Friday, April 28, 2006

Yesterday I had all these wonderful things in mind to tell you all about the ways God is teaching me and growing me lately.

But this morning I am just frustrated. It seems that I have locked my keys, AND my spare key, in my car, along with everything else I own, save my cell phone and a few of my CDs. Even when I was moving out (ALL DAY Wednesday...), I lost my car key at least three times. I ask myself... am I really this ridiculous? Am I really that terrible at keeping track of one key?

Not to negate my own responsibility in the situation, but it seems to me that something else is going on here... For the past few weeks, my Swaziland team and I have been discussing spiritual warfare. We are trying to prepare ourselves, to know it is very real, and to recognize it when it comes. Even more than the key thing, I have felt very much under spiritual attack lately. Especially in this time when God has consistenly been teaching me so much about Himself and myself, Satan is using a vulnerable point of transition in my life to try to make me stumble.

He will NOT win! In Jesus' blood, I have victory!

Even as I write this, a good family friend of ours (one who was able to get in my car last time I did this) is close, and on his way over here to save the day once again. Big John, you are amazing!!!

Even in frustration, the Lord is teaching me to look to Him, and to rely on Him for the grace and mercy I need to make it through each day in one piece. On the days I fail, He goes back with me to pick up the pieces, and then He mends my brokenness.

Sometimes I wonder how the Lord doesn't get tired of my own ignorance to the grace He provides me every day. I asked Him yesterday. Never before have I felt such a clear answer! It was absolutely thrilling to have God answer me!


When I asked what would happen if I couldn't learn right, or well, or enough, His reply was swift again.


That's enough for me! Father, I will continue to trust in You. Teach me!!


Mark in OH... I felt God speak into my heart. Usually I am very nervous to attribute what I think I heard God say to what He really did say, if anything. I don't want to be making things up in my head and pretend God said them, you know? But when I was spending time with the Lord the other day, I clearly felt Him impress those words on my heart. I have been learning so much lately, and He reminded me that it is Him doing that work in me, and that watching me grow is a delight to Him! Thanks for asking... :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I have a vivid memory of Beej when he was a little younger. I have shared his propensity and joy in surprising me, and intentionally initiating "conflict." One of the things he enjoyed were Nerf toys. I remember him finding fulfillment in the simplest ways.

One day I was deeply involved in a book. It had been quiet for quite some time. The dog lay at my feet (as he often did), and I was completely wrapped up in the moment. Then it happened. The most unusual sound erupted and seemed to last forever. Before I could figure out what was happening, I was being pelted repeatedly... all over my body, and the dog who had been most rudely awakened out of a dead sleep, took off with a yelp.

When I finally collected my faculties, the moment was over, and Beej had disappeared around the corner. All I could hear was intense laughter from the other end of the house. All around me on the floor were Nerf darts. I had been obliterated by a rapid-fire Nerf gun. From that moment on, the dog tucked his tail between his legs and ran for dark corners, anytime he saw BJ with this weapon.

Of course I pursued him, and "gently" took his weapon, reloaded, and unleashed a fury back at him. Throughout, he was doubled over with insane laughter.

Soon, we had two similar weapons, and would hunt each other down. The poor dog. He could not keep up, and was so frightened.

Finding pleasure in these simplest of moments was clearly something I took for granted. I wish I had initiated more such times.

Too often, we are inundated in a rapid-fire manner by what the world would introduce as "pleasure_filled" gimmicks. Soon we find we are embracing them without a thought. We forget to test these things against scripture, to see if they stand. Before we know it, we are traveling a road which is wide, and filled with others who look just like us.

"Come out and be separate! Find your joy in the simple things of God." This is the resounding lesson which echoes through my mind. I find that while I am alone, separated from my family, I must repeatedly reflect on His grace and provision, or be submerged with things that seem right, but drag me down.

If we truly approach our God as a child, the simple things will be enough. Joy will come in those moments we too often take for granted.

Be Blessed!


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I guess it is fleshly to do, but when an event as difficult as losing a child occurs, you look for validation of that life. One could argue that that is why we have continued to post for as long as we have. I can tell you honestly that I would have stopped a long time ago, had the Lord not continued to provide ministry through this site. He has faithfully provided words when there were none in my heart.

Many of you have been with us from the beginning of this journey. You have laughed, cried, and prayed as the Spirit of the Lord moved upon you. Please know that we as a family are eternally thankful for this support. You have ministered to us as much as anything we have done.

It has been seven months since our son, BJ went home to spend eternity with Christ our Savior. We have the peaceful assurance that we will one day worship side by side with him again. We miss the opportunities we had to do this. He was such a passionate lover and worshipper of Christ. He lived a very full life in his almost 16 years.

We are so very thankful to Bart and the guys for how they have poured into our lives through "Die for You." The validation the Lord has given to our sons memory will resonate through the nations, as the money from this song funds scholarships to send his replacements. Over, and over, year after year, we pray that this happens for a long time to come. Our God has blessed us with opportunities to share his story in many states, and that has helped us heal from his loss.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that Christ is glorified. That is what BJ wanted, and it is what our family wants. Beej's life and death validates the need we all have for a Savior. It points to the love of a God who cared enough for you and I that He sent His only Son to die, that we might live.

Though many may choose not to believe it, He may call others to lay their lives down if through it He can receive greater glory, and draw others to Himself. Is there a greater purpose in life than knowing Christ, and understanding the need to be willing to do whatever He asks, regardless of the outcome or circumstances? There was none for Beej, and he has taught me that there should be none for me.

I miss him more than I can convey. However, I have a loving Savior who meets me where I am, and provides for me. I will serve Him with all I have, and all that I am until my turn to go home arrives. He is my God, and I love Him.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When BJ was in high school he was on the wrestling team. I cannot say that his desire arose from the wrestling matches we had as he grew up, but I suppose it is possible. We would go at it, and he would be pinned to the ground, but laugh and say "I'm taking it easy cause I don't want to hurt you old man."

