Thursday, June 30, 2011


June 30 is a bittersweet day for me.  On this date, one of the most important men in my life was called home and one of the most important men I would never meet was born.

Bob Chandler with his only child, Terry.
March 1957

James Elton (Bob) Chandler was born on June 30, 1923, the only son of his parents and the much loved brother of three sisters.  He would later marry Gladys Arlene Shearon and the couple would have one child, a son, Terry Elton Chandler.  Terry was my husband and center of my world.

Like most little boys, Terry idolized his Daddy.  Bob was a dump truck driver for the Tennessee Dept. of Safety.  Terry often spoke of memories of his Dad leaving before daylight on icy, cold winter mornings so he could run the salt truck over the roads before everyone was out and about.  Terry had his toy tractors, trucks and graders and spent his play time building 'roads' all over the little hillside in their front yard.  He wanted to be just like his Daddy.

Unfortunately, those little boy memories are all he had of his Daddy.  Bob was killed in a auto accident on August 5, 1963.  Terry was only 9 years old.  Obviously, I never met Bob but he was one of the most important men to ever become a part of my life.  Without his existence, I could have never known Terry. 

I am quite sure Bob went to his grave never truly understanding what an exceptional son he had.  Thank you, Bob, for teaching your son in the few short years you had with him.  He was a wonderful man; full of laughter with a warm heart and compassion for others.  I have no idea what you were like, but I would like to think Terry took those traits from his Daddy.

The Herbert McDonald Family
February 1965
(L-R)  Herbert (Paw), David, Horace, Van (my Daddy) and Ilene (Maw)

June 30, 1966 was one of the most sad and difficult days of my life to that point.  It was the day my Paw McDonald was called home.   James Herbert McDonald was born on December 18, 1908, only months after his Dad had died of TB.  He had an older sister who was only 2 when he was born.  His Momma raised him and his sister on her own, doing whatever she could find to do in order to support herself and her children.

 I loved my Paw McDonald.  I was the apple of his eye and I knew it.  If I wanted it and it was in his power to give it to me, it was mine!  We used to sit together in his rocker and watch TV or just talk or eat.  He would perch me on his lap and tickle me, or wedge me in beside him as we shared a bowl of popcorn and watched TV.

He was always laughing and picking on me or my sisters.  He took my side no matter what; I always knew Paw would stand up for me.  I once picked up the plug from an extension cord that had somehow ended up in the yard.  It was wet with dew.  I hid it and went into the back bedroom and shoved it into the outlet with the bare wires pushed into the palm of my hand.

Well, of course, the power knocked me across the room and scared me witless!  Momma was immediately there, scolding me out of pure fear for what could have happened.  Paw came in, picked me up and cradled me in his arms.  He took me to 'our' chair and held me on his lap as I cried and Momma checked my hand over.

He rocked me for what seemed like hours afterwards, but was probably only minutes.  He asked Momma not to fuss at me and told her it was his fault because he should never have let the thing be in the grass!  As soon as I was feeling better, he announced that I had been a good girl and now we were going for ice cream!  He and Maw loaded me and my sisters into the pick up and off we went to the store for bought ice cream!  That was a real treat for us because we usually only had home made ice cream.  Isn't it funny how that changes as we grow older?! 

Seeing my Paw lifeless on their living room couch was one of the memories of my childhood that haunted me for years into my adult life.  Paw didn't have an easy life.  His own Dad died before he was born. He went to work by age 12 to help support himself, his Momma and his sister.  He walked 12-15 miles every Sunday afternoon to sleep in the back room of a paper plant, where he would work Monday through Friday, then walk back home again on Friday night so he could give his pay to his Momma and help on the farm on Saturday and Sunday.

He loved his family in the only way he understood...he worked hard and made sure they always had everything they needed.  They didn't have all they wanted, but they never lacked for the things they needed.  When Daddy went to Germany, he held my Maw together while Daddy was so far from home.  A relative told me once that she and her family would most likely have starved had it not been for Uncle Herbert and Aunt Lean (what they called my Maw McDonald).  

