Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pretty Paper

This was written by my mother just right before Christmas. Two days till Christmas. It will be my 1st without my husband, James. I feel like crying. But I know I have to be strong for our grandchildren. For Jim asked me a few days before he lost his voice to go home and be strong like I always had been. For he loved our grandchildren so much. They had brought him such happiness in life. And he was going on. The kids needed me to help them in life he believed. He didn't hate to die for he had lived a good life. But it was hard on all of us. We would see him again someday. We had been together so many years but now he was depending on me to carry on. And he loved me with all his heart.
Today was one of my test without him. I was decorating the Christmas tree when I found an ornament he had bought back in 1996. It had Jim and Louise on it and two doves. My brother had asked him to go dove hunting with him one year. And he told him he would not shoot a dove. For God had used them to find dry land for Noah. I thought back to the time of him saying that to my brother. He had a gentle heart for a strong man. I celebrate this as Jesus's birthday and I know he is with him. For he doesn't hurt anymore. In my heart he is always with me as we dance beneath the mistletoe to "Pretty Paper" one last time.
Louise Gargus
I remember well the Christmas time as the record player would play. That song would play as they danced across the living room and they seemed so happy looking at each other with all the love in the world. Them being so close made my brother and I feel that nothing in the world could ever go wrong. She completed him in time when he needed it most. These are the memories that come back to me with the warmth of a family on Christmas Eve.

Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Path

In my dream I had before my father died, I was standing on a road that wound around a mountain. As I was standing there I glanced up at the top of the mountain. The summit was flat allowing the placement of a large structure of some sort. It was enshrouded in darkness so as to hide it from view. But, suddenly, it came in view for all to see on this summit. Everyone in the world could now see it. Now, as I beheld this place I realized it was a church. A magnificent church it was. It was built on such a grandiose scale for all to behold and admire. The workers of this structure worked day and night. It dwarfed any cathedral in Europe by any means. The work I felt would never be completed on this building. They were working so feverishly in a pitch of ferocity to complete a project that would never be done. The work was not on God's Kingdom but on the materialism of impressing others with their riches. Just as the Israelites did with the temple I was told by a voice that came from nowhere. I heard voices in the shadows behind the workers say,"As long as they are building this structure, they will be no bother to us."

I was so puzzled what I was doing here. "What am I suppose to be here for?"I questioned. I observed in front of this path a great chasm separating the path into. Down below lay nothing but darkness. There was one way across this chasm and one way only. In front lay this bridge that sat on two giant rocks. As I looked to my right, I seen someone jumping in and out of the shadows of that great chasm. I seen that it was some female. As I drew closer to this woman I caught a glimpse of the face. To my shock it was my wife. "What are you doing?" I inquired but she did not answer me. Voices came from behind wondering what am I going to do next. "I am going across this here bridge to find an answer to this riddle," was my reply. "Come with me," I insisted to the voices. As they stepped into the light I saw a man and a woman. They were recognizable to me but unlike I had ever seen them. It was my son and daughter standing there staring back with a look of question. They were grown probably mid-20s. And behind them stood thousands of black figures with no faces. "Who are they?" I insisted upon knowing. "They are the generations of your descendants watching you," my children told me. There I was put on the spot wondering what to do next. "Well, then, follow me across," I shouted with joy. "NO!!!," they all shouted with one voice. I had run halfway across the bridge before I could even get the words out of my mouth. Their voices shook me to the core. Like untold stories yet to be told shook me from the future. "But why?!" I shouted back in anger. Their tone then changed to one of question. "We like it here. We are comfortable here," was their answer back. "How can you mean that?" I said with much bewilderment. "Do you know what is on the other side of that bridge?" they demanded to know. My eyes widened and my face lost all expression. I stood there for what seemed like hours. I turned to try to peer to the other side. Yet, for all my efforts these eyes, alas, could see nothing. I opened my mouth to speak but all that came out was a weak,"No, I do not." In that moment I never felt so alone. As if my childhood had come back to haunt me. I stood like I did so many times on that playground defeated like the breath had been knocked out of me. No matter how many fights I fought against those bullies and won or lost. I kept standing up. But behind every corner of my life there was one more bully to fight. That wears on a man afterwhile. The constant barrage of battle in life, mind, and soul. I stood there in that moment with my whole life being replayed to me. I looked back at them knowing we couldn't go back up that hill. "Now what?" was my last thought as I awoken. "We will see," was the response back from the main voice I heard.

