Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Journey Thoughts

I know most of my recent posts have been Greensburg-centered. That's where my thoughts have been lately. My hope has been that in some small way I can help those who are there, dealing with the reality of it all every day. Please continue to pray, and to give in whatever ways you can.

However, a change of direction today. As I was going over catechism lessons with my youngest son today, we read a section of the Gospel of John. A couple of verses really stuck with me. I'm sure I've read them many times. For some reason, though, they stood out this time.

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." (John 1:17, 18 RSV)

The first part is pretty basic: Moses gave the law. Anyone who knows even a little about Scripture knows this part. (Which, to me, flies in the face of those who try to question the authorship of the Pentateuch. But that's not the point of this post.) Moses is known as "the lawgiver". Of course, we realize that the law came from God, to Moses. But Moses was the instrument God used to convey His law to His people.

Similarly, then, Jesus gave truth and grace. The truth and grace came from God, but Jesus was the instrument God used to bring it to His people--to all people. As the end of the second verse says, "...he [Jesus] has made him [God] known."

I don't know about you, but I have had many moments in my life when I viewed God and Jesus as almost opposites. God is the judge, bringing justice into the world. Jesus is the loving Shepherd, bringing us grace. But the fact of it is, Jesus made God known by giving us God's grace and truth. God is both judge and gracious Father. That's hard to grasp. Yet somehow, it truly is who He is!

Grace is defined as "unmerited favor". When we get what we didn't really deserve, that's grace. Grace means that, though my sins are as scarlet, He makes me white as snow. Grace means that even though I blew it once again, He still offers His love and forgiveness. He pours His grace out again and allows me to know the sweetness of communion with Him.


Now there's a tough one to deal with, in the world in which we live. If you could talk to 100 different people on the street in your town or city, I'm sure you would get 100 different definitions of what truth really is.

My favorite definition came straight from the One who knows the meaning of the word: "I am the truth." (John 14:6)

What does that mean? It means that whatever Jesus said or did, is truth. There's not a lie to be found in anything He taught or in anything He did. All of it is truth. How could it be that a Man could do that? Because everything He did and everything He said was another way He was making the Father known. The truth-Originator.

(Just to make sure we know that, truly, the Trinity is truth (all of them being God), check out this verse: "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth." (I John 5:6b RSV) )

This world needs grace. This world needs truth. The ruler Pilate once asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38) The answer was standing right in front of Pilate. He was staring Truth in the face, and didn't even know it. I think that's the case for many in our lives. How can we show them the Truth?

The more we know Jesus, the more we will know what grace and truth look like. The more we know that, the more we can offer it to this world that is in such desperate shortage of both. Because, hopefully, the more we know it, the more we'll live it.

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (I John 5:20 NKJV)


Monday, May 28, 2007

Some Gave All

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day. Many view it as the "beginning of summer". There is the constant sound of mowers running. Someone in the home and garden business has convinced the homeowners of America that this is also "fix your yard" weekend. Whatever.

The day began as Decoration Day: a day to honor those who gave their lives in the Civil War. Today, we honor all who have given their lives in service to our country--those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy.

Today, I especially honor: my dad, who served in the Korean War; my uncle, who served in Germany; my husband's grandfather, who served during World War II (and was given a bronze star); my friend's husband, who served in Iraq; my niece's husband, who also served in Iraq. And a young man named Luke Emch, whom I never had the privilege to meet. This young man, who grew up in this area, was killed by an explosive in Iraq a few months ago. I had the privilege, along with our two sons, to hold a flag in his honor as the funeral procession passed through our town. To all of these men, and the men and women who have served and continue to serve...I pay tribute. You have my deepest respect.

In the words of Billy Ray Cyrus:

"All gave some, and some gave all..."

God bless you for blessing us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some News on Greensburg

This article ( from the Hutch News is encouraging news for the residents in Greensburg. The governor of Kansas signed a bill which will give the businesses in Greensburg some much-needed funds, as well as some tax breaks. Also, the recent bill signed by President Bush included funds for Greensburg.