Her husband had a lazy streak and wouldn't work.  Paw would help them and give them food he and Maw had raised.  He would quite literally whip his grown nephew in order to try to get him to go out and work to support his family.  He was eventually successful.  The nephew went North to work for Caterpillar and soon sent for his family.  They remained there and he was quite successful in providing a good life for his family.

He raised three sons of his own and taught them to work hard, respect others and provide for their families.  He wasn't a church going man, but held a belief in a God that created him and blessed him with all he had.  He loved to watch The Gospel Jubilee on Sunday morning; thought there was no one on this earth who could out sing Vestal Goodman!  Conversely, he absolutely thrilled at watching wrestling on Saturday afternoons!  I can still see him perched on the edge of his rocker and physically air fighting with his fists as he watched and rooted for his favorite wrestler.  Watching him was much more fun than the silly wrestling!

I will always miss Paw.  It has been 45 years and I was only 8, but my memories of him remain vivid in my mind's eye.  I can see his grin, hear his chuckle and the sound of his voice as he talked.  I would not be the person I am today had Paw not been a part of my life.

“Honor your father and mother.”
This is the first commandment with a promise:
If you honor your father and mother,
“things will go well for you,
and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
by the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up with the discipline
and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6: 2-4  (NLT)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


What a blessing it would be if
Dads could see themselves through the eyes of their children.

I don't know about you, but this is most certainly the view I had of my Daddy as a child.  As I aged, I learned he wasn't a superhero, not even close; he was something much better.  He was human and helped me learn that God loves me just the way I am.  He wasn't, and isn't, perfect but he gave it his best and that's all God asks or expects from any of us. 

November 2010

I love you Daddy.  Happy Father's Day!

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
by the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up with the discipline
and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4 NLT

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Endless Love......

My heart is heavy today.....

Our Wedding Day

 On the evening of this day, 36 years ago, I married my best friend, my soul mate, My Endless Love.  He went to be with Jesus much sooner than either of us had every dared imagine.  I could not imagine my life without him.  It remains the single most difficult thing I have ever release him to our Lord, to allow our love to live into eternity.

I will never stop missing him or loving him.  It has been nearly 29 months since his home going and I still miss him so badly the pain is actually physical at times.  I long to see his face, his smile, to look into his eyes, to hear his voice and feel his gentle touch.  In my dreams he remains young and strong and ever with me.  I do not say I will never love again, but any other love will never compare to the love we shared.

Christmas 2000
Only 8 short months after the accident that changed our lives forever.

So, Happy Anniversary in heaven Terry. 

You will always be My Endless Love.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prayers Are Needed................

Connie & Dave
July 2010

I would like to ask each of you to remember a very precious sister in prayer today, tomorrow and in the days ahead. Connie and her soul mate, her dear husband, are facing a battle. Her precious husband, Dave, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Preliminary tests have shown the cancer to already have spread beyond the confines of the prostate. Just how much it has spread will not be fully known until after surgery. Dave is having surgery on Tuesday morning.

Please pray for Dave, Connie and their precious family as they face the days ahead. Pray for healing according the perfect will of the Lord, for strength and for wisdom for the medical personnel as they approach this ordeal. Connie just lost her Mom a couple of weeks ago and Dave lost his Dad just a few short months back. They have been through trials and have remained constant in their devotion to the Lord and to each other. It would bless my heart to know each of you are praying for them as they face this battle.

Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray.
Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.
Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church
to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil
in the name of the Lord.
The prayer offered by those who have faith
will make you well. The Lord will heal you...
...Pray for one another so that you might be healed.
The prayer of a godly person is powerful.
It makes things happen.
Elijah was just like us. He prayed hard that it wouldn't rain.
And it didn't rain on the land for three and a half years.
Then he prayed again. That time it rained.
And the earth produced its crops.

James 5: 13-18  (NIRV)

 Godly people cry out, and the Lord hears them.
He saves them from all of their troubles.
The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken.
He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
Anyone who does what is right may have many troubles.
But the Lord saves him from all of them.

