Sunday, December 6, 2009

Be Thankful in Everything

A little over a week ago my Dad called me with a very serious tone in his voice. Our conversation went something like this,
Dad: "Did you get my message?"
Me: "no, I called you right back since my caller ID said it was you that called"
Dad: "Well, Steve's friend called and said he had a stroke. He's in the hospital and can't talk or move his left side.
Me: "What? Oh my Gosh!"
Dad: "Your Mom and I are getting ready to drive down there." We'll call you and let you know more when we find out. "

This is the kind of call you never want to get. I was shocked and filled with questions. How could this happen? My little brother just turned 40 last month. He's is great health. Would he be ok? I knew too that he probably didn't have insurance.

Rich was outside hanging up the Christmas lights with the kids and I was working on putting the lights on the tree. All of a sudden, I didn't feel like being festive. I fell to my knees and began to cry out to God. In the middle of my tears, the phone rang again and it was Steve's friend calling to tell me of his condition. I could tell she was upset too. Steve got on the phone and tried to talk to me. His speech was slow and slurred but I was so relieved to hear that he could speak! It was too hard for him and he passed the phone back to his friend.

The next few days are a bit of a blur. I was restless because just praying for him seemed so little. You know, you want to do something more, something big! I wanted to wrap my arms around him and reassure him that I wouldn't let anything bad happen. That we would get him the care he needed and pay for it all if we had too. I wanted to be there for him. But all I could do was pray for him and let others know to pray for him. That's it! I'll get a prayer chain going so big that Satan would have to stop picking on him! So I had a responsibility to my brother to get the word out that he needed prayer. This was something I could do.

Prayer is powerful, you know and I do believe that. Why does it feel so meaningless sometimes? Maybe because God uses the little things in life to confound the wise. Our flesh would say that being there is best, bringing flowers, talking to the right people to get the paperwork rolling for state assistance, making things happen. . . but God wanted me to watch and pray. And as I began to pray, I realized that God had prepared me to this moment.

A week prior I had sat through a teaching about being thankful in the midst of trials. I didn't know at the time that God wanted me to learn this truth personally. There is a verse in the Bible that says; "In everything, give thanks" In, is the key word. It doesn't say "For everything give thanks, but IN everything, give thanks. I believe that God gives his permission for Satan to sift us like wheat. But it is always for our good, never to hurt us. Even though it might hurt at the time, God is shaping us to succeed in this game called, life.

At the end of this teaching the application assignment was to re-write Psalm 136 in your own words. So here it goes. .

I'm thankful that my brother had a minor stroke instead of a major one, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I praise God that he had a friend to take him to the hospital and stay with him for all the testing, His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful for the timing, because my parents were able to make the 8 hr. drive immediately from Idaho (my Mom had hip surgery 8 weeks prior), for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

I'm thankful that the hospital that he was taken to was a Seventh Day Adventist and they were kind and didn't want him to worry about the money, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful that every time I called to check on him, he had visitors, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful that his 6 roommates are Bible school students and they came to pray over him, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

I'm thankful that his speech is no longer slurred and he is able to walk with a cane, His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful that he is not depressed but is determined and motivated to get better, His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm so thankful that He was approved for Medicaid and all his bills will be covered, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

I praise God that he was accepted at the best rehabilitation facility in Portland, His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful that he will be able to go home in the next 2 weeks and won't have to live in the rehab center for months, His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I'm thankful that someone donated air miles to GFA and I can use them to see him and possibly bring him home with me for Christmas, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

I'm even thankful that suffering brings us closer to God, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!

And most of all, I'm thankful for so many prayers and that God hears them, for HIS LOVINGKINDNESS IS EVERLASTING!

This was taken the last time I saw Steve, in the Spring of 2009

Thank you Lord !
I love you, Steve.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NW Arkansas Ozarks

We are trying to make it a annual tradition to rent a cabin in the mountains for a few nights every year for a family vacation. This is the second year we have done this. Ideally we'd like to find the perfect place for our family and return to the same place every year. The cabin we rented last year in Mena, Arkansas was nice but there wasn't much to explore plus the cabin would not have worked for us this year with Micah and his pack-n-play.

So when we heard some friends from Gospel for Asia were going to visit this place in Winslow, Arkansas we decided to check it out. The price was right, the drive was at about 5 hours, and it included breakfast! It's located smack dab in between two state parks so we made reservations! Since we've returned, we have found out that 5 families that we know have been to Sky-Vue B & B! Above is the lodge where we had a home cooked breakfast every morning.

In the first picture you can see the windows all across the back that overlook the Ozark mountains which is one of the attributes that Arkansas is known for.

