Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part IX

The journey has been long and it has at times been very hard. The journey is definitely not over. It is in a new phase, a phase full of hope and promise. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with Kevin and me. The writing of the journey has been good for both of us. Kevin told me last night that writing his journey has made him realize how different he is from many other people, how much God has brought him through, how much purpose he has because of God's grace and salvation and protection. Thank you for the encouragement many of you have given us to publish our story. We would love to do that, and will definitely do some research to see if we can make that happen. We trust our story has touched hearts of those who may have "happened" upon it that we know nothing about.

Please go HERE for Kev's Chapter 9, then return for my point of view. If you have just found our story and are interested in reading the rest, we are both linked on my sidebar.

Kevin came home from the hospital after many days on I.V. antibiotics of the highest strength possible, after two surgeries on his elbow, after much soul searching on his part. As I mentioned in Part VIII, everyone who came into his room seemed to be sent by God to uplift him and encourage him, as well as to aid in his physical healing. I met with the after-care coordinator, who was wonderful. She did a lot of research on places he could go. I was doing research on the Internet at the same time. It was difficult to find a good program. We'd already tried one that didn't work. We couldn't afford to do another expensive program, especially when the first one didn't work out.

But the first order of business was to get Kevin completely well. The elbow was still oozing some infection. He went back to the surgeon several times, and the only option was to re-open the wound and do more surgery - not a viable option with the cost and lack of great insurance. Kev was really emaciated when he went to the hospital - he weighed around 150 pounds on his 6 foot + frame. He spent days on the couch, recuperating, eating Mom's food, getting stronger and better every day. After a couple of weeks, we packed up his things and headed to the program we'd been in touch with. It was very close to home, and in retrospect, would have not worked well - even if it had been a good program. It was supposed to be a Christian based program. When we got there, I got a really bad feeling. I've learned to rely a lot on my "gut" feelings. I believe it is often discernment from God. We took his things to a dark, dank basement of a house. There was no room for anything that he brought. There was no heat down there. The beds were scrunched together. We insisted that he stay, but I didn't feel good about it. The young man who was to be his "mentor" could not answer our questions about the focus and structure of the program. In fact, he told us he'd gone home the week-end before to visit his mom and had "scored" while he was there. Relapse was part of recovery. That was also the philosophy of the expensive place we had sent him previously.

The next day, Kev was brought back down to our hospital emergency room because of his elbow. He called me from there and asked me to pick him up. It went against what I wanted to do, but could not deny the bad feeling I had about that place. I picked him up, went up to get his things, was given a lecture about "rescuing" from the above mentioned young man. Nobody ever called to find out why he left. I felt good about "rescuing" him from this situation.

So we began again. Shortly after that I called him from work one day and asked him to call my friend (well, he was a former boyfriend who had broken my heart - I talk about this in my 100th Post, #97), whose son had completed Tēēn Challenge (henceforth referred to as TC) and was a changed person. He actually did it right away - R called his son at the Chicago airport and asked him to call Kevin right away. They were immediate kindred spirits - in fact T, the young man, told his dad that Kev's story was his story. He began encouraging Kev to get busy on getting well and to get far away from home.

It was Christmas time, there were some legal things to take care of, nobody was in their offices, and things came to a standstill. But God was not taking a vacation, and He was working things out. Kev continued to heal, continued to gain weight (he gained 25 pounds during that six weeks at home), and continued to realize his need of getting to TC as soon as possible.

If I had time to tell you all of the barriers that fell in this process, it would be several more posts. Suffice it to say that T was able to find him a bed in New Haven, Connecticut. It was a longer program than others, and very intense. As Kev mentioned, we went to Denver to meet with the director there, who had been asked by New Haven to interview Kev and ascertain if he was really ready to do this - they didn't want him coming that far and bolting for home at the first tough moment. In the midst of this process, Kev decided he'd like to go to Florida instead. There were tense moments as he awaited a call from the director down there. It never came. But Sunday evening, before he was to leave on Monday, God came to him and he relinquished his will and made up his mind to follow through with the plan to leave for Connecticut the next morning.

In the meantime, Sema had returned from her Christmas trip to Germany to be with her sister who lives there and her parents, who were able to get to Germany when they were not allowed into America. She had been able to distance herself from the situation and her anger had mellowed. They were able to spend that Sunday night together and mend some things before he left. She moved in with us and stayed the entire time he was gone, working full time and earning a second degree. I hope someday she'll write her side of this story.

We borrowed the church van and made a huge event of taking Kev to the airport with the whole family going along. It was a great moment, and a poignant one, when we stood above the security line and watched him head down the concourse by himself - off to start life anew. (For an idea of what he was facing, you can go to this post for information.)

TC is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work. Kev spent countless hours in study and days in fund raising outside of stores all over the East Coast. He sang in choir on the week-ends - that was such a kick for me, because he hadn't had any interest in singing since the 6th grade when they had a really pretty music teacher the boys called "Barbie." He was not allowed to call us for 30 days, and then could call once a week. It wasn't a smooth road - there were some detours along the way that required some discipline. His elbow was still infected when he went - we prayed diligently that it would heal, because he could not afford to leave that place once he was there. God heard our prayers - in a week-end retreat with guys from all over New England TC, they prayed for healing for him. God answered those prayers - the next morning the infection was totally gone. What a wonderful miracle to bolster Kev's fledgling faith!

I don't remember the exact timing, but it was in this time period that God reached down and grabbed Kevin's heart. He finally saw his need of the Saviour. He repented, accepted Christ's forgiveness and love, and has never been the same. He likes to say that what he experienced was not rehab, not recovery, not even restoration, but DELIVERANCE.

I believe it was in April that he took a huge step. We would have loved to be there, but had to settle for this picture.


This was taken in upper New York, early spring, and the water was very cold! But what a thrill for Kevin to make this public profession of his newfound faith.

We began to get requests for larger clothes. He was gaining so much weight and was so healthy that nothing fit him any more. The guys would "bless" each other with things they could not wear any more, and he did this with his outgrown clothes. I was so excited to see how good he looked.


This was taken in front of the church they attended when they were in town for the week-end. Most week-ends they were traveling, sharing their testimonies and singing for churches all over the Eastern seaboard.

The program in New Haven required the guys to go to a different location for a few months. Kev went to the Boston area for awhile. It was during that time that we were privileged to visit him. Sema had been able to go while he was still in New Haven, and another time when he was in Brockton. We went for the Harvest Festival. We told Kevin later that as long as he had to get into this situation, it was sure nice of him to go to a place we hadn't visited before so we could see something brand new. We had an awesome day going up the coast to the tip of the U.S.A., up Cape Cod and back until we could get together with him that evening for the banquet. We had a great time with him and met so many wonderful young guys whose lives were being transformed. We were amazed to see how many really sharp young guys could get so snarled up in such a destructive lifestyle. But the glory of God was evident in their faces. What a blessing to see before and after pictures at the banquet presentation. Their eyes were so devoid of life before Christ came into their hearts - the transformation was absolutely breathtaking.


