Monday, January 28, 2019

The Tipping Point?

In 2008 my daughter-in-law, who has lived her entire life with Cystic Fibrosis (a disease inherited from parents who were carriers of the gene) found herself at the point of being put on the lung transplant list at Duke University Medical Center.  Adding to her dire condition was her pregnancy.  She wasn’t supposed to get pregnant.  Her doctors warned her not to get pregnant.  And after years of trying, she and my son assumed she was unable to conceive due to her disease. 

But, on the eve of a scheduled trip to Duke to be evaluated and likely placed on the transplant list she discovered she was, indeed, pregnant.  The next day the doctors expressed their dismay.  One even cursed when hearing the news. The obstetrician there said she had never recommended termination before.  But this time she said, “You can’t risk your life like this.  You need to abort.”  Due to their deeply held conviction that life is sacred, especially in the womb, they told their doctors, “No.”

In January 2008 she was at the place where her diseased lungs could no longer supply her with the oxygen she needed.  The growing child inside her (not part of her body, but housed within her) only exacerbated the limited air her lungs could take in.  So, the plan was to intubate her, putting her on a ventilator to breathe for her.  The doctors told her this had never been done at Duke – placing a pregnant patient in need of a transplant on a ventilator.  In fact, they told her by doing this, her chances for receiving a transplant were near impossible.  Again, it had never been done.

Less than an hour before the surgery to ventilate her she and my son were told they had to make a choice.  If her vitals dropped to dangerous lows during surgery, who should be saved, mother or baby?  They were told that if she began to crash, they would perform a Caesarian.  But there were no guarantees that either would/could survive.

We hear a lot of arguments for terminating a pregnancy revolving around protecting the life of the mother.  With that rationale no one had a greater justification for aborting than my daughter-in-law.  The baby was just barely 24 weeks. 

Prior to going to surgery our son and his wife called my wife and me into her room in ICU.  “What do we do?”  I don’t know that I’ve ever been asked a harder question.  But my belief is that God alone has the authority to determine life and death.  So, to the doctors’ question their response was, “Do everything you can to save them both”.   

My granddaughter was born just after noon, weighing in at 1 lb. 6 oz.  Her chances of survival were slim.  Her mother was successfully intubated and place on a ventilator.  Her chances were equally small.  Nearly three months later she would “write the book” at Duke and receive new lungs.  Four months later her daughter would be released from the NICU to come home, and today she is a beautiful 5th grader. 

Life’s not fair.  Sometimes the choices we must make are next to impossible.  But, we’re not God, who alone can accomplish the impossible.  He’s the same God who declares that He created us knew us when we were in our mothers’ wombs. 

Readers of my column, my blog and those who have heard me preach know where I stand on the the abortion issue.  For me, it is not a political hot-potato as much as it is a moral and ethical issue.  Of course, being a man whose faith has determined my personal worldview, and whose faith is grounded on the concept of absolute truth, I clearly see the abortion of pre-born as a violation of the basic building block of our society that every man and woman has the right to life.

Lest someone suggest that I sit in some sort of ivory tower without the experience or understanding of life circumstances that might justify the termination of a pregnancy, please know that because of my family, I have been up close and personal with the options -   closer than I would ever want or choose to be.

I believe we have reached a tipping point in our country.  The state of New York has now legalized abortion up to the point of birth at full term.  In New York, convicted murderers cannot be put to death.  But now, unwanted, innocent children can be and will be. 

Reaction will either be for other states to follow their lead or for this national sin to be reversed.  Our soul, our future is in dire jeopardy if this is allowed to continue.  May God have mercy on us.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

First Date: Hoops and Pizza

Monday, January 26, 1976.  Forty-three years ago. 

She must have picked me up, since she owned a car and I did not.  It was a yellow ‘71 VW Bug.  She insisted I drive.  Old-school.  I learned to drive a stick on a VW my senior year of high school.  My friend Don owned one.  They’re actually a lot of fun to drive.  Later that year I bought my own yellow VW bug.  It was a lemon for sure.

So I drove to Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, about a 15 minute drive.

I really don’t remember much about the game.  The only thing I remember about being there with her was the lady who sat behind us commented on how pretty her hair was.  If you’ve seen pictures of Gail from college you know she had long brown hair.  Gail was tall - 5’8” and slender.  I’m 5’10”, so I felt a bit short next to her.  The lady was right.  Too bad she couldn’t see her green eyes.

Mission accomplished, I guess.  That guy never did ask her out again.  The decoy must have worked because another guy did ask her out.  He also took her to a basketball game (we had free admission).  But that was only a one time thing.

After the game we went to Duffy’s on Old Forest Road for pizza.  It was a rainy night, and from the walk from the gym to the car, then from the car to the restaurant we got wet.  “I’m going to the bathroom to dry my hair”.  They had hand dryers in the restrooms and a few minutes later she came out with her hair dried.  I would never had thought of such a thing.  But then, I didn’t have long hair.

We ordered a pizza and talked.  I don’t remember about what.  But it was all friend to friend kind of stuff.  I drove back to my house, got out of the car and she got back into the driver’s seat and drove off.  I think we both had fun.

The End.

Sort of.  

Until just a couple of years ago Gail and I never knew the date of our first date.  Some couples apparently keep track of such things.  But, not us.  We don’t know the date I proposed or when I gave her a ring, although I might be able to figure one or both of them out.  

