Saturday, May 30, 2009

Problem Solved

My fun-loving son, Andrew, has an amazing mind. I don't know of anyone else who can write the things he does. If you need a good laugh and can tolerate a long crazy tongue-in-cheek essay/article/rambling thoughts, click on the following link. If you get tired of reading, go to the last paragraph for the surprise ending.

Disclaimer: This letter is posted on a third party website. This is the only document we have posted. The related document links on the side have nothing to do with Andrew's document. Enter those links at your own risk. They may be just fine, but I haven't looked at them so couldn't vouch for their safety. Andrew's letter if fine. Strange, but fine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thanks, Irene

The call every mother dreads.

Earlier yesterday evening, I heard a siren in the distance signal an emergency and a life being turned upside down. If I'd lived here longer, I might know who was in trouble. But being new to the area, most likely I don't know them. I often pray when I hear sirens, asking God to be with the sick or injured person and to help the family members involved.
Little did I know, 450 miles away, my daughter had her own sirens.

Yesterday, while we were eating dinner and blissfully unaware, Kiah was in an accident with her boyfriend, Mark. They rolled four times and miraculously weren't seriously injured. Lots of bumps and bruises, lots of aches and pains, but for the most part okay.

Kiah called Irene Gacke who lives close to the crash site. Irene and her husband, Mike, stayed with Kiah and Mark until help arrived. Irene and Mike drove Kiah and Mark to the emergency room and stayed with them for three hours. Then took them out to eat afterwards. Then took them to their house to spend the night because Kiah had a concussion and needed to be observed.

(Picture of Irene and Kiah taken a year ago at Kiah's graduation)

Irene, I can't thank you enough for taking care of my little girl. Thanks for mothering Kiah and treating her like one of your own. Thanks for making sure she was okay. Thanks for being her port in a storm. You went above and beyond the call of duty and I greatly appreciate all you did. May God reward you for your kindess.

I want to shield my children from pain and heartache. To spare them difficulties and trials. I don't want them to learn things the hard way.

I don't like being a long distance mother. If Kiah still lived with us, I could take care of her. I made her favorite cookies today and mailed them to her. What a pitiful, inadequate way to express what's on my heart:

*I'm glad she's okay

*I'm glad it wasn't worse

*I'm glad they wore seatbelts

*I trust God knows what He's doing

*God protected Kiah in the accident. He can help her with the aftermath.

*I wish I could be there for her

*Her life could have ended. Just. Like. That.

*Even though it didn't, possible scenarios keep running through my mind

*Most of all I'm thankful, that if yesterday had been Kiah's last day on earth, I know her eternal affairs are in order. She loves God and has a personal relationship with Jesus. Even though, we'd miss her terribly, I know for a fact that she would have gone to a much better place.

Thank-you Jesus for loving Kiah more than I could ever hope to and for leaving her with us for now. I know someday you'll call her home, but I'm selfish enough to be glad it wasn't yesterday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oddly Enough

Casey of Life Happens After Java is the seventh person to publicly follow my blog and I couldn't resist the urge to comment.

You see, I have this thing for odd numbers. Out of our nine family members, I'm the only one with all odd numbers in their birthdate: 9-11-59.

Prime numbers are even better. They're introverts at heart and aren't out to impress anyone. They're at peace with themselves and don't mind being alone.

7 is my favorite prime number. I graduated from high school way back in '77. Keith and I got married on the seventh day of the seventh month and we have seven children. I am 49 years old which is seven times seven. How cool is that?

My friend Mary calls me her odd friend, which I take as a compliment.

Casey is a good friend of my good friend. She's a good mother to her five children and wears an amazing number of hats. Besides her blog, she writes Between Reveille and Taps about her husband who is a military chaplain in Iraq. I admire her for holding up so well while he is away.

Welcome aboard, Casey. Blessings on your family, ministry, and writing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Be Still, My Soul

Lani snapped this picture of her Daddy at our church's National Day of Prayer Service.
Lani knows better than to peek during prayer, so while I don't endorse my ten-year-old's lack of judgment, I love this picture of Keith with his heart focused on God.
I've always appreciated my husband's love for the Lord and, to borrow a Eugene Peterson book title, his long obedience in the same direction.
I'm reminded of an old John Fischer song:
I want to be a more righteous man.
I want to be a godly man.
Teach me to do what I can
To follow closer to you.

I want to follow a different drum
Even if I'm the only one.
I want to hear when I'm done
You did well my son.
In 47 days, 11 hours and 55 minutes we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I'm so blessed to have a husband who loves God and loves me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Day in the Life

Lani, anxious to be about her business

Amy and Lani hammered rock into a fine
"flour" and made a "decorated cake."
Creative, noisy, and messy, yes. Edible, no.
Amy, in denial about the freezing COLD water

Anna, a future Martha Stewart, painting her room

Erica trying out her new camera

Angie being very careful

Keith sermonizing and our goofy dog, Tucker

Chequamagon Bay (to pronounce, think "she's warm again").
A tiny finger of Lake Superior, three blocks from our house.

For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies.
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm Legal

It's official. The cars are both licensed. I finally got my Wisconsin drivers license two weeks ago. This is mainly newsworthy because it's the first time in my driving career that I got my license on the first try.

We are now... Wisconsonians? Wisconsinites? Wisconsinegians? Wisconsinese?
Can somebody help us out here? What do Wisconsin residents call themselves?

Mother, May I?