I inquired about this dream to my father before his death. He said, "God would reveal the meaning of this to me in due time." God reveals things with many layers and find new things each time you look back. My drive for this site was more than trying to honor my father's memory but the understanding of that dream. The answer lies within me. But I have to understand the past of who I am and what I am to become. The word Legacy carries so much more weight after you stare down the ages to come.

As I look forward to a new year I ponder these things in my heart continuously searching the depths of my soul.

"If any man lack wisdom, let him ask God."

James 1:5
Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My Sweet Sister, It Was All For Naught

Georgie Ann Gargus was my Aunt and my Dad's sister, and she was one of the prettiest women he had ever known.
She was not only lovely but had a kind heart.
My Dad thought alot of her but she thought a better life lay ahead for her out there.
The farm was not good enough for her.
She longed for the big city and a life of luxury and ease.
The finer things in life she thought she deserved.
It impaired her judgement of men's character is so many times the case.
She could have any man she wanted but chose one based on wealth.
Monetary value held more value than character of heart.
So she chose her mate and left her old life behind never to look back.
Never to keep in contact with old family and friends that reminded her of her old life.
So she wed him and he took her away from it all. But all false faces are soon revealed.
He gave her the lavish lifestyle she longed for.
But her beauty was her Achille's heel on which her sense of self worth was based upon.
His jealousy of other men drove him crazy.
The alcohol to forget their looks.
Though no impropriety she did.
The onlookers as they went about their ways was more than he could handle.
So in a jealous rage one night he struck her on the head leading to her death, eventually.
She lied about the event blaming it on a fall.
So wanting to hold on to the life, she had built for herself that she lied to her family when they visited her.
A princess she was and no more pauper was she.
But, oh, what a price to be.
She covered it up until her life it did take.
Leaving her family with heartbreak in its wake.
Vanity caused this beauty to refuse to see the jealousy beast.
May her soul lie at rest.
For beauty lies in the heart and riches in the things not of this world.
We all become blinded by the things of this life.
So when you read don't judge her to hard, for you see this story has been replayed so many different times on different stages.
The characters are different but the plot is still the same.
As Solomon said:"Then I looked on all the works my hand had wrought,...and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 2:11
Lance Gargus

Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fathers Aren't Suppose To Outlive Their Children

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their
Psalm 102:17
This is what my mother wrote about Larry. He was my dad's youngest son by his ex-wife Edna. He felt he was never the same after the divorce. It seemed to forever affect him. She met him after she started dating his dad. He was so lost after the divorce he resorted to substance abuse to forget about things. He just wanted someone to love him as he tried find his way in life. He was a very talented artist with a God given gift. But his life was sad and tragic in how it ended. He was searching in life for something. I don't know if he ever found it. I pray he did. He died of a drug overdose. Was it suicide? We don't know. But Dad mourned for him for a long time. He blamed himself and I think he always did. He wished he had done something more for him.
This is what my mother wrote about her memory of him.

In memory of Larry Gargus
A little boy of 13 years of age.

I met, when I met his Dad.

Who in 69 became my husband.

A son of 13 I had then.

A little boy so lost and hurt.

Who I couldn't seem to understand.

But he and I had some great times of love and joy together.

Sharing our love and trying to find each other and understand each other.

A fine boy he was.

Soon we had a brother for him.

A picture of his brother he drew as I set and watched him with a happy smile upon his face.

But soon Larry grew into manhood.And soon was wandering on life's busy street.

But treasured still was the life we had shared.

