Monday, April 30, 2007

Back From Our "Peachy" Georgia Get-Away

We arrived at our house around 11:00 last night. I'm glad I had the foresight to take today off to get caught up and ready to hit the ground running tomorrow, answering all the bult-up questions and calming graduation trauma and drama. I don't think I could have faced it today!

I have so much to show and tell that I believe I will have to divide it up into about 3 posts. Besides that, Kevin and I will be working on Part VIII of our story. And on top of that, I told Groovy Old Lady that I was willing to be randomized. She has come up with some great questions, and I'll have to get busy formulating my answers to them. Oops - I need another week off to blog!

I took some great shots of my spring flowers before we left, in case they got frozen out while we were gone. Fortunately, they just had rain here, which is a good thing. I'll share a few of those pictures before I go any further.


We spent one day in Savannah and had a lovely lunch along the riverfront. But it was not until after lunch that I realized Barb's personal friend (Paula Deen) has her restaurant in Savannah, not Atlanta. That's how much I know!! We asked around and found it. Even if we'd known ahead of time, we couldn't have eaten there for lunch - too popular! For dinner they start lining up around 3:00 and the great lady comes out, and they begin taking reservations for dinner. But check this out:


I gained weight just reading that menu!! But how yummy it all sounds. I think if you double click you'll be able to read the menu, if you can't already.

On Saturday, I went to the Botanical Gardens in Athens where Brenda and I had a chance to sit in this lovely location and get acquainted a bit. What a blessing.


That all for now, folks. I'll be back with much more!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Catch-up a Bit

We've been in St. Simons Island since Sunday night - had an absolutely wonderful time. We spent the day today in Savannah. Now we're back in Athens for a few more days of visiting. I'll get together with Brenda (Rocking Chairs and Rainbows) on Saturday afternoon. I have dozens of pictures of lots of stories to share.

Thanks for all the encouraging comments on Part VII. Part VIII will probably not happen until I get home next week. It has been quite a journey together writing this with Kevin - and very cathartic for me. The best is yet to come!

See you soon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part VII

Steve Chapman/Times & Seasons Music

There’s a boy in his mother’s prayers
Cause lately she’s been aware
That he’s been drifting
Too far from the shore
And she’s beginning to believe
The boy is getting out of reach
Oh weary mother
Don’t you worry anymore

Cause the boy is reachable
I know he’s reachable
And to God he’s visible
And all things are possible
Cause if the Lord can reach his hand of love through time
And touch a cold sinner’s heart like mine
The boy is reachable
Oh…he’s reachable

This beautiful verse of the song written by Steven Chapman came on the radio many times during our years of desperation. It gave me hope.

Kevin has written his Part 7 at Sema's site. Please check it out first. You can read some of Sema's thoughts and feelings in the comment section.

This is a chapter that is very hard to write about. The feelings of despair and hopelessness that I hold in our bodies and heart is overwhelming. As we left the newlyweds in that beautiful spot in the LA area, we had such high hopes. Kevin had a plan for his life and it included going back to Africa to teach English or work on translation of the Bible. He was majoring in linguistics - in fact, that is why he ended up at this school, because it was one of the few which had the degree he was seeking.

First semester went well. Sema got a good job. They found a great church full of students. They went on a retreat for the students and spouses in his department. We gave them a trip to Disneyland for their first anniversary. They went to the beach. He could walk or ride his bike to school. They got involved with a mission trip back to Mozambique, and Kevin was one of the leaders. They came home for an early Christmas celebration and headed back for another African adventure. But the adventure turned sour. There were personnel problems. Kevin got a serious eye infection. Even though they got to visit Sema's family in Kenya, there are lots of bad memories.

I took the opportunity to go visit them during his spring break. Sema went to work, we'd go get a Krispy Kreme donut, we'd meet Sema for lunch, Kev would study, and I would go for walks and explore the beautiful neighborhood. I remember I was reading Francine Rivers' book Redeeming Love. How appropriate was that, when I look back. We'd all three get together for dinner and the evening. We even watched American Idol together, as I recall. I don't remember feeling anything ominous, nor did I see any storm clouds on the horizon.

Summer came and I believe that was when he took a job working nights, which was a beginning of the slide downward. DC went to visit in August, and it did not turn out very well. There was a lot of tension between Kev and Sema, and it was quite evident to DC. He was very sad when he came home, though he couldn't really elaborate.

