Lessons from a Stray Dog

IMG_1941It’s been a little more than a week since we moved in with a wonderful family and the boys love the home and its sense of adventure. The other day, a random dog walks into our backyard…  The first person to notice is Noah.  He calls out to Doug in the next room, “Do you usually have random dogs hang out in your backyard?” As we look out the patio window we see a poor little chihuahua mix with an empty plastic bag of shredded cheese over his head!  He must have wandered into the yard because of the bag over his head that was blinding him.  We now feel sympathy for this poor dog.  Doug and Noah speed up behind him from opposite directions in attempt to grasp the bag off his face, but the dog runs away faster.  Then, all of us surrounded the dog into the back corner of the yard.  I sprint back into the house to grab a cookie and some lunch meat thinking it might help the dog feel like he could trust us.  Then I walk back to Doug who now has drawn closer to the dog.  Doug offers the treats to the dog who may not even be able to smell or see a thing since his eyes and nose are covered by a plastic waste bag… This continues for some time, until Doug slowly approaches the dog even closer and quickly yanks the bag off his head.  The dog proceeds to bark at us and storms away angrily.  The poor dog had no idea what was good for him!  Yet, can we at times behave in much the same way?

Sin blinds us and may even grow to feel comfortable despite the fact it makes us walk around in darkness…  The Lord loves us so much that he doesn’t merely watch us stumble around in the dark.  He might at first very gently and kindly attempt to lead us the right way.   However, when we stubbornly buck up against him, he goes to whatever means to rid us of whatever is over our heads covering up our vision of reality as revealed through His Word and Spirit.  The Lord is our Good Shepherd that keeps watch over our souls sometimes with a staff or a rod.  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 Yeah, we are like dumb sheep.  We stumble in darkness and are so prone to wander and leave the one we love for so many other distractions of this world and sins that entangle our heart and affections for him.  God loves us too much to let us stay in this blinded state.

Like a like a bag over our heads, sin distorts our view of reality and his hand of protection in our lives—despite how faithful God is over and over to display his wondrous works and care for us.  Just Monday, we witnessed an amazing eclipse that tells of his glory and handiwork.  Much like an eclipse that hides from sight the sun and leaves us in cold darkness, other things hide our glorious view of the Son—Jesus who did the unthinkable in sacrificing his life for us while we reviled and bucked up against him.  When we find ourselves in this great peril, may we not be so content to stay there.  May we not shun him when he tries to remove the eclipse of his Son.  Worst yet, may we not be angry at God or others for removing sin which proves harmful.  This is my earnest prayer, “Lord, give us a love for you that would despise the sin that draws us away from the Son.  Thank you that you don’t leave us to our own devices.  Thank you that you realize we are but flesh and that you love us even in our weakness and you never give up on us.  You graciously woo our hearts.  However, may we not presume on your kindness and patience with us.”  Also, when we see others with a bag over their head may we not be so quick to judge them, but instead be humble and realize ways we to one degree or another fall to similar plights or have at some point in our lives.  Who is to say that we can’t again fall back at any moment…it is only by the mercy and grace of God that we grow in Christ.  Nothing of our own doing can save us from the ginormous debt of sin we owe against a holy God.  And nothing of our own doing once being saved can then perfect us by our own work of the law.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—  just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Galatians 3: 3-6

Times of our weakness are precious in that they bring us to our knees in utter dependence on the awesome high King of heaven yet simultaneously our Father and Friend, through Christ.  Without physically seeing a good outcome, by faith in his promises of a glorious future not too far ahead, we draw near to the Lord in the only capacity we can this side of glory–marred by sin while holding an alien righteousness card with Jesus name credited to us.  If Jesus poured himself as a love offering, how much more should we as his followers be poured for him.  This life is short and there’s much to do for the Kingdom.  The enemy wants to hinder every God-glorifying thing we endeavor to accomplish.  We can’t fight this battle alone.  Now more than ever I realize my dependence on Christ and God’s people.  That’s why I covet your prayers!