His laugh was infectious, and the corner of his mouth would curl up. He would often taunt me, and try to draw me into scuffles. He loved the interaction, and fun. He had no care about beating me, or winning in general, for that matter, he just enjoyed the fellowship of having a riot with his dad.

When he wrestled in school, his lack of a killer instinct did not serve him well. However, he was a scrapper, and he put up a good fight. I remember when he was supposed to wrestle a girl from another team. He refused. Not because he could potentially get beat by a girl, but because he knew it was wrong for him to potentially be touching her in an inappropriate manner. His coach respected his decision to forfeit. So did I, though I admit, at the time, I questioned his motivation. We talked about it later, and I understood.

Of all the times he wrestled, none were as significant as the time he wrestled with
God. It was winter of 2005, he had been to Peru the previous summer. The following summer his desire was to go to Thailand. He was very excited about it. As he began to make plans, the Lord made clear His will for Beej to return to Peru.

He resisted, and encountered one of the darker periods of his young life. He did not want to return, as he felt he had been faithful, and wanted to move on to something more challenging. After a period of time, he relented, as he saw his way was bringing about disobedience, and unfruitfulness.

In doing so, his joy returned, and he was excited for his second summer in Peru. I know you have read of many of his encounters with gangs, policemen, headmasters, and others. In every case, the Lord used him to bring salvation to those he was willing to minister to.

That kind of joy is not imaginable without our obedience. BJ could have been disobedient, gone to Thailand, and would probably still be with us. That potential disobedience was stealing his communion with the Lord. He paid an incredible price to follow God in obedience, and look at the communion he has now.

The world would say he was a fool. He could have saved his life and won, by going where God did not want him. He was willing to lay it all down to bring glory to his Jesus. I believe he chose wisely. I know this was a wrestling match he faltered in early, but by losing his life, he won, eternally.

BJ was willing to "Die for You," Jesus. Thank you for the privilege of sharing in the life of a son who loved that deeply.


Monday, April 24, 2006

The trip from Indiana to Oklahoma was an encouraging one. Traveling with my brother was a pleasure. We have done so before, usually to visit my younger sister Lynae and her family, as they have hop-scotched across the country from Virginia to Colorado, and back to Virginia again. I think they are staying put for a while.

Anyway, the trip was far more beautiful than I remembered. Even northeast Oklahoma was much hillier and lake filled than I thought. This area is suffering from the worst drought in 85 years, but all seems green to this Hoosier.

Arriving at Awe Star was like seeing family I had been missing. We felt very welcomed and appreciated when we arrived. Staff came to my car to help unload my office stuff. We spent time setting it up... it includes mementos of BJ's. I am hoping that doesn't make anyone uncomfortable.

While I was in Mexico a few weeks ago, Walker (President of Awe Star) did something I cannot remember if I conveyed. The team had gotten up very early to begin the trip home. Walker said a few words to them, and then told them he was passing the mantle to their new leader, and that I was going to address them (He had forgotten to tell me he was going to do this).

We gave him time to leave the room, then I addressed the group. The Lord had given me a few words to say, and I shared them. I remember quoting my son as part of my pledge to serve them.

When I arrived in my new office this past week, there was something laying across my desk. I looked at it as I tried to figure it out. I cocked my head in several different angles as I wondered.

Walker and Cathy have been remodeling their home. We made several trips to check the progress. It's looking great. It isn't finished yet, but it is coming along. One of the things they're having done is a reworking of the wall and area surrounding their fireplace. They'd ripped out the old... that was what was on my desk... the old mantle!

He had figuratively passed it on, and now he has physically passed it on. His old 'mantle' rests on my office wall where it supports things my son collected while in Peru.

That mantle holds things very dear to me... both physically, and figuratively.

Elijah passed on the mantle of authority God had given him to Elisha. Both were powerful followers and servants of our most High God. I do not presume to compare us to them. Only that when the mantle of authority is passed on, it occurs at the prompting of the Lord.

I can tell you that makes me very nervous.

A young lady came through the front door of the offices. Staff greeted her, and she spoke to each of them. I assumed they all knew her, and I moved forward to introduce myself. She looks at me and says, "your son is the reason I am going on this mission trip. I was one of the students at Mingo Valley when you spoke there."

I have no idea if I responded, or said anything intelligible. I was shocked.

While the mantle may have been passed, it is still my God who is in control, and He knows just how to meet the needs of His own. Thank you Lord Jesus, for this amazing encouragement!


The MercyMe cd "Coming Up To Breathe" is released tomorrow. Please purchase a copy, I don't believe you will be disappointed!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Higgins family is officially homeless. Seeing the moving truck drive away was incredibly difficult. Brad took our picture by the BJ tree. We walked through the house and his room for the last time. Our emotions spilled out once again. We clung to each other. The reality of BJ's being gone struck deep once again.

Generous friends are allowing me to set up temporarily in their homes. In Zionsville during the week (Praise God - relieved of the hour drive) and back home to Mooresville on the weekend. God's grace is unfolding before my eyes.

I got the opportunity to talk with one of BJ's surgeon's nurses, who is also a parent of several of my students and former students the other day. Her family was praying for us before she realized she knew me. She was sharing the impact that BJ's testimony has had and continues to have on people around her. She encouraged me so very much. Thank you Donna for stopping me at a time when I actually had time to talk with you in the hallway. There is really only one spot in my schedule where I have extra time in between classes and, you guessed it, this was the day. Instead of a 5 minute break or no break in between classes (per normal), I had 20 minutes this day. Further evidence that God works in the details!