As he indicated in his latest post, Kevin left much of his heart in New Haven, Connecticut. This is a city of contrasts - wealthy Yale students on one side of the city, and abject poverty on the other. TC is in the poorer part of town. They need somebody to give them a lot of money for improvements! But it was not the buildings that made New Haven TC what it was. Here is a look at some of the facilities that Kevin worked and lived in.




The facilities in Massachusetts were much nicer, but Kev was very happy to get back to Connecticut for the last few weeks of his time in TC.


On June 14, almost a year ago, our prodigal son returned home. What a glorious day that was for us.

prodigal son

It was just at this time that I "met" Diane at Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals. Kristen, my daughter, introduced us, because she felt we had so much in common and absolutely had to be in touch. What a wonderful friendship it has become. Even before I started blogging in late June, Diane hosted a "Welcome Home" event for Kevin. You can read those HERE, HERE, and HERE. What fun it was! I became acquainted with many of you because of Diane's excitement.

Kevin's life was spared at least 5 times in two years. He was kept from incarceration through miraculous circumstances. There is a reason God has kept him alive and, as I told him when he came home from the hospital that Saturday, it is his job to find out what that purpose is and get busy doing it.

Kevin is currently a junior in social work, in the very program where I work with the grad level students. He is excited about the possibilities of international social work. Please continue to pray for him and Sema as their future unfolds.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chapter 9 Coming Soon!

DC and I took Kevin and Sema to the airport for their Florida get-away. They'll fly out at midnight, and be back Friday at midnight. We pray that this will be a wonderful time together for them. Kevin finished Chapter 9 before he left and it is posted HERE on Sema's site.

I will work on my part and have it posted sometime tomorrow. Please go over and read his final chapter and leave him a word of encouragement, if you can. Thank you for sticking with us as we worked through this process together. It has been an adventure and a privilege to share our story. We trust that someone will be encouraged by reading about our journey to deliverance.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Random Ramblings #13

Thank you to all of you who stopped by to check out my celebration of myself. That was an interesting topic, wasn't it? It seemed to bring the same reaction in most of us - it is more difficult to speak highly of ourselves than of others.

Kevin and I plan to publish Chapter 9 this week-end, so I am looking forward to that. He and his wife, who goes by Sema in blogland, will be heading for a nice get-away on Monday night, after our 3rd annual Memorial Day picnic in my mom and dad's back yard. They're heading to Florida for some much-deserved time away and alone.

Memorial Day has become a great family get-together ever since my parents arrived back here 3 years ago this week-end, to live in the town where they used to pastor. They always wished they could retire here when they left over 35 years ago. That desire was granted, and my sister and I are happy to have them nearby. My brother from Oklahoma has brought his family up for the Boulder Bolder for several years. He is unable to run it any more, but is privileged to work at the finish line, pulling the numbers off the shirts of the world class runners as they cross the finish line. I always get a glimpse or two of him on television as we watch the race. His son, (the West Point cadet), and his wife have enjoyed running together. My SIL has pushed herself in running to the point that she achieved an amazing feat this year - she qualified for the Boston Marathon in her age bracket. I don't know if she'll get to go or not, but I hope she does. It boggles my mind that people really enjoy running, but I applaud them.

Many things have been running around in my mind, none of which is enough for a complete post, but I need to get them out of there so I have room for important stuff! Of course, gas prices are the main topic of conversation these days. I always wonder if we'd been as careful of how much gas we're wasting when the price was lower, would we be in this predicament now? I remember so clearly when we were first married in 1972, I was driving up here to work at a bank, about 15 miles from our apartment. DC was driving to this town as well, though a bit shorter distance. At that time, we were having the "energy crisis" and there were long lines at the gas pumps for fear there wouldn't be any left the next day. We were paying about 50 cents per gallon and the rumor was that it was going to go up to $1.00 very soon. We couldn't imagine how we would afford it, if that happened. As it turned out, it took several more years for it to actually get to $1.00, and we soon forgot that we should probably continue conserving gas as much as possible.

Do you have pet peeves? Maybe we should all do a post on ours. One of mine, currently, is my grocery store parking lot. You literally take your life in your hands when you go food shopping! People zip around, going the wrong way, shooting out from their spot, not paying any attention to those walking, or - those who are walking and not paying any attention to the cars. And then there are the potholes that are not being fixed since the winter's severe weather - small cars have been lost and never found again! It doesn't seem to be anybody's responsibility.

A few months ago I posted on my forgetfulness and all the things I have lost. I don't know if I ever confessed this one - one Sunday after eating lunch at Applebee's, I could not find my brand new, very expensive, lineless bifocal sunglasses - my first-ever really good pair of sunglasses. I don't know what came over me to think I could hang on to expensive sunglasses when I am constantly losing the $10.00 Target variety. But my faith got the better of my common sense and I sprang for them. Oh, they felt so good on my eyes, and I was so happy. BUT - they were now totally gone. I hunted under the table, between the wall and the booth, in the car, back to the church to see if I'd left them in a pew. Nowhere to be found. I called Applebee's and asked them to be on the look-out, and they faithfully wrote down my name and number in case they found them. I had thought several times that I should just bop back in there and see if they were in Lost and Found, but always had the kiddoes with me at that moment and didn't want to unload everyone from car seats, drag them in for 5 minutes or less, and then reload again. So - last Friday night DC and I went there for dinner - 3 months later. I asked the hostess if she'd do me a favor and check Lost and Found for my glasses. She said she'd be glad to - but she didn't. So I asked our waiter. He was much less forgetful - in fact, he went right up there and dragged back 6 pairs of sunglasses for me to check out! There was a pair in a blue case (I thought mine was black) - I put them on - they fit my eyes! I couldn't even remember for sure what they looked like, because I'd had them such a short time and it was so long ago. But - if bifocals fit your eyes, they must be yours, right?? I was so excited. I could not believe it. They actually had at least 15 pairs of glasses and sunglasses in that drawer. I wonder if everyone else had asked them to call if they found theirs. Hmmm.

Remember the t.v. show, Wonder Years ? I always loved that show, and now it's back in re-runs. I am trying to catch it every night, or tape it. It is really such a good show. David Schwimmer of Friends fame (I never warmed up to Friends) was the boyfriend of Kevin's older sister, Karen. I loved the episode the other night when her family found out that her new "roommate" was this guy, and not the girl they expected to find when they visited her in her very old run-down rented house. The reaction of her parents was so refreshing in this age of cohabitation being the "new norm."