Our little family does morning devotions together.  After we sing hymns and read the Bible we pray based on a verse that stood out to us.  Nathan usually doesn’t pray, but lately, he’s wanted to pray!  This has been his prayer, “Dear God, I pray that I could talk to my daddy and not miss him.  That I would follow Jesus, love him and go to heaven.   And that I could play with my cars there.  In Jesus name.”  Even though our family does devotions early in the day.  Mornings and my personal time with the Lord do not consistently jive at this point in my life.  I heard an audio message from Elisabeth Elliot where she basically said there no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have devotions in the morning and why it’s better.  So I tried hard to make my dates with the Lord in the early mornings.  However, my efforts were frustrated.  Mornings with a three-year old are just unpredictable right now, given our current circumstances.  Then, I realized that I can offer the Lord my evenings too.  I understood that as much as I may admire someone like my heroine Elliot, things people say if not directly from the Bible don’t need to be kept to the tee.  It’s wise to heed godly advice, but as Protestant Christians, we are solely bound by Scripture.  When we treat human tradition or counsel as the Word of God we fall prey to venturing into legalism.  God seeks after our heart more than anything and the faith like that of a child.

My evenings with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ have been invaluable in that he’s been giving me the ability to lay my burdens down and give him my tears which I hope cleanses my weary soul.  It’s so comforting to know that God collects all my tears in a bottle and records them in his book(Psalm 56:8.)   My heart still aches for the earthly loss of my beloved best friend, the state of our broken little family and the emptiness left by our spiritual and physical head missing.  I would be utterly devastated if not for Christ being our Head! Yet, I long for heaven now more than ever! While I’m beyond thankful for grandfathers and the godly family we live with; the role of a father and husband in the family is simply irreplaceable.  Yet the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18.)  As we cry out to the Lord for his grace, he provides the comfort that keeps our souls in perfect peace in the middle of the pain, loss, and brokenness.  I admit that I don’t have any of this all down.  Sometimes it seems like everything is falling apart.  So please pray that we’d learn the hard lessons well; and that in some way as you come alongside us, the Lord would bless, teach and grow you too.  My prayer is that God be glorified through this blog and much notice would be given to the amazing work Christ does even in the dark nights.

We sang this hymn in Bible study and it encapsulates what God’s laying on my heart…

“I once was lost in darkest night. Yet thought I knew the way.  The sin that promised joy and life, had led me to the grave.  I had not hope that You would own a rebel to Your will.  And if You had not loved me first, I would refuse You still.  But as I ran my hell-bound race, Indifference to the cost, You looked upon my helpless state, And led me to the cross.  And I beheld God’s love displayed.  You suffered in my place, You bore the wrath reserved for me, Now all I know is grace.

Aallelujiah! All I have is Christ! Hallelujiah! Jesus is my Life!

Now Lord I would be your alone. And live so all might see.  The strength to follow Your commands, could never come from me.  Oh, Father use my ransomed life, In any way You choose, And let my song forever be, My only boast is You.”

God’s Presence from Forest to Dessert Land

 

It’s been a physically and emotionally draining week yet a blessed one.  I’m thankful to be resting in the shelter of my Savior—Jesus who has provided a sweet safe-haven for us during this season in our lives.  The week flew by like a whirlwind. Many people traveled from LA to Grants Pass and vice versa.  It’s amazing because I don’t remember asking a single person for help… people volunteered on both ends.  Our VBS had been hit with all kinds of technical problems on our last day, so I was somewhat afraid of issues with the move that could potentially hinder us.  Following Josh’s tradition before traveling, I had taken both cars to the mechanic to be inspected beforehand.  Thanks to the many people praying we had no issues and the Lord granted us safety and a smooth trip.  The first couple of days following our arrival I worked like a busy aunt trying to organize my storage space yet was interrupted with reflections of life in Oregon.  Then, like a tile wave tears streamed down my face…I felt empty and just wept for a short time.  It hit me, that I was going to miss the incredibly loving friends we made and the home we were gifted with for a season.  The Lord graciously drew me to Himself and I found solace in the ever faithful fountain of living water that relives my thirsty soul—Christ. He granted me complete peace through prayer and hearing from God’s word.  We cannot grasp yesterday nor turn back the hands of time; yet we can fill the pages of today with new dreams, hope, and love.

