Archive for the ‘Moral Encouragement’ category

Crying in the Night

May 25, 2016

This time, it wasn’t me – crying in the night. Recently, my phone rang and woke me from my sleep at 2:00 a.m. It’s a wonder that my new ringtone roused me at all – “Ring, ring, pick up the phone” by the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

On the other end of the call was the sobbing of a dear friend who became a widow about six months ago. Those alone moments sneak up on us sometimes and simply overpower us. She knew that she could call me anytime day or night and that I wouldn’t begrudge her calling me even in the wee hours of the morning. We talked for an hour and a half as though it were only fifteen or twenty minutes. For the most part I maintained my composure, and my dear sister in Christ made it through the night just a little more easily.

Sometimes we are strong, and sometimes we are weak. Sometimes we can uplift others who are hurting, and sometimes we need to be propped up ourselves. Together, we limp along through a difficult passageway.

Since I became a widower one year ago, I appear to be part of an informal network of Christian widows and widowers. Some of them are those with whom I worship from time to time locally or in various congregations to which I go in my travels. Others are scattered from Ohio to Florida to Texas.

Each of us knows what it is to cry in the night in grief and in loneliness. Each of us knows the painful realization that most of our Christian hymns are about heaven or death, which refresh us with the sense of recent loss. Each of us march two steps ahead and falter one step backward in our relentless progress toward healing. Each of us comes to know firsthand that the pain which we are experiencing will never go away, though we are assured by those who before us have known the same throbbing agony that in time we will be able to tolerate it more easily.

All we who have loved and have lost half of ourselves in the loss of spouses, whether or not sobbing aloud, in a sense have found ourselves crying in the night. Helping each other and assisted by caring Christian brethren, we will persevere until it is our time to depart this temporary sphere and its trappings. We may feel that we are irreparably broken, but we are not hopelessly undone as we strongly suspect; life goes on for us – until it doesn’t. In the meantime, may we lend ourselves to godly living and Christian service.

A Little Hiatus

May 21, 2016
Therman & Sadie

Therman & Sadie

I took a little hiatus from daily duties for Tuesday, May 17 through Friday, May 20. I decided to get out of the house and out of town to try and brace myself against potentially overpowering sorrow were I to remain alone on the anniversary of Bonnie’s death. Brother Therman and sister Sadie Hodge graciously allowed me to live with them for a while.

Before heading to the Hodge Lodge on Tuesday, I went into the office/warehouse and managed to do some hours work. On the way out of Winona, I mailed letters and a package at the post office in town. Many of my drives to various destinations are longer than Tuesday’s trek, but for whatever reason, the 2½ road trip to the outskirts of Meridian, Mississippi seemed especially long. It was raining some outside the car as well as a little down my cheeks, too.

10 Commandments at Mexican restaurant

10 Commandments at Mexican restaurant

Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of Bonnie’s passing. However, in the company of Therman and Sadie, I got through the day very well. That evening, I was pleased to visit my good friends and Christian brethren of the Union, MS Church of Christ, where the Hodges worship.

Thursday was another good day. Perhaps some of what made good days was not only the fellowship of caring Christian friends, but also some the little local excursions on which we went together; we dined out on several occasions, and Sadie and Therman fixed some tasty meals at the house also. Therman and I also retrieved his repaired riding lawnmower – from a hole in the wall bait shop of all places! In addition, he and I went for a ride one day to a local power plant, which is built over top of an extensive bed of coal.

Some of the Christian friends

Some of the Christian friends

Besides the Hodges, we interacted with two other couples. All of us ate one evening at the Chunky River Fish Camp – a rustic setting sporting good food. The Hodges and I also ate at one of the finest Mexican restaurants that I had ever encountered anywhere. We tried on one occasion to eat act Cracker Barrel, but we happened to have arrived just after a Canadian tour bus from French-speaking Quebec just unloaded and got in line; instead, we baled

from there and landed at McAlister’s Deli.

