November 23, 2010

A celebration and a perspective

I'm thanking God tonight for  a rich heritage of people we've known and served with in past churches.

We were just up in our old town of Williams this past weekend for the funeral of Matthew Broehm. After driving up the night before, we stayed in the warm home of Edith Pouquette. The temperatures outside were very cold, so a bowl of hot taco soup and an evening of sitting around her wood stove visiting was absolutely delicious! The conversation was full of catching up on old friends, church news and about our current place of ministry in Phoenix.

The next morning we went for one of our favorite drives up Bill Williams mountain. Beautiful pines, fur trees, aspens and spruces lined the winding road. We stopped at finger rock and walked out to see the view. Not a soul in sight, just wind through the trees and a huge view. It puts a kind of perspective on your mind of how small you are and how huge the world is as you look out across 50 miles of ridges, mountains and canyons as far as the eye can see, no cities or people in sight. The chill in the air drove us back to our warm car and we drove down silently, thinking about our own thoughts. We were so privileged to have been allowed to live in this area for 9 years.

A visit to the coffee shop, American Flyer and then we were off to the funeral processional. We walked from the middle school  to downtown and then back, about 2 miles in all, with the family and about 500 townspeople, church members and military who came to support them in honoring their son, brother, husband. As we gathered to walk, we started seeing not just a group of faces, but individual, dear, wonderful faces from the past. Our old youth group, alot of whom are all grown up and have children now, church members, people from our old small group fellowship that met in our home weekly, people from all walks of life that we had come to share life with for 9 years.

The celebration of life service was really wonderful. This young man was such an evangelist and leader during his shortened life, it was like God knew Matt only had a short time here and packed it full of passion and service. We are proud to have known him and proud of that community for their loving support of their own.

I have tried and tried to describe the kind of closeness you feel to other people in a small community like that, but I am at a loss. It's something you just have to experience and I would wish that at least once in life to anyone.  It puts a kind of perspective in your mind of how large your influence can be and a huge feeling of comfort when everywhere you look there are faces of people who know you and love you from all walks of life in a community.

November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

1. A leftover chocolate turkey cupcake from last night's youth fundraising dinner (made by Julie, Gabriel and Eleanor)

2. My new Christmas tree lights which are like this picture, but they are all white

3. My friend Cheryl, who I get to spend a lot of time with lately (spending time is good, but radiation treatments are a bummer....pray that this will totally zap the bad cancer cells)

4. Good friends who help us whenever we have a need around our home...Larry and Ed were just here 2 days ago putting in our new water heater, as ours was about to burst)

5. Pain pills for Charles' bad's bad...Please pray for him (sciatica we think)

6. Getting my very first free lance writing assignment

7. An attentive little dog (now if she could just learn how to cook our dinner)

8. Surprise blessings and cool coincidences to encourage my faith

9. Candles

10. A quick trip up to the mountains this weekend (for a sad funeral)

11. A toilet that doesn't leak anymore (which is why Charles' back is so bad, he hunched over it and fixed it)

12. Cooler weather and looking forward to the holidays

November 16, 2010

All in

Full image here

Thanking God today for the 'coincidences' and  constant surprises that we walk right into in places like warehouse stores.

When we went to Africa this past August, John Dina, missionary extraordinaire to Mozambique took 10 days to show us and David and Diana Johnson all of the places, people and experiences that he could that their son Jeremiah had experienced in his mission trip to Mozambique. He never came home to them, but died there in a motorcycle accident. So we went to try to absorb some of what his passion was about. It was an amazing trip, we learned so much about how this young man's life changed into a deep, passionate walk with God and with the Monigan people along the coast of Mozambique.

One of the things John kept saying was that Jeremiah, he was just 'all in'. He was so ready to be serving and to be out there with the people that he barely had patience for the language study and preparation. God was calling him to something and he wanted to be there and threw himself into it full force. John said that usually when mission workers come they are stand offish at first and observe and try to figure out how to fit in or make connections. Not Jeremiah, he just did it. John had never seen someone come so ready.

All in. No hesitations, he was raring to go.

All in, John said.....kept saying it. It definitely stuck in my head. I've used it over and over myself, trying to explain our trip and trying to tell people why Jeremiah's story was so intriguing.

So I was in Sam's club the other day and all the televisions in the electronics dept were playing the same video. Lifehouse is one of my favorite groups, so I stopped to watch and the words hit me and made all the blood rush into my head and I got all tingly for a few minutes while it played on and on, repeating the main theme. The name of the song is All In.....yes, of course it was....there are no coincidences here. It's like it was written for him.

