This won,t be too lengthy.
Tonight I want to write a little about my "GCW". My Great Cloud of Witnesses. Paul wrote in Hebrews 12:1 "Since we are encompassed by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off the weights that holds us back and the sin that entangles us and run the race for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". Paul was referring to the fact that those loved ones who went on to heaven are not sitting on a cloud playing a harp and wholly unaware of our plight and circumstances. Instead, they are watching, cheering us on, loving us even more perfectly than they did here on earth and, I believe, praying for us as they did in this life. They are those dear people who loved us the most and who went on to eternity in Christ. For me the list is wonderful, and I am convinced those on it are actively watching and will be cheering loudly on Saturday morning. My list includes...
My grandmother, Dorothea Wray Shanko. The first truly godly woman I knew. My grandmother was my protector and my champion when I was a child and she never stopped believing in me or in the call God had on my life. Her beautiful voice is reverberant in my daughter's and her prayers are still being felt in my life. I know she will be watching intently, and if there are tears of joy and smiles of pride in heaven...she will have both in ample supply.
Poppa John Iorizzo...The father figure that God brought into my life when all I had was a dad-shaped vacuum. Pop went to heaven about a year and a half ago and not a day goes by that I don't miss his cantankerous smile, his distinctive voice and his laughter. ...and his incredible wisdom. Pop will be very very proud that I finished the task at hand.
Dr. Falwell...a hero of mine and a role model and a man who loved every single kid who ever walked onto the campus of LU. Doc loved us like we were his own and I know he would especially like my story. His life was marked by overcoming faith and amazing conquests in the name of the Gospel. He'll be there with his train horn if he has it.
Terry and Mary Chapman...Two of the godliest most Christlike people I ever knew. Both of them loved me and my daughter in my darkest hour and I feel their impression on my soul daily. Being a man like Terry is a huge task and not many are up to it...but I'll try.
Harry Kalas...I never met Harry on earth but I am sure he knows by now what He meant to me and he is proud to have played a part in my survival and ultimately my victory.
Those in my GCW but who are still quite present here on earth...
Dave and Cindy Lewis, my former youth pastor and his wife many years ago and still my friends. Dave is my mentor, my sounding board and someone who always laughs at my fond remembrances. I love you guys and I appreciate how you've stood by me.
Momma Jewell Iorizzo...my "Mom" who loves me as her own and believed in me all along. She is making the trip from Delaware to see me walk and it wouldn't be right without her.
Cathy and Bob...my other "parents". You guys first saw this in me 18 years ago. I'm glad I could make good on that faith finally. I love you both.
My sister Nicole and brother in law Barry...Two heroic, faithful, wonderful, sweet, inspiring people. I am so proud to be your brother and Taylor's uncle.
Jim Freeman and Greg St. Clair...the two best friends I made when I was a resident student at LU. hard to believe all these years have passed and here I am at last.
Cory, Fritzer, Craig Handwerker and the rest of the guys from LU Hockey.
Crieg Soeder. My friend in Nashville who never gave up on me and who values effort and education enough to love what I've done. You're a great friend Crieg. Thank you!
Meredith Stafford...my High School creative writing teacher who still reads my stuff and still believes in my abilities. I love you!
Most of all my daughter Morgan. Morgan can't make it this weekend but she will be watching live online and she'll be proud of her dad. This is for her as much as it is for me.
For my father...I hope at last, that you are proud of me.