As I look back at all of these semesters of school and what happened, it amazes me that he maintained a 3.7-3.8 grade point average. That is a real mystery, but it must have something to do with that hand of God being on His life that we always talk about.

The beginning of the end was one night when I came home from working out at the gym. DC was sitting at the kitchen table with his head down on his arms - a very unusual posture for him. When I asked him what in the world he was doing, he said, "Kevin's a drug addict." I immediately went into denial, asking him how he could say such a thing. He explained that Sema had just called and shared her fears. I began hyperventilating and had to go outside and walk around the culdesac for a long time to get my breathing back to normal.

As that semester continued, we got frequent calls from Kevin in the evenings - him crying, being in depression, wondering what in the world he should do. We did everything we could think of from long distance to encourage him. We asked him to please find a counselor to talk to. We prayed with him on the phone. We still didn't know what was going on.

If you've read Kevin's story, you learned about his descension into the pits of hell in downtown LA, Skid Row. He would tell me that he liked to go down there to visit with the homeless as a sort of sociological study. He would sit with them in their cardboard boxes and try to figure them out. That's what he said to me. I was really gullible. I really wanted to believe him. I learned later that he could have easily been killed - one time he had his keys stolen, and his car. Why he got it back I don't know - again God's hand was upon him, protecting him from death and destruction.

Sema must have been going through her own personal hell. She didn't call often; she tried to handle it on her own and be so tough - so far away from her parents.

The next defining moment that lives in my body and brain was early on an October morning. I was at work, microwaving my cup of tea for the morning. I heard my phone ringing down the hall in my office, but I couldn't get there in time, so I just let it go to voice mail. Often I do not check my phone message immediately, but this time God must have prompted me to do so. There was hysterical crying on the other end of the line so that it took me awhile to realize it was Sema. I immediately called her back and learned that the paramedics were in their apartment, working furiously to bring Kevin back to life. She had awakened to find him unresponsive in their bed. She could not wake him up and he was cold to the touch. The tears are flowing as I write this and I am having chills. It was the worst moment of my life - up to that point.

Kev spent a couple of days in the hospital, but then of course was released. The legal/social service/health system is so broken that nobody can be forced to stay in a hospital or a facility of any kind unless they want to. And who do you know who needs help that admits it and wants to stay? We talked to him several times on the phone from here, encouraging him to continue in counseling with the campus health center. It was not really doing him any good, we soon learned. He was basically just going through the motions.

It was a Thursday again a week later. Sema called again to say that she had awakened in the morning to find Kevin not in bed. She, for reasons that can only be explained as divine prompting, went down to the parking area and found him lying half in and half out of their car, once again unconscious. The ambulance came again. This time she was really angry. She did not want him to come home.

At the peril of losing my job, I learned later, I began to make frantic phone calls to get us tickets to LA that night. I was sobbing so hard that the lady at the airline could hardly understand what I was saying. She was so kind. We got one way tickets, not knowing how long it might take us to get some sort of resolution. We arrived in time to spend some time with Sema, start making some phone calls, and to strategize a bit with her before he was released. When she was afraid to have him back home, they had taken him to a mental health facility. It was run by the county and, to say the least, it was an unpleasant experience. He was very angry at all of us. It was a very scary and sad ride back to their place.

When he realized that we were only there because we loved him, he began to calm down and think a bit straighter. We had to withdraw him from school. The school graciously gave him a health withdrawal, so we were able to recover all of the loans and return them. His professors were so concerned, and prayed with us and him.

We began to discuss options with Kevin. We even suggested Tēēn Challenge or the Salvation Army, either of which would have saved us from going into deep debt. Both were tough programs, not in beautiful facilities. He was not ready at that point to give up a year of his life to get well. He wanted instant help. We talked to many people before coming up with a Christian facility south of LA in a beautiful spot on the ocean. It was a 45 day program and we ended up refinancing our house to pay for it. They wanted a check on the spot. (It pays to have a good long standing relationship with your bankers!) Kevin refused to stay there that night - turns out he wanted to watch one last football game with his dad! We all slept very fitfully that night, fearful that he would run. The fact that DC and I were sleeping on the tiny living room floor on an air mattress made it impossible for him to sneak out without our knowing it.