Thank you to my friend Lori, wow, you have been so diligent in praying and keeping up with us. I am constantly amazed at the dedication of God's people. The picture is a perfect reflection of God's light shining down on the storm - I love it! Thank you for your thoughtful words. I could write to many friends who have cared for us in such a way. God has overwhelmed us with the love of others during this time. It has been so incredible, so indescribable, so humbling. I am learning just how important relationships are. My prayer is that more of our friends and acquaintances become our forever friends in Jesus' name.

Jesus had nowhere to lay his head. He was homeless as well. His humble means allows us to think Him approachable. An ordinary guy. Completely human, yet completely God. A miracle we may never understand. God's ways are certainly not our ways and I praise Him for that!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thank you for your prayer support and encouragement. Brad and i arrived safely in Tulsa, and are hanging out at the Awe Star offices right now. It is good to be with this family. I miss mine already, but know the Lord will provide for each of us.

We are tired, but in good spirits, and looking forward to meeting many new people! My schedule will be very unregulated for a time, so please hang in with me until I can figure a time to write.

God bless you!


I was reminded this past weekend of a conversation I had with BJ about 6 years ago. We were out in the yard one afternoon after school picking up the seemingly hundreds of walnuts that had fallen from our oversized walnut tree that filled the backyard. I don't remember why we started talking about love, but for some reason we did. We got into a very heated arguement becuase BJ was trying to explain to me that love is a verb and I, being older, could not accept that I was wrong and so fought him that love is simply an idea. Our conversation went on and got loud enough that we were reprimanded by mom and dad and so ended our discussion. Looking back I can see what my pride would not let me see at the time, at the age of ten, Beej had a much better and deeper understanding of something as complex as love than I did.

This weekend at our college Bible study, we were studying Romans 1. Our group focused on the end of the chapter and ended up having most of our discussion on faith. Romans 1:16-17 says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" We began to try to define Faith and came to the conclusion that faith is about much more than simply a belief. Faith moves you to action. Faith without works is dead, it's about obedience. Faith is not an idea, it's a verb. Just like love. Just like my little brother tried to tell me so many years ago. Just like Beej wrote about so often, we as Christians settle for "faith" that lets Jesus be our Savior but not the Lord of our life. We say we believe but refuse to allow our belief to change our actions. We settle for love that is merely spoken and rarely shown. Faith and love are part of a lifestyle, not a religion and it's our job to show that to the world.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I have had the privilege of spending some time with Danielle, the young lady I wrote about last Friday. We sat in BJ's old room, her new room laughing and crying together over our memories with him. Those we remember, and those we try hard to, but cannot.

Today she brought me a writing she did for one of her classes last December. I know you will understand and sympathize with her pain as you read from her heart. She has graciously allowed me to share it with you.

"Throughout the past two months, I feel like I have been trapped in the deep, fiery pits of hell. Telephone calls piercing the night at three in the morning, emotional highs soaring up, then plummeting down, and the promise that hope, prayer and simple faith will heal his body and restore all sense of life. My best friend, BJ Higgins died last night.

As my father drove our family to the church the day of visiting hours, my emotions raced so fast through my head, they made the passing buildings look like snails. I had never experienced these emotions of deep pain that ripped my heart apart, and the emptiness that engulfed my soul, telling me I am all alone in this pitiful, immoral, disgusting world. Why? Why BJ? Why now? My mind screamed, "Why did he have to die?" I am so confused on what is happening and I don't understand why the world is still going about its daily routine. Do they not understand what has just happened?

As I walk into the sanctuary, in my neatly pressed jeans, with a bright pink tee-shirt with BJ's name on it, I notice all the pictures of his life hung on the walls and lying around on tables. Every moment seemed to be captured. My heart softens and melts a little as I remember all of the happy memories we had shared. I only wish I had more memories of him, more time, to have spent with him. The reality had not hit yet. To me he was still alive and well.

Hatred instantly bursts from my soul as I look up and see the Higgins family, standing in the front of the room, shaking hands and receiving hugs, trying to maintain a joyous composure. There is a slight sense of guilt, for the hatred is not toward the family, but toward God. The air becomes heavily weighted with every step I take forward. My breath is caught in my chest and I can't breathe, my pounding heart stops beating.

I can't speak. My eyes search frantically over Mr. Higgins' face trying to find any words to say, or maybe I'm just trying to find recognition of the feeling overflowing my soul. He reaches out, tenderly touches my hands, and pulls me close for a hug into which I crumble. My legs buckle and I can barely stand up straight, my body heaving as I try to breathe through my uncontrollable sobbing. Tears streaming down my face, I'm praying to God that he will never let me go. Slowly Mr. Higgins breaks the embrace and I step back and look up into his eyes. Staring directly back into mine, he whispers, "He was in love with you, he loved you with all of his heart." The millions of pieces that my broken heart was torn into, shredded into even smaller pieces.

My mother catches me as I collapse to the floor, in another rage of sobbing and crying. My shoulders ache from shaking and my shirt is soaked from the tears and sweat flooding down, swallowing up every little pink cotton fiber. A few thoughts are running slow enough through my mind that they register and I can understand. I wish I could bash my head against a pew, pierce a knife through my heart, or hang myself from the ceiling; anything that could end this life of misery.

My father walks over, gently lifts me up, and begins carrying me to the door. "I think she's been through enough," he says to my mother softly. I glance up one last time to look around at the pictures and my eyes fall onto a particular one. BJ and I are standing together, laughing so hard we were almost in tears, on our skis at Snow Blast eight months earlier. A small smile creeps onto my face as I remember the fun we had that weekend skiing and I'm amazed at how well the picture captured the love and life brilliantly glowing on our faces.

