Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful overload.....

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Gwen and Tim and the kids (and Chandler, the dog) arrived on Thanksgiving morning.  We visited and played some games and ate our festive "un-Thanksgiving" lunch.  We had lasagna instead of turkey.  We started this tradition when our "black Friday shopping" became "Thanksgiving afternoon/evening" shopping.  I did not want to be cooking/eating/cleaning up from a big meal all before 3:00pm!  Besides, we were having our family REAL Thanksgiving on Friday at Doug and Susie's house.  I know that there are lots of people who have strong opinions about shopping on Thanksgiving, but here is my thoughts about that.  This shopping experience is one of the BEST times that Gwen and I have together.  We laugh, we plan, we celebrate the small victories when we find that certain bargain, we work together to conquer the crowds.  We also meet some wonderful people and simply have so much fun.  I can't think of a better family time.  And honestly shopping now is so much better than when we had to get up at 3:30am!  We didn't get enough sleep before we shopped and dragged around for all of Friday.  Now we get home before 10:00pm on Thursday.  We get a great night's sleep and leave the house at 5:30am on Black Friday.  We shop for a few hours and get home in time for breakfast with the family.  So much better!

So after a very successful time shopping on both Thursday evening and Friday (very early) morning, we were ready to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Doug smoked a turkey, which is so good.  Susie prepared a wonderful spread including some flavorful stuffing.  We all sat around their very large dining room table - all 10 of us!  Before we ate, Gwen asked who wanted to pray.  With very little hesitation, Zeke volunteered.  Our little four year old prayed the most wonderful prayer....  I can't remember exactly what he prayed but it included thanks for the food and for the time together as a family.  It was simply the sweetest, most heartfelt prayer.  There was no doubt that he knew exactly WHO he was talking to.  I have decided that there is nothing better than a little one praying from their heart.

Yes, it is a thankful overload.  Great family time, great shopping, great food, and great prayer.  What an amazing couple of days.  Then came the Christmas set up.  Ken had seen a really interesting laser projector thingy but it was sold out by the time we went to look at it.  So we opted for this large tree instead.
We are used to having some kind of outdoor decoration, so it was fun to have something new and very festive.  It was no easy task putting this tree up, however.  All of the lights were tangled into one big mess on the inside of this tree.  It took us a good two hours to get the lights all freed up and in the correct spots. And Ken was working on a ladder since this is over 8 feet tall.  The lights twinkle very gently. We were very thankful that it looked good once it got dark!   Part of my Thankful overload!

After dinner Ken brought out two foam kits that he had purchased a few weeks ago to add holiday decor to his office.  One was a very large two story gingerbread house and the other was this nativity set. 
This went together really easily and is really quite cute.  I don't know what I think about the one wise man in the front that seems to be wearing a stocking hat....but it is festive!  And then we went to work on the gingerbread house.  Oh my.  What a task.  I was trying to imagine children doing this, since it was a kit designed for kids.  And there were no real instructions...just a series of pictures on the back of the box that showed 5 steps.  It was a trick to figure out which piece was which and then when we tried to put the first walls together, we realized we would need some glue.  So I got out the craft glue.  Well, that didn't work very well.  After lots of time and lots of effort and many, many pieces falling apart, Ken went out to the store for super glue.  The odd thing was that some of the pieces were adhesive and SO sticky that you could hardly deal with it.  But other pieces had no glue at all.  I don't know how they thought this would work since it never says on the package that you need glue.  
It took us over two hours to finish this project.  But it was nice once it was done.  Working together on these two kits was certainly part of my thankful overload.  

So, there you have it.  A recap of my Thanksgiving couple of days.  I have been reflecting on how different this year feels than last year.  Gwen and I talked about how fuzzy and foggy last year seems in our memory.  We did a lot of just going through the motions for the holidays last year.  It was very hard to be thankful in the heaviness of our grief.   We really did just cling together and pull each other along, step by step, through the days, weeks, and months.  As we were sitting at that Thanksgiving table, I was so aware of the missing highchair and felt the loss of Lucas so deeply.  But there were smiles and even laughter this year.  And that perfect prayer of a little boy.  And now we move into Advent.  A time of expectation and planning.  A time filled with hope.  There could not be any better ending to my thankfulness overload than that.  