Kevin went without a fuss the next day. We went down there and pretended we were tourists for a few hours before having to leave him there. We thought we had left him in a good place. Sema was able to go down for week-ends quite often, and for family meetings. But one thing just blew me away - we had to leave him $300 for spending money. They took the guys to Wal-Mart every week for an outing and they could get candy, socks, cigarettes (to my dismay - I thought they ought to have to quit that habit as well), and other small items. Believe it or not, one of Kev's LA doctors called in a pain pill prescription to that Wal-Mart for him and he took drugs while he was in rehab. They busted him that night at a group meeting and he high-tailed it back to LA on foot and hitchhiking.

Things were really bad for Sema at this point. She was afraid of him and his anger and went to stay with a friend. I ended up bringing him home for Thanksgiving, after he called many times during the night. He was walking around LA in the middle of the night and I was scared out of my mind. Thanksgiving was ruined once again, because he was here, but he was not present. He was angry and slept most of the week-end. It was a miracle that the facility was willing to take him back. He did finish the program just in time for them to come home for Christmas. We had a good time that week, and sent them back to LA. again with high hopes for the future.

It wasn't long before we were getting strange calls from Kev again. He was running around, Sema not knowing where he was. He finally told us he had to get out of LA if he was going to survive. He came home, leaving Sema there to finish up her job in a timely manner. The company she worked for had been so good to her. She really hated to leave that job.

Kevin stayed with us and went back to the manufacturing company where he'd worked 4 times before. I went to Brazil on a work and witness trip. When I got back that first night, DC, Kev, and I went out for dinner to talk about my wonderful experiences. We were so happy. The next day it all came crashing down again, as he was busted once again, and this time our friends would not be able to keep him in their employment. Kev had not reached bottom quite yet.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Is it About April?

"Today is the 12th anniversary of the Murrah bombing. It's a beautiful, clear, still, cool morning, just as it was on this day in '95. It was also the day we learned that C was carrying L inside her. I was on the phone with C, finding out when and where to meet her for the ultrasound, when the bomb went off. I remember trying to call family members to tell them what happened, and that I was OK, and tracking B down in some auditorium at (his work place). It was the first tears I shed that day. Very late that night, when I finally got home and recounted the day with C, I did again. But more.

"Today is the 14th anniversary of Waco.

"Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of Columbine.

"Three days ago, a disturbed, evil guy did an evil thing in Virginia."

This is a quote from my youngest brother, sent to our family's web page today.

Fourteen years ago today, I was working as a temp in a job I was enjoying. For some reason, the lobby had a large t.v. set and it was on that afternoon, when the carnage in Waco, Texas was announced. The incongruety of the president standing in the Rose Garden surrounded by blossoming cherry trees swaying in a light, spring breeze was so striking that I can see it in my mind's eye tonight.

Eight years ago tomorrow, I was working at the same job I am today. I headed over to the student center for my lunch break, as was my custom. The crowd around the t.v. set in the commons area was larger than usual. I tried to understand what was happening as I saw people frantically running from a building. When I heard what was going on, I was sickened and horrified. I still am to this day.

This week, as we watched with horror and heard the ghastly stories of the evil perpetrated on yet another school, our hearts and minds are in turmoil. Most will conclude that this young man was deeply troubled. We know, if we believe in sin, that it was evil from the depths of hell. I've heard people say it was so much worse than Columbine. The emotional impact is the same, no matter how many lives are lost.

As my brother mentioned, 12 years ago today the Murrah Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. I knew that he worked in a federal building, but I had no idea which one. I tried frantically to call him, having just received his phone number the day before by coincidence? I think not! But the phone just kept ringing and ringing, not surprisingly. Later I learned that his building was two blocks from the Murrah Building, and that when the bomb hit, he was on the phone with his wife, who was carrying their third child. They were planning their meeting at the doctor's office. She heard the horrendous noise, called his name, kept hearing people on the other end of the line calling his name, looking for him. I can't imagine what that must have been like for her.

R had been thrown across his office, over his desk, into the opposite wall. If he had not been, he may have been killed, because a very heavy wooden window casing landed on his desk, just where he had been. He made his way out of his office, across the street, into a bank building which no longer had any windows. He called his wife, who was waiting on the line, but who fortunately had call waiting. She answered the other line to learn that he was safe.