In some sad, news, though, the mayor of Greensburg resigned.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Daily Prayer

I was given a copy of this prayer about 4 years ago, when I was going through a very difficult time. I think it is a prayer we would all do well to pray every day.


My Lord, grant that with Thy peace I may greet all that this day is to bring.

Grant me grace to surrender myself completely to Thy Holy Will.

In every hour of this day, instruct and guide me in all things.

Whatever tidings I may receive during this day, teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm belief that Thy Holy Will governs all.

Govern my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.

When unforeseen things occur, let me not forget that all is sent by Thee.

Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward everyone, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to no one.

Bestow on me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in its events.
Guide my will, and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.


~from the Optina Monastery, Russia~

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Easter

"I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12 **

I know I previously talked about life after death, regarding the Va. Tech. shootings and the rulings against partial birth abortions. I see a reality of this in what's happening in Greensburg, too.

There were lives lost. Homes lost. Businesses lost. Family pets lost. Vehicles. Cherished possessions. Even the trees. It looks helpless and depressing to see the photos of the devastated town.

And yet...there is new life. People beginning to pull together to rebuild a little here, a little there. People digging through the rubble of what "was" to make way for the "what can be". I even received a reply to my inquiry re: trees. The Kansas Forestry people already have around $25,000 designated toward planting new trees. Yes, it's a long process, but definitely full of signs of life.

Please don't stop praying. It's a long road. But there is light at the end of the tunnel!

**The image above is a beautiful throw blanket I found at this website> Eyes of the Lord They also have some other really beautiful items. (And they just got some free advertising!) :o)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Have Been "Tagged"

I've been tagged. Here are the rules:

Each person starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their eight things and post the rules. At the end of your blog, tag eight people and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

So here's my personal info. Most of my family and close friends know these things, but my bloggy friends probably don't.

1. My all-time favorite snack is tortilla chips and mild salsa. With a tall glass of milk. (You've got your breads, your veggies, and your dairy. Very balanced, don't you think?)

2. My next all-time favorite snack is anything with peanut butter and chocolate: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (yep, yep, yep!), Butterfingers candy bars, and any ice cream that includes this combination!

3. One of my favorite ways to relax is to putter in a garden. Weeding? Yuck. Planting? Yes. Watering? Yes.

4. I grew up on a farm in southwest Kansas. My graduating class numbered 15 students, which includes three foreign exchange students. And we were one of the bigger classes in my high school!

5. I love riding a dirt bike. I used to have a small Honda, and I loved it!

6. My favorite flowers are carnations. I'm not sure why. Mostly because they're just simple, and they have that sweet, slightly "cinnamon-y" smell. They remind me of special occasions, when I have worn corsages.

7. I've been on 4 missions trips. I've been to Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, and England. Central America will always have a place in my heart. The children there (especially in Honduras) stole my heart.

8. One of my all-time favorite movies is "The Wizard of Oz" (see #4). I hated it when I was a kid. I was scared of tornadoes (still am!), and I hated how it portrayed Kansas as so drab and bleak. And now that the tornado hit Greensburg, I probably won't watch it for awhile. Still, "there's no place like home"! (However, a pet peeve is when people find out I'm from Kansas, and they feel the need to give me their tired "Toto and Dorothy" jokes. Like I haven't heard them a million times???)

Okay. So that's the dirt.

I'm tagging: Sue , Cheryl, Jules, Hidden One, Chantay, Laurie, Janice, Laura S.

BTW, another thing...I really don't want to be tagged again...ever! :o)

Monday, May 21, 2007

For the Crafty Among Us...

Laura Spradlin of El Dorado, KS, has started a project she calls "Rebuilding Greensburg--Block by Block". She is collecting 8" bias garter stitch afghan squares. The afghans will be donated to Greensburg residents this fall. So, if you know anyone who knits or crochets, please let pass along this information!