Jesus, thank you so much for knowing exactly what we need and when we need it.  Thank you for time together and your great peace and love.  Help us all to enter into Advent with a thankful heart and spirit.  Keep our eyes trained on you and the amazing story of season.  Thank you for lights and laughter and the wonder of children.  Amen

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful for the OLD and the NEW!

This morning I said goodbye to my old friend.......this car!  I have been driving it since 2009 when we purchased it brand new.  It has been a wonderful car.  Ken and I have driven it on many vacations, I have driven it back and forth to Minnesota so many times I can't even count.  It was the car that I used to chauffeur the children that I nannied around to school and/or sports and other activities for over four years.  During those years, I put over 500 miles a week on this car.  So, even though it was only 6 1/2 years old, it had 129,000 miles on it!  After lots of discussion and looking ahead at our needs, we decided to BOTH get new cars that have good, long warranties.  Ken found exactly the car he was looking for.  It has a great warranty, good reviews, and we got an outstanding deal on it!
We will finally have room to transport almost anything that we would want to buy.  It will be so much more comfortable when we travel and we won't have to limit what we bring!  We drove around in this wonderful new car today and even though we were fumbling a bit with the different controls, it was so comfortable.  It is not too big and not too small..... it is just right!  

For a while I will be driving Ken's old car.  It just made more sense to trade mine in on this purchase.  It won't be very long and I will also have a new car.  Most likely before the end of the year.  Until then, I will be driving in a bit more luxury than I was used to.  Things like a back up camera and built in blue tooth for my phone! 

Yes, there are some things to be thankful for when considering getting a bit older!  Ken and I are thinking towards retirement in the years ahead and decided we did not want to worry about our cars.  Yes, there it is.....thinking about retirement.  WOW!  Just putting those words on paper is a bit overwhelming.  But it is also kind of exciting!  It just depends on your perspective.  Any change is hard and this change is especially difficult.  But I am determined to make our transition into retirement like this car upgrade. Thankful for the old and the new!  I will be thankful for the remaining working years AND I will be thankful for moving into retirement.  

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Most of us will be spending at least SOME time thinking about what we are thankful for.  Some of us will be actually talking about these things.  For some it might be difficult to feel thankful for anything.  I totally get that.  This has been a hard year for our family.  We were all reeling last year at Thanksgiving.... sort of numb from the loss of Lucas.  It was a lot of just getting through the holidays.  Going through the motions.  It was the prayers of so many that helped us navigate the waves of grief that often caught us unaware.  And it was the foundation of faith that kept us from falling over when those waves smacked us from every side.  So even in the numbness and the reeling we were thankful for the prayers and for Jesus and His constant presence with us.  

So I am heading into Thanksgiving feeling so thankful.  Thankful for the last year and all those who covered us and held us up with their prayers.  And I am thankful for Jesus.  And I am thankful for whatever is ahead!  Today I am especially thankful for a wonderful new car!

Jesus, thank you for your provision in all circumstances.  Holy Spirit, help us all to see beyond our troubles and concerns to recognize the blessings.  Jesus, transitions can be difficult so we need to see from your perspective.  Help us keep our eyes on you.   Thank you Jesus for a day to remember to be thankful for all that we have.  Thank you for family and food and health and home.  Amen

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Snowed in and loving it!

This was a weekend that I look forward to for a long, long time.  SCRAPBOOKING!!  We all arrived at the appointed spot on Friday afternoon, set up our stuff (and there is always a lot of stuff!) and got started.  At about the same time that we started our projects, it started to snow.  Not just a little, but it snowed, and it snowed and it snowed.  This could not have happened at a better time.  We were all safe and sound in our warm, comfortable scrap place.  The best thing was we could have all our food delivered.  We never went outside. By the time it was all said and done on Saturday afternoon, we had over 16" of snow!  We happened to be in one those areas that really got slammed with this first snowfall of the season.  When I got home today there was only about 4" of snow on my driveway.  This picture was taken after only about 3 hours of snow.  Trust me, there was much more snow on our cars after 16 hours more of heavy snow.  I have to give a very BIG shout-out to my wonderful son-in-law Tim Johnson.  On Saturday afternoon, after most of the snow had fallen, he braved the weather and brought seven children (don't is a very long story) to the hotel for a swim in the pool.  Really, what better activity is there on a snowy afternoon than swimming???? The seven children had spent the morning OUTSIDE, playing in the snow.  So they were ready for some warm, inside swimming.  Anyway......while Tim was "visiting" scrapbooking, he cleared off all of our cars!  Can you believe it?  He actually brought a broom and shovel along with him for just that purpose.  What a guy!  He is really amazing.