R was working for a senator at the time, and his life soon became a whirlwind of interviews with the media. Ironically, his son in kindergarten, many miles from downtown, was interviewed by a t.v. station that afternoon. D said to the reporter, "My mom and I found out today what a second is." When the reporter asked him what he meant, he said, "We could've lost my dad in a second!"

A few weeks later, R and his kindergarten son (the one who is now at West Point), came to visit to get a break from the intensity. He had been so immersed in the P.R. part of his position that he was mentally and physically exhausted.

When we went down to visit at Thanksgiving that year, 7 months later, R stood on a street corner and pointed to various buildings, telling us who worked in each one and what was going on with those people at the time of the bombing. He pointed out the damage to one building after another. It was imprinted on his soul. The things people had left on the fence around the rubble was heart-wrenching.

Years later we went back to see the memorial. It is beautiful and serene, but so emotionally impactful. If you ever get a chance, be sure to visit.


murrah memorial 2

Odds 'N Ends, This 'N That

I'm using the font called "Georgia" in honor of my upcoming vacation. Yes! We're outta here Saturday morning for a much-needed, greatly-deserved time off the rat race treadmill! We'll be visiting loved ones, then heading out with them for some touristy stuff - headed for the coast and St. Simons Island. I mentioned before that I had years ago read many Eugenia Price books. She fell in love with the island and left her home in Chicago to spend the rest of her long life there. In particular, the first trilogy she wrote was set there and was about the island and its residents. She used actual names, and these people are buried there on the island. The lighthouse was built not long after the Revolutionary War. Now, I've been to England and seen REALLY old stuff, but I'm really looking forward to seeing something that old here in the comparatively young USA.

AND - I get to have a Coke (since I don't do coffee) with Brenda. I'm pumped about that - she was one of the first bloggers I met and joined in prayer for my prodigal, who was returning home.

We'll be gone until Tuesday, May 1. I'm hoping to post Part VII tomorrow, and thinking maybe my obsessive self can find some way to read, if not write, while I'm gone.

After a bit of a hiatus, Kristen is back in true American Idol critiquing form. Check it out. You won't be disappointed. Care Bear has a new post up, with more art. You can compare it with the picture below on Wordless Wednesday, which was taken when she was a little over 3. She's now 4 1/2, and is quite the little artist. I'm sorry it's on red paper, because it's hard to see the detail.

I am going to write about Feisty soon. She's become my afternoon pal and companion, and has really grown up since she has some time alone without her dominant older siblings. What fun!

See ya later. Hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Future Teacher??

The beginnings of Care Bear's art career!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part VI

PRAYER REQUEST: Please put Kristen on your prayer list. I can't share details, but she is going through some heavy stuff right now. It's nothing a doctor can help - only the Great Physician can heal this situation. Please pray.

Please go here to read Kevin's Part 6 before you come back here and read my perspective, and maybe let him know you were there.

Kevin's sentence was deferred, which meant that if he did everything he was charged to do, he would not serve any time in jail. We naively also thought that meant the charges would not appear on his record, but that is most definitely not the case. I don't remember the exact amounts of time or money, but we spent a great deal of time taking him to therapists and group meetings, most of which did not have a great deal of impact on him. We chauffered him because his car had been stolen.

It seemed to me that most of Kev's paychecks were going to pay restitution and paying the county "therapy" sessions. In my opinion, most of these agencies are there to collect their money and don't do a great deal of good. He also spent a lot of time doing community service. It became his desire to do something that would benefit somebody and would make him feel like he was accomplishing something positive. He volunteered for an agency which drove people to the store, to doctor's appointments, and other necessities and did not have transportation of their own. He had quite the stories to tell from that experience! He also spent many hours transcribing notes for an agency which monitors visits between non-custodial parents in a dangerous divorce situation, where the parents are unable to get along enough to exchange their children for court-ordered visitation. That was a very sad, but satisfying way to fulfill his obligation for community service.

As Kev writes, he went back to Africa to see Sema, the love of his life. I can't remember exact dates or how often he made that trek to Africa, but it is hard to believe he was so privileged to do all of that in the midst of all of the other "stuff" he was taking care of. It seems that he really was focused at this time. I alluded to the challenge of getting Sema through the INS hoops in my last chapter.