It has been two months since that joyous day of celebrating a new life with Christ, but the haunting emptiness of my missing friend still remains. Life is so unimaginably short, it needs to be lived to the fullest each and every day. A precious gift that I took for granted will never be taken advantage of again. I will never forget the impact of BJ's life.

Her writing warms my own heart. I remember vividly how he cared. Danielle also handed me another gift. A bookmark that had a poem about the importance of "hugs."

I agree. I need them. So does she. Danielle, you have blessed me, and I will miss you.

Our belongings are being loaded onto the truck, and shortly I will head to Tulsa. My brother Brad is coming along and flying home later. Deanna and the girls I leave behind for a time. I will see you soon! I will see all of you soon!

Deep breath, gulp, it's time to go. Tulsa, Awe Star, I am on my way. Thank you Lord God, for Your amazing provision. You are my King!


Monday, April 17, 2006

There were times in my two years at Highland Lakes, that I was the only staff person working on particular days. It was not necessarily planned, it just happened to work out that way. On those days, I enjoyed working at things that I knew noone else would do... like using a chain saw, to remove snags, debris, or just cutting fallen trees to firewood.

This was one of those days. I was working roughly a hundred yards from our main building, but down a trail, and in the woods. Several trees had come down in a previous storm, and they were blocking the trail. I began clearing it. I had been working for some time at this, when I noticed a snag (a tree without a top) that was leaning in a threatening fashion.

I took it upon myself to be proactive, and prevent future danger to one of our guests, by removing this threat. I began cutting into the tree's base. I stopped several times, as my saw was dulling down. When I did, I would check the tilt of the tree and try to assure it was not going to come down on me.

I was growing tired, and my saw was beginning to whine about what I had it doing. I stopped to look up at the tree, when I felt sudden pain in my upper left thigh. I looked down at my leg to see that as I had relaxed my cutting position, My wrists had flexed just enough that the saw blade had "paid me back" for making it work so hard.

It had shredded my pants, and my flesh. I was bleeding and needed medical attention. Suddenly I remembered that I was all alone at camp, and there was literally noone to call for help (other than 911). I began trying to calm me down. My mind had begun to race with thoughts of "if I go into shock" this isn't gonna be good.

I made my way to my vehicle and drove to my home to clean up. In my 'one on one' with myself, I was reminded that I was trained in first aid, and could help this foolish victim.

I climbed out of the shredded pants to discover that a five inch strip of my left quadricep was missing (five inches long, not deep). I cleaned, sterilized, and bandaged my mishap. I felt pretty silly. I had not even felt the blade redecorating my leg. I could feel it now.

Later, during a bandage change, I revealed my little "scrape" to my family. They insisted I should have gotten stitches. I disagreed. I think I was right. Today my scar has healed to only being two inches long.

For some reason, BJ seemed to think the whole thing was pretty cool. Oh, he expressed concern, it was just that he could see the whole guy side of things... that I would have "bragging rights" in the next "spitting contest." Men are warped!

I've realized that the times I have spiritual lapses, also come when I am alone, and have let my guard down. It's not that I intentionally run to failure, at least not usually. It's more that like with the tree, I am occupied with something else, fighting a bit of weariness, and suddenly refocus to notice that my choices have landed me where I don't want to be. Careful thought and prayer would have prevented this.

I find that if I am in fellowship with other believers, I tend not to wander into stray saw blades. I need to stay in fellowship.

By the way, a concerned minister friend bought me some "chaps" to prevent any further unplanned carvings.

I will miss those who have been my friends over the last few years. New relationships must become a priority (in Tulsa) as I am not looking to win anymore "spitting contests."


Friday, April 14, 2006

This has been a most unusual journey. Amid the difficulty, stories which could only be the hand of God come to light. I'd like to share one of them. I am a bit hesitant though, as I never want to embarass anyone.

A couple of short years ago BJ was in love. He met a young lady at church whom he grew to express undying affection for. He was thrilled as she was a believer, was attractive, and showed interest in him. They began to share their lives over the phone, and at church. We even had dinner in her home. We had met her parents through youth ministry, and at their invitation, were attempting to get to know them better.

Not long after that, her father and I went on a mission trip together with many of our adults and youth. Her father is one of those impressive "man's man" kind of guys. He can do anything with his hands, and the results are impressive. He had an amazing work ethic, and put many of us to shame, as he would often be the first to work in the morning (by an hour or so ahead of others), and the last to finish at night (again, by an hour or so). He worked very hard at the construction aspect of the trip, and set the example that few could keep up with.

Our paths crossed many times before and since then. We certainly became friends through the process. We have been on two mission trips together, and I have the utmost respect for him. His family is precious, and have been ardent supporters through the storm.

BJ's relationship budded for quite awhile with this young lady. He had grown intensely fond of her, and began to struggle with keeping Jesus on the throne of his heart. He knew he was struggling, and wanted to do something about it. I do not know exactly how things ended, I just know they did, and both of them suffered for some time.

Her father had begun leading volunteer groups to do construction projects for us at the camp. He did a great deal of work in our home (camp owned). When BJ got ill, his family wanted to do something tangible to help. What they chose to do was a help to far more than my family. They chose to go to Highland Lakes and work in my place, whenever they could. They covered weekends and gave other staff a much needed break. They took care of our dog for a time, and helped around and in our home.

BJ and this young lady found a way to be friends in spite of the intense feelings they had, that they were no longer pursuing. I am convinced that was for the best.

After BJ passed away, they were present at his viewing and celebration. They were at our home on the day we planted his tree (his birthday). They have reached out to us in ways I am sure I am unaware of, and I cannot thank them enough!

BJ wrote about their relationship in different journal entries. I can tell you that his reflection on their time, expressed with intensity, exactly how he felt for her. Yes, he was young, but his depth was mature on more than just a spiritual level. His written display revealed with great amplitude, care and concern from the recesses of his heart.

