It is Finished.

I love facebook. It keeps me in contact with many friends all over the place. I even like a lot of the little pics and sayings that come through. Being the week of Easter, a beautiful picture of a cross came through my timeline with the caption, “It is Finished.” My first thought was of my first husband, and with a thud I thought, “Yes. His life is finished here on earth.”

He was a young, handsome, intelligent, successful, middle-aged, man. It appears natural causes, but the autopsy will take quite a few months more. He had some big events beginning the next work day at the office in the department he was over, so he definitely had no plans of checking out of his time on earth. But, he did.

Our days are numbered before even one comes to be, before God even knits us together in our mother’s womb. We don’t know what our number is. I wonder … would he have thought his life work on this earth was finished? Was he ready? To the best of my knowledge, he was a Christian and is now in heaven.

As you know, he was not always kind. He made many choices that hurt not only me, but also our girls, deeply. I had always hoped that, one day, probably on his death bed many years from now, he would ask for me, and when I walked in, he would cry and tell me he was sorry. And I would tell him what he already knew … that I had long ago forgiven him.

Since they were little, I have always been honest with my girls and given them the truth in age-appropriate ways and doses. They knew their dad could be mean; they experienced it directed toward them as well as me. They knew he held onto anger and hate, and they watched him express both toward me over and over and over. We talked about these things, and I continuously gave them permission to love him anyway, as he was. I didn’t want them to have to choose, so I never let them or forced them.

I’ve told them since he passed … to hold onto the good memories, but do not deny the bad. I don’t want them to feel any guilt for remembering the truth of who he was. I’ve also told them, and I firmly believe it is true, that if there were any chance he would have told them he was sorry, God would have let him live to do so. I’ve told them that he fought these demons inside him that he just could not conquer; he tried, but he just could not. They consumed him. He is not bad because of this – facing the kinds of demons he fought is extremely difficult, and no one wants to do it. He did the best he could. And I firmly believe that God, in His great mercy, set him free from these chains and demons that plagued his soul and from which he could never run far enough.

I’ve also told the girls that it is okay to accept the good with the bad. It is tragic, devastating, to loose their daddy at such young ages. The bad seems unending. But he can no longer hurt them. The ropes he put around them are now gone. It is okay to be thankful for these things and not to feel guilty.

Still, as a friend said who had walked this path ahead of us, “Even the good is bad.” It is so hard. We are doing okay, I think, but we are struggling. It will be a long time until we begin to feel normal again.

It’s odd being the ex-wife in a situation like this … it’s as though people think it doesn’t affect me or hurt me because we were divorced. They are wrong. It does hurt. A lot. We were married for a very long time. My girls and I were looking a pics from our honeymoon the other day, and I was crying inside (my girls hate it when I cry in front of them with all this, so I work hard not to). We were young, healthy, intelligent, educated, and had the whole world to live ahead of us. I look back on his life like a movie picture that runs over and over through my mind, and it’s so tragic. I know it’s not at all what he had imagined, hoped, dreamed. And now, it’s too late to do anything else, make any changes, reconcile with his soul so he could reconcile with his daughters, with me. It, is finished.

Now, more than ever, I cry out to God, plead with Him, that the number of my days is far from over. My girls need me. I cannot leave them. I was talking to my neighbor about this the other day. She said that a few years after her mom had died, her dad had a heart attack (this was several years ago), and when she walked into the hospital room she became angry with him and yelled at him, “So! Are you going to orphan us!” and then she stormed out. She was in her 40’s, but the power of our parents is strong, so much so that if her dad had died then, she would have felt orphaned, even as a forty-something woman.

I know the power parents have over their children for the whole lifetime of their children. For good or for bad, regardless of whether the parents believe it or not, it is there. It is tangible and intangible all at the same time. And we live with whatever our parents did or did not do for our entire lives. I continue to pray that I am the Momma my girls need me to be, and that God lets me live long enough to pour as much of me as possible into my girls so that, if I do pass before them into the next life, they will have enough of me to sustain them for the rest of their own days on this earth.