The phone calls, faxes, letters to our senator, our attorney, the embassy seemed endless. They had to provide reams of proof that their relationship was legitimate and not just an attempt to bring someone to the "Land of Opportunity" and golden streets of America. Fortunately, they had e-mailed copiously and he had saved all of that correspondence. It was very personal, but necessary to share it with the attorney and the INS.

I was in Indianapolis for our denomination's quadrennial international conference (same reason I was there during Kristen's initial crisis with anorexia, which is also chronicled on my sidebar) when they finally headed for America. I spent a lot of time on the phone assuring myself that all was going well. Before they left, they had a traditional ceremony of her tribe, the Giriama, in her family's home village. It was quite an occasion, and I wish we could have been there. All of the elder members of her family were there, offering wise advice. They had an abundance of food, including a goat roasted in a hole in the ground. If they had not had to leave for America the next day, they would have had a traditional ceremony in her church. But they had to get back to Nairobi and board a plane for the grueling adventure to his home. Prior to this, we had negotiated by phone with her father for the bride price. The tradition of giving cattle wasn't part of the deal, since they were city dwellers, but we had to come to an agreement on the amount of money we paid the bride's family. The tradition is for the bride's and groom's fathers and uncles to sit down and come up with a settlement, but obviously this did not work in our situation, so we had to do it by phone from a very long distance.

Kevin and Sema arrived in Colorado a few hours before I did. It was her first time out of Kenya. They had quite an ordeal in Amsterdam, finding the airport personnel and the city's residents very unfriendly and not willing to offer any sort of assistance. But they endured and survived and arrived safely, but exhausted.

I hope Sema will write her thoughts on this time at some point, because it was a difficult time for her. Everything was different. Her digestive system rebelled and there was nothing "normal" for her. We began to try to help her find the greens she was used to eating, and she began to fix some of her favorite foods when she could find the spices that she loved.

We had 90 days to have the wedding, based on the terms of the fiancee visa. We set the wedding date for September 1 and I took on the role of mother of the bride AND the groom. I felt so bad that her mom wasn't in on the excitement. I wanted her to have things as she wanted them as much as possible. We couldn't duplicate their cake tradition, but we did something totally different from our cake tradition, and it was gorgeous:


I got all of the gifts for the people who helped in the wedding from an African trading company. Kev's two grandfathers were both retired ministers, and each had a part in the ceremony. My brother officiated and he learned to read enough Swahili to pronounce them husband and wife. Kev and Sema did their vows in Swahili. The two grandpas received these beautiful carved walking sticks:


As Kev mentioned, there were some serious adjustment issues. I often wondered if she wished she'd never come over. But she persevere; she is a very strong, very talented, very bright young woman. They moved into student housing, she got her first job, in retail, (after surviving another grueling INS process to obtain a work visa), and began her life as a working wife, putting her husband through school, riding the bus, and enduring her first cold winter.

There were some really dicey times, and Kev could have, and probably should have, lost his deferrment. I really don't know why he didn't, during that year, and in years to come, except that God had His hand on Kevin, and it was almost as if that deferrment was hidden and never was discovered when he got into scrapes with the law. There are some very painful memories of that year of school and adjustment to marriage and to a totally new culture for Sema. I never knew about the OxyCΘntin. I just knew all was not well.

Kevin had a dream in the midst of all of this, though, and applied for a great small Christian school in the LA area, which had the degree he wanted, and which would hopefully get him back to Africa someday. I'll never forget the day he stood before the judge, with the tough transplanted New York attorney who didn't think he'd ever make it, and was free to go to California and go to school. He had a date assigned, two years hence, to appear before the judge to turn everything in to the court and prove he had completed all that he was supposed to do, and when he would be free of this burden. He looked so sharp that day and he had proved to the lawyer that he could do it.

We packed their belongings, which had greatly multiplied in that first year of marriage, and headed west with two cars and a trailer. What an adventure, and what a great memory. She experienced heat in the desert even more than she was used to in Africa! It was with great anticipation. joy, and excitement that we helped get them set up in their cute little apartment in a beautiful part of the LA area. We were certain that this time all would go forward.


