Sunday, May 13, 2012

Funeral, Birthday and Mother's Day

The week did not start well last Monday.  We noticed a broken headlamp on our van, with the blinker assembly out as well.  Then, after eating lunch at Panera with Sondra, we came outside and I had a flat tire!  Our AAA coverage comes in handy, that's for sure.  Got the spare on and went to a place for a used tire for the time being.  As an aside, I found a salvage yard in Rialto that can order new parts at cheap prices, so I ordered a headlamp ($75) and the blinker assemby ($20) and had them installed free of charge by one of the men in the Sober Living program that I help.  An auto parts store quoted me a price of $240 for the headlamp alone!  God gave me favor in finding a place with good prices.

On Tuesday night, I went over to Coronado Stone to check on the Sober Living houses and attend the weekly Celebrate Recovery meeting.  While there, I spent some time with a young man named Tim who is so anxious to serve the Lord.  What a blessing indeed!  Pastor George Nelson, coming from Chatsworth, spent the night with us and we had a good time sharing what God is doing.

That day, I received a call from Margaret Wahlen asking me to lead the Graveside Service for her mom (Doris Craig), who had just passed away at the age of 87.  Margaret's parents were members of First Southern Baptist Church of San Diego when I pastored there in the 1990s.  I was also asked to give a few words and give the closing prayer at the memorial service held at Shadow Mountain Church (where Pastor David Jeremiah is pastor).  Dwight Simpson, Director of Missions for San Diego, preached the funeral message.

The interesting thing was that the family had the Graveside Service first, holding it at 11 am Friday.  It was for family only.  The memorial service, held at the church there in El Cajon, began at 3 pm.  That is the reverse of most funeral plans, but Sondra and I both commented to each other that it was quite fitting and right.

I had driven up on Wednesday evening to sit down with the family and discuss what they had in mind for the services.  I was able to meet many of the Craig family during that time and hear so many wonderful stories about a beautiful servant of the Lord.  The Graveside and Memorial services were so filled with song and stories and celebration for a life well-lived.  It was almost like being in church as we shared together in those moments.

After Friday's services, there was a time of fellowship in the pavilion area of the church grounds, and I had the joy of seeing some old friends of the Greenwalt family.  Earl Bigelow was a college buddy of my dad, and Earl was the one who invited dad to come to California to pastor in this "new frontier of mission work" in 1955.  We moved from Urbana, Illinois (home of the University of Illinois), to Lakeside, California (on the outskirts of San Diego).  Earl is now almost 93 years old and still preaches on occasion.  I have invited him to come to my church in the coming months.

R.E. Craig at the reception area with me

Rebekah, Bruce, Margaret and Sarah Wahlen

This is Earl Bigelow, almost 93 years of age, with me

Wayne Eurich is also a special friend of our family

I was greeted by Steve Lewis, a college student when my sister Marti and I were at California Baptist College in the late 1960s.  I got to talk to Stan White, retired pastor/Director of Missions and friend in San Diego.  I spoke at length with Wayne Eurich, a retired pastor who spent time pastoring in Germany at the same time my parents served over there.  It was a great joy to talk to R.E. Craig about my dad too.  He told a story of when he and my dad shared a motel room at a convention in Fresno many years ago, when they both were pastors in the San Diego area.  R.E. said, "Yes, we stayed at the Motel 6 when it really only cost $6 a night, so we each paid $3."

On Saturday, Sondra attended a Mother's Day Picnic that our church held out at Fairmount Park.  The weather has been very nice, starting to get on the warm side.  It was 90 degrees today.

Saturday, May 12, was Evan's 35th birthday.  He is still such a fun "kid," even as he grows older.  He and Callie went to a Red Bull X-treme motorcycle competition that afternoon.  He said it was amazing, with helicopter and airplanes doing acrobatics during the show as well.  We went to a restaurant Saturday night in Corona called Tap's Fish House and Brewery for his birthday dinner.  There were the eight of us -- me, Sondra, Evan, Callie, Crystal, Shawn and the two girls (Bailey and Brynnlee).  It was good food, but the service was extremely slow because of the crowd of people coming for early Mother's Day dinner.  It was good just to be together and say "Happy Birthday" to Evan.

Today is Mother's Day.  I bought a card and some roses and dark chocolate bar for Sondra.  We had a fun time at church in celebration of the day, handing out special gifts and tokens of appreciation.  There were 22 mothers across the front of the church to receive honor and thanks for their role as mothers.

After church, we went to Logan's Roadhouse in Fontana for a Mother's Day lunch special. There were eight of us again -- only this time, Alden was with us and Callie was with her mom. Sondra got gifts and cards and had tears in her eyes as she read some very special words penned to her in those Mother's Day cards.

This afternoon, Sondra made a German chocolate cake for a "day late" birthday dessert.  Evan loved it, and so did I.  I am tired from the week and plan to sleep very well tonight!

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