Category Archives: Personal

Death of a Dad

Death is so final. I’m sorry to sit here and tell all of you who just lost somebody extremely close to you, that it never gets any easier. I wish I could say it does. The counselor in me can tell you though, that you can indeed successfully make it through the stages of grief and come out to a degree of normalcy on the other side. I was told by a wise person during my greatest time of grief that time does not heal all wounds, but it will give you the tools you need to handle the wound.

This weekend celebrates 6 years since my dad went into the coma that ultimately claimed his life. It was on Father’s Day Sunday that we sat in the family living room with him for the last time. I wish I could do that day all over again. What could I have said or done differently? He had just been discharged from the hospital that weekend where he was admitted for his long term battle with kidney issues. His transplanted kidney was failing again, but we had been down that road before and had it covered this time. As children, when his kidney first failed, my brother and I were not even considered to be kidney donors. We were too young. This time around though, we were adults and ready to be tested to see who the closest match was and to give him one of our kidneys. Although it was a struggle for us to face again, we had this path routed out and knew we would come out ahead. Life had other plans though.

While he was admitted to the hospital, my father, in his transplanted immune suppressed state, had somehow contracted meningitis. We did not know this until that Father’s Day, 2004, when he was acting drugged in the living room. He could barely stay awake and the man that was a wordsmith and genius, could barely put sentences together. We thought perhaps he was just still a little sick and exhausted. This behavior continued all day, but we had grown rather use to health problems in the Bentley home, so the worst case scenario was not even considered. The Monday after father’s day, I got a call at work to tell me to go to ICU immediately because my dad was dying. I raced out the door, with hardly an explanation to my co-workers or boss. I didn’t care what they thought and could barely comprehend what was even going on. I think at some point I must have picked up Jonathan because he ended up at the hospital with me, but I have little recollection about what happened in those following hours. All I know is that the dad I knew was gone. He was hooked up to Life-support and in a coma. We had to wear surgical gear to even go into him because they didn’t know what strain of meningitis he had. It eventually led to encephalitis and led to complete brain death. During his 3 months in a coma, he came out of the coma for a couple of days and when they put a voice box over his tracheotomy, the first thing he did was to begin singing, “How Great thou Art”. What a great anthem to our heavenly Father and enormous tribute to the kind of man my father was.

I still can’t talk about these moments very easily and even while typing them, the dam I have built around my emotions has broke loose. I had a few treasured moments with him during these days, but still carry around loads of regret. Could I have done something to change the outcome of this? I know, as an intelligent person, that I contributed nothing to his death. I imagine it is just natural to feel guilt and regret about monumental life events that alter the course of our destiny. Could we have prayed more, loved harder, pushed further? I know that logically, I couldn’t have. After a couple of days out of the coma, he went back in it? I still have no idea why. The doctors offered all kinds of explanations and did numerous tests, but they were always telling us something different. Even the doctors couldn’t agree completely. Their theories ranged from West Nile Virus to “fill in the blank” and “you name it they theorized on it”. The one thing they could all agree on though, is that during the 2nd round of coma, he had lost all brain activity. There was no way he was ever coming back.

This giant of a man, this genius of intellect, this warrior for God had renewed his mind for the final time. I ask myself almost daily why he only got 51 years on this earth, but then, almost simultaneously, I give thanks for the 51 years he did have. Not everyone gets the privilege of being raised by a dad of his caliber. I’m thankful that he was there through my entire childhood, on my wedding day, and at all of my academic graduations. Sure, he never got to meet my children, but God, in his mercy, has blessed both my boys with their own giant of a father. If your father is still alive and is even half the man my dad was, please, don’t miss out on celebrating him this weekend.


Mother’s Day 2010

May the 7th is a day that holds special significance and meaning to me. True, there are some years where it has an even deeper meaning than others, but for at least 5 years, it has been a day filled with a tornado of emotions. May 7, 2005 was the year that this date changed forever for me. It was at 2AM on May 7, 2005 that I began to go into labor for my first child, my firstborn son Reese. If you know our family dates, you are probably scratching your head because Reese’s birthday isn’t until May 8. Reese decided to show us his strong will early on. The labor started at 2 AM on May 7 and Reese wasn’t delivered until 10:59 PM May 8. Looking back though at those two treacherous days, I have to smile. A part of me feels that this was all a part of Reese’s master plan. You see, May 8, 2005 was mother’s day. That strong will of his is also masked in an unbelievably thoughtful, loving, kind, charming, and intelligent boy. He wanted his mommy to have the best first mother’s day gift ever, the life of my first child, him.