Oh, how I wish I could again hear his cries of delight on Christmas when he opened his gift of love from his Dad and I.

For a loving heart never forgets the smile of a young boy's face.

Drawn by Larry Gargus, my half- brother. He drew this when Jimmy, my brother, was 3 months old and Larry was 13. My mother laid in bed and held Jimmy while Larry drew his picture.

This picture was drew by Larry of my Dad and Mom's wedding. She was like a second mother to him.

This is a letter my Father wrote about his youngest son by his previous marriage, Larry. Though infidelity was involved on her part and it tore a family apart, the ramifications of this divorce was felt through all my half sisters and half brothers to this day. But Larry took it the hardest. In hurt his ex-wife told my dad he wasn't his and in some way he believed it. He still treated him a little different than the others after that. He was so confused that one night he stood crying wanting his Dad to understand him. Dad knew he was his even in spite of the hurtful words Edna said. Divorce has many causalities but children suffer the most. My mother tried to be his friend but she was just a stepmom he said. All he wanted was a family. Maybe the one he lost. At times my dad would accidently call me Larry instead of Lance for we favored some I was told. He died when I was young and never got to know him very well. But none the less he was my brother and my blood. The pain of not getting to know him is as real as my Father's was the night he found out the news of his death. Here is what Dad wrote in his own words...

Larry in spite of his terrible problems loved me to the end and I did that boy. I kept thinking he would be okay. He was a miserable, wonderful, honest young man with his family life blown apart and he never recovered from it. I loved him dearly.

Dad with Larry right before his divorce from Edna. He was the youngest of 5 kids.

He took very few pictures when he got older. He mostly went off searching for something ever elusive to him to fill a void. The alcohol and drugs finally did him in the end. He was living with his mother. She found him lying on the couch at her house. He had convulsed and his liver had exploded trying to process all that he had consumed. He was only 26.

What we all do affects all those around us. No man is an island, they say. What you or I do could affect generations of people, especially those whom we love. A stray word can even hit harder than any fist. But one spoken in kindness to a receptive heart may make all the difference. Seach your own soul and figure out where you stand with those whom you love.

He planned on attending Art School at the University of Memphis. If attended, the City of Memphis promised a job as an art designer of their billboards. But the past haunted him so much that he tried to silence it anyway he could.
His handprint he made at about the same age I was when he died. I was 9 when he died.

The last picture he had made. It was with his neice. She was just a baby. He never had one of his own.

Him with his mother, Edna.

by Lance Gargus

Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

My Father's Journal

What did you enjoy doing most as a child?
Did you prefer doing it alone or with someone else?
Reading,listening to my mother sing. Climbing trees, swinging on grape vines, playing hide and go seek, blind man bluff, kick the can, hide and go seek, ginn, visiting my relatives with my mom and dad, going to church with mother, listening to stories of The Church Elders experiences in their missionary journeys, wading water, mud, swimming, going fishing with my dad, watching ants build hills, birds nesting, baby birds learning to fly, listening to the mocking birds, listening to the whippoor whill, walking barefoot on dusty roads, watching dust squirt up between my toes, listening to older folks tell of haunted places, learning to play baseball, watching my dad and older brother drive and copying them.
There was times I liked to be alone but generally I liked to be with someone or a group.Who gave you your name and why? Did you have a nickname? How did you get it?My mother gave me my name, after her father, James Caldwell, and for my father's father Henry Alvin Gargus.
Yes, "Freckles," was my nickname. I had a million freckles until I was 17 years old. Later, instead of James, or Jim my name, or nickname become "Jimmy" and it has stuck with me, as many still, after all these years refer to me, as Jimmy.
Describe your childhood home. What was your favorite room?
My childhood home, as I recall, was happy, and like most boys at that age and time, in the 20's, 30's was carefree, and I had no idea we were poor people, until years later when someone informed us of this strange fact. On the farm, til about 8 then in town. There was 9 children to contend with and enjoy, or be real miserable, all depending upon the older children, who could make your day or break it. Were you baptized or dedicated as an infant? If so, where and by whom?
Baptized at 8 years old by immersion by Bro. Thomas Newton a travelling Elder in the church.
Bro. Newton long since passed on.
Baptism is only for responsible youth or adults, who can and will make a mature, informed decision to follow the way of Christ.

