Wednesday, January 28, 2009

URGENT PRAYER NEEDED!!

Please, if you have a heart for missions or just want to see God work, pray for the Schwaderers - missionaries out of our church to Mozambique, Africa. We received the following e-mail this morning:

Dear Pastors,
I was called into the immigration office today. The pastor that we had seperated from about 6 months ago wrote a letter with false accusations and asked immigration to deport us. I went today and they asked us to turn in our passports so that they can cancel our visa. It seems that there are bribes involved and another american missionary that is actively trying to kick us out. I will be writing a letter asking them to reconsider the decision, I only have a few days to respond. We know that the Lord will work for our good, if iHe wants us to stay we will and if He is calling us home that is fine as well. We are praying that God will use to show his power on our behalf and that I can witness to some high officials. Thank you for praying,
Nathan

I will try to keep you all posted as we see what God has for this precious family.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Once Upon a Time...



...an Air Force Major began a blog (which is now in the government "Top Secret" files) due to the urging of a very intellectual friend.

Or, maybe she was just a nag. It's easy to confuse the two characteristics.
Anyway, because of his new venture, he discovered other blogs that he enjoyed reading. One day, November 6, 2007 to be exact (if you look at the date on the "comment" page), the Major decided to comment on a blog of a very talented female photographer.

A photographer who just happened to attend the same church that the Major grew up in; though she became a member a few years after he moved out of the state. A photographer who, hence, had become friends with many people who watched the Major grow up or grew alongside him. A photographer who loved the Lord and used her life to serve him.

A photographer that could stand the Major's sarcasm and match it.

November 6, 2007 - the day that would forever change the Major and photographer's lives. Her post was mostly fall photos entitled "beauty in dying." First, he called her "morbid." She had a witty come-back (understood by anyone who read his blog). Then, he mentioned how much he enjoyed her pictures. That he missed the color of the seasons and sometimes came home "just to see."

As I am such a sap (a direct quote from my husband), I went through the photographer's posts and read the comments/jabs between her and the Major. It's a bit of their love story on the computer screen for all of us to see unfold. The two of them went from commenting on each other's blogs to e-mailing one another. From there, a phone call was made. The first of many.

Love was blossoming. So were the flowers that he was having delivered to her. Of course, they were great photo material.

A few months later, the Major wasn't coming home just to see the seasons. He was coming home just to see the photographer. (for fun, go here and here)

He saw her talent, but he saw the heart from whence that talent comes. She laughed at his odd sense of humor, but she saw the depth of his thoughts. Two people, who hesitate to share their true feelings and thoughts with just anyone, shared these things with one another and love grew.

This past Saturday, just about a year after that first non-blogging communication, the Major and the photographer became one. There was no sarcasm. There were no jabs. There were smiles and there was love. Never before have I been to a wedding ceremony where, not only was there so much love and appreciation for one another, but there was a respect for the sacredness of the day. I believe that comes when two people acknowledge the true gift and miracle of such love.

From this day forward, the Major and the photographer will no longer have to communicate with miles separating them for weeks and months on end. From this day forward, the Major will no longer come home to an empty house, but a house filled with love and the smiles of his wife. From this day forward, the photographer will no longer have to be puzzled by dreams of a red-head named Nigel, but will wake up to see her Major by her side.

From this day forward, the Major and the photographer will live happily ever after.


With Great Joy - January 24, 2009

Awaiting the Bride

"...love, honor, cherish..."


Listening to the tribute given by the best man (my brother, thank you very much!)

The beginning of their "happily ever after"


We love you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tomorrow's the Day!

If you remember, my "never-will-get-married" friend, Dave, met Jen about a year ago. Now, we're 22 hours away from the "Wedding of the Century!"

Jen has her dress. She has her bridesmaids ready to go. She has her groom and all the family in town. And...

...she has a REALLY BAD head-cold.

Yes, the bride is sick.