It really was a date for the record books. I had gone into the hospital on May 7 early in the morning and they tracked my contractions all day then sent me home because the labor was going so slowly. Because my husband is a pastor and Mother’s Day is one of those “big”, “significant” church Sunday’s; he did not feel like he should miss the Sunday Morning service. My water had already broken and I had already had two days worth of contractions, and yet I gave him the green light to attend service and speak that morning. He had his cell phone sitting on the podium, waiting for that desperate plea from me that I can’t take it anymore. In retrospect, this was a horrible decision! What if I had delivered Reese at home with no one to help me? It could’ve happened. My water had already broken. I suppose they would’ve just done a TLC reality show special on me if that had happened. Who could’ve predicted such an eventful first mother’s day?

Mother’s Day has always been an extraordinary day for me. For the past 30 years, I have been blessed to have a mother. 30 years ago on April 23, 1980, she gave birth to me, with no pain control medication might I add, and has stuck by my side through the whole ride. Now, as a mother myself, I can see all of the small sacrifices that were hidden from me before. It reminds me of the bible verse that says; “Now we see through a glass darkly, but soon we’ll see.” As children we go through life seeing things, but not really recognizing them. As a mother that was blessed to also have a mother, things have become clear to me in ways that were before, at best, hazy. Who really knew how much work the daily grind of life could be for a mother? Every time my kids fight me about bedtime or cleaning up their toys, I can only be so irritated. It was a mere few decades ago that I was that child testing my independence.

Being a parent, or being an adult that is heavily and lovingly involved in the life of a child is the best representation of Christianity on this earth that I can think of. In a society that keeps blurring the lines of what family really is and what it means to be a family, I’m thankful for the example of a heavenly father on the correct way to treat my children. As mother’s, society still puts most of the pressure of running a household on us. We are expected to be educated with multiple college degrees, hold exciting jobs, move up the career ladder, and still produce children that we singlehandedly care for while juggling homes, careers, significant others, and we are to do this while looking physically fit, gorgeous, put together, stylish, and even sexy! We really face a lot of pressure as women and mothers in this 21st century world. Even though I view myself as a quasi-feminist in that I believe women should be educated, should have equal employment opportunities, and should receive equal pay for the stuff they do, I can’t help but think life would be simpler if we could return to the era of a one income household. In our quest as women to be viewed as equals in society, we have actually somehow made it so that we aren’t equals at all. In fact, we are expected to be super mom and super women, while the men are just expected to do what they’ve always done. Go to work, bring home money, mow the lawn, and watch sports. The purpose of this blog is not to bash men. In fact, my husband is amazing and I can’t imagine doing life without him. I can’t imagine parenting without him. He goes above and beyond societies expectation for dads and he’s a real father. I appreciate all men that fill that role. The purpose of this blog is to honor women that play a significant role in the life of children. You are a hero!

Whether you are a mother because you conceived and bore a child or because you adopted one as your own or because you have stepped into the life of the children in your community to love, nurture, and grow them, your impact on their life will be unparalleled. There is nothing like the love of a mother when it is displayed in all its glory and in its purest and most natural state. Too often in the Christian world we think of God in all the masculine roles that he plays. He has been given the name Heavenly Father, and while that is a biblical term and while he plays that role, let us not forget that in Genesis it states that both male and female were created in his image. We need to celebrate that through our job as mom, we are displaying the love of Christ and the image of who God is in our children. God’s comfort holds us like a mother’s arms when we fall and it is through his mercy and grace that we can identify our propensity to overlook the faults of our children and defend and encourage them.

Know this mother’s day weekend, that your role as mom is literally fundamental in shaping the next generation of leaders. Your degrees and education and careers and goals can all find harmony in your role as mom. I don’t believe being a mom is an either or choice. I’ll either be a mom or I’ll pursue my goals. They can line up together. Celebrate the life of your children and the lives of the children around you that you impact and know that every time you see a successful adult it is because somebody took the time to sew seeds into their life as a child.

Dedicated to: Reese Bentley Buckland (May 8, 2005) and Gentry Jonathan Buckland (December 11, 2007) who made me a mother and gave me the greatest title I’ll ever hold and to Donna Lynn Whitmore Bentley (Mother) who gave me the chance at life.


Here are just a couple of thought updates that I’ve had lately.


Business Week Magazine recently did a story on America’s Unhappiest Cities. Cleveland ranked number 5 out of all the metro cities in the USA. Below are the statistics that I pulled from the story. I think it is time that we pray this spirit of depression and bondage out of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland. The birth of Christ and the gospel story of the death, burial, and resurrection is “good tidings of great JOY”.
Cleveland, Ohio
Overall rank: 5
Depression rank: 17
Suicide rank: 27
Crime (property and violent) rank: 11
Divorce rate rank: 2
Cloudy days: 202
Unemployment rate (December 2008): 8.8%


I just wanted to drop a note of encouragement to those that may be suffering from the current state of the economy. As the children of God, we need to refuse to participate in the recession. This doesn’t mean that our finances won’t be affected and that we won’t lose our jobs. What this means is that we are going to claim the promises given to us in scripture. When our investments fail financially, our investment into our relationship with God will bring huge returns. He does his best work when we have run out of our own human ideas and answers.
Psalm 37:25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (NIV)
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.