I thought of one more thing I should have listed when I was doing the "weird things about me" meme. I am terrifically allergic to perfume. It started when I was in college and my boyfriend gave me Estee Lauder perfume for my birthday. I began to get severe headaches at the back of my head every time I wore it. It escalated from there - I even had to quit singing in choir for a time because of the perfume of the woman ahead of me. I didn't feel like I could ask her to quit wearing her favorite scent. DC loves good perfume and I had to tell him to settle for me not smelling bad, since I couldn't smell good! I have to be careful about make-up, shampoo, conditioner, mousse (nobody makes unscented mousse that I have been able to find), deodorant, Hallmark stores, candle parties, Home Interior parties, Body Works stores, magazines, and on and on and on. For some reason, this world thinks that everything is better if it smells strong. I have even become allergic to Easter lilies, lilacs, and daffodils. I bring them to work and put them in the outer office instead of in mine. Kinda sad. What I don't understand is - you can request your magazine to be sent to you without the perfume strips if you're allergic. If there are so many of us who are allergic that they have special lists of us, why can't they stop putting perfume in magazines?? There are even churches now that have special "scent-free" pews!

I am technologically pathetic. Anything good you see on my blog in terms of pretty or fancy is because of my technologically savvy daughter, Kristen. When Sema was staying with us while Kevin was gone, she was going to school almost every night. She had a couple of favorite programs she liked to watch on week-ends, so she'd ask me to tape them for her. I don't know why she kept having faith in me, because often I would mess it up. Kristen asks me to tape her soap for her every day, because for some reason she can't do it. Kev asks me to tape stuff for him - I don't really know why. They've all been disappointed at some time or another with my ineptness or carelessness with the VCR. Last night - last night - when I was watching American Idol after choir practice (I had to wait until 9:00!), I CUT OFF THE CELEBRATION! I saw the big announcement, and just as Jordin's hands went up to cover her face - IT BLIPPED OFF! I set it to go off at 9:05, but the clock must have been wrong. Oh, my word! Thank goodness Kristen taped it. But -- earlier, I had been checking messages and comments - I was checking Kristen's comments on her AI post - one unnamed dear blogging friend lives in a different time zone and had already watched it - I spoiled the surprise by being so obsessed and checking messages - I knew before I even watched it that Jordin won! ARGGHHH!

I'm going to end all of this silliness, which has gone on far too long. I have so much to do today to get my students cleared for graduation by June 1. Lots of stress in that process! I leave you with Max Lucado's wonderful words. This should make your day better:

Look at the birds in the air. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26

"Consider the earth! Our globe's weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons (a six with twenty-one zeroes). Yet it is precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees; any more or any less and our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood. Though our globe revolves at the rate of one-thousand miles per hour or twenty-five thousand miles per day or nine million miles yer year, none of us tumbles into orbit . . .

As you stand . . . observing God's workshop, let me pose a few questions. If He is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life? If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that He is mighty enough to light your path? If He cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that He cares enough about you to meet your needs?" (From The Great House of God)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Woman to Woman

woman to woman

Celebrating Me!

This has been a difficult assignment. It is easy for me to talk about what I DO. It is not so easy to talk about Who I AM. There are a lot of things about me that I do not like very much right now. The aging process is becoming brutal - suddenly, it seems. Don't worry, I'm not ill or going through anything life-threatening. I just don't like what's going on with my body. I'm not crazy about what I see in the mirror. I can't seem to get serious about changing what I can change and accepting what I can't. My job has been my joy for almost 14 years, but it has become not so much fun any more. Changes are being made daily that make it more difficult, and trying to do it half time has become more and more of a challenge. My memory is just not what it used to be either!

But this is not what we're supposed to be talking about today. I keep thinking of things that I could say, but I keep coming up with a But . . . Why do I do this to myself?

So much of who I am is because of my past, of course. Being the eldest of 5 in a parsonage defined much of myself. I grew up being terribly responsible. I was left in charge of the younger ones many times, and at a very young age. I don't suppose my parents could do this today, with life the way it is now. That's sad, because I think I developed a tremendous sense of responsibility very early in my life. I was a partner with my parents in a very real sense. I sometimes feel I was never really very young. That is a whole other topic and has its goods and its bads!

I am a missionary at heart
Because the church defined our beings so much of the time, we had the privilege of knowing "real live missionaries." They stayed in our home in the days before everyone stayed in a hotel. They ate with us and shared stories with us, and usually left each of us a quarter when they departed early in the morning before we were up. I played missionary. I thought I would be a missionary. God did not send me, but I was willing. I think that's why my passion for missions has never waivered. I have been the mission leader in our church for many years. My love affair with missions and missionaries has never gone away. I do believe God knew what He was and is doing!

I have music in my soul.
As I mentioned recently, I began piano lessons at 7, started playing in church and 8, and have hardly been off the bench during church services since. I am not great. I am a pretty generic pianist and organist - the black and white kind - I play what I see without a lot of fanciness. I wish I had been able to continue lessons beyond age 13, but finances did not allow it. Who knows how good I could have been? But I love to sing - I'm not a great singer. I can harmonize like crazy and have a low alto voice. But the joy of singing in choir keeps me going - I can be so tired on Wednesday that I want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head. But forcing myself to choir practice is always the best thing I can do for myself - music energizes me. But - only certain kinds of music! I won't go into that any further.

I am strong
Not physically strong in the sense of lifting weights or running marathons. I have learned to enjoy exercise as an adult, hating it as a kid. I was always the last one chosen for a team, and wanted to hide. By strong, I mean mentally and spiritually. If you've followed my story written with my children, you know that I've endured a lot of heartache and stress in the last 15 years. Much of the time I kept it hidden from those who could have helped me through it. DC and I endured a lot that we should have shared with those who loved and cared. I am so happy that I can do that now. It is liberating and cathartic to share our burdens. I have learned that I have the ability to put those things on paper in a way that helps me and hopefully helps others. If you're new to my site, you can read our stories, which are linked on my sidebar. God has kept us going all these years, and I feel stronger because of what we have been through. I am, however, ready for a break!

I am opinionated
. This is definitely one of those good/bad things. I feel passionately about things, most of which I can do nothing about. I shake my head in helplessness when I listen to the news of our world and wonder what in the world is going to happen. But I know God and prayer are the only answers.

I love security
. As a preacher's kid, we moved many times. I've talked about this a lot in this setting, and also mentioned that I was always the one ready to pack up and take on a new adventure. Somehow that has changed. I have no desire to move and my roots are very deep in my home. DC would like to have a more adventurous life as we face retirement, but I can't fathom pulling up stakes and starting over somewhere else at this age. Maybe this is not a good trait, but it is who I am.

