My Mom

The following obituary was composed by my dad and myself and will be in our local newspaper, so I wanted to post it here as well for everyone who does not live in Springfield, MO. I want to thank everyone who has been supportive in all of this.

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Marcia Blackwell was a cherished wife, mother, and friend who understood that her most important relationship was with her Savior, Jesus Christ. We mourn her loss yet we gain comfort because of her faithful life.

Marcia was a quiet, gentle spirit. Her life overflowed with love and determination. She continually displayed her love and determination to her husband, sons, and family by supporting them in every worthy endeavor and guiding each to happiness and success. These virtues carried over into her relationships with her Christian family and friends.

Marcia was born in Lima, Ohio on January 10, 1951. She was a graduate of Elida High School of Elida, Ohio and attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. She met her husband, Jim, while working at Commerce Bank of Springfield. They were happily married for twenty-nine years. She was a valuable employee on the New Mothers Unit at St. John's Hospital for sixteen years.

She passed away in Springfield, Missouri on August 25, 2005. She is survived by her husband Jim, eldest son Todd and his wife Jill, two younger sons Blake and Marc, mother-in-law Viola Blackwell, and brother-in-law Don Blackwell. Her parents, George and Velma Nixon, and siblings Sue, Ed, Candice and Anne also survive her.

The funeral will be held at Sunset Church of Christ on Monday, August 29th at 10:00 AM. Visitation will be at the Greenlawn South Funeral Home on Sunday, August 28th from 2:00-4:00 PM. Marcia has requested that donations be made to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks in her memory if people wish to do so.

We will miss her deeply.


Nowhere to Look But Up

During the course of the past several weeks I have tried to maintain a positive outlook. I hope in some way I have relayed little truths of what I've discovered during this arduous journey while ne're complaining about the lot my family finds itself in. Yet tonight I'm not sure if that's possible.

I am quite down. We have had several seemingly near death experiences starting last Sunday morning at 1:30 AM. I use the word seemingly because every time my mom has pulled through. On Thursday of this week she had a terrible choking, coughing episode that lasted nearly an hour. It was perhaps the scariest experience I've ever encountered and since that time she has been unresponsive the majority of the past few days.

This marks day thirty-three of our time in the hospital. Being there, that long, has its effects on a person. I went to Wal-Mart today and almost experienced culture shock because unbeknownst to me the world has continued going on outside of the hospital. It's been almost two weeks since I felt like it would be appropriate to go out with friends and have a good laugh. All of these stresses wear on a person.

And I've decided not to return to Japan. This choice, which I deliberated and pined over for nearly four weeks, did not come easily. In many ways I feel ashamed of my decision yet I feel in no way capable of handling a foreign culture right now or any time soon. A foreign culture is difficult enough as it is without going through the loss of a family member. This unfortunately leaves me unemployed and thus I now am starting to face the scary reality of not having a job for awhile.

So I find myself worn out, lonely, unemployed and despondent. This post however was not meant to garner sympathy. I write this, perhaps to vent, but also to assert that God is still good. He can do immeasurably more than I can imagine and He has told me not to worry, that He will provide. While I perhaps do not internalize these beliefs too well, I do at least want to vocalize them in hopes that soon I can believe this not just with my lips but my heart as well.


Love Defined

Love. This oh so elusive term in my life has always been a mystery. I turned to movies to solve my questions and unfortunately wound up lacking. Girls do not actually fall in love with the nerdy sweet guy who is persistent; they do however fall in love with Matthew McConaughey. The illustration of love found in literature from works such as Pride and Prejudice only befuddles me more while music leads me to believe it is some sort of possessive act.

However, over the past thirty days I have seen what love is truly about. And through this demonstration I've also realized its been under my own roof this whole time.