For more information, see her blog: Sugar Bunny Boulevard The left sidebar has the information you need. She is specifically asking for the squares, but NO MONEY.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Life After the Tornado, Part 2

The firefighter in the photo above is Chris Jarvis, of Moundridge, KS. Photographer: Fernando Salazar, Wichita Eagle newspaper.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My GRRR for the Day

How DARE these people call themselves Christians???

"Church Protests Storm Victim's Funeral"

May God have mercy on their souls...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Some Welcome Good News

This week marks the one-year anniversary for a significant event in the life of my family. One year ago, my dad finished up his chemo treatments, after discovering he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The treatments were necessary, but really hard on my dad's body. It weakened him, of course. It also wreaked havoc with his diabetes. His body is still striving to recuperate.

Last week, he had a new CAT scan performed. Yesterday, he was able to meet with his oncologist for the results. In Dad's words, the doctor was BEAMING! The scan came back completely clear! We are so thankful!

In the words of the old hymn:

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Let the people rejoice!

O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,

And give Him the glory. Great things He hath done.

In Greensburg recovery news: the metal from my parents' church building (Lighthouse Worship Center A/G) was removed yesterday. A team is there assessing the situation for plans on rebuilding. Some people are moving away from Greensburg altogether, while others are planning to stay and rebuild. Either way, Greensburg will never be the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Prayer for Greensburg

This song has been going through my head for days now--even before the tornado. It has became more real to me, though, since May 4th.
Shepherd of My Heart

Maker of this heart of mine, You know me very well.
You understand my deepest part, more than I know myself.
So when I face the darkness, when I need to find my way,
I'll trust in You, Shepherd of my heart.

Keeper of this heart of mine, Your patience has no end.
You've loved me back into Your arms time and time again.
So if I start to wander like a lamb that's gone astray,
I'll trust in You, Shepherd of my heart.

Refrain: You're the beacon of my nights;
You're the sunlight of my days.
I can rest within Your arms; I can know Your loving ways.
So let the cold winds blow, and let the storms rage all around,
I'll trust in You, Shepherd of my heart.

Giver of this life in me, You're what I'm living for.
For all my deepest gratitude You love me even more.
So as I walk through valleys, listening for the Master's call,
I'll trust in You, Shepherd of my heart.

By Mark Baldwin and Dick Tunney. Copyright 1985 LCS Songs, a div. of Lorenz Creative Service/Pamela Kay Music/Charlie Monk Music, Nashville, TN. ICS ARR UBP

Dear Lord,
Please keep the people of Greensburg in Your care. Keep the workers safe as they continue to clean up the debris and rubble left behind. Fill them all with Your peace, and fill them with encouragement and strength. Watch over them, even as a shepherd tenderly cares for his flock. Shower Your love and grace upon them all. Remind them that Your mercy never ends. Surround them with Your presence. Provide fo every need. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Life After the Tornado

This picture says more about the people of Greensburg than any words of my own. Yesterday, a community church service was held. The tent they erected wasn't large enough to seat everyone who showed up. One news source estimated there were close to 3,000 people at the service. This is in a town whose population before the tornado was around 1,600. People from Greensburg and the surrounding communities came. Former residents, in town to help with the clean up, came. Family members, friends... Each pastor in town had a chance to share some words of encouragement or a song. I saw my parents' pastor on ABC News. She was preaching words of hope. Mom said one minister sang, "It Is Well With My Soul." On the news, I heard them singing, "Holy Ground." This is what the people of Greensburg are made of. Strong, courageous, loving people who know how to "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" and go on, even after the entire town was demolished by one of the worst tornadoes in history. People who stand on their faith when all their worldly possessions are in heaps of rubble all around them. People who know God will see them through, no matter what. I'm so proud to say I grew up in that community!

In the Kiowa County History Book, there was this picture that, even as a child, I always loved to gaze on. It was a picture of clouds over Greensburg during a Kansas storm. (I don't remember the year it was taken.) In the picture, there was clearly the form of an angel overlooking the town. Some would say God stepped back for a moment on May 4th. I disagree. I still believe He had His eye on that town...still has a plan for its future, too.