All night staring at the ceiling
counting for minutes I've been feeling this way
So far away and so alone

But you know it's alright
I came to my senses
Letting go of my defenses
There's no way I'm giving up this time
Yeah, you know I'm right here
I'm not losing you this time

And I'm all in, nothing left to hide
I'm falling harder than a landslide
I spent a week away from you last night
And now I'm calling, calling out your name
Even if I lose the game, I'm all in
I'm all in tonight, yeah I'm all in, I'm all in for life 
I want it, I want it, I want it
I want it, I want it, I want it, yeah
I want it, I want it, I want it, yeah

And I'm all in, calling out your name
Even if I lose the game, I'm all in, I'm all in for life
And I'm all in, nothing left to hide
I'm falling harder than a landslide
I spent a week away from you last night
And now I'm calling, calling out your name
Even if I lose the game, I'm all in
I'm all in tonight, yeah I'm all in, I'm all in for life
Yeah I'm all in, I'm all in for life


November 15, 2010

Prayer and surprises

Wow, the days are hustling by here and I am behinder and behinder! 

I left my job last May thinking I'd be back in August, but that wasn't to be. The preschool only had enough children for 2 classes instead of 4 and they did not need me this year. I tried to be glad to have more time for my family, but really I felt a little out of sorts and depressed. Job loss is hard, no matter what the reason. So I started to pray and ask God to make this time off work useful and that I would be able to do some ministry things that I had not been able to do in a long time.

A few days ago I realized that God had answered that prayer. There have not been very many days that I am at a loss for something to do. And it has turned out that my family members have needed more of my energy this year, so I am glad to have it for them, to be an encouragement. And I have more mental energy to observe the people in my world and be able to act on some things that I would never have thought of as ministry opportunities.

God is a good one for surprises.

And the people He's brought around me this year have been a blessing to me as well. I love to see God working in people's lives, but sometimes you have to pay close attention and be patient. 

So I guess today I am thankful for God hearing my prayers and showing me the ways He is answering.....different than I thought it would be, but  better, I'm sure of it!

One more thing....I just have to refer you to my husband's blog, Veritas, today. I  loved it and need to put some words of kindness into practice in my own life.

November 12, 2010

Got blessings?

Talking to some other women in ministry families the other day, we were brainstorming about how we've been blessed by our church members. Things get hard sometimes in churches, there are power struggles and personality conflicts and just plain trouble too.  Believe me, there have been horror stories shared in this same group of women.  So the focus on the positive was very refreshing.

We are so blessed by our church. Not only do they love us and bless us in practical and generous ways, but they get along, love each other and really have a desire for God to work in our church and community. They are a blessing to work, worship and serve with.

And may God richly bless all of our handy men who bless us with their often! This week it is installing a new water heater. You're a blessing guys!

November 8, 2010

Finally fall...?

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona made it's mark on me. Scars from sun burns from childhood/teen years, more freckles than you could count, and eh, a few wrinkles. A few fortunate neighbors on my street growing up had swimming pools. We became their friends as kids.

And when no one had invited you to swim in their pool, we could walk to the community pool. It was about a mile away from our house and in those days (the olden days) we had to cross through some fields to get there. They may not have been technically fields, but they were at least huge yards where you could have horses. To make the trip shorter, my sister would short cut through these places, squeezing under barbed wire and my least favorite, crossing the ditch. It seemed huge to me and I could never make it across in one jump, so I would land in the mud and squish along the rest of the way to the pool in at least one muddy flip flop. We would get beet red and then wait for the big 'peel' to happen, which we found fascinating. It was always a contest to see who could pull off the largest piece of sloughed skin without breaking it. I shudder at the thought of all the skin damage I had as a child. We just didn't know.

Those kind of summers forced kids inside when morning faded (if you weren't swimming), so fall quickly became my favorite season. The weather got lighter, not as heavy....your skin didn't burn as you walked outside and sweaters reappeared in the closet. (I do love sweaters) I loved the rare overcast days and walking to school with a brisk chill in the air. We had huge Mulberry trees in our yard, so there was an abundance of crunchy leaves to rake into piles and take turns jumping into.

The only problem with fall in Phoenix is that it doesn't usually come until mid-November. In fact, up until last week, the weather flirted with going into the triple digits, the air conditioner ran and ran and only the mornings cooled off enough to really say it was cool, and then, not chilly, just cool.

The high today is just tipping into the 80's. It's 81 now and getting cloudy and breezy, so it feels like 70's. I am making soup.

Dare I say it? I think it's fall!

I love cool weather, I love sweaters and soup. I'm thankful today for the relief in the air....literally. But there is also some relief from the traumatic days we spent at the end of last week. Things are not feeling so heavy today. That is something to be grateful for.

November 6, 2010

When young men stumble and fall...

Thanking God for the Hope we have in Him, even when things don't make sense.