 

Power Plant

Power Plant

Friday morning, I retraced my steps to Winona, MS. I managed to get a little work done on my mobile office, but office work wasn’t the primary focus of my evacuation from where I live. Today (Saturday), is the anniversary of Bonnie’s funeral, but I appear to be doing as well or better than especially other days this month of May. Perhaps this milestone will be an important piece in the overall healing process through which I am going. I will always love my dear, departed wife, coworker and life’s companion.

BIG Shovel!

BIG Shovel!

Yet, even today from the comfort and convenience of my own living room, I succeeded in completing a literary commitment on which I have been working for many months on behalf of others. I will press ahead, feebly at times for sure, but I will press ahead, hoping to glorify God and edify many precious fellow souls across the planet in the time that may remain for me on earth.

Just another Day in the Lives of Some of God’s Servants

June 9, 2015
96 dpi 5x7 Ricky Gootam Family1

Pictured around the table from the front left are Rebecca Rushmore, Sudeepa & Justin Gootam, Jerry & Paula Bates, Ricky Gootam, Betty Choate and Barbara Oliver. Louis Rushmore is taking the picture.

Monday, June 8 was a day filled with diverse activity. Anticipating rainy weather (again), Rebecca and I worked a little in the yard that morning. The string trimmer in which I devoted some money lately just wouldn’t start for me. So, gassed up, newly loaded with trimming line, having had the carburetor just rebuilt and fuel lines replaced, I set it down near the road with a “Free” sign on it. Not many hours later, it just walked away apparently into someone else’s yard. (I need to be careful that a lawnmower or some other piece of equipment doesn’t run out of fuel too close to the road for fear some passerby will mistake it for something else I am giving away to a new home. I have given a few things away on purpose that way and don’t want to give something I’m still using away accidentally!) Alas, after exhaustive research (my way of buying something that drove my wife mad), I bought a replacement string trimmer – a good one at a fair price. Rebecca helped me gather up the trim branches and bushes that respectively were hanging low or protruding into the yard that I had wacked off with a battery-powered hedge trimmer.

96 dpi 5x7 Ricky Gootam Family2After cleaning ourselves up, we proceeded to the World Evangelism Building. There, coworker Jerry Bates graciously agreed to pack a couple of book orders that arrived in my email box while I worked on publishing Gospel Gazette Online for June to the Internet. It took me a while to finalize it and upload it, but by yesterday afternoon, Number 17, Volume 6 of GAZ began to make its way into the homes of over 1,600 subscribers plus non-subscribers, too.

Paula Bates had prepared a meal to accommodate local World Evangelism team members as well as special guests. Brother Ricky Gootam, his wife Sudeepa and their 7-year-old child Justin were visiting us in Winona, MS from Kakinada, India. We work with the Gootams among others throughout our evangelistic efforts in India. Before we noticed, it was 7 p.m.

Sister Sudeepa accepted my gift of national dress from India and Myanmar that formerly Bonnie wore when we traveled to those two countries. Sudeepa had given Bonnie one of the outfits one time while we were in Kakinada.

Finally last night (working on it to nearly midnight), Rebecca and I prepared for mailing Thank You cards to some of the many Christians who attended to our needs preceding and during the funeral for my beloved wife Bonnie. There is no way to adequately express our appreciation for the good deeds, kindnesses and prayers performed on our behalf at this fragile and difficult time for my family and me.

On a slightly brighter note, over $6,000 so far has been contributed so far by individual Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church for a memorial fund for Bonnie. All proceeds will be used to provide Bibles and Christian literature in the foreign nations to which Bonnie and I took the Gospel of Christ these past years. Bonnie and I have been overwhelmed by various overtures of brethren toward us during her struggle these past three years with pancreatic cancer. I am no less stunned by the turnout for her funeral, the hundreds of letters, cards, phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook posts, etc., as well as the outpouring of monetary gifts as a tribute and memorial to her labors for the Lord – which continue to live on after her. Some of the responses we receive from around the world are from souls we have never met, but who have reveled in our writings that have preceded us and gone farther than we could go.