This lodge is off of a scenic freeway that winds it's way up and has many beautiful views along the way. The speed limit is about 25-30 mph depending on the curve.

This was our two room cabin with a full kitchen and 3/4 bath. The two doors on the front does not mean it's a duplex. We were told when checking in that this is the old Arkansas style.

This is our cute little kitchen fully furnished. We brought all our own food for lunches and dinners but made it really easy so no one was in the kitchen for long cooking. Rich doesn't normally drink coffee every day but when you are on vacation in the hills, it just sounds good!

Our family likes to hike so when we arrived, we unpacked, and then went to explore. There are a few ponds that you can fish at on the premises.
There was also this patch of bamboo. What a find! The boys took some back to the cabin to monkey around with for the next few days.

The four "monkeys" at the pond.

Tired and dirty after our hike.

Julia found these huge leaves bigger than her head!

Reece resting with Dad. What is vacation without naps?

Boys horsing around.

Rich is trying to look un-phased by the weight of two boys on his back.

The view from our back porch.

We spent lots of time on the porch looking at this scene.
I wish it had some color but it was still pretty in a wintery sort of way.

AJ's bamboo that he turned into a wind instrument. It's a little big to call it a flute but for a lack of a better description, that's what I'll call it.

He spent lots of time blowing on this flute trying to make a nice noise.

This is Reece my fruit eater. This boy lives off of fruit, any kind, and could literally eat fruit all day long! I cannot keep grapes in the house (his favorite)!

He is always making a goofy face. He is a clown and loves attention.

The carving duo. Rich and AJ have matching pocket knives so they relaxed by trying their best to carve something meaningful. AJ did pretty good with the flute but Rich. . . let's just say he needs to keep his day job!

Micah with his bamboo stick.

He wanted a flute too.

Rich got up early each morning to watch the sunrise. AJ and Reece joined him each day and these are some of the pictures they got. There is somewhat of a progression.
They are beautiful that's why I chose so many to put in here.

This was taken at Devil's Den State Park about 20 miles from Sky-Vue. There were lots of caves to explore and bats! In fact, this park is known for it's bats and I hate bats! I've never liked them because they creep me out. I tried but even looking at the pictures in the visitor center made me uneasy.

This is Rich and AJ right before they went into the cave in total darkness to see the bats.
Rich left Micah with me as he went in he could tell the spaces were tight and he would never make it with Micah on his back. They had to take good flashlights to be able to see. Reece and Julia went in but soon came back out with no courage to go the rest of the way.

I waited safely outside with the rest of the family.

After about 1/2 hour they emerged, very dirty but with a sense of victory!

They did it! And AJ told me that the bats were "cute"! I beg to differ.

This place was every boys dream with caves and big rocks to explore!

This is called a waterfall? I guess when you've been to Yosemite National Park, you've been spoiled when it comes to waterfalls. These make me laugh. There were crowds of people hiking to see this waterfall. We will take our kids to Yosemite some day to see a real waterfall!

Some scenic pictures by the lake at Devil's Den.

Micah was a real trooper while we hiked but he was glad to get out of that backpack and stretch his own little legs.

This quaint little place was across the street from our cabin. It was a very old building that used to be owned by a nun who had a dream to see the older women teach the younger to work with their hands making useful things. She has died but it is now a place where the Local people of the Ozarks can display their crafts.

There were quilts, pottery, dolls, rugs, and big looms to look at. Us girls had a grand time browsing!

This is a stick bug we found. We found one of these last year on our first visit to Arkansas.

Watching another sunrise that wasn't as eventful as the first.

On our last full day, we drove 6 miles to lake Ft. Smith. This was their visitor center. They had clothes you could dress up in and pretend you were pioneers.

We tried to get our kids to look serious for this picture like the pioneers used to do when in front of a camera.
AJ had a hard time not smiling but he pulled it off.

This is a mock example of a yoke and it showed how heavy it was to carry water on your shoulders up from the river. The buckets were full of something like water so you could get a feel for the weight.

Lake Ft. Smith

The one tree left with pretty leaves.

Another one of those things they call a waterfall. Olivia took some pretty pictures of it.

Julia was a trooper doing all this hiking. This was our third day of hiking and Reece was sick of it. After walking about 3/4 of a mile he starting whining that he couldn't make it. I was pretty tired myself so I headed back with him while the others went on to see that waterfall above.

Micah fell asleep by the time Rich returned from the hike. He was one tired little guy.

If you made it to the end of this, I commend you! This was a long post. Thanks for going on vacation with us through our photos!

I forgot to say that we also had a bon-fire and roasted marshmallows, played games, and watched movies in our cabin. It was a thoroughly relaxing vacation and I hope to repeat it again next year. We'll see.