One thing God is impressing on my heart is that of perspective… sometimes we can get overwhelmed in life because of our nearsightedness.  If only we could see with eyes of faith as if seeing a real-time picture of all that lies ahead of us, we would persevere despite the present hardship.  When I gave birth to Nathan, I kept reciting to myself the second verse in Hebrews 12 that says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” This profound truth motivated me to preserve the labor pains and push forward…the results were sweet fellowship with Christ in my suffering and a beautiful baby boy was begotten just seconds after the doctor arrived.  No matter what our situation may look like in this life, we have an inheritance awaiting us in glory and glimpses of it reflected from the graces he pours on us in this present world.  It would be so easy for me to dwell on the past and to complain about all we’ve lost, yet the Lord has been so faithful to us through our past heartaches and sorrows.  It would be pure foolishness to miss out on the joy of offering Him my worship and praise with thanksgiving merely to trade it in for a ‘woe is me’ spirit and misery.  God calls us his friends and one of the privileges of this office is that we can take him our worries, our cares and even our complains.  David does this in the Psalms.  “With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.  I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.” (Psalm 142:1-2) Yet, as we talk to God through prayer and recount all the ways he’s proven faithful we won’t help but to be moved and lifted into inexpressible joy, peace and thankfulness for who God is all that He does or will grant us. “Bring me out of prison that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.” (Psalm 142:7)

Everyone on this planet benefits from God’s common grace.  God causes the sun to dawn each morning, gives us rain to provide us water, and sustain our lives with the air we breathe and the lungs to pump the air into our body.  Even more so, Christians are sanctified and blessed even in this world despite what the it may throw at us.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

If only we could see heaven daily we as live our every-day lives on this earth! At first, I likened moving out to Palmdale to going into the wilderness in a dry climate devoid of the lush green trees abounding in Oregon.  I asked the Lord to give me eyes to see it’s blessedness.  Then, I was reminded of how God shaped the rocks along the roads and formed the hills and mountain that look like they’re made of sand.  The wonderful couple who have taken us into their homes like to go on walks—lately the boys and I have joined them.  They remarked how nice it is to live in a place where we get cool evenings.  It truly is serene to go out in the evenings in Palmdale.  The breeze of the gusty winds is remarkably refreshing. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations” Psalm 100: 4-5

Prayer: Sovereign Lord who rulers and reigns over human hearts, nations and even spiritual dark forces. You have kept your people safe under the shadow of your wings and have allowed only what you have ordained to singe us in ways that chip away the dross for the sake of your kingdom.  Your kingdom is not of this world.  Our eyes only see what’s directly in front of us, yet you see all things as they are and as they will be.  Thank you for comforting our hearts with these truths and sustaining us in this dark world where chaos and war abound… Thank you for how refreshing your Word is to our souls.  Thank you for moving us closer to friends & family safely.  May we ever thirst for Christ and see His light beam down every aspect of our lives.  Forgive us for often being short-sighted and given to complaints and emotions.  May we be graced to see with your vision to illuminate us and light the path directly before us.  Thank you that you shield us from harm and that your ways are always perfect even when we don’t understand them fully.  Please continue to keep the boys underneath the shadow of your wing.  May we be willing pure vessels for your honorable use and ever trust and hope in you.  In Jesus’ holy name.