Did you attend church as a young boy? What are your earliest memories of church?
With my mother and older children going to prayer meeting. Going by farm wagon or model "A" Ford, cold feet and hands, muddy roads.

Where did your father go to work everyday and what did he do? Did his work interest you?
Farmer mostly, he did some work for the city of Paris, Tn in sewer service. No, his work didn't interest me at all. He was a moody person and we children were afraid of him, most of the time.

Did your mother have a job or did she work at home?
My mother mother was a full-time homemaker and a part-time school teacher. A humorous lady with a serious mission in life, to honestly sincerely be a good mother, wife, and neighbor.
Yes, she worked at home with 9 children to attend-to, 3 boys, 6 girls, and another son. Whose birth contributed to her death, by a hemophiliac condition, the bleeding couldn't be stopped. She was a devout church attender and believer by deeds and conduct.

What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity? Why was this your favorite?
The schools I attended had no sports program. We played cow pasture ball growing up, a home made twine ball and a hewn out homemade bat. Did you pray as a young boy? Who taught you to pray?
I think I prayed. Later my mother taught me by example. Did the pastor or visiting missionary ever eat dinner at your house? Did they have an impact on your life?
Pastors and traveling missionaries were a very influential part of my younger years, especially between age 7-13. I was baptized at age 8 in 1928 by a traveling Elder Thomas Newton, who (as did none of the ministry serve for pay) in all their travels, all expenses were born by the men themselves. They gathered corn, picked cotton, bottomed chairs, they plowed and hoed or whatever needed to be done to earn their travel and keep. They sent about 2/3 of their earnings home to their families if they had one. They could not, indeed would not sell their ministry; they served out of love, as indeed they do to this day. In all humility, I do the same. And have never suffered for it, but rather received many wonderful blessings, guidance, and healing.

Did you ever feel that God had a special calling on your life?
As a young ex-soldier WW2 1946, I was told by one who loved me that the Heavenly Father wished to use me in a special way, but I needed to clean up my life and prepare for the call to ministry.
This I proceeded to do, with much confusion and uncertainty enroute.
I served as a teacher for 4 years, with much joy at seeing many people responded to my interest in their lives, homes, prayer life, and church attendance. As I served I also was under great temptation the last 3 years and even tho, I did not fully succumb to these enticements, I suffered loss and so did those of my home and the isolated members to who I was sent.
I moved to Memphis from Paris, Tn in the winter of 1953-54 and was ordained as a priest in 1955 and was ordained an elder in 1957.

Describe the most memorable time of life.
I served as Elder, 57-1968, when I decided to turn in my priesthood license. (This after my wife left me for someone else in 1966.) I have no excuses to offer even tho I suffered, as did my children, Ronald James, (Elbert James) now Joseph, Bonita Marie, Leah Kay, and Larry Alan. We were very active in the church. I was a pastor at two locations, chaplain at the high school, and elementary school, Boy Scout Leader, and Cub Scout Leader. My wife, Edna, was P.T.A. President and parliamentarian; she was also secretary to the zoo director, secretary to church district pres.,Thomas S. Gough; and were told the neighbors looked to us as a model family and neighbors.
After she left me and the divorce I was too distraught and weak to resist the temptation to get even, rebel, and do harm to my family, friends, and myself.
The road back was formidable, and didn't want to give up the (don't care life). But the call of the church was too strong and now I am serving to the best of my ability.