I decided this weekend that there is something that is often very under-valued.......FELLOWSHIP!  I know that the stated purpose of these weekends is to accomplish the preservation of memories through pictures, but I believe that the best part of these weekends is the relationships.  The sharing and caring and laughing and crying and talking and hugging.....well, you get the idea!  It is all of that stuff that makes this time so meaningful.  At some point during the weekend, Lia sent me a text message that she was so excited for an upcoming "sleepover" at her BFF's (best friend forever) house this upcoming week.  I realized that this weekend is really one giant sleepover!  I guess us gals never really grow up - as far as our friends are concerned!

We covered a lot of ground in our discussions this weekend.  But the most important discussions revolved around this truth..........we all know that we need Jesus in our life in order to get through whatever comes our way.  This group of gals has experienced a lot lately.......there have been family members with cancer and heart attacks, problems with aging parents and death of parents as well as having parents move in with them!  Some of us are still grieving.  There have been houses sold (some after a very long time), houses purchased and moves made - or expected to be made shortly.  There are lots of concern about our children and for some of us, our grandchildren.  And there are the stresses of our jobs.  Certainly we also talked a bit about all that is happening in the world.  Surrounding all of these discussions was the simple statement that we don't know how we could have possibly gotten through these issues without knowing that Jesus is right there with us.

It is so refreshing and wonderful to talk about real problems, surrounded by people who love you, especially when Jesus is always a part of the discussion.  Yes, I think we would all be a lot better off if we just made time to get away with some friends, to talk and share and get snowed in!  For me it was such a time of rest and relaxing.  Plus I managed to complete 84 pages of scrapbooking - a new record for me on these weekends.

The snow was truly beautiful.  It fell softly and silently and covered all of the landscape.  There was a stillness and quiet that seemed to just envelop us in a cocoon.  I stepped outside to take the picture and it was breathtaking.  Even though it was freezing cold, I stood there (without a coat) and watched the flakes fall through the glow of the parking lot lights. It was a sacred moment.  I am extremely thankful for this weekend.

Jesus, thank you for knowing exactly what I most needed.  Even the unexpected, record breaking snowfall.  What a special blessing these dear friends are in my life.  Thank you for taking our needs and concerns and bringing us your great peace.  Holy Spirit, bring these kinds of opportunities to all who need a time of refreshing.  And Jesus, thank you for Tim and the great blessing he is to our family.  Amen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

These people are on my mind today....

All of this thinking about Africa has had me remembering and dwelling on this couple.  This is Johann and Anna Toensing, my great-great grandparents.  Have you ever thought about people in your family tree and wished that you could have met them?  That is where I have been in the last few days.....thinking about Johann and Anna.  This picture is actually a photo of an oil painting of this couple, done in the early 1800's.  It is most likely their "wedding picture".  Johann was born in 1801 and Anna was born in 1806.  They were married in 1827.  And this was in Germany.  What is so interesting about this couple is that 3 of their children went off to the "mission field".  Their daughter Marie married a man that was set to go to Africa to bring the Good News to the Zulu nation.  Their two sons set off to "the new world" - the United States of America - to bring the Good News and establish churches.  This all happened around 1870.  I don't think this was very "ordinary" for families in Germany in 1870.  In fact I imagine that it was very, very unusual.  But they were committed to mission work.  They encouraged and supported their children to GO!

I never knew my great grandparents, or even my grandparents.  So I never got to talk to them or ask them about this.  I never talked to my dad about this subject.... but I did talk many times with my mom.  She was so encouraging!  I know that the same spirit that must have made Anna Toensing be willing to send her children off into the unknown for Jesus, was operating in my mom - Nona Etta Toensing Johnson!  She listened over and over to my stories from the various mission trips I experienced.  More than that, she asked me to share with her friends and her church.  She told me that she could never have gone "out of her comfort zone" and experienced the things that I had.  But she knew that there was a mission sending seed sown in her lineage.  She had heard her father tell the history of his own family. She knew about her great aunt and uncle in Africa.  I have been so blessed by my family tree.  By those prayers prayed for the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters and even for me.

