Dead or Alive

“Pauline!” I smiled as Mom’s caregiver had to shout to get her attention since she can’t hear out of her right ear. Tom and I sat on the couch, getting ready to go into town.

“Pauline!” I heard again, this time with a tinge of panic in her voice.

“Do you mean me?”

“Yes. And come now!”

Running into her room, I searched Mom’s face. It was a combination of fear and panic, then as I watched, her eyes glazed over.

“Quick! We’ve got to get the food out of her mouth! Pull her up and hit her on her back!”

I complied—numb.

Tom ran in, climbed on the back of mom’s bed and tried to pull her up. Her body slumped back like a ragdoll. Her lips were blue as were her fingernails.

We continued to beat on her back.

“I can’t feel her pulse!” Tonya said.

We raised her arms as Tonya continued to try and unlock Mom’s mouth.

“I think she’s seizing! Let’s turn her on her left side,” Tonya shouted.

As she lay on her side, I thought This is it. Ninety-five years on this earth and it will end in a matter of minutes.

Then I remembered the Living Will Mom and I had filled out. She’d answered yes when the social worker had asked her if she’d like her family to hold her hand, play music, and express their love while she was dying.

“Tom, put on Christmas music.” I pulled a chair close to her good ear and stroked her hand. “Mom, I love you,” I said over and over again as tears coursed down my cheeks.

I cried out to God. I’m not even sure what I said. Then Mom gasped. Her eyes, which were dull and unfocused flitted and stared at me.

I sobbed.

A few minutes later, she moved her arm.

The Hospice nurse arrived to check Mom over. We’re not sure what happened, but whatever it was, it was quick.

It’s hard to catch your breath after that.

It’s not that I’m afraid of my mother dying. I know she’s going to heaven. By God’s grace and His Son’s sacrificial death, heaven is my eternal destination, too.

It just made me think.

For a while, my mother was suspended between heaven and earth—and it all happened so fast.

The Bible says this, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

So according to the Bible, we are all dead spiritually. It’s God who makes us alive in Christ.

We do need to do something. Cry out. Admit that we have trespassed or sinned against a holy God either in thought, word, or deed.

Romans 10:13 says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

This Christmas season, I’m grateful that the Lord heard my cry for my mom and I get to hang out with her a little while longer.

But I’m eternally thankful that God heard my cry for salvation.

And just like that, I became spiritually alive.

How about you?

(The above picture was taken in 2008 with three generations…)















Dying With Our Boots On

There weren’t more than 30 people at his funeral. He wasn’t famous. Not many knew his face. Nobody would have picked him out in a crowd.

But in God’s economy, Ron is priceless.

He served his wife, his children, his country, and his Lord. And in his last days, unable to walk, missing an arm, he ministered to others through encouragement, prayer, and preaching in the veterans facility that he called home.

Tom and I visited Ron and instead of us lifting his spirits, he lifted ours.

As I listened to his eulogy I thought of the movie, Secondhand Lions. Two old guys played by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine finish out  their lives on a piece of land in the middle of nowhere. They make a pact to “Die with their boots on.” And that’s just what they did. At 80-plus years, they accidently fly a plane into their garage.

In the car on the way home from the funeral, I looked at Tom, “Ron died with his boots on.”

He knew what I meant. Tom and I made the same pact when we moved to North Carolina to farm. We told our kids we’d work til we died and all we wanted was to be tilled into the ground. And after farming for over two years, if we are able to continue, that is probably how we will die. And maybe sooner than later.

But Ron’s life was more than physical labor.

The Apostle Paul states in his second letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Life isn’t about how much stuff you have or how famous you are or if only 30 people show up at your funeral. Life is about how you live and how you die. Our US dollar may be stable but God’s economy is eternal.

And His is the only one that counts.

In the end.

That’s the economy Tom and I want to invest in–eternity.

And we want to arrive there–you guessed it, with our boots on.


Finding Our Family

“Basically, we are on a quest to find our family,” my husband told his Sunday School class.

That phrase stuck with me.

Our job as believers, isn’t to attend church and put on programs or even to have fellowship. Our job, is to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” ESV

That is our message. We aren’t responsible if people believe or do not believe–that’s the Spirit’s part. Our part is to share.

In the past, I sure have complicated the message. I got side-tracked. When I look back at it, I believe it’s spiritual warfare. Scripture says Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. He loves nothing more than for Christians to have committees and spend their time bickering over carpet color and concentrating on who’s going to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

I know, because I’ve been there. Or what about when I complain about my circumstances when they are AMAZING. I mean, I know where I’m headed when I die, my life is hidden in Christ. I have the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word to guide me. I can work. I can worship. I can love. I can serve.

So I’m on this planet to tell others the good news. A message of grace–God’s unmerited favor. He sent His Son to earth to pay the penalty for my sins.

So I proudly lift up the name of Jesus. My Savior. My Lord. My King.

So I’m sharing it with you. Because who knows, maybe we’re family.

