On May 22, Brad and I headed east for South Fulton, TN. My nephew C4 married Casey on Saturday. It was a great occasion. We celebrated with them and their families at a rehersal dinner on Friday night and then on the Saturday that they exchanged their vows.
During our travels and with our family in we were in constant prayer for our friends John and Margaret Dobbs. On the Friday of C4 and Casey's rehersal, John and Margaret buried their son John Robert. It was the day that John Robert was supposed to graduate from Pascagoula High School.
On Satuday after the wedding, Brad and I headed south towards I-40 to make the trip back home. As we approached West Memphis on I-55 we got a call from JeannaLynn. Pauline Hardwick, the mother of our great friend Martha Skelton had passed away in Cleveland, TN. We lived in Cleveland before our move to Yukon. Martha and her husband Dean were our best friends there. Martha's mom was close to our hearts, too. Martha wanted us to come to Cleveland for her funeral.
Brad and I drove back to South Fulton, spent Saturday night and went to the morning assembly at my brother's church. Afterwards, we headed north and east on the Purchase Parkway, drove south on I-24 through God's beautiful Land Between the Lakes, picked up JeannaLynn at the Nashville airport, and then finished out the drive to Cleveland. We comforted and got comfort from our friends at Pauline's funeral on Tuesday, May 27 and then made the trip home, arriving mid-day Wednesday.
On Saturday, JeannaLynn and I drove west out of Yukon to the Berlin Cemetary just west of Sayre, OK. On May 4, 2008 Tim Hartman was flying with a good friend and three other passengers out of Wiley Post airport in Oklahoma City. The small jet flew into some birds over a lake near the runway causing the plane's engines to fail. Tim, our friend and missions deacon, died in the crash of that jet along with the co-pilot, Rick, and the three passengers they were transporting.
Tim's remains were released nearly three months after the crash. We were driving to Berlin Cememtary to bury his remains. Nearly 1000 people came to Tim's memorial service in May. This gathering was a small one - mostly family, and a couple of friends including us.
We talked about how the resurrection of Jesus proves that we don't have to keep looking down once dust has returned to dust. Instead, we look out and we look up. We released some silvery-white balloons. Three of them symbolizing for us the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and one with Tim's name written on it. Audra, Tim's wife released that balloon. We all watched as they ascended into the heavens - together. Matt and Mark, Tim and Audra's sons, are great young men.
Audra received an answer to prayer that Saturday. Along with Tim's remains, there was a box of Tim's belongings. This box contained the items found at the crash site that could be identified as Tim's. Audra had been praying that Tim's wedding ring had been found - and it had! She clutched it tight and we all rejoiced with her.
I'm including here a picture of C4 and Casey experiencing a real Cayman Islands sunset, a picture of Pauline, another of Tim, and a picture that Tim's son Mark made in memory of his dad. I'm also including a couple of videos. One that I got from John Dobb's Blog, "Hope Remains" in which Mercy Me is sing "Homesick." The second video is from a song played at Tim's funeral: "Better Hands Now."
One of the things I love best about life is getting heart to heart with family. One of the things I like most about ministry is getting heart to heart with people like Pauline, Dean and Martha (and their sons and families), Tim and Audra and their family, and John and Margaret and their family; even though that closeness leads us often to common places of pain. One of these days, it will all be about celebrating and those of us who have hurt together will laugh together forever "and we will dwell in the house of the Lord...forever".