Meditations

As I sat on my porch yesterday and listened to thunder roar and the winds stir, I meditated on our time in Oregon.  There are many sweet memories of our family with Josh.  I thanked God for giving us those moments we shared together and as a family.  However, I was struck by so many dreams we had that were shattered.  We had two wooden cracker barrel chairs out on the porch that Josh bought with a vision of him and I sitting out there together when we grew old.  Josh wanted to spend the rest of his life in Oregon and that he did.  Little did he know how short it would be cut.  Despite the tragedy, my heart genuinely is at peace, yet my life has been so drastically changed.  The Lord has been so kind to minister to me and use many people to be a pillar of love and support.  At the end of the day though, it’s just my Savior and me.  I finished a cherished book I was reading by Elisabeth Elliot titled ‘The Path of Loneliness and this quote concluded so well what the Lord has taught me through it. “The answer to our loneliness is love—not our finding someone to love us, but our surrendering to the God who has always loved us with an everlasting love.  Loving Him is then expressed in a happy and full-hearted pouring out of ourselves in love to others.”

This past week, I’ve been busy loving on the children at our church’s VBS which has been such an immense blessing to me.  However, I’ve also taken the time to re-visit the day that Josh went home to be with the Lord.  I have asked the Lord to help me grieve in a healthy way if more healing needs to take place.  After going back and reading my posts blog including the ones from the day of Josh’s homecoming, I was left sadden and shed some tears.  At the same time though, I was thankful to be able to remember God’s kindness and faithfulness.  One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was to share and record our experiences with loved ones far away and to help others who may have to go through similar situations.  There are many out there who have children with the same disease of Fanconi Anemia that is desperately seeking help.  I hope the blog can encourage you if you are in the same seemingly sinking boat.

The only reason why I continued to write despite the turns of events that ended Josh’s journey in this life, is because I have seen the lighthouse of the One who conquered death and wanted to share it!  God overcame death through scarifying his own life on the cross to redeem us as sinners back to a right relationship with God.  No matter how hard we try to find a cure for Fanconi Anemia or cancer, the reality of death is ever before all of us.  The truth is any of us can die of a heart attack, a car accident, a freak accident, and a host of different things no matter how young we are.  The reason why death came into the world was because of sin.  “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. The only way out of death is to put our faith in the One who overcame the sting of death, the person of Jesus Christ.  He was both God and man that he could both take our penalty and powerfully rise from the dead to defeat it once and for all.  This is the most amazing news even amidst the most horrific news—it is the main reason why I don’t grieve the way most do.  Josh is truly in paradise now because of His personal faith in Christ.  We will be reunited again in heaven again, but our source and object of love there will be for the Lord!

Firstly, my husband has been, is and forever will be Christ.  See the Bible tells us that Jesus came into this dark and painful world to redeem a bride for himself—the church.  This bride was not worthy; she had deep scars of sin, she was not clean, in no way able to love Him on her own; and the only way for Him to win her was to die for her on the cross.  Sound like Romeo and Juliet?  Well, that’s not the end.  It is the best love story ever… because it doesn’t end on the cross and in death.   Since Jesus rose from the cross three days later and now sits next to God’s throne, he intercedes for His beloved.  Now, all who are joined with Christ in His death by turning away from their former way of life and turning to Jesus are also joined in the likeness of His resurrection and will be given a new life.  Heaven is described as a wedding celebration where the church as Christ bride will be wed in its glorious day.  Here is a description of a majestic wedding feast and joyful celebration that awaits believers, “Then, I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to cloth herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” Revelation 19:6-9

The first book Josh and I read on marriage together was John Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage” The book ironically opens up with a story of a missionary couple who were martyred for their faith shortly after getting married.  The point of the beginning of this book basically that marriage is a momentary gift.  Most people see marriage as forever.  Yet, the Bible teaches otherwise.  Our earthly marriage is only for this life.  However, Piper does not condemn marriage; in fact, he elevates it.  “The aim of this book is to enlarge your vision of what marriage is.  As Bonheffer says, it is more than your love for each other.  Vastly more.  Its meaning is infinitely great.  I say that with care.  The meaning of marriage is the display of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people.  This covenant-keeping love reached its climax in the death of Christ for his church, his bride.  That death was the ultimate expression of grace, which is the ultimate expression of God’s glory, which is of infinite value.  Therefore, when Paul says that our great and final destiny is ‘the praise of God’s glorious grace’ (Eph. 1:6) he elevates marriage beyond measure, for here, uniquely, God displays the apex of the glory of his grace: ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Eph 5:25)”