Our Lord has been working behind the scenes throughout this time. His plans are perfect, and I do not question them. I am however, anxious to see what lies ahead. To see what He does next in their lives.

You see, my replacement at Highland Lakes is her father. When we vacate our home, they will refill it. The new occupant of BJ's room? You guessed it, and I'll bet she will not keep it grey/maroon/black.

I stand amazed at the hand of my Lord!!!


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Today is my last day at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp. As I look over the last two years at all that has occurred, it is difficult to believe it is coming to a close. It was a growth time for me, for BJ, for my family. Throughout this time, God was preparing each of us for this next step in ministry.

Tuesday the moving truck arrives to load up, and begin the journey to Tulsa. Sometimes when I look at it through the lens of the world, it is all very non-sensical and scary. Praise God that I do not do that often, as the peace He has given us amid all that has occurred is overwhelming.

There are so many details to work out. So much to do. It has been amazing to see God's people step up and assist us in this transition. We are very thankful. The Lord has surrounded us with each of you, and many others who are trying to encourage, support, and love us through this life-changing experience.

Packing BJ's room is nearing completion. That is something we have had to do a little at a time. The task is very emotional, yet necessary.

Deanna was awakened early this morning... unable to sleep... too many details creeping in and vying for attention. She grabbed the 800 numbers she could, and began canceling services. We are learning some expensive lessons about the length of contracts we agreed to, without a thought for what could occur (like having to leave early). We'll be more careful in Tulsa.

As we prepare to bring our time here to a close, we have a final opportunity to share our story here in Indiana. Sunday, we will be at our home church, First Baptist Mooresville at 10:00am (it's on Indiana St.). Deanna and the girls will each sing, and I will share BJ's journey... our journey. This will be with the hometown crowd. Many know his story, and we are thankful to have this final time with those who will come on Easter. Please pray for hearts to be changed, lives to be surrendered, and a renewal to occur and thrive in the last church BJ called home (on earth).

Thank you Pastor Larry for giving up the pulpit on this most crucial of Sundays. Thank you FBC Mooresville for your undying support, and love. Thank you blog family for supporting us through this most emotional period as we stand on the last platform from which our son and brother ministered. Thank you Lord Jesus for dying that I might live. Thank you for the perfect example of how to do the same!

brent (dad)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

One Christmas a few years back, we were together as a family at Brad's Camp (Jameson). Actually, we have done that for many years now, and only missed one or two for various reasons. A tradition we began the year my father died.

BJ looked forward to this more than about anything else at this point. The anticipation was enormous, and the time there incredible. Honestly, it's hard to remember what we did before this, nothing compares to it.

BJ was in his element when we arrived. He loved being part of the family, and joining in games, but he also entertained himself. Though the details are a bit foggy, I remember being surprised by a knock at the door. That never happened. This was secluded, and noone else ever happened upon our gathering.

It was the Sheriff. The alarm had been tripped in an adjacent building. The alarm was a motion sensor. As we tried to figure out what had happened, I remember asking BJ if he had been over there. "No," came the reply.

We postulated for some time about what could have triggered it. Was the camp cat in there? Had a resident rodent, larger than one would desire to encounter, been stealthing through dark? What were the options? Brad questioned BJ separately... not an interrogation, just a, "maybe he was closer than he realized" kind of approach. "No" to every possibility. We were befuddled.

Later, came the confession. As parents, we teach our children to tell the truth. Not all children grasp the necessity of this matter. Some only tell a "truth" that benefits their circumstances. Others like to see what they can get by with. Sadly, some others just don't understand the difference.

We had never known Beej to lie to us. This was not part of who he was. On this particular occasion, embarrassment won the battle in his mind, and so he covered up his escapade. He covered it up until it ate away at him and he could keep it secret no more.

When Whitney was young, she could not tell a lie. She was a compulsive "truth-teller." Her sensitivity was so defined, and her desire to please, so profound that she would come to us and tell us of a wrong she had done (not lied about). She would
confess to clear her conscience. It often involved tears. Even though we were generally very understanding, her realization of wrong-doing evoked the appropriate repentant attitude.

On this particular Christmas, BJ confessed his indiscretion. In a decision not unusual for boys his age, he was himself in stealth mode, and crawled through the pet door of the adjacent cabin. The reality of his decision was so humorous to me at the time of his retelling, that I'm sure I told him everything was okay, and thanked him for telling the truth.

The fear and nervousness he had before coming clean was distinct. Not that he lied often, he didn't. When he did, there was a nervous little pattern he would follow which included pacing, wringing his hands, and the appearance of talking (no audible words). This would happen in close proximity to where we were.

I am thankful that he was obedient to the conviction in his heart. He like his sister before him, would share with us about his downfall.

As parents, we try to instill this in our children, but the reality is, they often do what they see us do. Telling the truth is about living the Truth. There is no way around it.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

We continue to pack things up for the move. I was sorting through things in BJ's room, actually his closet, when I came across something I did not expect to find.

BJ and I shared a love for two or three desserts. Whipped cream topped the list. I know whipped cream is not a dessert for many people by itself, but it certainly was for the two of us. We also thought of it as a separate food group. It can be consumed at any time. I prefer it straight out of the Redi-Whip can. He liked Cool Whip tubs, the big ones.

We would often try to eat each others whipped cream off of the others dessert when they were not looking. Success was grounds for all out war. We weren't usually successful, however, as we both knew the other was going to try.

I used to order extra whipped cream on shakes at a local drive through. Apparently I ate their too often, as after the 3rd time, they started charging extra for it. How rude is that? I was a faithful customer up to that little development.

Beej would spoon out dollops of the fluffy white delight into bowls and eat it like ice cream (which he didn't like much). It wasn't necessary to have had a meal to have a bowl. It was pretty much okay as snack food too.

