Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Baptisms

After being inspired by seeing strangers baptized at Damien's church a week ago, we were even more excited about Jon and Chrissy's baptisms planned for Sunday.  Once a year their church hosts a big picnic in a park and afterwards people are baptized in the nearby creek.  Jon and Chrissy had been planning this for awhile.

It was another sweltering day with high heat and humidity.  When we arrived, a huge banquet was awaiting us under a pavilion.  Jon's church family was sitting all around on blankets and lawn chairs.  Because Dominic and Stacia came for the weekend, they were able to come and support Jon and Chrissy too, and of course Damien and Gretchen were there.  Jon and Chrissy's lives were changed several years ago when they dedicated themselves to serving God but now they were making a public profession of faith by their baptisms. 

After our meal we all trekked down to a muddy, shallow stream.  The seven people waded into the water with their pastor. One by one, each came forward and the pastor read a verse he had chosen for that person.  After affirming their faith in salvation by Jesus Christ alone, they each were baptized.  Jon and Chrissy were last.  My heart was beating fast when it was my son's turn.  My little boy, now a man, strong in his commitment to his family and his Lord. I am so proud of him. Jon was so serious.  I know how much this meant to him.  The pastor read Jon's verse and Jon proclaimed his faith.  He was lowered into the water to represent death to his old life and he arose out of the water to symbolize new life in Christ.  And not only that, but to proclaim that just as we will one day die, we will be raised to eternal life. 

The crowd cheered and Fred boldly shouted, "Praise God!"  Chrissy was last.  She was teary-eyed and I was too.  The pastor affirmed her heart for the unborn and her relentless zeal to save babies.  He read verses from Psalm 139.  I thought about all Jon and Chrissy have been through, their turbulent childhoods and their difficult lives together when they were younger.  So much heartache and struggle.  Yet here they were, healed and restored.  God is so good. This was a profound moment in time. 

The crowd was in a celebratory mood after the baptisms.  Children waded into the creek to play, along with Lana and her friend.  Suddenly Lana was crying and running out of the water.  She had a huge crayfish attached to her hand!  Jon was so good with her.  He calmly removed the crayfish and together he and Lana returned it to the stream.  This day of baptism will always include the crayfish story!   

We headed home, our hearts filled with memories of good family time.
Dominic and his family left to go home to D.C..  Our whirlwind weekend closed out and we are grateful for it all.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Big Surprise!

Dominic and Stacia had planned to visit last weekend but they canceled due to work obligations.  We were disappointed.  I was longing to hold my little grandson again.

On Saturday the girls and I went to 4-H as we always do.  Fred called once to see when we'd be home but we were in no hurry.  We came back in the afternoon with no plans for the rest of the day.  I dropped off bags and stuff on my dining room table and suddenly from around the half wall in my living room, I saw baby Caden suspended in the air!  Dominic and Stacia were hiding behind the wall, holding the baby out for me to see.  What a wonderful surprise!  I grabbed Caden and held him tight--totally forgetting my eye surgery and the rules about lifting.  What a joyous reunion that afternoon! 

Now what do you think my next thought was after seeing my family here?  The house!  Nothing prepared, nothing cleaned up, no meals planned!  Shock and horror!  But, after all, this is family and they know me, that I barely keep up with daily chores.  So we did what we could to make their stay pleasant.

That afternoon we had another sweet reunion.  We knew Kelsey and Seth had traveled here from Minnesota for a funeral but we didn't know if or when we would see them.  They would only be in town a short time.  But Damien arranged for them to come to his house and we were invited to be there too.  My oldest grandchildren are 18 and 16 years old!  It's hard to believe.  So here we were all crowded into Damien's house--my grown boys, my daughters-in-law, big grandchildren and the baby cousins together with my two daughters in between.  We are so blessed. 

Soon Kelsey and Seth had to leave, and Fred and I left too.  Arielle and Liana stayed behind to have dinner with Damien and Dominic's families.  This is how it should be.  As Fred and I grow older and the girls grow up, they will become closer to their older siblings.  Those relationships will become more and more important.  I know they will always be loved and cared for and that gives me great peace.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Worship in the Corn Field

Damien invited us to an event with his church.  We would have a cook-out and a service outdoors and Damien would be playing the drums with his band.  It sounded like fun.  I always love hearing my son play.  He has such natural talent and has never had a lesson in his life.  And I love that he is using his gift to worship the Lord and inspire others also.

Tents were set up on the blacktop of the church parking lot.  It was a HOT, HOT day!  Because of the angle of the sun, even under the tent we had to arrange ourselves carefully to claim a scrap of shade.  And Damien!  He'd arrived hours earlier to set-up, working with the sun bearing down on him.  Still, he was grilling meat and serving us all.  Despite the heat we enjoyed good family time together.  The kids were sweaty but no one complained. Gretchen had refreshing salads, and with beach chairs and cold drinks, what more could we want?  I only wish all my kids were here.  These girls so much enjoy their family.  I love this picture of Arielle, listening to her brothers discuss serious topics--as always. 