I show my feelings on my face
. I don't hide anything - also good/bad. But I don't know how I would change that. I think it also goes along with the above-mentioned passion.

I am Mom and Grandma and wife and daughter and oldest sister and aunt and cousin.
I am no longer granddaughter. My sister and I used to play mommy, teacher, secretary, and missionary. I grew up to be all of those things in a sense. Mommy and Grandma have definitely defined me and have brought joy and sorrow. All of these roles have had a part in making me who I am and I thank God for each and every one.

Friday, May 18, 2007

By Popular Demand!

It is with enjoyment that I write this post. I alluded to this story in this post last September. At that time, a couple people asked me tell "the rest of the story." I mentioned it again this week in this post about my weirdness, and several more mentioned that they'd like to hear more. So I am glad to oblige.

If you are one who believes Richard Nixon was evil personified, you will not enjoy this post. You are free to go now - wouldn't want to elevate your blood pressure!

I'm not sure when my interest in Richard Nixon began. All I remember is that it was full blown by the time I was in 8th grade - the 1960 election. I had decided that I might want to grow up to be in Congress - I never aspired to the presidency, but thought the Senate would be fun. I remember going down to the Republican headquarters in our little town and getting a Nixon/Lodge bumper sticker. I cut it apart and glued it to the back of my notebook so that when I was holding the notebook, Nixon showed above my arm and Lodge showed below (this was before the days of backpacks, when we had to carry everything in front).

I was so sad. I can't tell you how sad I was when they lost. I was afraid of John F. Kennedy. To this day I have no respect for him or any of his family members (sorry if you're a fan, just telling it like it is).

By this time I had read a biography that actually gave his mom's address. She was a wonderful Quaker Christian lady and I wrote her a letter, telling her how sorry I was about the loss. Believe it or not, she wrote me back, the week after the election! I was really glad she was not still alive when Watergate hit.

It wasn't long after that I read Six Crises, written in 1962.

Of course, one of the crises was the loss of the election, under very dubious circumstances. His daughter, Julie, who was my age, was still saying, "Let's have a recount in Chicago." If you were around then, you know that there was a great deal of speculation about the honesty of the Chicago vote counting. "Hanging Chads" weren't the first incidence of this type of rumor!

I loved Julie. I felt like a kindred spirit with her. I still wish I could meet her someday.

In 1964, Nixon was totally out of politics for awhile. He was working as an attorney and was working as counsel for Pepsi Cola Company. He came to Omaha for some function they were sponsoring. My co-editor of the student newspaper and I cooked up the idea that we should go downtown Omaha and see if we could get an interview. We dressed to the nines and headed downtown that morning, after checking with Mrs. B., our journalism adviser and favorite teacher (see above linked post). She was so excited about it - and later I will tell you just how excited she was. It turned out to be A LOT of walking and I had worn totally wrong shoes for that much exercise.

The first event was a breakfast in a large ballroom - I can't remember which hotel it was. We decided to see if we could get a look at him and a crack at some questions. As I was going through the scrapbook I kept that year, (and was very lucky to find this morning - I'm not nearly as organized in my memories as Pea or Susie!) I found the notes I took with the questions I hoped to ask. Here they are:

1. You said in your book, Six Crises, that a man who has known the excitement of great crisis cannot be satisfied with a more leisurely life. Do you still feel this way?

2. What is your position right now?

3. I heard a report that you would accept the nomination for Vice President if Ambassador Lodge was nominated for President. Is this true? Wouldn't it seem odd to you after 1960 when it was the opposite?

4. What was it like to meet Mr. Krushchev?

We finally asked someone if there would be an opportunity to ask questions. They said not there, but he was having a press conference at the Omaha Athletic Club later that morning.

We stood there, wishing we were employees of Pepsi or family members, because they were the people privileged to be at this breakfast. We stood in the doorway watching, kind of drooling, very disappointed. Suddenly, a group of people headed through the lobby toward the dining area door. It was Nixon, surrounded by a few other people. He was so much shorter than I envisioned! They headed for the head table and took their places to eat.

We had come this far and skipped school to do it, so we weren't leaving yet. We stayed at the doorway and watched. It's a wonder nobody closed the door on us. Soon we discovered that he was sitting there concentrating on his breakfast while those on either side of him were talking to others. We looked at each other, said, "Should we?" and took off toward the head table. We got up next to him, introduced ourselves, and asked him if he minded if we asked a few questions. He was willing, so we played reporter.

He told us that he was not campaigning for 1964, but we could feel free to write him in. I must have veered from my written questions and asked him about the rumor that he had held his cocker spaniel by its ears and he said cockers' ears are very sensitive and he would never have done that to Checkers.

He told us he was privileged to be the speaker at Julie's upcoming graduation, and had been told by her that it had to be the best speech he ever made. I asked for an autograph and took some of my note paper for him to write on.

We left then and headed back to the lobby of the hotel, pinching ourselves to believe we'd really been so bold! We decided to go for broke and walk over to the athletic club for the press conference. We had to walk and my feet were killing me!

We entered the hallowed bastion of masculinity and joined "real live" reporters. We were the only students there, and the only females. I took notes as he talked about the need for unity in the Republican party and that he would attempt to aid in achieving that unity. He said we needed Republicans who would put the party and country first, that Republicans could make no greater mistake than trying to "outpromise" Johnson on civil rights. He said that the Soviet Union was "infinitely stronger" than Red China, that China just talked bigger. He said that the major issue for the 1964 campaign was foreign policy. Then he gave a "3-point sermon" as a formula for 1964: Unite - the party; Fight - against Johnson vigorously; Excite - voters by pointing out what new leadership could do for America.

Sounds pretty familiar, eh?

From that day on, whenever I was afraid to tackle something, my dad would say, "Dawn, anyone who can interview Richard Nixon can do that!"

We headed back to school, having only missed 4 periods of school - it seemed like a much longer time. We were excited to share our story with our classmates, only to discover that our fame had preceded us. What if we hadn't succeeded? Mrs. B had been spreading the word where her star editors were and what our mission was. Here's the late pass I got from the assistant principal:

It took me a LONG time to come down from the ceiling on that experience.

I did a term paper on Nixon that year. I remained his greatest fan and supporter. I refused to believe the stories that began to come out after he was re-elected President in 1972. I refused to listen to radio for months! I still don't want to believe them. I'll never forget the day he resigned - I was pregnant with Kristen. I sat on the couch and cried as he left on that helicopter.