You know people have taken notice of your particular eccentricities when they invite you over for dinner, or perhaps at church small group meetings, and they make it a point to let you know where to find the necessary "spray can." Of course, my mother would not be very proud as I empty part of the cans contents into my open hand and then do what comes naturally (for me, not her).

Anyway, as I was going through his closet and sorting out his nintendo and x-box game equipment, I came across something we apparently didn't have in common. A box of chocolates from... I'm not sure... maybe Valentines Day 2005? That is a long time to have chocolate around. It would not have made it that long in my closet. It would not have made it TO my closet, come to think of it.

Why did he hide it in his closet? If you don't like it, share it, or throw it away secretly or something. Stowing something this rich in your closet is... well it's just wrong! Maybe he was savoring it. You know, using discretion in eating it - there were 6 or 7 pieces missing. Nah! Not BJ.

As I write this, another thought occurs to me. Also found in his closet are a light, a bean bag chair, and many books. I just wonder if maybe he was literally spending time praying and reading in his closet (as the Word says). As a matter of fact, I even remember finding him in there one time, doing so. I had truly forgotten this.

You know, maybe a box of chocolate in my closet isn't such a bad idea. Anything that gets me to spend more time praying and seeking God cannot be a bad thing!


Monday, April 10, 2006

My family loves to snow ski. When each of the kids reached around 5th or 6th grade we taught them, and began to go when we could. Usually on church youth ski events.

Lauren's first year to go with the youth had to be postponed because she had pneumonia. She begged to go as she was healing, but we did not let her, as we felt it was too risky. I promised I would take her later after she was better. That happened a week or two later, and just the two of us went skiing. We had a blast!

Whitney's turn came a couple of years later. She was a natural and picked it up quite quickly. Her ability amazed me in such a short time. Both girls enjoyed going each year after that, even though we usually only went once, sometimes twice a season.

Beej's turn came early, as we had moved into a school district that took his class on an annual ski trip, and dad's were invited. He was way too much like me in his attitude. Point the tips straight down, and get to the bottom as fast as possible, and style didn't count. He loved speed. If he cut off an occasional person, he would feel bad, but he was just having too much fun.

Over time, his skill improved, and his technique with it. He could actually turn, though he didn't enjoy it near as much racing straight down the slope at breakneck speed. When you're young, it is often about speed. The faster, the better.

I didn't start until I was in high school. I jumped everything I could catch air off of. My bindings always had to be set tighter than my skill level required on the rental skis, as I did so much jumping that they simply would come off to easily.

I remember skiing Whiteface Mountain on the Olympic Downhill run the week after the 1980 Olympics. I remember that my skill level did not match what was required for the extreme upper portion of that run. They changed that sheer drop at the top from a smooth speed inducing section to a mogul field (for me it was more like a mine field) right after the Olympics were over... but I didn't know that until it was too late. I did not get more than 50 feet without falling. Then I slid and bumped over the moguls for another 50 to 100 feet, because it was so steep, and I could not stop. Trouble was, my ski was still back up the mountain.

Have you ever seen the young children on the slopes who have way more skill than most of the adults out there? Sickening isn't it? I know I am just jealous, but good grief, I worked hard to be as bad as I am, they could at least show a little respect. Anyway, someone like that saw my plight, schussed over to my ski and picked it up in one fluid motion, descended to the depth of my waning ego, and dropped it off without saying a word. I could have gotten it... really, I could. Wow, that was a long time ago.

BJ was improving all the time. Greater speed brought on more challenge. He skied every run that I would let him, and wanted to spend most of the time on the difficult ones.

Last winter, a group of us men and our sons went on a ski trip to Cadillac, Michigan. My friend Bob (from the Eggs Benedict story) led the trip with his two sons. We stayed at his sisters home... all of us, and they outfitted us with their own equipment. That was incredible! It was to be BJ and my last such trip together. Deanna has scrapped (scrapbooked) many pictures from it. One of my favorites, surprise, surprise, is where he is leaning on me (as he so often did).

During one of his kamikaze runs, he broke the bindings on these borrowed racing ski's. I was upset. I knew he did not do it on purpose, but it made my stomach churn to know that he had done so. I insisted that he tell them himself, what had happened. They were so sweet about it, and refused any compensation, as they insisted the bindings were due to be changed.

Beej's approach to his faith was just like it was in skiing. He raced through as much as he could, and remembered all he discovered, and grew from it. He devoured books, on-line sermons, and spent time filling his life with His life. He did not have to be reminded to do this. It was an inner desire that he learned to fulfill at a fairly early age.

His wisdom, knowledge and skill grew in this arena as well. He practiced his faith far more than he had opportunity to practice his skiing. God ministered to him through these times, and raised up a mighty young warrior. You know, one of those you see that have far more ability than many adults?

I Praise God that he used this to further the kingdom!

Bob's precious family put brand new bindings on that set of racing skis, and gave them to Bob and Deb. Bob and Deb did something unbelievable. They gave that pair of skis that BJ wore, with brand new bindings... to us. They wanted us to have them so we could remember...

Bob and Deb, you and your family have been such a blessing even before the skis. Just unbelievable!


Friday, April 07, 2006

I just have to tell you that last night was an amazing night. Indiana University is a school with much prestige academically, but a reputation for being one of the top 10 party schools in America. My father would not allow my sister to attend there because of it's reputation, and that was more years ago than she would like for me to share.

Did you know that there are some incredible believers there also? I was honored to share about BJ's journey with a room of several hundred students at "Cru," which is short for Campus Crusade. Their worship was incredible. Their skit was dead on for the way many students tend to live their lives. The Spirit of the Lord resided there last night, and continues to do so in the hearts of most of the students in attendance.