How far did you have to travel to attend school and how did you get there?
School bus or walk. We were not furnished cars. They were then considered a luxury or necessity depending upon the existing circumstances. Mileage varied from 1/2 mile to several miles. How did you come to write in this journal?Lance, my son, gave me this journal, and if I don't' write in it, he'll fuss at me. June has been a rewarding month so far. I've gone back to work. Working at Tri-State Protection Agency as a security guard since I retired.What about your church? My church has been so good to me and so good for me. Tho, I drive 12 miles, roundtrip, I really feel great about it. The people that are such fine Christians, no pretense, just good honest people; clean living and really appreciate my ministry.What word best describes your childhood?
Uncertain, at times. My childhood was like it was due to a problem in the home. My mother was settled, calm, and caring. My father was almost always abusive, belittling, name calling, profanity, no showing of affection, or care,always requiring the utmost effort in whatever I did-never satisfied, and no compliments. He made me labor beyond my physical ability and then demanded more, or more abuse. I came to believe I was no good or retarded, as he accused. I loved him in spite of this. He was my father. He did change after he became 55 or so. He died of cirrhosis of the liver. A very painful demise. But he did die a very changed man. Thank God!What advice about life do you want others to remember?
Do not allow others to tell you how you feel. You decide what your life should be like without being cynical. You are a special person, no one is, or ever will be like you. Trust in the Lord- put your hand in His, do His will, that is all that's necessary. Do you have a special message for one of your children?
Yes, my eldest son, Ronald James Gargus, born October 16,1946. Fine son, very intelligent, gifted "A" student, athlete, and lettered in 5 sports. Had call to priesthood, but was cancelled by a questionable Elder, who disagreed with the call. He was very disillusioned after that, and more so when our prayers for Bonita's daughter wasn't answered as he thought they should be. And she passed away at 8 months of age. He is of fine character but at times disillusioned.This journal was presented to me by my son, Lance Lee Gargus, on 6-13-98.

James Gargus

Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Last Breath He Breathed Out

Let every thing that have breath praise the LORD, Praise ye the LORD.
Psalm 150:6

Dad was wanting to go home so bad. He was tired, so tired. It had been a long hard struggle that month for him. His breathing had become so labored. The oxygen he received was at ever increasing levels. He felt himself smothering, yet worked to communicate to us.

Every breath we have comes from God and it returns to Him who gave it. The breath of life is a gift like no other. We take for granite everyday. Only faced with our end do we realize that. But even with every breath a challenge, he still praised God with each one. Amazing to me. Not blaming God for his condition or wishing for a sudden healing, but enjoying every small moment. This is how we should live. Yet, we all get caught up in the problems of the here and now.

The last few days he kept wondering was it daylight or night outside. Mainly if the sun was setting or rising. This puzzled me and as I pondered on this for awhile the time came when his condition worsened. He was sent to the comfort room. In the room he was mildly sedated. For he was coughing up pieces of his lungs. He was finally resting. The last two hours I fell asleep watching every breath he took. It was steady now with no struggle.

My sister was the only one awake those last two hours. We had all fallen asleep around him. She held his hand and cried. Kay looked at her father as he took each breath in and out. As his chest rose and receded with each inhale and exhale. She looked up from where she had been laying her head on the bed crying. She had felt some presence bring it to her attention to look. She saw him take one deep breath in like you would before you would go under water to swim. Then after what was left of his lungs was filled he let it go with one long breath. No fighting just a peaceful release. More like a sigh of relief thanking God it is done. And with the last breath he was released from the prison of that frail body.

The sun that had been setting when he was brought to the comfort room was now rising in the sky. It's rays of light filled the room. She awoken us to the news that he was gone. As we wept so despairingly and held each other I noticed something. The light outside his room. His room was at the end of the hall you see. As my eyes were filled with the light as the sun rose that Sunday morning, it was the time of day for him to be getting up to prepare to go to church. For now the church he now dwelled in was the Holy Temple with our eternal God. We all watched this event. All I could say was,"This is a good day. For he no longer hurts or suffer. He won't be needing this to breath anymore ." I took the oxygen mask that had frozen to his face and removed it. I threw it in the garbage with a sense that the breath he was breathing now must be so good. Like your first breath as a baby when the air fills your lungs for the first time. No longer would he have to depend on man for his breath. For God would return that same breath that he breathed out of his body back into a resurrected body. That will be like pure light.