I've never since been so loyal to a political figure. I may never be again. And I am sure I will never run for office!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's All About MeMeMe Today

I want to thank you all for your wonderful, touching comments to me and to Kevin about this latest, most intense chapter in our journey to deliverance. Someone mentioned not knowing how I survived this time. I believe it was a combination of several things:

1. Ignorance - in the very beginning, we didn't know.
2. Denial - we couldn't believe it was really happening, and still didn't really know. There's a lot of hiding and lying and manipulation going on in this kind of situation.
3. HOPE - I remember the day that hope entered the picture. I don't remember when or why - maybe it was during a sermon or a Sunday School lesson, or a devotional time, but I remember that it arrived. HOPE is a wonderful thing. It was the only thing for quite awhile. Job talks a lot about HOPE - what better role model would we have for hanging onto HOPE??

HOPE is defined in the Random House College Dictionary as "the feeling that what is desired is also possible, or that events may turn out for the best." We were at the point of HOPE AGAINST HOPE, which is defined as "to continue to hope, although the situation does not warrant it." There's not much faith in that last definition, but that was the other piece of the puzzle:

4. Faith. What would we do without faith? Faith that God hears. Faith that God cares. Faith that we haven't been forgotten. Faith that He understands what we need and how we feel. Faith that He can work the miracle we needed to see.

So many people have been playing tag this week that it reminds me of elementary school recess! I have been tagged by c.h. green at Beneath the Ivy Wreath for 8 random facts about myself, and by Kim at Can You Hear Me Now? for 7. Since I could not possibly come up with 15 interesting things about myself, I am opting for 8, which will cover both. Now if I can only think of 8! I feel like I've shared so much already in the past 11 months that I will be repeating myself. So be it. Here goes:

1. I type in my head when I am thinking, or reading, or someone is talking to me. It's annoying, it slows my reading speed, but it sure keeps my typing speed up! I also add and subtract in my head - such as adding the numbers on license plates ahead of me at a stop light or sign - after I have typed them! When I was in college, the typing was getting in the way of my studying, because it was slowing down my reading. I went to a speed reading specialist on campus, who was also a psychologist. When I told him about my problem with typing while I read, he asked me to become his secretary. The irony of that situation blew me away!

2. When I was in second grade in Arkansas, the first cool morning of fall, I came into the kitchen to tell my mom something and automatically sat on the space heater we had been using as a chair all summer. OUCH!!

3. I'll never forget that it was that same week of the burned legs that Mom and Dad told me they had bought me a piano so that I could begin lessons. I was so excited that it helped ease the pain of the burns.

4. I began playing the piano for church at age 8, with my legs swinging from the bench. My dad gave the piano teacher the songs for Sunday and they were part of my lesson. She got me a little offertory book for little fingers.

5. I have double jointed toes, which partially explains my very large shoe size. It also explains the problems I have finding comfortable shoes. It also explains why I didn't wear sandals until I got to the point in my life that I didn't care who saw my ugly toes.

6. I'm the oldest of five and have the least gray hair. That really irritates my younger siblings.

7. I met Richard Nixon when I was in high school, and still plan to write about that experience one of these days.

8. I read while I walk and while I exercise at the gym. I have scars from several falls, and mended bones, but none of those falls has happened while I was walking. Go figure!

Now that I'm finished, I will probably think of many more interesting and/or weird things than the ones I listed.

As I said above, there's been so much tag being played recently that I doubt there's anyone left to be "it", so I'll just call it good.

Part 9 coming soon, I hope, since Kev will be gone for 2 weeks - one week on a work trip for the university in West Virginia, and one for an actual well-deserved, much-needed vacation with his wife - the first in a very long time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part VIII

It is the end of Mother's Day 2007. My children, grandchildren, and parents were with me today for dinner after church. It was especially wonderful because Kevin was with us - he has missed the last two Mother's Day celebrations. Please go to his wife's site to read his latest chapter, then come back and read my response. If you have not read our story to this point, you will find all of the chapters linked on my sidebar.

Last night after Feisty's birthday party, Kev and Sema, DC and I went for a refreshing, enjoyable walk through their neighborhood. We had a great time together and it was such a blessing. On the way home, DC and I were listening to a Dallas Holm c.d., which we've had for years. There are many songs on this c.d. that I have always loved, but this one had not struck me until hearing it last night. The song is called "I've Never Been Out of His Care." It is written by Phil Johnson. The words that came alive last night are a perfect explanation of why Kevin is still alive today. The first verse and chorus say this:

The eyes of God are upon me, He sees everything I do.

The arms of God are around me, He keeps me safe and secure.

And He knows where I am every hour of every day

He knows each thought I think,

He knows each word that I might say.

And although there’ve been times I’ve been out of His will,

I’ve never been out of His care.

If you have read Kev's latest chapter before coming over here, you know what I mean. He is a walking miracle. I mentioned in Chapter VIII that our friends took him back for the 5th time as a welder. He talks about "using" one night and getting caught the next day. Apparently, this was a fairly common occurrence back in the manufacturing plant, but he pushed it a bit farther than normal and got caught. I am glad he did. But this firing was such a blow, because these friends bend over backward to rehabilitate and restore people to their jobs, and give them chance after chance. He felt like such a failure to be fired from this company.

In typical form, which I did not want to believe, Kev asked to borrow my car to go look for a job in a town a few miles away. Against my better judgment, I trusted him once again and let him take it. When he wasn't home by dinnertime, I was alarmed. The little town was only 5 miles away. The call we got hours later was very mixed up and nonsensical. He was somewhere in the depths of Denver, lying through his teeth about everything that had happened that day and everything that was happening at that moment. Bottom line, my car was wrecked. He was able to drive it to the halfway point between Denver and home, so we headed down there to help him get it home. At a point a few miles north, it was no longer driveable, so somehow we called a tow truck to meet us there on the dark, cold interstate highway. DC sat in the car waiting for the tow truck while I sat in the truck with Kev. It was then that I truly knew something was way off. He was making no sense whatsoever. It was past 2:00 a.m. when the tow truck finally arrived and insisted on taking the car back south again instead of to our town. It would be over two weeks before we'd get it back because the repairs were so extensive.

When we got back to our town, Kev wanted to stop at Taco Bell because he was starving. I said no, I just wanted to get home, and I had dinner left that I could heat up for him. I heated it and took it up to his room, said good-night, and collapsed exhausted into bed.

At 5:30, when I got up to get ready for work, I noticed that the light was still on in his room. I knocked, opened the door, and found the food, untouched, on his bed. I thought maybe he had fallen asleep downstairs - I had found him slumped over the computer one morning, sound asleep, and hoped that had happened again. When he wasn't anywhere in the house, my heart began to beat in my stomach. I looked out the kitchen window and screamed for DC to call 911. There was Kev, sitting up in a lawn chair in the back yard. I thought sure he was dead, but didn't know how he could still be sitting up. I ran out there and found him stiff as a board, not dead, but unconscious, and very, very cold. Somehow I got him out of the chair onto the ground. The paramedics arrived in the fire truck, and the police came as well. We live on a culdesac, so it created quite a stir in the neighborhood.

