Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Priceless Gift of Family

Our family recently went through another round of, shall we say, excitement. We nearly lost our daughter in law Crystal to complications of diabetes. The very day she got out of ICU, my mother in law went home to be with the Lord. And thus began another journey of trusting in God’s sovereignty.

Mark and I headed out early on Monday morning for Council Bluffs, Iowa to be with Dad and Mark’s sister. The 11 hours in the car gave us a bit of time to catch our breath and also to prepare our hearts for the grief that would encompass us. Dad was doing well and as I know from experience, there will be moments of immense grief to come. But for now, he was relieved that we were there.

Tuesday brought a trip to the funeral home to see Mom’s body for the first time. So hard. Dad wept as he looked upon her still lifeless body. But tears are a cleansing thing, a good thing. 54 years is a long time to love someone. And love her he did. Wednesday was viewing and an even harder day. Thursday Mark, Dad and I headed for Kokomo Indiana for Mom’s burial. Our kids would all meet us there on Friday.

Just when you think you are in a situation alone, the ones who love you most arrive and the Lord opens your eyes to the gift of family and just how much they love you. Our kids were, well, absolutely amazing! Once we realized there were no plans for a funeral for Mom, I called our kids and they quickly agreed to make it happen. Andrew opened with a beautiful prayer and through his tears of grief and thankfulness read scriptures of comfort. Jeremy prepared a brief message and reminded us to be thankful for the comfort of the Lord, knowing that Mom was in eternity with God. We sang a hymn together and Mark closed with the most wonderful prayer I have ever heard from him. God is sooo good! The guys all pitched in to carry Mom’s casket to the hearse. Such gentlemen!! They were so respectful of her. We took dad to the gravesite and stood there as they placed her body in the crypt. And we walked away.

Angie had reserved tables at a local restaurant so she and Crystal headed on over there with the little ones. We enjoyed lunch together and then went to a park where Mark played as a child. Dad enjoyed watching as the “big kids” and little kids went down the slides and rode the swings. We finished the day with a trip to Mom’s favorite ice cream place. We sat outside and ate our cones together while the grandkids played in the grass. What a sweet day the Lord had given us. No harsh words, no tension, no disappointment or conflict. Just a perfect day of pure godly love and family.

We, and Dad, are so very thankful for the expression of love and respect Angie & Jeremy, Andrew & Crystal, Andrea & Clay showed that day. It will forever be engraved on my heart and mind. They drove 7-14 hours in the cars with restless kids to give Dad, Mark and I one day of love and family. What a priceless blessing!

Even now, nearly three weeks later, my eyes fill with tears reminiscing about that day and the unadulterated love our children expressed. We are so very blessed. So thankful they all love the Lord and serve Him and exude the love of Christ. Their selfless acts of love spoke volumes. And I praise God for these precious gifts He has given to me. Mark and I are both overwhelmed, and immensely blessed!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finally, We are Once Again Coming to You....

Romans 18 – 12

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is , that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith both yours and mine.

One year ago I was on a plane returning from Beirut, Lebanon on a mission trip. A place I thought I would never be. I am so thankful that God’s ways are not like ours. He knew that I would finally obey Him and trust Him in a way that stretched every comfort zone that I had held to so tightly. God is so good. He pried my stubborn fingers loose one by one and helped me let go of the railing at the top of the ladder right into the middle of Beirut. Much like jumping off the high dive and into the deep end of the pool.

On April 5, Mark, Andrea and I along with 6 other team members will once again board the plane for Beirut. How I long to see the faces of those faithful servants of God that we met last year! Gladys with her beauty and gentle spirit, Sawsan and her brave soul and servant heart. Martin, Sally, Adnan, Rosette, Alia, Lana, Nabil. I can’t seem to find the words to express my heart! It is one thing to know that there are believers on the other side of the world. It is quite another to “know” them. To worship with them. To praise the same almighty God with them.

And then there are the children! Abraham, Benjamin, Bresca, Anna, Nicolas and the many others at the camp. Pray with us that the Lord would make their heart a fertile land on which the gospel can be cultivated.

Pray for our team. Andrea, Brittany, Robin, Jordan, Justin, Andy, and Eddie. For most of them, this is the first trip out of the country as well as a first mission trip. Pray that the will bless them for their sacrifice of time and effort to bring the gospel to the children of Beirut. Ask the Lord to sustain them physically with strength and health for the many things we will be doing.

We truly covet your prayers on our behalf. We are thanking God for this amazing opportunity.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas Slippers - The Christmas Eve Gift

Jeremy's Surprise gift from the Kaperaks - Kolaches !
Christmas Morning
JohnDavid, Caitlyn with Luke, Kylie, Haley, Lanning
Lanning discovered he DOES love Deigo!
Poppy loves his cat! Now everyone will know.

New Pots and Pans! The guys were more excited than the girls.

Haley and her Polly Pockets!

JohnDavid as Obi wan Kanobi. Mom and Dad got the costume, Poppy got the sword.

That's how you make a little boy's day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kathryn Claire Stonebraker Thomas

It is amazing to me how God puts people in our lives who come in a little on the irritating side and end up in the depths of our hearts. Kathryn Claire Thomas was one of those people to me. When I started dating her son, Stan, in 1977 she was not exactly thrilled. I viewed her as opinionated and bossy. I must say my opinion of her has changed greatly!