So here I am.  With a place in my heart for Africa.  More than that, I feel that I have a message to share.  I don't know what is ahead in the next weeks and months.  But I know that Jesus is leading and directing and bringing together all that needs to happen.  And I am more convinced than ever that my life is on a path that was designed long before I was born.  And that began with Johann and Anna Toensing!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that you have everything under control.  Even when it may seem really grey (or maybe even totally black) you have that path all laid out.  Holy Spirit, help us to see our family tree with your eyes!  And remind us to pray for all of those future branches and leaves that will be added in the years ahead.  Amen

Thursday, November 12, 2015

To honor Lucas......

Yesterday marked one year since our family was hit with the devastating blow of the death of Lucas.  It was such a shock coming off of the wonder and joy of his birth and being sent onto this path that we had never thought we would walk.  As November was approaching, Gwen and I talked about finding a meaningful way to honor Lucas' memory - something that the kids could participate in and understand.  We hit upon the idea of filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  This program lets you select a boy or girl and an age range and then fill a shoe box with toys and gifts as well as health items (soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, band aids, etc) and school supplies.  We decided that this would be a good way to share the love of Jesus in honor of Lucas.
I decided to fill 4 boxes for the youngest boys - ages 2-4.  It was good to purchase the small gifts and fill those boxes yesterday, even while feeling the sadness of missing Lucas so much.  It felt so right to be passing on hope and love for a child somewhere around the world.  
When my four boxes were filled (and I mean filled - I stuffed those boxes as full as I could get them) I was so happy to find out that you can actually track where your boxes go!  I was able to print a bar coded label that will send information to my email address, and I will know when and where my boxes are delivered.  I included a short note, some prayers and Bible verses, as well as a picture of our family.  Gwen's family also spent the day doing these boxes.  Six of them.  It will be interesting to see if we ever get any response to our notes that included our address.  

Yes, yesterday was a day of remembering and missing.  In the morning I went to my small group meeting.  I have said it over and over on this blog, but one more time.....I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THIS GROUP OF WOMEN!  Their prayers, their love, their support have been the glue that has helped me hold it together over this year.  They have listened and laughed with me and cried with me.  And they presented me with these......
Aren't they just beautiful?   When I look at these wonderful blooms, I see the faces of my friends.  Each of us growing closer to Jesus, each of us surrounded by the others.  Yes, we make a beautiful bouquet of fragrant prayers!  

So this year has passed and we have gotten through it.  It has not been easy, but we have done it.  Our family will always be missing Lucas.  There will always be that wondering what it would have been like.  But this is not something that is changeable.  It just is.  Yesterday I was reading another blog and I just resonated with it so much, that I decided to share it here....An Inch of Gray - Grateful.  
The writer lost her 12 year old son in a flash flood and she blogs often about grief.  I especially liked this blog, because I also feel grateful... in the midst of this last year.  It is another one of those things that just can't be explained.  

Next week I will deliver my shoe boxes to the drop off site and I will continue to pray for the little boys who will someday open those boxes.  I will pray for all those that handle these boxes along the way, and for the many other people who are putting together there own little boxes of hope.  If you want to be encouraged and lifted up today, take a couple of minutes to watch some of the videos on that Operation Christmas Child site.  They have story after story, of children who were impacted by the boxes they received.  It does make a difference and it is an easy way to send love to a child in need.  And it is a fitting way to honor our sweet little Lucas.  

Jesus, thank you for helping us to find a meaningful way to honor Lucas.  Bless all who are involved in Operation Christmas Child.  Continue to stir hearts to help and touch many through this project.  Thank you for flowers, for friends and for other blogs that bring your love and peace to us.  Thank you for your love and care surrounding our family during this year.  Amen

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Feeling a tug back to Africa......

I mentioned in my last blog that a couple of opportunities have come up for me to connect with ministries in Africa.  I have to admit that I have been praying for direction and wondering just how I might get connected in the right place.  Then, as so often happens, it has all apparently been arranged for me!  So over the last few days, I have been remembering my time in 2004 in Kenya and Uganda.   And I was thinking about this sweet girl.