Kev was taken to our hospital and I went on to work, so angry that I didn't care to talk to him at any point in that day. The feelings that writing this bring back are chilling. I had finally reached a point of total loss. This was the 3rd overdose in a few months, and the first of 3 wrecked cars. DC and I decided after work that we should visit him at the hospital. He was not there and nobody could or would (thanks to HIPAA) tell us where he might be. My thoughts were that he had bolted from the hospital and was dead in a ditch somewhere.

That night, we had a get-together with a 4x4 group from church and we went, pretending nothing was wrong. We certainly were not going to share this with these people in a social gathering. There was nothing we could do about Kev that night, and we needed something to take our minds off of the trauma. We did leave much earlier than anyone else, though, and headed home to receive a phone call a short time later. They had taken him to a mental health facility in a town 30 miles east of us. They can only hold them for a few days. We went to visit him one time, and then went to bring him home. He was there without any shoes or change of clothes.

Sema was on her way back here about this time, and arrived shortly after this episode, in time for all of us to go to some family counseling at the facility. He was able to go for a minimal cost for a few weeks. I don't know how much it helped Kev, but I did gain some help from these sessions in beginning to understand the physical and psychological grip these substances had on our son. I don't know if more time there would have helped or not. But once again I had hope.

Kev and Sema rented a cute little house downtown, close enough to his new job at the bronze sculpture company that he could ride a bike. Things started out with great anticipation for a clean, normal life. But it wasn't long before it was obvious that he was still not well. Sema would call and ask if we knew where Kev was. That always made me sick to my stomach. She ended up in the hospital with surgery on a non-existent appendicitis - long story - but Kev acted so strange. I was with her all night and day. He took the day off to be with her, but only came in and out sporadically. It was very strange.

Kev and I did spend quite a bit of time in the waiting room in the middle of the night talking to one of his pastors, who came when he was called after midnight. I realize now that Kev was most likely under the influence at that moment. But he was telling the pastor things I'd never heard before and I was horrified.

Thanksgiving Day they came to my folks' house for dinner - very late. Kev was again acting so strange. He went back and slept the afternoon away in my mom and dad's room. He had swelling in his arm and he was telling Sema all sorts of stories about why this was happening. We were all worried, but just could not believe that he was still doing this to himself. We still didn't really understand, I guess.

The day he bolted from his work place and locked himself in his house (you can read more about this in his post) was the same day that Sema found out her parents were not going to be allowed to leave Kenya to come and visit her for Christmas. The American Embassy would not grant them a visitor visa. In retrospect, I am very glad they weren't here, but at the time, it was a huge blow to her. (Sema eventually was able to work out a trip to Germany to visit her sister, and her parents were able to get there too, for Christmas). She had just learned this news when she got the call at work from the police that Kev was barricaded in their house. Her boss took her home and called me. I couldn't leave at that moment, so DC went home to be with her.

I again did not want to talk to him. It was two days later that he called and asked if anybody was ever going to call or visit him. I told him that frankly I didn't have a clue what to say to him any more. It was then I learned how seriously ill he was and that, again, he could have died if God had not had His hand on his life. He eventually had two surgeries on his terribly infected elbow (see Kev's story), and was on the most potent antibiotic there is, intravenously, for 10 days because of a blood infection.

I finally went up to visit him. I found him lucid and repentant. Different from every other time. Every single person who came into his room when I was there - nurses, nurse aids, social workers - had a special love for him that was supernatural. I ran into a nursing student who had grown up in our church and had begun a very troubled life when her parents divorced. She had found her way and was about to finish her nursing degree. She was not able to care for Kev because she knew him, but she told me she was praying for him. I just bawled and thanked her. But everyone that went into his room those many days was sent by God. They loved and cared him back to health.

Sema would not see him, and I don't blame her. I couldn't not see him because he was my son. But the trust issue was huge. He could not go home to his wife and we told him he could only stay with us until he was healthy and had found a place to go to get the help he so desperately needed. The search for that place was much harder than we anticipated.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cumberland Island, Savannah, and Back to Athens

ADDENDUM: I just realized I should have done a tribute to sweet Feisty - tomorrow she will be 3. I can hardly believe it! But please head over to her mom's post and wish her a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Early the first morning on St. Simons Island, we headed for the dock in St. Mary where we would board a ferry (not the kind with cars, but just lots of people) to visit Cumberland Island. Unbelievably, we met a couple from our neck of the woods - they live just a few miles north of us. We had a great visit with them and their friends from Florida. We even ran into them on St. Simons the next day (we had told them how beautiful the island was and they modified their plans to come and visit). It truly is a small world!

I love this picture, which I shot as we waited for our departure time.
Cumberland Island has been designated as a national park, so there is no commercialization or residency there. The first stop was supposed to be the museum, but unfortunately, there were at least 1/2 million junior high kids and 50,000 folks on a field trip from an Elderhostel for us to want to get into that line. So we headed straight out for the self-guided tour. The island was occupied after the Civil War by wealthy northerners who came down to live. At this time, 250 wild horses live there - we were advised to give them right-of-way if we came across them on the path! Fortunately, they were too busy grazing for their meal to pay any attention to us:
The ruins of a gigantic mansion are still there - it belonged to the Carnegie family (younger brother of financier Andrew Carnegie). You can tell by the other buildings around the ruins that they led quite the high rolling lifestyle in the 1800s after the war.
We soon reached the sand dunes made up of the most beautiful, soft white sand I have ever seen. It was hard walking, but just gorgeous. It was quite a hike down to the sea, but worth every hot moment.
The beach walk was about 2 miles long and delightful. I have never seen so many shells on shore as I found there. I had fun picking them up for the kiddoes.

The trip back up to the ferry was lovely as well. This path covered by live oaks meeting in the middle was so beautiful.
Can you spot the armadillo?
We had an amusing experience on the way home that evening as we stopped for a shrimip and steak special at a local, seemingly popular, restarant. We found out when we got inside that not only was the special of the evening a very good deal, but that we all 4 qualified for the 10% senior discount. when we checked out, the young woman gave us 40% off! She added the four of us together, 10% for each of us, instead of 10% off the total bill. We tried to convince her that she was making a big mistake, but she refused to believe it - said she'd gotten into trouble once before for doing it the other way. I hope the place stays in business long enough for her to learn some basic math!