But, she is blessed with one of the most tremedous wedding parties I've ever seen. Any of the bridesmaids who could make it, were at the reception hall this morning getting it ready. And they knew what they were doing. These girls have spent hours with the bride, not only talking about the day and getting themselves prepared, but putting serious work into all the decorations, planning, and the other hard work that goes into a wedding. And, today, they sent Jen home and took over the decorating. She had little to worry about with that crew in charge!

Along with the awesome bridal party, Jen & Dave's parents and various friends & family got to work decorating, setting up tables, setting tables, preparing the dessert trays, etc. The guys had fun running errands (did you know it takes 3 guys to buy tape? And they make fun of women going to use the ladies room in groups!) and throwing fishing line all over the place trying to hang paper lanterns!

When you're working to make the day special for two people you love, it's not even like work - it's a tremendous amount of FUN!!

If you think to, please pray that tomorrow will be everything Jen & Dave are dreaming of. Pray that Christ's name will be glorified. Please pray for Jen, especially. She really would like to feel better so she can thoroughtly enjoy the day she becomes "Mrs. Major Dave!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Honor the King

It is no longer just "Obama." He is now President Obama. President of the United States of America. My President.

For 8 years, many of us Christians have stood behind President Bush. Many of us defended him and his honor. When he'd make a poor decision, we said we'd pray for him. We were offended if anyone personally attacked him.

Now, is our time to prove whether we are true Christians or just true Republicans (or Conservatives - whatever your party). Will we deride President Obama? Will we attack his person or his family in our words? Will we look for any mistake he makes just so we can make fun of him? Will we spit out his name or will we speak honorably of him?

In our home, my children have been admonished to honor our new President. They've been admonished to use his proper title. They've been admonished to pray for him. They've been advised to walk away from any talk that attacks our country's leader personally. Judge what is right and wrong. Do not dishonor the man.

Don't say you honor the position and not the one who holds the position. The Bible doesn't say, "Honor the King's office." Let's use our own reasoning on ourselves: Conservatives were often heard to say, "If you don't support the war, you don't support our troops!" Well, if you don't honor President Obama, you don't honor the Presidency.

Do I support his politics? No. Of course, there ended up being things I didn't exactly agree on with our former "saved" President, either. Politics has little to do with the command God gave us in His word: "Honour the King" - right after the command to "Fear God." We're good about reminding people of that when they're attacking a president we like. Now it's time to remind ourselves.

As much as you can, seperate politics from the man. Stand for what is right. Denounce what is wrong. But, honor President Obama.

Your president. My president.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Longer Mine, but God's

I've had more thoughts running through my head than I've had time, lately. I've been meditating on the following thought for over a week.

I was reading in Exodus about God calling Moses to save the Hebrews from slavery. We all know how Moses gave excuse after excuse of why he wasn't the right man for the job and how he just knew the people wouldn't believe him (we don't do that, do we?). At one point, God had Moses throw down his rod and it became a serpent. Apparently, it was a scary serpent as Moses ran away from it (Ex. 4:3). Then, God told him to pick it up by the tail. Let's give Moses some credit - he did THAT without question whereas most of us would have smashed it with a rock first!

In the midst of reading this very familiar story, something suddenly popped out at me in Exodus 4:20 - "And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hands."

Moses did not receive a brand new rod. It was the same old shepherd's rod he had been using to shepherd his father-in-law's sheep. Except, it was no longer the same. God had touched it. God had claimed that rod to do His work. Moses threw down his rod and picked up God's rod. That rod would be Moses' tool in his new occupation - shepherding the flock of God.

So, the question I've been meditating on is this: What is MY rod? What is it that I use daily in my job as wife and mother that God wants to touch and make His? What is it that He will ask me to throw down?

This isn't a matter of giving something to God. Moses didn't sit in the field and look at his rod and decide he would give it to the Lord for His use. It is a matter of obedience. God just told him to throw down his and he did - not knowing what would happen.

So, I do not have an answer to my question. I do not know what God will make His. I will pray for an obedient heart. Then, we'll see what miracles God will perform!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This Day in History

January 13, 2006 - Michael is diagnosed with scoliosis.