I hope my life is not anywhere near being finished. But I do know that when it is, heaven awaits … because of the infinite love of a Holy God, who gave up His only Son, Jesus, to assume all the sin of all eternity on the cross before He died, and then defeated death by bursting from the grave. Hallelujah! Glorious!

May you know Jesus. And may you life a life that leaves more beauty and joy than pain and sorrow in its wake. For one of these days, it will be said of you, “It is finished.”

 

Doug Phillips in Hot Water

Singleman alerted me to this story.

First, some stipulations:

(a) Doug Phillips is entitled to his day in court.

(b) If he goes that route, he will have the opportunity to tell his side of the story–and confront his accuser–and a jury would have to weigh evidence to determine his culpability or innocence. (Since this is a civil trial and not a criminal one, the standard would not be guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but rather a “preponderance of evidence”. And unless my memory is wrong, a unanimous verdict is not required.)

At the same time, Phillips clearly has a problem coming out of the gate: he has already been forced to resign his post at Vision Forum due to improprieties with the woman–Lourdes Torres–who is suing him. That he has committed moral offenses is not at issue. The only issue is whether his offenses are grounds for civil repercussions.

I see a problem with this case, though.

While Phillips has done some very dishonorable things with Lourdes Torres, the mathematics tells me that she was 22 when he began pursuing her sexually. She’s an adult, and he’s an adult. Sure, he’s married. Sure, he’s wrong for pursuing her. But that pursuit is not against the law.

The issue is whether she was under compulsion. This may not be difficult to establish, given his position at the time (no pun intended).

My guess: she just wants to settle. She’s thrown some dirt out there, with the implication that there is more coming out if this goes to trial. The veiled message: “Cut a check, and this goes away quietly.”

I can argue either side here.

On one hand, she was not a teenager; she was a grown adult at the time. She was 22, an age where women graduate college and enter the workforce. She knew right from wrong.

On the other hand, due to Phillips’ position in her life, he exerted a great deal of influence. In the secular world, what he did was tantamount to a CEO propositioning his secretary. The secretary would have a case of sexual harassment against the CEO. This is why boards will fire CEOs when that kind of conduct comes to light.

My take: due to his role in her life, there was undue influence. This is going to cost Phillips some serious money. How much, I don’t know. But I suspect that the judgment (or settlement) will be in the high-6 figures or even seven figures.

That’s not to say that Ms. Torres is pristine here; still, Phillips is going to have a hard time in front of a jury.

This won’t even go to trial.

Wreck at Mile 16: After-Action Report for 2014 Redbud Ride

Last year, I decided to ride the Horsey Hundred. While I was experienced at endurance sports—having finished several marathons and an ultra-marathon—I hadn’t trained for it. Still, I rode patiently, stayed within my limits, and braved the killer hills of Clifton to finish my first century ride comfortably. It took me just north of nine hours, but I felt pretty good.

I figured having done that last year—along with the Air Force Marathon (for the 4th time)–I’d go for the Kentucky Century Challenge. That requires doing four century (100-mile) bicycle rides: the Redbud Ride, the Horsey Hundred, the Preservation Pedal, and the Hub City Ride, all in the same calendar year. Completion of these carries a reward: a free cycling jersey, along with the bragging rights.

But first, one must complete the Redbud Ride, as that is the first leg of the challenge.

I felt good going into this one. I had doubled down on my fitness and nutrition, losing some of the flab I had accumulated during last year. I also worked harder on core and leg strength, and figured that would help with the hills.

While the weather had precluded me from doing any serious distance riding going into this ride, I was still in much better shape than I was at the Horsey Hundred last year.

The weather forecast was good: the temperature at start time was right at 50 degrees, although the projected high was in the high 70s. I figured this might make for some tough conditions on the back half of the ride. I was correct, but more on that later.