The next stop was Savannah - I already shared the picture of my SIL and me in front of Paula Deen's restaurant. There are many beautiful squares in the city, and often there are monuments commemorating historical heros. I was happy to see John Wesley's statue in the square closest to Christ Church (same name as the small church on St. Simons). The previous day, at Fort Frederica, we had seen the spot where John and Charles spent a few months, and where John had preached his first sermon in the US. The doctor's wife in that village hated Charles for some reason and actually tried to kill him by biting him, tearing his clothes in the process. Quite the entertaining story! John preached at this beautiful church for a year, followed by George Whitefield.
We had to get back to Athens, because my SIL was in charge of a week-end event, called "Sermon on the Mount'" It was an amazing experience to watch Lew Sterrett take a totally untrained horse and get it to follow directions in front of our eyes. He likened every move in the process to our spiritual journey. Fascinating. See the brochure below:
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There are many more pictures and stories, but I think I'd better end this saga for now.

NEXT UP: A Story of Deliverance, Part VIII

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Random Ramblings #12 and Randomness Answers

We interrupt our regularly scheduled travelogue to catch up with some random business.

It has been 55 degrees most of the time this past week. Do you realize how relative everything is? A few weeks ago, 55 degrees would have seemed wonderful and we would have probably shed our coats and been thrilled. But, after a few weeks of nice spring weather, 55 degrees seems like winter again!

Remember this picture from a couple of months ago? When I hit that huge chunk of ice as I was parking my car awhile after the big blizzard?


It looks much worse after a few weeks of jostling. We've finally decided to bite the bullet and get it fixed out of our own pockets - $627. Unbelievable!

Care Bear is quite the little artist, as I've shared before. She tells stories with her pictures. Here is one she drew this last week. On the right is the ladder to the top of a tube slide, and she and Feisty and one of the neighbor girls are sliding down the tube slide in the middle. On the left she is swinging from a tree (I'm not sure how she's sliding and swinging at the same time, but it's her story and her picture). I don't know where she got this artistic bent, because nobody in this family has it. That is a duck at the bottom of the slide!

She was making a note for her mom yesterday, and I decided to share it with all of you moms out there a bit early. Note the fancy lettering on "Happy." I love it! She's only 4 1/2.

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Last night we had dinner with some church friends. We have a program that matches 4 couples (singles can be included of course) for four months of get-togethers. We're supposed to get together 4 times. It's called, logically, 4x4. We have had such fun doing this for a couple of years now and have been privileged to get better acquainted with people in church that we might not otherwise have had a chance to know socially. Last night we were at the home of a massage therapist and a counselor at a Christian farm for men with addictions. At the end of the evening, I stretched and said, jokingly, "I really need a massage!" Believe it or not, she said, "Come on back - I'll give you one!" She gave me a serious therapeutic massage for at least 30 minutes - she hit all of my vulnerable spots. Man, it hurt so good!! (I know poor grammar, but true statement). What a blessing!

I signed up for a contest at the gym - the person who loses the most weight and body fat in the next 3 months can win a trip for two to Baja, Mexico. You also have to write a short essay. I think the fact that I will be 60, DC will be 65, and we'll celebrate our 35th annviersary before the end of 2007 should qualify for a really good reason to win the cruise - now if I can only win the weight loss contest!! Pretty good motivation, wouldn't you say??

Several days ago, Groovy Old Lady randomized me, so FINALLY, here are my answers:

1. If you could have Mavis the Maid (She comes very highly recommended) on a consistent basis, which one household/cleaning chore would you be thrilled to get out of doing?

At this point in my life, I am not fond of any household chore. My sweet DC does the floors for me every week. I don't mind laundry too much, but ironing is not a favorite. I'm thankful for a good dishwasher. But I am really tired of menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. So I would have to say I would opt for someone to do these chores for me. I would love to sit down to a healthy, tasty meal every night that I didn't have to prepare.

2. Tell us the truth: Have you ever broken the law? What did you do?

Do I really have to admit that one of my nicknames has been "Lead Foot?" I guess I do. I got my first speeding ticket when I was 16, I believe. It could probably qualify for my embarrassing moment when the judge said, "If you speed like a man, you get charged like a man. Forty bucks and court costs." I was mortified, because it took my whole first paycheck from my summer job to pay this ticket. You'd think it would have taught me a lesson, wouldn't you? But I have to fess up that I have had several more speeding tickets over the years - including a few on those awful camera cops. Have you ever gotten one of those in the mail? You know you've been had when you see this flashing light, but not until then do you know that there was a camera there. Terrible feeling! I think I won't be getting any more speeding tickets.

3. Have you ever embarassed yourself in front of a crowd? What happened?

I have been wracking my brain all week trying to think of a good answer for this question. Don't get me wrong I have plenty of embarrassing moments in my history, but I must have a good forgetter, because they do not remain on my hard drive for recall. DC reminded me of the one I shared not too long ago where my car locked itself with the keys inside and the car running - and the extra key and the phone inside as well - at 6:45 a.m. on campus. But, as of this morning, I have a much more embarrassing moment to share. Picture this: I'm the chairperson of the mission organization of our local church. We have a missionary speaker coming today. He has not arrived by the time church starts. Pastor and I are on pins and needles. He announces, in jest (I think), that I will be speaking if the missionary does not arrive soon. I am standing in choir mentally preparing what I might say if it comes to that. Finally, during the wonderful choir song we were singing during communion, he arrives. As soon as we finish singing, I excuse myself from choir and head to the rear of the church to greet him and make sure everything is okay. He is embarrassed because he had mixed up the times and had neglected to check his e-mail message from us until 8:20 - church starts at 8:30. But I don't find that out right away because - I am wearing a new pair of backless sandals for the first time today and in my hurry to get back to the missionary, I walk right out of the shoes, and find myself pitching forward onto my knees and elbows - yep flat down in front of 200 people. Oh, my word! I wanted a miracle of Moses proportions - for that floor to open up and swallow me!! I am fine. Thankfully, my bad ankle didn't turn and re-injure the foot I hurt so badly 3 years ago this week (which is still causing me trouble). I praise the Lord for that. I got up on the platform and introduced the missionary speaker, able to make a joke out of the whole thing. I really didn't want something to share with you that badly!!

4. You've selected a stunning new outfit to wear to an important event. Time is running short. You are rushing to get dressed and suddenly realize that said outfit absolutely DOES NOT fit. What do you do?

This could happen to me quite easily at this point in my life. I guess I just hope that I have a "fat outfit" that I can fall back on. That's the advantage of keeping all of your various sizes of clothes and not giving them away when you lose weight.

5. Hey...Lucky You! You get to be the President of the United States for one entire week. Any changes you make will become a permanent part of American history. What are the top-three items on your to-do list?

I'm not sure I'd want to be, based on the horrible things that the president has to listen to about himself and his family every day. Sadly, the president doesn't have the power to do the things he wants to do, when he has to work with a hostile congress and judges with an agendas of their own. But if I did have power, I would eliminate abortion, poverty, and abuse.

