Final Farewell

I have been honored to speak on how my Grandfather has invested in my life at his funeral. This is an honor considering the impact that he had on so many lives and the mark that he left on my life. To me he was more than just a Grandfather. I have seen him first hand do so many things for others as I was growing up, with no thought of what he would get in return.

One of the greatest impacts he had on me was his devotion as I started my journey into ministry. He was there the day I announced publicly the steps I would take towards ministry. From that time on he made it a point to be at most of the services that I was a part of being one of my biggest fans in ministry. He saw something in me that at times I was not able to see in myself and always encouraged me to continue on. His life and impact on me can be summed up by one defining moment for me about four years ago. The following is my remembrance of him that I will share at his funeral.

Thinking back on my closest memories and how I want to remember Grandpa I can recognize one event. At Grandma’s bedside shortly after she died, with all of his Children and a good portion of the grandchildren there at in the hospital room; he reached over put his hand on Grandmothers shoulder and spoke with authority and sincerity as he addressed us. While I can’t remember word for word what was said this is the gist of his heart.

My wife, your mother, your Grandmother has lived a life of worth. She has lived in front of you a life well lived. She loved and shared the joys and tears of life with no thought for herself. She has been a great mother, and an excellent wife. We have all had a loss but know that her pain, and physical condition is no longer an issue. She is taking part in her reward that God has for her. If you want to see her again, live a life that is worthy of such a reward. Pattern your life after the life that she lived and the God that She served.

These words were spoken with sincere devotion to his wife and yet may seem simple they were a profound challenge to us. I felt him saying, Live a life of worth, simplicity, and devotion.

As I reflect on all that Grandpa means to me it makes me realize that Grandpa was a standard in everything he did, his Speech, Character, and Faithfulness. My remembrance has allowed me to understand that he lived not for himself, but for others. If we are to make a difference and impact in those around us that is how our life should be lived.

Today as we remember and celebrate his life and his reward that he has labored for, I believe his call to us would be to live with simplicity. Take every moment as a gift and leave a mark on those around you.


Traveling Tradition

One of the traditions that my wife and I have when traveling is always stopping a Cracker Barrel for some type of meal during our trip. Coming back from the viewing for my Grandfather we stopped at a Cracker Barrel and had an experience that I was positive, until tonight, that you were not able to have. The food was good but the service was absolutely horrible. After our meal we decided that we would pay for it but would also talk to the manager and let him know that we opted out of leaving a tip because of the service and that we were disappointed and hoped that our next experience would prove to be better. After leaving I thought about how I missed out on a a great opportunity to witness to our waitress.

Instead of not leaving a tip I thought that I could have took the tip, spoke with her about the service and even though the service was not deserving of a tip I would still give her what was not deserved and explain the reason for doing so was because of how Christ, when we were not deserving died for us.

To look back on it that probably would have left a bigger impact and allowed her to be more careful how she treated and dealt with customers. I completely missed out on a great opportunity. That makes me want to be more careful and Identify and act out on opportunities that come my way.

Have you ever had an oppurtunity where you could have possibly made a positive difference but didn’t then had one of those moments where you should of, could have, realities? If so I would love to hear about it and see how it has changed your view or actions. Just post a comment below.

Funeral Arrangements

After getting back in town this afternoon and meeting up with the rest of the family at my Grandpa’s house I read the write up about his life and arrangements in today’s Paper. I figured that I would share it with you. The obituary is can be found in today’s newspaper courtesy of the Post and Courier. The funeral arrangements can also be found in the obituary as well. Thanks again for you prayers for the comfort of my family. I have the opportunity to speak at his funeral and will post those remarks on here prior to going to the funeral on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading – GT

What Hurts the Most

Thinking more on the loss of my Grandfather I can’t help but put things in perspective from my Mom’s point of view. As I look at how this effects me as a grandchild it has different ramifications that that of a Child. I don’t think no matter what age I could imagine loosing my Mom. The simple thing is she is the one who raised me, I seen her go without so that my sister and I could have the best life possible. When I was about five years old my parents were divorced, since then my mom has remained single, and from that point my Grandparents (her mom and dad) really was her rock. It has been close to 20 years since my parents divorce so that means close to twenty years of support from them. Now with my Grandfathers passing she has lost both her mom and dad. As I stated in my last post, you can read that here, my grandmother died four years ago.