Mike had been complaining of back pain for a few months. At his 8 year check-up in October 2005, I mentioned it to his pediatrician. We did the scoliosis check then - just as routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. Figured he was having growing pains or just repeating the complaints of his aged parents!

However, on January 11 Michael seemed to be in real pain while trying to sit through the Wednesday night church service. Again, I didn't really know what to do with these complaints. We're not the type to run to the doctor for every little ache and pain and, besides, he just checked out fine 3 months before.

On Thursday or Friday, Michael was hurting. I gave him a hug and one side of his back felt a bit swollen. "Pulled muscle," I thought. To make sure everything was ok, I called the doctor to make an appointment. Neither Eric or I thought it was anything - just wanted to assure Michael that everything was ok.

So, late Friday morning, January 13, I took Michael to the doctor and filled him in on what was going on. He had Michael bend over so he could look at his back. What I saw made me sick to my stomach immediately. He had a huge hump on the left side of his back. I couldn't believe it. The doctor said he was pretty sure it was scoliosis, but he needed to have x-rays done right away. We were to return with the pictures as soon as they were developed.

I couldn't move. I literally had to put my head between my knees as the room was spinning so fast. How could I have missed this? I messed up HUGE this time around!

I called Eric and told him I couldn't do this by myself. I needed him to come to the hospital with us. As I went back to pick him up, I stopped in the house to make sure our babysitter could stay a while longer. My life had just turned upside down.

Michael? Oh, he was taking the whole thing in stride. No big deal. I'm trying not to pass out and he's thinking it's kind of cool to have x-rays taken.

I waited in the waiting room while Eric went with Mike for his first of MANY pictures throughout the coming years. My mind went crazy. What if there were tumors? What if it was more than "just" scoliosis? What if he had cancer? I began to pray that it WAS "just" scoliosis.

The x-rays were developed and the three of us went back to the pediatrician's office. He took them out of the big envelope and held them up to the light. I wish I could post those pictures here. Mike's back looked like an "S". I'm not kidding. And, it got worse in the next 2 1/2 years!

Michael took one look at the pictures and said, "Um, isn't my back supposed to be straight? Wow!" He was actually more IMPRESSED than he was nervous!

Can I just stop here and say that God has blessed us with the most wonderful pediatrician EVER? This man referred us to the BEST pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the area (possibly in the state). That's not just our opinion - that's the opinion of other doctors and people in the medical profession. Our pediatrician made the appointment for us knowing that if we were to call, Michael wouldn't be seen for a few weeks. He needed to be seen almost immediately. Our doctor ALWAYS has referred our children to the best specialists, has ALWAYS acted quickly when needed, but has never over-reacted. If you live near us and are looking for a great doctor, I highly recommend ours.

Anyway...Eric, Mike, and I went out to McD's for lunch. I was trying SO hard not to cry in front of Michael. I didn't want to scare him. I didn't know how much longer I could keep the tears, so I told Mike I had to return his grandma's call and then I'd follow he and his dad inside. After I called her, I allowed myself to shed some tears.

We knew this whole thing was a result of his NF (so the tumor scare was a real possibility...I wasn't really too far off with that concern). We had never discussed his NF too much. Now we were going to have to give him a little more information. Everything seemed so overwhelming. "Lord, please give us the strength to go through this and the wisdom to help Michael!"

When I went into the restaurant, I thought I had it all together. But, I just had to look at my son and I had to fight the tears all over again. Eric was explaining to Michael why he had scoliosis. Explaining how God chose for him to have NF. That it was something that God was going to use in his life. Michael took all that information with faith greater than I had. He already knew he belonged to God and he seemed pleased that God had a special plan for him.

All the while Eric was talking to Michael, I couldn't speak afraid that the tears would flow. So many thoughts were running through my head: Why did I wait so long to take him to the doctor's? If I had taken him earlier, maybe we could have gotten control of this thing. That hump was unbelievable! That curve - my baby was damaged! He'd never be the same! What have I done? I failed!!!

Right then, Michael turned to me and said, "It's a good thing we found it now when we did. Just think how much worse it could have been!"