My cell phone beeped yesterday morning, so I picked it up and quickly glanced at it to see who the text message was from. Instantly I threw it back down as tears filled my eyes. "Why did I read that? Why did I read that now?" My sister caught the phone in her lap. We were stopped at a light, and I had to keep driving through the tears and gasps of air.

The only words I saw were "Matthew Broehm killed...." I shouldn't have read that text in those moments. Becky distracted me by making me talk and when I was ready she read the whole thing. Charles had texted me and all of our daughters telling us that a dear friend from our church in Williams had died in Afghanistan that day. He was a Marine and I found out today from the news that he did die during combat.

He was 22.

His family and ours had moved to Williams around the same time and we all became quick friends. They were a homeschooling family with older teens, like us. They had 2 tall, strapping boys, one girl Hannah's age and one younger boy who was smaller, that was Matthew.

Matt was a very sincere kid. He always listened intently to anyone who was teaching or telling him something. It seemed like he was just eating up the information and had a great respect for people and great manners and attitude. This sometimes singles a young man out for ridicule, but no one made fun of Matt unless he was in on it too. I think this was because you could tell he liked you and was genuinely interested in you when you were around him. He was the first one to raise his hand when the youth leader asked if anyone would lead them in prayer too. He became famous for it...whenever the leader asked, we would all just look at Matt. Then he would crinkle his eyes, smiling and begin praying. What a cool kid! As he became older, the girls all crushed on him and flirted with him and made him blush.

I had the privilege of working with our youth for a few years in Sunday School and got to see him starting to really mature as a Christian and start to be a mentor to some of the younger boys....always encouraging them and talking to them, making them feel included and loved.  There was some talk of him going into youth ministry too.

Maybe because he was smaller than his brother or maybe just because it caught his interest, he started taking Tae Kwon Do. Then he realized this was his thing and worked his way up to black belt and soon was teaching the class to other kids in town. He was a hard worker. He liked really hard core Christian screamo music, full of passion and conviction.  At some point in those years he went from being called Matthew to Matt.

I remember being surprised (but not at the same time) that he was enrolling in the military. The  *shudder*  No one doubted that he could do it, but at the same time we dreaded that kind of lifestyle for such a nice kid. His first visit home, he was the picture of a Marine in uniform seeing him at church for the first confident and looked taller too. His parents and siblings were so proud of him.

We moved away and out of touch with many of his family, besides Facebook updates. It was on Facebook where we learned he had become engaged and married a beautiful young lady, his Marine comrades stood with him, all handsome in the wedding pictures.  Then we heard of him shipping out to Afghanistan just a short time later.

And now killed. A wonderful young man. I will remember Matt very well. I can see his cute, blushing smile and his hand going up to volunteer to pray. I can see him talking seriously to our youth pastor at the time or to my husband or his father. He was always watching the men of the church, always learning from them.....he was always in the process of  becoming someone...of having a meaningful life.

I am not questioning God about how He allows things to happen even though it's hard to understand. Death comes to the just and the unjust. Some are young and seem to have so much left to give and some are ready, having lived a long and fruitful life. We will never make sense of it with our mortal eyes. But we accept and we trust God and we will always remember the humble, mature and honorable way that Matt lived and died.

To the Broehm family: I love you all and am just heartsick for you having to give up your Matt so soon.

May the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
~Romans 15:13

Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;

 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:30-31

Of heart attacks and days gone wild

I missed two days on writing about thankfulness, but I'm sure you'll understand when you're done reading here today.

On Thursday I was waiting until the end of the day  to write my blog post in case something really interesting to be thankful for came my way. Well, let me just say before I begin that what I am thankful for is my family. (just in case this is not obvious by the end)

Thursday afternoon I was just thinking about what to put out for dinner. My husband and I both had large lunches and were not going to eat. And then, the phone rang.... and things got kicked into high gear and my day suddenly had a different plan and reason.

It was my sister Becky. She was frantic sounding as I listened to her voice while Charles was talking to her on his cell phone. He asked her several pointed, serious, urgent sounding questions, then hung up.

"Larry has had a heart attack at the cabin. He's going to be air lifted to Phoenix and we need to go meet him at the hospital."

This is the moment in the caricature my life was becoming that adrenaline squirts out of my head in little drops like a cartoon while I turn into a Tasmanian devil whirling around the house stuffing things I may need in my purse. Socks, travel sized lotion, make up, ipod, some meds, Mentholatum....just the necessities.  I knew I would be spending the night in the hospital with my sister so my practical head made use of the time we had until the second phone call telling us which hospital to go to.

I made calls to family and we jumped in the car. We were walking in to the ER while the helicopter was landing. And we got to see Larry a few minutes later. He was sitting up talking and explaining and answering questions. The doctor looked at the EKG and said, "Yes, you are having a heart attack, let's get you into an angiogram ASAP." Time to visit a moment, pray and they whisked him away.