The first leg (18 miles):

The start was brisk. Initially, it was cold, but it warmed up quickly. By mile 10 I was comfortable. I was noticeably stronger on the hills, and was hanging very well with one of the main packs.

Then, at mile 16, things went really bad.

I found myself boxed in. Making matters worse, someone started passing me—close–without warning. Noticing this, I looked over to my left ever so slightly. This caused Newton’s Third Law of Motion–for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction–to kick in, causing my to veer slightly right.

Unfortunately, that was just enough to take me off the road into a very unstable area of branches, bushes, and uneven dirt. Taking this at about 20mph is not a good idea, as Newton’s Laws begin to intersect Murphy’s Laws.

I took a tumble, tried to roll with it using my shoulder. I almost succeeded.

My right shoulder and the right side of my forehead slammed into the dirt, forcing my helmet strap across my face and jarring my neck. When I had come to a rest, I felt around and looked for wounds. I saw scrapes and dings on my arms and legs, but nothing serious. I got up and noticed I was walking just fine. I tried to see if I was feeling “lucid”, as that would be a sign that I needed to go to the hospital. I felt ok, but not lucid. I didn’t feel concussed, but my face felt like it had been scraped pretty good.

The SAG (Stop And Go) personnel were there within 30 seconds after I got up. They looked me over. I had a little blood on my face, but no serious cuts. They helped me with my bike, and we determined that the bike was in good order. That being the case, I said I would like to continue. They said they’d follow me to the Crossroads Fire Department rest stop, which was 2 miles away. I got to the rest stop just fine. Once there, I washed my face and hands—determined that I had a black eye and a cracked helmet—and then downed some Gatorade and a Powerbar.

18 miles done.

Second Stage:

Unlike the crash drama of the first stage, the second stage was uneventful. The hills were mild, and the scenery was nice. I found a small group that was going at a good clip, and drafted behind them into the Livingston Rest Stop.

33 miles done. Feeling better.

Third Stage:

This was also uneventful. Like that second stage, it was scenic and comfortable. My only gripe: the Rest Stop was really just a SAG stop for bike maintenance. I didn’t see any water or Gatorade. I could have used some water there. That irked me a bit.

44 miles done. So far, so good.

Fourth Stage:

This stage was only 8 miles, but it was a mother. Most of the stage was scenic and enjoyable, but the infamous Tussy Hill—which has a 23% grade—put hair on almost everyone’s chest. That was murder. But right after that was the Letterbox Baptist Church rest stop. These folks were fabulous. There was lots of good food, Gatorade, water, energy bars. A lot of folks were in line for pizza, but I stayed away from that. I went for my water, Gatorade, and some energy bars.

I lost some time at the rest stop because of the long lines for food and restrooms.

52 miles done.

Fifth Stage:

From here, the heat started picking up. The winds—headwinds—also picked up. Because this stage was just south of 24 miles long, I decided that I’d stop at the gas station at mile 61 and buy a Powerade. I lost 10 minutes waiting for the cashier, but it was worth it: I was able to get some fluids and some badly-needed carbs down. This paid off well.

61 miles done.

From there, the remaining 15 miles into the McWhorter Christian Church rest stop were uneventful, except for the noticeable heat and headwind.

The McWhorter Christian Church rest stop was one of the best. They really went the extra ten miles for the cyclists.

76 miles done.

Sixth Stage:

While this one was only ten miles long, it was brutal, as the headwinds and the heat started taking a toll on the riders, including myself. I had gone out of my way to stay hydrated, but my efforts still fell short of the glory. My neck—which I jarred in the crash at mile 16—was starting to hurt. I had energy, but I knew I was getting close to the “wall”, that point in a long-distance event where one’s glycogen runs out. As a marathoner, I know how to deal with that, but it isn’t pleasant.

Pulling into the Long Branch Rest Stop at mile 86, I felt very good and very tired. Some of the folks who had been in the ride with me were joking around with me about my crash at mile 16.