Many times Kathryn's head would bang into mine. We did not always see eye to eye but when I needed her she was always there. And not just physically. If she knew that you had a concern or a need you could count on her to be on her knees before the Lord's throne in petition for you. If she said she would pray, then by golly that is what she did. You may get her opinion with the prayer, but there was lots of prayer non the less. I have had a couple of days of panic since her death, wondering who will be praying for me and my family as diligently and fervently as she did.

Through the years we have weathered storms together. Specifically the death of her son. In 1981 Stan became sick very suddenly and died in a matter of days. Kathryn never once said a harsh word to me about his death. There was never an accusation of poor care or comments like "if you had been a better wife" or "how could you let this happen". In the midst of her pain she worried about me and the children. Andrew was just 6 days old and Angie was just 2 1/2 years old.

The day she buried her son of just 22, she lost her beloved husband, Tommy. Then 14 years later her daughter Beth, died of brain cancer. Kathryn also experience the lose of her mother, her father, her sister, and her brother-in-law, and several other loved ones. She endured much pain in her 87 years. If you looked only at the pain you would wonder why she had not turned her back on God. I don't think the thought ever crossed her mind. She was a faithful servant of God.

Kathryn served her Lord in nearly every way you can imagine from Sunday School Teacher to Short Term Missions. She loved the God who held her in His hand. Her life speaks loudly of her commitment to "walk worthy of the calling". She lay down her cross daily for Him. She loved Lord and His Word. What an inspiration! What an example! I pray that God would allow me to remember the lessons of faith, prayer, family and compassion that she tried so desperately to teach us all.

When Kathryn went home to her Lord on Decemeber 1st, I knew instantly that my life would not be the same.The space she occupied in my life could never be filled with anyone else. It is just one of the marks she left behind. He life was not wasted. She worked as a nurse for over 30 years. but her real work was as a faithful servant of God.

I pray that I never forget Kathryn Claire Stonebraker Thomas and the impact she had on my life.

Bringing You Up To Date

Just in case you have missed something let me give you the run down of the continued happenings with our family since my last post.

Dad was released from the hospital after a few days of monitoring. He did great! Mark's sister Sandy came to help out. She was able to stay with Dad so that Mark and I could return to work. What a tremendous help! Each day after work Mark and I would drive to Clarksville to visit Mom. for many days there was no change or little change. She would improve one day and regress the next. It as such a rollercoaster ride. Many tears were shed as we prayed for her recovery. After nearly 2 weeks in ICU, mom was off the ventilator and moved to a regular room. The prognosis was "there is nothing else we can do for her." We thought the end was near. But Mom had other ideas. As another week and a half ticked by she began to improve. In no time at all she was down to just an oxygen tube on her nose. She continued to have good days and bad but the good were beginning to out number the bad. Mom's memory began to return. Her speech was more audible. And on Wednesday, November 12 Mom was moved to a rehabilitation center in Smyrna! She continued to improve in strength each day. Then on December 3rd, she went home! Dad is caring for her with the assistance of home health care. It seemed unbelievable that just a few weeks earlier we were planning her funeral. God is so good!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Life is a short term mission trip....

Scripture tells us to always be ready. We cannot see the future as the Lord can. So we must know Him and be ready to share Him. Our "mission trip' could happen today. The past 4 days have brought unexpected opportunity to bear witness of Christ like love. 

With Mark's mom and his dad in the hospital we have once again had the opportunity to love on them. God has given us extra measures of patience and grace. It is only through His strength that we have been able to encourage our family. It is not by our strength but by His. We are nothing without the Lord. And why he would even use us is beyond me. Yes, they are our parents but I am sure that their pastor is better trained than we are to bring just right scripture or say the meaningful prayer they need to encourage them. And that is what is so awesome. He wanted to use us. Plain old everyday us. 

Tonight after we visited Mom in ICU and got her update we went down the hall to Dad's room. He was very discouraged with their situation. Worrying about Mom, sorry for inconveniencing us, questioning his care of Mom. And there right before our eyes was our mission trip. Dad needed encouragement, love and compassion. We talked as he cried. What a precious moment with him. God was faithful to still his worries and comfort his heart. After I had encouraged Dad to trust the Lord with Mom and to remember that God knows how much he loves her, I could not help but think of the man in the bed on the other side of the curtain. Since Dad did not have his hearing aids in there was no doubt this man heard everything we said. Does he know the Lord? Maybe we will have opportunity to find out. Maybe we won't. But this man we don't even know has now heard that we will love Mom and Dad and stick by them and that God is faithful and only He can heal Mom. Our worrying will do no good. Trusting in God will. And all because Mom and Dad are both in the hospital. Because God himself ordained this visit.

How awesome is our God! I am thankful for our 20 minute mission trip.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pray for Mom

Just we think it is okay to start answering the cell phone again we get another call and once again we drop everythinga and run. Thursday afternoon Mark's Dad called to say the ambulance had just left with Mom. I will spare you the details. Mom in the hospital in ICU. She has severe pneumonia and is on a ventilator. She also has an infection in her blood. There is no change today in her condition. She is not out of the woods.

Mom nearly died on Thursday. The Lord gave us atleast a few more days with her here. We are entrusting her to His care and praying for a full recovery. Only God knows what that will mean. But we are trusting in Him and His sovereign will for each moment.