My dad has been the most caring, loving and faithful husband a woman could hope for. Over the past month he has been at the hospital an average of 18-20 hours a day. Not once has he ever came home to sleep in his own bed and rarely does he leave mother's side. He has served her meeting every request with a willingness to bid every entreaty she might put before him. He holds her hand and has told her multiple times, when it looks like her time has finally come, how much he loves her and treasures the time they had together.

Yet this love has been going on not thirty days but for over twenty-nine years. I tried to recollect times when I recalled my mother and father fighting. While I'm sure they had their arguments not a single door was ever slammed nor was either voice ever raised. They spent nearly every evening together at the dinner table laughing, listening and crying while discussing their days. Many vacations were spent exploring the US together as a couple and as a family. And these details are merely the visible, readily accessible memories that I possess. What went on between them is undoubtedly even more special.

If love decides one day not to be so elusive than I hope that I can model my relationship off of my parents. May it be an example of peace, stability, reliability, happiness and joy. Perhaps these aren't movie, book, or song worthy attributes but its what love defined looks like.


A Tough Day

Today I have nothing deep or profound to offer. Today might well have been the toughest day in my life thus far. At around 1:30 AM we received a call from my dad to rush up to the hospital because he thought the end was near. However it wasn't, and that scenario then repeated itself twomore times during the course of the day. Its hard to say goodbye, and then be given more time only to say goodbye again. Its also hard to witness someone you love in so much pain.

One of the great blessings however has been the opportunity to say goodbye. A few years back when my grandpa died we received no warning at all. While he was in his early 80's at the time, there were no failing health signs, no warning that his time was drawing short. Instead he got hit on the way out to his farm and died in the emergency room. However, I have gotten to spend almost four solid weeks with my mother and have learned more about her then most people ever get a chance to. Also I've had the opportunity to share how much I love her by spending this time with her and telling her the things that need to be said.

So today has been a tough day. I'm weary by the whole experience. But I continually remind myself that these are important times and special times and thus I put all that I physically and emotionally can into them.

Have a good night.


A Brief Respite

You all, my faithful 15-20 readers a day (What can I say? I monitor these things. I'm a nerd), deserve a brief respite from all of my serious posts that I've been hashing out as of late. While others may say differently, I don't know that I'm ever been the least bit humorous in my life without the aid of my goofy smile and ridiculus laugh. So I won't attempt my hand at wit or banter this afternoon. I did however stumble upon a great blog the other day that had me rolling!

I am quite jealous that I did not think of this idea myself. In fact ever since I've discovered this blog I have kicked myself for an opportunity lost. The beauty of this blog is it takes such a hilarious online phenomenon such as online dating and delivers a great parody of the whole event. And while I don't know Auvrey hardly at all, I do know that she is a great writer which adds to the joy of reading this blog. So go check out Auvrey's eHarmony Blog. Enjoy!


Chicken Foot

My mom's condition has just been pronounced terminal. While it may be perfectly healthy for me to vent all my emotions at this point in time, I don't believe the Internet is the place to do it even if I do think Blogger is the most respectable blogging tool on the world wide web. However, since I find myself in a place distanced from my friends, and writing can be therapeautic, I'd like to write about a few good times I've had over the past few weeks.

It is odd the things we take so for granted. Not until you are spending time with someone you love dearly and you don't know how much time is left with that person do you really realize how precious our days on this earth are.

The first incredibly good time I had with my mother since I got back was about ten days ago. She had reserved enough strength to sit in a wheelchair and go down to the front entrance to be outside for about twenty minutes. Since not but five days earlier we thought she was going to pass away this was a huge accomplishment. So my entire family went outside with her and enjoyed the coolness of the evening with her. Everything seemed a bit more real that night. The sounds, the smells, the sights and the people. I think it was because I knew my mom had not gotten to experience the outdoors for several weeks and might not ever get to again.

The second time I was blessed with was when we got to share a meal with another family and my mom was able to join us in the visitors lounge. The family has a real sweet and precocious two year old boy who has physical and mental difficulties. My mom loves that boy so much and they just both made each other smile. It was the last really good meal I've gotten to share with my mom and it will be an event long remembered.

