Monthly Archives: July 2015

Honoring The Memory: God Is Bigger Than Alzheimers’ Disease

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, “Cornelius.” And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it Lord?” And he said unto him, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:1-4, King James Version)

Honoring The Memory. On behalf of the family, I’d like to thank for coming to honor the memory of our mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister-in-law, aunt, and friend, Eva Robertson.  Honoring the memory. On a day like today, the memories come flooding back to comfort and to cheer. We remember family reunions, Christmases, Easters, Thanksgivings, birthdays, Sunday dinners, and plain-old-every-day days. On each of those occasions we remember her clearly saying, “We have enough food to feed Cox’s army.” I never knew much about Cox’s army, but she was sure we could have fed them all. We remember the smell of breakfast cooking, eggs, bacon, coffee, toast, and Kellogg’s Special K. We remember FRIED CHICKEN, mercy oh my, could she fry chicken! In her kitchen is a plaque that says, “No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best.” Her kitchen was a special place, a loving place, a safe place.

Honoring The Memory. We remember her sacrifice, her hard work, and her love. We remember when she and her whole family attended a revival at Hickory Church and were saved. We remember when the indoor plumbing was installed at the farm, and when we went away from home or to school for the first time. She was there with a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement or discipline when we were sick, sad, frightened, or tired. We remember her listening ear. We remember her as a Sunday School teacher.

Honoring The Memory. We remember her installation as an officer of the Eastern Star, and how she looked like a princess or queen in her regal flowing white gown.

Honoring The Memory. I remember a particular kindness. When Hickory Church celebrated its 100th anniversary, we ate dinner on the grounds, outside in the back lot among the old hickory and oak trees. She remembered who brought what dish. At the end of dinner, when we were cleaning up, she asked me to hold a strawberry pie, one from which not a single piece had been taken. As she proceeded to remove two pieces of the pie to take home in her own container, she explained, “Reverend so-and-so brought this pie, and his feelings will be hurt if no one eats it. So I’ll take a couple of pieces home with me.” She thought about the small things that mattered to other people.

Honoring The Memory. We remember the rubber-ball-paddle in her apron pocket that was seldom used on little boys (and girls) who could not, or would not, avoid splashing and playing around the big mud hole in the driveway that couldn’t ever be filled in.  Only one cousin was ever struck by that paddle, and it became his inheritance when she passed.

Honoring The Memory. I remember, when I was 12 or 13 years old, Reverend Cullison had been preaching a lot of Bible prophecy and about the rapture of the church. One day I awoke from a nap to find myself all alone at home. I immediately panicked and thought I’d been left behind. In my panic, I called Mamaw – I knew if she picked up the phone that I hadn’t been left behind.  Rarely have I been so glad to hear someone’s voice on the phone!

Honoring The Memory. When the Dugger charge of the Methodist church changed it’s mission to raising preacher men from preacher boys, she joined with many of you all in that process of informal, invaluable instruction. Her kitchen table served as place of counseling, advising, and as a seminary classroom for many of these preacher boys and for many of us here today. I’ve read a lot of different theologians over the years, smart guys and gals who read and studied about God.  Eva Robertson, on the other hand, read her Bible and could teach it well because she didn’t know about God, she knew the Author on a real close and personal first Name basis.  I remember her prayers. It seemed as if God put all of eternity on pause, turned His head, and said, “Excuse me, that’s Eva praying.”

Honoring The Memory. Alzheimer’s strips your memories away. It’s a cruel and torturous disease.  Memories of each kindness you all have offered to Eva over the years, and the love she offered you in return, may seem, at this moment, forgotten and stripped away by this terrible disease. From the story of Cornelius, above, we can learn a few things that apply today. Cornelius was a gentile, separated by law from God. His heart and his actions, on the other hand, were not separated from God at all. Instead, God remembered his deeds, his actions, and his heart of faith. Later on in the same chapter of Acts, all Cornelius’ questions are answered, and he and his entire household come to a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Honoring The Memory. While what I’m about to say may not be theologically sound, I take great comfort in the picture, a great deal of personal comfort. Today, Eva Robertson stands before her Maker in Whose Son she trusted. That same Heavenly Father who remembered Cornelius has also stored up Eva’s memories, the good ones of course. I believe that Mamaw’s memories of all the special times, the courageous times, the happy times, the faithful times were waiting in the heart and hands of God. God called her to His throne, placed a hand on each side of her lovely smiling face, and gently said, “Here, Eva, I’ve saved these memories for you.” And He restored these memories to her. She is safe, happy, healthy and home. Her knees don’t hurt anymore, she has her memories, she isn’t afraid any more, and she is okay. She is in a place so clean, so perfect, and so beautiful that we can’t imagine what it would be like.

Again, thanks for coming today to honor the memory of Eva Robertson. Your gracious presence is a great comfort to us all.

Eulogy delivered at her funeral.  May you find comfort in the thought that God is storing up memories and restoring them for you and your loved one(s).

Two Hands

I’m blessed to have two healthy hands.  They have been scarred by scrapes, cuts, fish hooks, the ends of musical instrument strings, blackberry thorns, blisters, and chores; under a black light, you can see all the scars as white marks.  Otherwise, my hands work quite well for most of the things I do, except music.  At this point, I confess to the sin of envy.  I’ve envied the accuracy, skills, and speed of my musical heroes (in no particular order) on guitar (John Wheat, Mark Sloan, Nik Sloan, Kenny Brock, Earl Robertson, Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Kerry Livgren, Tom Scholz, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Eric Clapton, Edward R. Van Halen, Chet Atkins, Chris Konkoy, Jerry Reed, Paul Bertsch, Dave Tyra, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Joe Walsh, Don Francisco, Dan Crary, Doyle Dykes, Louie Popejoy, Joe Perry, Roger Gilmore, Mario Widel, Keith Richards, and Ranger Doug, Darryl Jones), banjo (John Wheat, Earl Scruggs, CW Mundy, JD Crowe, Roy Clark, Louie Popejoy), mandolin (John Wheat, Doyle Lawson, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Louie Popejoy) and bass (Neal Edward Wagner, Timothy B. Schmidt, Billy Sheehan).  Despite hours of practice and dedication, lessons, books, and YouTube videos, frustration often haunts me because I can’t play like [insert name here].  At times, I’ve been so frustrated that I considered going to my workshop, pulling out a hammer, and “punishing” my fingers for not delivering up to those high standards and expectations.  Dear readers, I’m certain that some enterprising counselor could help with, or pharmaceutical company makes a drug for, my disordered thinking.  Envy will do that for you.

A story in a recent presentation by one of my guitar heroes has changed my thinking forever.   We all know that the arts have power, and music has a special power, to unlock hearts and minds, to help us feel and think differently.  Because of that power, in some parts of the world, extremists who fear independent thoughts and feelings have initiated a campaign to amputate the hands of artists, especially musicians.   In defiance of that horror, I declare today that I will play to the best of my ability for those who can no longer  do so.  I invite you to courageously join in this effort.