May we let you exercise your Mother's Day perogative and allow you to take the family on a 4.6 mile hike just because it suits your fancy?

May we allow you to get directions off the internet which aren't entirely accurate and drive an twenty extra minutes because Dad won't stop for directions when we get lost?

May we bring a backpack next time? The Blue Bunny Hot/Cold bag got a little heavy after the first hour.

May we take lots of pictures with Erica's cool new camera?

May we walk ahead of you? Your short legs and middle-aged pace gives taking time to smell the roses a new meaning.

May we take a nap while we wait for you to catch up?

May we stand really near the edge at the top and make you nervous and keep you from enjoying the awesome view?

Since Wisconsin bugs love our insect repellent may we complain about all the bugs?

Back home, may we eat the ice cream cake you requested without gaining back all the weight we lost on the hike?

Mother, may I?
Yes, you may.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A 17-Year-Old Object Lesson

Erica recently turned 17. Her birthday is a yearly reminder of God's faithfulness.
18 years ago we sat in a wobbly boat, hoping it wouldn't tip over.
We'd planned to wait five years before having kids so I could work and save money to put Keith through seminary. God's plan gave us three children in five years and had Keith work three jobs to pay for school and take six years to get a two year degree.
After seminary, Keith wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life.

He had been an Aviation Ordinance Technician in the Marines and there wasn't a civilian job market for missile loaders. His undergraduate degree in Missions was useful if you're a missionary, which he wasn't. Now he had a seminary degree and our denomination didn't have pastors.

Our boat started to leak. Three months after finishing seminary, Keith developed a hernia. No, no, no - definitely not in the plan. No insurance, no savings. Aagh! We dealt with it right away so Keith could heal, get a job, and get on with life. The surgery went well and the doctor and hospital cut their fees in half and allowed us to make payments. Keith found a job and we held our breath.
Keith's surgery had not come at a good time, but it was God's time.

Two weeks later I discovered I was pregnant. Mayday, Mayday! With no insurance this was not good news. We had already crammed five people into a small two bedroom basement apartment. Was God paying attention? Clearly we weren't in a position to put another child into our crowded boat.

Discouraged and overwhelmed, I attended Ladies Bible Study with a friend. As we discussed Isaac's birth, Romans 4:20-21 jumped off the page. "Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform."

Ah, so mine was not the first problem pregnancy in history. Sarah's problem was old age. Our problem was no money, no insurance, a midlife crisis, and cold deep water under our rocking boat.

I was encouraged that Abraham and Sarah didn't have health insurance and God took care of them. And even though things looked very bleak and scary, I knew God would take care of us. I wanted to grow strong in faith and give glory to God.
Pregnancy may not have come at a good time, but it was God's time.

God helped us through all the uncertainties of the next nine months. He gave us a beautiful healthy baby girl with arresting gray eyes and a full head of hair. He allowed a short calm before the next storm.

Eight weeks after Erica's birth, our boat took on more water. I badly ruptured a disc in my lower back. We finally had health insurance but we also now had four children, ages seven and under. We didn't live near either set of parents. How in the world could I go through back surgery? Who would take care of my kids?

Those verses came back to me. "He did not waver in unbelief...grew strong in faith...being assured...what God has promised, He will also perform."

Why had God heaped so many things on our plate? I didn't appreciate the crash course in character development. We wanted to serve God and instead I was confined to a mattress on the floor and unable to care for my family. Scared of swamping our boat and trying not to waver in unbelief, we prayed and trusted God.

God loved us through His people. Our wonderful church came alongside and went above and beyond the call of duty to help us through the crisis. With generosity and many kindnesses they patched our leaky boat, emptied the water, bought new provisions, and rowed for awhile until we could do it ourselves. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it was hard, but God held our hand through that difficult time.

Back surgery had not come at a good time, but it was God's time.
Matthew 14:22-33 talks about another unsteady boat. Verse 24 says the boat was battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Been there, done that. Peter walked on water until seeing the wind, he became frightened and began to sink. Then Peter cried out and Jesus stretched out His hand to him and said, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Why indeed?

Every April 23rd, I remember God's goodness and think of lessons learned in rough seas and a battered boat.
1. God's time is the right time.

2. God, who knows and loves me best, has a plan for my life.
3. His plan is always better than mine.
4. No matter how scary or overwhelming things seem, I can be assured that what God has promised He can also perform.

4. Nothing is too difficult for God. Not lack of money, lack of insurance, cramped apartments, mid-life crisis, unexpected pregnancies, or surgeries.

5. God says children are a blessing and they are. If we wait until we can afford them, we would never have them. God says He will provide and He did. Had we been more cautious and "sensible" we wouldn't have had seven children. But we're thankful for every single one and wouldn't trade any of them for all the nice cars, nice houses, and fully funded retirement accounts in the world.

When I celebrate Erica's birth, I also celebrate God's faithfulness, and know that while He never promised smooth sailing, He's promised that if we don't waver in unbelief and let Him steer the boat, we'll stay the course.

Happy Birthday, Erica - What a blessing you are.

Friday, May 1, 2009

As I Live and Breathe

Just when I think I've seen it all,

My serious, intense husband has become a Wii addict.

I'm the last person in the world to want a Wii, but Andrew left it here two weeks ago. I'm afraid Keith will wear it out. He played golf until midnight last night, long after the girls went to bed. You heard it here first. The girls and I call him a "Wii little man." You know, as in Zaccheus.

Which all goes to prove that you can't judge a book by its serious cover.