One of the race directors, who had assisted me when I had my crash, told me, “You’ve got one nasty hill left, but it’s pretty mild going into London after that. You’ve got this one.”

86 miles done.

Final Stage:

He was right: that last hill was a humdinger. Not quite as bad as Tussy Hill, but close. But after that, the heat and headwind were the only remaining nuisances—aside from 13 miles—that stood between me and the finish. I was tired; my neck was sore; I had clearly hit “the wall.” But I was going to finish well.

To my surprise, I finished this one an hour faster than I finished the Horsey Hundred. All in spite of the crash at mile 16, the nasty heat, the headwinds, and the long food and potty lines at the rest stops. Other than my neck, I felt pretty good.

Overall, this was a nice ride. In future rides, I will stay the heck away from the side of the road, and stay behind large groups.

It’s not only safer, it gives you draft advantage.

Dying Young

When I graduated from High School, someone gave me a little book, the theme of which was that life takes turns which completely change the direction of our lives, for forever. Recently my girls’ daddy passed away unexpectedly, and their very young lives have taken a turn that has already changed their lives for forever.

Some thoughts:

There’s no way to prepare for unexpected death.

No child should have to loose their Daddy. Ever.

Death and Funerals bring out the best and worst in people.

Death and Funerals make people lie.

Real life is a tragedy; how we handle that reveals who we are.

I could not be more proud of my girls. They’ve walked through this with class, character, grace, beauty, and elegance.

God is bigger than death. Always.

And one more thing. When visiting with a woman from the funeral home while she was giving me info for my girls, I mentioned how much of a shock this is b/c there’s such longevity in his family. She’s been in this business for many years, and her response startled me. She said, “We are not like our grandparents. We work too hard and too long. We do not eat well, and we eat toxic foods. We live more stressful lives. And we don’t rest enough or well. So we’re dying younger.” Something to ponder.

 

Russia Does About-Face on West

During the Cold War, President Reagan appealed to the God-and-country base in America, contrasting the Christian values on which America was founded with the godless, totalitarian sham that was the Soviet Union. When Reagan confronted the Soviets, he derided their “Evil Empire”, calling attention to their horrible, murderous track record.

Thirty years later, as Pat Buchanan points out, the sides are in the process of doing an about-face.

My take on Putin: he’s a gray hat. While many on the right will excoriate him as a KGB man who is reviving the old Soviet Union, I absolutely disagree. In fact, Putin is a pragmatic, old-school Russian nationalist who is trying to save his country from demographic disaster. He has many issues, but he’s trying to keep his country from imploding.

Putin, as a Russian who grew up in the old Soviet Union, has seen firsthand what seventy years of institutional Atheism can do to a country. I cannot answer for his Christianity; for all I know he may just be a pragmatist who is latching onto Orthodoxy for political reasons. Having said that, whatever his motives, he is acting within the interests of Russia in the face of a near-insurmountable demographic tide–a low birth rate, a high abortion rate, high alcoholism–that has been working against his country for many decades. Whether he wins or loses, we will not know for at least ten years.

Having said that, an understanding of Russian history is critical for Americans.

As Buchanan correctly pointed out, Russia was once a historical torch-carrier of Christianity, the “third Rome” if you will. They were once the standard-bearers of Christian civilization.

And yet, they would descend into the Totalitarian, communist abyss for seventy years. During that time, tens of millions of Russians would die in war, purges, starvation, and gulags. Christians would become enemies of government. Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, were not just Atheist; they were anti-Christian. They promoted brutal repression against Christians not just in Russia but also in Cuba, Eastern Europe, Africa, Central America, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cambodia.

A country that was once the standard-bearer for Christianity became one of the biggest promoters of Atheist totalitarian oppression of Christians.

Remember that as the West becomes increasingly hostile to Christians and Christian values.

Make no mistake: what happened to Russia can happen here. To deny this is to deny history.