After we ate, we moved to the former corn field for music and worship.  The sun had shifted and shadows protected us from the brutal sun.  Families arranged their chairs and spread out blankets.  Kids played on the swings behind us.  Liana with her camera, as usual, recorded the event.  The beat of Damien's drums pounded in our chests, rising to the sky.  Our hearts were lifted in praise.
We unwind.  The heat passes away along with the concerns of the day.  Fred takes my hand and we close our eyes out here in the middle of the corn field and we let the music wash over us.  Peace descends.  We are grateful for it all.  Baptisms in a hot tub begin in front of the stage.  Some people had planned to be baptized, but anyone is invited.  We all walk up closer to watch what God has done.  Everyone cheers and celebrates the ones who have chosen to follow Jesus.  Young and old and everyone in between.  The music plays on, Damien working hard on the drums, wiping the sweat from his face between songs.  Fred says, "Did you ever imagine your son doing this?"  Changed lives, the real miracles of our time.

Deep dusk envelops us and lights come on the stage.  We hug our beloved people good-bye and head home, reflecting on the day.  This worship was so different from ours, yet we felt quite at home.  Jesus is building his church with all kinds of people.  He said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."   



Friday, July 12, 2013

Clear Vision

When I was 9 years old I got my first pair of glasses.  It was long overdue.  I still remember seeing the real world for what seemed like the first time.  I was amazed by the colors and detail.  Since then, I've always needed glasses and every visit to the doctor brought stronger lenses so I could continue to view the world in all its glory.

But for the past few years new glasses just don't work anymore.  I have cataracts and they only get worse with time.  A cloud obscures every scene.  I try to read around it in frustration.  I can't drive at night anymore because of the glare of headlights.  My optometrist said surgery was the only option.  But...when I go for a big evaluation at the laser eye center, they tell me I am at risk for a complication that would make things worse, not better! What to do?  It's also an expensive procedure, even with insurance.  I agonize over this decision.

So after much prayer and research and discussion, I decide to go ahead with my worst eye. There are no more options.  It's a somewhat scary day in the surgical suite.  They are going to remove my cataract with a laser and implant an artificial lens!  I will be awake.  I could go blind.  But then, I am going blind anyway.

The procedure itself is over in minutes.  I am wheeled back to a chair and sit upright and open my eyes.  I do not have my glasses on, yet I can clearly see across the room!  Amazing!  It's a miracle!

I guess people will say it's not really a miracle.  It's just the expertise of talented doctors.  And my doctor is one of the best.  (I researched him, of course.)  But for a person who has struggled to see clearly for over 50 years, this is a real miracle for me.  I am on a cocktail of eye drops for the next month and I have to be very careful to protect this new lens.  My vision is not perfect.  After all my other eye has no correction.  If I wear my glasses, my new eye can't see through them.  If I take off my glasses, my new eye works, but not the other.  But when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can see the alarm clock.  When I take a shower, I can see the soap.  Little things most people probably take for granted.

I think about one blind man that Jesus healed.  "Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, 'Do you see anything?' And he looked up and said, 'I see men, but they look like trees walking.' Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again, and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly."  (Mark 8)

So right now I see men that look like trees walking.  But in God's good time, my sight will be restored.  And while physical sight is a gift from God, I pray through all this that God will continue to always correct my spiritual vision.  I want to view this world and my life through the lens of God's word--to see things the way he does and live accordingly.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Back in the Saddle

We haven't ridden our bikes in a very long time.  I don't know why because we greatly enjoy biking on the trails near our house.  So on the 4th of July Fred suggested we go.  There were several reasons not to go--I'm worried about Fred's injured hand and his new thyroid med dosage that increases his risk for heart arrhythmia.  Also, it's very hot and humid this day and I don't tolerate the heat too well.  And even the girls aren't very enthusiastic about going.  But we go anyway!

It is bright and hot and sunny and beautiful.  In no time we are flying down the paved paths along the rivers.  It's been so rainy the past few weeks, and everything is green and lush.  Birds of all kinds call out through the trees.  Arielle and I take the lead and I so much like riding with her. 

Good thing we went early in the morning.  By noon the heat is stifling.  We come home tired, toasted, and relaxed.  What a fun family time!  But Liana had a bit of a struggle riding.  Her bike is much too small.  We decide we want to make biking more a regular part of life, so we head to Walmart to look for a new bike for her.  She finds a beauty!  It is like mine--sturdy and secure.  She tries it out in the driveway--about the most difficult place to ride with the slope and the stone wall and the cars.  Hopefully soon she can take it out on  the trail. 

Fred has to work early the next day, so we pass on our community fireworks.  I find out Arielle is very disappointed.  I didn't know she enjoys them so much.  After it got dark she calls us into her room and we discover we can see fireworks from faraway out her window.  So we sit and watch.  These are not our local fireworks but from the direction, I think they are a neighboring township about 7 miles away.  Liana takes dozens of pictures.  Pretty good considering the distance!  She's become quite a photographer.

Arielle tells me to look out her other window that faces the woods behind our house. To my delight I see thousands of lights flickering off and on from the ground all the way up to high in the trees.  Fireflies!  I can't believe it!  I've never seen so many and they are so bright, glowing with their own silent rhythm.  God's fireworks!  And they go on and on after the finale of the local show.  Arielle says she watches them every night before she goes to sleep. 

A beautiful 4th of July.  Wonderful family time once again.