My emotions are on a rollercoaster, and I am exceedingly lonely without Bonnie despite being surrounded by family and Christian friends. Nevertheless, I bolster my weak moments with a resolve to redeem the time while I may, working as diligently for the Lord as I can while for me time remains. I further resolve to conduct myself daily in such a way to be holy and honor my wife, so that one day I, too, might rest from my labors with the spirit of my Bonnie and heaven’s park bench inside those pearly gates of heaven. Brethren, please continue to pray for me.

New Chemo Regimen Begins

April 19, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom1

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom2

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom3Bonnie asked for a picture to be taken of our blooming azalea bushes in front of our home, which I was glad to do. I also included the hanging, flowering baskets and the birdfeeders. All of the birds, though, were camera shy. The Rushmore bird café offers sunflower seeds and humming bird nectar. Aside from the hummingbirds, a gallery of birds visit our avian diner, including beautiful, brilliant red cardinals, some gold finches, other finches, wrens and an unidentified bird – plus an ingenuous woodpecker. Too large for even the larger of the two birdfeeders, it hangs upside down and cranes its neck up to feed on the sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, April 15 is doubtless an infamous day to many Americans – the deadline for filing annual federal income taxes. For Bonnie, though, it was also the day on which her new regimen of chemotherapy began. We left Winona, MS for Jackson, MS around 9 a.m. to make the hour and a half journey to Jackson Oncology at Baptist Health Systems (hospital). The infusion of chemo drugs and other medicines took about five hours. Upon completion of that, an additional chemo drug was introduced in conjunction with an accompanying pump in a satchel for Bonnie to wear or hang on the bedpost at night for the next three days at home. Happily, none of the side effects about which we were warned occurred during the session on Wednesday. Weary and tired, Bonnie and I returned to Winona.

Thursday we worked at the office for a few hours, and I packed the van for a display at the mission Sunday to be hosted by the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the south side of Jackson, MS. About 10 p.m. Bonnie began to have severe back pain. All night long and through Friday afternoon and early evening, Bonnie had nausea, vomiting and excruciating pain. Neither of us slept well through all of that, and we were both exhausted during the day Friday.

After lunch, we drove to Jackson in torrential rains for Bonnie’s appointment to have the chemo pump removed. To address the nausea, a new, additional medication was prescribed, and Bonnie was advised to take the pain medicine more regularly and to take two pills at a time.

Friday and Saturday nights we lodged with one of the elders and his wife of our sponsoring congregation – the Siwell congregation. Saturday, I put up two banquet tables of display material for World Evangelism. That evening back at the home of our host and hostess, brother and sister Leggett, I was able to prepare computer files to be sent off to the printing company for the next issue of The Voice of Truth International.

Sunday, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Siwell church. A fellowship meal was sandwiched between morning worship and a 1 p.m. assembly. Four missionaries, including myself, had opportunity to update all present regarding our labors for the Lord. Afterward, Bonnie and I returned home to Winona. At the house and having Internet available once more, I sent the files for volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International to the printing company in South Carolina.

Later in the evening, Bonnie again began experiencing serious pain and nausea. Whenever she can sleep through it all, she seems to have some release from the intensity and discomfort of both. Bonnie is very tired, but she is a fighter, and as long as she can, she heartily applies herself to the work of Jesus Christ.

As I close, we are under a tornado watch. Presently, we have a nasty thunderstorm going through again. The lights are flickering. Pain, suffering, storms and such like are temporary speed bumps on the road to eternity. In the meantime, with help and encouragement of many brethren and friends, we press on.

