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It was just a grassless patch of dirt in our backyard. How could I know what it meant to my son? Until he wanted to go see it with me one more time before we sold our home of 25 years.

    It's such a sensitive subject. Especially if it's affected you or someone you love - as it has me. That's why I hesitated writing my heart today.

    But I had to - because of the growing dark cloud of suicide in the news and in our country. Not as a therapist or expert. But as someone who still grieves for friends who were suddenly gone - by their own hand. And someone who has hugged and held the shattered loved ones left behind. As well as a guy who has faced deep heartache and found hope to stay afloat.

      Three graduations in 24 hours. One scheduled, two a surprise. And tons of different emotions.

      That was the story for us, two years ago this week.

      On that Sunday night, Karen and I were in our high school football stadium, watching our grandson graduate with highest honors. His valedictory speech was articulate and full of his love for Christ. It doesn't get much better than that!

        Mine is in my shoulder, from replacement surgery. Our grandson's is in his chest from heart surgery.

        Country singer, Carrie Underwood's was on her face from a bad fall and 40 stitches.

        But most of ours are deep inside, where no one can see them.

          It's that time of year again. When a lot of us are feeling - well, religious.

          You've got Lent. And Good Friday services. And Easter services. And if you're Jewish, the millennia-old observance of Passover.

          And that's all good. In fact, social researchers tell us that religious folks are generally happier and more satisfied, less likely to get divorced, more likely to volunteer - lots of positive effects.

            I think it started at our grandson's two-year birthday party. With Cassie. That cute little Shetland pony that the party lady brought for the kids to ride in a little circle.

            That's when my wife said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have Cassie at our place for him to ride?" So how can I say no to a pony for our then-only grandchild?

            Not long after we bought Cassie, my honey casually commented, "You know horses are social animals. They really need company." Four horses later, they had plenty of company. Somehow, people kept coming up with horses for my horsie-lady.

              Again and again, cable news networks announce "Breaking News." All too often it's heart-breaking news.

              A school shooting. A quake or a crash. A storm, a fire, a flood.

              It's hard to be a news anchor or politician at those times. Trying to find the right thing to say. Often, they will simply say, "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." Or the social media version of consolation, "Sending good vibes."

                We knew it was coming. With each passing birthday, we knew a spiritual giant of our lifetime would be in heaven soon.

                It's still hard. And even more real for me, having just come from Billy Graham's funeral service. For so many of us, he embodied the best of Biblical faith. Even though his last crusade was in 2005, there's still this sense that we have lost something irreplaceable.

                Leaving many asking the graveside question his pastor posed: "Billy's gone - what happens now? Who will take Billy's place?"

                  Bottom line, Billy Graham was a farm boy who became a preacher.

                  But his death is obviously a big deal. Because his life was a big deal.

                  How many preachers have been on Americans' "Ten Most Admired" list more years than any other person? What was it about him that gave him the unofficial title, "America's Pastor"?

                                

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                    Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
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                    Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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