Dave, the young man who runs this ministry (with a cast of many others) portrayed Christ in the same drama BJ ministered with, back in 1998 in Croatia. That was my first mission trip, and God used it to really get a grip on my life. Dave is a graduate of I.U. and I am very proud of how he is allowing God to use his life!

I was greatly impressed that these young men and women are finding their way in a place that many write off as a 'den of iniquity.' God stirred many hearts last night, and I was blessed to hear testimony after testimony from young adults who are surrendering to missions.

One young lady told me that God had been directing her to South America for some time, but she did not know how to get there. Last night, God completed that connection for her. Another young lady who was BJ's age, came to me weeping to thank me and let me know she was seeking His will for her life, perhaps in missions (she also introduced herself using her first name, and 'Christ' as her last name... She gets it)! I met a young man who had served last summer in the North African country my family and 16 other young adults will journey to this summer.

My heart is leaping for joy at how God is working. I spoke with student after student who were moved by God's presence, and wanting to follow him in obedience. I talked to one of the worship leaders, who is also the top ranked woman diver in the USA, who told me her teammates were present, and one of them now wanted to talk to her about her relationship with Christ!

Lord Jesus, may I say that You did very well last night! I believe a "revolution" is underway at a top party school. A "revolution" for You! Only You could accomplish that! Let Your Glory Reign!

dad (brent)

Please pray for Eric Steffen, a young missionary and father who is in Indpls. right now battling cancer. Please visit his website and encourage he and his wife Kelly at He is an awesome man of God who lives to serve His King, and understands that "to die is gain." He has young children and loves them dearly. He is not being given a lot of hope or time, from what I understand, but God has worked tremendously in and through their lives already! Praise God we can lift one another up, and He hears us!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

We sat at Starbuck's late last night, with our friends Deb and Bob. We had been to dinner earlier, and on the way home Bob suggested it, and we quickly cast our 'yes' votes. Deanna and Deb sank deep into the comfy chairs as Bob pulled up a table and we grabbed the less comfy wooden plank seats.

Somehow, we started talking about eggs. I honestly cannot remember how it came up. We were discussing what happens when you try to prepare eggs in a microwave. I learned that it does not work well, as they tend to explode. I find that funny, and wanted to run home and try it. Bob and Deb are both engineers, so I asked them why you couldn't prepare an egg a certain way utilizing a microwave. It was not my intent to ask a brain teaser. Apparently, I am smarter than I think (not likely).

For the next several seconds, our friends took opposing points of view on why this would or would not work. I lapsed into my days back at Purdue when my college roommates (also engineers) would have very similar discussions. Only they would discuss something far more important... the likelihood that water would freeze faster if put into ice trays in the freezer with the liquid being hot as opposed to cold. I got lost then too. I do not have an engineers brain. I pretty much don't care why water freezes or how quickly. Just as long as it is ice when I want it to be.

I also don't care why eggs explode in the microwave. I just think it sounds like fun to watch... as long as I don't have to clean it up. Not to be cruel. I like eggs. I like them over medium, or on occasion, scrambled. BJ liked Eggs Benedict (it seems wrong not to capitalize the word egg when using it in conjunction with the name Benedict). It comes with hollandaise sauce.

I am lost again. I don't know what a 'hollandaise' is. The only place we found Eggs Benedict was Bob Evans. Beej liked to go there just for this. The problem was they used to only serve it until 11:00 am, or until the hollandaise sauce was gone. Why is all the hollandaise sauce gone... and why couldn't they just make more? Who is Benedict, and why did he choose a sauce that is hard to keep on hand? It must be rare stuff, cause they are expensive to order (remember, BJ never ordered cheap food).

I have never eaten Eggs Benedict, exploded an egg in the microwave (yet), or poured hot and cold water in two separate ice trays to see which one froze faster. But I do like eggs, and I do like ice in my drinks. I just don't like getting lost while other people talk about the theories.

This is the way many non-believers view our faith. They hear us arguing denominational, or budgetary issues and they get lost. The difference is, if we cannot agree on who Jesus is, and what His Word says, then we destroy the very witness we are trying to put forth. Why would they want to commit to something that we make so difficult and unappealing?

This is the reason Jesus prayed that we would have unity as believers (in John 17). He knows the destructive nature of our desperate need to be right, and our inability to agree. These are not Christ-like attributes. These vociferous, even venomous at times, discussions fray the very fabric that weaves us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. In process, it destroys our ability to win others to our Savior.

They do not care about how to freeze water, or how to microwave eggs without exploding them. They do hunger and thirst, but their need is for righteousness, salvation and things of the Lord. The way to convey this information is with a humble and gentle spirit, not an "I will win at all costs" attitude. That only results in lost souls.

Next business meeting, practice a humble and gentle spirit, you don't know who might be watching!


I have the privilege of sharing at Indiana University tonight. Please pray for the students, that they will hear what the Lord wants them to.

Thank you so much for your prayer support over the last couple of days. Our Lord has used you to lift and encourage us!

Thank you so much for your generosity RC, Lisa/Jack, and Aunt Maralyn!!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The furnace hums a distant prayer, and it's whispered in vain, through the vent. The blanket wrapped around me can't seem to ward off the growing chill. The weather outside is warming as the flowers of spring are offered through the dull brown hues, remnants of last years life. So why do I feel cold? Where is the icy mist rising from, that has captivated me?

Frigid is how I feel, packing away his things... pulling out his shirts, his pants, his socks, his jackets. It torments my emotions. It belittles hers too. Tears stream down her face as she gently puts his belongings in bags to be carried away. This just doesn't make any sense. It's bone numbing cold.

The warmth these walls previously offered are cooled with emptiness, loneliness. His closet grows spacious, his dresser echoes as the drawers are closed. In these difficult moments, his life seems to be summed up in what these bags can hold. Not enough! Not nearly enough!