Stand strong, my friends. God isn't finished with you yet!

The Wichita Eagle has a neat series of pictures from yesterday's service. (church service)
There is a great article about "Greensburg Before the Tornado"


Friday, May 11, 2007

Another Idea I Had

I have made up a flier, which you can print and distribute. It has all the information that people need for donating to Greensburg. It's a Word document. Please e-mail me if you want a copy, and I'll send it along.

If you need it in another format, e-mail me, and I'll see what I can do.


More Greensburg Notes

While perusing the Internet today, I went to Greensburg's website. There was a plea for financial assistance. This information was pulled from the site:

Tornado Disaster Assistance Needed
Greensburg needs your help with reconstruction.
Please send your donations to:
Greensburg Reconstruction Fund
%Greensburg State Bank
P. O. Box 787
Greensburg, Kansas 67054
Every dollar you donate will go to rebuilding our city

The pictures below are what is left of the post office. The post master of Greensburg is a member of the church my parents attend. The gentleman in the foreground of the first picture is the postal inspector for that area.

I was told that if you follow this link, and click on the video link there, you will be able to see the interview I did with WKYC Channel 3 news here in Cleveland. WKYC Interview

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nice to Meet You, Mr. President!

President Bush visited Greensburg yesterday. He got to see the devastation firsthand. I wish the news media had taken more time to focus on his visit there...but, alas, they didn't. If you happened to see any clips on TV, you might have seen my dad! He was standing right behind the president. Actually, Dad got to meet the president, too. Someone asked if President Bush would like to meet a Kansas farmer. My dad happened to be standing he was the farmer that got to meet the president!

They talked about farm issues, etc. But the neatest thing happened after that. President Bush asked if there was anything else Dad would like to talk to him about. Dad began sharing with him about how important it is to be ready for the Lord's return. He said the president was moved to tears. I don't know the exact words of President Bush's response, but the gist was this: Keep telling people that message! Wow.

On another note, yours truly was interviewed by Cleveland's Channel 3 news yesterday, and got a short spot on the 11 o'clock news. That was surreal! They wanted to have the "local" look at the story in Greensburg. I thought they did a great job. The reporter, Chris Tye, was super nice. His photographer/camera man, Barry, was a Kansas native, too! Anyway, my main objective for agreeing to the interview: to make sure people know it's not just a story. These are real people who are trying to rebuild their town and their lives.

For more articles and pictures

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

In phone conversations, via e-mail, and through newspaper and TV stories, I have heard so much about my home town over the past few days: some good, some bad, and the tornado made it all ugly. Thankfully, I've heard more good than bad.

* When a gentleman went to Wal-Mart in Pratt, KS, to pick up prescriptions, he was told there was no charge for anyone from Greensburg! I've been told that they are not charging Greensburg residents for clothing and other items, too.

* A former resident of the town (and a friend of mine), named Tim Hacker, has already said he will donate all brand-new golf equipment for the school's golf team when things are back up and running.

* A professional golfer (I'm sorry I've forgotten her name) who won an LPGA tournament yesterday, has pledged $100,000 of her winnings to Greensburg.

The bad?

* People who go into town, pretending to be residents. They are only there to loot and steal.

* The governor of Kansas, who made it into a political situation. I'm sorry, but I felt she was way out of line.

There are so many more great stories, though, of people helping others. That's how the people of Greensburg are.

Keep praying!

Kiowa County Courthouse

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Greensburg: The Way It Was

As I said yesterday, I won't be posting any tornado destruction pictures for at least a day or two. I'm still overwhelmed by what I see on TV, etc. I keep looking for things I remember or recognize, but they are simply not there. Before this weekend, Greensburg's claim to fame was having the world's largest hand-dug well (which you could go to the bottom of...if you were brave enough to go down those stairs!) and having the world's largest pallasite meteorite on display. Of course, the well is still there. Nice thing about holes in the ground. Tornadoes can't move them! The meteorite, which was on display in the gift shop next to the well, was moved by the tornado. I saw a picture in today's Akron Beacon Journal: the meteorite was found.