Weekly our dining room fills with get well cards. Daily we received phone calls, visits, emails, texts and Facebook correspondence. The other evening, we received a phone call from a dear brother in India. Wednesday, we came to find out, a congregation in Guyana, South America was fasting and praying for Bonnie while she was undergoing five hours of treatment. In America, we have added an “e” to “fasting” and enjoy “feasting.” Elsewhere in the world, brethren still fast and pray. In Bonnie’s words, we are “humbled” by such encouragement by brethren toward us. Our church family worldwide buoys our spirits at a very difficult time in our lives. Thank you one and all.

A Good Week!

March 20, 2015
All women volunteers so we pressed some of the women into roles into which we normally put men. Here working in the warehouse is the preacher's wife at the West President church of Christ, Sheila Shiers.

All women volunteers so we pressed some of the women into roles into which we normally put men. Here working in the warehouse is the preacher’s wife at the West President church of Christ, Sheila Shiers.

The week beginning Sunday, March 15 was a good week from various perspectives. I am happy to report that Bonnie acclaimed this week the best week health wise that she has experienced in many weeks. That is not to say that health related challenges have not punctuated her daily life, but overall Bonnie has felt better than she has felt literally for months. In addition, it has also been a good week regarding the visitors who have come by the World Evangelism Building in Winona, MS to help us.

Sunday between Bible class and worship with the Old Union church of Christ, the preacher inquired of me regarding the possibility of forthcoming assistance to Bonnie and me with our mounting medical expenses. Likewise, before Wednesday evening Bible class with the West President church of Christ, an elder approached me regarding the same subject and the possibility of the congregation also helping us with our burdensome medical bills—mostly relative to Bonnie’s ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer, but this year also my emergency surgery for an inflamed and enlarged gallbladder. Though we have not been campaigning for medical funds, we appreciate the thoughtfulness of individual Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church who voluntarily have offered to help. Furthermore, the non-stop flow of get well cards, texts, emails, etc. uplift our spirits in a very trying time to our morale.

Tuesday, a sister in Christ representing the Old Union congregation came to the World Evangelism Building to help Bonnie and me to process for mailing our most recent Rushmore Newsletter. Sister Betty Choate helped, along with sister Barbara Oliver and a sister in Christ visiting from Tasmania. Besides our mailing, we finished preparing for shipment single issues of Volume 83 of The Voice of Truth International; that included double rubber-banding packets of 10 envelopes and placing them into mail sacks.

Thursday, sisters in Christ volunteering from the West President church of Christ met us at the office/warehouse to help with additional mailings. Many of the ladies processed sister Choate’s newsletter for mailing. A couple of other ladies helped me prepare about 75 packages (mostly cases of The Voice of Truth International) for shipment throughout the States and to American territories or military posts abroad; one of those sisters in Christ helping me is from Nigeria. We also packaged hundreds of Spanish books and Spanish editions of The Voice of Truth International magazine that eventually will make their way to Peru; I made arrangements to hand off this literature to a congregation in Tuscaloosa, AL in a few days on my way to a speaking appointment in Huntsville, AL.

Throughout the week we have fulfilled orders for English and Spanish language Christian literature, which we have packed and taken to the local post office. Thankfully, the day I took around 75 boxes, two of the ladies helped me load the van as well as unload it onto the post office’s back loading dock. Bonnie has worked on Volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International and I have worked on both the April issue of Gospel Gazette Online and a new book of mine on sermon outlines.

Friday was a medical treatment day an hour and a half away from our home in Jackson, MS. First, we had a 9:30 a.m. appointment for yet another paracentesis for Bonnie; another 3+ liters of fluid was drained from her abdomen. Following that, we shared a sandwich at a hospital eatery (it has several) before heading for her next appointment for chemotherapy. Between the distances we travel each way and the appointments, we certainly consume a whole day. We also use these outings to do some necessary shopping and, of course, the car wants fed, too. Since Bonnie’s appetite came back this week, too, and she was hungry, we shared a nice meal at Olive Garden on the way out of town.

Overall, Bonnie is trudging forward with its accompanying emotional ups and downs. She and I are both thrilled that she may be on the verge of feeling a little better more often. Bonnie still tires easily and continues to lose weight. On April 3, she will have another CT scan to compare with the previous CT scan, by which the oncologist will reevaluate future treatment. We continue to covet the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe. Thank you.

