Catching up

 

So we returned to Wisconsin after our trip to Tennessee for approximately 36 hours… long enough to pack up the dumpy little trailer and get the heck out of dodge!

We arrived in Plano around 8:30pm and found about 20 of our new church family waiting at our new home to help us unload…with a hot, home cooked meal. Talk about amazing!

The following days were a blur of unpacking, people stopping by to visit with food and general getting adjusted to a new area. I would say we are fitting in and getting settled just right. We arrived on a Wednesday night and had our first dinner guests Sunday after church. I whipped up a quick meal of polish sausage, garlic parmesan noodles and zucchini. We have had several of our new friends to dinner…including the mayor of Plano, who is also our next door neighbor.

I thought I might miss working but to be honest I don’t have time! You would never guess how much there is to do in a village less than a hundred people…or when you finally made the commitment to properly keep the house. We visit, we bake, we pray and play with our sweet baby. Life is so good right now sometimes I feel my heart swell.

Just so you know I am not loafing around here are some of the things that keep us hippity hopping!

Once a month on Monday I go to the Ladies Aid meeting where we make quilts for the needy. This ain’t no chit chat session. These chickies are serious. We go from about 9:30 to 2 or 3 and crank out 4-5 quilts. Everyone has their job to do and things flow along smoothly. We also have a carry in lunch around noon. They invited Michael and Richard (the mayor) in hopes that they would do the dishes… no luck. Richard has adopted Reagan as his granddaughter and was playing with her and Michael went off to socialize and check out all the sewing machines.

Every other Tuesday Michael leads a worship service at the Long Term Care wing of the hospital. He is very excited about this ministry. Wednesday we have bible study and Thursday Michael will have breakfast with the ministerial association in Centerville which is about 10 miles away. Starting on February 10th we will be taking a 16 week seminar to get us certified in Christian Counseling. Saturday nights the big fun is to head down to the auction house. Everyone who is anyone is there he he They even have a concession stand. I can’t wait to go… I will keep my eye out for vintage sewing machines and a piano! Sunday we have Sunday school and worship in the morning and prayer meeting and youth group in the evening. About twice a week he have a different family over for dinner and I am baking up a storm… we haven’t been here a month and I’ve been through 10 pounds of flour!

I haven’t let myself unpack the sewing room until I finish the rest of the house but I only have about 5 boxes left…so starting Monday…. sewing room here I come!

I was estatic to find out we have apple trees in our yard. Richard and Marilyn also have apples and a pear and a beautiful grape arbor which they said we can help ourselves to. We are now in zone 5 so that opens up some fun gardening adventures. Every one in Plano gardens which is awesome! Better order my seeds now

I am sure I am forgetting lots but wanted to catch you up with the wonderful things God has blessed us with. Most especially this cutie…. who rolls all over the place now!

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Paradise on earth is found in Iowa!

Sorry to have disappeared! Immediately after we return to WI after my father in law’s funeral we packed up and moved to Iowa!

We love it here. We have made so many new friends and are absolutely in love with our new church. We don’t have interet at home yet but I promise more details soon.

Here is a sneak peek at our new home.

For the record moving twice in 4 months is HARD…especially with a baby! But Reagan is doing amazing.

Michael’s final installment

  Sunday, January 2, 2011 @ approximately 11:04 

This morning I came into the bedroom to minister to Dad—perhaps around 10:30. (I had also come in at 8:30 this morning in order to bathe Dad and give him some medicine.) I saw that his eyes were more open than they had been in the last 24 hours. He was breathing so fast—around 43 breaths a minute. He was alert, though, and understood all that I said. 

I began by reading a couple of Psalms, and then I read from the fourth chapter of Revelation, talking about the throne room of God, and how Christ “was slain and has redeemed us to God by his blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” I explained to my dad that his sins were gone. A death had occurred on his behalf. At this point, even though my Dad was too weak to move, I could tell that the physical pain was beginning to come back. And so I prepared his medicine for him. 

I was reading from the book of Ephesians. I read from Ephesians 1:1 to Ephesians 2:10—I spoke to him about being sealed by the Holy Spirit. I pointed to the evidence of the changed life within him, and how he had taught us a life of faith. I even mentioned the rude awakening I had when I began to meet more worldly people.  

I further explained that God had chosen Dad—even knowing his every flaw, and every sin that he would ever commit. The evidence of being chosen is the strong belief that my father always had. We also talked about all of the spiritual blessings that God has given us through Christ. 

As I got in to the second letter of Ephesians, I began to explain to Dad that his spirit was already “seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.” I was telling him that when he closes his eyes here, he will open them in the presence of Christ.

Now, let me share my last word on this subject. I have always known in my heart that I would be there for my Dad as he died. I even prayed with him, commending him to God, and thanking God that He had given me such a good father. I asked God, on behalf of Dad, to take my Dad’s spirit–gently. And it was gentle. There was no drama. He simply looked peaceful and quit breathing. Good Bye, my earthly Father!

More words from Michael

New year Purposes?

What would I want in a new year? Do I want it to be different than the last year? Last year was honestly wonderful, adventurous, filled with highs and lows, and a time of wonderful growth. If I were to desire something in the coming year, it would simply be a greater ability to yield to the Spirit of God.

