“Thee I Love” — Part 3

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

Our move to Branson, Missouri occurred in November, 2005, and Cathy and I bought a new home in the Branson North subdivision, a short five minute drive from the hospital. For the first time in our marriage I was able to regularly have lunch at home with her. Our home was large enough to accommodate all of our family for weekend visits and special holidays. We were anticipating lots of visits to such a fun town.

The Wound Care Clinic position was ideal for me at this stage in my professional life, and fortunately all the nurses working there were believers. With the administration’s permission we had a ten minute daily devotion and prayer time for our patients at the beginning of each clinic, and we were able to pray with many of our patients. Some were led to a faith in Christ while being treated in the clinic.

Within two years of living in Branson God opened the door for founding of a new ministry, The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks in 2008. Cathy and I believe the clinic was the supernatural fulfillment of a vision God had given me years before. It was exciting for Cathy and me to be involved in such a ministry, and we began working together as chaplains praying with and encouraging people coming to the clinic for their medical care.

Because our children were members of First Baptist Church Branson we didn’t visit another church but sank our roots into the ministry there. This was a great fit in what we found to be an outstanding church. We were able to start a younger couples Sunday school class which grew in numbers very quickly. I was fortunate to begin a teaching ministry there and quickly added 2 other Godly men, Hebo Hall and Dr. Marvin Schoenecke as co-teachers. Under the pastorate of Neil Franks FBC Branson grew into the largest Baptist church in Taney County. At my retirement from medical practice in November, 2011, Pastor Franks invited me to join the ministerial staff in charge of new member outreach and marriage mentoring. Cathy and I  continued our mentoring of young married couples along with twelve other couples who had been trained as mentors for the ministry.

One of the highlights of our life in Branson occurred in July, 2015 when Cathy and others organized a second Moore Family Reunion in Branson. The other reunion of our branch of the Moore Family occurred in El Dorado in 1972. Our reunion in Branson was over the Fourth of July weekend and was a wonderful success. In attendance were all of our children and grandchildren, most of brother Berry Lee and LaNell’s children and grandchildren, and sister Marilyn and husband George. Two of their children and one grandchild were able to come. It was so much fun being all together, and everyone agreed to not wait another forty-three years before having the third reunion!

The year 2016 became a physically difficult year for me because of increasing problems  with coronary artery disease. Despite years of weight control and a regular exercise program, the genetic factor of heart disease in the Moore family began taking a toll on me. Seeking care in Fayetteville with cardiologist Dr. David Churchill the pathway led to an open heart procedure and triple bypass operation on December 1, 2016 in Fayetteville. The operation was successful with no post-operative complications, but the recovery was slower than expected and marked with persistent problems with atrial fibrillation. In the following two years I had multiple outpatient procedures to correct the problem, but it has persisted and caused me to become more sedentary.

Throughout the years following my retirement in 2011 Cathy and I have drawn closer and more dependent upon each other. During the initial recovery phase of my heart procedure when I was severely disabled, Cathy provided countless hours of care and support without complaint and with a cheerful spirit. She has shown me over and again what it means to be selfless and poured-out in loving one’s spouse, and our journey has been instructional for us in the encouragement of married couples in our church. We believe the life lessons God continues teaching us can become life-changing for others couples.

When I had the words “Thee I Love” inscribed in Cathy’s wedding band fifty-six years ago I had no idea how those words would be lived out. At the time of our marriage I knew I was committed to her for life, and she was committed to me. We have had a few rough spots in the journey, but there never was a time either of us believed our union was not made in heaven. When we surrendered ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ in Dallas in August, 1977 we didn’t know how the Lord was going to use us but were confident He had a plan for us.

Over the years Cathy and I have accumulated some earthly treasures, but they pale in light of our real treasures, our children and grandchildren. What a joy to know they are saved and living lives pleasing to our Lord. Our son John Aaron and wife Gina live in El Dorado, Arkansas along with their youngest son Landon. Their oldest son Drew works for a mechanical engineering firm in Ruston, Louisiana. He and his wife Emily were married by me in June, 2018 and are expecting their first child in September, 2022. John and Gina’s middle son Brady is currently working as a technician for Dish Network in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Our older daughter Mary Kay and husband Dave Janke live in Branson, Missouri with their younger daughter Sara Beth. Their older daughter Rebecca just graduated from Ouachita Baptist University and will soon be deciding on her life’s work. Our younger daughter Ginny and husband John Luther live in Fayetteville, Arkansas with their two children, Claire and Nathan. Claire just completed her second year at the University of Arkansas, and Nathan is in the eighth grade in a Farmington public school. They all are the delights of our hearts, and Cathy and I are so blessed to have watched them grow and mature.

I  love the place God has us in for now and probably for the remainder of the journey. I echo the words of one of my baseball hero’s, Lou Gehrig which he spoke at his retirement, “Today I consider myself the luckiest (most blessed) man on the face of the earth (because of the Lord Jesus and Cathy).

Dr. John

50th Anniversary: 2015

“Thee I Love” — Part 2

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

Cathy and I moved from Valdosta, Georgia to El Dorado, Arkansas in August, 1971 to begin a new phase in our journey. Our 2 young children, John Aaron, age 4 and Mary Kay, age 2 were excited about this new adventure, but Cathy and I were just a little apprehensive with lots of unanswered questions about our future. Could I make a living doing surgery in the town I grew up in? Would we be able to make the right kind of friends for ourselves and our kids? Would we fit into the culture of this small Southern town which still had many prejudiced people who had come through the tumultuous racially charged 1960’s?