The Big Well Tower

There were other things that made Greensburg a great place to be, though. Mostly, the people. Generous and good-hearted. That's why the town will rebuild. One of the main employers in the town, Greensburg Tractor and Implement (GTI) has already pledged to pay their employees for the next twelve months so they can rebuild their homes and lives. You have to understand that GTI was destroyed. They sell tractors, combines, and other farm machinery. Big ticket items that many in the area won't be able to afford for awhile. They also repair machinery. But without their building and tools...well, you understand the situation. Yet they pledged to do this for their employees. That's the kind of people that make up this town.

I'm not very talented at putting pictures on here yet, but I'll do my best. I'll try to explain what each of them is depicting.

Please don't stop praying.

Duckwall's--Main Street (the "five and dime")

This is the Historical Museum that was on Main Street. As you can tell, it was formerly a hardware and furniture store.

This is from Main Street, too. This was the Twilight Theater, which first showed silent films in 1915. At one time, it boasted the largest screen in the state of Kansas.

This is the seal of Kiowa County, which was created by local artist Archie Sheperd.

Nothing beats a Kansas sunset (or is this a sunrise?). This picture is of the grain elevators in the north part of Greensburg. They are one of the few things, though damaged, that were left standing.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Another Way You Can Help

Allison Schmidt, a nursing student at Southwestern College (Winfield, KS) , is one of the hundreds affected by Friday night’s tornado in Greensburg . The home of Ali and her family was destroyed and they lost all their possessions—clothes, pets, cars, and personal items were demolished. Abbey Lowry, a classmate and close friend of Ali, is coordinating efforts at Southwestern and in Winfield to help the family. At this point, the most crucial need is for money to replace personal items (the family rented the home and did not have renters’ insurance) and cars. Abby has established a bank account for donations. Those who wish to contribute should send their checks to the Emerald Bank in Oxford--

c/o Allison Schmidt
Emerald Bank
305 E. Main
Oxford, Kansas 67119

Ali has been very involved in the Winfield community through Leadership Southwestern, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Rotary Leadership Camp, employment at Southwind, and volunteer hours at Eagle’s Nest.

Persons wanting more information should contact Abbey Lowry at 620-218-3302.

How You Can Help

I will not be posting any more disaster pictures here, at least for awhile. I have seen enough on the TV, Internet, and in the newspaper. I have cried so many tears. I want to remember Greensburg as it was...and pray for what it can be again.

Greensburg was the hub of the community. I went to church there. We bought groceries there. I took piano lessons from two wonderful ladies who lived there. We went to track meets and ball games. We had music festivals and 4-H events. It is a place of community-minded people who look out for each other. That was very evident the night of the storm, and even more so now in the aftermath.

I have been asked for information on how people can help. There are already scam artists out there. (They have arrested some looters on site. Can you believe the nerve of people???)

I have listed here three reputable organizations, and their donation information.

Thanks again to all for your concern. Keep praying....

American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter
P.O. Box 3726
Wichita, Kansas 67201
(indicate that you want to give assistance for the Greensburg tornado victims)

If you go to this website and click "donate now", there will be a form to fill in for your donation. Under "donation details", donors can specify the amount they wish to give. There is also a box to fill in called "specific use". Just type in "Greensburg tornado", and they will make sure that is where your funds go.

Kansas Disaster Relief Fund
Box 1663
Dodge City, Kansas 67801
They also request that you put "Greensburg, KS, disaster relief" in your memo line

At this point, the Salvation Army and Red Cross are the organizations housing the residents of Greensburg, as well as providing meals. The Disaster Relief Fund will help more with the cleanup. There will eventually be need of those who can help rebuild. At this time, I do not have that information.

Pictured below: Hunter Drug Store...the old-fashioned soda fountain with the best soda you could ever have boys' favorite place to visit in Greensburg. This building is no longer there.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

God Is Faithful

I have been in "daze mode" the past 36 hours or so. The devastation of Greensburg is unfathomable. As I have been reminded, it is the lives that are important. Yes, this is true. And the fact that they had 20 minutes from the time the siren sounded until the tornado hit...well, that is the main reason so few people were killed.