Then this past Saturday we were able to play three rounds of chicken foot until my mom got too tired. And wouldn't you know it she beat me! I hate getting beat! But this is one loss I will take gladly.

The coming weeks will be rough but I've been blessed to be home to experience some last times with her and to spend quality time with my family. I will treasure times like these, and realize that God has granted us these last few weeks with her for memories that we can hold on to for a long time.


Problems of a Cookie Cutter Faith

Most of you who read my blog know of my mom's very unstable status in the hospital as she fights ovarian cancer. The below post is not to criticize those who offer encouragement in times like this, but to examine and perhaps even start a discussion over what we say and believe in times of crisis.

I've been having a lot of problems with my faith lately, and I realize that it is a faith immature, not a faith in crisis. Ultimately I still believe in God, I find it hard not to given the overwhelming evidence of creation, the spread of His kingdom, and the truth of the precepts that God and Jesus taught us in the Bible.

However, I feel like I have been living on cookie cutter theology now that I am starting to run into bigger questions. First the question of God's will. I have been struggling for a month over prayer and the results of prayer. James 5:15: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well..." What if it doesn't? What if a prayer, offered in full faith by thousands of people in dozens of churches across the world doesn't heal? Do we simply write it off as God's will? Many times I hear the results of a seemingly unanswered prayer to be rationalized by, "Well it simply wasn't God's will..." So why then pray? Why if you offered a prayer with full faith was it not answered the way you want it?

I understand that God knows better than us. I've had prayers answered in a different way then I would have liked, and have later understood the blessing of God answering in that way. But what about when it comes down to life and death issues?

Which raises the second issue that I'm struggling with and that is the afterlife. Most people attempt to comfort with, "Well she [my mom] will be in a better place if she passes away." I'm not sure I have assurance that she is immediately going to be rushed off to heaven. Do I believe she will go to heaven some day? Yes! Of course! But I'm not sure she is going to exit this world of suffering instantly to go to a better place. The scripture seems confusing on this subject at best. I Corinthians 15:51-52: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." The entirety of I Corinthians 15 leads me to believe that after we die on this earth, nothing happens till the resurrection, till the trumpet sounds. Yet Jesus tells one of the men hanging on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Matt 23:43).

Quite honestly I don't have the answer to these questions. Nor do I feel like I've ever been given solid answer or direction to these questions. I am hoping to evolve from a cookie cutter theology that makes quick and easy answers like, "It's God's will" or "It's ok, their in heaven now." God cannot be summed up in sound bites and I'm afraid that's what my theology feels like it has become.

Once again, I do not judge or criticize those who say such things. I am guilty of saying and believing the same myself. It's hard to know what to say in such a situation. I do feel though that in times of great need of God's help and comfort we would be far better served if we had really worked these issues out. Maybe we have and I just missed it somewhere along the lines...or perhaps I should have worked them out myself by now. At any rate, that is what I'm attempting to do now.


Third Time's a...Nightmare!

This may be a short post today. Why? Because I have one arm.

When I was a sophomore in college I innocently went to a school banquet dressed as George Bush Sr. My date of course was the lovely and delightful Barb (that's what those of us who are close to her call her including some members of the Associated Press). In the moon room (a big boncy, air-cushioned, child proof room) I saw my friend Peter. Wanting to demonstrate the strength of our friendship I decided to tackle him. Bam! I hit the side of the entrance and was quickly rushed off to the ER where they thought I was pulling a practical joke on them. I was not.

The second time I was polka dancing. Thinking I knew more then the veterans I demonstrated a new sliding move. Off again to the ER.

Last night apparently I must have been having a nightmare. I woke up with my arm out of socket once again! Is it possible for my arm to actually come out in some place/activity that would actually seem harmful?

Wow! Needless to say there is more to all three stories but you try typing one hand and see how much detail you want to provide! :)