Friday, April 13, 2007

April Fool's Day Came Late

I wanted to post a picture this morning, but it was too dark to take one when I left for work. NOT A FLAKE OF SNOW! Not here, not in Denver. The storm took a south turn and may hit the southern part of the state today - or may not!! The left over eggs from Easter are all over the faces of the meteorologists - those guys who are so gleeful when they get it right are apologizing all over themselves this morning. Not that it's their fault! But they take credit when they get it right, so I guess they feel like they have to take the blame when they get it wrong. Now - the problem is not that it didn't snow and people are unhappy about that. No, the problem is that Denver International Airport is once again crawling with angry people - their airlines cancelled flights IN ANTICIPATION of the possible 4-12 inches of snow! After the December Christmastime fiasco at the airport, they didn't want a repeat. So they've been calling off flights right and left ever since, just in case it might really snow. Unbelievable.

The wisdom of man is really not all that great, is it? I just hope and pray it doesn't happen a week from tomorrow when we go down there to board a Frontier jet for Atlanta.

I picked all of my daffodils in anticipation of their being trampled by this wet spring snow. They're brightening up my office at this moment - five different varieties. I wish I had a picture of them, too. But they look very much like this:


Have a good Friday and a blessed week-end!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Random Ramblings #11

I know some of you are hoping for Part VI of Kev's and my story soon. I mentioned to him today that you are anxiously hanging on by the fingernails to get to the end of this saga. He is very busy with school and works evenings on campus. Also, they gave up their internet connection at home for the time being in the interest of sound fiscal responsibility. So it is a bit harder for him to get them typed and loaded when he either has to do it in a campus computer lab or ask his wife to do it for him. If anyone reading this has missed this series, it is on my sidebar, and Part 5 can be found here and here.

There are so many thoughts running through my mind today that I decided one of my infamous random posts is the only way to get them out of there. Some of you seem to enjoy this journey through my befuddled mind on occasion.


This picture reminds me of life. If you have been following my flower saga, you'll understand what I mean. In this post the tulips were so beautiful and perky and happy one day, and the next day they had been beaten down by a surprise and totally out of proper season snowstorm, just in time for Easter. I was so sad. But two days later, when the sun came back out, they popped right back up off that ground and looked up to the sun and stood up straight and tall, giving us enjoyment once again. But if you click on the picture and enlarge it, you can see evidence of the trauma. How like life that is. We can be going through life happy and joyful when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a storm hits our lives. We feel totally trampled down and beaten. But God's love comes to us, His sun (or Son) shines down upon us, and we look to him for the strength to stand back up and continue on. But there are often scars remaining.

I have shed tears today for so many hurting people and serious situations. We have junk going on in our family right now that tends to beat us down like those tulips. I can't go into details, but pray for us if you think of it. I learned this morning of Heather's desperate new crisis. She already has such huge challenges with Emma Grace and her special needs. How much must one family endure? There is Micah and there is Amy out there in blog world who have such huge physical issues. There are so many requests at church. The world is a mess. What would we do without God and without people praying for us??

If you want a lift in your spirit and you haven't been there yet, please go over here and read Care Bear's Good Friday prayer. What a blessing!

It's official. I'm an emotional eater. Yesterday, when I was stressed about the aforementioned family junk, I headed straight for Runza and had a cheeseburger with fries. Yep, I did. Tasted wonderful!

Believe it or not, we have 4-8 inches of snow heading our away in the next 48 hours. My grandson is hoping they got the forecast wrong. I hope so, too! It's certainly been known to happen. But they've been pretty accurate this year on the nasty snow storms.

I heard this song today. We have sung it in choir many times. I already had it on my computer because I love it so much. I have probably quoted it before on this site. But here goes again, because it is so very appropriate for this day in light of all the prayer needs.

Press On

When the valley is deep,
When the mountain is steep,
When the body is weary,
When we stumble and fall;
When the choices are hard,
When we’re battered and scarred,
When we’ve spent our resources,
When we’ve given our all,

In Jesus’ name, we press on.
In Jesus’ name, we press on.
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes,
We find the strength to press on.

Forgetting all that is behind us
And straining toward all that lies before,
We press on toward the mark
Of the high calling
That is ours in Christ our Lord.

In Jesus’ name, we PRESS ON!


Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part V

As I sat reading Kevin's latest episode of his journey through addiction, the tears streamed down my face. The reaction to this chapter was so much stronger than any of the others thus far. Even though all of it has been difficult to read and re-live and learn about, this one was closer in terms of time and awareness. Please go over and read his first, let him know you've been there, and then come back here. It will make much more sense that way.


We have just come through a tremendously cloudy, dismal, cold, snowy Easter week-end. But, as the old song says, "Back of the clouds, the sun is always shining." This morning the sky was beautiful as I drove to work. The picture above is a depiction of our lives at this time. The only thing that kept us going was the assurance that God was with us and the faith that that the sun was still shining somewhere

It had been an exciting couple of years for Kev. He had been to Mozambique twice on mission trips. He had discovered Africa Nazarene University and asked if it would be possible for him to go there to school. We worked through all of those hoops and got him there in January for spring semester. He wanted to learn Swahili, and had asked around for the best student to tutor him. Friends introduced him to Sema. I'll never forget the day he sent me two pictures of her by e-mail attachment. She was MUCH more than a tutor to him, it was obvious. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this young Kenyan woman. The semester ended in May and we helped him extend his time in Africa another month. He very reluctantly left Sema there with the plan of marrying her - something we didn't know about at the time and that and would come as a huge shock to us.

Kev had left apartment life behind before he left for Africa, and moved back home for "awhile." Let me assure you that moving into the "dark, musty basement" was his idea. I had re-done his bedroom and told him he could sleep there temporarily, but he was not to do anything to the walls. I guess the decor wasn't to his liking and he chose the dungeon. He made himself a little nest down there with beads hung as a partition and all of his African memorabilia surrounding him.

Darby - what kind of name is Darby? I don't remember ever hearing this name before that fateful day. I am in total amazement as I realize how totally in denial and lack of discernment we were living. How could a person live in our house, albeit the basement, and we be so unaware of what was going on? Kevin and I would stay up late talking, reading some of Angie's beautiful writing, connecting (I thought). I really thought his spiritual life was flourishing after two such amazing mission experiences and meeting a lovely Christian lady that he wanted to marry. Now I am remembering the night he got up on the wrong side of his bed, crashed into the shelf full of beautiful African carved artifacts, and broke them. He said he was walking in his sleep, but perhaps he was under the influence of heroin that night.

The night Kevin relates is the most horrid so far in this journey. Darby was taken to a detox center, as far as we knew. We never did learn if he was charged with anything criminal. Once again, as with Brandon, Kev caught the brunt of the legal system and the other perpetrator seemingly got off. But, in God's system, Kev was eventually going to be the winner, because he had to pay for what he did and learn the very hard way that he couldn't get away with anything forever.

I don't know what "pain" Kev and Darby were trying to ease, but heroin certainly wasn't going to be a solution. We learned that Darby was the son of Kevin's high school assistant principal. Even a guy who worked with high school kids all day long every day didn't have a handle on his kid's behavior. Ironically, just this week I found the journal I was keeping during this period and the notation says that when Darby rang the doorbell that first day (how did he know Kev was home?), he felt safe in going out with Darby because he didn't drink! I don't know if Kev was being straight with me, or if he knew that's what I'd want to hear. It doesn't matter in the long run, because the result was the same.

If you have never received that call from the police, or from your child calling collect for "his one call", praise God in heaven that you haven't. My body retains the feeling I had that next day when I had to go to a courtroom and see what would happen to him that day after he had spent the night in jail. I thought I'd get to see him, to look in his eyes, to hug him. Instead, everyone in that room sat and waited to see their loved one shown on a t.v. screen by video feed (very poorly done) from the detention center, in shackles, wearing an orange jumpsuit and flipflops. What devastation! I can remember just sinking into my chest and sobbing. How had this happened? In spite of it all, I still believed in his innocence and that he was just trying to protect Darby that night and save his life. And to save Darby from arrest by sticking the drugs in his car. I was so very naive.

Maybe we shouldn't have, but we bailed him out (he did repay us eventually), hired a lawyer, and headed into an abyss that would take a long time and a lot of money to dig out of. The attorney was from New York and was hardened by crime and criminals. He didn't give Kevin a chance of succeeding, staying clean, paying his debt to society. Kevin was determined to prove him wrong.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Merry Chris...Oops! Happy Easter!