Now, to some, it might seem like that means a person gives up themselves and their desires. Perhaps in a way it does. I prefer to see it as allowing God to manifest greater wonders through me. I wish to yield to His greater insight, His greater power, His greater qualities.

Some of the things that God may do with a person seem more “flashy” than others. However, the ability to love in greater degrees or have a greater compassion is just as deep and profound–not to mention useful. As a person stays more focused in the “now,” they become more able to be used by the Lord in greater ways. So I want to focus on the “now,” and not yield to things like self-pity, selfish wants, materialism, or even unhealthy grief.

As a person focuses on the present, they are also much more likely to “catch God’s cues,” giving them the abiltiy to see God’s purposes and how we might play a part in them–regardless of how small or how large our role is. “Chance encounters” suddenly become doorways to moments of beauty and power. Finding our role in any given moment is like a planet finding its orbit. We are given greater “order” and “security.” And we see ourselves more as part of a vast system–all planned in the mind of an almighty God.

Yes, I wish to come into His chosen “orbit” for my life.

I close with a favorite verse: Hosea 14:8

“O Israel, stay away from idols. I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green. All your fruit comes from me.”

I could just as easily put it this way: Attention God’s people! Stay away from distractions. See God as the one who makes everything possible for you as you seek Him in the most powerful avenue of prayer. Realize that He is always the same when we approach Him. (In Him is ‘yes’). This is the key to our “bearing fruit.”

In his own words

Michael has been journaling through this entire experience. I thought I would share some of what he has written:

Today was the first time that my dad has been able to hold Reagan. I placed her against his belly, being careful to not put to much pressure on his legs (he lies in somewhat of a fetal position, favoring to be on the right side, and keeping his head toward the railing of the bed.) I saw such a smile on his face. He came alive in a way that was fun to watch. I have long wanted this day for him, not originally knowing for sure that he would make it to the time that she would be born. She is now four months old.

I let my dad know that I enjoyed the moments that we can be together at this time. Each minute is a gift. We have worked to make sure that he is as comfortable as he can possibly be.

At 2:00 in the morning (Thursday night), Mark and I started to go to bed, but Dad asked us not to leave, because he was afraid that he would die that very night. In fact, when I told him that I really thought that he would be around the next day (even though I acknowledged that he would know better than I), he shook his head, “no.” But Mark and I were content to stay with him longer—until we made sure that he was comfortable, in a relaxed state of mind, and able to sleep. I went to bed tonight not entirely sure that I would wake up with a dad, for most people seem to to know when they are passing.

There were moments of intense clarity with my dad today as well as hours of rest and ease, produced by a combination of the pain medicine and the (little bit extra) Lorazepam that I have been giving him. Though, to be certain, I have not overdone it.

This morning was a wonderful and joyous time for the second time since I hurriedly arrived here. I placed my Dad’s grand-daughter, Reagan, into his side, so that she could reach up and touch dad’s neck just under his chin. This is the second time that he has been able to hold on to my baby, and I am glad for the smile that comes to his face when Reagan is in the room. In fact, he lights up in a way that does not occur at any other time.

When I was here over Thanksgiving, he only got the chance to see her once, but did not get the opportunity to hold her. I am so glad that I have seen him hold her, for she is the next generation of our family—his and mine.

Would I want to be anywhere else during this time? Absolutely not. I have loved and valued each and every single “extra” minute that he has. I am ready for him to go only if he is ready. I am ready for him to stay as long as he wishes. This is between God and his soul, and you never know what beautiful purposes are being worked out in the heavenly realm.

I regret that I have been a little reluctant the last day and previous night to do this, but I finally took a while to read the Bible to him today—passages that talk about the love of Christ for His people. I spoke of the gentleness that our Lord has toward us—the gentleness that I have only caught glimpses of in the power of the Spirit.

This is now his third day of no eating and no drinking. Do I think he wants to be here? Yes, I do. And—even more—he wants his family with him. Last night, he did not want Mark and I to leave, because he thought that it might be his last night. But I believed that he would have another day. And I believe that he is likely to have yet another day. How long? Only God knows. 

The greatest pain for him comes from his legs, particularly his left leg that seems to have continual muscle spasms. Mark and I have rubbed his leg many times, in an attempt to give peace and comfort to these final days. How I cherish each additional moment. It is the nature of “life” to “wish to live.”

I now begin to write again at 6:00 in the evening. At this moment, Dad is more relaxed than I have seen him since I have been here. He is not moving around. I haven’t given him pain medicine in a while. He is a comfortable sleep, having reached a kind of “sweet equilibrium” today. He is bearing this well, and I believe that the power of the Spirit of God is present with him.

If you wonder why I share something so personal, it is because I cherish this process. Celebrate with me. Celebrate love. Let us not hide from ourselves the fact that each of us will face death. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that, the judgment.” Living in light of our coming death is the wisest possible course that we can take. What would you do if you were in my place right now…staring death in the face! Celebrate with me, and live in light of eternity. How we live now affects the entire universe, and our final state