Psalm 34:17-19  (NIRV)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Believe..............

"That the people you care about most in life
are taken from you much too soon."

Wow!  Amen to that one!  I'm pretty sure I've never heard someone say "Well, I loved him/her dearly, but I was sure ready to give them up."  We are never ready for those whom we love to leave us.  They may have been with us for many, many years, but we continue to desire their presence in our daily lives.  The more we love them, the more we dread the day of their parting.   And yet, part we must for life is a finite experience.  We are born and we die, that is the way it is.  I'm not at all certain that's the way God planned it from the beginning, but it is the way it must be due to our own failings.

I have sat quietly the bedside of so many loved ones as they approached that parting, some of whom I felt were surely prepared to meet the Lord; others whom I had grave questions about.  It is so much easier to face that parting when we can feel assured of the preparation our loved one has made with the Lord.  I've never felt greater pain than when I was unsure as to whether my loved one had made peace with the Lord.

Conversely, one the greatest joys I've ever known was to sit with my Momma as she approached her crossing with the calm assurance of one who has made that preparation and who has been serving the Lord for many years.  It was the same with my Maw McDonald, who had so wanted to go home for a good while before her crossing.

I sat with my husband as he approached his crossing.  I so did not want him to go, but I knew he was going and I knew he would be better off.  As difficult as it was, it was also a sacred moment when he made that final step into eternity.  My sisters and I stood at his bedside and allowed our pain to wash out in tears as we praised the Lord because one of His children was now at rest, never to suffer again.

I now sit watching my Daddy.  His body grows weaker every day; he slips a bit closer to his crossing with every breath he takes.  Those breaths now come more labored and he sleeps much of the time.  I see him giving way to that pull from beyond our sight.  Although it makes me sad, it also lifts my soul with joy.  He has suffered so much and been so lonely since Momma went home.  I understand that loneliness.  As much as I don't want to say goodbye, I know he will be so much better off.

So, I prepare myself for deaths next visit to my house.  I've walked this road before; it still is not easy.  So little of life is easy, but it is all so worth the effort.  To be able to give back just a small part of the sacrifice Daddy made for me has been such a precious and sweet experience to me.  Of course, there have been hard days, days when the frustration overshadowed the joy.  That is all a natural part of the 'letting go' process.  Overall, the joys have far outweighed the pain.

I feel it won't be long for Daddy and I pray I am right.  I don't want to see him suffer and I know the greatest healing of all is that crossing into eternal rest in the presence of our Lord.  So, I await deaths visit,not with joy, but with the hope of one who knows Jesus Christ and who knows there will be a reunion day after which Daddy and I will never be parted again.  Praise Jesus!

 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know
about those Christians who have died
so you will not be sad, as others who have no hope.
We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again.
So, because of him, God will raise with Jesus
those who have died.
What we tell you now is the Lord's own message.
We who are living when the Lord comes again
will not go before those who have already died.
The Lord himself will come down from heaven
with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trumpet call of God.
And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive
will be gathered up with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
And we will be with the Lord forever.
So encourage each other with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

Friday, June 10, 2011

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage.....

Brian K. Eppers & Katie Gwen Watkins Eppers
June 10, 2000

Eleven years ago on this date, the man of my niece's dreams took her to be his bride.  I have to tell you, I don't think either of them could have made a better choice!  They are both precious, loving people who have given each other opportunities to grow in ways each perhaps could not have known had they not been together.

Cutting the Groom's cake.

They were so young and so in love.  As Katie walked down the aisle on the arm of her Dad, Brian stood at the altar with tears streaming down his face.  I have never been so touched in my life as I was to see him so humble and so obviously in love with our Blonde Bombshell! 

It was obvious to me he would be my nephew early in their relationship.  Katie had allowed Brian to protect her, something she had never done with any other guy she had dated.  She had always been very independent.  When she allowed Brian to take over and drive the two of them from their campus in Texas during a winter storm for Christmas 1998, I knew he was the one.