The most hurt I have is for my mother, I think. For the most part I think I cope rather well with death. What I probably should say is I am pretty much numb to it. After the two major blows in less than a year with the loss of my son and then my best friend (my cousin) I have come to learn to deal. However with her (my mom) the major influences and standard’s in her life are now gone. I can’t imagine how lonely she feels and how lost she may be at this point. I do know that even with the loss she has a lot to live for. She has two beautiful grand kids and two more on the way so I imagine there will be some adjusting to her schedule to accommodate the time between each set of grand kids. The thing that wish the most is that she had someone to share the sorrow with.

I guess that is where my sister and I will have to step in. I pretty much see that we must step up and be that rock now. She did a great job at raising us not only on the limited income but being mother and father to us both. Yes we did have struggles within our family, yes sometimes she had a hard time at balancing the nurturing with the discipline but that doesn’t change the fact that she did an outstanding job. I will have to honestly say that in my life, other than my wife of course, my mom is my rock. Above the loss, my heart hurts because I know what impact my grandparents had on my mom the last almost two decades and now she must feel absolutely alone.

So my question, what advice would you give? Have you had experiences in a like situation? If so how has it allowed you to grow and also help those that you came into contact with? I would love to hear your story!!! Just post a comment below

A Weekend Away

Chanelle and I along with Peyton headed up to Columbia this weekend to spend some time with her sister. She and her Husband had a baby boy close to two weeks ago so we figured we would make a weekend of it and have some family time. I forgot what it was like to have a little one around the house. Peyton has grow so much, so fast. It is hard to believe in a little over 20 weeks we will have another little one in the house.

Holding Timothy, my sister in law’s son, brought back some great memories of when we brought Peyton home from the hospital and the first weeks of having him home with us.

Some of the best advice I could give families with newborns is to cherish the moments because the moment you turn, when you look back they are grown. Sometimes you don’t even know where the time went but all you know is that it is gone. It is kind of funny when Peyton was a few months old I couldn’t wait for him to grow up a little so that he could be outside running around playing in the yard. Now that he is able to be out in the yard with me I wish for those moments that I would come home from work take a quick shower and lay on the couch with him on my chest just 22 inches or so until the late night so thankful that God blessed us with a healthy son. As he grows and learns new things I keep thinking parenting is the greatest thing in the world.


A lesson that I have learned in leadership is that of temperament. About 10 years ago my grandfather had a simple return to make on an item purchased at a local store. In front of him was an irate individual trying to return a chain saw. When politely told by the store clerk that in order to return the item he would need to drain out all the oil and gas from the saw so that the return could be processed. The individual stated to the clerk that he was a Pastor and the only oil that would be poured out is anointing oil when praying for people, in a very rude and disrespectful way. After a few comments later this individual left the store even more irate. As my grandfather approached the counter, he laid his returns on the counter politely stated the reason for the return and apologized for the previous customers attitude. This set the store clerk back a little and told him that he appreciated the apology but couldn’t imagine why a total stranger would apologize for something that was done wrong by someone else to someone else.

My grandfather stated that he also was a minister and in no way did he want the clerk to think that this was how a minister should react out in the community. He believed that a leader should show temperament in all situations no matter what they were faced with. I can only imagine the long term impact that this had on the clerk. My grandfather walked away that day knowing that he brought life and joy to what could have ultimately ended up as a bad day for the clerk.

That life lesson has always stuck with me, it taught me a two things. You never know the life that can be touched or turned off by the way you act, you have the power to reach those around you no matter what circumstance you are faced with.

What is a leadership lesson that you have learned that has stuck with you and helped you grow? How has that lesson changed the way you look at the world around you?

One Way I Deal

With receiving the news of my Grandfathers passing I figured I would post on one of the ways that I guess I have been wired to deal with loss. For the most part I am a talkative person but normally when big news happens I tend to shut down and reflect. I try to not react to situations but to act. I have been reflecting most of the morning and writing about different ways that I feel and memories that I have. Those posts will be out over the next few days but I felt that this would be a start to let you in on my personality.

I haven’t been taking any calls except from my mom, and sister. Pretty much immediate family. I appreciate the calls and messages that I have received and know that you have my deepest respect but part of how I process information and feelings is to be alone. I am not sure if this is healthy or not but I also know it helps me to digest and clear my head. So once again thanks for the comments, the calls, and the words of encouragement they mean a lot.

How do you deal with loss? What are some ways that you process information and steps that you take to reflect on memories?

A Dance with Birdie

This morning, Saturday March 28, 2009, my Grandfather Rev. Leon T Smoak danced with his Bride. His final farewell from this life was in the three AM hour. We received the call from my Mom at about 8:30 AM and stated that his passing was peaceful. At about thirty minutes before he passed he opened one of his eyes and laid there just looking up. His breathing shallowed and with his children gathered around his bedside he breathed his last breath.