My sister had to drive down from the mountains to Phoenix all by herself and it had turned dark, so we prayed for her and she arrived about an hour later. It's an hour and a half drive, so you can imagine how she was driving and she was only pulled over by the police once. But she turned into hysterics with the officer and he waved her on, no ticket.

I can't remember how long it was until the doctor came out giving us a good report. Only one blockage and it was repaired with one stint. Simple, quick and as non-invasive as can be.

What happened to Larry is really pretty common. He had been doing some hard work, cutting wood by chainsaw that afternoon, then got tired and felt like the chain saw was extra heavy. So he came in, took a shower and sat down to put socks on. The discomfort in his chest was worrying him, but he didn't think about it seriously until he sat down and began sweating profusely. His clothing was soaked and Becky told him she was calling 911. She was surprised that he didn't argue and by that, she knew it was the right decision. Twenty minutes later, back in the woods in their cabin, he was being loaded into an ambulance, being given a field EKG and was told that yes, it was a heart attack. They just drove to the main dirt road and met a helicopter, where he was quickly flown away and to the hospital.  It took 30 minutes to arrive at the hospital and he was still alert and talking, but still having the heart attack. His main artery was completely blocked and he was sitting up, talking to us.

The doctor said it would have been a much different outcome if they had hesitated on calling or if the paramedics hadn't been so on the ball as to order a helicopter or if my sister hadn't made him eat an aspirin and the paramedics hadn't given him nitroglycerin when they arrived.

It was about 12 hours later when my sister and I were sitting in his ICU room figuring out his Myers-Briggs personality temperament and reading it to him off of the internet. We were all laughing at how accurate the description was and appreciating what a great guy he is....and that he was still with us. This is how two ESFP's handle an ISTJ who is in day one of recovery from a heart attack.

Thank you to all who prayed for Larry and sent encouraging emails or messages. He's going to be just fine.

November 3, 2010

Thank you, November 3!

I'm so thankful, I'm giddy in fact, that the elections are OVER!

It's not about who won or who didn't win, it's that they aren't calling me 10 times per evening and hurling accusations and slander all over my evening television.

Aaah, now this is better.

November 2, 2010

Rewards of a life well lived

For the past 5 weeks, Tuesday has been the day that I take my mom to our morning ladies' Bible study at church. We go  and meet with about a dozen other ladies who range in age from late 30's to 80's. It is a group of seasoned Christian women with lots of wisdom, knowledge and good sense.....and we all get along like old friends every week. I am thankful for those ladies.

They spur me on (and although spurs sometimes pinch, they work). These women have been through almost all life's ups and downs. You name the blessing or tragedy and it's there in that room each week. And they are lovely, wonderful women. Life has not embittered them, but blessed them, even with all of it's trials. I know that when they speak, there is a lifetime of hard-gained wisdom motivating their words and thoughts. Very cool when you think about it.

Today my mom and I went out to lunch and as we sat there trying to decide what to order, a man in the booth behind my mom said something about the elections today. He said something so hateful and spiteful against Christians that I lost my appetite. It was also just plain untrue. I could tell he did not actually know many true Believers and was speaking out of some pain or maybe just propaganda from some group he listens to. 

It made me heartsick and shocked that someone would think that about me.

So I am thankful for that group of ladies. I can see Christ in them and the rich, wonderful rewards of living life for the I AM, the One who is. The world is changing almost daily and we must lift Him up and let our Light shine....

....because if people see Jesus in you, in us, they will be drawn to Him......and they may reject Him. But let it be based on Jesus and not on us.

November 1, 2010

A month of thankfulness

It's November. I was celebrating this earlier today, kind of like this:  I love November because people take the graveyard decorations out of their front yards and put up reminders of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love November because supposedly it will turn cooler....some day this month it will actually cool down semi-permanently until spring. I love November because we gather our family close and have a banquet and remember God's blessings. I love November because for two whole months people talk about being thankful and then about Christmas....CHRISTmas. I love that.

An invitation came today for me (thanks Vicki) to join a Month of Thankfulness so I did. And even though I am not good at making promises to post every day on here, I will 'try' to post almost every day about something I am thankful for.

It has been a long, hot fall here in Phoenix, but we've seen God do some really great things in this season. Things that make tears squirt right out of your eyes before they even well up or anything. It happened to me on Sunday.  Just like cartoon people, sprinkler eyes. The kind of things that just make you raise your hand to the Lord with squirting eyes and praise Him. (then try to find an antique tissue in the bottom of your purse to mop up)

I'm so thankful for God's work, for His hand in our lives.

I see it!