Cathy had the greatest adjustment to make, because she was separated by many miles from the culture in which she was raised and from any of her  family members. In those years I was not the supportive husband I should have been in understanding Cathy’s plight and the sacrifices she was making. I just assumed in time she would be able to settle into our new life-style and would find her place, her purpose and accomplish her own goals. My thoughts and goals then were professional in terms of becoming the best surgeon possible and providing the most resources for our family. Those were not bad goals but just not centered on Cathy and our children as they should have been.

The next great event in our life together was the birth of our second daughter, Ginny on November 3, 1972. By this time Cathy and I had purchased from my Mom the Moore family home in which I was raised. She moved into the rental home on East 7th Street where we had been living. Our new home was large with a very large yard in which our kids could play. Our across the street neighbors were the Clyde’s and their children Elizabeth and older brother Andrew would play a large role in our lives then and at a much later time.

We became members of First Baptist Church upon moving to town and immersed ourselves into the ministry of this long-established downtown church. We provided leadership and I was a teacher of a young couples Sunday school class. I was even selected to serve as a deacon. We were fully vested as church members, but both of us felt a certain emptiness in our hearts and in our life together. We didn’t fully understand our dilemma or our need until we attended a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas, Texas in August, 1977. I wrote about our salvation and life-change which occurred at that seminar on August 6, 1977, and from that day forward we were different individually and toward each other (A Shopping Trip to Dallas).

I began understanding on a deeper level my primary responsibilities were to love Jesus Christ with all my heart, and to love and cherish Cathy as Christ loves His church (Eph. 5:25-27). I acknowledged my professional life was important, but it paled in significance to the importance of my investments into the lives of Cathy and our children. There was a definite change in our marriage relationship but changes of that magnitude come slowly.

Our involvement into the ministry at First Baptist Church deepened, and reached its’ peak during the pastorate of Dr. Mark Coppenger from 1983 to 1988.Those years marked our greatest spiritual growth up to that point. We also became involved in the ministry of The International Congress on Revival (ICR) under Evangelist Bill Stafford’s leadership and together made many overseas mission trips to Brazil, Western and Eastern Europe and Ireland. We were extremely blessed to have my sister Marilyn and husband George Berry from Austin, Texas involved also in the ICR ministry, and we made many of the overseas mission trips together with them. Our love for them and the relationship with them, their children and grandchildren deepened during those years of ministry.

In 1989 Cathy and I moved our church membership from the First Baptist Church to Immanuel Baptist Church in El Dorado, and for the next 10 years were immersed into our ministry there. The most exciting times there were during the pastorate of Dr. David Uth in the mid-1990’s when Immanuel Baptist had its’ greatest growth period. David’s wife Rachel is the daughter of brother Berry Lee and his wife LaNell, so our connection to Brother David and Rachel was even closer and sweeter. We were honored to have Brother David officiate the weddings of each of our children; John Aaron to Gina Ratcliff in 1990; Mary Kay to Dave Janke in 1992; and Ginny to John Luther in 1995.

One of the more difficult times for us occurred in 1999 when we felt called to move to Largo, Florida and the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks where I served as the initial medical director of the church’s medical clinic. I wrote extensively on this blog concerning our Florida ministry. (“God Will Make a Way” -Our Ministry in Florida). The stress of being so far away from our children and grandchildren during that 8 month period drew Cathy and me closer together causing each of us to depend upon the other more and to cherish our life more together.

We were thrilled to make our next move in May, 2000 to Fayetteville, Arkansas where our Ginny and husband John Luther lived and to become more fully vested in their family. It was there I began serving as a wound care specialist at Washington Regional Medical Center and was able to spend much more time at home with Cathy. I no longer had night call or weekend call, and the physical and emotional stresses of a busy surgical practice were lifted.

Our home was a beautiful energy-efficient home which was a model all-electric home built by Ozarks Electric Company. We were told we were getting a “Cadillac home” at a “Chevrolet price” which was certainly the case. For the first time in our marriage Cathy had a new home which she could decorate exactly according to her taste, and I loved our Fayetteville home more than all the others. It was located in a new subdivision west of town and a short 5-8 minute drive to Ginny and John’s home which was located in Savoy.

A huge highlight of our time in Fayetteville was the birth of Ginny and John’s first child and their only daughter, Claire on August 19, 2001. It was so fun watching her grow and develop and for us to have the opportunity and time to be part of her early years. Fayetteville is a short two hour drive to Branson, Missouri where daughter Mary Kay, husband Dave Janke and their two daughters Rebecca and Sara Beth lived. We frequently made the drive there for weekend visits.

Cathy and I were well-settled in Fayetteville and wonderfully happy with our life, but an unusual turn of events happened which turned our hearts toward another move; this time to Branson, Missouri. (The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks– Part 3). Friends and even some family members wondered if Cathy and I would ever settle down in one place. A church member and friend in El Dorado at Immanuel Baptist Church once asked our son John the question, “Where are your parents living now?!

With considerable prayer and some agonizing Cathy and I believed it God’s will to move in November, 2005 to Branson where I would be the sole Director of the Wound Care Clinic of Skaggs Memorial Hospital. More importantly we would be near our kids and grandkids living there. Our plans were to spend a “few years” in Branson, retire from medical practice and return to Fayetteville for the final days of our journey. At the time of our decision I told Ginny through tears, “Mom and I will return– this move is not permanent — I promise!”

Dr. John

50th Anniversary