My grandfather was truly an inspiration of faith, integrity, and strength. My memories of him will always be of a man that lived by his convictions and looked out for the betterment of others. He was my mentor and always believed in me and my walk in ministry.

My mom has been by his side for nearly a year taking care of him once he became ill and refused to allow him to die lonely. She made sure that he was clean when the funeral director came to pick him up, stating that he always left the house clean so she and a few others made sure that he was washed and ready to go.

As I am sad I am also comforted knowing that he lived his life for God and now he is no longer alone or hurting. My grandmother (Birdie), his wife of over 50 years passed about four years ago and as he exhaled his last breath on this earth his spirit inhaled the glory and wonder that God has set as our rewward for giving our life to him.

For the first time in four years, he was able to dance with his Birdie.

On Monday we will hold the viewing and the funeral will be Tuesday at 2PM. Thanks for reading and for your prayers.

4 Years and Counting

Chanelle and I celebrate our 4th Anniversary as husband and wife today. Four years already, are you kidding me. It seems like yesterday we were standing in the living room of my Grandparents house exchanging vows. The atire was casual, very casual. Jeans and t-shirt to be exact. The big ceremony happened in June with all the fixings but that evening was special. As I look back I see where we were then and where we are now and can’t wait to see what the future brings. I have been lucky to marry who I consider my best friend. We have a great life together and I think for the most part we keep things simple.

Few Highlights over the first four years.

Year One – The Year of Loss:
The first year we had some major blows early on in our marriage due to loss. A month after we married my grandmother passed, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment (shes in remission now). Five months into our marriage, in August we found out that we were pregnant with our first child then in December at 14 weeks pregnant we lost Gabriel, and 6 days before our 1 year anniversary my cousing (best man at my wedding) passed away, the day before our anniversary we buried him so we didn’t really celebrate our one year.

That first year I think brought us close in a number of ways. The loss caused us to really focus on the other person and to just be there. Alot of tears were shed that first year.

Year Two – Delievery
As year two pretty much started off with loss, we were dreading the upcoming due date of our First Son which we lost december prior. As may 28 drew closer a few days before mothers day my wife found out that she was pregnant with our second child which helped to heal some of the hurt we were feeling due to the loss of our first son. During year two we would have our second son (Peyton) and year two brought us close due to the issues that were present during the pregnancy. For a while there it was touch and go and after loosing our first we were expecting the worse but we had to comfort and be there once again for each other and ultimatly ended year two with the birth of Peyton.

Year Three – New Baby, New House
In year three we purchased our first home. Still not sure if that has brought us closer or pulled us apart (just jokes) but we couldn’t be more thrilled about raising our son in our new house.

Year Three was quite an adjusment, and we are still adjusting. Balancing parenting and being a spouse can sometimes be challenging but we made it to year four.

Year Four – Didn’t know as much as I thought
I would say year four is finding out how much I don’t know. This wasn’t a ROUGH year but we had some challenges. Between communicating effectively and balancing time demands I think we have come a long way in year four. I have learned more about chanelle in this year than I think I have in all three. We also found out that we are pregnant with our next Child.

Year Five – More to Come
As we start year five I can’t wait to see how it turns out. We will have another little one in the house come August. I imagine this will prove to be another year of adjustments because we are now moving from 3-4 in the house and we will have to learn to better balance our time with each other and between two kids.

My personal goals for this next year of marriage is to stop sweating the small stuff. To be more relaxed and to communicate without yelling, and to really show chanelle my love and support with my time and my attention. I want to get to know her all over again and want to model a leadership role in our marriage and home that she will be proud of and that my children can imitate as they grow.

Thanks for reading

Doing What You Can – When You Can

Part of my reading this morning came from this section of scripture.

Mark 4:6-9 (MSG) – But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. “She did what she could when she could” —she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”

Too often I have noticed in my life I have been the one to sit back and question other people’s motives. I would think that there actions, talents, money etc. could be placed into other venues to do more for the kindom of God, but who am I to direct what God is laying on someone elses heart. Now I must ask myself the question;

“Am I doing what I can, when I can or am I waiting and wishing on someone else to do it?”

I believe God is calling us to do something of significance that will last a lifetime. That is what is so intriguing about this womans faith and obediance. The simplist act had eternal impact. It doesn’t necissarily take the biggest and grandest gestures to impact others for generations to come, only a willingness to be obediant.

It takes obediance, and a willingness to Do what you can, When you can!!!

Start today: make decisions no matter how off the wall, small, big, or crazy they seem to make an impact in our culture and world for Christ!!!

Be Significant – Make a Mark – Leave a Legacy