And so I press on. Not sure where this road is carrying me. But I pray I never take my breath of life for granite. That very same breath which had left was the same one I had felt rushed into my little ones at the moment of their births. At birth and death we all have a first and a last. What matters is what do we do inbetween those breaths. I am not quite sure when my last will come but may I, Lord Jesus, breath my last with your name on my lips. As I wait to exhale my last breath.
Lance Gargus
Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

The Light Around Him

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
Proverbs 27:23

As he gave his last sermon he seemed to be unsteady on his feet. His voice was weak sounding at first. He looked as though all his strength was being used to keep him going. Suddenly, a light shone around him that I did not see. But my wife and Bro. Fate's wife, Diane, saw a light that radiated from him. I couldn't see it but I noticed a difference in his look.

His face seemed to be filled with hope. His voice roared like a lion, yet, he weaped bitterly for the souls listening to him. I was taping it thinking nothing at first but wondering where his new found strength was coming from. He saw straight through everyone there to the heart. He also foresaw a time of trouble that made his heart mourn for what we were to endure. He spoke like he was trying to say everything on his mind with a most incredible sense of urgency. Like if he didn't say it all that he would expire at any moment. He pleaded with everyone to please take this to there core. He seemed to be talking to a bigger audience than we could see.

The words were powerful, heartfelt, and sincere. I had never seen him quite this driven before. He would wipe away a tear as another one would take its place. He didn't speak as a man that needed oxygen to do most activities. But as a bullhorn or mouthpiece for God. A voice crying out in the wilderness. A sane man in an insane world trying to reason with the unreasonable. A man who saw the ending as his end drew closer, and pleaded with the world to change their ways. But, alas, his words fell to some with deaf ears. Who enjoyed the darkness instead of the light. When he had exhausted all his reserves he collapsed in the seat behind the podium. I thought I was going to have to help him, but he is a proud man who wants to lean on God not man. Man's strength is fleeting. For God would carry him through to the end.

As he sat there he told the elders that he had seen a light around each of them. A messenger or angel behind each one of them was touching them. Empowering them if they would accept it. But so few take the gift when offered or even recognize it when presented. One messenger spoke to him to tell him about one of the elders. He would have a long ministry was the messenge. Elder Tandy looked and nodded in agreement that he would watch and check in on the flock on his returns to this area. For you see my dad worried about his church, his family, and this world. He poured his heart and soul into his ministry and never expected anything in return. No monetary compensation, no prestige, and often many times no praise. He wanted his Lord to receive all the credit. I, on the other hand, as I soul search find I have a very long way to go and alot to learn from my Heavenly Father and my earthly father.
Lance Gargus
Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven

The lights were dim

The lights were dim,

The voices were soft and hushed

Life always fragile, was quietly ebbing away,

The body once so strong and sturdy,

Now, so frail and weak and wan,

Life had been a wonderful voyage

Across the oceans of time,

So many discoveries to enliven the mind

each one a new burst of adrenalin to

fuel the travel and time to

the next novel of joy

When the mind and body was fueled by

youthful energy and anticipation, eagerness

spawned experimentation unlimited,

unchecked by the barriers of age or inhibitions.

Time, a prime mover of childhood, of youth, of all stages of life,

of times moving too swiftly to grasp,

too fleeting to analyze its toll;

if indeed the zeal of living allowed this impediment of its flow.

We hurry on, to what? To where?

Ah! To new horizons, somewhere beyond the sunset,

beyond imagination or reality;

some feeling of the urgency to-move to meditate, to explore,

to see and feel new frontiers,

frontiers that had no shape of thought,

just of being swept along on wings of flowing exhilaration,

subtle but commanding.


James Gargus

Key Search Words:Christianity, Bible, Jesus, Angels, Soul Searching, God, Holy Spirit, Doves, Love, Children, Heaven
"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."

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