiations with Canon rebels. On a Saturday afternoon in early October we had a surprise visit from two of my fraternity brothers from Dickinson College - Larry and Scott. They also brought along Scott's son Seth. In the photo below, Scott is kneeling so that Larry's height (or lack thereof) is not highlighted.

As we gather for dinner, Larry must be saying something worth listening to, judging by the expression on my face.

Again, although not seen in the picture, Larry must be saying something important enough to hold my attention as well as Scott's.

Larry appears in the photo, our attention still riveted on his every word.

It was a great visit. I had not seen Larry in about twelve years -we used to see him almost every year when we lived in Atlanta and he traveled there on business. We saw Scott at least once in Atlanta , when he visited for a wedding.

Anyway, it was nice to "catch up" with old friends. And I enjoyed getting to know Scott's son Seth a little bit. A fine young man can only be the result of fine, loving parents.