I remember that we saw her walking along the road as we were driving to the church (I use that term very loosely since it was just a small mud hut).  She was holding the smallest child in her arms and had that slightly bigger child strapped to her back in that scarf you see wrapped around her.  When she finally showed up at the meeting (after we had been there about an hour), she told the translator that she had come because she heard that we might have pencils.  She badly needed a pencil to go to school.  This little nine year old girl had walked a LONG, LONG way to come to this meeting, in the hopes of getting a pencil.  The hope of a pencil was enough for her to carry her younger siblings, over dusty, dirty roads and through rough fields, a far distance, on a very hot day.   As you can see in the picture, she got her pencil!  

So much about this trip changed my life.  In some ways it was reaching that destination.... finally getting to that promised place from my young childhood when a missionary had stamped my bible and declared "someday you will be a missionary".  In reality, it was just the beginning.  I began that trip believing that I had a message to share with the children (which I had) but I ended that trip knowing that my heart and deep desire was to speak that same message to the ADULTS so that they would understand the heart of Jesus for the CHILDREN!  Over the next few years, that desire to impact the children by reaching the adults, grew and deepened.  But I never really had a platform to share what was so firmly planted into my spirit.  Years went by, and I began to lose hope and to doubt that this was even something I was supposed to do!  The dreams continued to come.  That feeling that there was more ahead, well, it never left me.  I had left a part of my heart in Africa.  And Jesus was not letting me forget it!

When I returned from Africa I realized that my "eye sight" had changed.  I had a totally different view of my world.  I saw the wealth of our country in a new light.  The amount of resources that were available around every corner.  The quality of our educational system.  The opportunities our children have.  How much water we have and how much water we waste.  How good our internet access is and how good our cell phone service is.  But I also had a very different view of the church in America.  I couldn't imagine children walking miles to hear a speaker from another country.  I couldn't imagine the adults sitting in the dirt for hours listening to unknown people sharing about Jesus.  I had seen so much generosity and sharing from people who had so very little.  But whatever they had, they were willing to give.  Yes, I learned many, many lessons on that trip.

Yes, I am feeling a tug back to Africa.  I can't forgot those faces and the warm hugs I received.  I can't forget the joy.  Mostly, I know that Jesus is calling me to share the message he has given me and it seems that it needs to be shared in Africa.  I would be quite happy to share this message right here at home, but it doesn't seem that any doors are opening for that.  So for now, I will just be taking a few steps towards that new connection and will see where that leads.

I want to remind everyone reading this blog, that there is a destiny and plan for all of you that was set in place, even before you were born!  It is an exciting and wonderful path that is there, just for you.  And along the way there might be ups and downs and turns.  There might even be what looks like dead ends.  But you can count on Jesus to direct you and to turn you exactly where you need to be.   This is also a reminder to not give up on your dreams.  You just never know where those dreams will take you!

Jesus, thank you so much for giving me a new shot of hope in the past week.  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me of all of the ways I was touched by my trip to Africa.  Help us all to remember and hold on to the call and destiny for our lives.  Give us courage and boldness to walk out the path that opens up for us.  Help us to dream and think outside of the confines of our small world.  Thank you for the new things you are bringing into my life.  Amen


Friday, November 6, 2015

A glimpse of the path ahead..........

This was one of those really rare, first week of Novembers.  It was WARM (like close to 70) and sunny and just a wonderful late Indian Summer days- that is, until today.  True November weather showed up today in lower 50's and windy and cloudy.  But I really enjoyed this week outside.

During my day with the twins we went on a long walk (while their mom spent the entire day collecting piles and piles of leaves from their many, many, many oak trees.)  Their street is amazing on any day of the year, but on this fall day it was lovely.
Their street dead ends into a forest preserve and when I reached the end of the road, I first saw a coyote cross the road, several feet in front of me.  Once the coyote crossed over into the trees, I walked a bit further.
And just as I got to this spot, a very large deer jumped out of the woods and ran across the road.  It seems really amazing that we live in a very crowded suburban neighborhood, yet so close to home you can step into nature.  Or have "nature" simply cross your path.  