I have heard stories of heroics. I have heard incredible stories of what the storm left and what it took. Ohio feels really far from Kansas, when I just want to be there helping in some way.

How do you rebuild an entire town? I don't know. All I know is, they need prayer and they need help. The Red Cross has a link on their website called "Safe and Well" where survivors can report and where you can search for those who you are wondering about. I know the Salvation Army is helping, too.

To the blogger from Australia, thanks for sending the pictures. I won't be looking at them today, though. I've seen enough pictures for the past couple of days. I need a breather.

Keep Praying...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Request from the Today Show

I received the following e-mail from a gentleman who is with NBC news. I am posting it here, in case someone from the Greensburg area might see it. Or if you know someone there, you may feel free to pass along this information.

Hi Joni,

I happened to come across your blog and I was looking for info about Greensburg. I'm writing from NBC's Today Show trying to reach out to people in Greensburg who might be willing to chat with us for a few minutes today. We want to hear from as many people as possible about their experiences and what their plans are for the long and short-term.

I know things are extremely busy and stressful in town and you're not necessarily in contact with many people but if you could pass my phone number on to anybody there who might be willing and able to talk for a few minutes we would greatly appreciate it. I'm at (212) 664-5526. Many thanks and we're keeping your hometown in our thoughts and prayers here in New York. Thank,


Durrell Dawson
NBC News | News Associate
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
(212) 664-5526

Kansas Tornado

The tornado
I am being swamped with e-mail, from people wanting to know "is this friend okay?" and "do you know if this building survived?" Mostly, though, people just want to know how to help. I am giving a link to an article from a Kansas news station. There is information on who to contact and how you can help.

Again, thank you for praying. Please continue to pray. Even as I post this, more storms are headed toward Greensburg and the surrounding area--including my parents' farm.

KAKE-TV article

God is faithful.

Dear God, It's All Gone

This is what my hometown of Greensburg, Kansas, used to look like. It's a small, rural town in Southwest Kansas. Last night, a tornado swept through the town, killing at least 7 people, and destroying most of the town. (News reports are saying 90% of the town was destroyed or damaged.) Every church in town, including the one my parents and my sisters' family attend, was either severely damaged or destroyed. The roof of the small hospital collapsed. My family lives a few miles north of town, and none of them were injured. Three family members worked in Greensburg, and will be dealing with the devastation left behind. Thankfully, several relatives and friends are known to be safe. I'm sure more details will come out as time passes. Right now, they are evacuating the entire town (what's left of it), for people's safety, and to enable safety and rescue efforts to go forward.

Please pray for Greensburg, Kansas, my family, and the surrounding community. How do you rebuild an entire town?

The picture below is just one of many showing the devastation. My heart is broken. (The link is to one of the latest articles.) Greensburg Tornado

Thursday, May 03, 2007

God Made You Special...

My kids are VeggieTales fanatics. Our oldest son became acquainted with them at the tender age of 2. My sister-in-law introduced him to the characters while we were all visiting a bookstore. A month or two later, we rented "Josh and the Big Wall". We have been hooked ever since! Each video is full of silliness and funny lines. But there are biblical principles that people of any age can grasp. (Now if I could just get the "Lance the Turtle" song out of my head! LOL)

As an aside, I just finished reading the book
Me, Myself, & Bob, which was written by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales. I highly recommend it.

Back to the subject at hand. At the end of each video, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber share a verse from the Bible, which reminds the viewers of the lessons the stories taught. As it concludes, Bob and/or Larry always say, "Remember: God made you special and He loves you very much."

I have really been struggling with the reality of this in our oldest son's life. He is a sweet, caring, intelligent boy. Yet there are characteristics that many would label "not normal". I know the definition of "normal" varies from person to person. That's not the point here, though. My struggle with all of this is how to help my son live as normally as possible, in spite of the differences that are part of who he is. I haven't figured it all out. But I do know God has a glorious purpose for this young man's life, which will become more evident as he seeks God and grows into that place God has set aside for him.