Flurry of Activity

March 7, 2015

Bonnie & Louis RushmoreThis week, Bonnie and I collectively worked on volumes 84 and 85 of The Voice of Truth International; volume 83 arrived in Winona, MS on Friday while Bonnie and I were away in Jackson, MS for her chemo appointment. Bonnie is doing the primary layout for VOTI 84 while sister Betty Choate is doing the layout for volume 85, which will be in color throughout. I also started work on the April issue of Gospel Gazette Online and readied two books for future publishing—one by brother Wayne Barrier and one of mine. The Barrier book is an outreach book, whereas mine is a class book and resource material; together, the books take one from becoming a Christian to providing a solid foundation in the Christian faith.

Along with the delivery of The Voice of Truth International #83 came also reprints of a couple of book titles. Brethren from the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS helped Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Betty Choate (all fellow Winona team members) unload the tractor-trailer and reload it with boxes of books destined for delivery abroad. Aside from the stateside and foreign travel, we keep literature flowing to brethren and non-Christians in this country and to numerous overseas destinations. We have around 500 titles between books, tracts, booklets and magazines in our warehouse that we keep in print and share around the world.

I devoted several hours this week to formatting and submitting printing to a printing company for team member newsletters (Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Bonnie and mine, too) and business cards. By the time the Bates’ newsletter arrives, they will be on a mission trip in India; so, Betty Choate and we will process for mailing all three newsletters. Of course, Bonnie and I worked together in writing our newsletter and reporting income and expenses.

Friday, Bonnie had full blood work, met with the oncologist and received her one-two-three-four punch of two chemo drugs, accompanied by two additional medicines. The doctor also prescribed three new, additional prescriptions for Bonnie and scheduled another paracentesis for Tuesday to drain fluid from her abdomen. April 3, Bonnie will have another CT scan, after which, the oncologist and we will regroup and plan what treatments we will pursue. CT scans will be compared, as well as cancer markers in various blood tests will be reviewed, too. Please pray that all indications will be favorable.

Bonnie has lost much of her hair and wears scarves to compensate, especially in the cold, winter weather. Most of her days are painful or punctuated with nausea, and she is very tired. Still, she applies herself to the fullest possible, mostly doing computer work from her side of the loveseat in our living room; we purchased a printer to use at the house to increase our productivity when Bonnie doesn’t feel good enough to leave the house.

Today (Saturday), I officiated for a funeral, which was conducted at the meetinghouse for the Old Union Church of Christ, back in the woods, reached by traversing gravel roads through the woodlands and kudzu in rural Carroll County, MS. Burial followed immediately in the church cemetery nearly abutting one corner of the little chapel nestled in a serene surrounding away from hustle and bustle or major thoroughfares. No place is more ideal to be the temporary repository for one’s spent body while awaiting the general resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ.

Looking ahead, tomorrow, Bonnie will receive an injection to boost her blood counts so that she can continue her chemotherapy without interruption. A sister in Christ who is a nurse will administer it following a.m. worship with the Old Union Church of Christ. As mentioned already, Tuesday we will travel once more to Jackson, MS for another paracentesis.  We will continue to work on VOTI 84, in conjunction with its Editor, Byron Nichols, in Springfield, MO, and it should be ready to send to the printing company within two weeks.

Cautiously, we are beginning to populate our upcoming calendar some. The last Sunday of March, I will be speaking at a congregation in Huntsville, AL, and I may speak at a second church that day, too, also in Huntsville. We have marked our calendars to participate in the next India Missions Conference in Florence, AL in April, as well as to be a part of Missions Day in April at the Siwell Road Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. We are looking ahead to the annual Maywood Missionary Retreat in May outside of Hamilton, AL. Furthermore, Bonnie’s oncologist has given me the go-ahead (and Bonnie has concurred) for me to go on a foreign mission trip of one or two week duration sometime in the future—as long as I make sure that someone (likely our daughter Rebecca) is available to be with Bonnie while I am gone.