That's when I had to turn my head and just cry. Eric knew I was blaming myself. Michael was looking on the bright side - just like he did through most of his ordeal. Oh, there were some down times (the time he got his brace and couldn't even eat his dinner; when he would have a growth spurt making the curve worse and causing tremendous pain; the recovery from his surgery which you can read about here, here, here, here,and here), but through most of it, Michael always remembered that God had a plan for him and he kept his eyes on his Father, trusting in Him.

I know this is long, but I want to quickly tell you what the surgeon said on that first visit. First off, he subtly suggested that Michael leave the room with me while he gave the information to Eric. I knew it was bad when Eric barely spoke on the way home and I could barely choke down my dinner waiting to hear what he had been told. Michael just went about his life, not concerned. Later that evening, through the first tears I had seen my husband cry in years, Eric told me that the doctor told him that Michael would probably need surgery in 2-3 years. That his back would never grow any more after that surgery. That there was a possibility of Michael dying or becoming permanently paralyzed during that surgery. In four days time, we had a diagnosis, a prognosis, and some scary possibilities put on our shoulders. But, as Eric had tears streaming down his face, he helped me to see our opportunity to offer Michael on the altar, just as Abraham offered his son Isaac. God would choose to do His will.

We put our son on that altar. God was gracious. We may have to put Michael, or another child, on that altar once again. May God continue to give us the strength and grace that He did beginning on that day - Friday, January 13, 2006.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Must Read


I don't do this often, but you MUST go here. It's one of the most logical and clear discourses on woman's dress I've read in a very long time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm Back...


...in more ways than one.

You may have noticed long absences on this blog. Yes, it's true I've been busy. Yes, I've been trying to go to bed earlier (well, except for tonight). But, there's more to it.

I've been away...spiritually. For months. When I am apathetic towards spiritual things, I become apathetic toward life. Then, I become downright depressed. Who wants to hear the thoughts of a apathetically depressed person?

Yes, I realize those words are mutually exclusive. I don't care. :)

It's interesting how when I am facing a challenge, I cling to my faith and feel God's presence in a very real way. That's how it was as we were preparing for and in the midst of Michael's surgery this past spring. God gave me strength, comfort, and faith.

However, once it was over, I let go of God's hand as I was sure I could walk on my own once again. Once I let go, the distance between us gradually increased. At first, I was beside Him, just further away. Then, maybe I ran ahead, but, eventually, I lagged far behind. God was still walking, but I began to doubt - my faith, even my God.

How does a person saved almost 30 years begin to doubt her Saviour? The simple act of neglecting His word. Holy communion replaced with corrupt communication. When I put down the Word of God, the words of the devil plagued my mind, my heart, my very soul.

The result? The joy vanished - not only from my spiritual life but from my daily physical life. The laughter all but ceased. Not only that, but it affected most aspects of my day. Dinners became even more mundane than usual as my creativity was lacking. Phone calls to friends were scarce because, frankly, I didn't care. Let's face it, if you don't care about God, you don't care about His children. (I could have said "don't care about the things of God, but if you don't care about "His things" you don't care about HIM.) And, of course, this blog suffered.

Putting down the Bible comes from a spirit of ingratitude. I became unthankful for all the things God has done in my life. I complained and fretted about various things - children, finances, home, politics, health, life in general. I completely ignored the blessings God has bestowed upon me in the past and in every day of my life. Only through ingratitude can one stop smiling and laughing. Only through ingratitude can one not care. Only through ingratitude can you begin to doubt the very existence of God.

But, by His grace, I'm back. I've picked up the Bible and am reading His Words with renewed excitement. It's almost like reuniting with my husband after a long absence. Why is it that the first few days are so sweet and then, as the days and weeks go by, it becomes more "hum-drum"? It's too bad that freshness cannot be constant. But, just as with my husband, the love needs to be nurtured and it will grow. It's been nurtured for a couple of weeks. The love grows and the sweetness abounds.

Oh, and I've begun to laugh.

I have taken hold of God's hand once again. Let's face it, even if you can walk on your own, it's so much nicer holding hands.