The Lord is working on a grand new beginning for us as his chosen bride.  He calls this the new heavens and the new earth.  God gives us glimpses into this wonderful place from his word and thru His church and the beauty of His creation, to give us hope for our weary exile journey wandering in the wilderness.  For me during my saddest moments in life… I long for heaven the most.  It is in these times that the Lord gives me the desire for Him more than anything this world has to offer.  No matter what happens to me in this life, I know God is not finished with my or your story.  He is using everything in my life to refine and adorn me more into the bride He wants Christ to receive.

“Father God, maker of the immensely complex universe and sustainer of all life on it, all-knowing maker, gracious Redeemer, mighty shelter– you are my King! Because of Jesus death on the cross for my sins, I call upon you and you hear me from your celestial throne in heaven.  Worthy are you Jesus to receive all my praise and receive the life I owe all to you, to get all the glory for everything good you are doing in my life.  I am so undeserving of your gracious overpouring of love both directly through your Holy Spirit and through your church.  Forgive me for how far I fall short every day.  Thank you that your love graciously covers my sins on the foot of the cross. Thank you that you are so patient with me as I make meager strides to learn from this day and do better tomorrow.   Please keep my faith steadfast in you and my eyes set on Christ as I embark on a new voyage perhaps during a still long stormy season.  Keep us and our caravan of five vehicles as safe as we travel.  Please fill Noah and Nathan with calmness and laughter during the long road trip and grant them peace to handle the transition. May healing come for our broken little family and the spring of new life bloom once again to reveal to the world how you do tenderly caring for us and bring forth beauty from ashes.  May I draw nearer every day to abandoning myself and surrendering wholly onto thee.  Help me to always hold loosely to what I tend to hold tight, that I may align my heart with yours and seek to lay hold of Christ and your kingdom.  In Jesus’ mighty name.”

Unshakeable Foundation

The week I was hit with some waves of grief and emotion.  Yet Jesus has given my weary and worn soul refreshing rest!  Physically, I was weak; then emotionally I started to unravel at the seams without seemingly much.  I began to sink into a sad spell with just an overwhelming deep sense of loss.  Tears just kept streaming down from my eyes till I could taste them, and it was not just a few that I could wipe off my face and move on…it continued through the night, and into the next day or so.  The Lord was gracious to provide friends to encourage me.  Most importantly though he led me to the place of sweetest blessedness.  He took me to a place of solitude, brokenness, quietness in mediation on Word of God, and heartfelt prayer.  Jesus came to my rescue—the result was a beautiful time of communion with Christ and a sweet fellowship of suffering with him.  Perhaps the Lord knew there was more healing that needed to take place.  Now, I can genuinely be thankful for the work the Lord did through my weakness this week! I read a quote from a book by Elisabeth Elliot that sums up the blessing I received through my encampment with sorrow “Loneliness is a wilderness, but through it receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God, and offering it back to Him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory, and to God Himself.”