Katie & Brian K-I-S-S-I-N-G under the tree!

 They have faced trials together.  Brain joined the military and trained to become an MP.  He was gone for the usual Basics, then for an additional period of training and was barely home when he was notified he would be deployed to Iraq.  Their youngest, Jaden, turned one in October 2003 while Brian was training and barely saw him until he returned home in December 2005 after his tour of duty in Iraq. 

They moved from Middle Tennessee to Mason City, IA and then back down to Des Moines, IA.  In the meantime, Brian changed his specialty from Medic to Medical NCO as a member of a Civil Support Team, Weapons of Mass Destruction with the Dept. of Homeland Security.  Katie has worked to gain her degree and has become the Leasing Agent for Highpointe Properties in Norwalk. 

Alix Joy, Brian, Katie & Jaden Isaac Eppers
May 2010

They now have two beautiful children, Alix and Jaden, and have a good life together.  Brian is continuing his education and working toward a degree in psychology.  They have weathered a health scare with their daughter and have grown even closer as a family and as a couple.  They serve together on the Praise & Worship team for their church, Crossroads Church, in Norwalk.

I pray they will have many, many wonderful years ahead of them.  I love them with my whole heart and know they love me.  What better can a person wish for than to know they are loved by those whom they love?!



Jesus replied,
"Haven't you read that in the beginning the Creator
'made them male and female'?—(Genesis 1:27)
He said,
'That's why a man will leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife.
The two will become one.'—(Genesis 2:24)
They are no longer two, but one.
So a man must not separate what God has joined together."

Matthew 19: 4-6

"But suppose you don't want to serve him.
Then choose for yourselves right now whom you will serve.
You can choose the gods your people served
east of the Euphrates River.
Or you can choose the gods the Amorites serve.
After all, you are living in their land.
But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."

Joshua 24: 15

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Surrender All....

"All to Jesus I surrender...."

As hard as I try, I am often such a failure at living what I teach!  On this past Sunday, my sister and I were asked to fill-in for our Sunday School teachers who were planning a trip out of town.  We both accepted the request joyfully and I looked forward to teaching with her. 

When I began to study the lesson, I admit to thinking it would be an easy lesson to teach.  It was all about how all we have, in any capacity, belongs to God from the beginning.  Whatever we give to Him is only being returned to it's original owner.  Whether it be our time, our energy, our talent, our resources, our steadfastness of all belonged to Him from the beginning.  It was gifted to us by Him.

I have believed that for so many years and have tried diligently practice it.  I admit to having faltered at times, but as a general rule, I have no trouble giving to the Lord.  Just let me say that that should have been my first warning.  When we think we are so secure and so dedicated to the Lord, we are sure to be put into a position to see just how true, or untrue, our perception is.

I sat down to pay some bills online on Sunday evening.  I gathered my bills, opened up my banking account on my laptop program and was ready to go.  Oh, but I had forgotten to retrieve my flash drive...the one that stored my account numbers, passwords, etc.  I went to the place I usually keep these only to find it was not there.  I looked everywhere I thought I might have put it, only to be disappointed at each stop.  I couldn't find it anywhere.

I began to panic.  You see, not only is my account information stored on that drive, so are picture files of several different occasions.  The most important was a file that contained the last pictures I ever took of Terry before he went home to be with Jesus.  My account information will be a pain to retrieve, but it can be done.  Other information contained on the drive, such as recipes and health care records, can also be retrieved.  Some of the photos have been copied to other files in other locations, but for the most part, those pictures only existed on that drive in that file.

I was heart broken .  I turned things upside down here several different times and still did not find the drive.  I called my sister and asked her to be praying about it.  She assured me she would do so and reminded me that the Lord gives us the desires of our heart. Every time I thought of it, I would become physically ill because of the pictures I lost. 

I continued to search all day Monday and Tuesday with no new discoveries.  Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, I posted to my online Sisters and asked them to pray as well.  They responded with assurances of prayer and reminded me, just as my sister had, that God gives us the desires of our heart.  I continued to search.