Travelogue to be continued. . .

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Sunrise, Sunsets, and a Cemetery

Sunrises and sunsets are so different in different parts of the country. We spent a bit of time watching and waiting, trying to catch just the right shot. The first night in St. Simons, we headed to the beach for some sunset watching. I managed to get a couple of good ones (or maybe DC took them for me, I can't remember!)


A couple of nights later, on the way home from St. Simons, we caught this sunset. It was very intense because of the fire raging in the Okefenokee Swamp area.

The last morning, DC and I got up at 6:00 to catch a sunrise. We hadn't had a chance to do that yet. We stood on the beach, staring east, thinking maybe the cloud cover was going to prevent our seeing it. Finally, the beautiful ball of fire began to peak over the horizon. It was 6:50, and it was worth the wait!


The full day on St. Simons Island was spent engrossed in history. The Beloved Invader was the first book Eugenia Price wrote about the island. She immersed herself in the island and its lore. Many of the people who lived there when she moved in the 1960s from Chicago were descendants of the people in the novels. Anson Dodge was a very young man of 19 when he first fell in love with the island. He was from New York and was engaged to a beautiful young woman named Ellen. She died, probably of food poisoning from unwashed grapes in India, on their honeymoon trip. Anna Gould had been in love with him from the first day she saw him. She eventually became his housekeeper. He finally realized her worth and value and love and made her his wife. They had a child, who was killed when he was thrown from a buggy and hit a catalpa tree. So sad!! They eventually opened a home for orphaned boys, but it didn't come to pass until Anson died at a very young age of 38. Anna was such an unselfish person that she honored his original desire to be buried with Ellen. They are buried in the same plot with his mother next to them. Next to his mother was the baby, then Anna on the end.

I was so busy looking at the lizard on the Resurrection Fern around Anson and Emily's grave that I neglected to get a picture of it! Go figure.
Here is Anson's mother's grave.

Anna and Anson Jr.'s graves


I was able to locate James Hamilton Couper's grave - he was James Gould's dearest and longest friend. I couldn't find others I was looking for, and didn't have time to take the tour.


I regret that we didn't get back to see the inside of the church (below as it is today). It was virtually destroyed by the Union soldiers who used it as housing during the war. They desecrated the altar when they butchered cattle on it. The remainder of the entrails and hooves and bones were still there ten years later when Horace Gould returned to the island after their forced removal from their homes (chronicled in the second book, New Moon Rising) . The soldiers also used the church furniture for firewood, when there were hundreds of trees right ouside in the woods. Anson Dodge restored the church with his inherited money, and pastored the flock until his too early death.


I distinctly remember, when we were reading the trilogy as young women, that the theme of our Redeeming God came through loud and clear. In fact, it was the one thing I remembered. When I reread the series, I kept looking for that theme. It finally was very clearly articulated in the last few pages of The Beloved Invader.

"Sometimes she (Anna) felt that everything her husband believed was based on the simple fact that God will not waste anything if we give Him a chance to redeem it. . . 'He is not only a Redeemer of our sin, but He is a Redeemer of our circumstances as well. He will not waste a single problem, a single heartache, a single tear. Our God is a Redeemer God, and He stands minute by minute before us, inviting us to let Him have the sorrow, to let Him have the pain, to let Him have the disappointment. To trust Him to make something useful, something creative of every tragedy that darkens our lives.' . . . in the haphazard of earthly life, God worked in and through the joys and tragedies, always making redemptive use of everything: not causing either joy or pain, but using them."

I LOVE these words. They resonate with me throughout everything we have gone through as a family. God is using Heather's and Kelli's situations. He's using Kev's and my story. He is using Kristen's and my story.

Kev and I will be writing Part VIII after he finishes final exams next week. It's hard to imagine that this school year is over already, but it is. Graduation for my students is a week from today. Then the cycle begins again.

I hope I am not taking too much time and space talking about this trip, but it was so meaningful for me. We'll be on Cumberland Island next time. I haven't forgotten my randomizing by Groovy Old Lady!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lighthouse, Live Oaks, and Spanish Moss

Eugenia Price was a writer of Christian non-fiction for years. When I was a young mom going to Bible study on Tuesday mornings, we used a lot of her materials for our studies. It was about that time that we discovered her fiction and several of us read the trilogy I mentioned in an earlier post: The Lighthouse, New Moon Rising, and Beloved Invader. She later wrote a series based in Savannah beginning with a book by that title. For some reason, the fact that the trilogy was set on St. Simons Island, Georgia stuck with me. When DC went to Georgia to visit his brother one time, he visited St. Simons Island. After he returned from that visit, I began to remember that I had read these books and wished I could see the island.

When we decided to go to Georgia for our vacation this spring, I decided to re-read the trilogy. I am so thankful that I did, because they came to life when we arrived on the island. Eugenia had visited the island, somewhat as a fluke, fell in love with it, and was not satisfied until she was able to move there in the 1960s. She died there in 1996. The books were written in reverse chronological order, with Beloved Invader being the first written.

The Lighthouse took place right after the Revolutionary War. James Gould was the main character and he ended up on St. Simons Island as a very lonely, shy, rather backward single guy. He had drawn up plans for a lighthouse when he was a young teen, never having seen one, and living a long ways from the ocean in Connecticut. But the time came when the US government decided to build a lighthouse on the island, and he was persuaded by his friend, John Couper, to submit his plans. They were finally accepted and his dream of being a lighthouse builder came true. It was grueling work, and when it was completed he insisted on being the lighthouse keeper as well. Every night he would climb to the top of the lighthouse and light the oil lamps, which he had rigged as well. It was first lit in 1811. By this time he was married and had children, but that's a long story and you'll have to read the book for that part. Here is a picture his lighthouse, which was made from a material called "tabby," which was a mixture of oyster shells, lime, and sand. Below the lighthouse picture is a close-up of another building made of tabby.

Here is a picture of James Gould
During the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers occupied the island, requiring all the white people to leave, and requiring all the slaves to remain. They demolished James Gould's lighthouse (if I remember correctly, he had passed away by this time, so didn't have to live to see this destruction of his dream), so that the Northern troops could not see them from the sea. After the war was over, it was rebuilt in 1866. It is still in use and looks like this today.
Here are some of the flowers growing outside the lighthouse.
This is a shot from the beach - a bride was having her picture taken on the rocks below the lighthouse.

The live oak trees are massive and ancient (called that because they retain their green all year round). Absolutely incredible. The moss that sways and hangs from trees all over Georgia is everywhere. I didn't find it to be pretty, but very intriguing. DC and his brother revert to boyhood antics when they get together.

Note the look on DC's face.

The Goofy Ph.D.!