And speaking of family. Our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world because they name the name of Christ. Beheadings, crucifixions, and rapes are all part of the persecution that my family is enduring because they love Jesus more than they love this life.

Remember them. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to give you a burden for them. Send them money. That’s what I call my IIH stock. Investing in heaven.

It pays eternal dividends. And when we get to heaven, we’ll meet the rest of our family.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

FYI, this blog is intense. There’s nothing funny in it unless I insert a knock-knock joke… we’ll see.

“Ma! Dorothy!”

I entered Mom’s room around 2am. Hands clenched behind her head, she called out into the darkness for her deceased mother and sister.

“Mom, it’s me, Pauline.” She turned her head the opposite way. “I’m over here, Mom.” Her head moved toward me as her eyes tried to focus.

“Where’s Pauline?”

“It’s me Mom. I’m Pauline.”

Focusing her eyes on me, her face relaxed.

“Were you sleeping?”

I assured her I was and that I very much wanted to return to bed.

As soon as I entered my room, guilt washed over me. Why couldn’t I be more patient? What must it feel like for Mom to not know where she is and who is there? 

Then sadness washed over me. Mom’s life is simple. She moves from her room to the table, occasionally onto the porch where the dogs lick her hands and check her bib for food scraps. A cat may hop into her lap or circle the wheelchair. She’s cared for and we love her, but it’s hard to watch. Harder to live.

Recently, my pastor began his message with, “We’re all going to die.” He quoted Larry King about his obsession with death.

I face death every day in the face of my mom. Before her, I watched my father die. I know what it looks like from a growing old point of view.

It ain’t pretty. But it’s not the end of the story. For a follower of Christ, there’s eternal hope. It’s not our best life now.

Good thing.

And I don’t even have a thing to complain about.

But I do–complain, that is.

My pastor went on to speak about the resurrection. Here’s what Paul said in I Cor. 15:53-57:

 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

That is a great promise. Victory over death.

The book of Hebrews helps me understand life, death, and the resurrection better when it describes Abraham’s life:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

When I’m overwhelmed with the decline of my mother or sin in the world or my own sin, I need to remember this…

I’m not home yet.

In America, it’s easy to want to hang around on earth.

It’s comfortable.

But it’s not home.

My mom is almost home.

She’s knockin on heaven’s door.

One day we will all be at that door and the only way to enter is through faith in Jesus Christ. Not good works, not church attendance, not even the stuff we didn’t do. Just faith.

Not to accept this free gift brings judgment.

So let me tell you a knock-knock joke. You decide if it’s funny…

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Will you enter?








Google Verses Grandma

“So it’s normal for newborns to take short, frequent feedings the first few days, but especially the first 24 hours,” Sarah stated as she unwrapped her newborn son–my grandson, Silas. “Their stomachs are small but double in size within a few days.”

“How do you know?”

“I read several articles about it. Also, when you put Silas to bed, make sure there is nothing in the crib with him. No blankets, no stuffed animals, and always put him on his back,” she instructed.

Sarah wrapped Silas tighter than a Moe’s burrito and handed him to me.

“Does he have hands and feet?”

Sarah grinned.

I took my grandson from my daughter and placed him into his white crib with soft gray elephants imprinted on cotton sheets. No bumpers. No toys. Just baby.

“Looks kind of stark in their. Can’t I put a little something in with him. He barely takes up any space.”

“No, Mom. Things are a lot different than when you had me.”

Tell me about it. Baby straight-jackets, Transformer strollers and a swing that could double as a space ship. I’ve been wondering if babies need grandmas anymore when moms have Google.

In fact, I’ve wondered how I’d even do as a grandma. Never been a “baby” person. While all the other women oohed and aahed over tiny infants, I kept my distance. And when someone just handed a newborn to me, the child invariably screamed.

So my questions was, would Silas like me, and would my daughter need me when she has Google.

The answer is Yes, and I didn’t have to Google it.

Google doesn’t burp the child (I’m an advanced burper…), or change a diaper. Although Google could conceivably sing to my Silas, Google can’t hold him close to its ear and whisper I love you in-between songs. By the way, I sang a 20-minute original musical about all the dogs I’ve ever owned. The tunes were suspiciously similar, but I took great joy filling Silas in on The History of Canines within the Hylton Family set to music.

Google can’t (at least at this point), fix dinner or clean up, or laugh with my daughter and son-in-law. And Google definitely cannot and probably would not pray for my grandson. I do.

A few days after Silas was born, Sarah asked me if I had a great love for him when I saw him for the first time. I had to admit I did not. I was committed to loving him because he’s my daughter’s child and my grandson. I didn’t automatically feel love for him because I didn’t know him.

But after my 20-minute-mini-musical, and lots of burpings, and diaper changes, and staring into his soulful eyes, I can honestly say I do love Silas.

Just this morning, I checked out recent pictures of him. There he was on Instagram–his soulful eyes, and soft mouth. To tell you the truth, I really miss him.

Google is a big help, but it’s not Grandma.

I am.