“I will lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3 ESV

God often uses difficult circumstances to lead us to Himself–times of uncertainty, loss, change, or a host of other trials  We’ve been busy getting ready for yet another big change—a move.  The reality of us leaving our lives behind in Oregon has begun to sink in.  Especially as my walls are left bare and boxes have taken over every room.  As we pack, I’ve had to think about what things I will need right away and what may be left in storage at my parent’s house, without really knowing how long.  A sobering thought has been for me to ponder at how much stuff we accumulate…some which I hardly use and all of which I can’t take home to heaven.  Some things I’ve had to let go of.  Josh had quite a library of books; thankfully some of the local pastors were able to take a bulk of them for their studies.  I did keep some for my own studies and writing.  Ladies from our church have been coming to help pack and I’m so thankful for the practical demonstration of love from God’s people!  This evening, our church had an open house to say goodbye to our family; I shared the direction the Lord has given us, and some of the elders prayed over us and our plans.  Next week will be our last week; however, our church will be happily hosting VBS!  I’m so glad for that! It helps lift our spirit when we can serve others and take the focus off ourselves.  Praying for a blessed week serving our kids and as many in the community that Lord brings us and sharing with them the good news of Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In Christ, we have so much to share with the world that they unknowingly thirst for.  We have true love and real living hope. This hope does not fall apart when life turns us in devastating unexpected directions. It is not shaken when our identities are shattered.  I heard someone refer to me as the pastor’s wife and it just didn’t seem fitting anymore… Josh was good about making sure I did not get thrown into the role of pastor with him.  We had a ministry family come to visit the other day and they referred to Josh and me as having been pastors of the church.  My job as the pastor’s wife was always primarily to be Josh’s helpmate to free him up to do God’s work, and to keep our home.  It entailed hospitality and of course we basically shared our lives with our church.  The reason why Josh chose to stay in Oregon rather than move to LA for treatment and possible death; was that he wanted to share his life till death with his church.  As his wife, much like being under someone in military command one of my privileged duties was basically to see to it that I carried along his wishes to the best of my ability.  Now my identity can only be permanently rooted in Christ.  I’m not a pastor’s wife anymore, I’m not a wife anymore.  I’m now a widow.  Over any title I may acquire, I will be Christ’s for all eternity.

As sad as it will be leaving our home, friends, and church family here in lush green Oregon, there are some reasons why it will be good to move. I love our church, but it will never be the same here.  Sunday mornings are still hard sometimes…it’s difficult to see someone else preach from the same pulpit where Josh taped a quote from John 12:21 that read, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  It’d also be tough to stay and watch our church make decisions or take directions that may be different than what Josh would have wished for it.  It’s teaching me a lesson in surrender to God.  This is His church, my children are really His, and even this life is not really my own, it’s all His (Romans 11:26.)  I’m finding solace in my ministry through prayer.  Things may be completely out of my control, but God is sovereign and His ways are wise and higher than ours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Inspired by a bold friend who did this, one of Josh’s last dying wishes was his desire to write a book during his cancer treatment.  He had talked about it and started when he got out of the hospital after his transplant.  While looking through his stuff recently, I found that he even titled and designed a cover for this book… unfortunately, he didn’t get very far past writing the introduction.  Josh left this book unwritten.  Yet, there are many other things he wrote including poetry, short stories, Christian articles, and sermons among which was his last sermon series on suffering and the sovereignty of God.  It’s going to be an honor for me to complete this writing endeavor and to carry out his dream.  The Lord has overwhelmingly made it possible for me to stay home with the boys this upcoming year and work on the book project.

Thank you all for your support, love, and prayers.  They mean the world to us! The boys have their good and bad days.  They still have bad dreams on some nights.  It’s encouraging though to see how much Nathan understand even at age three.  While I was on the phone I said something about how Josh had died three months ago.  Nathan quickly chimed in and said, “Mommy, Daddy did not die—he’s in heaven—up there!” and pointed to the sky.  Later, on his own initiative, Nathan made sure to tell our interim pastor that Daddy is in heaven and that if we follow Jesus we will see him again! The boys were glad they got to see Katelynn again while on her way to Washington to stay with her uncle and his wife who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  She will be helping with their seven-year-old son.  They are not believers so our prayer is that Katelynn will be a light to them and that she herself would get plugged into a strong church to encourage her.  The Lord was so kind to provide many needed things and people including Katelynn.  God is a mighty stronghold and abundantly rich to supply every grace we need for the hour; great is His love and kindness to us!

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.  When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.  The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”