Then, to continue my outdoor adventures, Gwen and I took the kids to a small, nearby animal farm.  When Gwen and Doug were little we often visited this wonderful park that includes an old railroad caboose.  It is small enough that the little ones can easily walk the entire park and they have lots of farm animals to see up close.  They have two coyotes and they don't look nearly as shaggy or scaring when they are in a pen! There was also a deer standing right next to the fence!  Not as surprising as seeing a deer leap across your path, but still very neat. 
Anna was interested in all of the animals and we had fun looking at the chickens! (Anna was a chicken on Halloween!)  She was a bit obsessed with the cow and several times took off running to get back to that pen.  It was just a great way to spend several hours outside in November.  I am very aware of how blessed I am to be able to spend my days like this. It is a wonderful gift.

Over the last couple of months, I have been really seeking direction and guidance from the Lord.  This week there has been so much encouragement to not forget the destiny that has been spoken for you.  So I have been revisiting the things that directed me in the past.  But there has also been a strong reminder that Jesus doesn't want us to just camp in one place.  Everything about our Christian life is a WALK.  Over and over we are reminded that you have to step out and go.   And through out the Bible, people ended up in situations that were not what they expected.  So this is a great time to keep walking and while remembering what we THOUGHT we were supposed to do, we should also be expectant for the very new thing that Jesus is doing.  

In the last two days I have received two very interesting emails.  The first email concerns a ministry to children in Kenya and the second email concerns a ministry to children and families in Uganda.  Hummm. After a trip to Kenya and Uganda in 2004, I have often said that I left a piece of my heart in those countries.  Each of these emails represents the potential to connect and move in ways that I had never expected.  Even if neither of these opportunities work out, it is still a huge encouragement to me.  

I am doubly grateful today.  Grateful for the amazing week outside, walking on those leaf covered roads and paths.  And I am so grateful for the reminder that Jesus is guiding me along the path into the next destination along the way.   And I am so thankful that Jesus knows my heart and is preparing that spot to answer the desires of my heart.  

Jesus, thank you for the wonderful weather of the last week.  Thank you for time to spend with my family.  Holy Spirit, keep us all expectant for the new things and the new paths that may be ahead for us.  Remind us of all that you have shown us, but help us to be able to imagine a change for the future.  Thank you Jesus, for your love and care.  Amen

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Remembering.....with love

Today our family gathered to remember Lucas on his first birthday.  We spent time together just talking and then we visited the cemetery.
Doug and Susie had just had the stone placed for Lucas.  It was a beautiful day to be together.  The sky was blue and the trees were losing their leaves.  The stone is really pretty.  There are shades of blue and green and flecks of crystal.  The footprints are so sweet.  Gwen and Tim had the kids make their hand prints to leave for Lucas.  I made the wooden heart that says "Always in our heart".   We had time to reflect and just stand together.  It was so peaceful and so meaningful.  I was remembering last year when Doug and Susie had to select this spot.  It was one of those unimaginable experiences to be with your children as they select a grave for their baby son.  But even in all of the emotions and the horror of that day, I knew that this was exactly the right choice.  As I was standing there today, I was remembering the last line of my blog from last night.... Lucas is in that glorious presence with Jesus, forever.  

When we got back to Doug and Susie's house, we took pictures of Lucas bear with the kids with a picture of Lucas.  This will be a good tradition and a way to honor Lucas in the years ahead.
I have had many people say "how did you get through that?"  Looking back, I know that the only way I got through was because of the powerful presence and peace of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and the prayers of so many faithful friends and family.  Let me tell you, in times like these, this is a very real thing.  And then you can put one foot in front of the other, get out of bed each day, and go by day.  Watching your son and daughter-in-law go through heartbreaking.  I fell to my knees over and over, pleading for Jesus to help them - to help all of us.  I found myself begging for hope and faith.  Jesus was there to pour out exactly what was needed each day.  A very wise person once told me that you never have the "supernatural faith" until you need it.  It is the faith that comes in those times of great need.  It was that faith that has carried us during this last year and will carry us into the future.

Lucas will always have his place in our family and in our hearts.  He will be remembered and honored always.  One day we will be reunited with him, in that glorious presence of Jesus, forever.  

Jesus, thank you for your great sacrifice for us on the cross.  Thank you for the blue sky today and the warm sunshine and the love of family.  Thank you for hearing my desperate cries of the last year and pouring out your love on our family.  Please watch over Doug and Susie and all of us in the next weeks as we go through this time of remembering.  Give us all more grace for those around us who are walking through grief.  Keep us sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit every day.  Amen