As I was searching, the Lord began to speak to my heart, gently reminding me of the Sunday School lesson.  I must confess I didn't want to be reminded of it, particularly at that moment in time.  I wouldn't say I was angry, just heart broken. 

As I stilled myself and got quiet with the Lord, I listened as He spoke words of comfort to my heart and wept as he passed images of Terry before my mind.  He reminded me that all was not lost, that He owned all that was contained on that drive.  He would deliver the memories of Terry that I needed to comfort me as I needed them.  I can depend on Him and I will NEVER lose Him!

I would be lying if I said it didn't still bother me, but it's not the burden on my heart that it was.  I relearned an old lesson, the secret is in surrender.  I cannot have peace unless I surrender everything I am and have to the Lord.  Nothing in my life is mine, it is on loan to me by the Creator God who loves me without beginning or end.  His love has no boundaries and is not hindered by my own doubts.  I am hindered when I doubt, but His love for me is not.

So, as I sit here typing, know that the Lord who gave His life's blood for me cares about everything that I care about.  When I hurt, He hurts.  The things that cause me pain and the pain I feel can be relieved and I can be comforted when I surrender all to Him.  What an amazing and awesome God we serve!

In the words of  the hymn "I Surrender All" penned by Judson W. Van DeVenter in 1896:

"All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to thee my precious Savior, I surrender all!"

In the words of Peter the Apostle from his first letter the churches of Asia Minor:

"So don't be proud. Put yourselves under God's mighty hand.
Then he will honor you at the right time.
Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you.
Control yourselves. Be on your guard.
Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion.
He prowls around looking for someone
to chew up and swallow.
Stand up to him.
Stand firm in what you believe..."

1 Peter 5: 6 - 9a   (NIRV)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Believe......................

"That no matter how bad your heart is broken,
the world doesn't stop for your grief."

This is, unfortunately, so true.  When Momma died, even Terry couldn't always offer the comfort I needed.  He tried, very hard.  But even his best efforts were sometimes short of what my heart needed.  As much as I loved him and shared everything with him, he still could not reach into the depths of my heart and experience the loss as I did.

When Terry died, my family circled around me.  They took care of me and tried so hard to offer comfort.  Their love was a balm for my wounded spirit, but it could not experience my loss as I did.  They could not experience the emptiness of looking across the room and knowing I would never again see Terry sitting in his chair or hear him calling my name or see his smile or the glint of devilment often present in his eyes as he teased me.  As much as they loved me, they could not feel the pain I was feeling.

When those we love experience loss, we want so badly to say the right words, do the right things, be where we should be when we should be there in order to help them and comfort them.  However, we fall short.  It is through no fault of our own.  We are finite humans dwelling among finite humans.  As much as we love each other and want to offer comfort, our abilities are limited by our understanding.  Even when we ourselves have experienced loss, we lack the ability to understand the pain of others because each of us experiences pain differently.  What works for one does not always work for another.  It is both the blessing and the curse of individuality.

So, where are we to turn when we need comfort, consolation, restoration and healing from pain and grief?  Only one answer can truly satisfy our needs........JESUS.  He understands us because He is a part of the triune God who created us.  He sees into the deepest recesses of our hearts and souls and knows our pain.  Not only does He know our pain, but He only possesses the ability to soothe our pain and give us comfort and healing while restoring our joy.

If your heart is broken, won't you turn to Jesus to find true healing and restoration? He's waiting for you and wants to help you, but He will not push himself on you.  He will only come when you invite his presence.

He heals those who have broken hearts.
He takes care of their wounds.
He decides how many stars there should be.
He gives each one of them a name.
Great is our Lord. His power is mighty.
There is no limit to his understanding.
The Lord gives strength to those who aren't proud.
But he throws evil people down to the ground.

The Lord takes delight in those who have respect for him.
They put their hope in his faithful love.

Psalm 147: 3-6, 11  (NIRV)