You see, our son is a special gift from God. I know. I know. ALL children are a gift from God. Let me elaborate, though.

We were married in 1989. We were young, right out of college, and seeking God's direction. We figured we should wait at least 1-2 years before having children--until we were "ready". However, things didn't go quite according to our plan. After over 5 years of marriage, still no baby. The week before Mother's Day that year, while attending a ministers' conference, we stood for prayer for healing. We didn't know why we had no child. And no one else knew why we were asking for prayer...they just prayed. I won't go into the turmoil and grief we were going through. It is sufficient to say that Mother's Day, 1995, was the worst Mother's Day I have ever experienced. I was childless, and living several states away from my own mom. A few weeks later, while attending another ministers' gathering, a friend made a comment about childless couples that was less than uplifting. I spent the next 10-15 minutes in the ladies' room, crying my eyes out. My husband and I took a long walk after that, and committed it all to the Lord. Within 2 weeks, on our 6th anniversary, we sat in a doctor's office awaiting some test results. The words of the nurse, "It's positive!" were music to our ears. We were finally going to have a baby! Our prayers had been answered. The next day was Father's Day! How great is God's timing?!

That was almost 12 years ago. Since then, God has given us another son. Both of our boys are special blessings to us in so many ways.

Our oldest son has shown "differences" since he was a little over 1 yr. old. He began showing signs of being intelligent. (He knew his colors by age 18 mos.; his alphabet--to say and read--by 2 yrs.) By the age of 2 1/2, he could memorize whole books, word for word. He could memorize whole VeggieTale videos, word for word. He has this incredible memory of events, too. I call him my "walking calendar". If I want to know when something took place, I just ask. He usually knows the year--sometimes the month and day! He amazes me continually.

And yet there are these other characteristics that have been puzzling. I won't go into all of it. It is enough to say he is "different" in some ways.

Why do I bring this up? Because I know there are many, many parents out there who have children who are "different" in some way, like our son. I read a quote today from a woman whose son is autistic. She labeled her own son in the following way.

“Parenting a child with autism, in many ways, is like parenting a child who is alive but dead at the same time,” she says. “The body is there, but the senses are gone. It’s a loss."

What a sad way to view her own child.

I know there are children with severe disabilities. Yet their lives give so much to those around them. They are gifts to us all.

I never want my son to view himself as less than "normal". I want him to see himself as the gift he is. A special gift God gave to my husband and me.

So today, to my son, I say:

God made you special, and He loves you very much.


Let's try it this way:

God made you special, and WE love you very much!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spiritual Sacrifices

"Anonymous" asked what "spiritual sacrifices" (from I Peter 2:5) meant. I've been pondering it off and on all weekend, and through Monday. I can't say I have it nailed down. However, here are some thoughts.

Paul talked about us being living sacrifices in Romans 12:1. So that's one part of it, I guess. Offering ourselves to God.

The other thoughts that come to mind are offering our praise, thanksgiving, desires...things that are not "tangible" (like the sacrificial lambs of Old Testament times)...but nonetheless real, and necessary to be offered up to Christ.

The following quote is from the Orthodox Study Bible. I thought it was good, so I'd like to include it in my response.

"In the true temple, one sacrifice is offered, the unrepeatable sacrifice of Christ. But in Him, in baptism, we also are sacrificed, "a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1) acceptable to God. Our whole life is to be lived in this baptism as an offering to Christ [of] our life. This is the spiritual offering of the Church in the Eucharist, the offering by which she lives." (p. 553)

In other words, when we were baptised, our "selves" were sacrificed, and we were raised into new life in Christ. Every time we offer the sacrifice of the Eucharist in Holy Communion, we are offering ourselves to Him once again.

I hope this makes sense. These are my own feeble attempts at an answer!

Maybe Patrick or someone can help me a little here? (Where's that Fish Campmore guy when you need him?) :o)