In the meantime, we have sent thousands of dollars in the hands of fellow missionaries or by registered mail to ongoing mission works in which we participate in various parts of India. Money ultimately provided by Christian families and churches of Christ will provide tracts, Hindi language Bibles and Hindi language TV programing in New Delhi, India. Thank you for making it possible for Bonnie and me to serve our Lord on your behalf in these ways.

The many cards, the emails and the visits are a great source of encouragement to both Bonnie and me, particularly as we continue to fight her pancreatic cancer. Imagine our surprise that one church of Christ overseas is fasting and praying for Bonnie’s improved health. (We are also thrilled at the several pieces of correspondence praising our work stateside and abroad in various media and literature that brethren say is making a real difference in their lives; all we desire is the opportunity to glorify God and edify precious souls as we serve the best we can to the fullest we can.)

The picture of Bonnie and me on this page is our most recent and best. It is one of the better photos of us lately.

Biopsy and Day-to-Day

October 3, 2014

Wednesday morning, Bonnie and I made our way once more from Winona, MS to Jackson, MS – a journey that has become ever so repetitive especially as we seek medical treatment for Bonnie in her bought with pancreatic cancer, etc. I invited Bonnie and me to lunch with Ken and Johnnie Gardner at Cracker Barrel at their expense. How brazen of me! Actually, brother Ken had ordered a dozen of my book Beverage Alcohol, and in exchange for delivery charges I requested lunch and some quality time with these good brethren. Through the generosity of a Christian family, we are able to provide that title for free plus shipping while supplies last; we have distributed nearly 20,000 copies. I also included in the handoff some copies of my tract “To Drink or Not to Drink.” Bonnie and I enjoyed the meeting with these dear ones with whom we have been acquainted for nearly four decades.

After making a few purchases, namely refueling the Gospel chariot, we made our way to the meetinghouse of the Siwell Road Church of Christ. Before evening Bible class, Bonnie and I met with the elders, a preacher and a deacon regarding our mission work, which the eldership oversees. These fine men always encourage and uplift us.

Following Bible class, two of the elders and additional church members and we supped at McAlister’s; Bonnie and I each tried a variety of soup, which was adventurous for us since we had largely restricted our menu sampling at that eatery franchise to baked potatoes. Once more we were encouraged and enjoyed ourselves. Then, we tailgated one of the elders to his home where he and his wife hosted us for the night. That put us in a comfortable position to meet Bonnie’s morning appointment at Baptist Health Systems for a biopsy. We are grateful to brCoke Machineother Andrew and sister Dana Dulaney for their hospitality. I snapped a picture in the morning on my way out the door of a big, big, adorable knickknack in their kitchen – an old Coca Cola machine.

Thursday, October 2 was spent mostly at the hospital for Bonnie’s biopsy. We arrived back in Winona at 3 p.m., and Bonnie promptly went to bed – cold and with shivers. Hours later, she resurrected and came to the living room, whereupon she ate a little soup. Not long after that, she became nauseated and returned to bed. Every day for her is one of abdominal pain, back pain, sometimes nausea and off and on low-grade fever, but none of the medical personnel have a solution or even a diagnosis. The best we have been able to ascertain so far is that Bonnie is part of the 20% who undergo Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer who have these or similar lifelong difficulties. Still, most days find Bonnie putting in full days at the office or until she needs to resort to the recliner, couch or bed for a little pep-me-up rest. Working and doing something meaningful helps one focus on something besides discomforts.

Maybe sometime next week we will be apprised of the result of the biopsy. The plausible possibilities are a resurgence of cancer or scar tissue. It remains to be seen if either of us presently will be able to resume what’s left of our mission trip to Asia in 2014; we are only cancelling our flights a little at a time to see if we can catch up to our schedule. Thank you for your interest and prayers.