The memories are rich and the vein runs deep, however. Each shirt brings with it a replay in time. The ones he wore routinely, now adorn the closets of his sisters and mother. The next 15 shirts are gathered into one bag. An offering from a friend of Lauren's to make a blanket from them, brings us a brief reprieve, as we wonder how the finished product might appear.

His socks... how pathetic. Most had to be discarded. He was so hard on socks. He never took them off. Even to bed they went. We often found them tucked deep beneath the covers, or hiding between the bed and wall. I'm not sure how it is possible to have your feet eat socks threadbare in such a short time. He knew.

We count it a blessing that though we despair of his loss, and must pack his clothing, we have friends who will put them to good use. They have six boys. The eldest two may be able to wear some of these things, the remaining four will, as promised by their father, "wear these clothes out." Somehow, that is an encouragement.

The trip to and from their home was a difficult one. Emotionally exhausted in moments. Saline drips that would not cease. I imagine this is part of healing, but it feels more like the scars have been ripped open. It's hard to breathe. It hurts so deep.

Lord, I know you are here. You must be carrying us right now, for I cannot sense Your presence. Thank you for loving me.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It just keeps flashing. Over and over again, it blinks. I confess I do not understand. I have reset it a multitude of times since he passed, but its desire seems to be to broadcast an interruption. Virtually every time I walk into his room, it is flashing.

It used to attempt to wake him, but often failed. Sleep came easy for him, rising difficult. Now, it fills no function and seems to know it. So try as I may to correct its operation, it functions in its own way.

It is the second timekeeper that has failed since he began to "look full in His wonderful face." The other, an antique, perhaps with excuse for quitting. One can wind it, set it and start it ticking, but five minutes later it will stop. Just finished.

The digital offspring seems to act more in declaration of what has occurred than what is present. Interrupted illumination being sent out in red waves, crying for attention to be drawn to its futile existence. Noone looks, noone seems to care, when will I have purpose, it seems to beckon?

Too many of those around us are living with the same perspective. Something difficult has happened in their lives, so they grow bitter and disturbed, awaiting someone to rescue them. Someone to give definition to their lives, to respond to their obvious need. They send out signals, they cry out with desperate fear, and fleeting hope.

Often my response has been annoyance at how it seems to insist on drawing attention to itself. Am I tired of paying attention, of being reminded of the hurt, or am I just not caring enough to offer what I have been given to bring its purpose into sharp view. Answers don't always come quickly, but the hurt and broken do.

Perhaps I don't want others to compare their journey to mine, so I ignore their need. Perhaps their need is part of my journey.

I will reset the square numbered pest one more time. Maybe this time with understanding of the intended message. Maybe this time I will meet a need, and not just go through the motions without a heart of mercy.

What time is it?

"It's time we as the professed Christians of America wake up from our sleep of lethargy and hypocrisy and stop only living for Christ on Sundays and Wednesdays... It's time that we as Christians stop being lazy and just talking the talk and get our hands and feet dirty actually following Him"... BJ Higgins

What time is it?

"It's time to raise a revolution. God will give me the strength." BJ

It's time!


Monday, April 03, 2006

One of the attributes of my son that I have learned from was his ability to be accepting of anyone, regardless of their circumstances. He did not judge them based on their background or difficulties in life. He saw the good in people, and he pointed it out, and was able to put them at ease, and make them feel comfortable.

At the same time, he clearly saw sin, and was not afraid to confront it. He always did so in love, and let the person know that he struggled with sin issues as well, but that he had found victory over it in Christ.

Additionally, he would tell them how they could come to know this same victory. Clearly this alienated some, but most were interested, whether or not that made a commitment at that moment.

Our own ability to share Jesus with others is often blocked by our own pre-judgments, and/or fears. This same facet is too often reflected in our churches. Though His Word makes it clear we should not favor the rich over the poor, we often cater to those who have, and ignore those who do not. Many of our youth camps or other trips cost too much for many people to even be able to consider participating. Some churches offer scholarships, but even the process of securing them can be demeaning.

I realize there are not always simple answers to some of these issues, but we can each contribute to the solution, by respecting others regardless of their socioeconomic background. We can reach out to people in general, and not turn up our noses at the people who are paying the price of growing up in homes of ignorance (be it financial, social or other). For that matter, some of the most ignorant individuals are those who "have" a great deal.

One such example would be the feeling you get when a gang of motorcycle riders pull up to the restaurant you are dining in. How do you feel? Instantly uneasy. Unsure of what they will do or how they may act, and how you should respond to whatever happens. Fear enters, and can overwhelm. How will you defend yourself or your family against them?

I had that experience this weekend. A crew of 15 to 20 bikers came rolling up. Full leathers, tattoos, long hair, long beards (ZZ Top look-a-likes), etc. They were a sight you would not soon forget. Their arrival commanded attention.

You know what? They were bikers for Christ... "Bondslaves Motorcycle Club." They were some of the most genuine and precious believers I have encountered. No false pretense, no act... just followers of Christ not afraid to talk about Him. Yes they attract attention when they enter any zip code, but they point to Christ with what they say and do!

To love people as Christ loved the church takes us far outside our normal pathways in life. Caring for others regardless of ethnicity, class, or other areas of social prejudice must become part of our prayer life. For what you seek God for, often becomes an area of ministry. Don't do it unless you mean it, because God will bring opportunities your way.

In many respects, the evidence of your prayer life is reflected in how committed you are to the Lord, and/or by how you are ministering to others. The people around you notice, and they will often ask you questions, as it is foreign to them because they are often of the world and not just in it.

You have something to offer that they desperately need. The Word says to "always be prepared to give a reason" for this. I Praise God for a young man who was. He has taught me much.