Posted tagged ‘Iron Lung’

Sitting Bedside With Someone Awaiting Glory

November 25, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        November 25, 2018


There are people who come into your life for a season and bless you for a lifetime!

Jim Newsome is one of those people, arriving with his wife Pat in the last three years or so of my final pastorate. A gentleman and a gentle man, a man of faith and a faithful friend, he is now in his final days.

And he’s okay with it! About a month ago he was discovered to have pancreatic cancer. Jim, now 84, understands the prognosis and for his final days he is resting at home, welcoming friends from near and far who have come to have final visits and conversations.

Carol and I went yesterday and sat beside his bed. When we left I said to her, “That was a great visit! I’ve never laughed so much sitting beside the bed of someone who only has a few days to live.”

In fact, when Jim and Pat received the news of his cancer and entered into hospice care, Jim’s comment was “I’m ready to go, but when’s it going to happen?” He said it like a Frontier Airlines passenger whose flight keeps being delayed- a common occurrence it seems with Frontier!

We talked about his life, how the Lord has guided his life, and various situations where this couple, who celebrated 64 years of marriage two weeks ago, simply trusted that the Lord would lead them.

Jim survived polio when he was in the Navy. He spent a month in an iron lung, realizing that several other sailors at the time were succumbing to the disease. It caused him to give thanks to the Lord and to understand that God had a purpose for his life. For him to live to the age of 84 would not have seemed possible back in the early 1950’s. 

Yesterday he told us stories that caused our souls to laugh. His skin color is showing some signs of jaundice as the disease affects his liver, but his face continued to smile. He told us stories of life redirection, like how a bout with pneumonia that landed him in the hospital short-circuited his graduate studies for his Master’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado. When Pat came back to the hospital the next day, worried and wondering, Jim told her that he and the Lord had talked it over and gotten it figured out. A few days later someone they knew, connected to a mission organization, called him and asked if he could do some welding work for him. Twenty years later he retired from the organization!

As Carol and I left they shared with us that they were grieved when I retired at the end of 2015 from ministry, more specifically stopped being their pastor. I replied, “The best thing about pastoring is the relationships, and the hardest thing about pastoring is saying goodbye to those people you’ve had special relationships with. 

Jim and Pat Newsome are people that I’ve been blessed to know, and saddened to leave. We joined hands and prayed as Carol and I were about to leave. As I came towards the end of the prayer Jim squeezed my hand. It was his punctuation mark on our friendship. 

“Jim,” I said, “if I don’t see you again I’ll see you on the other side!”

He looked me in the eye and replied, “Plan on it!”

The Fellowship of the Hats

July 5, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  July 5, 2014




     A few minutes ago I left a breakfast that a group of men from our church had at a local restaurant. We were gathered on both sides of a long table…yacking…telling stories…razzing one another…stretching the truth like taffy.

On one side of the table were a row of hats placed in extreme orderliness on four heads. They weren’t just any kind of hat, but rather hats signifying the military service of the wearer.

One was worn by a Vietnam Vet who was in the Army. An Army brat himself, he served his country well in the midst of a difficult confusing war.

Two of the hat wearers were Navy vets who served during World War Two and the Korean Conflict. One had been on a destroyer in the middle of the Pacific. The other had spent most of his time in an iron lung in San Diego, after being diagnosed with polio. His willingness to serve his country was trumped by the illness that took the lives of so many.

The fourth head wore a hat telling of his service in the Air Force. He learned Russian at a time when the Cold War was heating up. It was at a time when Americans and Russians listened to one another, albeit by intercepting messages and other spying techniques.

The four men has served their country for the cause of freedom, sometimes not understanding it, sometimes in harm’s way, sometimes at a distance.

As we ate our eggs and bacon I found myself being extremely appreciative for sitting at the same table with them. They had laid their lives on the line for people like me.

Yesterday we celebrated 238 years of independence. There is a large fellowship of the hats that has offered headwear of protection for our nation through generations past and present.

Sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnitude of freedom until we hear of regimes in other parts of the world who do not believe their citizens are entitled to it. But freedom for our nation is a foundational principle. It is why we became a rebelling population that risked everything for independence.

The fellowship of the hats is to be honored and treasured and saluted. Our hats are off to you.