But a couple of years ago I got curious.  Knowing we went to a basketball game on a rainy night in January gave me a good benchmark.  Using the internet I searched for the basketball schedule and then the home games.  At the same time I found a site that gives weather history and found rainy days in that month.  Then it was just a matter of finding the two that matched: basketball game on a rainy night.  The only one was January 26.

Our plan for this January 26 is to go out and eat pizza.  Maybe a movie, too.  It’s too far to drive to Lynchburg for a basketball game.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Where does the blame belong?

Yesterday both houses in the New York legislature approved a bill that ultimately allows abortion up to the point of birth.  It's a horrible, immoral law. 

News feeds are showing pictures of Gov. Cuomo signing the legislation, making it the law of the state.  Both he and the NY state Senate and Assembly are being demonized by pro-life organizations, news outlets and individuals.  But, they're the tip of the iceberg.

None of those who voted for this bill nor the governor who signed it into law could have done so without being placed into their offices by the voters of New York.  The weight of the blame falls on the citizens, either those who support this kind of legislation or those who do not, but did not use their right to vote for those who support life.

And the same is true nation-wide.  We have a government "of the people", and it wields its greatest power in the ballot box.  That's where all this begins.  Not in protests and marches.  It changes with the vote.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

First Date: the ask

When we met in November Gail was coming off of an on-again-off-again long term relationship.  Not being in the same social circles at school we had not met prior to my becoming her co-worker.  I might have bought a donut or two from her my freshman year when the cheerleaders sold donuts in the dorm to raise funds, but I don’t remember.  I did, however, know who she was, since she had cheered my first two years at school.  And it was a small school in those days, not much bigger (or smaller) than most high schools.  Everyone knew who the cheerleaders were.  

We weren’t much more than acquaintances from our time working together before the holidays.
So, it wasn’t my business, nor did I know that she was unattached romantically.  And, honestly, as I said in the earlier post, I wasn’t interested.  But, she was coming off an on again-off again relationship of a couple years when we met. 

After finals, Christmas break came and I got lots of extra hours at work.  The other students were gone for the holidays, and being a local resident with nowhere to go, I worked.  For Gail, it was probably the first Christmas in a long time when she didn’t have a boyfriend.  My hunch is that during that week or two while she was at home she came up with a plan.  Unbeknownst to me, I was part of the scheme.

Such are the wiles of a woman.

After her break-up she had been out with another guy, but it wasn’t anything she wanted to continue.  Like most young ladies, who struggle with telling a guy “thanks, but no thanks”, she wanted to let it be known that she was not in a committed relationship to anyone.  And how would she do that?  Oh, yeah. The plan. (At least this is how I surmise what happened.)

So, it’s after Christmas break, sometime in January, and I get asked this question: “Would you go with me to a basketball game so others can see I’m not dating so and so.”  In essence I was a decoy.  IF (big IF) she had any interest in me at all, I had no clue.  You’ll have to ask her,  I saw it as an opportunity to do a friend a favor.  And honestly, I wanted to hear from my friends when they saw me at the game with Gail.  As one later asked me, “Aren’t you a bit out of your league?”.  

I’ve never played bush league anything.

So, I agreed to escort her to the game at Jefferson Forest High School, where Liberty Baptist College played its home games.  

No big deal. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

First Date: How we met

Mostly for my kids.  

The older I get the more I appreciate writing down stories for them...stories that tell our heritage.  Actually, I’m discovering that I enjoy writing them down and telling them for my own enjoyment.  I’ve always been a history freak, ever since my great-grandfather (born in 1883) would sit me on his knee and tell me about being in the Marines during the Boxer Rebellion at the very end of the 19th century.  His tales not only captured my imagination as a boy, but gave me knowledge about my roots that I otherwise probably would not have known.

If you’re not my kid, you are welcome to read my meanderings about the life God has given Gail and I over the past 40 plus years.  

This coming weekend she and I will celebrate our very first “date”.  I put quotation marks around it because it’s purpose wasn’t for us to get to know each other better, hoping for a continued dating relationship.  Not at all.  

I was at the time in a long-distance relationship with a girl I had met the previous summer while doing an internship in Florida.  And that relationship was growing stronger, even though since summer we would only see each other for a few days in December when she came to visit.  I already had a girlfriend, thank you.

In November of 1975 I was a 20-year old unemployed junior in college.  A job would have been great, but I was carrying a full load of classes, was living at home and wasn’t overly ambitious to go out and find one.  So, I was broke. And broke at 20 means (among other things) no social life other than the occasional pickup basketball game at the gym.    

My mom worked in a doctor’s office.  She came home one day to tell me that one of the patients, a sales associate at JC Penney mentioned to her that the store was looking to hire in their shoe department.  The busy Christmas season was cranking up, and they needed extra help.  I had worked my senior year of high school selling shoes for Kinney Shoes in Alexandria, so mom said something like, “You should go over there and apply”.  

Having no car was not an issue.  Pittman Plaza shopping center, where Penney’s was located was just about 4 blocks from our home.  So, I applied, got interviewed and was hired.  Having occasionally shopped there, I was somewhat motivated to go for the job since I knew that there were three or four LBC coeds working there, and all were cute girls.  As fate would have it, one of them quit after Christmas break, so I was given her job.  Thanks, Betsy

It was there, selling shoes that Gail Ballentine and I became friends.