This is a really crazy place we live. There is not a chance (unless God intervenes) of having sunshine at the sunrise service tomorrow morning. It will probably be around 25 degrees or less, with a chance of snow. The sun MAY come out in the afternoon, but forecast high is 42 degrees. There goes the outside egg hunt for the kiddoes!

This was last week, when we still had spring:


I took this a few minutes ago.


So sad!!

Care Bear drew this picture of herself and Feisty in their Easter dresses I bought them - I don't know that they'll be able to wear them after all - too sundressy!


Here are the dresses, not ironed yet. No, I didn't make them.


Back in the days when I was very creative and ambitious, this was Kristen's Easter outfit. Her aunt, who had only boys said, when she saw her that day, "Perfect!"


has written his Part 5, and I will follow suit on Monday. You can find it here on his wife, Sema's site. This has been the most difficult one for me to read so far. I had tears running down my face when I was reading it. It's much like Good Friday leading to Easter Sunday - It's Friday, but Sunday's A-coming', as I quoted in the previous post. It's hard times, but deliverance is coming!

Monday, April 02, 2007

He Did It For Me (And For You)

EDITORIAL NOTE: "IT'S FRIDAY, BUT SUNDAY'S A-COMIN' " I heard this sermon preached by Tony Campolo - he heard it at a great black church. That thought came to my mind again as I walked across campus to my office, once more wearing my winter coat, hidden under an umbrella to protect from the sleet that is falling from a very gloomy sky. It is Good Friday, and we commemorate Jesus' death on the cross. I am glad it's gloomy today, because it makes me think more of how sad this day was in history. But I look forward to Sunday when we celebrate !! HE IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Easter Sunday is now only six days away. I have been watching the sky every morning as I walk from my car to my office. The eastern sky has become lighter each day. I anticipate the sunrise, but it is still hiding until after I get into my windowless office. For many years we have had a sunrise service outside in a park. We went to a park very close to my house for a long time and I would walk there in the chilly morning. Often the moon would be setting over the mountains to the west as the sun began to lighten the east. Eventually too many houses were built for us to be able to see the sun until it had appeared above the roof lines. We moved to a park across town which hadn't been invaded by housing developments yet. It is a thrill to me every year to leave for the park in the very early hour of Easter morning and watch the sun peak over the horizon as we sing of Christ's resurrection. It's cold, it's early, we have to rush back to change for breakfast at the church and early service. But it is so worth it to me for the chill I get in my body that has nothing to do with the frigid temperatures. He did this for me! He did it for you.

His whole life was about us. He spent 30 years with his disciples, preparing them for when He would leave. Sometimes they understood, sometimes they didn't. He must have been frustrated at times, in His humanity.

This thought has really been imprinted on my soul as I have been reviewing our cantata on my way to work each morning. One of the narrative parts says, "The truth of the Resurrection is central to our faith. The apostle Paul wrote , 'if Christ has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith,' (I Thes. 15:19). But when we believe with our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and when we know the truth that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, then His resurrection power begins transforming and empowering our lives. Jesus spoke to our generation when He said, 'Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.' "(John 20:29b).

That's us! He's talking about you and me. We, who have not seen, and yet believe. He also talked about us in John 17:20, as He was praying for His disciples, and He knew His time on earth was short. He prayed for their protection from the evil one. He also said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message . . ." He's praying for ME and YOU. That gives me the chills, or God-bumps, as Diane would say.

Parts of this song (by the Gaithers) have been running through my mind this morning:


I quote Max Lucado often. I will do it again as I wrap this up today. It is actually tomorrow's devotional in the book I read each day called Grace For the Moment. This is an excerpt from Max's book, And the Angels Were Silent.
"Then Jesus went about a stone's throw away from them. He kneeled down and prayed." (Luke 22:41)

"The final prayer of Jesus was about you. His final pain was for you. His final passion was for you. Before He went to the cross, Jesus went to the garden. And when he spoke with His Father, you were in his prayers . . .
And God couldn't turn His back on you. He couldn't because He saw you, and one look at you was all it took to convince Him. Right there in the middle of a world which isn't fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn't request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak . . .
On the eve of the cross, Jesus made His decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you."

And if that doesn't humble you and thrill you and bring tears to your eyes, you need to check your pulse to see if you're alive!

Have a blessed Holy Week!
Jesus praying